• Zone Blitz Special Report: The State of the Steelers



    The Zone Blitz is a free-flowing style of article that we've started this football season to help review the previous week's action. Occasionally throughout the season, we'll add a Zone Blitz Special Report featuring discussion focusing on a specific hot topic. This week, I've asked mikesteelnation1 to join me in discussing the state of the 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers.


    Date: Thu, 26 Sep 2013 10:56 PM
    Subject: Re: Zone Blitz: State of the Steelers
    From: trumpetbdw
    To: mikesteelnation


    Alright boss, I need some help. Please talk me off the ledge with the Steelers this year. Going into the season, I had a hunch that this year would either be really good or really bad. So far, the latter has been true. While I can see the signs that a rise to mediocrity is possible, and things are never as bad as they appear, it's been well over a decade since things have appeared to be this bleak.

    In 2000, the Steelers were coming off of back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1985-86. If you'll remember, the 1998 team was a very promising 7-4 heading into a Thanksgiving Day game with Detroit. That game was tied and headed for OT when referee Phil Luckett {misremembered} Jerome Bettis calling "Tails", saying he called "Heads", awarding the ball to Detroit, and forever changing the rules for the coin flip (the next year, the NFL instituted the rule that the coin flip would be called prior to the flip of the coin, rather than while the coin was in the air). That loss was the 1st of 5 straight to close the season, and then led to a 6-10 season in 1999. In 2000, the Steelers seemingly moved on from Kordell Stewart, and signed the immortal Kent Graham to serve as the new starting QB. Graham {shockingly} lost his 1st 3 games as a starter that year (with an incredibly spectacular 0/0 TD/INT ratio), and things couldn't have looked more bleak. Of course, that team had the X Factor on the bench in Stewart, who took over in week 4 and started 11 games that year. They also had a still spry Jerome Bettis, and a young/nasty defense that helped them rebound to a 9-7 finish.

    This year's team appears to be the exact opposite of the team in 2000. The best weapons on offense are centered around the passing game, and the defense and running game are both lacking explosion. That team finished with a +14 TO differential, while this team is currently tied for last with a -9 TO differential. This year's team is also sitting on a -32 point differential, which is 29th in the league. It's still early, obviously, but that brings up a truly amazing stat. Over the previous 20 seasons, since Bill Cowher took over in 1992, the Steelers have finished with a negative point differential only 3 times. In 1998, they were at -40, 1999 was -3, and 2003 was -27. So after 3 games, they are already sporting their 2nd worst point differential since 1991.

    There were some bright spots last week, as the offense was finally able to consistently move the ball against the Bears. But while Ben threw for over 400, and the running game even totaled 21/80 on the ground, they also committed 5 TOs, and had 2 of those returned to the house, which is never a good harbinger of success.

    Le'Veon Bell appears to be coming back this week, but is he going to be the answer? While the Steelers are built around the passing game, are the receivers good enough to help provide consistency to this offense? Can the defense start showing signs of life, or is the diatribe that they're too old actually a reality? And perhaps most importantly, is the coaching staff willing to cease their stubbornness, and take the necessary risks to help turn this season around?


    Date: Fri, 27 Sep 2013 2:19 AM
    Subject: Re: Zone Blitz: State of the Steelers
    From: mikesteelnation1
    To: trumpetbdw


    Alright buddy, here's my best at talking you off the ledge. At the very least, its a well practiced attempt at talking you down. I've been talking myself off the ledge on a weekly basis so far this season.

    While the trip down memory lane shows where weve been, and why Steelers fans are so spoiled it speaks little to now, and our future. The only people that it has any direct correlation to are the rooneys and colbert. They are the only ones I'll address in my reply.

    Here's why I have faith to begin with. The Rooneys have gone thru 2 prior down cycles with their 2 prior coaches, given them some time, and everything has worked out well. 3 coaches since 1969 and all 3 have Lombardis. We have the best owners in pro sports.

    Colbert came to us and went thru trial by fire in 2000. You chronicled the challenges the team had in 98-00. Lots of parallels to draw to show the "down cycle". Just like that 98-00 stretch, our current season is somewhat plagued with a less than what we expect talent level from top to bottom. That 90's team had 2 drafts that gave them zero talent in successive years (96 & 97), as has this team (08 & 09). All the other years involved 2-3 draftees that turned into long time players. Getting zero from a draft has its impact. This is why we're doing things the Steelers NEVER do this year. Play uber young guys. 2 of our lbs are ROOKIES!! ON A LEBEAU DEFENSE!!! our nickel back is a rookie!! The new CBA has changed how we do business, and the rookies are all playing very well. For as bad as the 08-09 drafts were,the 10-13 drafts are helping to make up for it. Enough about the past... Colbert isn't getting fired, and neither is tomlin!! Moving along to the present...

    Let's look at a few of our bright spots, and what looks like it could be before I address our deficiencies. AB looked every bit like a true #1 wr Sunday night, proving we paid the right guy. He did things we haven't seen our #1 do in forever it seems. He went up and fought for a jump ball and WON! He made that ridiculous one handed snatch for a TD in the corner of the end zone. He proved he's capable of taking over a game, and making plays, even when the other team knows that's where we're going. That should open things up for the wildly inconsistent other wr's, as teams try harder to stop AB.

    Cotchery had a 2nd bad game in a row. That's a good thing, and here's why: perhaps the coaches finally lost faith in Cotchery being so "clutch" in pressure situations, and that opens the door to see more Wheaton. Hopefully a hell of a lot more than the 14 snaps combined he's played in the last 2 games. He could totally change the way defenses play us. He's our fastest guy, and as such could help roll coverage away from AB. At the very least he could force the safeties to play it straight up, no bracket coverages. Or they bracket them both, and totally open up the underneath game.

    An underneath game that would be bolstered by moving Sanders back to the slot, where he's much more effective as a wr. Sanders hasn't done well vs the #2 Cbs he's faced thus far.

    Speaking of underneath, we've got heath back, and it showed vs the bears. Especially in our intermediate passing game, and our running game. FINALLY a TE that can legit block, not a guy who gets knocked on his ass trying to block a safety with a ten yard run up!! Yes Mr. Paulson I'm talking to you!! (Nelson pancaked him vs the Bengals on that AWFUL Cotchery end around).

    Now add in, we get our #1 rb back. A guy who actually has some speed. Felix looked decent running until he got his bell rung and fumbled (watch the slow mo replay of his fumble. He was 100% out cold upon impact.) Until then his speed was making a difference in gaining yards behind our not so good line. Le'veon should be a huge shot in the arm for our offense, especially for our pass blocking.

    Our line is young and not so good right now, they will get better with time. They will especially look better with a legit rushing threat in the backfield. Of course they looked bad pass blocking! We couldn't run! The other team KNEW we HAD to pass, so they pinned their ears back and brought the heat on every down. They had no fear of rushing and as a result over pursuing the play giving a back daylight. Dwyer and Redman inspire no fear with their speed. Peppers knew he could over sell on the rush and pursue on the backside any run and still get to the ball carrier for a minimal gain.

    A few legit series of runs from Bell, and the heat on Ben will slow. Especially after he burns them on a play action.
    I said it before the season, and I'll say it again. Our team will go where the o line allows it. They have been awful, that's fact thus far. That said, a lot of that stems from 2 things- being super young (102 starts for the entire group combined, 45 of those by foster), and being SOOOOO one dimensional on offense. The more they play, the more they will improve. The most inexperienced line in the NFL is bound to have issues. We just got a lot less one dimensional on offense with the additions of Bell, heath, and David Johnson. There is hope...

    I'll speak slightly about our defense before I give the floor back to you. This is a very good defense. They may not have a lot of sacks, or many turnovers, but it's a good defense. They have brought tons of pressure so far. Not many sacks because the other team has ALWAYS been ahead nearly every second of every game we've played. When the other team is ahead, they run a lot and take the safe passes. Tough to get a sack on a 3 step drop. When you're not getting sacks, you aren't getting turnovers. Those statistics go hand in hand, especially when ALL of your db's have mannequin hands but troy and Allen (and Allen has been hurt).

    This defense could be a beast, but they need to be fresh, and have a lead for a change. They have been on the field for 34 minutes a game. 34 minutes per game on the losing side of the scoreboard. Even with that, they've only given 298yds a game (5th), and allowed less than 20pts a game that the offense didnt give away via a turnover ... BTW, all 4 teams ahead of us in yards allowed have played less than 27 minutes per game, or 20% less time at the very least. Only 4 teams in the league force their d onto the field more than our offense does, and all of them are in the bottom 10. We have our guys out there as much as the worst 5 defenses in the league, yet we're top 5 in yards allowed. Again, this is a good defense, a very good defense... Our woes have nothing to do with our defense. It's ALL on our offense.

    Hopefully this has given you some hope... Back to you...


    Date: Fri, 27 Sep 2013 3:46 PM
    Subject: Re: Zone Blitz: State of the Steelers
    From: trumpetbdw
    To: mikesteelnation1


    I agree with you 100% on the Rooneys and their patience. I remember very well the backlash when many fans wanted Cowher to go during his rough patch. I don't think there's any chance that Tomlin will be fired. However, Todd Haley could be a different story. We were both a fan of the Haley hire, as I recall, mainly because he's proven that he'll adapt his offenses around his best weapons. In Arizona, he ran a very pass-heavy offense, fully utilizing Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin. In KC, his offense was centered around a running game featuring Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones. Even last year, it looked like the hire of Haley in Pittsburgh was working out perfectly. Leading up to Ben's injury, the offense was starting to hum, and Roethlisberger was staying cleaner than he had at any other point in his career. But after he went down, they just didn't have the overall talent, and even when Ben came back, he was clearly compromised. They haven't been able to get in sync since.

    It's not the pass/run ratio that bothers me. What bothers me is that when they've been running, they've been running up the butt of the center way too much. They also spent too much time (as in, more than 1 carry), trying to give Isaac Redman a shot. Then when they pass, the play calls have been way too conservative. There has been no rhythm to the offense, and after 2 weeks, they were averaging just over 4 plays and 2 minutes per drive. Yet, if there is a strength on offense the Steelers can exploit, it's that no QB has been better in a 2 minute drill than Big Ben over the course of the past 2 seasons. He's the only QB in that situation with a QBR over 90. To ignore the fact that they needed to mix up the tempo was dumbfounding, especially since Haley's proven to adapt in other coaching situations. With that in mind, is it at least possible that the Steelers offense was struggling not because of Haley, but because of the man directly above him on the totem pole?

    Of course, they did open things up on Sunday night, partly because the game circumstances dictated that they had to. They certainly moved the ball much better, and put up points, but at the same time, turned the ball over 5 times, and gave up 14 points to the Bears defense. Which brings up another point. Do they have enough skill-position weapons? They addressed the RB situation in the draft, and it will be nice to see Bell in there this Sunday. But since he's been out, they've been scrambling to find production in the ground game, although I think that their initial decision to cut Dwyer instead of Redman was a mistake, no matter how much better Redman is in pass protection. However, the Steelers also have the smallest group of receivers in the league, and that's been the case for a number of years now. Similarly, the Steelers always seem to underperform when it comes to scoring points with any type of consistency. I feel like the main reason for this is the lack of a legit red zone threat. Heath Miller's return is huge, because he is their best threat in 3rd down situations, and in the red zone, but I think it would help tremendously if they would put a priority in finding a prototypical #1 WR. I love Antonio Brown as much as anyone, and think he's a better all-around receiver than Mike Wallace. But there was an 18 game stretch in 2010-11 where Mike Wallace was as good of an explosive/efficient combo package as there was in the league. AB has shown flashes, but hasn't been consistent in his production, and has yet to definitively prove that he can be consistent enough to be a legit #1 WR. Plus, he's another of their WR under 6 feet.

    I feel like AB would a perfect #2, slot, X Factor WR playing opposite of one of the prototypical #1s. Look at the best WRs in the league. With the exception of Victor Cruz, the top 10 WRs are all 6'2" or taller. And also other than Cruz, they're all former high draft picks. Megatron, AJ Green, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Demaryius Thomas, Brandon Marshall, Dez Bryant, and Reggie Wayne were all top picks, and other than Wayne and White (who are 6'0" and 6'1" respectively), are all physical specimens. This is the reason why I was so adamant about the Steelers going after Tyler Eifert in the draft. While not a WR (I wasn't buying into Cordarrelle Patterson), he was a player that would have had the ability to diversify the offense along side Heath Miller, and take some of the pressure off AB, while giving them the added possibility of increase red zone efficiency. I love Jarvis Jones, and clearly he's filling a big need, and looks like he's on the verge of being a star for years to come, but they've neglected that one extra element of the offense for too long. When you have the chance to rectify it, I think you have to jump.

    I will say that the OL seems to be improving. The interior played much better on Sunday night, but the Tackles are still atrocious. I have hope that Mike Adams will develop, but time is already running out for Marcus Gilbert. On the bright side, the likely high pick they'll be receiving next year should allow them to fix that LT situation that's been a trouble spot for them since Marvel Smith left town.

    On defense, I agree that sacks will lead to turnovers. The problem is, this is now a 3 year trend where the sack/TO numbers are way down. Woodley is healthy, and Jones looks like a monster. Plus, there have been some good signs from the DL. But they still haven't gotten to the QB on a consistent basis, and in an extra effort to do so, it appears that the run defense is suffering. While the defense is still good, and Ike Taylor is as good as anyone in the league at shutting down opponent's #1s, the fact is, I don't think anyone is scared of the Steelers defense any more. You used to play Pittsburgh, and know that your QB was going to get beat up, you weren't going to run, and that you were likely going to have to overcome a couple of TOs to win. That's just not the case at this point. Cortez Allen coming back will help, and the continued development of Jarvis Jones and Shamarko Thomas will as well. But this isn't the same shut down defense we're used to, and it's not the same explosive defense we've seen over the past 20 years. Maybe that changes as the season progresses, but I just don't see it. Do you honestly think they'll hold AD under 100 and without a TD on Sunday? I'd have expected it a few years ago, but now, I'm afraid of what he's going to do to them. And that's even with the fact they'll be able to stack 9 in the box to stop him.

    I'm going past my limit, so I'll throw it back to you to finish things up. I never expected that I'd turn into the bad cop, but I guess that's my role here. Tell me why I'm wrong, mike. I want to feel better about them. At least I have my Pirates distraction. I sent my first Pirates-related text last year, literally less than 1 minute after Mike Nugent's FG sailed through the uprights for Cincy knocking us out of the playoff hunt, and nothing has happened since to divert my attention. I'm just hoping that next week at this time, I'm still thinking about the Pirates' next game, and not the end of their season. Close us out mike. Tell us all why the Steelers are still a legit threat to take home the AFC North, and compete for a Super Bowl.


    Date: Sat, 28 Sep 2013 4:04 AM
    Subject: RE: Zone Blitz: State of the Steelers
    From: mikesteelnation1
    To: trumpetbdw


    I agree that I was a fan of the Haley hire, for the same reasons you were. I'm getting more and more off of thinking that every week. You definitely aren't the bad cop here, you just asked me to talk you off the ledge!! What's a good friend to do but go a shade too much Pollyanna to get you not to jump??

    Now that I dragged you off the ledge, I'll be a bit more critical. Haley hasn't adjusted like he did previous. The hurry up is a dirty word in his play book. Everything he scripts and calls looks like complete garbage in motion in front of our eyes. The only plays that are worth anything this year is when he isn't involved in the outcome of the play being called. Either the hurry up, or Ben scrambling for his life and making a sandlot play from nothing. The offense has only moved when those 2 things have happened.

    Haleys calls have been useless. When you have no useful running backs, no useful tight ends (at doing anything), a horrible o line, and only 2 wrs that see the field capable of making something happen (one much more than the other, and the one who can was rarely targeted in game 2). All the while Haley saw the same things I (we) saw on the field.

    Before game 3 the only success we had on offense was on hurry up, yet we only ran it during the final 4 minutes of halves. That didn't change much in game 3, and the other success came with Ben being Ben!! Creating time, and SURPRISE, the wWR Ben has the most continuity with had a career game.

    I'm over Haley, and he's probably a dead man walking at this point, unless we see a markedly different product on the field. And I think we will. Heath isn't on a pitch count anymore. We have a legit starting RB now (we hope), and the line should continue to improve. Hopefully Haley uses that, plus what the team is good at (like using the hurry up sporadically to break out of some of the offensive malaise we seem to get stuck in). Not sure if he can contain his hubris to call the hurry up as much as it should be called, I'm certain he can't. Hope I'm wrong...

    While I'm feeling good about the additions of Heath and Bell to the line up, it would benefit from a big bodied legit #1 wr. AB is the second best thing though. We've tried to get that big bodied guy, remember Limas Sweed??

    We never draft high enough to get "that" guy. You said it yourself, they were all top of 1st round picks. Our ONLY top of first round pick for over a decade has been big Ben. As much as you loved Eifert, Jones was the correct pick. Eifert would have solved zero on offense (he's not good at blocking, and with our line our TEs need to block), meanwhile Jones has made splash plays on defense and been a beast on special teams. He's the STARTER 3 weeks in on a LEBEAU defense, and it had nothing to do with injury. Just skill!!

    That said, I'd love a big bodied #1 wr. However, that isn't going to happen for us because our defense does what it does and we have an established franchise QB.

    Neither does any other entrenched franchise QB, who's considered among the top 5, unless they inherited them (PM inherited his guy). Sans that ability to pick so high, we've done a damn good job at acquiring WRs in the mid to late rounds. They aren't the biggest guys, but they get open without being a bully, just being a better technician. Unless this is the year we get such a high pick, we should just get used to our smallish guys. Even then, we would likely pick a tackle. So basically, we should get used to our smallish guys. That is unless Moye improves dramatically, and we see his 6'5" frame out there more.

    We'll start winning when the offense isn't a disaster. When it doesn't look like a Keystone Kops moment. When the line is half decent, the back gains some yards, and Ben isn't running for his life every second of every snap. With Bell and heath back, that actually seems possible.

    About our defense, no one fears us because the rules have changed so much since they did. You can't hammer the QB and WRs anymore. You can't even get a hit on the QB when he's throwing 3 step drops, not enough time. All we've seen is short drops and a completely ineffective offense. One happens because of the other, and always being behind. Given the deficiencies the defense has been handed, it's #5 in yards allowed, eventhough we're nearly last in time on the field.

    In closing, while there's lots of reasons to doubt our team, there's enough reasons to have hope. If not for this season, for next. Our depth sucks. That's the price you pay for 2 drafts that yielded you basically ZERO. The youngsters look good. They will get better the more they play..

    I'd be insane to attempt to sell you on us being able to win the AFCN, much less a Super Bowl. Rational thought tells us there's no way in Hell that's happening. We'd need a complete turn around, with Baltimore and Cincy slipping up..

    That said, remember, any given Sunday applies. We were the first team to win a SB as a 6 seed. We won 5 straight to EARN that 6 seed. Then we won 4 straight on the road to hoist a Lombardi.. still a few players on the squad from then.. most notably, big Ben.
    Anything can happen.. what I think and what I hope are in direct opposition. 13 games on the gridiron to decide that.

    I'll keep believing for now... Remember, any given Sunday.. I spend too much time and resources to think otherwise..

    Comments 19 Comments
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      When they benched Gilbert and started pulling Decastro, the team started looking alot better.

      And nobody is scarier than Ben when he scrambles away from a blitz.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by iwatt View Post
      When they benched Gilbert and started pulling Decastro, the team started looking alot better.

      And nobody is scarier than Ben when he scrambles away from a blitz.
      Without a doubt. The best part of having a bad year would be the opportunity to throw Gilbert on the bench for good and get a possible franchise LT for the first time in... ever. Unless they went for that #1 WR we talked about.

      Decastro looks like he's finally starting to show that promise we've all thought he had. The interior of the line as a whole, including Velasco, looked really good last week.
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      Decastro looked very good in space this game. Hopefully Haley calls some pulls to left, in addition to the pulls to the right. Hopefully they call some zone blocking too. Decastro is a beast in space, not as much in power responsibilites.

      I have ZERO faith in Haley to see and acknowledge that, and change his play call accordingly to play to his best o linemans strength. It's why he's a dead man walking. As much as I thought he changed his scheme to what he has, he sure as hell hasn't when the Steelers aren't playing well. Perhaps that's on tomlin. If it is, Haley is a dummy. Tomlin won't get fired for years, even if we aren't good. Refer to how bad some of Cowhers and nolls teams sucked for historical context.

      The rooneys give their coach miles of rope. OC's?? Not so much.. this team plays offense like they have art 2 might pull the plug on Haley. Would be an unprecedented move, but the grandson is his own person.

      He usually sticks to the family traditions, but if the offense sucks again he's going to blaze his own path, IMO.

      Haley needs to put aside his ego, and call what his team does well. They do well at the hurry up, Ben's proven he's better at that than any qb in the league the past couple of years. The stats PROVE that.
      If Haley doesn't call it, aside from the last 4 minutes of either half, and our offense doesn't perform, he deserves a pink slip.

      Hopefully, if that happens, art 2 bucks the trend and makes that call. If Haley won't call what his players actually do well at, he needs to be gone sooner rather than later. A full season of what he's called isn't going to cut it. We only move the rock from the sandlot and hurry up. Neither involves Haley in any way.

      Hopefully the additions of heath and Bell allow the scheme to work. If it doesn't, Haley needs to unleash Ben. Let Ben do what Ben does best. Let him go no huddle. Even when he's called his bs plays, they only end well when Ben goes sandlot.

      Bobo the chimp sees this. A chimp with sign language skills could call a better game than Haley at this point.

      Team has lost 3 games.. team has been horrific on offense, but prettydamn good on defense. #5 overall. Would be #1 with more sacks and turnovers if the offense wasn't a complete joke, always playing from behind, and continually turning the ball over.

      An ok offense would make this d a world beater. Give them some rest, and a chance at a sack or turnover. We don't. We run the Haley nonsense, until its the final 4 in the half and we go hurry up, or what Haley called failed miserably, and Ben went sandlot. That's when we actually move the rock...

      Why Haley never calls the hurry up to switch things up is beyond me. Points to he has too much hubris. Doesn't like his gangster being tested.

      Extreme circumstances require extreme measures. We HAVE to win this game. If Haley doesn't adjust his game plan, and the offense doesn't play well, please launch him!! Ben has proven he plays better when he calls his own plays or simply adjusts to in game pressure and does what he does.. seems to me the offensive coordinator just holds us back. Just sayin...
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Mike, you have more confidence than me that this defense has "world-beater" in them.

      But... They are still only allowing 3.3 YPC, which is 6th in the league, but teams have rushed nearly 35 times per game against them, which is 2nd most in the league. If we can get a lead, and force other teams to throw, then certainly the sacks and TOs will start to increase. But based on the last 2+ years, there would have to be a gigantic bump in both totals to make the Steelers even league average in both categories. I'm just not sure that "world-beater" is around the corner for this team, this year.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Trumpetbdw View Post

      Without a doubt. The best part of having a bad year would be the opportunity to throw Gilbert on the bench for good and get a possible franchise LT for the first time in... ever. Unless they went for that #1 WR we talked about.

      Decastro looks like he's finally starting to show that promise we've all thought he had. The interior of the line as a whole, including Velasco, looked really good last week.
      Hard to hit on an LT in the second round, agreed. Got to be smart, dedicated AND a physical freak.

      BTW, it Feels weird been on the other side of a game decided because of OL woes.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      For all my life, I've been hearing "Here we go, Steelers" chants breaking out at Pirates games. In 2 weeks, there's a decent chance we'll be hearing "Let's Go Bucs" chants breaking out at Heinz Field.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      1 sack, 0 TOs, 2 plays plus 60 allowed. Can't blame the offense for the defensive failure today.
    1. Pruitt's Avatar
      I won't gloat, because the Steelers fans here have been very charitable towards us Browns fans...

      But this is a strange feeling. It has been 45 years since the Steelers have been 0-4. Knowing the way things work in Pittsburgh, this season is just a glitch.
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Trumpetbdw View Post
      Mike, you have more confidence than me that this defense has "world-beater" in them.

      But... They are still only allowing 3.3 YPC, which is 6th in the league, but teams have rushed nearly 35 times per game against them, which is 2nd most in the league. If we can get a lead, and force other teams to throw, then certainly the sacks and TOs will start to increase. But based on the last 2+ years, there would have to be a gigantic bump in both totals to make the Steelers even league average in both categories. I'm just not sure that "world-beater" is around the corner for this team, this year.

      Well consider my confidence in the defense GONE. Hopefully this bye week will give us the time to figure a few things out. Then we have a winnable game against the jets before we play bmore.

      Hopefully that includes some sort of change at LT. I dunno what that could possibly be, because Adams already beat Gilbert for the job and guy whimper (that's actually a players name, not just the sound Adams was making all day as Allen was kicking his ass) certainly isn't a viable answer.. My god, if I took a shot every time Adams was standing around with a confused look on his face while the guy he was SUPPOSED to block was in Ben's face my bar tab would have been around $300!!

      I almost forgot what it was like for your team to completely suck... Utmost respect for the fans of teams that have seemingly sucked forever and them keeping the faith for years on end. Such a complete suck feeling after another loss, piled on another loss...
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
      I won't gloat, because the Steelers fans here have been very charitable towards us Browns fans...

      But this is a strange feeling. It has been 45 years since the Steelers have been 0-4. Knowing the way things work in Pittsburgh, this season is just a glitch.
      Well Pruitt, looks like this year our games will feel more like the old school rivalry games we once had. We don't know we're going to win those games like us Steelers fans have for so long... Especially after today. Browns D held tough...
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      After a second viewing of the game.. I know, tough to fathom I'd want to watch that twice.. however, I do so because the first time I watch the game I'm 100% fan and in the moment. Second time is for analysis purposes. Focus on play, scheme and technique. Rewind to see everything. I also usually do it a 3rd time to see the game from all 22 to truly see EVERYTHING about the scheme.

      My second viewing just saved me an hour. Don't need to see the all 22. Lebeau just got out schemed. Too much troy in the box freelancing, and being a non factor. Troy didn't help contain the run. Minny just isolated him, and ran away from him. When they didn't run, troy was in the box, with a db in ISO getting torched.

      THAT guy was Allen. Jennings alone smashed him for almost 100 yards and 2 tds. Bad part is Simpson also gashed Allen today. All with no over the top help, and Clark SEVERLY out of position based on the read. Clark bit HARD on 3 long plays, all put him completely out ofposition based on the read, and 2 of 3 lead directly to touchdowns. The 3rd also led to a touchdown.

      Ike again did what he always does and shut his guy down. Allen couldn't, and the single high safety look put a bullseye on his back. Cassel threw at 22 and 28, repeatedly, for gains.

      Would have been nice to have our safety, play well you know, safety today. Not completely ineffective extra linebacker, who dictated where they ran opposite to where he was.

      Where troy lined up today, and more importantly where the coaches called him lining up, decided this game today. Minny's coaches completely took advantage of it. Their play call was 100% to exploit the freelancing.

      They eliminated him from the run game, and by making him so involved in it, eliminated him from the pass d. Left Allen and gay on islands they aren't ready to be on. They aren't ike Taylor, not even close, but the play call expected them to be. Single high safety with so much quick stuff happening isn't very smart, unless you have 2 lockdown corners. Today showed we don't. Cassel picked on gay and Allen all day, torched them.

      All the while, our all world safety wasnt on the play side of runs while he was in the box. They ran away from him, nearly every time.

      Terrible play call by lebeau, and its almost never that I can say that. Our use of polamalu in this game, and this Minny team called a game to minimize his impact, all the while exploiting what he would normally cover up .

      It showed up in the stat line and box score. 2 corners used to playing zone and forcing leverage to funnel a wr to their help and the zone scheme got TORCHED attempting to play on an island they can't inhabit. Lebeau treated Allen and gay like he does ike, though neither has the speed, ability, or savy to be on that island. Add to that Clark's egregious reads and how he reacted.

      Might have been an ok game plan if we got pressure. We didn't because the vikes went 3 and 5 step drop. At this point everyone knows to use the 3 and 5 step drops to beat our pass d that usually lines up 7 yards off the receiver. The tape SCREAMS to do that!!!

      Doing that AND pulling troy into the box on most of the plays leaving our zone corners sans "mannequin hands" ike (ike should have had 2 picks in the 1st quarter) on islands leads to those big pass plays against them. Cassel knew this, and almost never threw to who ike was covering after ike should have picked him TWICE!!

      Add to that Clark's misplays of where he should adjust (and his general bad play so far this year) and you got what we saw.

      Offense was better. No huge surprise, as the additions of heath and bell were huge. Still Haley didn't go no huddle when he should have to switch things up.

      Watching the game the second time makes me SUPER pissed off. We failed to adjust, and it lost us the game. Going no huddle more and dropping troy after he shaded into the box, instead of rushing would have yielded very different results.

      The players are good enough to win, the play call and adjustments aren't. That said, our tackles arent good enough to win, but calling the hurry up helps to negate that... Good god Adams sucks!! He's not even a turnstile!! He's a parking cone!!!

      FWIW, Decastro and velasco played above the line. The tackles and the foster/Beachum combo, not so much...
    1. tubbs1518's Avatar
      When the Steelers piled Adams it was a mystery to me why. I'm a tOSU fan and I was mystified that anyone thought Adams could be a franchise LT.

      This may sound a bit.....douchey but it's not meant too. Weren't you all telling us all that the loss of Keenan Allen wasn't a big deal because Cortez Allen was good enough to replace him?
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Good stuff mike. I thought their game-planning looked vaguely similar to their effort in the Bronco playoff game a couple of years ago.

      It looked like everyone, including LeBeau, was trying to win 3 games yesterday. Way too many people playing poorly and out of position. The gameplan of forcing Cassel to beat them worked {magically}. Matt Cassel looked better than he's looked at any point since at least 2009, and Adrian Peterson still was able to dominate.

      Meanwhile, I think any criticism of the offense is probably nit-picking and unnecessary. 27 points should be plenty. The first TO was Sanders hanging his QB out to dry, and the 2nd was Ben trying to make a game-tying play at the end of the game, while the line collapsed around him. Bell wasn't dominant, but looked really good. Antonio Brown has looked unstoppable for 2 consecutive games. Heath made a big impact. The Tackles are awful, but while Allen got a few sacks, Ben was really on top of his game today. It was a great effort out of him.

      Yes, I'd have liked to see a little more work uptempo, but they did do more of it. I can't put this game on Haley and the offensive play-calling. This was all on the defense.

      Bad teams are teams that constantly have a unit fail them. Right now, the Steelers are just a bad team.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by tubbs1518 View Post
      When the Steelers piled Adams it was a mystery to me why. I'm a tOSU fan and I was mystified that anyone thought Adams could be a franchise LT.

      This may sound a bit.....douchey but it's not meant too. Weren't you all telling us all that the loss of Keenan Allen wasn't a big deal because Cortez Allen was good enough to replace him?
      Adams was a 2nd round pick. Franchise LT is over the top, but solid LT is exactly what we expected. Haven't been close to getting that yet.

      I'm not sure either of us ever said the loss of Keenan Lewis wasn't a big deal. Allen doesn't have the same cover skills that Lewis has. He is much better in more of an X Factor role, similar to how the Packers used Charles Woodson. Allen is not the classic cover guy, yet that's how he was being used yesterday, and he was exposed. Lewis is the one guy the Steelers couldn't afford to lose last offseason.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Trumpetbdw View Post
      Adams was a 2nd round pick. Franchise LT is over the top, but solid LT is exactly what we expected. Haven't been close to getting that yet.

      I'm not sure either of us ever said the loss of Keenan Lewis wasn't a big deal. Allen doesn't have the same cover skills that Lewis has. He is much better in more of an X Factor role, similar to how the Packers used Charles Woodson. Allen is not the classic cover guy, yet that's how he was being used yesterday, and he was exposed. Lewis is the one guy the Steelers couldn't afford to lose last offseason.

      Adams is a guy who has elite tools, but was more potential than polish at draft time. He needed technique work


      Not saying Adams is blameless, but what's your thoughts on the Pittsburgh Oline coach? The oline has been a consistent issue for awhile.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
      Adams is a guy who has elite tools, but was more potential than polish at draft time. He needed technique work Not saying Adams is blameless, but what's your thoughts on the Pittsburgh Oline coach? The oline has been a consistent issue for awhile.
      They have a new coach this year, and have changed their scheme. Inconclusive at this point.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      gotcha.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
      gotcha.
      I actually hate to say inconclusive, because that feels like a cop out, but it's the fairest way to put it. They are changing this year to the ZBS, and have been gradually implementing it (mike would be better at explaining exactly how much of the ZBS has been implemented). That system usually takes a year before it takes full effect (think Redskins between their first year in 2011 and 2nd in 2012).

      The interior of the line seems to be adjusting much better than Adams or Gilbert, although with Beachum filling in for Ramon Foster on the inside, there seemed to be a lot of free rushers that Bell was forced to make miss in the backfield. As I assess the performance of both tackles, I think I still have hope for Adams as a RT in the future, while I'm not sure Gilbert should consistently be on the field. It's why the now likelihood of a top 10 pick could be big for them, because they've really never had that franchise caliber LT in their modern history.

      On the bright side, I thought Le'Veon Bell looked fantastic in his first game. He's got instincts, enough speed, seems to have good vision, and certainly has a toughness about him. And I cannot commend Ben and AB enough for their performance. Both looked great, as did Heath Miller. Jerricho Cotchery added his best game as a Steeler, and Markus Wheaton was finally given the chance to make some nice plays. Other than the Ts, and what I thought was a poor game from Emmanuel Sanders, the offense really did play well, for those that didn't catch the game. Even Isaac Redman did a great job from his inactive perch on the sideline.
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      To answer/add on to what others said after my prior post, and to expound on what I said without 5 replies I'll post it all in one reply...

      @tubbs.. what you said didn't even remotely come off as "douchey". Just a pertinent question to your remembrance of what trumpet/I said at some point. We both thought the loss of Lewis would be negated by how Allen finished the year as the starter. 5 forced turnovers in 3 games?? Looked like a star in the making.. however he's been hurt since early in training camp, and that showed. Moreso, the fact he was playing on an island that he shouldn't have been on left him ripe for the picking. And Cassel sure did feast on him. Allen's skills are best when he has help and over the top backstops like he did last year. As did Lewis...

      Last year Allen was almost as competent in coverage as Lewis, but caused much more havoc. Allen is a playmaker, Lewis is more in the mold of ike. Both needed the over the top coverage, but Lewis played the man, Allen played the ball. That said, both trumpet and I wanted Lewis back this year. We both said as much given how little he was paid..

      Opposite Ike we need a guy that plays the ball, because try as he might, ike has worse hands than a 95 year old with rheumatoid arthritis. Instead of the beaucoup passes defended Lewis gave us, we needed the turnovers Allen gave us. Both did that with over the top help. Over the top help sans polamalu last year.

      Lebeau made an egregious mistake letting troy play in the box so much. Allen and gay needed that other safety playing safety.

      I'll make a statement that may sound ridiculous given how healthy troy is, but we need stability at the position more than the ridiculous splash troy brings at times. His attempt at the splash has left too many young and inexperienced guys out on islands, that have lead to splash plays the other way.

      Troys freelancing was money when we had the talent we had at EVERY level of the D years ago. We don't have the best d line in football. We don't have the best lb corps in football. We have 2 rooks and a 1st year starter in our front 7. When nearly 50% of your front 7 are likely to make mistakes, the opposing team is likely to key on that and exploit it. It's exactly what they did. Instead of helping, it hurt.

      At this point the entire world knows we play off man zone, sans ike. You can't play that scheme with one safety, that is unless you want to see what we saw vs the vikes.

      The way to beat that scheme is to go quick drop, and throw away from ike. I'm certain alshon Jeffrey sent a memo to the league about that. Ike mostly stoned Marshall, sans a great throw. Jeffrey killed us on the other side with TONS of super quick stuff.

      Minny saw the honey hole that the quick stuff opposite ike, sans a safety bracket was. Sans the safety it killed us. Can't put a corner starting his 4th game on an island, especially versus such experienced receivers. I could keep talking and get more specific, but I've talked too much already about it... Just pisses me off... Troy needs to play safety to cover up the mistakes many of our very young guys are bound to make. Also needs to be the safety valve because like I said prior, Allen plays the ball and makes plays when he has the confidence that a safety has his back. He played scared and it showed. He got roasted. Slow to react..slow to turn his hips. Terrible at tackling. Had the safety being playing safety the 2 scores he gave up probably wouldn't have happened. His focusing on the man negated the advantage he gives us when he focuses on the ball. BTW, Allen forced those turnovers sans troy. Just a JAG playing opposite Clark (BTW Clark has turned into a JAG this year). You can't expect your corner starting his 4th pro game to do well on an island. Shame on the play call...

      @Bengals.. we called 1, exactly ONE zbs play the 1st 2 games. Then a couple in game 3 before Jones got concussed. About the same in game 4.

      Pouncey's injury all but killed us running zone. Can't run it with a guy who's NEVER played C before in game 1, a guy who's practiced with the team 3 times in game 2, lost the only guy that we had that was available capable of running it in game 3, culminating with our starting LG getting injured in game 4 combined with the poor effort of our tackles.

      The times we've run it, it hasn't led to positive gains and its why our all pro center is out (he for injured on our 1st zbs call in game 1). Since then it's been used sparingly, for obvious reasons. No one was capable the 1st 2 games rb wise. When one was in game 3, it stopped immediately after he left the game. Game 4 didn't afford tons of opportunity, and our biggest gains previous had been on pulls and traps in a man scheme, with Decastro doing that work.

      Problem is, no skill guy has been consistent enough running behind the zone. None had the speed or vision to do it until the o line was bleeding like a stuck pig.

      Jones can run the zone, but he got concussed early (concussion wasn't reported, but he was out cold upon impact. Watch the replays. He went limp upon the h2h hit, and as a result fumbled). Bell just got back this week. Why practice and utilize a scheme your backs can't prosper from?? Dwyer and ESPECIALLY Redman suck at zone.

      Dwyer was great at blitz pick up game 3, and running behind man scheme. The pulls and traps..

      That said, bicknell shouldn't be fired. He didn't get lemons and be expected to make lemonade, he got durian fruit (please google it). This line is built for zone. It takes more than a couple months to make it work properly, and losing your best lineman (the guy who makes the protection calls) doesnt help. Add to that no te that could block someone on Twitter, and no rb with more speed than the postal service.

      Bicknell has made lemonade with durian fruit. He deserves another year.