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hawaiiansteel
09-09-2010, 04:10 PM
Starkey: Steelers will win without Ben

By Joe Starkey, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, September 9, 2010



I'm out of my mind.

Or so I've been told, repeatedly, over the past 48 hours, ever since I predicted the Steelers would go 3-1 without suspended quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Three reasons why it'll happen:

The schedule.

A potentially dominant defense.

Improved special teams.

First the schedule. The Steelers open Sunday at Heinz Field as a 2 1/2-point underdog against the Atlanta Falcons who made that line? and continue with road games at Tennessee and Tampa Bay before a visit from the Baltimore Ravens.

That's not cake, but it's manageable because the first three teams don't appear to have the defensive chops to take advantage of a vulnerable Steelers offense.

I'd feel differently about the chances for a fast start if the Steelers opened with road games against the Jets and Bengals, as the Ravens do, or with three road games among their first four, as the Cincinnati Bengals do, including visits to New England and Carolina.

The Falcons have a revamped defense that is faster and possibly improved from last year's 21st-ranked unit but will be without its best interior lineman, Jonathan Babineaux (suspension). Plus, high-priced new cornerback Dunta Robinson did not play a snap in the preseason because of a hamstring injury, though he apparently is ready to go.

You could say the Falcons get a break facing the Steelers without Roethlisberger. I'm thinking the Steelers get one by facing a unit that might need some time to grow and gel.

The Titans' defense is nothing like the wrecking crew that paved the way to a 13-3 season two years ago. Gone are destructive linemen Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch, plus linebacker Keith Bulluck. Tennessee finished 28th overall last season and beat mostly middling offenses (Buffalo, San Francisco, Arizona without Kurt Warner, Seattle, etc.) during its season-ending 8-2 run.

Tampa Bay might be the worst team in the NFL.

The Ravens, obviously, will be a major challenge, although I believe they just signed Aki Iwamura (and his knee brace) to play cornerback. They're also without Ed Reed, a loss akin to the Steelers being without Troy Polamalu.

I'm not saying the Steelers are primed to light up any of these teams. But if they merely borrow the Ravens' offensive mantra from 2000 DON'T SCREW IT UP and make a few plays, they should be able to survive the early portion of the schedule.

The defense should see to that. Would you trade it for any other unit in the league? Not me. Not now, when it's healthy and fresh.

I see the best outside-linebacker tandem in the league, a killer safety combo, an emerging star in Lawrence Timmons and a talented, experienced line that will sprinkle in second-year man Ziggy Hood as needed.

I asked cornerback Bryant McFadden, who has returned after a year in Arizona, if this defense has the goods to be as dominant as the one he left after Super Bowl XLIII.

"I don't see any reason why we can't," McFadden said.

How about age?

"Most guys play better when they get older," he said. "That's just people looking for something to talk about."

Actually, it's a legitimate issue, but one that likely won't manifest itself until the season wears on.

Finally, the special teams, which can't be any worse after allowing a league-record four kickoff returns for touchdowns. The Steelers emphatically addressed the issue, bringing in a new special teams coach in Al Everest and several new players, including special teams aces Will Allen and Arnaz Battle.

This offense won't remind anyone of the 1981 Chargers or even the 2009 Raiders at times, but it can be functional. Dennis Dixon can play as well as he played during regulation at Baltimore last season. That was a tough environment, against a tough team, on short notice.

The circumstances are different now. Most people believe the Steelers will suffer in Big Ben's absence, that 2-2 would be a triumph of monstrous proportions.

I'm thinking 3-1 is perfectly reasonable.

But I'm out of my mind.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 98602.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_698602.html)

grotonsteel
09-09-2010, 04:23 PM
I expect Steelers to start 3-1 with a loss against Ratbirds.

steelblood
09-09-2010, 05:01 PM
No Babineaux is huge. He is a dynamic player who would have danced around Kemo all afternoon.

feltdizz
09-09-2010, 06:06 PM
I expect the Steelers to win every game they play.

Sugar
09-09-2010, 07:11 PM
While I think all the games are winnable, I still see a 1-3 start. I don't think the sky is falling or anything, I still think we make the playoffs.

Anything better is gravy, IMO.

feltdizz
09-09-2010, 07:36 PM
While I think all the games are winnable, I still see a 1-3 start. I don't think the sky is falling or anything, I still think we make the playoffs.

Anything better is gravy, IMO.

first 4 games... extremely low expectations.
last 12 games... extremely high expectations.

The 0-4, 1-3 crowd act like the Steelers stink. We ALWAYS find ways to win games we shouldn't. It's the games we all expect to win that give us problems.

We lost to KC, Cleveland and da Raida's last year WITH Ben. It's a little crazy to think we just fall off the face of football without him.

It it's not like we are playing NE, Indy, NO and NYJ's the first 4 games.

Sugar
09-09-2010, 07:58 PM
While I think all the games are winnable, I still see a 1-3 start. I don't think the sky is falling or anything, I still think we make the playoffs.

Anything better is gravy, IMO.

first 4 games... extremely low expectations.
last 12 games... extremely high expectations.

The 0-4, 1-3 crowd act like the Steelers stink. We ALWAYS find ways to win games we shouldn't. It's the games we all expect to win that give us problems.

We lost to KC, Cleveland and da Raida's last year WITH Ben. It's a little crazy to think we just fall off the face of football without him.

It it's not like we are playing NE, Indy, NO and NYJ's the first 4 games.

Oh, I don't think the Steelers stink- if we were playing Buffalo or Detroit or Cleveland early I wouldn't think we'd lose. It's just that I see ATL, TEN and BAL as being close games and without our best player we have a delta, that's all.

Discipline of Steel
09-09-2010, 08:40 PM
I expect the Steelers to win every game they play.
:Agree

hawaiiansteel
09-10-2010, 02:47 AM
Bouchette wags finger at "national media" for repeating Tomlin's Tuesday quote

Posted by Mike Florio on September 8, 2010



On Tuesday, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin appeared on Sirius NFL Radio with Adam Schein and Rich Gannon. And Schein asked Tomlin a straightforward question about the quarterback position as of the team's fifth game, once starter Ben Roethlisberger returns from a four-game suspension.

Will Ben be the starter when he comes back?

Said Tomlin: "I'm going to dodge that one and not artfully. I'm not going to back myself in a corner."

Folks like us and USA Today and ESPN.com picked up on the comment, and we gave it the attention and analysis that a comment of this nature would merit.

But Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, whom we like and respect, didn't like (or presumably respect) the decision of the "national media" to repeat the words uttered from Tomlin's mouth -- and to believe that Tomlin meant what he said.

"I don't know how this started," Bouchette writes, "but the national media has taken a few words uttered by Mike Tomlin and a few things he left unsaid and twisted them into 'fact' that the Steelers coach may not play Ben Roethlisberger when he returns from his suspension."

Frankly, I don't know why Bouchette thinks that the "national media" has applied an inappropriate or inaccurate meaning to Tomlin's words. Schein asked Tomlin if Ben will be the starter when Ben comes back. Tomlin opted to not say "yes". And if Tomlin wants to issue a statement clarifying his position on the matter, he's free to do so at any time.

Bouchette also complicates the matter by suggesting that the "national media" misinterpreted a comment from Tomlin's Tuesday press conference regarding whether Dennis Dixon will "have the opportunity to hold on to this spot during the four-week stretch." Tomlin said, "It depends on how he plays. And that's the nature of the NFL. I think anybody who suggests anything different is misinformed or misleading you." Bouchette specifically believes that some in the "national media" took this to mean that Tomlin suggested Dixon could play even after the four-week stretch, if he plays well enough during the four-week stretch.

But here's the thing -- no one in the "national media" claimed directly or indirectly that Tomlin's comment regarding Dixon's ability to hold the job for the first four games also reflected a comment that Dixon could hold the job beyond the first four games. Instead, the "national media" was merely seizing upon the answer Tomlin supplied to a question from Adam Schein that Tomlin could have answered in any way he chose.

Though we rarely accept at face value the things that an NFL coach says when broader notions of strategy are involved, the words are in many cases are worthy of being reported. Tomlin's answer to Schein's question falls squarely into that category, and we're not sure why anyone would say that Tomlin didn't really mean what he said, absent a fairly compelling explanation as to why Tomlin would say on this subject something other than what he believes.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/20 ... day-quote/ (http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/09/08/steelers-beat-writer-wags-finger-at-national-media-for-repeating-tomlins-tuesday-quote/)

feltdizz
09-10-2010, 10:14 AM
Tomlin said the right thing.. and when Ben returns he will say the right thing.