Thursday, November 01, 2007

Willie Colon, the spotlight is on YOU!

After defeating the Steelers by a score of 31-7 on Christmas Eve 2006, the Baltimore Ravens were feeling full of themselves, even more so than usual. And why not?

The Ravens abused, humiliated and traumatized the Steelers for the second time in 2006, as Bill Cowher watched with seeming disinterest, if not abject impassiveness, in his last home game as Steelers head coach.

In that game, Pittsburgh’s offensive line again struggled badly for the second time against the Ravens. The line couldn’t open running lanes for Willie Parker (29 carries on only 13 rushes) and couldn’t protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (two interceptions). The Steelers converted only two of 14 third downs, with both conversions coming on penalties.

The team’s embarrassing performance paralleled its first game against the Ravens on Nov. 26, when Parker gained a mere 22 yards on only 10 carries in the Ravens' 27-0 rout in Baltimore. In the two losses to the Ravens in 2006, the Steelers were outgained 634-423 yards and outscored 58-7.

In both games, the Ravens absolutely manhandled the Steelers offensive line and brutalized Roethlisberger. The Steelers couldn’t run the ball and couldn’t protect the passer.

The first game, on Nov. 26 in Baltimore, no doubt haunts Roethlisberger to this day. The Ravens racked up nine (!) sacks, including a brutal helmet-to-sternum flattening by Bart Scott that left Roethlisberger dazed and writhing in pain. Roethlisberger described it as “probably the hardest I've ever been hit in my life.”

It was that “jacked up!” video-highlight hit that symbolized the Steelers’ frustrating 2006 season as much as anything – and may be why Steelers right tackle Max Starks lost his starting job this year to second-year tackle, Willie Colon.

All during the 2006 season, particularly in games against the Raiders, Falcons and Ravens, Starks seemed a step slow in pass protection and was overmatched by speed rushers like Oakland’s Derrick Burgess and the Ravens’ tandem of Terrell Suggs and Bart Scott, who switch from side-to-side in Baltimore’s 3-4 defensive alignment. The Ravens exploited Starks to the point that the right tackle position had to be addressed by new head coach Mike Tomlin. Very early in training camp, Tomlin made it clear that the right tackle job was up for grabs. In retrospect, it was clear that the starting job was Colon’s to lose.

Colon supposedly is quicker on his feet than Starks.

For Roethlisberger’s sake, he’d better be.


Other notes & links ‘n ‘at ...

  • Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls presume former head coach Bill Cowher will watch Monday night’s game on television with a bit more interest than he displayed on the sidelines in the games against Baltimore last year. At least the Steelers will have one thing going for them: A head coach, Mike Tomlin, who will be actively involved and engaged in the proceedings on the field. More cerebral, too.
  • Addendum: The Post-Gazette's Bob Smizik says Tomlin was "Born to Coach."
  • Rest in Peace, John Baker, former tough-guy Steelers’ defensive end, known as Bigfoot, who played as a stalwart on a very rough ‘n tough front four that immediately preceded The Steel Curtain.
  • On Sunday in Indianapolis, it’s Good vs. Evil. Like many other people outside of New England, Joey Porter's Pit Bulls are rooting for Tony Dungy over Bill Belicheat and, frankly, we believe the Colts have a better shot at winning this game than most people are giving them credit for. The Colts are at home. They've won their past three games against the Patriots, and 12 in a row dating to last season. They are the first team in NFL history to win seven games in a row to open a season three years in a row. Their defense is even better than last year's edition. And they are the reigning Super Bowl champs. Plus, the Patriots have invoked some very bad karma this year. Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but we believe theColts actually should win this game.
  • For old times sake, SteelerTribute displays the mug shot of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, whose current situation is discussed in some detail over at Die Hard Steel.
  • Of course, we all know that Ray Lewis is not a murdering thug, right? We must remember the murder charges against Ray Lewis were dropped in June 2000. No, Ray Lewis did not kill those men (Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar), according to the law. Neither did his two friends, according to the law. They were acquitted, even after prosecutors talked Lewis into taking the stand against them. So, as Lewis was alleged to have said, “Just keep your mouth shut and don’t say nothing.”
  • On a more upbeat note, the Pittsburgh Pirates reportedly plan to interview White Sox bench coach Joey Cora, who supposedly has been very highly regarded at every stop throughout his coaching, managing and playing careeer. Just a hunch, but Cora might be an excellent choice as the Pirates’ next manager. Lord knows they need help.


Trevin said...

This is the type of game that will show if Colon is a big improvement over Starks or not.

We haven't really faced an outstanding defense yet, so this is a big test.

I think Willie & Company will do fine on Monday.

And I see little difference between Ray Lewis and OJ Simpson.

Only Joey Porter never tried to fight Simpson numerous times.

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

It's a good thing Ray-Ray and O-Jay played in different eras and were never on the same team.

If Monday's game is going to be a knife fight, the Steelers offensive line had better bring their guns.