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Thread: Compare '08 Steelers to those that faced Jax in the playoffs

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    Legend RuthlessBurgher's Avatar
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    Compare '08 Steelers to those that faced Jax in the playoffs

    At QB, Ben should only improve after his best season in his second year in Arians' offense. Leftwich is a stronger #2 option than Batch, and Dixon is a better #3 than St. Pierre. IMPROVED

    At RB, Najeh was our starting RB in that game since Parker broke his leg a few weeks earlier. Now Dookie is gone, FWP is healthy, we have a legit 2nd option in Mendenhall, and a solid 3rd down back in Moore. IMPROVED

    At WR, Hines is a year older which is bad, but Santonio is a year older which is good. Although Ward is past his prime, he is still a reliable target, and Holmes appears to be on the verge of breaking out as a superstar. Nate will be motivated to hold off the 2nd round pick they drafted to take his #3 WR job, and will be playing to try to show that he deserves to be re-signed when his contract is up after this season. Having Sweed or Baker as your #4 option is better than Ced Wilson. IMPROVED

    At TE, Heath keeps improving year after year and Spaeth should also be better since he is no longer a rookie. After losing Tuman last year, they used Starks as a 3rd TE much of the time. Although McHugh wasn't the most popular signing on this board, he gives the team the option of 3 TE sets that Arians seems to like. Although he won't play this weekend, once he learns the playbook and his minor ankle tweak works itself out, he will be a better option than using your backup tackle as a TE. IMPROVED

    At OL, We replace Faneca with Kemoeatu, Mahan with Hartwig, and get Marvel back from injury. Kemo may not be as talented as Faneca, but his attitude is certainly better than Alan's who had one foot out the door last season. It will be an adjustment for Kemo as a starter, but he is a nasty mauler, which fits the description of what an interior lineman should be. Hartwig is an upgrade over Mahan. How could he not be? I think whatever downgrade there might be at LG gets cancelled out by whatever upgrade there might be at C. The big difference is getting Marvel back healthy, rather than having Starks, and then Essex filling in when he went down with injury. Colon should also improve in his second year starting. IMPROVED

    At DL, Hampton may not be the same guy after his tub of lard episode this offseason, but he is still a solid NT that will be hard for opposing o-lineman to push around. Although they did not improve their depth with young talent like we thought they should, having Hoke, Kirschke, Eason, and Roye to rotate in is better than having just Hoke, Kirschke, and Eason back there. Perhaps the presence of Roye will make Eason one of the gameday inactives. We can only hope. The main difference between the Jacksonville game and now is the presence of a healthy Aaron Smith, which is absolutely huge for this defense. IMPROVED

    At LB, Woodley takes over for Haggans, and Wood's pass-rushing prowess should be a tremendous improvement over the pass-rush-challenged Haggans. Harrison should improve in his second season as a full time starter, and having a competant OLB across from him should only help. Timmons has developed into a useful utility guy in specialty defenses and also a guy that could fill in at seemingly any of the LB spots if needed. IMPROVED

    In the secondary, the main difference is the return of Ryan Clark, which is good from a physical, mental, and emotional standpoint. While Carter and Smith are reasonable backups, it is a much better defense when the solid Clark is back there instead of Smith (see the New England game) or Carter (see the Jacksonville game). IMPROVED

    There you have it. Whether it be through the addition of new blood or just guys getting healthy that were hurt at the end of last season, you can argue that there are improvements at every level of our offense and defense since the last time this team took the field at Heinz in a meaningful game.

  2. #2

    Re: Compare '08 Steelers to those that faced Jax in the playoffs

    RuthlessBurgher, nicely put, very impressive synopsis.

    I haven't read many others that call our O-line "improved" with Faneca's departure, but I think you do a decent job of backing up your position. I tend to agree with you, but withold judgement until after Sunday's game!


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    Re: Compare '08 Steelers to those that faced Jax in the playoffs

    A very good take.
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    Re: Compare '08 Steelers to those that faced Jax in the playoffs

    Im a definate homer and of course agree that our team is improved, personnelwise. IMO, it hasnt been a bad off-season at all although I might be able to debate your assessment of one or two positions...

    QB-Leftwich is younger than Batch, and experienced, but he has displayed that lack of touch that bothers me a little. Considering Batch is a proven winner in relief of Ben and Lefty is, as of yet, untested as a Steeler...Id still prefer Batch over him until proven otherwise. But, based on Roeth and Dixon, QB is still improved overall.

    RB-Significantly improved!

    WR-I think another year of the team (and line) playing under Arians (and Tomlin) will yield overall improvement in the passing game, although passing touchdowns may be down based on a higher number of rushing TDs.

    TE-Incremental improvement but they were already pretty good.

    OL-With Kemo, we shouldnt miss Faneca that much and the rag doll is now sunning himself down here in Florida. More importantly, we all know OL is about teamwork and these guys will be under the same regime for a second year. I would have to agree that we are improved!

    DL-As they are supposed to be the unmoveable object vs other teams irresistable forces, I think having a seventh guy on the DL does indeed give them more ability to absorb the pounding. With everyone another year older and the same middling backups though, its hard to call them improved.

    LB-Significantly improved!

    DB-CB looks to be about the same. If our two safties can stay on the field most of the season, it will be a significant improvement.

    ST-Did we improve here? Remains to be seen.

    Coaching-Tomlin was a rookie last year. With the memory of last years late season slide fresh in his mind, I dont see a sophomore slump. The reality of it is that he will get his men to show up and do their work. Improved!
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    Legend RuthlessBurgher's Avatar
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    Re: Compare '08 Steelers to those that faced Jax in the playoffs

    Quote Originally Posted by Discipline of Steel
    DL-As they are supposed to be the unmoveable object vs other teams irresistable forces, I think having a seventh guy on the DL does indeed give them more ability to absorb the pounding. With everyone another year older and the same middling backups though, its hard to call them improved.

    DB-CB looks to be about the same. If our two safties can stay on the field most of the season, it will be a significant improvement.
    My primary reason for calling these two units improved are the healthy returns of Aaron Smith and Ryan Clark, two guys who were generally underappreciated and taken for granted until they went down with injuries. Neither were on the field when we faced Jacksonville in the playoffs, and I think that had a lot to do with that loss. Now that they are both healthy, the d-line and secondary are improved because of it (remember, I am comparing our season-ending roster last year to our season-opening roster this year). That team made the playoffs and almost advanced.

    Overall, I just wanted to point out that with the guys we will have active tomorrow...that is a better overall roster than the guys that took the field in the playoff game last season. As for special teams, that is hard to judge at this point. I do think that there will be a drop-off from Sepulveda to Berger, since I think Sep had a good start to his career in terms of being able to down the ball inside the 20 rather than booming touchbacks, and would likely have improved if he hadn't gotten injured. Hopefully he is back and better than ever next season.

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    Re: Compare '08 Steelers to those that faced Jax in the playoffs

    Man that was a nice read...things like this should be blogs on the front page...I would think a mod could make this a blog and then folks could comment on it right here instead of the blog section. Great job!

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    Re: Compare '08 Steelers to those that faced Jax in the playoffs

    You are right, my analysis was not a true game day roster comparison. In that case, I do agree that we are MUCH better off with Aaron Smith and Ryan Clark back in line. Lets hope it stays that way all season. Funny thing, none of the Dolphans around here even know who AS and RC are.

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    Re: Compare '08 Steelers to those that faced Jax in the playoffs

    I agree with most of your take Ruthless, but the health of A. Smith, M. Smith, Clark, Polamalu, and Parker is something we had at the beginning of last year as well. If we can stay healthy and find ourselves in this condition when the playoffs roll around this year, then it will mean something.



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    Re: Compare '08 Steelers to those that faced Jax in the playoffs

    Quote Originally Posted by Flasteel
    If we can stay healthy and find ourselves in this condition when the playoffs roll around this year, then it will mean something.
    Agreed.... The season will take it's toll regardless. But the EXTENT of which is the key...

    Ruthless, absolutely a great read man! But where's the gratuitous Google pics?....
    ... At this time of the season, I am an eternal optimist (for the most part). But three issues are nagging at the back of my mind...
    1. The O-line. I don't necessarily think they have improved other than Hartwig replacing Mahan, and I fear that Ben may be spending some time on his back. We shall see.
    2. The secondary. Yes, they can hit. But they also give up more passes than I care to see. This pre-season did nothing to make me think otherwise. We shall see.
    3. Health and depth of the D-line. The start of the season is not what bothers me. It's the month of December, and the late season. We shall see.

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    Re: Compare '08 Steelers to those that faced Jax in the playoffs

    Nice writeup, all is well according to you. Tomorrow you will see how well this OL has improved. We'll see FWP looking for a hole to run threw, and Ben running for his life and a receiver to get open. You wait and see how grossly misguided some of you are on this OL. Time for talk is done, the show starts tomorrow. When this happens, I won't be saying I told you so, I'll be saying the FO and HC don't know what they're doing leaving our 102 million dollar QB unprotected behind this misfit OL. Lets just hope no one gets injured behind this OL tomorrow.

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