Category Archives: Season Info
The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped their first preseason game 13-17 of the year last night to the Washington Redskins. The game gave us a good opportunity to see the first team for the first couple of series. However more importantly it gave the youngsters an opportunity to showcase their skills in hopes of making the 53 man roster.
On a side note, starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not play due to an injury to his achillies heel from starting left tackle, Max Starks (6-8, 340 pounds) stepping on it. Initial tests confirmed that the injury does not appear to be serious. I really worry about the health of Big Ben this year. He may get sacked 50+ times this year if Max Starks & Co. continue to perform at this level. This offensive line looks to be just as bad as last year if not worse. They're pass protection was subpar and they have not gotten any push in the run game.
The preseason record does not really matter. It's the analysis of the players, and the "sharpness" of the game. It was good to see of the rookies such as Ziggy Hood do well. As a team though, the Steelers looked flat. They didn't seem to have a sense of urgency outside of a few players, and they certainly weren't "sharp" (13 penalties). Below are some quick notes from what I've observed from the game:
Lawrence Timmons - Excels in "search and destroy" mode but I still don't think he's strong in the run game. Once these guards get their hands on him, he really struggles to fight through blocks. Everytime the Redskins ran to his side, they gained positive yardage, somtimes in huge chunks too. I do not think I have ever seen Timmons read a run play, fight through a block inside, and stop a running back at or behind the line of scrimmage. It's obvious to me that 3-4 ILB is not his ideal position during run plays at this point in his career. To be honest, if this becomes a consistent problem, I wouldn't be opposed to seeing Keyaron Fox on 1st down.
Limas Sweed - Similar to last game, Sweed dropped a very easy first down catch. However, he made a very nice sliding catch for 17 yards.
Mike Wallace - The "speedster" continues to impress. He has good hands and isn't afraid to go across the middle.
Rashard Mendenhall - Did not play with the first team offense at all. When given the opportunity, he did well averaging 5.2 yards a carry (5 carries for 26 yards). He looks a little hesitant out there though.
Offensive Line - In defense of the OL, they were down 2 starters if you consider Darnell Stapleton a starter. Overall, they played poorly. On the first play of the game, Max Starks almost got Charlie Batch killed. The DE ran right around Starks like he wasn't even there. I swear, a lawn chair would have done a better job blocking than Starks did on that particular play. They hardly gave Batch any time to throw and Batch being very immobile doesn't help matters. Wow, we are very lucky to have Big Ben as our quarterback especially behind this OL. The OL also got very little push in the run game.
Daniel Sepulveda - It's great to have a solid punter again. He is really going to help out our defense (not like they need much help). Sepulveda had 5 punts averagine 47.8 yards.
Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes - Both had 2 very nice catches for 1st downs. Hines' was spectacular in a leaping grab on a post pattern with LaRon Landry on the coverage.
Dennis Dixon - 8/16 for 68 yards. He also had a few nice runs. He definitely has his hot and cold streaks. At this moment, I would not feel comfortable with him as our #2 QB.
Joe Burnett - Allowed the ball to be stripped on a punt return. He may have a hard time making the 53 man roster if he doesn't progress with special teams. He needs to protect the ball better.
Ziggy Hood - Another strong performance for the first rounder with 4 tackles and 2 sacks. I see him getting immediately involved in the rotation to keep our starters fresh. On a side note, he is very quick for a big man.
Ra'Shon Harris - Another rookie with a strong performance. Seems to hold his ground well and gets a little push into the backfield. If Harris can make the 53 man roster, this would be a great injection of youth to the Steelers defensive line. Could he possibly progress to our future NT?
Troy Polamalu - In typical Troy fashion, he looks like he's in mid season form
William Gay - Looks solid both in coverage and run support. I don't think we'll miss McFadden much as a starter. I just hope one of the young guys such as Burnett or Wallace step up to provide added depth to our secondary.
Keyaron Fox - Overall, solid ILB. Last night, he was particularly strong in run defense and led the team with 5 tackles. Very good to have a quality backup at ILB.
Other Backup LB's - Arnold Harrison and Donovan Woods looked solid. Some of our backups could probably start on other teams which is a good problem to have. I'm also seeing Bruce Davis progress as well.
Stefan Logan - Did very well in both kick and punt returns. Averaged 40 yards a kick return (60 yarder in the 3rd quarter).
STEEL CURTAIN RADIO #4: MAX STARKS INTERVIEW
Check out the 1 on 1 Interview with Max Starks
1. Max Starks talks About Free Agency and his Long Term Plans
2. Max talks about what makes Big Ben so Special?
3. Max gives his thought son Albert Haynesworthss Deal
4. Max speaks on the media’s focus on contracts?
5. Max gives his thoughts on Demarcus Ware
6. Max gives his thoughts on the differences between Tomlin and Cowher
Interview Provided by: whatchatalkinbout.com
|Steelers 2008 Salaries|
Watch Santonio Holmes at Walt Disney's Magic Kingdon Super Bowl XLIII Victory Parade.
Super Bowl XLIII Most Valuable Player, Santonio Holmes joins Jay Leno on The Tonight Show. Watch the full interview below:
On February 2nd, the Monday after the Super Bowl XLIII, Ben Roethlisberger joins David Letterman on the Late Show. Watch the full interview below:
The Super Six
The Pittsburgh Steelers are Super Bowl XLIII Champions. How sweet it is to bring back another Vince Lombardi Trophy to the city of Pittsburgh. It is well deserved.
I had to wait a few days to write this blog to let the victory sink in. To be honest, I am still in the process of reading every Super Bowl article on the internet still. You name it, the Post Gazette, Tribune-Review, ESPN, CBS SportsLine, Yahoo! Sports, etc. I just can't get enough of this Super Bowl victory. It was perhaps the most emotional game I have ever watched. I can honestly say that I thought destiny (and the referees) were against us when I saw Larry Fitzgerald score a touchdown, to take the lead, with just under 3 minutes remaining. I thought the game was over.
Then, our franchise QB, Ben Roethlisberger marches 88 yards down the field (in spite of a holding call on Darnell Stapleton). To cap off the drive and the Super Bowl victory, Santonio Holmes made one of the best catches I have ever seen and possibly the best catch in Super Bowl history. Give huge props to Big Ben Roethlisberger; he put together possibly the best 2-minute drive in Super Bowl history.
I won't review the game since you all have probably seen all the highlights and read all the analysis you can handle at this point. However, in a future post, I will add all the Super Bowl XLIII highlights to our Steelers photo and highlight gallery. What I will review is a few plays and thoughts from the Super Bowl.
James Harrison returns interception for 100-yards
The interception return was easily one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history and is now in the record books as the longest play for a touchdown in Super Bowl history. I couldn't believe what I was watching and was going crazy in watching him go yard-by-yard on the way to a pick-six. I think I was gasping for air just as much as James Harrison was by the time he reached the end zone. That play was simply unbelievable. That was most likely, at a minimum, a 10-point swing.
Troy Polamalu lining up face-to-face with Larry Fitzgerald
I personally think this matchup wasn't talked about nearly enough and should have been one of the post-game story lines. Larry Fitzgerald, the best athlete on the Arizona Cardinals (and best WR in the NFL) matched-up with Troy Polamalu whom is equally as athletically gifted. Polamalu played bump and run with Fitzgerald to try to slow him up a bit and delay him from 'hitting his routes'. The media downplayed this matchup. Most people questioned why Kurt Warner didn't get the ball in Fitzgerald's hands earlier but you can't throw the ball to the guy if he's double and sometimes triple covered. Give Ken Whisenhunt credit for moving Fitzgerald around later in the game to get better matchups. I thought Dick Lebeau and the Steelers D should have started moving Troy Polamalu around to 'spy' Fitzgerald later in the game. They didn't do it and you saw what happened. Fitzgerald started torching our secondary.
Larry Fitzgerald scoring with just under 3 minutes to play
This was a devastating play and it really showcased why Fitzgerald is the best in the business. He's got the intelligence, the speed, leaping ability, and the hands to dominate in this league. I really thought this was going to end up being the game winning touchdown. Larry lined up in the slot, beat his man, split the seam and was off to the races. Troy Polamalu took a gamble and the Steelers defense paid the price. Polamalu was over aggressive and attacked the out pattern which opened up a huge hole down the middle of the field.
Larry Fitzgerald beating Ike Taylor on the fade route
This is just another showcase of this guys ability. Also, give props to Ike Taylor because he had absolutely incredible coverage. It's just that if Fitzgerald gets his hands on that football in a "jump ball" situation, he almost always comes down with it.
The play of Big Ben
In watching this game, Ben Roethlisberger had an absolutely incredible game and really deserved the MVP award and that's not taking anything away from Santonio Holmes because he had an amazing game as well. Ben Roethlisberger made some plays that showcased why he's an elite quarterback in this league. His scrambling ability to buy time in the pocket was amazing. In particular, the throw to Heath Miller in the first quarter while buying time and throwing across his body displayed his underrated athleticism, arm strength and his field vision. Steve Young said it best (and I'm NOT a Steve Young fan) when he asked Ben, 'How do you do that', 'Do you have eyes in the back of your head'. It sure seems that way, Young.
The playmaking of Roethlisberger doesn't stop there either. His pump fakes caused the Arizona Cardinals cornerbacks major headaches as well as his ability to extend the play in the pocket. His accuracy was "spot-on" in the biggest game in the world (or maybe I should refer to the Planet hereJ ). For example, his 1st down throw to Holmes on the last drive displayed his accuracy and arm strength. His throw out of the end zone (which resulted in a safety due to the Hartwig bogus holding penalty) was equally impressive. His 2-minute drive was typical Ben fashion. Even though I'll admit that I wasn't confident at the point, I knew that with Big Ben this game was not over.
The game winning touchdown pass to Holmes in the end zone was perfect. It couldn't have been thrown in any other place. If Ben threw that ball a foot to the left, it's intercepted. If Ben throws that ball a foot to the right, it's out of Holmes' reach. Ben was simply incredible on the biggest stage in the world and in my mind, is well on his way to becoming a Hall of Famer. Did I mention he's only 26?
Holmes Breakout Party (and a bit on Hines)
The play of Holmes' was equally as impressive. He just made play after play after play. I give him huge credit because I knew that the extra coverage was going to be rolled his way because of the injury to Hines Ward. I thought the first reception to Hines Ward was instrumental because it scared the Cardinals in thinking that he was healthier than what he really was and opened the door for Holmes.
Hines played more of a decoy role in this game but he's equally as good. The guy is a flat out football game that plays the game the way it was meant to be played. Hines Ward plays tough, healthy/hurt, emotional, physical and great. He's the ultimate Steeler and I can't wait to see him inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
With Ward not being 100%, it was time for Santonio to step up. And step up he did, by winning himself the Most Valuable Player honors. The media hype up rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie all week and said he would shut down one of the Steelers receivers. Well, that was far from the truth. I think Holmes took a little offense to that as well. Cromartie was used and abused by Holmes all game. It was a complete mismatch and the Steelers exploited it.
Offensive Line - While they played a decent game, especially the tackles (wow, did I really say that?) it just makes me wonder how good Big Ben would be with a solid o-line. I think we'll see the offensive line addressed this offseason. I am predicting that they'll be one new starter at guard and tackle come next year. Our offensive line in short yardage situations is a terrible though. The Steelers failed to score a touchdown on two occasions (1inside the 10 yard line, and 1 on the inch yard line) that could have put this game WAY out of reach, early.
Coaching - Overall, I think the coaching was good. Both Whisenhunt and Tomlin had their guys prepared to play. I'm more impressed with Mike Tomlin more than ever now. I guess a Super Bowl victory in your second season will do that. Bruce Arians had a better than expected game plan but I would have thought, I'd see more passes to Heath Miller especially with the early success. Dick Lebeau had a great game plan as well but that is nothing new. It's great that he'll be back next season!
Linebackers - The Steelers 'backers had an amazing game. Harrison is simply a beast and must be accounted for on every play. Woodley is an all-pro type player and we should be lucky to have him and he's only in his second year! He dominated Levi Brown all day and clinched the game with the forced fumble. Foote is still solid and very good against the run. James Farrior is Mr. dependable and is the leader on defense. He had a great game and is well deserving of his Pro Bowl status. Farrior is playing like he's 24 years old, not 34. It's a credit to his preparation. Lawrence Timmons is a star in the making. Timmons has his troubles in run defense, but he's great in pursuit, an explosive hitter, great in coverage, and has speed and burst.
The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line has one more big challenge for the 2008-2009 NFL season. And what a challenge it is, for the Pittsburgh Steelers 6th Super Bowl victory. Truth be told, I think the Steelers offensive line issues have not received enough publicity this week.
The NFL analysts have been more interested in Larry Fitzgerald and the Steelers defense more than anything else. But the game could and probably will be decided up front on both sides of the ball. The Steelers offensive line will have their hands full to say the least.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm are very familiar with the Steelers sub-par offensive line. They know their strengths and weakness and you can expect that both have been relaying their knowledge to the defensive staff of the Arizona Cardinals.
The Steelers have the advantage in run blocking against the Cardinals. The Cardinals are an undersized front and are not nearly aggressive up-front as teams the Steelers are used too and have played against. The New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, San Diego Chargers, New York Giants, Cleveland Browns, etc are all bigger and more aggressive defensive fronts that the Steelers have faced. I would expect that the Steelers should be able to run on the Cardinals. And make no mistake about it; we need Parker, Moore, and Russell to have a huge game which will in turn, open up the passing game.
However, the Steelers have a disadvantage against the pass rushers of the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals defensive front, while undersized, has very quick pass rushers coming off the corner. This is by far the Steelers biggest weakness and could potentially win the game for the Arizona Cardinals and is a huge matchup for the Steelers. Willie Colon will have his hands full and better not jump offsides to try to compensate for the speed rush. Max Starks is the slowest footed left tackle in the league. Ben Roethlisberger must get rid of the ball quickly, he must hit his quick hot reads, and must punish the Cardinals for sending blitzes his way (i.e. get the ball in Heath Miller’s and Mewelde Moore’s hands!)
While the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line has been better later in the season, they must put together a good performance Sunday in order for the Steelers to hoist their sixth Lombardi trophy.
Mike Tomlin has been named as the motorola Coach of the Year. Congrats Mike Tomlin.
This is definitely a shot at Ken Whisenhunt whom wasn't even in the hunt for the coach of the year. Whisenhunt coached in the weakest division in the league and posted a 9-7 record. However, give credit to the Arizona Cardinals for winning when it counts: In the playoffs. Whisenhunt also helped make "believers" out of the Arizona Cardinals fan base and team alike. The Cardinals do have talent (top 5 draft picks for the past decade will solve that problem) though.
Meanwhile, Mike Tomlin was in a good situation from the beginning. He became head coach of an extremely stable franchise. Additionally, he had a solid core players with a good mix of veterans and young talent. Give credit where credit is do though. Mike Tomlin does not have the best assistants in the game (aside from Dick Lebeau). Not even close. He has done an excellent job over the past 2 years. He posted an impressive 12-4 record (3-0 in the playoffs) in what has been described as one of the toughest schedules in the history of the National Football League.