Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Joey Porter and Ricky Williams in the same clubhouse? What could possibly go wrong?

Quick Hits:

Regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers ...
  • Pass Protection > The coaches say the offensive line was responsible for four sacks on Sunday; Matt Spaeth whiffed badly on one; Heath Miller missed another; and, supposedly, Max Starks missed still another as a backup tight end. Some of the seven total also might be attributed to tight coverage in the secondary (a tip of the hat to Pitt products Darrelle Revis and Hank Poteat (??!!!), for crying out loud, as well as Jets safety Kerry Rhodes, who can play).
  • More (or less) Offensive Line > Center Sean Mahan looks like he's getting tossed around like a rag doll. There seems to be little cohesion. Running lanes just aren't opening, and that's even more worrisome than allowing all the sacks and hurries. Although ... with a franchise quarterback (or any other QB), you just can't keep giving up so many sacks. This O-line surrendered seven sacks to the Jets (who had registered only nine sacks in nine games), and four to Cleveland, which was even worse, with only seven sacks registered entering their game against the Steelers. And, previously, teams like the Cardinals, 49ers and Seahwaks lamented that they kept coming so-o-o close to getting sacks -- and contended that they should have had seven, eight, nine, 10, 11 sacks -- except for Ben's escapeability. This is an ongoing issue, and it's a big one.
  • Speaking of Pass Protection > Isn't the tactic used by the Jets on Sunday, which was to pinch the sides of the pocket to contain Big Ben -- the same tactic teams used against Kordell Stewart? We may see more of it.
  • Play-calling > Quick tosses, slants and quick outs -- all these were talked about by Bruce Arians in spring mini-camp, but we haven't seen much of them (the idea being to get Fast Willie Parker out in space).
  • The Running Game: Willie Parker remains the second-leading rusher in the NFL. Maybe he can rack up some major yardage against Miami. But, as Joey Porter's Pit Bulls mentioned here last week, that turf at Heinz Field is likely to be a mess on Monday night, following the Pitt game on Saturday and the WPIAL high school playoffs on Friday.
  • The Turf at Heinz Field > Let's just hope it's not a factor and nobody gets hurt.
  • Special Teams > Ted Ginn Jr. this week. Maybe the turf will slow him down.
  • Troy Polamalu and Santonio Holmes will miss the game? Ugh, the lack of depth at safety and receiver could be a problem. We're less worried (slightly) about the safety position. At wide receiver, however, Cedric Wilson, Nate Washington and Willie Reid -- they'd better step up, and in a big way. Otherwise, why are they even on this team? Especially Wilson and Reid.
  • Ditto alleged offensive tackle Trai Essex.
  • The 2007 Draft Class > Not looking so good right now, especially first-round pick Lawrence Timmons, who has shown very little, and that might be overstating the case.
Regarding the Miami Dolphins ...
  • Joey Porter and Ricky Williams in the same clubhouse? What could possibly go wrong?
  • Speaking of Joey Porter > Cotter over at One for the Other Thumb solicited Joey Porter reminiscinces from his readers, and there's good stuff over there. Check it out.

A Laundry List of Problems

As noted at this site yesterday and all across these here Interwebs, the Steelers flaws across the board were exposed on Sunday. Still, and we can’t let it go since it’s been such an issue all season, Special Teams.

Columnist Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com today puts Special Teams right at the top of offenders on the Steelers’ lengthy laundry list of problems on Sunday:

“Even so, Pittsburgh lost because of its special teams. New York's Leon Washington returned a punt 33 yards to set up Mike Nugent's 38-yard field goal early in overtime.”

That’s on top of everthing else that went wrong, as Marvez noted:

“Pittsburgh fell to a 2-8 team with a quarterback (Kellen Clemens) making just his second NFL start inside a visiting stadium packed with towel-waving Steelers fans.”

“We fell below the line of what's acceptable," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “We didn't tackle well defensively. We didn't protect our quarterback. We didn't run the ball. We didn't establish any rhythm. That performance speaks for itself.”

To re-cap, then, it says here the laundry list includes:
  • Too many sacks on offense.
  • Too few sacks on defense.
  • Minimal push by the offensive line to open lanes for the running backs.
  • Questionable play-calling.
  • Receivers struggling to get separation from d-backs.
  • Disruptive, costly penalties.
  • Spotty tackling.
  • Way too few contributions from this year's draft class.
  • And lousy Special Teams.
That about sums it up. For now.