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hawaiiansteel
06-28-2010, 03:03 AM
Pittsburgh Steelers Team Report


While the focus has been on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger all spring, the Steelers' defense likely will decide whether the team is back in the playoffs at the end of the season.

Pittsburgh's defense did not slip much statistically, from No. 1 overall in 2008 when they went on to win the Super Bowl, to No. 5 last season. However, it is what they did not do that helped lead to a 9-7 record and a seat out of the playoffs.

A unit that had been known for slamming the door in the fourth quarter in 2008 lost fourth-quarter leads in five losses last season. The Steelers did not get an interception from any cornerback until the final game and managed only 12 interceptions as a team all season (compared to 20 in '08).

The '09 defense was heavily wounded by the losses of safety Troy Polamalu and end Aaron Smith to injuries for 11 games apiece and by poor play at left cornerback after Bryant McFadden left as a free agent. To a lesser extent, inconsistent play at inside linebacker after Larry Foote left as a free agent was damaging.

Both McFadden and Foote are back and Polamalu (knee) and Smith (shoulder) have returned to full health.

What will it take for Pittsburgh's defense to return to more dominant play in 2010?

"I think health, for one," Polamalu said. "Other than that, I think we mesh really well together."

Critics claim the defense has gotten too old. The starters in the D-line are all over 30. Captain and inside linebacker James Farrior is 35. Foote is 30, safety Ryan Clark will be 31 and cornerback Ike Taylor is 30.

http://thestartingfive.files.wordpress.com/2007/12/mike-tomlin.jpg


Coach Mike Tomlin said he's not concerned about the age of his defense.

"No I'm not. When you look at the talent that we have infused over the years, I think we are doing a nice job of infusing guys that go along with some veteran guys, and that has been ongoing since I have been here," he said. "Going back to Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley, and as recently of course as Thaddeus Gibson and Jason Worilds, Ziggy Hood, the young comers. We have done a nice job of adding young guys to the mix at virtually every level of not only our defense but our offense as well."

"I don't think anybody's getting old that I see," Polamalu said.

With Polamalu out last season, several crucial communications breakdowns on defense cost the team a victory and the Pro Bowl safety acknowledged as much.

"I think when new guys are in the mix it's tough to get a lot of those communications things down," Polamalu said. "The whole defense has to communicate."

Tomlin said he's seen good things in that area this spring.

"I'm not concerned about the miscommunications and things that happened in the past," Tomlin said. "It's about being on the details so that we can be a solid unit here in 2010. That will always guide our decision making and actions. I like the way the guys have communicated at this juncture. You don't have a play clock, some of the urgency things at this time of year. We will turn the volume up on that as we get into training camp and of course the preseason will add a significant element of that puzzle. But there is no question that we desire to be sound and have clear communication not only in the back end but all over our defense, offense and special teams units."

NOTES, QUOTES

Steelers president Art Rooney received the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee's Community Impact Award "for his professional and philanthropic contributions over the years."

QB Charlie Batch, the team's player rep to the NFLPA, believes the owners will lock the players out in March if there is no CBA extension. He said as much last summer, too.

"Nothing has changed. We're still there," Batch said. "The players continue to hear nothing different than what I've been relaying over the last year and that's that the players anticipated a lockout."

Coach Mike Tomlin said he would settle on his starting left cornerback before the start of training camp, and left little doubt that would be re-acquired veteran Bryant McFadden, who ran with the first team throughout the spring. William Gay started in 2009 after McFadden signed as a UFA with Arizona. The Steelers traded for McFadden during the draft.

Rookies OL Maurkice Pouncey and LB Jason Worilds are the only two of the team's 10 draft picks who remain unsigned.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Well it wasn't the field-goal block team that got my leg injured it was me missing picking up the fumble." S Troy Polamalu, who sprained his knee in the '09 season opener, on whether he will continue to play on special teams.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

MEDICAL WATCH: DE Nick Eason missed the final two weeks of OTA practices after having an appendectomy. He should be ready for training camp.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: PK Jeff Reed (tendered at $2.814M); signed tender April 13.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)

LB Rocky Boiman (not tendered as UFA).

SS Tyrone Carter (not tendered as UFA).

RB Carey Davis (not tendered as RFA).

DE Travis Kirschke (not tendered as UFA).

OG Darnell Stapleton (not tendered as RFA).

CB Deshea Townsend (not tendered as UFA).

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (*indicates restricted because of uncapped year): None.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.

DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED

WR Emmanuel Sanders (3/82): $1.801M/3 yrs, $586,000 SB).

LB Thaddeus Gibson (4/116): 3 yrs, terms unknown.

OT Chris Scott (5/151): 3 yrs, terms unknown.

CB Crezdon Butler: 3 yrs, terms unknown.

LB Stevenson Sylvester (5/166): $1.336M/$116,500 SB.

RB Jonathan Dwyer (6/188): $1.293M/3 yrs, $77,800 SB.

WR Antonio Brown (6/195): $1.288M/3 yrs, $73,000 SB.

DE Doug Worthington (7/242): 3 yrs, terms unknown.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

LB Patrick Bailey: ERFA; terms unknown.

QB Charlie Batch: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

FS Ryan Clark: UFA; $14M/4 yrs, $3M SB.

DE Nick Eason: UFA; 1 yr.

NT Casey Hampton: Potential UFA; $21.3M/3 yrs, $11M guaranteed/$6.5M SB.

*OT Willie Colon: RFA; (tendered at $2.521M with first-round pick as compensation); $2.521M/1 yr.

CB William Gay: RFA; (tendered at $1.101M with fifth-round pick as compensation); $1.101M/1 yr.

PK Jeff Reed: Franchise FA: $2.814M/1 yr.

P Daniel Sepulveda: RFA; (tendered at $1.101M with fourth-round pick as compensation); $1.101M/1 yr.

TE Matt Spaeth: RFA; (tendered at $1.101M with fifth-round pick as compensation); $1.101M/1 yr.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

S Will Allen: UFA Buccaneers; $4.4M/3 yrs, $950,000 SB.

WR Arnaz Battle: UFA 49ers; $3.975/3 yrs, $975,000 SB.

LB Derrick Doggett: CFL FA; terms unknown.

LB Larry Foote: UFA Lions; $9.3M/3 yrs, $1.8M SB.

QB Byron Leftwich (trade Buccaneers).

CB Bryant McFadden (trade Cardinals).

WR Antwaan Randle El: FA Redskins; $7M/3 yrs, $900,000 SB.

OT Jonathan Scott: Not tendered as RFA by Bills; $545,000/1 yr.

LB/LS Matt Stewart: FA; terms unknown.

PLAYERS LOST

WR Joey Galloway: UFA Redskins; terms unknown.

WR Santonio Holmes (traded Jets).

RB Willie Parker: UFA Redskins; 1 yr, terms unknown.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football ... /notes.htm (http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/steelers/notes.htm)

Crash
06-28-2010, 04:31 AM
A unit that had been known for slamming the door in the fourth quarter in 2008 lost fourth-quarter leads in five losses last season.

2008:

Blew a 4th quarter lead against the Ravens, Steelers win in OT.

Blew 4th quarter lead against the Chargers, offense kicks a FG next drive.

Blew 4th quarter lead against the Jags, Steelers win it late.

Blew 4th quarter lead in XLIII, we saw what we did there.

The ONLY difference between 2008 and 2009 was the offense didn't perform as well in some cases after the defense blew leads in 2009 like it had after blown leads in 2008.

People are so concerned about protecting the "image" of the Steelers they resort to flat out making crap up.

Oviedo
06-28-2010, 07:45 AM
A unit that had been known for slamming the door in the fourth quarter in 2008 lost fourth-quarter leads in five losses last season.

2008:

Blew a 4th quarter lead against the Ravens, Steelers win in OT.

Blew 4th quarter lead against the Chargers, offense kicks a FG next drive.

Blew 4th quarter lead against the Jags, Steelers win it late.

Blew 4th quarter lead in XLIII, we saw what we did there.

The ONLY difference between 2008 and 2009 was the offense didn't perform as well in some cases after the defense blew leads in 2009 like it had after blown leads in 2008.

People are so concerned about protecting the "image" of the Steelers they resort to flat out making crap up.

Ignore the rankings which people become fixated on. The defense has had an issue closing the door on teams in the second half of games for two consecutive years.

For whatever reason the pass defense collapses in the second half of games. As Crash correctly pointed out, in 2008 the Arians-designed offense was able to overcome the LeBeau-designed defenses mistakes. There were just so many in 2009 that they could not overcome the defensive mistakes.

Remember that little game called the Super Bowl? Defense falters and offense comes back to save the day. But then again it is of course Arians who sux :stirpot :stirpot Perhaps people should think what our record would be if we did not have the type of offense that Arians installed that could come back and score quick and recover from defensive lapses.

Steelers>NFL
06-28-2010, 08:45 AM
Not only have they might be getting old. But they are too reliance on Troy Polomalu
in the lineup. Need to come up with a better plan when Troy is out with injury.

Oviedo
06-28-2010, 08:48 AM
Not only have they might be getting old. But they are too reliance on Troy Polomalu
in the lineup. Need to come up with a better plan when Troy is out with injury.

If your defense falls apart when one player isn't there then that is probably a poorly designed defense.

Hopefully Will Allen is a better solution that Ty Carter because I have a high level of confidence that Troy will miss games this season.

BradshawsHairdresser
06-28-2010, 09:25 AM
Tomlin is in denial. The defense is certainly getting old, and he needs to come up with
a way to get more youth on the field more of the time this season.

feltdizz
06-28-2010, 09:40 AM
A unit that had been known for slamming the door in the fourth quarter in 2008 lost fourth-quarter leads in five losses last season.

2008:

Blew a 4th quarter lead against the Ravens, Steelers win in OT.

Blew 4th quarter lead against the Chargers, offense kicks a FG next drive.

Blew 4th quarter lead against the Jags, Steelers win it late.

Blew 4th quarter lead in XLIII, we saw what we did there.

The ONLY difference between 2008 and 2009 was the offense didn't perform as well in some cases after the defense blew leads in 2009 like it had after blown leads in 2008.

People are so concerned about protecting the "image" of the Steelers they resort to flat out making crap up.

:Agree

The D was awful when we needed them last year. The 3rd and long is a killer....

MaxAMillion
06-28-2010, 09:44 AM
Has there ever been a coach say that his defense is to old to perform? Coach Tomlin is not going to insult the players on his roster.

As for giving up leads? Every defense in the league gives up leads now because of how well teams can pass the ball. Most teams throw it more than they run it and it is hard to stop a team from passing successfully the way the rules are set up. I also believe the officials become more strict with things like pass interference in the 4th quarter (my own little theory). All the more reason why you need to have a strong passing game.

The Steelers have made a big mistake thinking a stronger running game will some how make up for their other deficiencies. I submit that a weaker group of wide receivers will have a bigger impact on the team versus a stronger emphasis on running the ball.

cruzer8
06-28-2010, 01:45 PM
Not only have they might be getting old. But they are too reliance on Troy Polomalu
in the lineup. Need to come up with a better plan when Troy is out with injury.

If your defense falls apart when one player isn't there then that is probably a poorly designed defense.

Hopefully Will Allen is a better solution that Ty Carter because I have a high level of confidence that Troy will miss games this season.

Aaron Polomalu? Or Troy Smith?

See, we were actually missing two KEY members of the defense. Not one. Two.

RuthlessBurgher
06-28-2010, 01:56 PM
Not only have they might be getting old. But they are too reliance on Troy Polomalu
in the lineup. Need to come up with a better plan when Troy is out with injury.

If your defense falls apart when one player isn't there then that is probably a poorly designed defense.

Hopefully Will Allen is a better solution that Ty Carter because I have a high level of confidence that Troy will miss games this season.

Aaron Polomalu? Or Troy Smith?

See, we were actually missing two KEY members of the defense. Not one. Two.

Troy Smith.

http://allsports.blogsome.com/images/Heisman.jpg

:wink:

flippy
06-28-2010, 01:59 PM
Tomlin is in denial. The defense is certainly getting old, and he needs to come up with
a way to get more youth on the field more of the time this season.

I don't think Tomlin is in denial. He picks and chooses his words carefully.

But I do think he wants to keep his veterans in denial about being too old.

At the end of the day, everyone knows these guys are getting old, but why say it? Keep them believing in themselves.

I think we won XLIII cause we believed.

Belief makes everybody confident they can win any game at any time.

I think that can carry us through 2010.

We really just need Troy to cover for all 10 other guys.

And Smitty helps too.

RuthlessBurgher
06-28-2010, 02:12 PM
At DE: Ziggy Hood, Sonny Harris, and Doug Worthington are all young.

At LB: LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Jason Worilds, Thaddeus Gibson, and Stevenson Sylvester are all young.

At CB: William Gay, Keenan Lewis, Joe Burnett, and Crezdon Butler are all young.

We could use some young prospects at nose tackle and safety in the next draft, but other than that, we appear to have reasonable youth throughout the rest of our defense.

Steelerphile
06-28-2010, 03:55 PM
Players 30-33 years old are not too old to play sports. That is the age that most of the guys are that people are saying are too old. The question is the injury factor. Unless a player has been supernaturally fortunate, by the time the player in that age range makes it to 30-33, they've had a significant injury or so, and the effects tend to linger.

So, I think that makes them a little more susceptible to injury or wearing down during the season. That is the main reason I strongly dislike the idea of an expanded season.
But I don't think Tomlin is in denial at all. The Steelers have been adding young players to the roster, but some of them do need to see the field a little faster.

BradshawsHairdresser
06-28-2010, 08:21 PM
At DE: Ziggy Hood, Sonny Harris, and Doug Worthington are all young.

At LB: LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Jason Worilds, Thaddeus Gibson, and Stevenson Sylvester are all young.

At CB: William Gay, Keenan Lewis, Joe Burnett, and Crezdon Butler are all young.

We could use some young prospects at nose tackle and safety in the next draft, but other than that, we appear to have reasonable youth throughout the rest of our defense.

Hopefully we see a little more of these guys in the rotation. The only ones of those listed who saw much significant action on defense last season were Woodley, Timmons, and Gay (and Gay saw more action than I would have liked). We hear that Hood will be on the field more. I hope so. Do you really expect Harris, Worthington, Worilds, Gibson, Sylvester, and all of those CBs to get much playing time (barring injuries to starters)?
That hasn't been LeBeau's M.O., but maybe Tomlin can persuade him to change.

skyhawk
06-28-2010, 08:24 PM
You peeps need to chill about the D.

I am not concerned in the least. I think they had some communication breakdowns and I seriously think they had some conditioning issues and looked tired. I think that comes from the physical (and mental) toll the previous super bowl season had.

They will be the #1 D all of the 2010 season.

BradshawsHairdresser
06-28-2010, 08:28 PM
Players 30-33 years old are not too old to play sports. That is the age that most of the guys are that people are saying are too old. The question is the injury factor. Unless a player has been supernaturally fortunate, by the time the player in that age range makes it to 30-33, they've had a significant injury or so, and the effects tend to linger.

So, I think that makes them a little more susceptible to injury or wearing down during the season. That is the main reason I strongly dislike the idea of an expanded season.
But I don't think Tomlin is in denial at all. The Steelers have been adding young players to the roster, but some of them do need to see the field a little faster.

Farrior sure looked like he slowed down last season to me. And Harrison had a significant performance drop in the second half of the season. Perhaps both of them had injuries we didn't know about. But both are in their 30s. Can we expect players like Aaron Smith and Troy to have fewer injuries at this point in their careers--or more?

Players 30-33 may not be too old to play, but they're too old to be on the field as much as LeBeau has them on the field. I think that was a major factor in last season's fourth-quarter collapses.

ANPSTEEL
06-28-2010, 08:46 PM
Players 30-33 years old are not too old to play sports. That is the age that most of the guys are that people are saying are too old. The question is the injury factor. Unless a player has been supernaturally fortunate, by the time the player in that age range makes it to 30-33, they've had a significant injury or so, and the effects tend to linger.

So, I think that makes them a little more susceptible to injury or wearing down during the season. That is the main reason I strongly dislike the idea of an expanded season.
But I don't think Tomlin is in denial at all. The Steelers have been adding young players to the roster, but some of them do need to see the field a little faster.

Farrior sure looked like he slowed down last season to me. And Harrison had a significant performance drop in the second half of the season. Perhaps both of them had injuries we didn't know about. But both are in their 30s. Can we expect players like Aaron Smith and Troy to have fewer injuries at this point in their careers--or more?

Players 30-33 may not be too old to play, but they're too old to be on the field as much as LeBeau has them on the field. I think that was a major factor in last season's fourth-quarter collapses.

Farrior certainly looked like he was losing a step last season- lets hope it was a reflection of him trying to do too much- that caused him to be out of position & a step behind.

In respect to Harrison, I read in a couple different places that he was playing with a serious arm injury (I want to say torn bicep-) but that was never confirmed by him or the team. If he was actually injured, that would definitely impact his performance- and we can only assume, once healthy, he'll be back to form.