Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Stache Report: Steelers Wildcard Edition

I thought I would have cooled down a bit by now, but in retrospect thinking about last night’s game has just pissed me off even more. Quick thoughts:

- Before last night’s game I said I would give Bruce Arians more time to prove himself. You know what? Last night proved he should be given his walking papers. The 3rd and 6 bootleg call was just the tip of the iceberg (How the hell do you not throw the ball in that situation?) The goal line series when the score was 28-23 was an absolute debacle. I was in complete disbelief. I kept waiting for them to just punch it in via a sneak or run. 2nd and 1, pass. 3rd and 1, pass again. Surely, they couldn’t pass again on 4th down. Yup, another pass, except ol’ Bruce was saved by a defensive PI call. Oh, and someone please tell Arians that fade patterns to 5’10 receivers almost never work. This series, and the 3rd and 6 call acting as the cherry on top, proved to me that Bruce should be gone. I was that disgusted with the whole thing.

- Fuck you special teams. I’m tired of your bullshit. Way to suck the air completely out of the stadium when we had a 7-0 lead. It wouldn’t be a Steelers home playoff game without a special teams blunder.

- I had no problem with the decision to go for 2 when the score was 28-23. Once the Mahan penalty pushed it back to the 12 yard line though, you HAVE to take the XP there. No decision really. You take the extra point there, and the Steelers would have kicked the extra point on their next TD, which would have given them a 31-28 lead. Big mistake by Coach Tomlin. Speaking of the Mahan penalty, Sam texted me during the game and told me it was a bullshit call. I couldn't tell because I was sitting in the opposite end of the stadium. After getting home and seeing the replay, it was clearly a terrible, terrible, call.

- Goodbye Clark Haggans, it was nice knowing you. LaMarr Woodley is ready to start, and his sack of Garrard late in the 4th quarter made Heinz Field quake. At that point, I was in the stadium drunk of my ass, and I was fully convinced we were going to win the game. I should have remembered we had Bruce Arians as our offensive coordinator, and he would decide on a whale-shit 3rd and 6 bootleg call instead of letting Ben throw the ball to ice the game (I cannot get over how bad that playcall was)

- Seemed to me that James Harrison was blatantly held on Garrard’s 4th and 2 scramble. No call by the refs, though.

- Trai Essex actually acquitted himself quite well yesterday. There may be hope for him yet. I’ll stop calling him “Trash” for now.

- Santonio has quite the knack for taking those quick slants to the house. He did it against Cincy last year to end the Bengals season, he did it last week against Baltimore, and he did it last night to spark the rally. Kid is a gamebreaker. Hines showed up big as he always does in big games. Nate and Ced did nothing. Would like to see a tall receiver added via the draft or free agency.

- Offseason has begun. First three rounds of the draft will hopefully produce 2 offensive lineman and a defensive lineman. Round out rounds 4, 5, and 6 with a tall WR, a CB (you can never have enough quality defensive backs), and a developmental QB (one you can groom to eventually take Batch’s #2 spot). And please Steelers front office, don’t treat free agency like the plague. It’s okay to sign someone who can step in and play (Read: not Sean Mahan).

- All in all, a decent season. About what I expected (I had predicted 10-6 and a wildcard berth for the Steelers in my preseason predictions). Hopefully, we can build on this next season. Keep the discussion about the game going in the comments if you have certain thoughts you’d like to address.

End of Post


Anonymous said...

Unreal play calling by Arians. Cam Cameron is looking better and better.

I Want To Fight Tom Brady said...

Does anybody wonder what Tomlin actually does during the game? Does he ever tell Arians which kind of play he should be calling?

Dave Wannstache said...

My sense is that Arians makes the playcall, and Tomlin has the power to veto the call. So I guess you could lay the blame on both of them. Maybe Tomlin told Arians to play it conservative, we'll never know.

Still, that play had absolutely no chance of succeeding. Arians shouldn't have even called it in the first place. Rolling out Ben to his left, and not even giving him the option to pass? It was doomed from the start. Ugh, just an awful call.

Anonymous said...

There were numerous plays that were extremely dissapointing in that game. The Gerrard run, Ben's picks, the play calling, but what really got me going was the big first special teams play. After an extraordinary number of fireworks, (and can someone please tell the people down at Heinz Field that rain bogs down the atmosphere and blows all the smoke into the stadium, geeze) Tomlin bursted onto the field and got the crowd perhaps the most pumped up I've ever seen at Heinz Field. We win the toss, go on a perfect first drive to take the lead, and BAM. All momentum gone. Then the pick parade began and the crowd was taken out of the game for the next hour. I know they say home field advantage doesn't mean that much anymore, but when the crowd was into the game, Jacksonville had a couple of false start penalties and was forced to burn a timeout or two. I was actually impressed with Essex and the o-line in general. Make a few adjustments and upgrades and I'm cautiously optimistic for next year. On the way out of the stadium I attempted to get a Let's Go Pens chant, didn't come off too hot. But damn, what about Irish Ty Conklin

Anonymous said...

What I find even crazier about what will become known around here as "the bootleg," is that they ran it to the side of Essex. They interviewed him after the game, and he said that he was confused with the play and wasn't sure to block. That is purely playin to your strengths Bruce. The only criticism I have of Tomlin is that he took such a hands off approach this year. My guess is that he moreso put the offense in Bruce and Ben's hands and took on more of a motivator spectator role. We will see what happens next year.

Anonymous said...

I think Tomlin will make it his team completely next year, and was smart not to be too assuming this year. That being said he better change some things and take more adjustments of his own.

We still have the Pens...

Anonymous said...

Well to be honest, you guys pretty much expressed most of my feeling on the game last night. That said, I think that more credit should be given to Hines. The guy played out of his mind and the catch he made in the end zone on the 2pt conversion was perhaps one of the greatest and most timely I have seen him make. Unfortunately the refs decided to nail Mahan with an absolutely bullshit holding call.

There is always next year and I pray that Tomlin allows Arians to have considerably less control of the offense. For everyone's sanity.

Anonymous said...

Great job covering the Steelers this year Wannstache. Agreed with most of your insight and you were dead on on most things.

The whole season is too short. Even if we were killed by the Patriots I would have enjoyed one more week of Steelers coverage and the build up the game would bring. I've decided to pray every night that Arians never calls a fade route to one of our current WRs ever again. Other than that I can't say I can complain about too much. Injuries killed us this year, and we'll be back stronger in July.

Pat said...

Agreed on 'stache doing an admirable job covering the Steelers. Some weeks, you just don't want to write reviews, but he was there every week with numerous bullet points.

Peter King was critical of Roethlisberger in the MMQB, and I can't really argue. Most QBS are inconsistent from game to game. Ben is inconsistent possession to possession. I'm not really sure I've ever seen a player so fully capable of leading comebacks and derailing them within one quarter.

Dave Wannstache said...

Thanks for the compliments Moonie and Pat. I enjoyed it too. While I enjoy all Pittsburgh sports, the Steelers have always been the one team I pour my heart and soul into. When their season ends, it's tough to come to the realization that there won't be Steeler football for 8 months. So another game would have definitely been enjoyable. It would have at least given me the opportunity to daydream about what it would be like to knock the Patriots out of the playoffs.

I'll keep covering the team in the offseason. We'll see if they do anything in free agency, and the draft has always been one of my favorite part of the NFL calendar year. You can count on Pat, Sam, and IWTFTB to capably cover the Penguins playoff push and Pirates next consecutive losing season.