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Thread: Article: Pass Rush Taking Special Look

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    Article: Pass Rush Taking Special Look

    This team needs to get 50 sacks or bust this season


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    Pass Rush Taking On 'Special' Look


    The Steelers' 36 sacks last season were their lowest since 2003. But that's all about to change because of what might be Dick LeBeau's fastest defense ever.

    PITTSBURGH – If the Steelers’ pass rush continues to flash, the NFL’s No. 1 defense last season will have gotten better. Much better.
    Of course, no one believes it will happen, particularly since Casey Hampton’s too fat, Aaron Smith and James Farrior are too old, Troy Polamalu’s injury-prone, and Brett Keisel was all hype last season.

    The Steelers chuckle when they hear these stereotypes, and they hope no one’s expecting the quickness, strength and depth of the pass rush they’re about to unleash this season.

    “Leave it alone,” Keisel says of the story idea.

    Then again, Keisel couldn’t contain his own optimism.

    “I think our defense is so fast; we can do so many things,” he said. “I think if we can live up to our potential this year, we should see some special things.”

    Special things?

    “Well, leave it alone,” he repeated.

    But he was too late. Smith tried a similar tact. “It’s a little early to tell, don’t you think?” he asked. But then even he became lost in his optimism.

    “From watching practice, yeah, I think we’ve improved,” he said.

    A monstrous defensive end, Smith appears to be 100 percent recovered from a biceps injury that knocked him out of the final four games last season (1-3). Known as a run-stopper deluxe, Smith’s been applying pressure and even has a sack this preseason. His counterpart on the 3-4 line, Keisel, is quicker, been more active, and also has a sack.

    “I think Brett’s really coming into his own. I think this is the chance for him to have a Pro Bowl year,” Smith said. “He’s feeling more comfortable, more confidence. He’s a great player. It’s just a matter of him maturing.”

    Last year, Keisel was the key piece in Dick LeBeau’s new “mixer” defense, in which only Smith put his hand on the ground on passing downs. Keisel roamed and blitzed like a linebacker, and much was expected from him.

    “I think he put a lot of pressure on himself, too,” Smith said. “A lot of people said a lot of good stuff and all of the sudden he felt like he had to live up to it.”

    But Keisel, while leading the team with 31 QB hurries, had only two sacks. And now, few are expecting much more.

    “But I think he’s going to be a surprise for some people,” Smith said. “I think he’s really come on strong this last camp. He had an unbelievable camp in practices. There aren’t too many guys who can block him in practice.”

    And these are just the defensive ends. While Smith and Keisel have more speed than any other pair of 3-4 ends in the league, real pressure is the domain of the Steelers’ linebackers. With camp phenom Lawrence Timmons thrown into the mix, and LaMarr Woodley replacing Clark Haggans, and James Harrison proving he was not a late-blooming fluke last season, the Steelers are poised to post their best sacks total since the 2005 championship season, when they had 47.

    “Timmons, he’s a freak. He’s so fast,” said Keisel. “Woodley is so strong and quick for his size, too. Yeah, those guys could help us a lot. Teams can key on one side. They’ll chip and double like offenses do. So, if you’re solid all over the place, and you don’t know who’s coming or who’s going, it opens it all up.

    “I watched the tape last week, where we had eight guys in the box and Aaron was the only one down. That’s hard to pick up. If some guy messes up one little thing, you have that opening to make a play. Hopefully we can do that.”

    With eight first-half sacks in three preseason games, compared to six first-half sacks in the first four preseason games last year, Coach Mike Tomlin has gone so far as to say, “I like where our pass rush is.”

    And LeBeau, the mad scientist of a coordinator, has hedged any retirement plans because “some of our young guys are showing a penchant for blitzing effectively” and “if we play defense like we did last year, it’s going to be hard to give it up.”

    By any statistical research or “video evidence,” as Tomlin likes to say, the pass rush has improved. And that could lead the Steelers to the “special things" they haven't seen since 2005.
    Playing Fantasy Football does not qualify you to be the in the front office or on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are professionals and you are not!

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    Re: Article: Pass Rush Taking Special Look

    I would love to see the return of Blitzburgh.

    Smack around Carson, Derek.

    Smack around NFC EAST quarterbacks.

    YEAH BABY!!!
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    another AA/AS original.

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    Re: Article: Pass Rush Taking Special Look

    In'v agreed with Oveido's concerns over the last year or so about the Steelers' D. I would go a step further and say the #1 ranking is a farce. That said, Tomlin has done a great job rebuilding the LB core with Harrison, Woodley and Timmons replacing (or soon to replace) Porter, Haggans and Foote. So yea it's possible to get more pressure this year. Once Tomlin gets around to the front three this will shape up to be a formidible defense, who knows, maybe a real 1# D instead of just on paper.

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    Re: Article: Pass Rush Taking Special Look

    Quote Originally Posted by SteelStallion
    In'v agreed with Oveido's concerns over the last year or so about the Steelers' D. I would go a step further and say the #1 ranking is a farce. That said, Tomlin has done a great job rebuilding the LB core with Harrison, Woodley and Timmons replacing (or soon to replace) Porter, Haggans and Foote. So yea it's possible to get more pressure this year. Once Tomlin gets around to the front three this will shape up to be a formidible defense, who knows, maybe a real 1# D instead of just on paper.
    I agree that with the additions of Timmons, Woodley, Davis and Humpal through the draft there has been a very positive and rapid improvement to the LB Corps. Humpal will probably be on the PS, but that is likely only because of injury. Davis is work in progress but has the pedigree in getting to the QB. Resigning Farrior was a plus. All in all an excellent effort to improve and area that before the 2007 draft was clearly in decline and lacked depth.

    I'll beat my favorite drum--Defensive Line. We need to do a similar rapid rebuild of the DL. I think it should have happened in this year's draft, but the curveball we got with Mendenhall and Sweed available was too difficult to pass on. We need to pay attention to this in the 2009 draft without fail. Do that and this defense could be exceptional for many years to come.
    Playing Fantasy Football does not qualify you to be the in the front office or on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are professionals and you are not!

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    Re: Article: Pass Rush Taking Special Look

    Quote Originally Posted by Oviedo
    Quote Originally Posted by SteelStallion
    In'v agreed with Oveido's concerns over the last year or so about the Steelers' D. I would go a step further and say the #1 ranking is a farce. That said, Tomlin has done a great job rebuilding the LB core with Harrison, Woodley and Timmons replacing (or soon to replace) Porter, Haggans and Foote. So yea it's possible to get more pressure this year. Once Tomlin gets around to the front three this will shape up to be a formidible defense, who knows, maybe a real 1# D instead of just on paper.
    I agree that with the additions of Timmons, Woodley, Davis and Humpal through the draft there has been a very positive and rapid improvement to the LB Corps. Humpal will probably be on the PS, but that is likely only because of injury. Davis is work in progress but has the pedigree in getting to the QB. Resigning Farrior was a plus. All in all an excellent effort to improve and area that before the 2007 draft was clearly in decline and lacked depth.

    I'll beat my favorite drum--Defensive Line. We need to do a similar rapid rebuild of the DL. I think it should have happened in this year's draft, but the curveball we got with Mendenhall and Sweed available was too difficult to pass on. We need to pay attention to this in the 2009 draft without fail. Do that and this defense could be exceptional for many years to come.

    I think that next year's draft and possibly venture into the FA market will yield several the trench monsters we'll need to address the lines on both sides of the ball. We are totally loaded in the skill positions and the LB corps is shaping up beautifully. It takes time to build a dynasty and I think we're a couple of years off, but look at the 2005 campaign... I think we were no where near the talent level we are now (save maybe a more cohesive OL). But the FO and coaching staff will most certainly see the the only areas we need to address this upcoming 2009 draft will be OL/DL and some touch up in the secondary. Just my two yen.

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    Re: Article: Pass Rush Taking Special Look

    Quote Originally Posted by asiansteel
    Quote Originally Posted by Oviedo
    Quote Originally Posted by SteelStallion
    In'v agreed with Oveido's concerns over the last year or so about the Steelers' D. I would go a step further and say the #1 ranking is a farce. That said, Tomlin has done a great job rebuilding the LB core with Harrison, Woodley and Timmons replacing (or soon to replace) Porter, Haggans and Foote. So yea it's possible to get more pressure this year. Once Tomlin gets around to the front three this will shape up to be a formidible defense, who knows, maybe a real 1# D instead of just on paper.
    I agree that with the additions of Timmons, Woodley, Davis and Humpal through the draft there has been a very positive and rapid improvement to the LB Corps. Humpal will probably be on the PS, but that is likely only because of injury. Davis is work in progress but has the pedigree in getting to the QB. Resigning Farrior was a plus. All in all an excellent effort to improve and area that before the 2007 draft was clearly in decline and lacked depth.

    I'll beat my favorite drum--Defensive Line. We need to do a similar rapid rebuild of the DL. I think it should have happened in this year's draft, but the curveball we got with Mendenhall and Sweed available was too difficult to pass on. We need to pay attention to this in the 2009 draft without fail. Do that and this defense could be exceptional for many years to come.

    I think that next year's draft and possibly venture into the FA market will yield several the trench monsters we'll need to address the lines on both sides of the ball. We are totally loaded in the skill positions and the LB corps is shaping up beautifully. It takes time to build a dynasty and I think we're a couple of years off, but look at the 2005 campaign... I think we were no where near the talent level we are now (save maybe a more cohesive OL). But the FO and coaching staff will most certainly see the the only areas we need to address this upcoming 2009 draft will be OL/DL and some touch up in the secondary. Just my two yen.
    , I couldn't have said it better myself!
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  7. #7
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    Re: Article: Pass Rush Taking Special Look

    Quote Originally Posted by asiansteel
    Quote Originally Posted by Oviedo
    Quote Originally Posted by SteelStallion
    In'v agreed with Oveido's concerns over the last year or so about the Steelers' D. I would go a step further and say the #1 ranking is a farce. That said, Tomlin has done a great job rebuilding the LB core with Harrison, Woodley and Timmons replacing (or soon to replace) Porter, Haggans and Foote. So yea it's possible to get more pressure this year. Once Tomlin gets around to the front three this will shape up to be a formidible defense, who knows, maybe a real 1# D instead of just on paper.
    I agree that with the additions of Timmons, Woodley, Davis and Humpal through the draft there has been a very positive and rapid improvement to the LB Corps. Humpal will probably be on the PS, but that is likely only because of injury. Davis is work in progress but has the pedigree in getting to the QB. Resigning Farrior was a plus. All in all an excellent effort to improve and area that before the 2007 draft was clearly in decline and lacked depth.

    I'll beat my favorite drum--Defensive Line. We need to do a similar rapid rebuild of the DL. I think it should have happened in this year's draft, but the curveball we got with Mendenhall and Sweed available was too difficult to pass on. We need to pay attention to this in the 2009 draft without fail. Do that and this defense could be exceptional for many years to come.

    I think that next year's draft and possibly venture into the FA market will yield several the trench monsters we'll need to address the lines on both sides of the ball. We are totally loaded in the skill positions and the LB corps is shaping up beautifully. It takes time to build a dynasty and I think we're a couple of years off, but look at the 2005 campaign... I think we were no where near the talent level we are now (save maybe a more cohesive OL). But the FO and coaching staff will most certainly see the the only areas we need to address this upcoming 2009 draft will be OL/DL and some touch up in the secondary. Just my two yen.
    I love talking about the next off season before this season

    I think we need to do the following:

    Two DL either through draft/FA or combination (one should be NT)
    Two OL either through draft/FA or combination (one should be C)
    CB
    Safety-may be a bigger priority if Troy can't get over the injuries
    WR-yes we will need one later in the draft. Washington should be gone and Hines may be a salary cap issue.
    Playing Fantasy Football does not qualify you to be the in the front office or on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are professionals and you are not!

  8. #8
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    Re: Article: Pass Rush Taking Special Look

    Quote Originally Posted by Oviedo
    Quote Originally Posted by asiansteel
    Quote Originally Posted by Oviedo
    Quote Originally Posted by SteelStallion
    In'v agreed with Oveido's concerns over the last year or so about the Steelers' D. I would go a step further and say the #1 ranking is a farce. That said, Tomlin has done a great job rebuilding the LB core with Harrison, Woodley and Timmons replacing (or soon to replace) Porter, Haggans and Foote. So yea it's possible to get more pressure this year. Once Tomlin gets around to the front three this will shape up to be a formidible defense, who knows, maybe a real 1# D instead of just on paper.
    I agree that with the additions of Timmons, Woodley, Davis and Humpal through the draft there has been a very positive and rapid improvement to the LB Corps. Humpal will probably be on the PS, but that is likely only because of injury. Davis is work in progress but has the pedigree in getting to the QB. Resigning Farrior was a plus. All in all an excellent effort to improve and area that before the 2007 draft was clearly in decline and lacked depth.

    I'll beat my favorite drum--Defensive Line. We need to do a similar rapid rebuild of the DL. I think it should have happened in this year's draft, but the curveball we got with Mendenhall and Sweed available was too difficult to pass on. We need to pay attention to this in the 2009 draft without fail. Do that and this defense could be exceptional for many years to come.

    I think that next year's draft and possibly venture into the FA market will yield several the trench monsters we'll need to address the lines on both sides of the ball. We are totally loaded in the skill positions and the LB corps is shaping up beautifully. It takes time to build a dynasty and I think we're a couple of years off, but look at the 2005 campaign... I think we were no where near the talent level we are now (save maybe a more cohesive OL). But the FO and coaching staff will most certainly see the the only areas we need to address this upcoming 2009 draft will be OL/DL and some touch up in the secondary. Just my two yen.
    I love talking about the next off season before this season

    I think we need to do the following:

    Two DL either through draft/FA or combination (one should be NT)
    Two OL either through draft/FA or combination (one should be C)
    CB
    Safety-may be a bigger priority if Troy can't get over the injuries
    WR-yes we will need one later in the draft. Washington should be gone and Hines may be a salary cap issue.

    I think Hines will not be so greedy this upcoming year. I think he'll take less to stay and retire as a Steeler. Safety might not be a factor if someone comes out of the wood work to really shine (Mundy could be the one... who knows, maybe Smith will shut his trap and let his play do the talking). WR I think we're set. But like you said, let's take a looksie at what this year's talent will do, sure the schedule will separate the true ballers and we'll see who'll be the future of this team. Only a week away!

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