More insightful comments by Wex after last nights' game...
Woodley, Moore and McHugh
...just my opinion
by Jim Wexell
From the notebook of a sportswriter who’s wondering if a win is enough:
• Against the Ravens, always. But if that second half doesn’t signal a turnaround for the Steelers’ offense, the win is little more than treading water.
• The wide receivers are still missing hot reads, the quarterback is still holding the ball too long, the offensive line still stinks, and the coaching staff is still doing nothing about it.
• And then the second half began.
• Draws? Screens? Heath Miller? What turned it around? Well, it started with a dumb penalty by the Ravens, and then three escape-andheaves by Ben Roethlisberger saved
the offense — and the city — for another week.
• It was pointed out last week that the bunch formation does nothing but cause sacks. After watching Monday’s game closely, I agree. At least the Steelers didn’t throw out of
it in the second half. One time, Roethlisberger ran a second-andlong sneak out of that butt-ugly formation.
• These were your first-half Pittsburgh Steelers: On third-and-1, in the shotgun with multiple receivers, two of the four rushers pressure a skittish quarterback into flipping to
the fullback, who fumbles.
• In the second half, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley started wreaking havoc with a rookie quarterback, just the way everyone in town drew it up in the pre-game predictions.
• Darnell Stapleton replaced Kendall Simmons. Not Trai Essex, who was the best backup in training camp. Not Willie Colon, who should have been playing the position two years ago. But Stapleton, the small guard who someday will make a decent center.
• Another second-half adjustment, from my somewhat twisted perspective, is that Roethlisberger stopped being a nice guy and Mike Tomlin stopped winking at the camera.
Both of these guys have to stop acting like leaders and start being leaders. If that makes any sense.
• Seemed every disastrous play ended with Roethlisberger looking over at Bruce Arians on the sideline with a shrug as if to say, “What are we supposed to do with these
clowns?” Ben is starting to look like Mark Malone out there.
• I heard Tomlin use the nickname “Delicious” for Rashard Mendenhall, who could have sworn he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
• Why was Bruce Davis active and Essex was not?
• Not that the offensive line needed any help, but I’m just wondering.
• I saw someone named Sean McHugh come out of the backfield and blow up big-mouth Bart Scott on a lead play. He knocked Scott’s helmet off as Mendenhall ran for a solid
gain. But instead of a game ball, McHugh got a seat on the bench.
• Winning by attrition was once a beautiful concept. Now it’s pie in the sky.
• Winning by bookend pressure is the tact these days.
• Joe Flacco actually threw a touchdown pass in the first quarter, and no one but the camera caught it. The Ravens should have had four more points.
• Don’t get me wrong. Every fiber of my being hates the Ravens. And regardless of how much the national media fawns over Ray Lewis, he’ll always be a thug to me.
• The fabrication of the Mendenhall text was just silly. Steve Young said it best in the pre-game show: “All that bulletin board stuff is college stuff.”
• Second-guess of the game: Kicking the field goal from the 1-yard line. The Steelers were up four and at worst would have left a rookie quarterback on the 1-yard line.
• Second second-guess of the game: What took so long to use Mewelde Moore at running back? And, to carry it further, what took so long to throw him passes on third
down? The guy has looked like Kevin Faulk since the spring.
• Second-guess that wasn’t needed: Kick the ball after winning the coin toss.
• Beyond the gritty play of the defensive line, and the pressure from the linebackers, and the late plays by Moore, losing the coin toss was the biggest play for the Steelers.
• Bill Cowher came in, made the playoffs with inherited talent, dipped to 9-7 in his second year, and then got serious. I suspect the same career arc from Tomlin.
• While the win over the Ravens was satisfying from a fan standpoint, the protection issues haven’t gone away. The running game might improve, but someone else will be
handing it off if the coach doesn’t get everyone working together.