Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Week 1: Steelers vs. Browns Postgame Review

Some thoughts from Sunday's game. I'm going to try and write these late Monday night and post them Tuesday morning. I would do them on earlier, but it doesn't work for me schedule-wise. Anyways, I encourage everyone to leave their own impressions of the game in the comments section.

QB: Ben was pretty good most of the day. I liked the checkdowns a lot. He didn’t try to force the ball into spots that weren’t there. It’s clear he’s healthy and ready to go.

RB/FB: Parker started out slow, but got it going in the 2nd half. Still, the propensity to put the ball on the ground worries me. This needs to be corrected, and corrected now. It’s gone on too long. Najeh had a shitty first half but more than made up for it in the second. The “dump off” (pun intended) that he caught and managed to fight for a first down was Verron Haynes-esque, a great effort. Carey Davis got the start but played sparingly. Russell was inactive.

WR/TE: Ward and Holmes shined. Awesome football instincts by Hines on the TD catch, getting both feet in bounds. Holmes absolutely made Brodney Pool his bitch on the 40 yard play-action bomb TD. Even better, Holmes showed he takes his blocking seriously, absolutely destroying a Brown later in the game. Washington chipped in with some good special teams play. Wilson was mediocre, as usual. Reid didn’t dress, which was disappointing to me a bit. And holy crap, the tight ends made an appearance in the passing game! Both Miller and Spaeth hauled in TD catches. Spaeth showed why his size is so hard to guard against. Go back and watch his TD if you can. The defender had no chance once Spaeth got inside of him.

OL: The offensive line was okay. Wimbley was able to get some pressure, but that’s to be expected from a great pass rusher. I think if Max Starks starts at RT, Ben goes down at least three times. That’s not indicative of Willie Colon’s play, it’s more a reflection of Starks piss-poor pass blocking. Mahan had his hands full with Fat Ted Washington. Truth be told, the line is going to have to play better in future games. I know we had over 200 yards rushing, but it was obvious in the first half that the O-line had trouble getting some push. And the Browns D-line isn’t that good to begin with.

DL: Great all-around effort by the starting defensive line. Aaron Smith was absolutely dominant, as evidenced by his absolute manhandling of Browns RT Kevin Shaffer on a 1st quarter sack. Hampton was his usual self, clogging up the middle and allowing Farrior and Foote to roam. Kiesel was active as well. It was an interesting decision by Tomlin to rotate the entire starting D-line out every now and then. Eason, Kirschke, and Hoke don’t make up the best defensive line depth, but it did allow the starters to stay fresh in the humid September weather.

LB: The linebackers were solid as well. Farrior had a great game, but dropped an INT right in his bread-basket. Foote has become steadier and steadier each season. I used to hate the guy, but I realized you can’t have a superstar at every position and you need some steady, if not unspectacular starters to fill the gaps. That’s exactly what Foote has become. Haggans and Harrison provided some nice pressure. Timmons chipped in on special teams, and Woodley played sparingly. With the way Kellen Winslow shredded us, I wonder if that was a factor in the drafting of Timmons. He certainly has the speed and coverage ability to match up with athletic tight ends such as Winslow and Todd Heap. We’ll see later this year and in future seasons if this is the case.

DB: The DB’s were impressive. Now out of Cowher’s doghouse, Ike had a good game and even managed to hold on to a pick. Deshea showed his smarts and instincts on his INT, staying patient in his zone to catch the errant Frye pass. Troy made an absolutely unbelievable tackle on Braylon Edwards that almost prevented a first down. His speed on this play was amazing. Clark played well before exiting, and in his place Anthony Smith showed his playmaking ability, knocking the ball from Edwards on a big hit. Recovering the fumble was Willie Gay, who was everywhere in the preseason. I was glad Gay got the active roster spot instead of Colclough.

Special Teams: Sepulveda showed why the Steelers traded up in the 4th round to draft him, deftly placing 4 of his 6 punts inside the Browns 20. Reed was steady, going 2-2 on his field goals. Coverage teams were excellent, and didn’t allow the Browns excellent return man Josh Cribbs any room to roam.

Coaching: Overall, a great job by the coaching staff. I questioned Tomlin’s decision to go for it on 4th down, because the only way the Browns were getting back in that game was a turnover/turnover on downs. Luckily, it went without a hitch. Also questioned the play call on 3rd and inches early in the game in the Browns red zone. Just pound it there. They got too cute with the play-action. I’m really nitpicking, though. The Steelers were unpredictable on offense, and stout on defense. And they were fired up and ready. Credit goes to Tomlin, Arians, LeBeau and the rest of the coaching staff.

Summary: A dominating win, but remember who it was against. Let’s see if they can keep it rolling against the Bills, who have a litany of injury problems and will come into Heinz Field a wounded team.

End of Post

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