2012 REVIEW- QUARTERBACK
Alright, let's get this thing started properly. First, we'll look at the play of the QB's this season, and see where we are at with that position.
BEN ROETHLISBERGER: (Under Contract)
13 games started, 7 wins 6 losses, 284 completions 449 attempts (63.3%), 3,265 yards, 26 TD's 8 INT's, 30 sacks.
Prior to his injury, Ben was having an outstanding season. Even factoring in a 'bad turn' towards the back end of the year (post-injury), Ben still, statistically, was great. Despite reports that he was at odds with Haley over the offense, it certainly looks like the offense agreed with Ben. The losses to the Chargers, Cowboys & Bengals were all post-injury & it's quite believable that had Ben been fit, these would have been W's instead of L's. Too many crucial turnovers late in the season- a complete contrast to the Ben we had at the beginning of the year. He's clearly the #1 QB on this roster, and if we can get those sack numbers down, and keep him healthy, Chadman expects that Ben could have an outstanding 2013.
CHARLIE BATCH: (FA)
2 games started, 1 win 1 loss, 45 completions 75 attempts (64.3%), 475 yards, 1 TD 4 INT's, 3 sacks.
Charlie had 1 abysmal game (Cleveland.... nobody ever talk about Cleveland) & followed that up with a heroic victory over the Ravens. He's an efficient, clever QB, without any significant arm power or ability to move around much. He is, however, 1 million years old. How long can he go for? Chadman is pretty convinced that the Steelers should entertain the idea of bringing him back to be the #2 QB next year (officially) but really serving as Ben's sounding-board & the mentor for any new QB brought into Pittsburgh. He'd cost vet minimum to bring back.
BYRON LEFTWICH: (FA)
1 game started, 0 wins 1 loss, 25 completions 53 attempts (47.2%), 272 yards, 0 TD's 1 INT, 3 sacks.
Byron stepped in after Ben got hurt, and was clearly out of sync in the fill-in role. His next game start was better, but not great. Leftwich is about 6 years younger than Charlie Batch, and has experience in Pittsburgh under his belt. To be honest, Chadman quite likes him. He's a talented QB, even if he has that slow release. He has a genuine cannon arm. He's about as mobile as Charlie, but a little less accurate.
No doubt, Ben was great in the first half of the season. There is no reason to believe that, should the OL keep him upright, that he can't be just as great next season. The real question at QB is what to do about the back-up spot. Chadman has no doubt that at least 1, or perhaps even both of Batch & Leftwich will be back in Training Camp. 1 of these guys should probably serve as the back-up QB next season- but not both. At some point, the Steelers will need a younger guy, if only to serve as career back-up. Would not be surprised to see a "future contract" QB signed, like the way Troy Smith & Jerrod Johnson were brought in last season.
No argument here, Chadman...
Originally Posted by Chadman
eddie enjoys chadmans writeups.
but if they bring back leftwich and batch as the two backup QBs, eddie must question mike tomlins sanity.
Agreed that both shouldn't be the back-ups next year, but it wouldn't surprise to see both in Training Camp. Pretty sure at least 1 of the 2 will be Ben's back-up next year.
Originally Posted by Eddie Spaghetti
2012 REVIEW- RUNNINGBACK/FULLBACK
Moving on from QB, we take a look at a position in a state of flux- the RB.
RASHARD MENDENHALL: (FA)
4 games started, 51 attempts 182 yards (3.6 YPC), 0 TD's, 9 catches 62 yards 1 TD, 3 fumbles.
Rashard was coming back from a significant knee injury suffered last season, and the result was this year never really got going. To top that off, there was his ongoing issue of ball control as well as his questionable decisions to not attend a game where he was inactive, resulting in a 1 game suspension. He is, at his best, the most talented RB on the roster & he has several years of results on his resume to back that up. He still gives many fans the heebie-jeebies though with his ball control & his 'dancing'. He's a FA, and after his suspension issue, and his decreased role this season, it would seem unlikely he'll return.
ISAAC REDMAN: (RFA)
5 games started, 110 attempts 410 yards (3.7 YPC), 2 TD's, 19 catches 244 yards 0 TD's, 3 fumbles.
Redman is a bit of a fan favourite because of his hard running style, and possibly because he's doing all this against the odds as an UDFA. Redman was effective without being outstanding, proving he's a useful guy to have on the roster, but not a 'lead back' type guy. Interestingly, he's the most effective RB in the passing game. 3 fumbles ties him with the much maligned Mendenhall, but without the fan-ire.. as a RFA, Chadman expects he'll be back next season, playing the same kind of role as he did this year- a solid rotational RB at low cost.
JONATHAN DWYER: (RFA)
6 games started, 156 attempts 623 yards (4.0 YPC), 2 TD's, 18 catches 106 yards 0 TD's, 2 fumbles.
The Steelers leading RB in 2012, Dwyer emerged somewhat from obscurity. He's a similar type of RB to Redman, with perhaps a few extra moves. Runs well after contact, but needs better conditioning. Fits well into a RB rotation, as he's relentless in his style on every run, regardless of how many snaps he's played. Had only 1 less catch than Redman, but did significantly less with those catches. For all his hard running, could still only produce 2 TD's. Like Redman, Chadman expects there will be no question of Dwyer's return as a RFA, and like Redman, he'll return to a similar role- 1 part of a RB rotation at a moderate to low cost.
CHRIS RAINEY: (Under Contract)
0 games started, 26 attempts 102 yards (3.9 YPC), 2 TD's, 14 catches 60 yards 0 TD's, 4 fumbles.
Rainey looks like an exciting player- fast, agile, dangerous. But he's young, small & needs better control of the ball. He's actually the only RB under contract at this point. There was a fair bit to like of Rainey's first season in the NFL. He runs harder than you'd expect for a guy his size. Chadman can see him playing some part in the offense- similar to Dexter McCluster in KC. He'll never be a feature RB, but as a situational guy, he has value. Also can contribute as a WR & obviously, in his most prolific role as a returner.
BARON BATCH: (ERFA)
0 games started, 25 attempts 49 yards (2.0 YPC), 1 TD, 4 catches 31 yards 0 TD's, 0 fumbles.
Batch might be facing an uphill battle. He's not overly fast, not overly powerful, not overly shifty, not an overly effective blocker. That said- he's not bad in any of those areas- just not special in any. If a guy could succeed simply because people 'want' him to- it'd be this guy. Unfortunately, that's not how it works. He'll be in Camp, and with luck, might find a role in the RB rotation. But he's possibly the easiest piece of the rotation to replace.
WILL JOHNSON: (Under Contract)
7 games started, 2 attempts 7 yards (4.5 YPC), 0 TD's, 15 catches 137 yards 1 TD, 0 fumbles.
Johnson's first year as a Steeler, and he looked capable. Seems pretty efficient at catching out of the backfield, and Chadman can't remember him being particularly bad at blocking at any time. Certainly worth another go around, but it's possible the Steelers might kick the tyres of another FB if they become available- just not likely.
Despite a few fans saying that the Steelers need a RB to become the 'lead guy', Chadman thought the RB rotation was working OK. It lacks that 'take it to the house' type guy though. That said, the 'rotation' gained 1,300 odd yards on the ground this season- about the same as a modest lead RB. A younger Mewelde Moore type RB that can catch, block & run would be a useful addition- there is no real '3rd down RB' on this roster. Would not be surprised to see another mid-round type RB added through the draft.
Also should add that the RB's combined added 640 yards through the air, from 79 catches. Only 2 TD's though (although Baron Batch dropped the world's easiest TD catch this year- should be 3 TD's).
Not bad production from a group that never really featured a 'star'.
2012 REVIEW- WIDE RECEIVERS
Moving on to the next phase of the season review, we look at the Steelers WR's..
ANTONIO BROWN: (Under Contract)
10 games started, 66 catches 787 yards (11.9 YPC), 5 TD's
The Steelers #1 WR, Brown took a step back from his previous season's success story. There are likely many reasons for this, but one would surely be adjusting to the new offense that Todd Haley incorporates. Positively- Brown scored more TD's this season, a knock from his previous work. However, equally on the downside along with his drop in production was his tendancy to lose the ball. No doubt there will be extensive work put into that this off season. Despite his 'regression' this season, Brown is clearly a talented player. Hopefully next season his production will match the investment from the Steelers.
MIKE WALLACE: (FA)
14 games started, 64 catches 836 yards (13.1 YPC), 8 TD's
Mike Wallace has been debated relentlessly this season. It's quite obvious he was not as good this year as he has been previously. There appeared to be a motivation issue. This would obviously stem from his ongoing contract situation. He still produced a respectable yardage total, and still scored 8 TD's, but he was clearly only a shadow of what he can be. It seems likely he doesn't fit Haley's offense that well, as he's more a deep threat that a crossing route runner. Regardless of your stance on Mike Wallace, it seems extremely likely he'll be in different colours next season, so the Steelers need to move forward & find a suitable replacement. For the record- no, he wasn't a "Top 10" WR in 2012.
EMMANUEL SANDERS: (RFA)
7 games started, 44 catches 626 yards (14.2 YPC), 1 TD
Sanders was hot & cold this season (seems a recurring trend). It's somewhat frustrating that he doesn't take that extra step from talented to performing. That said, he isn't playing badly. He has a nice, rounded skill set- possibly the most rounded WR on the roster. He obviously can get open, catch the circus catch, run, take a hit. He can also fumble... but then, can't all the Steelers do that? It seems likely that Sanders will step in as the #2 WR next season, so maybe we will see him transition into that 'complete' WR as a result? As a RFA, Chadman would be amazed to not see him back.
JERRICHO COTCHERY: (Under Contract)
2 games started, 17 catches 205 yards (12.1 YPC), 0 TD's.
Cotchery is about as steady a WR as you can get. He isn't flashy, but he is a gritty performer. With Wallace moving on, it would seem Cotchery will move into the slot WR role as Sanders steps up next season. Chadman has no doubt, that when called, Cotchery will perform. He won't, however, dominate a game or break it open. But he will contribute when called upon. 1 major positive- Cotchery is one Steeler with 0 fumbles to his name in 2012!
PLAXICO BURRESS: (FA)
3 games started, 3 catches 42 yards (14.0 YPC), 1 TD.
Who would have thought we'd be reviewing this name again? Wasn't called on much, but in very limited opportunity, he performed adequately. Chadman thinks he could fill a role if brought back next season- he's a big target that is 'open' even when he's covered- something that will certainly help with the Haley "Dink & Dunk" offense. Had 1 very good TD catch in the last game.
DAVID GILREATH: (Under Contract)
0 games started, no stats.
Gilreath will get a chance in Training Camp to make an impression. Not sure how he fits the system, he doesn't appear to add anything different to the guys on the roster- but hard to tell from limited vision.
The WR position will be subject to change next season with Wallace moving on. Some fans will be happy to see him go, some happy to see Sanders move up the roster order. Regardless of your take, the Steelers need to account for the removal of Wallace from the playing roster- most likely through a Draft addition. Chadman would like to see Burress brought back on a vet minimum contract, and see the Steelers draft a bigger, more physical style WR to give Todd Haley (assuming he stays) a better crossing-route target, and maybe opening up the field for Brown more.
2012 SEASON REVIEW- TIGHT END
Todd Haley came over from KC this offseason with a comment in tow about wanting to involve Heath Miller more in the offense. With a track record of TE involvement behind him, it should have been of no surprise to see him follow through with that plan.
HEATH MILLER: (Under Contract)
15 games started, 71 catches 816 yards (11.5 YPC), 8 TD's
Probably no player loved the addition of Todd Haley more than Heath Miller, who had an outstanding season. He was everything we always thought he could be- a genuine threat in the passing game without compromising his ability to help as a blocker. That bad knee injury at the end of the season is troubling, he'll likely miss some time at the beginning of next season as a result- which will put him behind the rest of the team as far as production goes. Still, he was outstanding in 2012.
DAVID PAULSEN: (Under Contract)
5 games started, 7 catches 51 yards (7.3 YPC), 0 TD's
Didn't get to see a lot of Paulsen, but the rookie got on the field this season, which is generally a sign that there might be 'something' to work with. Got a few starts as the #2 TE & figures to see more again, particularly with Miller injured, next season.
LEONARD POPE: (FA)
2 games started, 3 catches 9 yards (3.0 YPC), 2 TD's
Pope came over from KC, having followed Haley from Arizona to KC, to Pittsburgh. Didn't see much time on the field (could be a result of how Paulsen was viewed?) & seems unlikely to be a high priority for the Steelers this off season. That said- if Miller is out going into next season, Pope's familiarity with Haley's offense might earn him a vet minimum contract to return.
Chadman feels that TE is 1 position we might see an upgrade come into the organisation- either through FA or the draft. Miller's injury was bad, and he is 32 years old next season. The time to nurture a replacement might be upon the Steelers. Is that guy Paulsen? Don't know. But the direction the team takes this off season with the TE's will certainly give us an idea of what they think they have in him.
2012 SEASON REVIEW- OFFENSIVE LINE
The analysis will be done a little differently here as statistics for individuals are hard to gauge. We'll take a look at a few interesting stats though, just to get an idea of where we are at.
2012 SACKS ALLOWED: 37 (42 in 2011)
The Steelers ranked 15th in the NFL for pass protection in 2012. This could be, in part, to the Haley offense, but there is a steady trend downwards for the Steeler sack totals, so some credit must also be given for improved OL play.
2012 YARD PER CARRY AVERAGE: 3.7
This average has the Steelers ranked 29th in the NFL, which is obviously very poor. In part, there is probably some blame to be placed on poor quality RB's. Considering the revised emphasis on the running game that was promised, this must be an area of concern for the Steelers.
We can break down the running statistics a little more, however:
STEELERS POWER RUNNING (Percentage of runs on 3rd/4th down, 2 yards or less to go, that were converted): 61% (19th in the NFL)
STUFFED RUNS (Percentage of run attempts caught behind the LOS) :19% (17th in the NFL)
2ND LEVEL RUNS (Where a RB gains 5-10 yards past the LOS divided by carries) :0.95% (30th in NFL)
OPEN FIELD RUNS (Total of runs past 10 yards past the LOS, divided by carries) :0.54% (24th in NFL)
What we see here is that the OL doesn't open enough holes on the short yardage runs to be considered 'dominant'. But at the same time, the RB's don't have the moves/ability to gain extra yards past the LOS anyway. In all, what this means is, we can't run the football well enough.
Breaking down the run blocking further, we can see the success the Steelers had when running by direction: (Yards gained in each direction, on average)
LEFT END: 4.55 (5th in NFL)
LEFT TACKLE: 4.83 (6th in NFL)
MID/GUARD: 3.44 (30th in NFL)
RIGHT TACKLE: 4.17 (10th in NFL)
RIGHT END: 4.91 (9th in NFL)
This quite obviously shows that the greatest weakness is running between the Guards. Once the Steelers move the ball wider, they are actually in the top echelon of run blocking teams, but there is a genuine weakness (30th in the NFL!!) when it comes to the old run up the middle. And this, on a team that features what we could describe as 2 'power runners' in Dwyer & Redman.
Now- it's not all doom & gloom on the inside. No doubt that David DeCastro, healthy, will certainly help with run blocking. And Willie Colon was starting to look pretty good at LG. It's a young OL, it's improving. And the Steelers need to help the OL out by getting a RB that can gain extra yards downfield- not just a '3 yards & a cloud of dust' RB committee.
MAX STARKS: (FA)
Max keeps getting brought back of late, and keeps performing. How long can this go on? We'll find out shortly, one would think. He's a very stable, solid LT that has anchored the young line well. Not a flashy type, but the stats prove he is certainly adequate, particularly when he only costs around the $1 million a year mark.
WILLIE COLON: (Under Contract)
Willie shifted to LG (at last!) and looked pretty good there. He certainly is the most physical of the Steeler OL guys. Does he play at the level of his contract number? Very debatable. But he isn't anywhere near as bad as some would want you to believe. He needs to stay healthy though. Could be a candidate for a restructure.
MAURKICE POUNCEY: (Under Contract)
Maurkice is easily the best OL player on the roster.....but that said, it's in and around him that the OL needs to improve. The Steelers need to run the ball better around him- and some of that responsibility must fall on his shoulders.
DAVID DECASTRO: (Under Contract)
A real shame that injury put him back last year, but on the positive... it's like having a 2nd 1st Round pick next season. Without putting too much pressure on him.... the Steelers need him to improve the standard. He's the key to the run game improving.
MARCUS GILBERT: (Under Contract)
He gets a bit of ribbing in here, but for a 2 year player, his standard is pretty good. There is talk he might move to LT if Starks moves on, which will increase the pressure placed on him, but he's a young, improving player & the Steelers need guys like him to continue developing. When you have a starter that costs less than $1m a year in such an important position- and they don't stink...that's value.
MIKE ADAMS: (Under Contract)
Could just about write the same thing for Adams as Gilbert. If Starks leaves, both the young OT's will be starting. Adams has a few detractors... and fair enough. He needs to improve his pass blocking, he needs more consistancy. But he's an elite prospect. It might hurt, short term, but putting Adams & Gilbert into the lineup, and letting them learn, might pay off big down the track.
RAMON FOSTER: (FA)
Foster has done nothing but fill in admirably when called upon. He's solid in every aspect of his game, without being dominant in any 1 area. That might sound like a critisism, but it's not, really. This is a guy that just won't let you down. Someone will likely pay him to be a starter, and he deserves that opportunity. Hard to wish him anything but the best if he moves on.
DOUG LEGURSKY: (FA)
Legursky has been in Pittsburgh for a number of years now & has provided steady, if unspectacular play on the inside. Filled in at OC this year & played reasonably well. As a spot starter & back-up, he provides good value. Chadman would expect to see him back.
KELVIN BEACHUM: (Under Contract)
Was surprisingly effective for a rookie 7th round pick in his few starts this season. Looks like there might be something to work with there. If Starks moves on, it's likely that Beachum becomes the top back-up unless a FA is added to provide depth.
JOHN MELECKI: (Under Contract)
He'll have his chance in camp to stick around.
JOE LONG: (Under Contract)
If Starks leaves, there will be an opening at OT & Long has the pedigree..
JUSTIN CHEADLE: (Under Contract)
Like Melecki, he'll have a chance in camp to show if he belongs.
What the Steelers do on the OL will be strongly determined by FA & what, if anything, they do with Colon. It wouldn't surprise Chadman if, given the financial situation, Starks cannot be retained, that the Steelers will be 'happy' to go into 2013 with Gilbert & Adams as the starters, and ride along with the growing pains. this is a young unit, and potentially a strong one.
this is good stuff Chadman, thanks! :Cheers