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NKySteeler
09-22-2008, 06:14 PM
God, I hate the title of this article... Because it should have been a priority TWO YEARS AGO, while we had the time to form a quality line. At the very latest, last year in the draft, because everyone saw the issues coming (Faneca, etc...)... At any rate, this is a decent article, and makes a few good comments later in it... I highlighted/underlined the ones that stuck out to me...
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Protection is now top priority
by Bob Labriola, Editor

PHILADELPHIA — It was the football version of the perfect storm, and the Steelers were the ones who got inundated.

For them, this game followed a couple of emotional weekends — the season opener and then a road game at Cleveland for early control of the AFC North — and in addition, it came against a non-traditional opponent from the other conference.

Their opponent, on the other hand, was experiencing a bit of early-season desperation after losing to its most hated rival six days earlier, to go along with the realization that two losses in three games isn’t going to cut it in a division where all four teams were .500 or better last year.

Winning this game meant more to the Eagles, and understand these Eagles are good enough to be one of the dozen or so teams that have the components necessary to make a run at a championship. Talent mixed with desperation usually provides a winning edge, especially before the season exits September, and so it was last Sunday here by a
score of 15-6.

That the Steelers’ deficit was just four points, 10-6, as late as midway through the fourth quarter should provide no comfort because with the way the Eagles defense was
dominating, four points was a comfortable lead.

And that brings us to the final part of the storm, which can be described as the Eagles’ search for their own defensive identity. Shortly after Andy Reid was hired in 1999 as Eagles coach, he hired Jim Johnson to coordinate Philadelphia’s defense, and from 2000-07 those units were tied for first in the NFL with 342 sacks. Pressure is what Johnson
creates, but when the football was being set on the tee last Sunday at 4:15 p.m., Jim Johnson’s defense had zero sacks on the season.

It’s not known whether any NFL team has gone from last in the league in sacks to first in a single game, but the Eagles gave it a shot. Ben Roethlisberger went down eight times, second-most in his career to the time the Ravens sacked him nine times during that disaster of a 2006 season, and the team total was nine because Byron Leftwich got to
share in some of the fun late in the fourth quarter.

Those nine sacks don’t include the intentional grounding penalty in the end zone for a safety, or the four times Roethlisberger gained a few meager yards while running for his
life from the pass rush, or the couple of times he threw the ball away because he had no other viable options.

Nine sacks could have been 15 sacks. Easily.

“I don’t think there’s any secret. We blitzed much more,” said Johnson. “Today, we felt there were some things we could take advantage of, although they are a good offensive
team, but it was just there.” Whether it was “just there” for a good Eagles defense on an occasion where they were playing at home and really needed a win, or whether it’s going to be there for every opponent from here on out is the real issue facing the Steelers today.

Bad performances happen all the time in today’s NFL — look no farther than Foxborough and what Miami did to New England — but there is a lingering fear that what happened to Roethlisberger against the Eagles is closer to the start of a trend than a pure aberration.

Twelve sacks to this point means Roethlisberger is on pace to get dumped 64 times, which would reflect a frightening increase to the unacceptable 47 he endured last season, and the culpability goes beyond the five guys up front.

Granted, the offensive line stunk against the Eagles, what with the sacks just part of a performance that also included a complete inability to run the ball plus a bunch of
penalties.

But if the problem was as simple as a couple of offensive linemen playing poorly, then it’s simple to stick some butts on the bench and go from there. This is not a simple issue, however, because a lot more than five people are involved.

Every road to recovery must begin with the admission of a problem, and it’s time for the Steelers to admit that protecting Roethlisberger is a problem with which they are not dealing effectively. Concessions must be made, in everything from scheme to formations to play calls, with the idea of keeping Roethlisberger upright moved much higher on the to-do list.

There could be more change-of pace play calls — draws, screens — fewer empty set formations where Roethlisberger is exposed. The Steelers do not employ a West Coast offense, but this doesn’t mean some components of the scheme that get the ball out of the quarterback’s hand quickly can’t be poached.

The Eagles completed 10 passes to running backs compared to one for the Steelers. The Eagles completed passes to seven different receivers and only two had per-catch
averages higher than 10; compare that to five players catching passes for the Steelers with four of them having per-catch averages higher than 10.

This protection situation is reaching the critical stage, because it is the one facet of the Steelers’ performance that could derail their entire season, and the copycats are hovering. The defense has plugged the leaks that sprung in its run defense late last season, and in the splash play department the unit is on pace for 32 interceptions and close to 50 sacks. The kick coverage has been solid, and the placekicker is automatic.

It’s all there, except a comprehensive commitment to protect the quarterback, and Roethlisberger has to buy into it like everyone else. If this does not change, the storm the Steelers faced against the Eagles will be just the start of a deluge that washes away this team’s chance to be special, to accomplish something special.

SanAntonioSteelerFan
09-22-2008, 06:20 PM
Nice article, NKy . Do you think Tomlin reads these things? Or maybe Rooney?

NKySteeler
09-22-2008, 06:31 PM
Nice article, NKy . Do you think Tomlin reads these things? Or maybe Rooney?

Nah... The Steelers Digest is just toilet paper and propaganda...... :wink:
(but I still enjoy it...)

SanAntonioSteelerFan
09-22-2008, 06:43 PM
I think the only thing that can sink us for real is if the FO, or HC, live in some fantasy bubble land where nothing is as bad as it seems, where "stay the course" and "no knee jerk reactions" are the only things necessary for a path to the Superbowl.

Given that we are talking about the Rooney's and the Pittsburgh Steelers, I find that incredibly unlikely. But, for us to be in the position we find ourselves in after yesterday's game isn't something I would have thought would be highly likely either. Not from the team that found FWP in the scrap heap, Timmons, Woodley, Sepulveda, etc.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed and trying to stay optimistic that we have an incredibly positive offensive experience this Monday night ...

NKySteeler
09-22-2008, 06:52 PM
I'm keeping my fingers crossed and trying to stay optimistic that we have an incredibly positive offensive experience this Monday night ...

I am trying to do the same. I really am... BUT, trends and numbers are what they are... We have an issue there and I don't know what sort of "quick fix" there is for it... We have some tough games on our schedule, and this sort of production (or lack there of) just won't cut it.

SteelTorch
09-22-2008, 06:57 PM
:Agree

Somehow the word "duh" comes to mind when I read this article. Shouldn't it have been a priority before the start of the season???

This is unacceptable, and I blame Arians foremost. This was undoubtedly the worst offensive performance since the infamous Ravens game of 06.

NKySteeler
09-22-2008, 07:03 PM
This was undoubtedly the worst offensive performance since the infamous Ravens game of 06.

...And we rebounded nicely from that one...

Let’s look at the last time the Steelers’ offense performed this poorly. On Sunday, the Steelers gained 180 yards total offense, rushed for 33, and were sacked nine times. On Nov. 27, 2006 at Baltimore, they gained 172, rushed for 21 and were sacked nine times. They came back the next week and beat Tampa Bay at home, 20-3, and allowed one sack.

...But just as one loss doesn't a season make yesterday, neither would one win next week... Some VERY tough competition on the schedule...

MeetJoeGreene
09-22-2008, 09:43 PM
Ben is not the type of quarterback to get the ball out of his hands quickly a la west coast offense on a consistent basis.

Flasteel
09-22-2008, 11:36 PM
I'm keeping my fingers crossed and trying to stay optimistic that we have an incredibly positive offensive experience this Monday night ...

I am trying to do the same. I really am... BUT, trends and numbers are what they are... We have an issue there and I don't know what sort of "quick fix" there is for it... We have some tough games on our schedule, and this sort of production (or lack there of) just won't cut it.

What do you mean you don't know what sort of "quick fix" there is? You highlighted it in the article and I for one have been screaming for exactly this stuff since prior to the Jacksonville game last year. It is the reason we have both been brothers in arms agianst Arians since the playoff loss. C'mon man...it's Coaching!

Not head coaching, although make no mistake Tomlin is ultimately responsible for how this pans out. We're talking play-calling, pure and simple. Arians could be doing a myriad of things all mentioned in that article, but we just saw him revert right back to the coordinator he was last year by refusing to adapt. He has to know these very simple and universally known adjustments, but he can't seem to implement them in his play-calling. I don't know how much Ben audibled or even called in yesterday's debacle, but this had the bad habits of Bruce Arians written all over it.

All we have to do is adjust...that's it. We have unbelievable talent that can make defenses pay if we attack them smartly and cover our weaknesses. The quick pass, three step drop, draw, and no-huddle can all help to mitigate the problems along the line. Arians should be in jeopardy of losing his play calling duties and his job after the season if this continues for even one more game. Maybe we turn it over completely to Ben with Arians more as a sounding board for down and distance options?

SteelTorch
09-23-2008, 12:32 AM
What do you mean you don't know what sort of "quick fix" there is? You highlighted it in the article and I for one have been screaming for exactly this stuff since prior to the Jacksonville game last year. It is the reason we have both been brothers in arms agianst Arians since the playoff loss. C'mon man...it's Coaching!

Not head coaching, although make no mistake Tomlin is ultimately responsible for how this pans out. We're talking play-calling, pure and simple. Arians could be doing a myriad of things all mentioned in that article, but we just saw him revert right back to the coordinator he was last year by refusing to adapt. He has to know these very simple and universally known adjustments, but he can't seem to implement them in his play-calling. I don't know how much Ben audibled or even called in yesterday's debacle, but this had the bad habits of Bruce Arians written all over it.

All we have to do is adjust...that's it. We have unbelievable talent that can make defenses pay if we attack them smartly and cover our weaknesses. The quick pass, three step drop, draw, and no-huddle can all help to mitigate the problems along the line. Arians should be in jeopardy of losing his play calling duties and his job after the season if this continues for even one more game. Maybe we turn it over completely to Ben with Arians more as a sounding board for down and distance options?
:Agree

I had my hopes up at first that Arians really was adapting, but those hopes quickly went down the drain. You can't teach an old dog new tricks, and if Arians really doesn't change by the end of this season, he never will.

His playcalling is not only bad, it's downright irresponsible, because he - helped out by the O-line - will get Ben seriously hurt one day (knocks on wood) if they don't turn things around.

buckeyehoppy
09-23-2008, 05:52 PM
It's like I've said before: the Steelers are trying to protect their Rolls-Royce (Big Ben) with a Safe Auto insurance policy (the OL).

They are also saddling him with Bruce Arians, a guy who ended up wearing out his welcome in, of all places, Cleveland.

Arians probably is a leopard who won't be changing his spots. He is a disastrous play caller and, by this point in his career, Ben should be given much more say in which plays get called. For chrissakes, he's not a f---ing baby, Arians...let him call some of the shots.

I almost don't want to say this, either, but it may be time to take the $7M man off the bench, because Colon is simply not getting the job done at RT. In fact, the entire right side of the OL has been substandard this season. Ben was sacked at least three times on Sunday with the rush coming right at his face.

I talked with some of the Steelers faithful after the game Sunday and they suggested that Max Sucks might just be one of those players that does it better under live conditions than in practice. That there might be some plausibility to his getting beaten out by Willie after all. I don't know if I'm behind that at all, but it does make a certain degree of sense if Willie can't get it together. $7M bones riding the pine makes less sense than Ben getting demolished 8 times a game.

NKySteeler
09-23-2008, 06:16 PM
I am trying to do the same. I really am... BUT, trends and numbers are what they are... We have an issue there and I don't know what sort of "quick fix" there is for it... We have some tough games on our schedule, and this sort of production (or lack there of) just won't cut it.

What do you mean you don't know what sort of "quick fix" there is? You highlighted it in the article and I for one have been screaming for exactly this stuff since prior to the Jacksonville game last year. It is the reason we have both been brothers in arms agianst Arians since the playoff loss. C'mon man...it's Coaching!

Not head coaching, although make no mistake Tomlin is ultimately responsible for how this pans out. We're talking play-calling, pure and simple. Arians could be doing a myriad of things all mentioned in that article, but we just saw him revert right back to the coordinator he was last year by refusing to adapt. He has to know these very simple and universally known adjustments, but he can't seem to implement them in his play-calling. I don't know how much Ben audibled or even called in yesterday's debacle, but this had the bad habits of Bruce Arians written all over it.

All we have to do is adjust...that's it. We have unbelievable talent that can make defenses pay if we attack them smartly and cover our weaknesses. The quick pass, three step drop, draw, and no-huddle can all help to mitigate the problems along the line. Arians should be in jeopardy of losing his play calling duties and his job after the season if this continues for even one more game. Maybe we turn it over completely to Ben with Arians more as a sounding board for down and distance options?

Yes Fla, you are correct, and I agree... It is coaching... And it is Arians, as we both have been saying for a long time. And that's why I don't think there is a "quick fix" available... Arians will not change... It started after the loss to the Jets last year (for me). ... Arians said the mistakes in calls would not happen again... Then after the loss to New England and Jax (reg season) he said the same exact thing. The season finale to Balt was a gimme in my opinion, but then it happened again against Jax in the playoffs. He will not change, because he is unable to... This is not a "quick fix" for this reason. How can you adjust when the OC in not capable of doing so?

Now, I do not think he "reverted back" this past week in any way. We were not put in the position of needing to change during the first two weeks... Nothing has changed from last season so nothing to revert "back from", and I personally don't think it will during this season either... I do not think it would be anywhere near a good idea to get rid of him in mid-season because it would just make a bad situation worse, but this off-season is another story. ... Sure the O-line can share blame, as well as Ben to an extent. ... But when you say "all we have to do is adjust", you might as well say all we have to do is change the rotation of the earth, because that's just as likely as Arians changing....

Now yes, I didn't like the game Sunday as everyone else. And no, I don't think I am over reacting... This is just my opinion of Arians. I have had it for quite a while... Expressed it from time to time... And have grown to accept things as long as he is on the staff... We will win some and we will lose some... And we will lose a few because of Arians.