• Zone Blitz: The New Steeler Way and Your NFL Week 5 Open Thread



    SOME RANDOM THINGS WE LEARNED ABOUT THE NFL: WEEK 4

    PS: Charlie Whitehurst has zero business occupying an NFL roster spot. I mean, less than zero (scroll down to Barnwell's Colts-Titans pick for clarification, or just take my word for it, CW is just terribad). How does this dude still have an NFL job?

    Golden Tate is legit. Even when Calvin Johnson was not on the field, Tate was getting open repeatedly and he catches everything thrown at him. Now if the Lions can start getting some consistent production out of the tight end position, that offense will start to really take off.

    BW: It's a really good sign for the Lions when Matt Stafford can throw for nearly 300 despite the fact that they admitted that Megatron was nothing more than a decoy. But I fail to understand how Chris Ivory can rush for 51 yards on 9 carries in the first drive, which is more yards than the Lions had allowed to any RB all season, and then receive only 8 carries the rest of the game. Did the sight of Honolulu Blue remind Marty Mornhinweg that he's Marty Mornhinweg?

    PS: Aaron Rodgers was not kidding when he told Packer fans to R-E-L-A-X. Even with a reduced receiving corps (I mean, why would Greg Jennings and James Jones bail on Green Bay to sign with the Vikings and Raiders?), Rodgers carved up the Bears en route to a big NFCN division win. That division is going to get interestin when the Bears get the wheel back on their wagon. Even the Vikings are going to be a tough out this year.

    The Josh McCown signing in Tampa may prove to be a disaster. Mike Glennon is no Peyton Manning. News flash for Lovie: neither is McCown. I'll leave the Steelers analysis to you, Brian.

    The New Steeler Way (Rant Alert)

    BW: I'm not sure that the McCown signing will prove to be a disaster. McCown has always been a very good backup, and that's likely a role he'll once again be settling into. Obviously Mike Glennon is no Peyton Manning, but he's not afraid to give his big WRs the opportunity to make plays.

    I'll be honest in that my reaction is torn. My sensible side realizes that there's a very fine line between the good and bad teams in the NFL, that Pittsburgh wasn't as good as they looked against Carolina, and that Tampa wasn't nearly as bad as they looked against Atlanta. Fact is, Pittsburgh entered that game down 3 very important starting defenders in Ike Taylor, Jarvis Jones, and Ryan Shazier. Jones and Shazier both played a key role in the much improved Steeler pass rush last week, and that pass rush is what allowed the secondary to play such a good game. Tampa made the switch to Glennon, and with the size of their WRs, it created a very poor matchup for the secondary. Add in the mostly non-existent pass rush, and it's easy to see how Tampa put up some points.

    There are 2 facts that are causing me to throw my sensible side out the window. First of all, it is baffling to me how undisciplined the Steelers have become. They had 6 (S.I.X!!!) different 15 yard personal foul penalties called against them. In total, they compiled 13 penalties for 125 yards. They are now averaging 11 penalties for nearly 100 yards per game on the season. When you lack that much discipline, it's a direct reflection on your head coach.

    Secondly, since the Wild Card game vs Denver in 2011, the Steelers are only 12-11 as a favorite, including that loss to the Tebow-led Broncos, 2 losses to Tennessee, 2 losses to Oakland, an 8 TO loss against Cleveland, a loss in London last year to the Matt Cassel-led Vikings, and of course yesterday's loss to the Bucs. There are 27 teams who have been listed as the favorite in at least 10 games since the start of 2012, yet only Detroit, Washington, Miami, and Tampa have a worse win% in that scenario. However, as an underdog, Pittsburgh is tied with SF for the 9th highest win% over that same stretch. I'm having a tough time understanding how a team can have that much success as an underdog, yet struggle so often as a favorite. To me, that's another sign of an undisciplined team.

    Had Antonio Brown not dropped a beautifully thrown 4th quarter bomb by Ben Roethlisberger, we aren't having this conversation right now. In fact, the most frustrating thing about yesterday's game is that they lost despite Ben having a fantastic game. He was at his best, and yet they still lost to a Tampa team that lost by 42 last week (in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the final 56-14 score would indicate). I don't care about the injuries, there is no excuse for Louis Murphy, whom the Bucs signed off the street on Tuesday, to go for 6/99, including a 41 yard catch late that put the Bucs inside the 5, and set up their game-winning score.

    I am as patient a person as you'll ever meet when it comes to coaches. And I'm not going to sit here and call for Mike Tomlin to be fired. But these are trends and concerns that have continued to pop up over the past few years, and at some point, someone has to be held accountable. Bruce Arians was let go because they needed to find a way to run the football more effectively, and to keep Ben healthy. Dick LeBeau is a legend, but for a number of reasons, his system has lost its effectiveness. It's also no secret that the Steelers are no longer drafting and developing talent nearly as well as they had in the recent past. At what point do Tomlin, his staff, and GM Kevin Colbert start feeling the heat?

    Strange Game in SF

    The other game I locked in on this week was 49ers-Eagles. Coming into that game, the talk was about the 49ers lack of a pass rush, and their vulnerability in the secondary. However, thanks in large part to an Eagles OL that is a complete mess, the 49ers defense put on the most dominant performance of the young season in stifling an offense that is among the most prolific in the league. The 49ers allowed an incredible 3 non-offensive TDs (punt block, punt return, INT), but won because the defense allowed only 213 yards in shutting out the Eagles offense, and Gore and Kaepernick dominated on the ground.

    I'll pass it back to you Biggie for your opening look at week 5, but I'd also like to hear your thoughts on the two weekend primetime games. Should we credit Dallas and KC with great home performances? Are you confident that either the Saints and/or Patriots will rebound this year? Is father time finally catching up with Tom Brady and/or Drew Brees?

    PS: If the Cowboys keep running the ball, they could be legit. Plain and simple. And if Demarco Murray goes down, that team could be in deep doo-doo.The Saints? Ask me about those guys after they face the Pack in a couple weeks. That is a big home game against a team and QB that really thrive indoors. Until then, I am not buying or selling.

    Fantasy Minute

    BW: With 4 weeks in the books, I just wanted to give you guys a look at my top 5 for each position from this point forward. I can't remember a season where so much turnover at the top of the rankings has taken place so early into the season.

    QB-
    1. Andrew Luck- Finally putting up numbers that match his talent
    2. Peyton Manning- Great #s even without much help from Demaryius Thomas
    3. Aaron Rodgers- I remain relaxed
    4. Matt Ryan- No running game + no defense + Julio= Monster Season
    5. Matthew Stafford- No longer needs Calvin to put up big numbers

    RB-
    1. DeMarco Murray- Only question is durability
    2. Le'Veon Bell- Suddenly looks like most talented RB in the league
    3. Matt Forte- Love the offense and the schedule
    4. Giovanni Bernard- Perfect match of talent and system
    5. Jamaal Charles- What ankle issue?

    WR-
    1. Julio Jones- Unstoppable, nearly to the level of a fully healthy Megatron.
    2. Antonio Brown- (NFL record 20 straight games with at least 5/50. Most consistently productive WR in NFL.
    3. AJ Green
    4. Dez Bryant
    5 (tie). Jordy Nelson
    5 (tie). Calvin Johnson (seems blasphemous, but he's been inconsistent since the start of last year, and has increasing durability issues.

    TE-
    1. Jimmy Graham- The obvious remains obvious
    2. Julius Thomas- Looks like solid bet for 12-15 TDs
    3. Larry Donnell- The breakout is legit. The offensive scheme features the TE, and they face the most friendly schedule in the league against TEs the rest of the way.
    4. Martellus Bennett- Cutler's safety blanket, and best RZ threat with Marshall banged up
    5. Greg Olsen- Kelvin Benjamin's breakout actually helps him
    6. Rob Gronkowski- still good, but not the same explosive threat
    7. Zach Ertz- Massive breakout is on its way- he's constantly open
    8. Travis Kelce- Best pass catcher in KC

    -Plus I haven't mentioned Jordan Cameron, Vernon Davis, Antonio Gates, and Delanie Walker, and I can't even get to a point where I rightfully mention Jason Witten. This position is suddenly loaded.

    NOW WE TAKE A LOOK AT WEEK 5

    PS: I think the noise around the Patriots gets louder after the Bengals come to Foxborough for a visit. Two weeks to prepare for a team coming off a Monday Night Football appearance is unfair.

    In my Big Stretch of the Week, I'll wager the Seahawks, with two weeks to get ready, are going to do very bad things to the Redskins.

    Hard to think the Bears will not get the better of Carolina given the Panthers and their gozillion (thanks, Nancy!) dollars of shelved, injured RBs and a QB playing at half mast.

    I think the Bills show some fight with Orton. Detroit is tough to beat at home (unless you are the Packers), so I am not calling for a big win for Buffalo. I do expect them to show up, though.

    Keep your eye on the Browns this week.

    BW: Between college and pros, this is going to be a great weekend of football. Of course I'll be watching the Steelers' attempt to avoid a 12th loss as a favorite over the past 2+ seasons, but Jacksonville is exactly the type of team that seems to give them trouble.

    -I agree with you on the Bengals, Bears, and Browns.

    -I'm intrigued by both the Falcons-Giants and Texans-Cowboys. Can the NFC East continue to prove their worth against quality non-divisional opponents? Eli looks to finally be in sync with this offense, and the Texans have been a very pleasant surprise. However, Matt Ryan/Julio Jones are on fire, and the Cowboys offense looks nearly unstoppable now that it's running through DeMarco Murray. I'll take both Atlanta and Dallas to come through with big wins.

    -There are 3 legit games of the week. You touched on Cincinnati's trip to Foxborough on SNF. At 1 PM, the best game is in Indianapolis. The Ravens have looked fantastic on defense, while Andrew Luck has been the best player in football through 4 games. I'm not sure the Ravens will be able to stop Luck, especially in Indy, so give me the Colts.

    The other game of the week is a 4:05 start in Denver. Arizona is surprisingly the undefeated team in this matchup, as both teams have had 2 weeks to prepare for the other. Emmanuel Sanders has been a revelation for Denver, but in order for them to be at their best, they need a fully effective Demaryius Thomas. There's been something off about him so far this year, as he's not looked nearly as explosive as in years' past. If the bye was able to get Thomas back to close to 100%, and returning to his normal self, the Broncos should win this game going away.

    Now, It's Your Turn

    Alright FPeeps, the ball is now in your hands. Use the thread below to talk about anything and everything regarding this week's action. Your NFL Week 5 open thread is now officially open for business.

    Comments 50 Comments
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      “This is a historic day for sports fans,” Sports Fans Coalition chairman David Goodfriend said in a release. “Since 1975, the federal government has propped up the NFL’s obnoxious practice of blacking out a game from local TV if the stadium did not sell out. Today’s FCC action makes clear: if leagues want to mistreat fans, they will have to do so without Uncle Sam’s help.”
      So there's that.

      http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com...blackout-rule/
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      doesn't mean much though. The NFL has already said they are going to continue to enforce it, which they are legally capable of doing because of their TV contracts.


      The FCC just isn't going to publicly have their back on it anymore.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      The Federal Communications Commission is weighing whether to ban TV stations from saying the name of Washington's football team.

      A law professor filed a petition with the agency earlier this month, claiming that the name "Redskins" violates federal rules barring any indecent content on broadcast television.

      At a press conference Tuesday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he is reviewing the filing.

      "We will be dealing with that issue on the merits, and we will be responding accordingly," Wheeler said.

      The FCC chief said he personally finds the term offensive and urged the team to change the name. But he didn't say whether he thinks it is illegal.

      "There are a lot of names and descriptions that were used for a time that are inappropriate today," he said. "I think the name that is attributed to the Washington football club is one of those."

      American Indians argue that the term is an ethnic slur and is deeply offensive.

      In his petition to the FCC, George Washington law professor John Banzhaf urged the agency to ban use of the "racist, racially derogatory word." The FCC has fined TV stations in the past for airing other forms of profanity, Banzhaf noted.

      An FCC ruling that the name is "indecent" would put enormous pressure on the NFL team to pick a new name.

      Earlier this year, the Patent and Trademark Office canceled the team's trademark, concluding that it is "disparaging to Native Americans."

      Redskins owner Dan Snyder has rejected calls to change the team name for years. A Redskins website claims the name "epitomizes all the noble qualities we admire about Native Americans."
      This would mean that the over-the-air, free to you & me networks would no longer be allowed to use the term "Redskins" without being hit with fines & other FCC sanctions.

      I gotta say, I just don't care all that much. If I am Dan Snyder, I see a team name change as a huge merchandising opportunity. But I am not Lil' Danny. WTH do I know?

      http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/...-name-20140930
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
      doesn't mean much though. The NFL has already said they are going to continue to enforce it, which they are legally capable of doing because of their TV contracts.

      The FCC just isn't going to publicly have their back on it anymore.
      Right. This also has no effect on games broadcast on cable/satellite systems.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Brian, you missed Phillip Rivers on your QB list. He should be at the top (and I can't stand the man).

      If you asked Bears fans if they would take 2-2 at this time of the season, you would say OK. But who would believe they'd drop both home games!! Conte is a bad fit for this team. You can have a non-tackling free safety with good ball skills when your LB corps has a Urlacher and a younger Briggs cleaning up, but not when the corpses of Briggs and DJ Williams are paired with the complete lack of instincts of Bostic.

      A crappy LB corps in Chi-town sounds blasphemous. And don't get me started on the vanilla schemes we are running.
    1. Brian Williams's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by iwatt View Post
      Brian, you missed Phillip Rivers on your QB list. He should be at the top (and I can't stand the man).
      I actually like Rivers, but I disagree. That list was meant strictly in fantasy terms, and is from this point forward. I think there's a very legitimate debate to be had regarding Brees, Rivers, Cutler, and Foles to also be included in the top 5, but considering all factors, Rivers just missed the list.

      Up to this point- sure, Rivers almost certainly deserves to be in the top 4, along with Luck, Ryan, and Manning.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Brian Williams View Post
      I actually like Rivers, but I disagree. That list was meant strictly in fantasy terms, and is from this point forward. I think there's a very legitimate debate to be had regarding Brees, Rivers, Cutler, and Foles to also be included in the top 5, but considering all factors, Rivers just missed the list.

      Up to this point- sure, Rivers almost certainly deserves to be in the top 4, along with Luck, Ryan, and Manning.
      ah, missed the fantasy aspect. Cool
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      I read an article somewhere that makes a case for Rivers as an MVP candidate. As for his FF impact, I have to pick between him and Rodgers every week. In the past, I'd roll with AR no matter what. Rivers is getting the nod a couple extra times this year. I may even start Rivers this week. ESPN FF guys have him projected to score over 30 while they are only projecting 25 for Rodgers.
    1. Brian Williams's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Sullivan View Post
      I read an article somewhere that makes a case for Rivers as an MVP candidate. As for his FF impact, I have to pick between him and Rodgers every week. In the past, I'd roll with AR no matter what. Rivers is getting the nod a couple extra times this year. I may even start Rivers this week. ESPN FF guys have him projected to score over 30 while they are only projecting 25 for Rodgers.
      Rodgers will be fine, but there are guys like Rivers and Cutler who were drafted as backups in many leagues, but have forced their way into a weekly matchup situation with guys like Brees and Rodgers. For example, it would be very tough for me to bench Brees at home, but if he were paired up with Rivers, I'm not sure I'd ever start Brees on the road over Rivers, unless Philip was playing against Seattle.
    1. Brian Williams's Avatar
      I guess it's fair to put a current QB power ranking together. It feels like there are 6 QBs that are standing above the rest at this point of the season.

      1. Andrew Luck
      2. Peyton Manning
      3. Matt Ryan
      4. Philip Rivers
      5. Aaron Rodgers
      6. Russell Wilson

      Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees are the closest to busting into this list. I'm probably actually undervaluing Ben a bit, but that Ravens performance is still standing out.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by iwatt View Post
      Brian, you missed Phillip Rivers on your QB list. He should be at the top (and I can't stand the man).

      If you asked Bears fans if they would take 2-2 at this time of the season, you would say OK. But who would believe they'd drop both home games!! Conte is a bad fit for this team. You can have a non-tackling free safety with good ball skills when your LB corps has a Urlacher and a younger Briggs cleaning up, but not when the corpses of Briggs and DJ Williams are paired with the complete lack of instincts of Bostic.

      A crappy LB corps in Chi-town sounds blasphemous. And don't get me started on the vanilla schemes we are running.
      I may or may not be still sipping whiskey while riding the blue line back and forth from O'Hare. And I didn't even fly to Chicago for this trip.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Brian Williams View Post
      I guess it's fair to put a current QB power ranking together. It feels like there are 6 QBs that are standing above the rest at this point of the season.

      1. Andrew Luck
      2. Peyton Manning
      3. Matt Ryan
      4. Philip Rivers
      5. Aaron Rodgers
      6. Russell Wilson

      Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees are the closest to busting into this list. I'm probably actually undervaluing Ben a bit, but that Ravens performance is still standing out.

      Wilson is not asked to step back and throw 40+ in a game. Until his game is about standing in the pocket and not just play action and designed roll outs + scrambles, I cannot put him there. That might not be his fault, but we have at least evidence that the others can do it. I'd put Ben there as well.

      I may or may not be still sipping whiskey while riding the blue line back and forth from O'Hare. And I didn't even fly to Chicago for this trip.
      it's a bad, bad week.
    1. Oldcat's Avatar
      My take on the Steelers is that they have a structural issue. The traditional Steelers (pre 2005) never were huge turnover generators on defense, not like the Ravens were. They were hard to put long drives against. On the other side, a decent ball control offense would score a bit and run clock so that time would run out on the other team. Bettis was the prototype pounder to do this. The long drives would keep the defense fresher, and make the late game comeback by the other side harder.

      These days, the Steelers aren't very good at ball control. They tend to score on big plays more than long drives, but they don't score that much more than they used to. So the defense is on the field more, and the other side has more chances for that one or two scoring drives that catches them up and lets them win.
    1. Hoser's Avatar
      The return of Alex Smith makes me nervous. The Chiefs looked legit against the Pats on Monday night. Doesn't it always seem to be the narative that the spurned player comes back to haunt his old team. Me no likey.
      What makes me more nervous is the Niners O-line trying to stop the Chiefs pass rush. Right about now would be a good time for the Niners bubbas to return to form as one of the best units in the league as opposed to the colander that they have been through the first 4 games.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Prince Amukamara - a devout Christian who abstained from pre-marital sex - is apparently playing with a little swagger ever since he got married and thus began getting some booty.

      You can't make this **** up.

      http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap300...ack-to-bedroom
    1. Amy's Avatar
      So, the mystery is solved.

      Aaron Dobson has not been playing because he mouthed off to Josh McDaniels. No word on what was said, or how long it will keep him on the bench.

      Hey! Josh! This isn't baseball, not enough games to do something like this! Man up, get Dobson on the field! Take your ego and shove it, since nothing he said can be worse than 'Josh McDaniels drafted Tim Tebow.'

      http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap300...he-mouthed-off
    1. darvon's Avatar
      A quick excerpt from yesterday's Patriot's Presser with BB.

      Q: Your team has been successful for so long. How difficult is it to adjust to the adversity of Monday night’s game and get back on track? This team and organization hasn’t had these sort of issues in the past.

      Belichick: We’re on to Cincinnati.

      Q: You mentioned Tom Brady’s age at the draft –

      Belichick: We’re on to Cincinnati.

      Q: Do you think having a 37-year old –

      Belichick: We’re on to Cincinnati. It’s nothing about the past, nothing about the future. Right now we’re preparing for Cincinnati.

      Q: Do you think the talent you have here is good?

      BB: We’re getting ready for Cincinnati.

      Q: Do you think you’ve done enough to help Tom Brady?

      Belichick: We’re getting ready for Cincinnati. That’s what we’re doing.

      Q: What do you think should be the NFL response to Domestic Violence?

      Belichick: We’re on to Cincinnati.

      Q: Are you concerned about ISIS?

      Belichick: We’re on to Cincinnati.

      Q: Can you tell us what steps the Patriots are doing to prevent the spread of ebola?

      Belichick: We’re on to Cincinnati.

      Q: Last question Bill, which team are you playing this Sunday?

      Belichick: I'm sorry but that is a Game Time Decision.
    1. edave's Avatar
      The Packers second home game went a lot better than the first one against the Jets. 3 and 2, moving on to get ready to head to Miami.

      And hey, it's my first win in TNF Pick 'Em this season. I've been really, really bad of late.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Sooooooooooooooo....

      That game last night kinda stunk. But this play? This play was awesome.

      H/T to Deadspin

    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Last night made me realize just how much I have missed Christian Ponder. I never realized it until I saw him hesitate on a throw to a guy who was open, then have it curve a bit to the left, leading to an interception. And that was maybe 11 yards in the air. I just, I, (sniff) sorry, I am a little (sniff) emotional right now. I just love bad football so much.

      What made it funnier was the comments said by Simms where Ponder told him how Norv's offense fit him perfectly. (sniff, honk, sniff). I'm gonna need a few moments here.