Ed: More Sacks Might Mean More Picks
TUESDAY, 16 OCTOBER 2012 WRITTEN BY ED BOUCHETTE
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! Theyíve had more than that in one game Ė 7 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs in 1974, on the road to boot (thatís 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 isnít even a Pro Bowl cornerback and hasnít been since Rod Woodson left. Itís 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 canít pick them off, is there any hope? Why would anyone think theyíll suddenly turn into pass thieves this season after they hit their all-time low last season? Hereís 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.
ďAs the pressure increases and as weíre able to get to the quarterback, move him off a spot and rattle him, weíll have more opportunities for interceptions,íí 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, donít 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 donít turn up the heat on defense in this one.
Onto some stuff:
--- No defense has been hit harder than Baltimoreís. 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 wonít 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.
--- 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.
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 donít think the NFL Network recognizes much exists from the 20th century. That, by the way, was Chuckís 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 Steelersí fans tend to have short memories, but in í95 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 donít see the leadership on the team iní12 that there was in í95. 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 donít know about a Super Bowl, but the AFC North is wide open. People keep bringing up ďleadershipĒ as if thatís a problem. I know of no lack of leadership on this team. Thatís 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.
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.
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 isnít he starting? Good question. Allen does have the benefit of playing in the nickel defense, when passes are expected. He doesnít have to worry much about the run and heís not normally covering the best receivers as Taylor does.
Letís 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. Itís 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.