Tag Archives: LaMarr Woodley
This week kicks off another entry of our fantasy football prediction blog. The Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals. This may be a more difficult game than what most Steelers fans are anticipating. The Bengals have 3 straight division games starting with the Steelers so expect them to try to set the tone against the Steelers.
Ben Roethlisberger - Big Ben will rebound just fine against the Bengals defense. The offense struggled last week to put points up on the board but they were able to move the ball against a solid Bears defense. I see Big Ben and company putting up 27 points against the Bengals this week.
Hines Ward - Historically a Cincinnati killer (just ask Keith Rivers). Ward is closing in on his 10,000 yards receiving mark and it very well could happen this week against the Bengals.
Santonio Holmes - Holmes had one of his worst performances in recent memory last week. 3 dropped balls including a tough but catchable winning TD catch capped off a disappointing day for Holmes. Even though the weather was less than desirable and the field was messy, Holmes dropped several catchable balls that ended up as "drive killers". I expect Holmes to rebound and post a solid overall performance with over 100 yards and a TD.
Parker / Mendenhall - Parker has been the most disappointing player on the team so far this season. He's not running the ball with any authority and he's been "tip toeing" to the line of scrimmage. Mendenhall might steal some of Parker's opportunities and rightfully so. It's time for one of these two to step up and provide some sort of rushing attack. The Bengals run defense has struggled so this might be a good game to get this offense going.
Heath Miller - Miller continues to be one of Roethlisberger's favorite targets. He's consistent, has great hands, and picks up first downs. With the offensive line struggling, Miller is a nice safety net for Big Ben.
Steelers Defense - Although the Steelers defense hasn't necessarily struggled, they do have some flaws. For one, the Steelers outside linebackers including Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY), James Harrison and emerging star LaMarr Woodley only have a combined 2 sacks on the year. Lawrence Timmons appears to be healthy which should hopefully add to the pass rush this week. This is a shocking statistic that no one would have guessed going into the 2009-2010 season. With the loss of Polamalu, Tyrone Carter was exposed by Jay Cutler last week being responsible for 2 touchdowns.
Carson Palmer - If last game was any indication, Palmer appears to be healthy. Palmer has one of the best deep balls in the game and is typically very accurate. If the Steelers defense doesn't get a pass rush against Palmer, it will be a long day for the Steelers and their fans.
Chad Ochocinco - Ochocinco has had just one 100-yard game and three touchdowns against the Steelers since Ike Taylor's rookie season in 2003 so don't expect much out of him today. He talks a good game and is being outspoken against Steelers cornerbacks William Gay and Ike Taylor but until he produces on the field against the Steelers, I would steer away from picking Ochocinco.
Cedric Benson - Benson has been one of the bigger surprises this year for Cincinnati. However, like most other running backs, expect Benson to struggle against the Steelers stellar run defense. Don't start Benson this week on your fantasy team.
Fantasy Football Pick of the Day: Santonio Holmes (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers)
STEEL CURTAIN RADIO #4: MAX STARKS INTERVIEW
Check out the 1 on 1 Interview with Max Starks
1. Max Starks talks About Free Agency and his Long Term Plans
2. Max talks about what makes Big Ben so Special?
3. Max gives his thought son Albert Haynesworthss Deal
4. Max speaks on the media’s focus on contracts?
5. Max gives his thoughts on Demarcus Ware
6. Max gives his thoughts on the differences between Tomlin and Cowher
Interview Provided by: whatchatalkinbout.com
Bryant McFadden, the Steelers starting cornerback (opposite of Ike Taylor) became a free agent at 12:01 Friday, February 23rd. With the big market signings of Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha and Redskins CB Deangelo Hall, McFadden and high-profile agent Drew Rosenhaus may be looking for a pay day.
McFadden has been said to have visits scheduled with the Lions, Cardinals and possibly the Ravens. I also wouldn't be surprised to the see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers interested.
The Steelers would be very wise to sign McFadden. That would allow the Steelers to focus more exclusively on the offensive and defensives lines. They lack quality starters and depth on the offensive line. The defensive line has very little depth but a solid starting lineup. The entire defensive line is now over 30 years old and Casey Hampton is in the last year of his contract. Don't expect the Steelers front office to extend Hampton's contract which leaves a gaping hole at NT, leaving vacant one of the most important positions in the 3-4 defense.
The Steelers haven't fared well in the offseason thus far.
- The Steelers have been unable to lock down James Harrison for a long-term contract. In fact, his agent said that they're "not close".
- The Steelers franchised Max Starks. The FO has said that they plan on working out a long-term contract. Well, that's what they said last year when they slapped him with the transition tag. Starks made close to 7 million last year with the transition tag and now is scheduled to make close to 9 million this year due to the franchise tag. Wouldn't the Steelers see that it's financially more sound to sign him to a long term deal instead of paying him close to 16 million for 2 years?
- Willie Colon was tendered a 1st round pick. Are the Steelers planning on signing Colon long-term? Will he be playing guard or tackle?
- The Steelers haven't extended LaMarr Woodley or Heath Miller
- The Steelers are very thin at offensive line and haven't signed ANYONE. Kemo is returning but Essex remains unsigned, and Simmons was cut. This leaves the Steelers with an empty slot at guard and the other guard as Darnell Stapleton who struggled at times last season. A look towards the future (2010 season) indicates that Justin Hartwig, Willie Colon, and Max Starks will all be UFA next season. That could possibly mean that the entire offensive line could contain new starters in one year.
- Nate Washington is expected to sign with the Detroit Lions for #2 wide receiver money.
|Steelers 2008 Salaries|
The Super Six
The Pittsburgh Steelers are Super Bowl XLIII Champions. How sweet it is to bring back another Vince Lombardi Trophy to the city of Pittsburgh. It is well deserved.
I had to wait a few days to write this blog to let the victory sink in. To be honest, I am still in the process of reading every Super Bowl article on the internet still. You name it, the Post Gazette, Tribune-Review, ESPN, CBS SportsLine, Yahoo! Sports, etc. I just can't get enough of this Super Bowl victory. It was perhaps the most emotional game I have ever watched. I can honestly say that I thought destiny (and the referees) were against us when I saw Larry Fitzgerald score a touchdown, to take the lead, with just under 3 minutes remaining. I thought the game was over.
Then, our franchise QB, Ben Roethlisberger marches 88 yards down the field (in spite of a holding call on Darnell Stapleton). To cap off the drive and the Super Bowl victory, Santonio Holmes made one of the best catches I have ever seen and possibly the best catch in Super Bowl history. Give huge props to Big Ben Roethlisberger; he put together possibly the best 2-minute drive in Super Bowl history.
I won't review the game since you all have probably seen all the highlights and read all the analysis you can handle at this point. However, in a future post, I will add all the Super Bowl XLIII highlights to our Steelers photo and highlight gallery. What I will review is a few plays and thoughts from the Super Bowl.
James Harrison returns interception for 100-yards
The interception return was easily one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history and is now in the record books as the longest play for a touchdown in Super Bowl history. I couldn't believe what I was watching and was going crazy in watching him go yard-by-yard on the way to a pick-six. I think I was gasping for air just as much as James Harrison was by the time he reached the end zone. That play was simply unbelievable. That was most likely, at a minimum, a 10-point swing.
Troy Polamalu lining up face-to-face with Larry Fitzgerald
I personally think this matchup wasn't talked about nearly enough and should have been one of the post-game story lines. Larry Fitzgerald, the best athlete on the Arizona Cardinals (and best WR in the NFL) matched-up with Troy Polamalu whom is equally as athletically gifted. Polamalu played bump and run with Fitzgerald to try to slow him up a bit and delay him from 'hitting his routes'. The media downplayed this matchup. Most people questioned why Kurt Warner didn't get the ball in Fitzgerald's hands earlier but you can't throw the ball to the guy if he's double and sometimes triple covered. Give Ken Whisenhunt credit for moving Fitzgerald around later in the game to get better matchups. I thought Dick Lebeau and the Steelers D should have started moving Troy Polamalu around to 'spy' Fitzgerald later in the game. They didn't do it and you saw what happened. Fitzgerald started torching our secondary.
Larry Fitzgerald scoring with just under 3 minutes to play
This was a devastating play and it really showcased why Fitzgerald is the best in the business. He's got the intelligence, the speed, leaping ability, and the hands to dominate in this league. I really thought this was going to end up being the game winning touchdown. Larry lined up in the slot, beat his man, split the seam and was off to the races. Troy Polamalu took a gamble and the Steelers defense paid the price. Polamalu was over aggressive and attacked the out pattern which opened up a huge hole down the middle of the field.
Larry Fitzgerald beating Ike Taylor on the fade route
This is just another showcase of this guys ability. Also, give props to Ike Taylor because he had absolutely incredible coverage. It's just that if Fitzgerald gets his hands on that football in a "jump ball" situation, he almost always comes down with it.
The play of Big Ben
In watching this game, Ben Roethlisberger had an absolutely incredible game and really deserved the MVP award and that's not taking anything away from Santonio Holmes because he had an amazing game as well. Ben Roethlisberger made some plays that showcased why he's an elite quarterback in this league. His scrambling ability to buy time in the pocket was amazing. In particular, the throw to Heath Miller in the first quarter while buying time and throwing across his body displayed his underrated athleticism, arm strength and his field vision. Steve Young said it best (and I'm NOT a Steve Young fan) when he asked Ben, 'How do you do that', 'Do you have eyes in the back of your head'. It sure seems that way, Young.
The playmaking of Roethlisberger doesn't stop there either. His pump fakes caused the Arizona Cardinals cornerbacks major headaches as well as his ability to extend the play in the pocket. His accuracy was "spot-on" in the biggest game in the world (or maybe I should refer to the Planet hereJ ). For example, his 1st down throw to Holmes on the last drive displayed his accuracy and arm strength. His throw out of the end zone (which resulted in a safety due to the Hartwig bogus holding penalty) was equally impressive. His 2-minute drive was typical Ben fashion. Even though I'll admit that I wasn't confident at the point, I knew that with Big Ben this game was not over.
The game winning touchdown pass to Holmes in the end zone was perfect. It couldn't have been thrown in any other place. If Ben threw that ball a foot to the left, it's intercepted. If Ben throws that ball a foot to the right, it's out of Holmes' reach. Ben was simply incredible on the biggest stage in the world and in my mind, is well on his way to becoming a Hall of Famer. Did I mention he's only 26?
Holmes Breakout Party (and a bit on Hines)
The play of Holmes' was equally as impressive. He just made play after play after play. I give him huge credit because I knew that the extra coverage was going to be rolled his way because of the injury to Hines Ward. I thought the first reception to Hines Ward was instrumental because it scared the Cardinals in thinking that he was healthier than what he really was and opened the door for Holmes.
Hines played more of a decoy role in this game but he's equally as good. The guy is a flat out football game that plays the game the way it was meant to be played. Hines Ward plays tough, healthy/hurt, emotional, physical and great. He's the ultimate Steeler and I can't wait to see him inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
With Ward not being 100%, it was time for Santonio to step up. And step up he did, by winning himself the Most Valuable Player honors. The media hype up rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie all week and said he would shut down one of the Steelers receivers. Well, that was far from the truth. I think Holmes took a little offense to that as well. Cromartie was used and abused by Holmes all game. It was a complete mismatch and the Steelers exploited it.
Offensive Line - While they played a decent game, especially the tackles (wow, did I really say that?) it just makes me wonder how good Big Ben would be with a solid o-line. I think we'll see the offensive line addressed this offseason. I am predicting that they'll be one new starter at guard and tackle come next year. Our offensive line in short yardage situations is a terrible though. The Steelers failed to score a touchdown on two occasions (1inside the 10 yard line, and 1 on the inch yard line) that could have put this game WAY out of reach, early.
Coaching - Overall, I think the coaching was good. Both Whisenhunt and Tomlin had their guys prepared to play. I'm more impressed with Mike Tomlin more than ever now. I guess a Super Bowl victory in your second season will do that. Bruce Arians had a better than expected game plan but I would have thought, I'd see more passes to Heath Miller especially with the early success. Dick Lebeau had a great game plan as well but that is nothing new. It's great that he'll be back next season!
Linebackers - The Steelers 'backers had an amazing game. Harrison is simply a beast and must be accounted for on every play. Woodley is an all-pro type player and we should be lucky to have him and he's only in his second year! He dominated Levi Brown all day and clinched the game with the forced fumble. Foote is still solid and very good against the run. James Farrior is Mr. dependable and is the leader on defense. He had a great game and is well deserving of his Pro Bowl status. Farrior is playing like he's 24 years old, not 34. It's a credit to his preparation. Lawrence Timmons is a star in the making. Timmons has his troubles in run defense, but he's great in pursuit, an explosive hitter, great in coverage, and has speed and burst.
The Pittsburgh Steelers defense will face it's toughest challenege tomorrow against the Kurt Warner and their loaded-weapons offense.
Pittsburgh's defense doesn't exactly match up well against the high-powered Cardinals offense featuring Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Bolder and Steven Breaston.
Kurt Warner will pose a significant challenge against the Steelers. Why you may ask. The Steeler defense was ranking #1 in every statistical category but haven't faced a passing offense like the Cardinals. However, the Cardinals have not faced a defense even close to the Steelers. This is a very intriging matchup to say the least. Warner has the quickest release in football (putside of Tom Brady) which may neutralize the blitzing of LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison. Then, if the Steelers send additional blitzers such as Troy Polamalu, Deshea Townsend, Lawrence Timmons, James Farrior then this could expose the secondary. Kurt Warner has the experience and field vision to find the open receiver and pick the Steelers apart. Very few quarterbacks we have faced, have the ability to do that; Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, and Kerry Collins to name a few. Kerry Collins was very successful against the Steelers being very accurate and having loads of time to throw the ball. It will be up to the Steelers defense to get to Warner quickly and early to force him into a few quick turnovers. The New England Patriots gave the Steelers a very good blue print on how to get to Warner.
Expect Dick Lebeau to have a few tricks up his sleeve to make it a miserable day for Warner. I see the Steelers getting 5 sacks, 2 interceptions, and holding the Cards offense to under 300 yards before becoming the only team in Super Bowl history to have 6 Lombardi Tropheys.
Here We Go Steelers!
Philip Rivers, QB, of the San Diego Chargers poses a significant challenge for the Pittsburgh Steelers defense tomorrow afternoon at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Rivers who was considered for offensive player of the year is leading his team to a strong finish down the stretch.
For the 2008 NFL season, Rivers has racked up quite the statistics with over 65% completion percentage, 34 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and boasts a quarterback rating of 105.5. Based on these statistics alone, Rivers can make a strong case for offensive player of the year considering that he matched the same touchdowns as Drew Brees, but threw 6 less interceptions. Most of this weeks media has been geared towards LT, and Sproles, but the Steelers must not get caught up in the media hype. The Chargers real star of the year lies in the hands of their quarterback.
To put Philip Rivers great season into prospective, let’s compare his 2008 stats with Ben Roethlisberger’s 2007 pro bowl year. In 2007, Big Ben posted a completion percentage of 65.3%, 32 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and a QB rating of 104.1. These statistics are almost identical to Rivers. Steelers fans know the great year that Big Ben had, so it’s not very difficult to see that Rivers has had his career year thus far.
However, Rivers struggled in his last meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers top ranked defense by going 15-26 for 164 yards and two interceptions.
Expect Dick Lebeau to dial up blitzes heavily on Rivers and force him into making inaccurate reads and bad decisions. James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley are coming off some much needed rest and I expect them to get to Rivers early and often in this matchup. Add that to Pittsburgh weather conditions of win, snow (6-8 inches) and a rabid Steeler fan base, I say .. advantage, Steelers.
The Steelers defense will be featured on the following magazines this week:
ESPN Magazine is having a story on the Steelers defense. The entire Steelers is on the cover of the magazine (see below).
2. Sports Illustrated
The Sports Illustrated cover features LaMarr Woodley, the Steelers 2nd year pro, knocking Joe Flacco to the ground. Both of these will make a great addition to your Steelers memorabilia. Be sure to pick up your copies today. Check out a video of the Steelers ESPN cover shoot:
Troy Polamalu, the normally quiet All-Pro safety let his voice be heard when he openly criticized the NFL in its recent influx of unwarranted fines to teammates including fines to Hines Ward. Steelers players James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, and Nate Washington have all received fines by the NFL in the past 2 games.
Troy Polamalu voiced his opinion when he said "I think regarding the evolution of football, it's becoming more and more flag football, two-hand touch," Polamalu said. "We've really lost the essence of what real American football is about. I think it's probably all about money. They're not really concerned about safety."
I agree with Polamalu that the NFL is overreacting on some of these fines and suspensions for illegal hits. Big hits is something that the NFL even promotes and makes money from. They fine the player which makes money for the NFL then the NFL consolidates these type of hits and sell them on DVD as highlight reels. Seems a little ironic to us. Seems like the NFL does care more about money than they do than the players as Mark Schlereth of ESPN indicates:
Troy Polamalu continues to say that ex-players such as Dick Butkus, Ronnie Lott, Jack Tatum wouldn't be able to play in today's NFL:
"When you see guys like Dick Butkus, the Ronnie Lotts, the Jack Tatums, these guys really went after people. Now, they couldn't survive in this type of game. They wouldn't have enough money. They'd be paying fines all the time and they'd be suspended for a year after they do it two games in a row. It's kind of ridiculous."
He's right, its a whole different game now than what it used to be. Now, some can say that the players in today's NFL are biggest and faster than ever before. It's true and proven, they're bigger, faster, and stronger. But you can also make the arguement that the equipment, medical procedures/medicine are better and more protective than ever before. Additionally, players such as QB's and WR's are protected in today's game.
However, a similar argument can be made for players in prior years of the NFL. In the past, the NFL players were much more aggressive. A linebacker could basically "clothesline" a receiver coming across the middle or actually "hit" a quarterback without being penalized. These actions were acceptable and the equipment wasn't nearly as advanced as it is now to protect players. These type of actions today results in a fine or suspention.
It seems like numerous people and media outlets agree with Polamalu's analysis of today's NFL. For more details on Polamalu's comments please refer to ESPN's article:
7:30 pm est
(Replays on NFL Network)
Tonight, the Pittsburgh Steelers plan to kick-off their second preseason game in Toronto against the AFC East Buffalo Bills. Mike Tomlin suggested that the starters are expected to see significantly more playing time in tonight’s game. Below are some players to keep an eye on:
Justin Hartwig – One of the very few Steelers free agent pickups is expected to see his first start tonight, Justin Hartwig at center in place of last year’s starter, Sean Mahan. Hartwig is expected to gain the starting role after Mahan struggled last year with the larger nose tackles in the AFC North. Hartwig is bigger and stronger than Mahan and tonight he could prove to everyone that he belongs to start.
Lawrence Timmons – LT was very impressive in his last preseason game against the Eagles. Timmon’s showcased why Tomlin & Co spent their #15 overall pick in the 2007 draft. He displayed his speed and his explosiveness to close quickly on the ball. Let’s hope he can put together back-to-back impressive games. It is expected that Foote will start alongside of Farrior but Timmons will play on 3rd downs\. However, if Timmons continues to impress, expect LT to unseat Foote for the starting role.
LaMarr Woodley – Woodley was not able to get a sack against the Eagles but he did display good penetration. I look for Woodley to have at least one sack against the Bills. It’s just a matter of time until he registers his first one. Overall, I think the Steelers pass rush needs to improve. I did not see the pocket collapse quickly against the Eagles and that is a little worrisome.
Rashard Mendenhall / Willie Parker – Both of these guys looked really good against the Eagles. Parker looked as explosive and fast as always and looks to be over his broken leg. I’m really excited to see more of Mendenhall. Against the Eagles, Mendenhall averaged just about 5 yards/carry and looked impressive doing so. He has a great combination of vision, size, power, and speed to really excel in this league.
Offensive Line – The OL looked adequate in its first preseason game. However, it’s way to early to determine if this OL will give up another 47 sacks this year. The jury is still out on these guys. Until they can show consistency, I can’t label this group as improved. On a side note, Starks looked terrible as usual in a backup role. Can someone please explain Colbert’s logic for paying Max Starks, a backup, 7 million dollars this year? By the way, that is the most of any left tackle in the league. YIKES.
Defensive Line – The DL really did not impress me in the last game. I thought the Eagles had some success running right up the middle of the Steelers defense. Now that Casey “I don’t weigh 365 pounds anymore” Hampon has returned to the lineup, I expect this unit to improve in this area.
Limes Sweed – Even though Sweed didn’t have many opportunities, he did make some very nice catches. I had heard Sweed had “suspect hands”. Based on the Eagles game alone, he looks to have great hands. I like what I see so far, and I think he’ll only improve from here.
Ben Roethlisberger / Santonio Holmes / Hines Ward - I just want to see these guys in action a little more. The “hot read” with Ben and Holmes that resulted in a touchdown against the Eagles was a thing of beauty. This should keep defenses honest and improve on the amount of sacks given up. This offense has the potential to be one of the most explosive units in the NFL as long as the OL can hold its ground.