August 18, 2008

Eh, It's Only Preseason...

"We have to get our regular season legs under us pretty quickly and become a better tackling team. Nothing is broken schematically. Guys are where they are supposed to be. We don’t have enough guys making sure tackles.

- Mike Tomlin
Trent Edwards stat line in Preseason Game 1 against the Redskins? 1 for 5, 18 yards, 0 TDs. Trent Edwards stat line in Preseason Game 2 against our Steelers? 9 for 11, 104 yards, 2 TDs. Beyond that, the Bills gained 159 rushing yards, and Bills 1st rounder, Leodis McKelvin ran a kick back 95 yards for a score, culminating in an overall 24-21 Steelers loss.

Though you may have already heard...

And when I say Steelers loss, I really mean it. Anytime you fall to a team that went 7-9 the year before, your first team Defense allows a second year QB to complete 80+% of his passes (not to mention scamper for 22 yards on 3rd down) and your "Special" teams lets up a 95 yard (!) kick return touchdown, you have effectively shit the bed.

Now, I'd get all up in arms about it. But it's August 18, not September 18. Should this trend continue however, it will certainly get less and less acceptable. Not that it's acceptable now. Preseason or not, if you're like me, you don't want to lose to the Bills. But really, there were plenty of POSITIVE things we can take from the game, including (but not limited to)...

1. Dennis Dixon TOUCHDOWN
I didn't get to see it, because apparently the broadcast was blacked out in the greater NYC area. But I did follow the ESPN and Tobiathan gamecasts feverishly, refreshing just about every 30 seconds. And when I saw "Dixon, TD, 47 yards" I damn near pissed myself. Everyone in the bar - already looking at me funny because I was wearing a huge Casey Hampton jersey when there was no game on - probably thought I was crazy when I got all too excited by my cell phone. Sure, this wasn't the Bills top Defensive unit, but that doesn't really matter to me. A 47 yard TD run? That's awesome. And if you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and fast forward the video below to the 3:50 mark.

2. Silverback ATTACK
As usual, manchild (perhaps more appropriately, apechild) James Harrison was a monster. 4 solo tackles and a sack. Plus, I think he was in on another sack. I mean, in only limited action that's pretty darn good. Looks like he's on pace to have an even bigger season than last year. Not that you or I had any doubt this would be the case.

3. Timmons ON FIRE
Again, not having seen the game, I can only comment from an inferential perspective. But when last year's first rounder, who only got limited playing time as a rookie, has eight total tackles - including five solo and a sack - I'd say that's pretty damn encouraging. Which brings me to my next point, Timmons needs a nickname. Let's exercise the brain trust in the comments.

4. Ladies and gentleman, DALLAS BAKER
In my mind, the battle for fifth wideout is no battle at all. The job should belong to second year man, Dallas Baker. 3 catches, 57 yards. I like those odds. Yeah, again, not the Bills starting D or anything. But I don't care. I liked the guy when we drafted him out of Florida, and I like him even more now. Hines Ward protege? Just might be. The only guy who might give him a run is Willie Reid. And I just can't believe that Reid's minimal impact over the last couple of years is worth a spot on the 53 man roster over a guy who clearly wants it and can back it up with his play. Dallas Baker, mark it dudes and dudettes.

5. Mendenhall Wreckingball, Goal Line BEAST
I wasn't enamored with his stats - 11 carries for only 30 yards. But as we all know, we're more counting on Wreckingball for his goal line prowess. And that, was fully evident on Thursday evening when he scored, diving into the end zone from six yards out. It did take him three tries to get there. But the point is - he was able to cash in when it counted. Let's hope this carries over to the regular season (pun intended).

Oh, and Santonio wasn't bad either. That's two straight games with a TD catch, this time for 40 yards. I'm honestly scared by how good he could be this year during the regular season. Any lingering questions as to why we traded up to get him in the '06 draft should pretty much be answered.

Also, anyone who's worried about Ben's pick, don't be. That's what happens sometimes when you throw the ball around. I know this is still kind of a foreign concept to us Steelers fans, but just remember, the man who holds the passing touchdowns record also holds the interceptions record. So long as your TD passes far outweigh your interceptions, you're fine. Let's just hope it pans out that way during the regular season. Think '07 Ben, not '06 Ben.

Now, the first team Defense allowing Trent Edwards, Marshawn Lynch (25 yards on 5 carries), and the rest of the Bills apparently high powered Offense march it down the field twice, that's another story. Lax or not, I would have preferred these guys to take this a little more seriously.

Now it's your turn(s) - What were your positives and negatives? What did you take away from this game? And, dude, what's up with the lack of broadcast?

PS - HUGE thanks to Tobiathan for basically live blogging the game in the comments section of Thursday's post. As I said, I was switching between the ESPN gamecast and the comments, and Steelbiathan's commentary explained just about everything I couldn't get from ESPN. Any of you interested in gameday discussion during the regular season, you should have something to look forward to...

Steelers lose to Buffalo [SteelCityInsider]
Edwards shines in Bills’ debut in Toronto [Associated Press]
First-team 'D' borderline vs. Bills [Post-Gazette]
Steelers take step back in Toronto [Trib]
Play-by-play [ESPN]
Video Highlights []


Steelers Converse Shoes! said...

Lawrence "The LAW" Timmons
"The Beast"

domski43 said...

The InTimmonator?

I'm really loving the idea of Wreckingball and Moore returning kickoffs and having Santonio returning punts. But, on the defensive side of special teams the Steelers need to get back to special teams basics 101, stay in your lanes and finish each tackle. What is their problem?!? Luckily its preseason, its time to work the bugs out.

I'm convinced that Dr. LeBeau is holding back and only showing vanilla defenses. I'm looking for large improvements once Polamlalu is back.

Willie Reid needs to get cut. There is no use for him on the Steelers roster.

Cotter said...

Wow, both really solid nickname ideas!!

domski ~ I'm totally with you. If anything, "special" teams particularly worries me. Down a starting punter, if we can't bottle up returners promptly, we're going to have some serious problems. It's a hell of a lot easier to stop a drive deep in your opponents territory than when they're within smelling distance of your goal line.

/Let Willie Reid go to Arizona...

Noah said...

The biggest thing on the defensive side is the tackling. We were in some good spots, but we couldn't tackle for the life of us. I didn't really like seeing Ben scramble, which means the O-line is still having problems, but again it's only preseason. Hopefully they can get those things worked out.

As for nicknames. InTimmonator and The Law are my faves.

steelbiathan said...

Thanks for the props Cotter. I was just watching the game by myself and realized it wasn't being broadcast everywhere. Didn't know if anybody was checking it out. I could have done more, details-wise but wasn't sure it woulda been read. I had fun doing it though. If it's helpful i'll do it again. It was nice to look backover it, and be able to add some of the commentary too.

The defense looked good as far as being in place. They wouldn't have missed as many tackles if they weren't in position...if that's any consolation. Ihad the impression a lot of guys were holding back, maybe fear of preseason injury?

Lawrence "The Lawgiver" Timmons?