Game 1 - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Let's Start with the Good:
1. Larry Foote played like a LB possessed. He was everywhere. He was disruptive. He played smart and fast. He deserves much more respect that he gets from our fan base. He's the rock of this Defense. He's now the only player that I expect to show up consistently week in and week out until proven otherwise.
2. Ben was clutch on 3rd downs. He was just a throw or 2 from turning this game around. He made some really incredible plays that only Ben makes.
3. Max Starks looked like about the only lineman on either side of the ball that didn't get manhandled. And he was getting 0 help. He looked in pretty good shape for this time of year. Now we know Jason Worldis is Casey Hampton's new buffet buddy.
And then the Bad:
1. We got killed in the trenches. It looked like Denver had NFL players going up against our college kids. Our Oline and DLine was going backward most of the night. The only thing that helped on O was spreading Denver out and that barely worked. We couldn't run the ball with Ike. We have no screen game without Mendy. I can't believe I'm thinking this, but Haley needs Mendy back to help what he seems to want to do on O. On D, there was 0 push from anyone. About the only kudos I can give is Casey is so big he was running into 2 guys and freeing up Foote to make plays.
2. Our DBs can't tackle.
And the Ugly
1. Coaching was a mess. From Tomlin's bad challenge to going for 2 pts too early. To Haley's play calling to Lebeau's play calling. Does the mile high air affect our coaches minds more than Ryan Clark's body? I'll give Haley a pass cause he's new. But Lebeau's D was overly conservative. It begged the Broncos to pick us apart. And for all the things I like about Tomlin, he doesn't stay cool under the game pressure. He almost needs an assistant to make in game decisions for him. It's the Sushi can kick a 60 yard FG at Heinz Field in December mentality. I suspect Mike Tomlin is a bigger homer than any of us. Or something like that.
2. Our Defense was on the field 24 minutes. They went through a stretch of getting nearly an hour of rest. And they gave up plays immediately. No fire. No gumption. Nothing. They looked like they peaked and started unleashing hell a little early this year.
3. Why didn't Rainey get any return chances when he ran back 2 kicks last week?
Overall, the same problems that have plagued this team for years continue to plague this team. We have the Swiss Cheese line of the NFL. Both sides of the ball. And when you lose this bad in the trenches so consistently, it's hard to be a good football team.
We have a handful of guys that can help us overcome - Ben, Troy, Harrison. And I hope to God they are healthy. This whole season is just going to come down to Ben. Can Haley get him over the hump? Make him into something even better? Can he keep Ben alive? After last night, Ben's on pace to get sacked 80 times this season.
Please protect him Mr Haley. It seems like you're trying to do something differently than Bruce. But maybe Bruce understood what you will come to understand in time. Our only chance is to let Ben try to be Ben and make plays downfield. Because nothing else seems to work. It's our only chance. It might get him killed, but he's tough. And anything else you do behind this crappy line is likely to get him killed any way. So bombs away. Make him hold the ball 5-10 seconds. Take your chances.
Or change Ben and hurry up please. Whatever, he's our only chance.