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Thread: These Steelers Better Than Those Steelers

  1. #1

    These Steelers Better Than Those Steelers

    By Dejan Kovacevic

    Published: Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, 7:12 p.m.


    With apologies to Dennis Green, it's possible these 2013 Steelers aren't who we thought they were.


    Or even who they thought they were.


    Yeah, there's been a ton of debate and dissection over how they've been able to dig out from an 0-4 hole to play an honest-to-Kosar-and-Sipe important game in Cleveland on this particular Sunday. But most of that discussion has centered on strategy and execution. They're going no-huddle more often. They're deploying six defensive backs. They're just making the plays, doing what they're supposed to do. That sort of thing.


    What about personnel?


    Couldn't it be the case maybe the main case that the players this management and coaching staff thought were their best coming out of Latrobe really weren't?


    I'd say so when looking at the upgrades made at a quarter of the roster's 24 starting spots


    Velasco > Pouncey


    It's been heresy to knock Maurkice Pouncey since the first drill of his first camp, but he was graded by Pro Football Focus as no higher than the NFL's 12th-best center in 2012, and, more to the point, he's been brittle.


    Whether he can do the job isn't the issue. It's getting it done.


    Fernando Velasco has done it. He has been solid from his first snap despite coming in cold as a free agent after Pouncey was lost for the season in the opener. Velasco provided immediate stability, he's only gotten stronger, and the Steelers are the better for it.


    Beachum > Adams


    Anyone who saw the Vikings' Jared Allen manhandle Mike Adams in London knows that starting Adams at a critical position like left tackle was a near-fatal mistake. And by that I mean Ben Roethlisberger is lucky to be breathing.


    It was a mistake not only starting Adams but also switching sides between him and Marcus Gilbert in the spring. Both were at least OK where they were.


    Kelvin Beachum hasn't made anyone forget the prime version of Max Starks six sacks allowed in six starts but he's improved with each week, which is to be expected for essentially learning on the job.


    Cotchery > Sanders


    Before the season, I'd expressed hope that another wide receiver would push 31-year-old Jerricho Cotchery off the field.

    Man, talk about a dropped ball.


    Cotchery hasn't just fended off rookie Markus Wheaton, but he also has surpassed Emmanuel Sanders, New England's fling last summer, as the clear No. 2 on the depth chart under Antonio Brown.


    Check out this efficiency: Cotchery has caught 34 of 49 passes sent his way, a terrific 69 percent. More impressive, seven have gone for touchdowns to lead the team, and 29 catches all but five! have brought first downs.


    Heyward > Hood


    It's taken Cam Heyward three years far too long to deliver his expected impact at defensive end, but he has been the starter since Week 6, and that's on merit. No one has been more disruptive in the backfield.


    He bumped Ziggy Hood off the field to start, but he's also outperformed Brett Keisel in every regard.
    It's Heyward's time, and it's about time.


    Gay > Allen


    Think management isn't wondering whether letting Keenan Lewis walk to the Saints for whom he's been quite good was a mistake?


    Cortez Allen was supposed to take over at corner for Lewis, maybe even add a takeaway dimension. But all that was taken away was his starting job, by the veteran William Gay. Gay has had wild swings, sure, but he has allowed fewer catches, yards and touchdowns than the other starting corner, Ike Taylor, in just 63 fewer snaps.


    It's not ideal for the future, but it's made this team better.


    Worilds > Woodley


    This one, I'm guessing, will set off the most alarms, but how to avoid it?


    Never mind that LaMarr Woodley is almost incessantly hurt, including the calf injury that has him listed as questionable for this game. That's maddening enough for a player not yet halfway through a six-year, $61.5 million contract.


    What's most striking is what we saw last Sunday against the Detroit Lions, when Jason Worilds, taking Woodley's place at left outside linebacker, registered eight tackles, a sack and four quarterback hits. In general, Worilds did things athletically spin moves, in particular that we haven't seen from Woodley in more than two years.


    In the middle of this week, Worilds acknowledged being more comfortable on the left side than his usual right, which raised a couple of decidedly un-comfortable follow-up questions for both.


    Hey, no need to tiptoe here. Plain and simple, successful teams put their best players in the places they belong.


    Let's not overthink how the Steelers suddenly are competitive again.






  2. #2
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    ...and lets not forget Ben > Haley
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  3. #3
    Hall of Famer SteelCrazy's Avatar
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    I'd say the guy pretty much nailed it and Dis. of Steel did too.

  4. #4
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    Right on the mark, especially about Woodley. I said in the off season that Worilds wasn't our problem at OLB it was Woodley.

    In the short term, the author is right about Cotchery v. Wheaton, but let's not forget Wheaton has missed some time with a broken finger. Long-term I think Wheaton becomes a much better player than Cotchery.
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  5. #5
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    It's been pointed out a bunch of times, the GM, personnel dept, and coaching staff deserve a FAIL for the start of the season. Maybe they deserve a slight break because they are hamstrung by a CBA that limits practices, OTAs, and other valuable time that helps in player evaluation, but they clearly made some awful moves this season.

    In my opinion, Pouncey should be done at center. For all the accolades he got early on, the slow decline since his first season is now very apparent. Velasco has been an upgrade in every respect.

    Woodley?... it's a shame the front office missed on this one. I could almost forgive all the injuries, if when he is playing he makes an impact. He clearly has not. Classic case of fat and happy.

    I will give credit the org is attempting to right the ship by letting new talent on the field. But, the reality is this is an average football team at nearly all positions but QB. Coaching will have to get the wins if the Steelers are going to make noise in the playoffs.

  6. #6
    Worilds was going against a rookie RT and RG. The RT was only starting his 3rd game. He has filled in for Woodley before and didn't do anything of note. It was one game.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Vader View Post
    Worilds was going against a rookie RT and RG. The RT was only starting his 3rd game. He has filled in for Woodley before and didn't do anything of note. It was one game.
    Woodley hasn't looked so good against rookies and second-stringers this season. Just sayin'...

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Vader View Post
    Worilds was going against a rookie RT and RG. The RT was only starting his 3rd game. He has filled in for Woodley before and didn't do anything of note. It was one game.
    Please remind me again why Woodley is worth so much money? Because Woodley himself hasn't been ...

  9. #9
    Pro Bowler eniparadoxgma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vader View Post
    Worilds was going against a rookie RT and RG. The RT was only starting his 3rd game. He has filled in for Woodley before and didn't do anything of note. It was one game.
    2 games. While he didn't register a sack he was in the backfield all day today and definitely made his presence felt by the Browns' QBs.
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    They are all Steelers... happy to have them on our team.

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