Monday, September 30, 2013

Post-Minnesota thoughts

It's easy to single out Mike Adams for the poor game that he had Sunday in London. Jared Allen has done that to a number of tackles in the NFL.

But it's way too early to give up on Adams. It's easy to forget that he was making his eighth career start Sunday against the Vikings. And it was just his fourth start at left tackle.

Was he bad? Absolutely.

But there have been other tackles who have struggled - who can forget John Jackson vs. Pat Swilling of New Orleans? - and turned into solid players.

Jackson was so bad in the aforementioned game that he was yanked mid-series. And after the game, he was walking around the locker room wishing teammates luck because he thought he would be released.

He went on to have a long and illustrious career.

Adams was also much better in the second half. The Steelers got him some help more consistently, but there were times when he was blocking Allen one-on-one and got the job done. In fact, Allen was practically invisible in the second half.

@ On the other side, Marcus Gilbert played a very solid game.

Some have suggested flipping the two again. I wouldn't. Let Gilbert settle in. He played well last week against Chicago and followed that up with another solid effort. Don't mess with that.

@ This offense will get better. The threat of Le'Veon Bell and the running game had the Vikings biting hard on play-action plays. We haven't seen that in a while with the Steelers.

@ Dick LeBeau's defense doesn't work if the cornerbacks and safeties don't come up and make solid tackles.

Cortez Allen missed Greg Jennings twice on the same play on his 70-yard catch-and-run on what was a 5-yard hitch. That can't happen.

Allen has shown to be a solid tackler in the past, so perhaps he was rusty after missing most of the preseason and the past two games.

@ The lack of turnovers is becoming laughable. The Steelers dropped a couple of interceptions - actually, Ike Taylor did, which is nothing new.

But even when they get a great play such as LaMarr Woodley's strip-sack, the ball squirts the wrong way.

@ Opponents are exploiting Vince Williams with their running game. They're going right at him and in back-to-back weeks, it's added up to big running plays.

Everyone complained about Larry Foote. He's too this or not enough that. But Foote was almost always in position.

Williams doesn't have that seasoning yet.

@ As bad as things are right now, the Steelers are two games out of first place thanks to a mediocre AFC North.

You could make the argument that they're better off right now than they would be if they were 2-2 and Cleveland, Baltimore and Cincinnati were all 4-0.

They'd still be the same two games out of first place, but the other teams would be playing well. Those teams are not. They're struggling as well.

That's why I'm not writing this season off just yet. A wildcard is likely out of the equation. But 9-7 or even 8-8 might win the North this year.

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

Timmons is also a liability against the run. Most overpaid/overrated Steelers.

John Kang said...

Love your optimism. I also hold out hope that the season is salvageable. The AFC North is so weak, if we win out (HAHAHAH), and we're in.

The offense didn't look bad, though I'm wondering what's up with the defense? Before last week's big play to Brandon Marshall, when was the last time the D allowed a play of over 40 yards? Let alone two in one game?

Frank Beans said...

Wow, Dale I have to hand it to you for being optimistic. I agree that we shouldn't be writing any individual players off yet but the team, that's another story. I have seen nothing to suggest they'll be able to rally the troops. And Adams most glaring miss came when the Steelers had to settle for the field goal in the fourth quarter on what should have been a TD drive. He let Allen have a free run at the QB, unblocked. He needs to spend some serious time in the film room so he stops making so many mental errors. Finally, the involved Wheaton. Praise be.

Anonymous said...

I agree Dale. I think this team can and will find themselves and start winning football games. The season is not over yet.

Steve-O said...

I see a lot of potential in the young players (okay maybe not Adams) and I saw some things in the offense that give me hope that the Steelers can still compete in the mediocre AFC North. But what's with this defense? Theres not an ounce of nasty in them.

On a seperate note, I gotta say my early hope for the Steelers to draft Cordarelle Patterson is going to haunt me. That kid is oozing with potential and will be a star in the NFL in the not too distant future.

Anonymous said...

Dale,

you sound like my kids little league coaches trying to stay positive after another lose.

(and for the record they are terrible and have no hope of turning it around either)

marc said...

dale, don't know how you do it, but keep staying positive.

as for the o-line, if you're telling me they aren't actually playing that bad, then, logically, does that mean the 5 sacks, numerous QB pressures and lack of running lanes is what we should expect going forward? if they aren't doing that bad, is this then considered good?

also, i am coming around to adamg's thinking about #7. he's just not operating in the offense the way a franchise QB is expected. i'm not completely sold on it yet as i need to see some of his decisions when the o-line actually plays well. but, if he consistently has time to throw and he keeps bypassing wide open guys underneath for "playground ball" or the deep pass on 3rd and 4 then i will be convinced.

otherwise, some of the young guys do look good and bell is clearly the best RB on the roster. adding some high draft picks next year and getting some bigger salaries off the payroll this offseason will help prepare for a good team in the next few years.

sigh, my co-workers here in cleveland are killing me this morning, btw.

emac2 said...

Pretty amazing. 2 games out of first and 2nd pick in the draft at the same time. In week 4!

I was sure the Steelers would sign a guard and move Foster to a back up spot before the season started. There was no way this line was going to survive the season and the money should have been invested in a back up. I would have rather cut Dwyer, Redmond and traded Cotchery to get the money for more lineman.

I think Meat Adams should be given as much help as he needs to protect Ben. You can't have the other teams best pass rusher coming in and expecting a huge game. He needs o know that Adams will be there and Beacham or Heath are going to be there too.

I agree the team could gel if no one else gets injured but I wouldn't bet any money on that.

TarheelFlyer said...

Some of Adams issues were coaching. You can't expect Adams to block Allen all day by himself...he is bound to lose some of those battles, and a few of those badly. The coaches need to provide him help when they can.

Sad that this week our offense finally looked okay, and the D looked pretty pathetic. It is almost like they didn't wake up from the trip. We have 2 weeks to look at things. My guess is Foster is out for a while, so scan the waiver wire for a backup tackle and let's move on and try to win some games.

joe said...

i don't think most of us expected this season to produce a super bowl winning team. on the other hand i don't think anyone expected a team this lost, continually making mistakes on both sides of the ball.

ben needs it beat into his head to hit the check down guy more often (don't think that will work at this point of his career though-to stubborn)

adams obviously needs more help on his side. clark isn't playing to clark standards. polo can't reak havock like he used to, williams is young....

not much to do but hope for fewer mistakes by all. keep the next game in mind and don't worry about the playoffs or standings.

bell, shamarko, wheaton, williams, all look promising even while experiencing some growing pains

Anonymous said...

I don't want this team to luck into an 8-8 record. That let's them make excuses and say things like they are this close to being a good team. They are a terrible team and I hope they lose enough games to let that sink in. The drafts since Cowher left have been terrible.

adamg said...

I'm wondering when Lebeau and/or Mitchell figure out it might be a good idea to swap Hood and McLendon. Hood has looked out of place from almost day 1 at DE and McLendon isn't ideal at 3-4 NT, but better at DE like Kiesel.

Otherwise I agree with your assessment of the OL and Bell.

Anonymous said...

If I would have told you at the beginning of the season, that at the end of September, 3 teams would be tied for the lead in the AFC North and one team would be 0-4, 100% of the readership would have guessed the Browns at 0-4. We feel for you Marc!

adamg said...

marc, I was flipping between Bucs and Steelers, but I did see at least twice where BR took sacks when he could have thrown the ball away.
That would be 2 of the 5 sacks on the qb.

On the final drive killing fumble, he said he wanted to throw the ball away, but didn't have time. To me, in that situation a qb should have it in his head, if the receiver isn't open, chuck it away not stand in the pocket looking for 2nd, 3rd, 4th choices. He had time to throw the ball away, but chose to do look around first, imho.

marc said...

i agree. i also find his statement he was trying to get rid of the ball a bunch of crap. he was carrying it down by his waste, not anywhere near in position to make a throw. his fundamentals suck. this, to me, is a coaching and player issue. force your "franchise" qb to carry the ball up high with two hands, ready to throw. that's what professionals are supposed to do.

this is a case where tomlins past philosophy on benching RB's who fumble is proven flawed because #7 continues to carry the ball around like a loaf of bread and cough it up, yet he stays in the game. he should be benched for a series if it happens again, seriously. show the team that everyone is accountable, including #7.

joe said...

7 is not held accountable by tomlin for the reasons you stated. at this point i have given up on 7 changing anything.
do they give him a final contract after the season, or will the drafat pick end up low enough to take a franchise qb and trade 7 ?

looking forward to see what bell does in two weeks.

Anonymous said...

I like your optimism Dale and agree with you, a 2 game deficit can easily be made up. Someone see if Cowher or Dungy are available, because it's pretty obvious, Tomlin has lost the team, which goes back to last season.

Read the SI Monday Morning QB on Peyton Manning. Everyone is focused on protecting Peyton, running good routes, not dropping balls. Denver is focused and has energy. The Steelers are playing without focus and without heart. I called the home loss to Cinn last year when the playoffs were on the line because you could see them playing without heart.

I was hoping it was an aberration, but it has only got worse this season. Tackling seems to have gone out the window. The coach sets the tone and molds the team, so the standard has been set and obviously they embrace it.

Anonymous said...

lolz there are only 12 left... we are facing ravens twice, pats , packers and lions. I mean if it was 2011 that would have been easiest schedule... there is no way we can win more than 5 games. seasons long over when none of our high draft OL picks were ready to start at nfl level... and we failed to load on defense. we can remove atleast 30 players from the roster... and not feel bad at all...

one has to wonder, how do rooneys feel while paying 110mil for this roster... when pats pay only 100 mil... both were deep playoff teams with vet 100mil qbs.. lost lot of talent on offense..

Anonymous said...

Brian Hoyer - 2

Ben Rothlisberger - 0

Dale Lolley said...

It's not hard to be optimistic about what I'm seeing.
Anybody really believe that there hasn't been improvement since Week 1?
Again, it comes down to turnovers. They've given up 30 points off of turnovers in the past two games. They don't do that - or even get a turnover of their own - and they win both.

The offense looks way better than it did. Bell is a much-needed boost just as the return of Miller was a much-needed shot in the arm.

Adams should have gotten more help from the start with one of the best pass rushers in NFL history.

Saying that the entire line played poorly when it was just one guy simply is not true.

As for the remainder of the schedule, these are not the Ravens of last year. Their offense is one of the worst in the league.

It wouldn't surprise me to see this team win at least 3 out of 4 in the next month.

I think the defense will come around. Timmons is so easily blockable right now because Williams too easily gets stuck out of position. That will change as he gets his sea legs under him.

Anonymous said...

Dale,

Are we spoiled. Yes.

But most Pittsburgh fans can except a rebuilding phase. But the rub with this team is, they have cap issues for years to come. Which leads me to believe that this team is simply poorly constructed. Plus the rebuilding part becomes that much harder with cap restraints in place.

on the bright side we don't have to worry about the second contracts of hood, worilds or pouncey anytime soon since you can get the equivalent from the waver wire

DaveN said...

Anyone really expecting them to go 8-4 the rest of the way, just to reach .500? Not me. "Playoffs?!?" There's no way I see that happening, so they might as well start thinking long-term, and playing the rookies and young guys as much as possible to see what they've got & what they need, not to mention getting higher draft picks as a result of the associated growing pains. The battle is lost guys - start thinking about winning the war in years to come. Now that I've given up on their season, I'm rooting for something like a 4-12 record and a top five pick. What good is 7-9 or 8-8 going to do, really - allow them to salvage some pride? Quoting the wise Marsellus Wallace: "F*** pride!".

Anonymous said...

Here's a little reality, when your leader on offense says that we're the worst team in football, the rest of the team follows that lead. As said before, success begets success and failure..... well someone needs to change the minds, hearts and attitudes of these young men.

Anonymous said...

Until this quarterback starts learning how to take care of the football, nothing is changing.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of attitude, our next opponent is the Jets. They have this offensive lineman who is pretty offensive, Willie Colon. Anyone remember the first Cinn game last year when Colon proceeded to pancake Burfect then hump him on the ground? We rushed for 167 yards and it was a win. That was attitude and probably the spark that lit the fire.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:41 ..

Or maybe the quarterback is making sure the rest of the team stops minimizing and sugar coating things ("we're just a play here and there away from being good") like they did through the preseason and starts accepting the painful reality that they've created for themselves - the team stinks.

And maybe once they accept that inconvenient truth, they can start dealing with it going forward ... by changing it.

I'd say the someone who "needs to change the minds, hearts and attitudes of these young men" might as well be the leader and highest paid player on that team.

Just a thought there ...

adamg said...

marc, I do believe BR is set in his ways and not likely to change.

Thinking about it, my theory is BR was drafted under Cowher, an established coach, and also had an established OC in Whisenhunt. BR wasn't calling the shots and he knew it. Then BR got the big contract extention before Tomlin was hired. Tomlin as a young coach had to be thinking it was a bad idea to come in and make waves with a player who'd just been signed for 102M by the same mgmt who hired him. I'd speculate BR took advantage of that to have the offense his way, with BA agreeing.

I think bringing in Haley was a shot across BR's bow telling him he's not the one in charge. I also found it interesting that part of logic in releasing Batch and Leftwich was to force BR to study more and be a mentor to Gradkowski and Jones. I mean is that something a coach should have to force on a 10 yr vet qb?

I'll be really interested to see if BR continues to turn the ball over and not play smart if Tomlin does pull him in favor of Gradkowski.

Ron Kurimsky said...

There is only one person in the entire Steelers Organization who has previous experience with Football this pitiful. His name is Haley and he had that experience in KC - where they fired him. History is simply repeating itself and will continue to do so until the Rooney's wake up and smell the Roses & hire a real offensive coordinator.

Steve said...

DaveN,

The rookies/young guys are getting a good amount of playing time. It's part of the reason the team is 0-4. To me, rebounding to somewhere in the 7-9 to 9-7 range would have to mean that the younger players as a whole have progressed during the season. I can't see why that would be looked at as a bad thing, even if the team misses the playoffs.

marc said...

dale,
"if" they don't turn the ball over. "if" williams comes around. "if" the coaching staff gave adams more help. every team has these "if" moments in just about every game. however, good teams are able to overcome them. the steelers, since they are not good, have not overcome them and are also having way too many of them.

there are simply too many holes here. an injury to your center and both LT's play like crap then your guard has an off game and the other guard then gets hurt.

or, how about an injury to your ILB, not much depth behind him, your d-line has trouble holding blockers and the secondary forgets how to tackle.

or, the RB's from last year are less than adequate, your rookie gets hurt and then the RB's from last year piss down their leg.

i could go on and on, guys counted on to start and perform aren't, and they don't have the depth for guys to step in and get the job done. they may plug one hole one game only to spring a new leak somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Adam,
You’ve brought up a couple of interesting points. I may be wrong, but I doubt that Tomlin would sit Ben. But let’s say he does and Gradkowski plays turnover free, ball control management of the game and leads the Steelers to a couple of victories. What does that mean for Ben’s future with the Steelers and does it diminish his trade value as well? If on the other hand, the losing ways continue, does that embitter Ben and prove, in his mind, that his play isn’t the problem? Tomlin has a tightrope to walk with that decision.

Your statement also reminded me that we did not resign Leftwich and Batch at the end of the season, but yet were willing to release Hoyer sometime during the season. I can’t remember the exact circumstances of the need to release him, but let’s say we were able to release Leftwich or Batch instead of Hoyer. Does that then mean that we 1) don’t draft Landry Jones with our 4th round pick 2) don’t trade our 3rd round pick next year to Cleveland but instead wait patiently for Thomas or another safety to fall to us in the 4th round? The Steelers may have felt pressure to draft a safety as a replacement for Troy/Clark in the near future and get a QB since we didn’t have a young one on the roster. Trading future draft picks seem so unlike the Steelers, that it appears as though one bad decision cascaded into another bad decision.

Dale Lolley said...

Ron Kurminsky wins the silly post of the day award.

Team has scored 50 points in the past two games and gained over 400 yards in each - and the offensive coordinator is still the problem? Yeah.
BTW, every coach the Steelers have - save Tomlin - has been fired somewhere in the NFL. Hell, Dick LeBeau went 12-33 as head coach of the Bengals. But yeah, you're right, Haley's the only one who's ever coached on a loser.

Anonymous said...

Adams should of had help until he figured how Allen rushes the tackle.

Troy is crowding the line way too much..

Ben needs to hit his check downs.

Allen will get better after the rust is gone

Bell..... :)

The o-line did well, they should start gelling..

Special teams have been so much better.



I see us going 10-6

Zeke

datruth4life said...

Dale, I seldom disagree with you here but I have to this time. I think the Steelers HAVE to try Gilbert at LT just to see if he can do it. We've found out from the preseason and the first 4 weeks of this season that Mike Adams CANNOT play LT in the NFL at this time. The original plan in the offseason was to see if Gilbert could play LT because Adams looked decent at RT last year. What's the worst that could happen if you flip the tackles - you lose the next 4 games and your QB gets pummeled? I don't think Ramone Foster is the answer at LG going fwd so put Beachum in that position, let him play and pluck a G/T off of some good team's practice squad that could be an upgrade over what you have now. Tomlin will lose a lot of credibility after saying that players who aren't performing will lose jobs if he keeps Adams at LT after his horrendous showing so far.

Dale Lolley said...

I'm just saying that they decided very early on that Adams was better than Gilbert on the left side.
They didn't like Gilbert's consistency. Perhaps that has changed. But let's not forget that Adams was playing against one of the best to ever rush the QB. I blame the coaching staff as much for not getting him help early as I do Adams.

And a couple of the sacks were hustle plays by Allen, who's known for that. Roethlisberger held the ball too long. Can't hold that guy out forever.

That said, Adams is struggling.

I don't see them flipping them at this point. I could see Beachum over there if Foster's injury isn't serious. We'll see, could be an interesting two weeks.

HACK said...

Adams is still the best LT on the roster....ride him for better or for worse.....Think I read he has given up 4 sacks this year....and 3 were against Allen this week..

Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick said...

Ben has been a problem and his turnovers unacceptable. But lets be honest, half the reason some of these games have been close is because of Ben too. They aren't exactly running the ball down teams' throats so they can't play ball control and have a qb try to manage the game. That doesn't work with a D who can't get off the field either.

I am having a hard time understanding Ben though. He is over-compensating is my guess. The first half of last year he seemed to be getting the ball off quicker, buying into Haley's system and playing great. I guess he feels like he needs a TD every play to stay in games with the way things are going. I hope he gets his head on right because I don't think the season is lost either, given the division.

I'd also like to say that I'd be in favor of deactivating Emmanuel Sanders for a game or two. He hasn't done anything besides finally hanging onto a deep one last game but has literally done an "aw shucks" routine in each of the past two games after a turnover while the play is going on. Cannot watch that kind of crap when then team is 0-4.

Anonymous said...

you're a good analyst and writer dale but you should probably drop the "playoff equation" angle and the constant references to the rest of the AFC north's mediocrity keeping us "in it." we're 0-4, having just lost to an 0-3 team. there's literally no team in the league we wouldn't struggle against. the idea of us finishing with more than 6 wins is ridiculous. and it's a lot more likely we end up in the 2-3 win range.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing about the criticism of Allen.

I watch as nuch as I can stand of these current Steeler games but i do notice some dereliction of responsibility.

After the know it all administration decimated the team and brought in the new players, they are all blame mouth, as are much of the fans.

I watch those guys on the field and they look like they are trying. You bring a kid in from college football, give him a difficult system to learn, then throw him out against teams who plainly are better, yeah he's not what you expect is he?

Tired of Roethlisberger and Tomlin degrading these guys. Novel idea - Coach them and teach them!

Oh one more comment. They demand to get rid of the old and bring in the younger- how'd that work out fools.

adamg said...

Anon 4:36, I don't think Tomlin would pull BR either, but it will be interesting to see if he does assuming BR's turnovers continue.

I'd guess BR would still have good trade value to other teams because of his track record and because there are a lot of bad QBs in the NFL even he is benched in Pgh.

I've always believed BR is the kind of qb who will decline quickly and sort of unexpectedly rather than have a gradual decline because of the way he plays and his very poor throwing fundamentals. I think the team drafting a qb early will depend on how the Steelers see the end of the BR's career playing out, but either way they've already started the process of moving on by drafting Jones.

The Hoyer saga from nfl.com http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000153126/article/pittsburgh-steelers-reportedly-pursued-brian-hoyer

adamg said...

For those who think the Steelers should just go out and sign whoever, keep in mind BR's contract takes up 10% of the total salary cap number (12M of 120M).

Personally, I don't think he'll be re-signed at the end of his current deal.

Anonymous said...

You know who sucks this year? Ben Roethlisberger sucks this year. Can't argue that. Can't put a optimistic spin on 5 INTs and 4 FL. 9 turnovers. The team is -11 in turnover differential. 9 of 11.


Some of those fumbles came when he was being sacked, but other QBs have been sacked and haven't dropped the ball at the rate he has. Some of those fumbles just look like he can't grip the ball. Wouldn't be the first time that dumb ox covered up an injury to prove to the world how tough he is.

Anonymous said...

Great Article Dale. The fact is the Cortez Allen came back to soon. Gay was playing to good to be benched. Health Miller is healthy and Bell looks good. The only other issue is Williams who will get better. We need to be more commited to the run and play a more physical style and corner. The only other issue I have and I curious how you feel about Ziggy Hood who I think played a very poor game against the Vikings. I dont think hes suited for the 3-4 and would like to see Heyward take his place. Your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Adamg,

I appreciate your digging that info out. I remember Victorian played against Dallas, it was amazing that LeBeau could keep us in that game with fifth stringers at CB.

This again highlights part of the management problems: A short term move is made to the detriment of the long term requirements of the team. The Steelers really liked Hoyer according to the article and he could have been a long term replacement for Ben. He would have been better than either Batch or Leftwich and obviously he’s further along than Landry Jones. So you cut him and hope that he doesn’t get picked up by another team? Hope is not a strategy nor is getting lucky.

If Hoyer continues with the current success that he is having, some heads should roll for the bone head move. Again, he’s not a Unitas, but he’s accurate, gets the ball out quickly and most importantly, he has the intangibles of a winner. The 3 years watching Brady was a good tutorial for success, similar to Rodgers behind Favre.

adamg said...

Kudos anon 9:14. It turns out BR did dislocate his index finger when he hit his hand on someone's helmet. Not sure if was the last drive or next to last, but sure might be the reason he fumbled the ball at the end.

Dale Lolley said...

Actually, Adam, he hit it on a defender's hand while throwing the TD pass to Cotchery.

Came back and played. Not a big deal. Took them to the 6 after that.

The bottom line with this team right now is that they are minus-11. Can't win doing that.

If that number were even, say, minus 5, they'd probably be 2-2 right now.

Does anybody seriously think the defense will go all season without forcing turnovers?

Anonymous said...

Maybe, turnovers have been a bugaboo for this defense for years now.

-12 in 2012
-13 in 2011

Dale Lolley said...

Those are season totals. That's just my point. You can survive being in the minus a bit - though it certainly decreases your chance of winning.

But you can't be minus 11 through four games and expect to win.

Again, does anyone expect them to be minus-44 for the season. That's the pace they're currently on.

Anonymous said...

The Jags just got a quality LT for peanuts...I wish we had a GM sharp enough to do things like that.

Fire Colbert. He staked our past 4 years of drafts on rebuilding the oline and dlines. That has been a failure.

Anonymous said...

Geno Smith will throw some interceptions because he's just straight up playing like a rookie right now. Lebeau is 47,673-2 against rookie quarterbacks.

1-4 here we come!

Frank Beans said...

and yet...

http://www.rotoworld.com/player/nfl/4185/levi-brown

Looks like we got ourselves a legitimate backup LT.