Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Stache Report: Steelers vs. Broncos

QB: I don’t think Ben played as bad as many people think he did. Does he hold onto the ball too long sometimes? Yeah, and that’s something I’d like to see rectified. It leads to him taking too many unnecessary shots. While he had 3 turnovers yesterday, I think only one was his fault (that being his first INT to Dre Bly.) The second INT clanged off Ward’s hands, and the fumble was the result of a low snap by Mahan. Had it been a good snap, Ben would have been able to keep his eyes on the defense and see that Ward was wide open from the slot because of a Denver blitz from that side. In the second half, Ben was awesome, leading the charge to tie the game. He continually found open receivers, even under the duress of heavy pressure.

RB: Many thought Parker would rush for 200 yards. Instead he ended up with a relatively meager 93, through no fault of his own. Denver routinely had 8 guys in the box. When the box is stacked, and you don’t loosen up the D on early downs, it doesn’t create much running room. Parker made due with the shitty gameplan, and came pretty close to breaking off a few long touchdown runs but couldn’t shake the last defender. Davenport didn’t get much work, only carrying the rock 2 times.

WR: This is the first time I’m beginning to wonder whether Hines is slowing down. He dropped multiple passes during Sunday’s game, passes he normally would always catch 2-3 years ago. It’s not the first time it’s happened this season, either. He’s had quite a few drops. At this point, I think you can say Santonio is #1 and Hines is #2. Speaking of Santonio, what a grab he had to hold on to the touchdown after getting rocked. What’s not to like? He has great hands, runs great routes, can stretch the D, and can run block pretty effectively. Washington and Wilson each had big catches. Nate’s came at the outset of the game, on a sky high pass from Ben that Washington was able to run under and corral even as a defender was draped all over him. Another one of those tough catches that Nate likes to make. Cedric’s came on the final Steelers drive, on a quick slant that needs to be incorporated more into the gameplan. With the shitty pass protection Ben routinely gets, quick passes like these are needed.

TE: Maybe the most surprising group thus far. Miller is making these big games routine. The Denver defender had no chance on his game-tying TD grab. Heath is now on pace for 59 catches, 777 yards, and 11 TDs. Astounding for a Steelers tight end. Spaeth seems to be an upgrade over Tuman. He was wide open for his TD pass, and his size makes him more of a matchup problem for linebackers trying to cover him.

OL: I honestly don’t even want to spend time writing about this group. So I won’t. Here’s your summary: Marvel- awful, Faneca- mediocre, Mahan- bad, Colon- mediocre, Simmons- wouldn’t be starting for the local peewee football team (translation: He fucking sucks. I can’t even put into words how bad he was. I specifically focused on him multiple plays. It was a potpurri of shit. Getting bullrushed, holding penalties, being flat out juked, even falling flat on his ass while blocking no one. I swear this happened. He was blocking NO ONE, and he proceeded to fall flat on his ass. I want to find video of this so I can post it. Rest assured, if I find it I will.)

DL: Aaron Smith left the game early with a knee injury, and he’s going to be tough to replace. I don’t think you want Nick Eason getting extended playing time. Henry rushed for only 51 yards on 17 carries, which means the D-line did their job for the most part. They failed to contain Cutler on his 31-yard scramble though. On a more humorous note, check out Hampton trying to chase Cutler on the aforementioned scramble. Click on this link, click the video, and then scroll to :25. I don’t know why it’s funny. I guess it’s just the way he runs.

LB: On the outside, James Harrison was a beast pass rushing. I distinctly noted two times where he was blatantly held by the left tackle, and yet no call. I’m sure it happened a few more times. He finished up with 9 tackles and a sack. I noticed Haggans was pretty active as well rushing the passer. Woodley had a great sack and strip that unfortunately was recovered by the Broncos. I’d like to see him more, with the added benefit of giving Harrison and Haggans a breather from time to time. Foote had an INT that was eerily reminiscent of the one he had against Denver in the 2005 AFC Championship game. But he was slow to react on both of Cutler’s final 2 TDs to Sapp and Scheffler. In the Steelers defense Farrior is tasked to cover the middle of the field. It was open far too many times, most notably on Scheffler’s 26-yard catch on the Broncos opening drive.

DB: What a difference a week (or in this case, two weeks) make. This group absolutely shut down Seattle, but had trouble Sunday night. I blame it more on the scheme. Way too many soft cushions against the receivers. Ike didn’t have his best game, nor did Deshea who was tooled multiple times by Stokley. Anthony Smith had a great interception on a deep ball, but Clark was way too quiet. I don’t understand why they try and rush Troy up the middle, which they tried to do quite a bit yesterday. Why make him go up against guards and centers with no room to maneuver. Blitz him from the outside where he can use his speed and elusiveness to get to the quarterback.

Special Teams: Blah. Not much to discuss here, although for a split second I thought Reed’s 65-yard field goal had a shot.

Coaching: Shabby all around. The team came out flat, which is on Tomlin. I hated the challenge of Ward’s incompletion. It was way too hasty, and if Tomlin had looked at the replay he would have seen it was an obvious incompletion. At least he didn’t pussy out like Cowher and kick the field goal down by two touchdowns late in the game. Arians gameplan was a bag of shit. I pretty much detailed it already. No quick hitters to mask the sieve-like pass protection, and no adjustments to Denver crowding the box. Lebeau’s defense was soft all night long. I don’t need to see anymore quick slants and outs to Stokley or Marshall. Also, why play the prevent defense on the Broncos final drive? Does it ever work? A lot left to be desired in this area.

Summary: This Sunday’s game against Cincinnati just got a whole lot bigger. Win, and you take back control of the division. Lose, and all of the sudden you’re tied with Baltimore and potentially Cleveland, with the Bengals lurking only a game back. The soft defense won’t work against the Bengals. Give Palmer, Johnson, and Houshmandzadeh all day, and they’ll kill you. If we don’t score at least 30 points against the Bengals D, I’ll be disappointed. They are awful. Hopefully, this group responds the same way they did after their previous loss.

End of Post


Sam said...

I agree about Hines to a certain extent. I wonder if he was just rusty though. I can understand speed dropping, but his hands shouldn't decline. On that one INT I thought it went off Ward's hands too, but then on the replay I thought the Bronco undercutting the route got a finger on it, but I could be wrong.

The last drive didn't make much sense to me either. We were sending 5 guys to rush but dropping into a soft zone every time. After the first couple plays where Cutler was getting rid of the ball quickly, we should have started to play tighter coverage.

Both losses were way too reminiscent of last year.

Dave Wannstache said...

There is nothing that irks me more than the prevent defense. If you are having success on defense (I'm not using Sunday's game as an example), why change up what you are doing on the last drive? How does that make any sense?

There is a time and a place for the prevent defense. When there are 40 seconds on the clock and your opponent is down 3 and on their own 10 with no timeouts, then you play prevent D. When your opponent has 1:10 left, down 3, on their own 30 with two timeouts, which is what the Broncos were facing, you don't play prevent D. It rarely works.

Wieters said...

Unfortunately, as it turns out, Denver was close enough to Arizona that the 2006 Steelers decided to make the trip. It's all on that cheap bastard Rooney. He didn't want to pay to fly the 2007 Steelers in from Pittsburgh when he could save some cash and send over the 2006 Steelers by bus.

At least it's their last trip out west this season (unless you want to count St. Louis).