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hawaiiansteel
10-10-2012, 01:49 AM
Kovacevic: Steelers backed into a corner

By Dejan Kovacevic
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012

http://triblive.com/csp/mediapool/sites/dt.common.streams.StreamServer.cls?STREAMOID=X6bJz yAOjYqTJpH$WA4nSM$daE2N3K4ZzOUsqbU5sYuStYo7hRYUFh$ wZqJ8F9QaWCsjLu883Ygn4B49Lvm9bPe2QeMKQdVeZmXF$9l$4 uCZ8QDXhaHEp3rvzXRJFdy0KqPHLoMevcTLo3h8xh70Y6N_U_C ryOsw6FTOdKL_jpQ-&CONTENTTYPE=image/jpeg

The Steelers' Ryan Clark directs his frustation over a third quarter penalty towards the referees at Heinz Field Sunday, October 7, 201

There might not be a sadder sight, in this or any other realm, than Superman looking vulnerable.

You should have seen Troy Polamalu dragging along his right leg in a big black boot Tuesday, snailing his way through the Steelers’ headquarters. There still wasn’t any official word on the severity of his aggravated calf injury, but suffice it to say he didn’t need a boot the first time around.

Sad, indeed.

Polamalu isn’t done, as so many seem to be fretting. It’s only a calf injury, he’s 31, and he very much has the will to continue what’s already a Hall of Fame career. Even if the cape is folded up for good, the cerebral Clark Kent brand of No. 43 is better than most any NFL safety out there.

As nickel back Cortez Allen told me Tuesday, “There’s still no one else like him.”

The real question facing the Steelers is how the secondary will get by in the interim, beginning Thursday night in Tennessee.

Think they’re up to it?

I feel that way about Ryan Clark, who’s been terrific apart from a couple notable brain cramps.

But the rest?

Ike Taylor had a fine 2011 right up until he met Demaryius Thomas in Denver, both at the end of last season and the start of this one. Whether those wounded him or not, overall this season, he’s allowed 16 completions on the 29 times his receiver has been the pass target, according to Pro Football Focus. That ranks 134th out of 164 cornerbacks in the NFL.

Yeah, really.

Taylor can play much better, and he knows it.

Keenan Lewis, a first-year starter, has allowed 15 completions on 24 targets. That ranks 157th. And his next official pass defensed will be his first.

Unlike Taylor, no one knows if Lewis can play better. There’s no precedent.

No one knows if Curtis Brown can replace him, either. The franchise’s highest draft pick among defensive backs in the past six years — third round, 2011 — still can’t find his way to the field.

Allen has fit in with the rest, allowing 10 completions on 14 targets. That ranks 115th.

At safety, Mundy has allowed nine completions on 12 targets. That ranks 119th.

Mike Tomlin strongly hinted Monday that he’ll spell Mundy with Will Allen, but that’s hardly the cavalry. Allen, 30, is in his ninth NFL season and hasn’t made a start since Oct. 4, 2009.

Answers, anyone?

Who among these men looks poised to make a difference?

Naturally, all hands will go up.

“With Troy not being there, it’ll be tough, but we strive to pick up our game every week,” Cortez Allen said. “The standard is the standard. We’ll get it done.”

“Even with Troy, we’ve got to get better,” Lewis said.

Lewis is right, of course, as the above numbers illustrate. There’s ample room to improve.

But he also made a point to underscore that the Steelers’ overall pass defense numbers are “pretty good,” and he’s right about that, too: They rank third in the NFL in allowing 185 yards per game. Other than Thomas, no individual receiver has topped 67 yards. In fact, beyond Thomas’ 71-yard catch-and-run in the opener, there has been only one other pass of 25 yards or longer.

“We know the numbers that matter,” Lewis said.

Those are fair points based on hard numbers. I can respect that.

As he and Allen both explained, the gap between the team and individual numbers could be based on the defensive coaches, Dick LeBeau and Carnell Lake, hoping to avoid big plays.

“We’re tackling the catch,” Allen said. “That’s not to say we can’t still do better, but that’s what our focus is.”

And that works just fine in limiting the big plays. But it wasn’t nearly good enough when the Eagles drip-drip-dripped their way to a 17-play, 79-yard drive that nearly gave the Steelers a 1-3 record Sunday.

To echo Allen, the Steelers can do better at this position.

That they haven’t isn’t exactly an accident.

In the six drafts under Tomlin and Kevin Colbert, they’ve picked only eight defensive backs, none in the top two rounds and only one who found sustained work: That was William Gay, class of 2007. He started last season but was held in such low regard that management didn’t lift a pinky to keep him from walking as a free agent afterward.

Most of the rest of the picks are barely worth mentioning. One could argue that Polamalu and Clark not only have covered the Steelers’ mistakes on the field, per their job description, but also in the drafts.

And yet, Tomlin and Colbert brought a roster into Latrobe that had no real fail-safe for Polamalu and/or Clark being hurt at safety, and no real replacement for Gay.

The reckoning is at hand.

It might not come against Matt Hasselbeck and a Tennessee offense so plodding that running back Chris Johnson told Nashville reporters this week: “I don’t think we’re close right now.”

It might not even come before Polamalu returns.

But it will come. And there will be Hail Mary to pay.

http://triblive.com/sports/columnists/2742594-74/allen-steelers-lewis-numbers-polamalu-clark-completions-nfl-pass-ranks?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+tribunereviewsteelers+%28Stee lers+Stories%29#ixzz28rdxwgFL

Shawn
10-10-2012, 08:48 AM
Now cue all the fans who will read this article and say SEE! They are tackling the catch...playing off the WRs...press em!
But, these are also the fans who are screaming that we should mail the farm on the blitz. It's difficult to do both. If you press and send 6-7...you won't have enough deep help. If you press, everytime you don't blitz...you telegraph your D. You can't have your cake and eat it too. The only time you can truly play tight on the WRs, and send 6+guys is within the 30. That is a bend but don't break philosophy that has earned the Steelers some pretty impressive D stats and rankings over the years. It's LeBeau's philosophy...like it or not. That is why our DBs have poor stats. This article was not remotely fair to our secondary.

Djfan
10-10-2012, 09:02 AM
Now cue all the fans who will read this article and say SEE! They are tackling the catch...playing off the WRs...press em!
But, these are also the fans who are screaming that we should mail the farm on the blitz. It's difficult to do both. If you press and send 6-7...you won't have enough deep help. If you press, everytime you don't blitz...you telegraph your D. You can't have your cake and eat it too. The only time you can truly play tight on the WRs, and send 6+guys is within the 30. That is a bend but don't break philosophy that has earned the Steelers some pretty impressive D stats and rankings over the years. It's LeBeau's philosophy...like it or not. That is why our DBs have poor stats. This article was not remotely fair to our secondary.

Right. While I get the idea that we should be giving a much smaller "LeBeau cushion" even playing up in their grill more often, you are right. It seems that DLB saw the benefit of the adjustment to a different defense within the 30 yard line (I always thought the conventional wisdom was for the 20 yard line), and just asked "Why do we wait until the 30 yard line? Why not do this all the time?" And built a defense on that innovation.

It would be a LOT better if we had guys who could function up in the grill of the receiver. This would give the opposing QBs a second to pause and wait, making our rush much better. We just don't seem to have these CBs, or we just don't seem to be willing to use them. One or the other.

rockonsteel
10-10-2012, 09:29 AM
Now cue all the fans who will read this article and say SEE! They are tackling the catch...playing off the WRs...press em!
But, these are also the fans who are screaming that we should mail the farm on the blitz. It's difficult to do both. If you press and send 6-7...you won't have enough deep help. If you press, everytime you don't blitz...you telegraph your D. You can't have your cake and eat it too. The only time you can truly play tight on the WRs, and send 6+guys is within the 30. That is a bend but don't break philosophy that has earned the Steelers some pretty impressive D stats and rankings over the years. It's LeBeau's philosophy...like it or not. That is why our DBs have poor stats. This article was not remotely fair to our secondary.

That's all well and good. But, you cannot tell me that Tomlin and LeBeau are seriously ok with a secondary that doesn't even come close to making any plays on the ball when it's in the air. Nevermind interceptions, these guys are never in position to make a damn pass deflection most of the time, while each and every week other teams get 3, 4, 5 INTS, in addition to however many deflections and almost INTs they get. Hell, Lance Briggs of the Bears, a LB, has more INTs than the whole damn Steelers secondary, hell the whole damn team. And it seems the only requirement necessary to be a Steelers safety, is to be able to hit hard. Coverage ability is an afterthought(Troy is a wildcard. The last playmaking safety we had around here, not named Troy is now coaching the secondary). Yeah, they may tackle the catch, that's cool, but is it really too much to ask for a secondary to actually make plays on the ball even once in a while? I don't think so, but apparently some people do. And apprently, that includes one Mike Tomlin and one Dick LeBeau. I don't get it.

In fact, the Steelers lone INT on the season was accident, when the Raiders receiver fell down on the first play of the game and Ryan Clark stumbled into an INT. They hadn't come close to one prior to that, and haven't been close to one since. That's not a good look.

Rockon

Slapstick
10-10-2012, 09:57 AM
That's all well and good. But, you cannot tell me that Tomlin and LeBeau are seriously ok with a secondary that doesn't even come close to making any plays on the ball when it's in the air. Nevermind interceptions, these guys are never in position to make a damn pass deflection most of the time, while each and every week other teams get 3, 4, 5 INTS, in addition to however many deflections and almost INTs they get. Hell, Lance Briggs of the Bears, a LB, has more INTs than the whole damn Steelers secondary, hell the whole damn team. And it seems the only requirement necessary to be a Steelers safety, is to be able to hit hard. Coverage ability is an afterthought(Troy is a wildcard. The last playmaking safety we had around here, not named Troy is now coaching the secondary). Yeah, they may tackle the catch, that's cool, but is it really too much to ask for a secondary to actually make plays on the ball even once in a while? I don't think so, but apparently some people do. And apprently, that includes one Mike Tomlin and one Dick LeBeau. I don't get it.

In fact, the Steelers lone INT on the season was accident, when the Raiders receiver fell down on the first play of the game and Ryan Clark stumbled into an INT. They hadn't come close to one prior to that, and haven't been close to one since. That's not a good look.

Rockon

The Steelers lose when they give up big plays...that is why DL's philosophy is not to do so...

hawaiiansteel
10-10-2012, 07:20 PM
"And yet, Tomlin and Colbert brought a roster into Latrobe that had no real fail-safe for Polamalu and/or Clark being hurt at safety"...

this is the quote that bothers me the most, did anyone really think Ryan Mundy was the answer at safety in the event of Troy or Ryan Clark not being able to play?

hawaiiansteel
10-11-2012, 07:33 PM
just heard that Will Allen is starting at SS instead of Ryan Mundy, with the way Mundy has been playing I can't say I'm surprised.

RuthlessBurgher
10-11-2012, 07:48 PM
just heard that Will Allen is starting at SS instead of Ryan Mundy, with the way Mundy has been playing I can't say I'm surprised.

Ugh...while Mundy hasn't exactly been "above the line" this year, I fear that Will Allen is so far below the line, that James Cameron's submersible hasn't found it yet.

http://cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/250x250/28126426.jpg

hawaiiansteel
10-11-2012, 08:39 PM
anybody know how many pass interference penalties have been called on Ike Taylor so far this season?

feltdizz
10-11-2012, 08:43 PM
I can count about 5.. and watching the Philly replay he got away with a blatant PI in the endzone.

hawaiiansteel
10-16-2012, 05:12 PM
Ed: More Sacks Might Mean More Picks

TUESDAY, 16 OCTOBER 2012 WRITTEN BY ED BOUCHETTE

Good morning,

The Steelers have two interceptions through five games. This, after they managed just 11 all last season, tying their all-time low in their modern history, which began in 1969.

Their pace this season, then, would be their all-time low of six. Six interceptions! They’ve had more than that in one game – 7 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs in 1974, on the road to boot (that’s another issue for another day, playing on the road). Jack Butler once intercepted four passes in a game in 1953 against the Washington Redskins (again on the road). Mel Blount holds the team record with 11 in the 1975 seasons and three others have had 10, including Butler and fellow Hall of Famer Bil Dudley.

Maybe you have to be a Hall of Fame cornerback to intercept passes. No one is suggesting there are any at cornerback on this team. There isn’t even a Pro Bowl cornerback and hasn’t been since Rod Woodson left. It’s the biggest drought at Pro Bowl at any position on the team.

If they are hitting you smack in the hands with no one else around and you still can’t pick them off, is there any hope? Why would anyone think they’ll suddenly turn into pass thieves this season after they hit their all-time low last season? Here’s why: They intercepted 21 passes in 2010. Of course, they also had 48 sacks that season (compared to just 35 last season). Ryan Clark is among those who believe the two go hand in hand.

“As the pressure increases and as we’re able to get to the quarterback, move him off a spot and rattle him, we’ll have more opportunities for interceptions,’’ Clark told me yesterday.

The question thus becomes, will that happen? Can they get to the quarterback? They have 12 sacks in five games. That comes to 38 sacks, not much more than last season. If they cannot get more pressure on the quarterback, don’t look for more interceptions. Even though they went 12-4 last season with only 35 sacks and 11 interceptions, it will be hard for them to duplicate that record if they don’t turn up the heat on defense in this one.

Onto some stuff:

--- No defense has been hit harder than Baltimore’s. They managed to go 5-1 without Terrell Suggs, but without Ray Lewis and cornerback Ladarius Webb, no defense has been hit harder. Steelers fans won’t feel sorry for them, but there has to be empathy, knowing what the Steelers defense has and is going through the past two seasons with injuries.

--- No, Ike Taylor is not going to be benched. You have to have someone to replace him and the Steelers cannot come close. If Mike Tomlin were going to bench a cornerback, he would have done so in 2009 when he promised changes in the lineup and then made none other than to his nickel cornerback.

--- The dropped pass by Keenan Lewis that likely cost the Steelers a victory in Tennessee, recalled the drop pass by Joe Burnett that cost the Steelers a victory against Oakland in that 2009 season and thus a playoff spot. Burnett seemed to be a promising rookie cornerback at the time, a fifth-round draft pick. However, that dropped interception on Dec. 6 was among the last things he would do in the NFL. He was among the Steelers final cuts before the 2010 season. He played for the Jacksonville sharks of the UFL in 2011 and is now on the roster of the CFL Edmonton Eskimos, where on July 20 he set a team record with a 108-yard interception return.

Your questions:

--- YOU: Probably meaningless, but there has been a recent change in listed positions on the Steelers.com roster. Colon is now listed as T and Pouncey is listed as C/G. It wasn't like that just a few days ago.
http://www.steelers.com/team/roster.html

ME: You, sir, are spending way too much time on the computer. No, a glitch, most likely.

--- YOU: Enjoyed your article on Steeler books, especially a forthcoming book on Chuck Noll. Is there any way to petition NFL Network/Films to produce Chuck Noll A Football Life? If they can produce episodes with a known cheater in Belichek and an accessory to murder in Ray Lewis, they should make one with a class act like Chuck. I believe he has never got his due because he never wanted the limelight like John Madden or Jimmy Johnson. What are your thoughts?

ME: I don’t think the NFL Network recognizes much exists from the 20th century. That, by the way, was Chuck’s choice not to seek the limelight and he was very happy out of it. He did make the Pro Football Hall of Fame as the only coach with four Super Bowl victories.

--- YOU: Hi, Ed. I know this was a long time ago and Steelers’ fans tend to have short memories, but in ’95 the team was 3-4 after 7 games and made it to the Super Bowl. At 2-3, do you see this team being able to turn it around and have a successful season? I don’t see the leadership on the team in’12 that there was in ’95. Thanks!

ME: yes, they can do it. Will they, is the question. How do you like Baltimore this morning at 5-1 but with all those injuries? I don’t know about a Super Bowl, but the AFC North is wide open. People keep bringing up “leadership” as if that’s a problem. I know of no lack of leadership on this team. That’s an easy excuse for people to use.

--- YOU: Where are the new impact players needed to sustain the traditional level of Steeler line play?

ME: They have yet to make an impact. Remember that 3-4 defensive lineman rarely make big plays, but so far the ordinary ones are not being made as consistently either.

--- YOU: What do you have to say about what seems to be recurring injuries to Pouncy, Mendenhall, Polamalu and even Harrison and Woodley?

ME: That they play football and injuries occur.

http://plus.sites.post-gazette.com/index.php/pro-sports/steelers/118513-ed-more-sacks-might-mean-more-picks

fezziwig
10-17-2012, 10:47 AM
I wonder if McFadden would have made a better safety than the current backups ? Ike is having a snowball affect with getting hammered in my opinion. I never thought he was as bad as everyone complained about and not as good as some would lead you to believe. I thought he was a pinch above average with his shares of hi-lo incidents but of late he, has got to find his mojo and the trouble is, I think he is too much in a mental funk to get his mojo back. Looking back at his history of play and not being able to catch interceptions he, is another one that needs upgraded. But then again it's a catch 22 with no pass rush no passes defended as well.

hawaiiansteel
10-18-2012, 08:50 PM
Ed: Steelers Safety Ranked Among NFL's Best

THURSDAY, 18 OCTOBER 2012 WRITTEN BY ED BOUCHETTE

This morning, I listed two rankings for cornerbacks Ike Taylor and Keenan Lewis among 100 in the NFL rated for their play this season by Pro Football Focus, which is respected around the league for its statistical breakdowns and ratings.

Taylor came in 96th and Lewis 91st. But nickel cornerback Cortez Allen fared better in the PFF rankings. He came in at No. 30. So, why isn’t he starting? Good question. Allen does have the benefit of playing in the nickel defense, when passes are expected. He doesn’t have to worry much about the run and he’s not normally covering the best receivers as Taylor does.

Let’s not stop at the cornerbacks though because PFF has some other rankings of Steelers players that are intriguing. As you might expect, the Steelers have one of the most highly ranked safeties in the league. But his name is not Troy Polamalu, according to PFF. It’s Ryan Clark, who comes in at No. 4 among the 75 rates safeties. Polamalu is not on the list, apparently because he does not have enough playing time yet. But the rating they give him, a minus-1.8, would put him at No. 54. Ryan Mundy is No. 65 and Will Allen would come in at No. 28 if he had enough snaps.

http://plus.sites.post-gazette.com/index.php/pro-sports/steelers/118548-ed-steelers-safety-ranked-among-nfls-best