View Full Version : It's time for a little nitpicking

09-10-2009, 01:42 AM
It's time for a little nitpicking
Thursday, September 10, 2009
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Bruce Arians figures he spent more than enough time looking back at what a Super Bowl-winning offense did in 2008, so he didn't have to be terribly descriptive the other day when someone wondered how extensively the offensive coordinator evaluated last season's body of work.

"Every play," he said.

Every single play from that championship season, indicated the OC, got analyzed for effectiveness, advisability, usefulness in multiple applications, and any other endearing or alarming qualities and through all relevant metrics. And never did Arians or any member of his attack unit consider they were part of a slow-starting offense, or anything that could even be described as such.

Me neither.

But as the 2009 Steelers season draws within hours, 220 days removed from Super Bowl XLIII and now plainly visible on the other side of a Harry Connick Jr. national anthem, something has crept into the rearview mirror that no one remembers seeing when we passed it.

When this evening melts toward prime time and the Tennessee Titans appear on the North Side lawn as nothing less than the last team to beat the Steelers (31-14 Dec. 21 in Nashville), they will assume as you would that Mike Tomlin's team has done everything conceivable relative to preparation. They will assume that everyone in black and gold has approached this night like Keyaron Fox, who, as the man who will replace the man who would have replaced bedrock linebacker Larry Foote, is so enraptured by the opportunity that he spent part of this week "in the lab."

The lab is where Fox has developed, just in case he makes what the head coach insists on calling a splash play tonight, a signature move so that the audience won't miss Foote's signature stomp and grinding crush of the imaginary cigarette butt.

"I'm gonna get in the lab right now," Fox said Tuesday at lunch time, "I'll find something."

See, nothing will be left to chance, just as no Steelers potentialities have escaped analysis.

Except ...

If the Steelers start 2009 like they finished 2008 (not that there was anything wrong with that), they will do it with an offense that reliably takes the first quarter off. They are in no hurry, Ben and the boys. The champions did not score a point in the first quarter of any of the Steelers' final four games. They failed to score in the first quarter in six of the last seven games. They failed to score a point in the first quarter in seven of the last nine games.

They did not score an offensive touchdown in the first quarter of any postseason game and have not scored a first-quarter touchdown in seven consecutive regular-season games.

And nobody noticed, perhaps because this is strictly to pick nits (and now that I've mentioned that, I'll pick the Nits to beat Syracuse, 55-13).

"We definitely don't get caught up in all the stats," running back Willie Parker said when the slow-starting offense notion was advanced. "We probably felt at some times that we were lacking in some areas and needed to pick it up, but it never seemed that we were slow starting."

Perception is reality in the Internet age, but reality still bites.

When it came to the first quarter last year, at least offensively, the Steelers were the Detroit Lions. Both scored a total of 47 first-quarter points, which the Lions parlayed into a history-making 0-16 a month before the Steelers won the Super Bowl. The only teams scoring less in the first quarter than the Steelers and Lions were the 8-8 Washington Redskins, the 7-9 Buffalo Bills, the 5-11 Oakland Raiders and the 4-12 Cleveland Browns.

"Maybe it took us a little while to figure out what was going on with the defense," said Darnell Stapleton, who started the last 15 games including the Super Bowl but will miss this season with a knee injury. "When you think of it, it was probably good coaching because, once they figured it out, we attacked it."

No disputing that, but you think someone might have noticed that this was one peculiar 12-4 team in that regard. How many 12-4 teams fail to score in the first quarter of half their games? How many 12-4 teams score three points or no points in the first quarter in 11 of their 16 games? These are rhetorical questions, because posing them as anything else could result in actual work.

"It never registered with me that we weren't starting out well," said tight end Heath Miller. "I think we would have noticed it more if our defense wasn't so great."

True dat.

When you're allowing only 3.9 yards per play, the lowest figure in the NFL in 30 years, you can surely get away with an offense that breaks poorly from the gate.

For the moment then, or at least until kickoff, here's to the glory of imperfection.

Gene Collier can be reached at gcollier@post-gazette.com. More articles by this author
Gene Collier's Two-Minute Warning is featured on PG+
First published on September 10, 2009 at 12:00 am

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09253/99 ... z0QgC6PCG4 (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09253/996920-150.stm#ixzz0QgC6PCG4)

09-10-2009, 02:21 AM
I know Arians isn't trying to use the Wildcat, but I sure hope he considers using Dixon in the option. Too much talent to leave on the sideline.

09-10-2009, 07:19 AM
Logan just must be used on offence too a few plays a game. They need Dixon or Logan in there to change things up some.

stlrz d
09-10-2009, 10:11 AM
Thought this might help clear up some of the "wildcat" discussion with Dixon.

NFL'S "third-quarterback" rule -- sometimes misunderstood:

Seventeen years ago (1991) the third-quarterback rule was instituted to enable teams to have an emergency quarterback available who was not on the 45-man game-day active roster, since many teams, for strategic purposes, only carried two quarterbacks on their game-day roster.

Everybody thinks they understand the NFL's "third-quarterback" rule. But do they?

The rule states that if a third quarterback is inserted before the fourth quarter, a team's first two quarterbacks cannot be used in the game at any position.

Another aspect of the rule is sometimes misunderstood. It is a coach's decision as to whether a third quarterback will be used.

The active quarterbacks do not have to be injured for a team to use its third quarterback.

http://www.nfl.com/news/story?id=09000d ... nfirm=true (http://www.nfl.com/news/story?id=09000d5d809f6279&template=with-video&confirm=true)

Discipline of Steel
09-10-2009, 06:47 PM
That is why Dixon should be getting a hat on gameday, not Batch. It will be interesting to see is truly #2 tonight since neither one has been named yet...at least i dont think so.

stlrz d
09-10-2009, 07:12 PM
That is why Dixon should be getting a hat on gameday, not Batch. It will be interesting to see is truly #2 tonight since neither one has been named yet...at least i dont think so.


Ben - Batch - Dixon