Tag Archives: Bulletin
Source: Behind the Steel Curtain
I remember an extended IM conversation I had with Emperor Bean last year around this time.
It wasn’t quite as heated as our frequently debated topic of Vince Young/Jeff Fisher, but the resolve he showed in his side was kind of surprising. I mean, sure, Steelers WR Antonio Brown had a big grab against Baltimore, but there’s no way his upside is higher than Emmanuel Sanders’, right?
We’d likely have a different conversation today. I won’t concede defeat over trivial things like “evidence” and “results,” but I will hang on tightly to the fact talent has never been Sanders’ issue. If he remains healthy, he’s just as poised to have a big year as Brown was last year.
The battle of the long-term contracts is waging between Mike Wallace and Brown. Who will get what next year, and so on. While the Packers are sitting back, smoking cigars and toasting their fortune to have gotten Jordy Nelson (vastly underrated and we saw that last year) to sign for chump change while keeping Greg Jennings locked up, the Steelers won’t have that luxury if Sanders can kick his injury habit and become the next strong possession receiver the Steelers have been looking for since 19-ought-8 when they drafted Hines Ward. In a shorter passing attack, which it appears the Steelers will look to implement this year, Sanders’ value becomes higher than the Run-n-Gun Arians’ offense SteelerNation enjoyed so much. Ten yard catch, move them chains…eight yards on 1st-and-10, set up a run to keep the safeties home, move them chains. Look for Sanders again, 12 yards, move them chains.
The guy can catch the ball. He can get open. Sure, he doesn’t have Brown’s big-play ability (I plead the Fifth on whether that was the center of Emporer Bean’s argument), but it wouldn’t be at all surprising if he’s one of two Steelers receivers not named Wallace or Miller who has 75+ catches this season.
This year still is a “two dogs, one bone” year for Sanders and Brown, look for Manny to bite back a bit more this season.
Source: Behind the Steel Curtain
Once More Unto the Offensive Line Breach, Dear Friends
I find it ironic that the amount of in-game and pre-game fluctuation among the offensive line was one of the reasons behind the justified savagery of the Steelers offensive line. Yet, the transfer of Willie Colon three spots west of where he used to be (and essentially hasn’t played) has gotten Steeler Nation so excited. I’m excited as well, but looking down the road, it’s worth considering the bigger picture and the message being sent.
Is it the “Anything’s Better” argument, or does the chlorophyll shimmering from afar appear to give off a deeper green hue? I wrote no pro offensive lineman should struggle much with a position change, at least from a mental perspective, if he’s given adequate time to learn the terminology and movement. Training camp should be plenty of time. Flozell Adams didn’t need much time to learn right tackle, after having played for like 38 years at left tackle with a different team. Reason suggests Colon will handle the transition just fine.
And if it doesn’t work? The Steelers have now invested two first round picks (C Maurkice Pouncey and RG David DeCastro) and two second round picks (LT Marcus Gilbert and potential RT Mike Adams) in their offensive line.
If they are not one of the three best offensive lines in the game by the end of next season, heads have to roll, don’t they? Maybe it’s the head of offensive line coach Sean Kugler. Maybe it’s offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s, or head coach Mike Tomlin’s.
I’m only bringing it up because Post-Gazette writer Ed Bouchette had mentioned via Twitter on Wednesday he felt current Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt was the best offensive coordinator the Steelers had (or did I read that wrong? I didn’t see his column, just the tweet). Russ Grimm was the offensive line coach (and candidate to replace Bill Cowher before the job went to Tomlin).
The offensive line those guys had, in 2005 in particular, was excellent, especially when we look at it retrospectively. OTs Marvel Smith and Max Starks, Gs Alan Faneca and Kendall Simmons (he started that year, didn’t he?) and C Jeff Hartings are comparable as a unit in terms of draft picks invested (three 1sts, a second and a third) to what Pittsburgh has today but I’ll challenge you to go back and watch a game from 2005 and tell me you aren’t shocked with how good they were as a unit. That kind of thing doesn’t happen overnight.
Or maybe I’m just seeing a decent offensive line, and comparing it to what we’ve had recently.
Either way, the bar is set pretty high, and with a position unit that relies heavily on cohesion and trust, it’s currently in a state of massive transition, and it’s going to take a helluva coaching job to make it work. Not saying it won’t, but let’s not think this line will automatically dominate.
Maybe I should just have a few beers and think about it.
Other Pre-Camp Competition News
I’m really interested to see the fruits of DE Cameron Heyward’s labor this off-season. Watching him again, there were times he looked like an animal. Granted, more times he looked lost, but when he looked decisive, he really got off the ball and after the ball carrier.
I haven’t been shy to express my opinion about DE Ziggy Hood, and I’ll be the first to declare the nuances of the defensive lineman in this defense need to be fully understood. But an athlete is an athlete and a baller is a baller. I expect Heyward to push Hood hard for his starting spot, probably lose out, but absolutely gain on his total snaps per game.
One would expect Hood, who’s going to want some push before entering into extension talks next year, to ratchet up his game, as well. Hood easily looks the technically superior of the two, but Heyward’s get-off and explosion are above Hood’s already, even if he doesn’t appear to know what he’s doing (rookie year).
Getting that extra foot or two of penetration into the backfield from a 3-4 defensive end is critical, and it creates significant problems for the offense, both on the ground and in pass protection. It closes off escape routes for the quarterback, disrupts running back’s routes and draws extra attention from the line. Even better, it forces teams to use another tight end to protect the end.
The question floating around the league now is how do you stop the big, receiving tight end. My (glib and ignorant) response is “make him stay in and block.”
Can Heyward develop into that kind of a defensive end? Time will tell, but it will be fun to watch.
Source: Behind the Steel Curtain
Pittsburgh Steelers News Bulletin: On Haley’s Offensive Changes, Mike Wallace, and a Heinz Field Hall of Fame
It’s a great day for some Pittsburgh Steelers notes and musings. Without much of an agenda, a loose and informal structure and geared fully to illicit conversation within the greatest Steelers community web site on the planet (presumably, the universe), we’ll start off diving into the offense.
Haley’s Offensive System
How different will offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s offense be from where it was last year? We’ve heard QB Ben Roethlisberger say it’s 90 percent different (S.W.A.G.), but he’s also talked about going no-huddle and getting the ball to the receivers.
Haley passes to set up the run, and the most obvious difference between the success he had in Kansas City (before he lost half his starters to injury) was the heavy involvement of his running backs. Maybe this is a chicken vs. the egg thing, but the Steelers have considerably more talent at WR than Haley had in Kansas City. Is he just going to ignore that? And if he doesn’t, isn’t he just sitting on much of what they did last year?
I understand it’s early, and you have to take what Roethlisberger said with a grain of salt (if you really want to get picky, you could say the offense changing “90 percent” would probably mean the Steelers are running a wishbone this season, and removing Roethlisberger for an as-of-now-unidentified quarterback in short yardage situations). What exactly is going to be different?
One guess I would make would be less of a priority on high-to-low reads from Roethlisberger and more of an open look for him with more option routes from the receivers.
You’ve probably noticed BTSC hasn’t run a Mike Wallace-specific story in a little while now. It could be a record for amount of time passed without featuring him. Part of the reason is Wallace hasn’t said or done anything newsworthy recently. It makes me ask myself if he even has at any point this offseason.
Sure, there’s the RFA tag, the possibility of a franchise tag, the contract negotiations and alleged desire for a “Larry Fitzgerald” contract, but Wallace hasn’t said a word. We’ve spoken plenty for him though.
It’s dumb to suggest he doesn’t deserve criticism. I’m of the belief a good quarterback makes an average receiver look much better, but it’s more important to look at the converse of that statement. A bad/injured quarterback makes a good receiver look worse. Part of the reason, I’m guessing, Wallace doesn’t have a long-term deal in place is because the two sides aren’t very close in their initial offers. You can make arguments for both sides, too. On Wallace’s side – few, if any, have the stretch of big-play dominance he has in three years. On the team’s side – the offense hasn’t been all that productive overall, and it was stuck in third gear much of the time when Wallace was getting eight targets a game, as well as when he was getting four a game.
Is that big play threat conducive to a highly productive offense? The risk involved with the deep pass is much higher than of a short pass, so it seems as if the better big-play option would be a guy who can take a short throw a long way. Higher percentage pass, less likelihood of it resulting in a sack or interception.
Roethlisberger really doesn’t throw a great deep pass on schedule. Things go off schedule, pocket breaks down and he’s moving, he’s pretty solid. But sitting in the pocket, he just doesn’t look comfortable.
Maybe a better route is to basically give Wallace the chance this year (since he’s not going anywhere) to put up or shut up. If you’re not, as his haters call him, a “one trick pony,” let’s get you in space and see you make guys miss. He’s made those plays in his career, and I’d like to see more of it.
Hall of Fame at Heinz Field
I believe the construction of a Steelers Hall of Fame is a part of the recent proposal to add seats and amenities at Heinz Field, but one needs to get built, like, yesterday.
Who wouldn’t go see that? Say what you will about your love or hate for the Green Bay Packers, the Packers Hall of Fame outside Lambeau is a destination for any hard core football fan. It’s history, it’s the foundation of the NFL. If the Packers have one of those, as storied a franchise as it is, then I’m Packers-green with envy. It would turn Heinz Field into a year-round destination, and one of those things I would see, regardless of the price.
If it’s not in the works already, someone needs to make this happen. If that person is you, please let this serve as our request for action.
Source: Behind the Steel Curtain