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hawaiiansteel
07-03-2010, 04:49 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers: Top Ten Camp Concerns

by Nick DeWitt
Bleacher Report

As July opens, NFL teams each begin the long road to Training Camp, and the 2010 football season. Each team heads to their respective training grounds with significant questions to answer.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, it has been a long, difficult offseason punctuated by injuries, off-field misbehavior. Here are the top 10 concerns for Mike Tomlin and company as we all get ready for the season ahead

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/slides/photos/000/283/529/98773771_display_image.jpg?1278169076


1. The Replacements: Quarterback

Ben Roethlisberger is suspended for four to six games to start the season.

Charlie Batch is supposedly in the race, but the battle belongs to young Dennis Dixon and veteran Byron Leftwich. While most fans, including myself, feel that Dixon should be the starter, Mike Tomlin has been indicating that Leftwich will get the first chances. He's taken more snaps with the first team.

Dixon's athletic ability and skills give him a slight edge, but Leftwich has experience as a starter.

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/slides/photos/000/283/530/83409979_display_image.jpg?1278169225

2. The Replacements: Wide Receiver

Holmes was shipped to the Jets for a 5th round draft choice after yet another off-field incident. Mike Wallace will have to prove he truly is a 60 minute man, as he will likely be asked to start opposite Hines Ward. Wallace has good speed, good hands, and runs acceptable (and improving) routes.

Wallace may develop into a top receiver. He certainly has the playmaking ability. But he is mostly a speed receiver who thrived on being the third best guy on the field. Teams had to cover Ward and Holmes. Wallace and tight end Heath Miller were then free to become big targets in the passing game.

Now, the pressure and target will be on Wallace. He will draw double teams because of his speed and he will no longer be free to roam the middle. Rookies Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, as well as veteran Antwaan Randle El will also get chances if Wallace struggles. Look for one of them to replace Wallace as the go to guy in tough spots.


http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/slides/photos/000/283/538/95131297_display_image.jpg?1278169579

3. The Replacements: Right Tackle

Willie Colon will be hard to replace. My first reaction is to be glad it was not the left tackle, who protects the quarterback's blind side. My second was that the Steelers theoretically have the depth to fix this.

First, Maurkice Pouncey starts at right guard. He's physically gifted enough for any of the interior line positions and, with center Justin Hartwig entrenched for this season, it makes sense to make use of his skill somewhere.

Trai Essex, who did a good job filling in for injured Darnell Stapleton last season (so good that Stapleton is gone now), gets the call again, this time at right tackle. Essex was drafted as a tackle, so this is his natural position.

This is probably of more importance than the first two replacement jobs. The team's offensive line struggles are becoming legendary. If someone can't plug the holes, then all of the Steelers quarterbacks are going to be seeing a lot of the turf.

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/slides/photos/000/283/559/84661340_display_image.jpg?1278173351

4. The Return of Troy

Without Troy Polamalu last season, the Steelers vaunted defense didn't just seem pedestrian. They seemed awful. That's not to say all of their struggles were Polamalu-related, but the Steelers defense is a different and dangerous animal when #43 is on the field.

So far, so good. Polamalu seems fully recovered, he's cutting well and running at full speed. If Polamalu is fully healthy and ready for action, then suddenly Dick LeBeau's vaunted unit looks ready to be dominant once again.

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/slides/photos/000/283/560/93020972_display_image.jpg?1278170310

5. Decline and Fall

It happens to everyone in sports. Eventually the body just cannot and will not cope with any more punishment.

Several Steelers are knocking on that door. Whether or not they finally hit the wall will determine a lot about this season.

Hines Ward is probably the top name on this list. He's 34 and entering his 13th season. He also plays one of the most punishing styles of receiver ever.

He's thrilling to watch, but he's also more and more likely to go down. So far, he's defied logic by being a smaller guy who delivers huge hits. He could be confused with a linebacker or strong safety if not for the league's numbering system.

If Ward goes down, the Steelers' passing game will suffer greatly. He's their biggest and most consistent threat. Losing him would be akin to losing Polamalu last season.

Also aging are defensive linemen Casey Hampton and Aaron Smith, both in their 30s as well. James Harrison may be young in experience, but he's getting on in years too.

Losing any one of these four players could put the Steelers in a precarious spot, as depth at their positions, especially on the defensive line, is not very good.

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/slides/photos/000/283/566/95130371_display_image.jpg?1278170956

6. Secondary Concerns

The Steelers' secondary, particularly the corners, were awful in 2009. William Gay couldn't step into Bryant McFadden's shoes, looking over-matched and out of place all season. Ike Taylor, once assigned to cover the league's top talent, looked unable to cope with the loss of Troy Polamalu.

No one could intercept a pass or create a turnover. It was ugly from beginning to end.
Ike Taylor is back for one more try. If he fails now, there's plenty of young talent knocking on the door. Also back is McFadden, who will thankfully replace Gay, who returns to his role in the nickel and dime, where he excelled as a rookie.

Also available are several talented youngsters: Joe Burnett, Keenan Lewis, and rookie Crezdon Butler all could play a significant role this season.

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/slides/photos/000/283/567/92943365_display_image.jpg?1278171287

7. Isn't That Special

After three years and declining production, the Steelers fired special teams coordinator Bob Ligashesky.

A unit that last year was continually plagued by long returns, several of which went for touchdowns, has been entirely revampled and is now under the coaching of Al Everest, a respected name in special teams coaching.

Will Allen and Arnaz Battle will provide veteran leadership to the unit. Young draft picks will provide speed and muscle. Everest will provide a better scheme.

This unit looks much stronger than last year's edition. Sadly, if the current players struggle, the only solution will be to risk playing starters on the coverage units, which several teams do.

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/slides/photos/000/283/570/95611065_display_image.jpg?1278171618


8. Offensive Coordination

The Steelers took a huge risk this offseason by not investing in an offensive coordinator with a proven track record. Instead, they will continue with Bruce Arians, who has a track record for, well, strange play-calling.

Arians will be asked to curb the passing trend that defined the Steelers in 2009. Both Art Rooney and Mike Tomlin want more running plays and a return to a ball control offense. These are not Arians' strong suit, so it will be a huge challenge.

I said before that keeping Arians was a mistake. This season will either prove or disprove that statement. He is the coach on the hottest seat within the organization.


http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/slides/photos/000/283/572/76027591_display_image.jpg?1278171990

9. Running the Gauntlet

Rashard Mendenhall emerged last season as a top running back. In his first season as a starter, Mendenhall topped the 1,000 yard mark and proved to be both an explosive running and tough inside guy.

He is the complete back the Steelers really have not had since Barry Foster. He can get the tough inside yards like Jerome Bettis or bounce outside like Willie Parker.
The problem is, he's now all alone.

Mewelde Moore is more of a pass-catching threat than a running back. Jonathan Dwyer is likely to be the new pounder at the goal line, but he's untested.

Mendenhall is expected to shoulder a bigger load this year as well with the new commitment to running the ball again.

He doesn't have many holes in his game, but fumbles were a problem last season. He resembled Adrian Peterson in a lot of ways. He was great at gaining yards but, when fighting for more, he could lose the ball.

The running game as a whole is going to be a huge focus area this season, so Mendenhall's performance will dictate a lot about the 2010 season.

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/slides/photos/000/283/577/93608771_display_image.jpg?1278172319

10. Image is Everything

The Steelers Mystique suffered innumerable hits during the offseason. Starting with Ben Roethlisberger's legal troubles and ending with questions about the team's ability to produce under Mike Tomlin, the Steelers have much to answer for in the coming season.
At various points, Mike Tomlin has been lauded and criticized in the press. He's been accused of winning with Bill Cowher's roster rather than putting his own stamp on the team.

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/slides/photos/000/283/581/95424010_display_image.jpg?1278173905

I tend to disagree. Any coach who wins a Super Bowl has done a phenomenal job of coaching his team.

But to silence the critics on the eve of what will be very interesting extension talks, Tomlin must take charge and prove that this is where he belongs. He's got no shortage of challenges to overcome, so this will have to be his best work to date.

Ben Roethlisberger's image will take longer to rehabilitate, but he must start as soon as his suspension lifts by winning football games on the field and being a model citizen off of it. The Rooney family will not accept less.

The defense and running game, hallmarks of Steelers teams of the past, must return to prominence and effectiveness or several players and coaches could find themselves in street clothes.

All of this work begins at the end of the month when camp opens. It's time to put the puzzle together and see if the Pittsburgh Steelers can shirk the analysts and return to the top.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/4...oncerns#page/1

RuthlessBurgher
07-03-2010, 05:04 PM
On what planet is "The Return Of Troy" considered to be a camp concern? That one made no sense whatsoever.

feltdizz
07-03-2010, 05:27 PM
On what planet is "The Return Of Troy" considered to be a camp concern? That one made no sense whatsoever.

why wouldn't it be? Is he really healthy? He missed the whole season and until he has contact who knows if he is fully healed.

Troy is our biggest concern IMO.

frankthetank1
07-03-2010, 08:00 PM
On what planet is "The Return Of Troy" considered to be a camp concern? That one made no sense whatsoever.

why wouldn't it be? Is he really healthy? He missed the whole season and until he has contact who knows if he is fully healed.

Troy is our biggest concern IMO.

i think the point was why would the return of troy be a camp concern? it should be "troy's health" is a camp concern. troy coming back is not a concern.

stlrz d
07-05-2010, 12:02 AM
On what planet is "The Return Of Troy" considered to be a camp concern? That one made no sense whatsoever.

Not sure. I stopped reading after I read this:


Bleacher Report

:D

Oviedo
07-05-2010, 11:52 AM
On what planet is "The Return Of Troy" considered to be a camp concern? That one made no sense whatsoever.

why wouldn't it be? Is he really healthy? He missed the whole season and until he has contact who knows if he is fully healed.

Troy is our biggest concern IMO.

I think even if Troy is hurt this year we are in a far better situation with Will Allen as the back up versus Ty "Can't Cover No One" Carter

I more concerned about WR and OT than Troy but I actually think we have the ability to fix both

This is still an 8-10 win team...MINIMUM!!!!! I could see 12 wins if somethings break our way.

Steelerphile
07-05-2010, 03:01 PM
On what planet is "The Return Of Troy" considered to be a camp concern? That one made no sense whatsoever.

why wouldn't it be? Is he really healthy? He missed the whole season and until he has contact who knows if he is fully healed.

Troy is our biggest concern IMO.

I think even if Troy is hurt this year we are in a far better situation with Will Allen as the back up versus Ty "Can't Cover No One" Carter

I more concerned about WR and OT than Troy but I actually think we have the ability to fix both

This is still an 8-10 win team...MINIMUM!!!!! I could see 12 wins if somethings break our way.

What gives you such great faith in Will Allen? Someone I suspect you have not even seen play.

Let's compare the last three seasons of the "great" Will Allen with "Can't cover No one" Carter.


From 2007-2009. Will Allen had a total of 48 tackles; 0 Ints; 1 Pass defensed; O TDs; 1 Forced Fumble; and 3 Fumble Recoveries.

In the same years "Can't Cover No One" had 133 tackles; 5 Ints; 11 Passes defensed; 2 TDs; 2 Defensive Player of the week awards; 1 Forced Fumble and 1 Fumble Recovery.

For some strange reason, Carter's numbers dwarf Allen's even though Allen is light years his superior as a player. Doesn't add up to me.

I am not suggesting they stick with Carter, who has lost a step and is 34 and should call it a career. I congratulate him for his efforts and wish him well.

But I somehow think his playmaking instincts are much better than Allen's who hasn't made a play in three years. Allen is younger and should have his speed and body more intact, but I doubt he is as great as you seem to think.

feltdizz
07-05-2010, 03:12 PM
On what planet is "The Return Of Troy" considered to be a camp concern? That one made no sense whatsoever.

why wouldn't it be? Is he really healthy? He missed the whole season and until he has contact who knows if he is fully healed.

Troy is our biggest concern IMO.

i think the point was why would the return of troy be a camp concern? it should be "troy's health" is a camp concern. troy coming back is not a concern.

It was explained in the paragraph what the nature of the concern was...

The title was was a play on words... USC, Return of Troy.. You guys need to relax and use your imagination a little.

No one is losing sleep over Troy arriving at camp...

Jooser
07-05-2010, 04:57 PM
Troy is back, prepare for domination....period.... just sayin' folks. :Clap

RuthlessBurgher
07-05-2010, 07:37 PM
Troy is back, prepare for domination....period.... just sayin' folks. :Clap

Exactly. Troy is healthy once again, so our defense should be awesome with him in there. If Troy were hurt right now, then that would be a camp concern. Since he is not hurt, and is available once again, that is something to celebrate, not something to be worried about. That's all I was saying.

Be concerned about who will play RT this year since Colon is injured.

Be concerned about how well our WR corps will play with Santonio in New York.

Be concerned about life without Ben for the first month.

Don't be concerned about getting Troy back. That's just silly.

feltdizz
07-06-2010, 11:00 AM
Troy is back, prepare for domination....period.... just sayin' folks. :Clap

Exactly. Troy is healthy once again, so our defense should be awesome with him in there. If Troy were hurt right now, then that would be a camp concern. Since he is not hurt, and is available once again, that is something to celebrate, not something to be worried about. That's all I was saying.

Be concerned about who will play RT this year since Colon is injured.

Be concerned about how well our WR corps will play with Santonio in New York.

Be concerned about life without Ben for the first month.

Don't be concerned about getting Troy back. That's just silly.


after last season... it makes perfect sense to be concerned with Troy's health. IMO...

it's definitely a top ten concern.

aggiebones
07-06-2010, 11:57 AM
oddly I'm not too concerned about Ben being gone.
Yes, its a problem.
But we need to just win 1 game for sure, 2 would be nice.

I think that's not a problem if Troy and Aaron are back.


So I rank it as
1) Troy and Aaron return healthy.
2) Get the line fixed and ready for early season smashmouth.
3) Settle the WR hierarchy quickly.
4) STs
5) Not so much Ben missing games 1-3, but can he walk back in game 5 with a win. He'll need to get us back to .500 as quick as possible to take the heat off. If he comes back 'rusty' it could be a problem. But since its not an injury he's coming back from, I think he'll be playing at around 90-95% effectiveness. Should be good enough for a 3-1 record after he returns.

feltdizz
07-06-2010, 12:40 PM
oddly I'm not too concerned about Ben being gone.
Yes, its a problem.
But we need to just win 1 game for sure, 2 would be nice.

I think that's not a problem if Troy and Aaron are back.


So I rank it as
1) Troy and Aaron return healthy.
2) Get the line fixed and ready for early season smashmouth.
3) Settle the WR hierarchy quickly.
4) STs
5) Not so much Ben missing games 1-3, but can he walk back in game 5 with a win. He'll need to get us back to .500 as quick as possible to take the heat off. If he comes back 'rusty' it could be a problem. But since its not an injury he's coming back from, I think he'll be playing at around 90-95% effectiveness. Should be good enough for a 3-1 record after he returns.

I agree.... but with a healthy D I think 3-1 is realistic the first 4 games. Lefty has to move the chains and limit the TO's... he doesn't have to perform GB miracles.

aggiebones
07-06-2010, 03:49 PM
well 1-3 was worst case scenario.
We've proven able to do that with a full SB roster, so I'm sure 1-3 is a distinct possibility lacking Ben, but not necessarily because of Ben..

Preacher
07-07-2010, 01:08 AM
Arians will be asked to curb the passing trend that defined the Steelers in 2009. Both Art Rooney and Mike Tomlin want more running plays and a return to a ball control offense. These are not Arians' strong suit, so it will be a huge challenge.

Sigh. I get so tired of hearing this stuff. It sure is funny how people hear what they want to hear and not what was actually said.

Let's go back to the actual quotes, that even the Pitt-Gaz. screwed up.


"I think Mike and I certainly agreed coming off the season that we need to run the ball more consistently to get to where we want to get to," Rooney told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday. "So that's part of the thinking in the offseason: We need to figure out how to get better running the football."
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10015/10 ... z0syCA4KSP (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10015/1028435-66.stm#ixzz0syCA4KSP)

Notice, it is not run "more" it is run more "consistently." What does that mean? DOes it mean run it on every down, or every other down... or does it mean being able to be CONSISTENT when they DO run the ball? Let's check the next quote.


"We have to get back to being able to run the football when we need to run the football, and being able to run more consistently than we have in the past season."

That sounds very much like BE CONSISTENT WHEN YOU DO RUN THE BALL. Have the ABILITY to run it when you call the play, instead of the line caving in closing holes.

RuthlessBurgher
07-07-2010, 09:50 AM
[quote]Arians will be asked to curb the passing trend that defined the Steelers in 2009. Both Art Rooney and Mike Tomlin want more running plays and a return to a ball control offense. These are not Arians' strong suit, so it will be a huge challenge.

Sigh. I get so tired of hearing this stuff. It sure is funny how people hear what they want to hear and not what was actually said.

Let's go back to the actual quotes, that even the Pitt-Gaz. screwed up.


"I think Mike and I certainly agreed coming off the season that we need to run the ball more consistently to get to where we want to get to," Rooney told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday. "So that's part of the thinking in the offseason: We need to figure out how to get better running the football."
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10015/10 ... z0syCA4KSP (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10015/1028435-66.stm#ixzz0syCA4KSP)

Notice, it is not run "more" it is run more "consistently." What does that mean? DOes it mean run it on every down, or every other down... or does it mean being able to be CONSISTENT when they DO run the ball? Let's check the next quote.


"We have to get back to being able to run the football when we need to run the football, and being able to run more consistently than we have in the past season."

That sounds very much like BE CONSISTENT WHEN YOU DO RUN THE BALL. Have the ABILITY to run it when you call the play, instead of the line caving in closing holes.[/quote:1sc5jzh0]

Preach on, brother! More consistent does not mean more often.

ikestops85
07-07-2010, 10:39 AM
[quote]Arians will be asked to curb the passing trend that defined the Steelers in 2009. Both Art Rooney and Mike Tomlin want more running plays and a return to a ball control offense. These are not Arians' strong suit, so it will be a huge challenge.

Sigh. I get so tired of hearing this stuff. It sure is funny how people hear what they want to hear and not what was actually said.

Let's go back to the actual quotes, that even the Pitt-Gaz. screwed up.


"I think Mike and I certainly agreed coming off the season that we need to run the ball more consistently to get to where we want to get to," Rooney told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday. "So that's part of the thinking in the offseason: We need to figure out how to get better running the football."
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10015/10 ... z0syCA4KSP (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10015/1028435-66.stm#ixzz0syCA4KSP)

Notice, it is not run "more" it is run more "consistently." What does that mean? DOes it mean run it on every down, or every other down... or does it mean being able to be CONSISTENT when they DO run the ball? Let's check the next quote.


"We have to get back to being able to run the football when we need to run the football, and being able to run more consistently than we have in the past season."

That sounds very much like BE CONSISTENT WHEN YOU DO RUN THE BALL. Have the ABILITY to run it when you call the play, instead of the line caving in closing holes.[/quote:2moyrdf2]

Exactly right Preacher. Way to tell it like it is. :Clap :Clap

flippy
07-07-2010, 11:03 AM
Most RBs (not RuthlessBurgers) need running plays to be called consistently to develop a rhythm and be able to run the ball consistently when running plays are called.

So maybe the are also saying we need to run more often and more consistently.

And Mike Tomlin does have a track record of wanting to run a RB until the wheels fall off.

RuthlessBurgher
07-07-2010, 12:09 PM
Most RBs (not RuthlessBurgers) need running plays to be called consistently to develop a rhythm and be able to run the ball consistently when running plays are called.

So maybe the are also saying we need to run more often and more consistently.

And Mike Tomlin does have a track record of wanting to run a RB until the wheels fall off.

RB's prefer FB's

(running backs prefer fullbacks, not RuthlessBurghers prefer FlippingBurghers). :wink:

flippy
07-07-2010, 01:12 PM
Most RBs (not RuthlessBurgers) need running plays to be called consistently to develop a rhythm and be able to run the ball consistently when running plays are called.

So maybe the are also saying we need to run more often and more consistently.

And Mike Tomlin does have a track record of wanting to run a RB until the wheels fall off.

RB's prefer FB's

(running backs prefer fullbacks, not RuthlessBurghers prefer FlippingBurghers). :wink:

I always knew we had a strange connection :lol