Daily Archives: April 4, 2012
With Nike now on the NFL scene, only one team has made a major change to its standard uniform design. So far. For some of the other teams, the changes came from the way the jerseys are made. But five teams have chosen to make no changes will be made to the appearance of the…
PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Barron Batch, running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers’, joined The Fan Morning Show Friday as he continues to rehab from a knee injury that robbed him of his first year in the NFL.
Barron and the guys discuss rehab routines, his first year in the NFL and how he spends his down time.
Listen to part 1 of the interview here:
Listen to part 2 of the interview here:
Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers
The NFL gave us a taste of what is to come as they released the 2012 preseason schedule for all teams. The Steelers will be on one nationally televised game on Sunday, August 19th at 8pm EST on NBC. The other games are usually only available locally to those in and around Pittsburgh but you can always listen to the Steelers Radio Network streamed lived for every game, right here on Steeler Addicts.
The other games times are not yet announced but the Steelers will also play the following teams during the exhibition stretch of games:
Week 1 (Aug. 9-13) – Steelers vs Eagles, TBA
Week 2 (Aug. 16-20) – 8/19 – Colts vs Steelers, 8pm EST, NBC
Week 3 (Aug. 23-26) – Steelers vs Bills, TBA
Week 4 (Aug. 29-30) – Panthers vs Steelers, TBA
As usual, the Eagles and Panthers are on the schedule but they do get a break from the norm by playing Indianapolis and traveling to Buffalo.
The Colts game will be our first look at the new Andrew Luck era. While Dick Lebeau won...
Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers
I've always been fascinated by the stories of NFL teams that finally reached the top of the mountain after so many futile attempts. One team that comes to mind is the Oakland Raiders of the late 60's and early 70's. They came up short in the postseason time and time again--most notably three times to the Steelers--before finally exorcising their demons and knocking off Pittsburgh on the way to winning Super Bowl XI following the 1976 season.
Other examples include the '71 Dallas Cowboys, who finally won Super Bowl VI after many years of being called "Next Year's Champions"; the Denver Broncos of the John Elway era, who upset the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII to claim their first World title after many sub-par Super Bowl performances in the 80's; and most recently, the 2006 Indianapolis Colts, who were finally able to slay the New England Patriots on the way to winning Super Bowl XLI after so many years of coming up short to the Pats in the big games.
These are fascinating stories because as fans, I think we can identify with the struggle of a team finally getting that monkey off of its back. In the 2010 book "Badasses" that chronicles the Oakland Raiders of the John Madden era and their quest to finally get a ring, the players from those teams talk about how relieved they were to finally get over the hump and win a championship. One has to wonder what their lives would be like today had they not been able to win a Super Bowl.
Winning a Super Bowl does so much for the legacies of certain players and teams. The Steelers are now an institution in Pittsburgh, and it's based solely on winning those four Super Bowls in the 1970's. In an interview with Steve Sabol back in 2003, Terry Bradshaw said that the only thing that mattered to him, and the thing that he was most proud of, was that he never lost a Super Bowl in his career.
Joe Namath has said that he probably wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame today if it wasn't for the Jets upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
We need only look to recent Steelers history to see what winning Super Bowl XL did for people like Bill Cowher and Jerome Bettis. How might they be perceived today without their Super Bowl rings?
Sadly, however, some teams just never make it over the hump.
The Minnesota Vikings of the 60's and 70's are a team that comes to mind; a team that made four Super Bowls in eight seasons but lost very badly in every one of them.
Other examples include the Houston Oilers of the late 70's, who made back-to-back AFC Championship games but lost to the Steelers both times; the San Diego Chargers of the early 80's, who were considered by many to be the most talented team in football, but lost back-to-back AFC Championship games in '80 and '81; and the Cleveland Browns of the 1980's, who were defeated in the AFC Championship game by the Denver Broncos three times in four seasons--including two straight gut-wrenching losses in '86 and '87.
How would people like Jim Marshall, Fran Tarkenton, Marty Schottenheimer, Earl Campbell, Dan Pastorini and Don Coryell be viewed today if they had been able to add a Lombardi to their resumes?
You have to feel bad for those teams and their fans. I can imagine what it must feel like to re-live those agonizing games over and over again, knowing that there was never a fairy tale ending. I can certainly relate thanks to the Pirates of the early 90's, who lost in the NLCS three straight times. It was a great era of Pirates baseball, but the team was just never able to complete the task and win a championship.
Maybe the most obvious example in recent times of a great team not winning a championship is that of the Buffalo Bills of the early 90's, who amazingly made four-straight Super Bowls from 1990-1993. Unfortunately, the Bills lost every single one of them, with the last three being lopsided affairs.
I always thought what those Bills team did was pretty incredible. Yet, the sports world has always looked down on them because they were never able to win it all.
You talk about legacies changing. Just imagine how some of the players on those Bills teams would be treated today had they been able to win one or two of those Super Bowls.
Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas are in the Hall of Fame, but they're never in the discussions of the all-time greats at their respective positions. Would a Super Bowl victory or two have changed that?
Defensive end Bruce Smith is obviously considered one of the greats at his position--he's the all-time leader in sacks with 200--but it just seems like something is missing because he doesn't have a ring.
Would Andre Reed still be struggling to get into the Hall of Fame today had the Bills been able to win at least one Super Bowl?
When you think of the all-time great NFL head coaches, Marv Levy certainly doesn't come to mind. Yet, he's a Hall of Famer and the only coach to ever take a team to four-straight Super Bowls.
I always just assumed that the members of those Bills teams walked around with regret and sadness for never winning a Super Bowl. I mean, after all, that's what the sporting world says they're supposed to do. Nobody cares about the runner-ups, right?
However, not long ago, I stumbled upon an article in the USA Today about those Bills teams, and I was surprised to discover that some key members look back on those days with fondness.
Bill Polian, the general manager of those Bills teams, said, "It's not likely to be repeated. It's a standalone accomplishment."
It was nice to read that, because it actually is an accomplishment. I know we live in a society where even the teams that come up short in the championship round are considered "losers," but making it to four-straight Super Bowls is pretty damn remarkable.
You would think the Bills players have regrets, and maybe they do, but according to Kelly, he and his teammates appreciate what they were able to do: "As time went by, people started realizing how hard it was to go back year after year, and lose. If you talk to any player about that, I guarantee 99% of the players would say that would never be done again, and probably say they don't know how we did it."
It's so hard to even get to one Super Bowl, but somehow, the Bills were able to make it four-straight times. They say one of the hardest things to overcome in sports is losing a championship, so that team must have had pretty high character in-order to make it back after each loss.
"They'll always hurt a little but. But we'll remember the good times more," said Levy of losing the four-straight Super Bowls. "That team has stayed very close personally through the years. Those guys I directed, they're my friends....There's one way to assure you'll never lose a Super Bowl. Don't go."
Awesome quote from a great coach.
How about you out there in Steeler Nation. What would you rather have? One Super Bowl victory followed by a period of irrelevance or an era of several Super Bowl appearances but no Lombardi trophies?
Would the feeling of being number one just one time be enough to sustain you through the years of bad football, or would you rather have several wonderful journeys that never ultimately end in a championship?
Source: Behind the Steel Curtain
The Steelers are meeting with Mississippi offensive tackle Bobby Massie today at their South Side practice facility.
Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The title of this post is sensational, but it is also so very true as Pittsburgh Steelers unrestricted free agent tackle Trai Essex has dropped some more serious weight this offseason as you can see in the picture below that he uses as his Twitter avatar.
When Essex showed up last summer at the wedding of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger he reportedly weighed around 375 pounds, close to 50 pounds over his playing weight. Essex, who was also an unrestricted free agent last offseason, was pretty much told he would need to lose weight if the Steelers were going to consider bringing him back. While Read more [...]
Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Tribune Review is reporting that Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is interested in the team signing Byron Leftwich. Leftwich has been the Steelers back up quarterback for 3 of the past 4 seasons. He knows Arians systems and can be a good mentor to Andrew Luck.
Leftwich was expected to be resigned by the Steelers this offseason. He is one of 3 Steelers quarterbacks who are now free agents. The Steelers other two quarterbacks Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch are both still unsigned. Dixon has been linked to the Broncos but Batch is expected to resign after the Steelers get the cap straightened out.
The Steelers have also added Troy Smith and Jerrod Johnson to their offseason roster. Smith could be a very capable back up to Ben Roethlisberger. He has started in San Francisco and knows what the NFL game is like. As a back up he would be fine.
I will not be sad if Leftwich leaves. He is a good back up but he has yet to be healthy for a full season with the t...
Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers
The logical and presumptive statement "fast is faster" may prove to be misleading.
Tuesday, Nike and the NFL revealed the look of the new uniforms the 32 teams in the league will wear. Outside of showing an illustration of Steelers SS Troy Polamalu in which the six-time Pro Bowl player looks considerably more muscular, very little has changed.
Basically, there's a Swoosh on it. Outside of that, it'll stay the same.
I look as much like Polamalu as the picture does (minus the shreddedness, of course), but it's comforting to see the uniforms weren't mangled with the league's hope to stay modern.
One advantage it could have is, interestingly for today's landscape, an increase in production for pass rushers.
Nike's flywire fabric is much more difficult to hold on to, which could prevent players from holding on by his opponent's jerseys. While every team's fanbase celebrates the future uptick in sacks by the respective members of their team who are obviously always held on every play, Bears LB Brian Urlacher joined the masses by declaring teammate, Bears DE Julius Peppers, is headed for greatness due to the jerseys.
The new jerseys did pique the interest of the Jersey Rules Committee, which has added this topic to its agenda for its kickoff meeting, scheduled for Twins home opening weekend at Target Field in preparation for Annual Jersey Day (July 24).
Source: Behind the Steel Curtain
Featured: Shear the Beard, Children's Hospital Rookie Club Visit, Super Baskets of Hope
Source: Pittsburgh Steelers : Videos
No team is the same from one year to the next, but one can learn about where a team is going by studying where it has been. We've watched each Steelers game last year play-by-play and pulled out a certain amount of trend-setting and trend-extending plays that earned the Steelers both a 12-4 record and a first-round playoff loss. We'll highlight what each of those plays meant from a bigger picture perspective on the season that was in 2011.
No win in 2011 - or in many other seasons, for that matter - was celebrated as a loss the way the Steelers' 23-20 (OT) win at Indianapolis was. Winning their second consecutive game after a brutal start at Baltimore was secondary to the pains in which it took to dispatch the hapless Colts, even if primetime road games are the toughest to win.
Of the Steelers' five total losses, two of them were road primetime games and one was a primetime home game. Perhaps that's why I'm now classically conditioned to feel ill at ease every time I hear the Football Night in America music.
This game more than any other signified the team's shift toward deep passing, and as I mentioned in the Week 2 version of this story, how mediocre pass protection hindered that goal.
Offensive Intentions Obvious From the Start
The Steelers' first 13 plays were scripted to set up the 14th. QB Ben Roethlisberger was 4-for-8 for 75 yards on his first eight throws, and RB Rashard Mendenhall had four yards on his first five carries. The Steelers led 3-0 when they trotted to the line on 2nd-and-5 from their 19-yard line. In double-tight, WR Mike Wallace and Hines Ward are split left, with Wallace flanking Ward's outside.
Roethlisberger sells the play fake, which doesn't fool second-year CB David Caldwell. He's simply overmatched by Wallace, who runs a deep post, and creates three yards of separation.
The protection is perfect, Roethlisberger has no time stepping into his throw and delivering a perfect strike to Wallace about 47 yards down the field. It hits him in stride, and Wallace races from Indianapolis' 32 yard line into the end zone. It's an 81-yard touchdown pass, and could be the finest play the Steelers had run in 2011.
Lemme highlight the key factor here; the protection was perfect. Amazing, considering the scheme had RG Doug Legursky pull right to sell the play fake, leaving DE Dwight Freeney on TE David Johnson in a 1-on-1 situation. Freeney busted in, but with a rare clean pocket, Roethlisberger was able to move a little and buy himself the time he needed to make the deep throw.
It would be the last time the Steelers' offensive line would get away with such a risk. It certainly wasn't for a lack of trying, however.
Jonathan Scott the Scapegoat
After the Wallace touchdown, Roethlisberger took seven-step drops on nearly every pass attempt he made for the rest of the game. He checked down often, with three of his 11 passes going for two yards or less.
The Steelers next four series went thusly: sack and fumble recovered by Indianapolis (led to a field goal, 10-3 Steelers), sack and fumble recovered by Indianapolis and returned for a touchdown (10-10), Roethlisberger deep interception (led to a field goal, 13-10 Indianapolis), Roethlisberger kneels out the half.
That's three turnovers leading to 13 Indianapolis points, and a kneel-down. Roethlisberger was 9-for-11 passing on the final four drives of the half, with two fumbles (losing both) and an interception.
Colts DE Robert Mathis had the first strip-sack, taking RT Marcus Gilbert around the pocket to knock the ball free outside the left hash. Gilbert ultimately takes the blame, although it speaks more to Mathis's motor, and Roethlisberger's lack of awareness. He pumped a pass, and after doing so, keeps the ball outside his body and looks behind to his left. Mathis is inside Roethlisberger's right (ball) side, and slaps it away.
Freeney's sack comes on 2nd-and-10 inside Indianapolis territory. The play appears to be a quick slant to Wallace, who's on the right side of the formation. Scott takes a quick drop and turns his body outward, largely suggesting the quarterback is not taking a deep drop. Gilbert maintains more discipline on the right side, but he didn't block for a deep drop, either.
Keeping Roethlisberger's drop short is probably a good idea, considering the heat the Colts edge rushers are bringing. Roethlisberger drops two quick steps, pumps a pass to Wallace (who's clearly expecting the ball), then drops a few more steps. Scott doesn't see this, and Freeney simply goes off Scott's outside shoulder (Scott is in no position to stop this), and Freeney tees off Roethlisberger, who was drawing his arm back to throw.
TE Heath Miller, on the left side, runs a four-yard pattern, and takes a blocking stance. Clearly, the play was meant to go right side short, but even with what appeared to be Roethlisberger ad-libbing the play, Scott's form is poor, and gives the edge to one of the best edge rushers the game has ever seen.
Scott deserves blame (holding and illegal formation penalties in this game as well), but the overarching point is the offense is simply not on the same page, and it nearly cost them the game.
Steelers OT Max Starks was signed not even two weeks after this game, and replaced Scott just a few days after joining the team.
Ike Taylor's over-aggressiveness
On a 3rd-and-4, Painter is looking to WR Pierre Garcon on his right side. Garcon runs a hitch-and-go, starting at the first down marker. Taylor bites on Garcon's movement badly, even without as much as a pump from Painter.
Taylor is an excellent cornerback with very good coverage skills. What makes Taylor good at what he does is his aggressiveness. As we saw in Week 3, and especially in the AFC Wild Card loss at Denver, Taylor's aggressiveness is also his worst enemy. It caused him to lose sight of Demaryius Thomas multiple times in regulation. Instead of defending the man, his eyes got wide at the thought of QB Tim Tebow lofting one of his patented ducks. Thomas slipped behind him for a few big gains during regulation.
Plain and simple, Painter completely blew the throw, and it should have been 20-13 Indianapolis at this point. Instead, the Colts punted back to the Steelers in a tie game.
Don't think for a second the Broncos didn't watch this game when making their game plan to face the Steelers in the playoffs.
Harrison and Woodley
Week 3 would be the last time Steelers OLBs James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley played together for a full game at 100 percent. And through the Colts' first drive of the second half, they had one QB pressure between them on 23 Kerry Collins pass attempts.
That would soon change against Indianapolis, but the lack of consistent pressure on the passer dogged the Steelers' defense all year. There were times Harrison took over the game (Week 9 vs. Baltimore) and there were times Woodley took over the game (Week 8 vs. New England), but it never clicked for both of them in the same game.
Harrison does what the Steelers' offense had failed to do since the first quarter. He made a play that resulted in a touchdown. Forcing a fumble off a sack of Painter, Polamalu returns it for a touchdown. It was a rare forced turnover for the Steelers, who only had 15 takeaways all year. This was a big one, giving the Steelers a lead they'd need at the end of the game.
The suddenly effective Curtis Painter drove the Colts down for a game-tying touchdown at the end of the fourth quarter, but the Steelers won it in OT, as Shaun Suisham hit the field goal he should have hit in regulation.
Problems with the kicking game continued most of the year, as Suisham had one of the lowest field goal percentages in football.
A win may be a win, but this game was wrought with mental and physical mistakes, setting up a showdown with emerging AFC power Houston the following week.
Source: Behind the Steel Curtain