Tag Archives: Much

How much will Rashard Mendenhall really help the Steelers rushing attack?

The Steelers running game is tied for last in the league through the first 3 weeks of the season (3 way tie with the Raiders and Titans). Pittsburgh is averaging just 2.6 yds per rush and has a combined pitiful 195 yds total rushing. If that doesn’t make you cringe as a Steeler fan, I don’t know what will.
The offense hasn’t ranked that low i...

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Amy K. Nelson goes through SB Nation’s NFL Power Rankings. You can also view a much more detailed…


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Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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How Much Emotional Stock Do You Invest in Steelers Preseason Games?


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Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Colbert Says Not Much Talking Between Steelers and Wallace


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CBS Sports reports that the Steelers and WR Mike Wallace have not had much chatter about the ongoing situation regarding his holdout. It’s been 10 days since Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said that the organization would no longer actively negotiate with wide receiver Mike Wallace, suggesting that for talks to resume Wallace would fi...

Source: Steelers Gab

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Hines Ward: Players are learning they gave Goodell too much power

When the NFL players accepted the new Collective Bargaining Agreement last year, only one of the 32 teams dissented: The Steelers, whose players voted 78-6 against the CBA. Now one player on last year’s Steelers team says the rest of the players are finding out why they should have been more skeptical. Hines Ward told…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

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Don’t read too much into the Steelers OTA’s

The 2nd week of OTA’s for the Steelers this offseason raises more questions than answers. Honestly, that’s how it should be. These organized team activities are not training camp. This is not the time that you set your starting lineups for the coming season. It’s not a time to nail down your starting rotation on the offensive line, defensive line, or any other position.
Still, like clockwork each year, everyone loves to read into this part of the offseason and speculate what’s going to happen. I can’t tell you how many blog entries I’ve read over the last 2 weeks, some I greatly respect and others I have zero respect for, that are trying to figure out who’s starting where and when. If you know us here at SA you know who we’re talking about in that statement.
I don’t care what your name is or who you work for, trying to figure out the OTA’s can be a confusing ordeal. Inevitably you’re going to come to a consensus with ...

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers


Is the Position of Running Back Still a Valued Commodity? Not as Much as in Years Past According to the Draft Trends

TUSCALOOSA, AL - APRIL 17:  Running back Trent Richardson #3 of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide runs for a first down during the Alabama spring game at Bryant Denny Stadium on April 17, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)

It's pretty safe to say that a huge segment of Steeler Nation still loves the running game. It's Steelers football. It's our identity. If you make any case for why franchise quarterbacks and passing the football are the way to win in today's NFL, you'd probably get five counter-arguments from Steelers fans emphatically stating that a good ground attack is always the best way to win a football game.

"Forget about the trends! It doesn't matter what the rest of the NFL is doing! This is Steelers Country, and here, we run the ball!"

However, it's kind of hard to ignore trends in sports because they usually tell a pretty good story.

Growing up in the 80's, I was a huge fan of running backs, and there certainly were plenty to be entertained by. I loved watching guys like Eric Dickerson, Tony Dorsett, Walter Payton and John Riggins take over games either by running away from their competition or running them over.

I was also pretty intrigued by college running backs, and as most of you probably know who read my stuff regularly, I often fantasized of the day that the Steelers would use their first round pick to draft that franchise running back of the future. I would then finally get to watch an awesome Dickerson-esque franchise back play for the Steelers and dominate both the opposition and the record books each and every Sunday.

There always seemed to be plenty of backs taken every year in the first round, but other than the time the Steelers selected Tim Worley out of Georgia with the 7th overall selection in the 1989 NFL Draft (so much for that fantasy), they usually focused their first round energy on building up other areas of the team.

But this isn't, yet, another post by yours truly lamenting that sore subject of my youth. No, this is about the four-decade decline of running backs being selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.

I'm obviously a big enough football fan to know that the NFL has trended towards the air more and more with each passing (no pun intended) year, but I hadn't really paid attention to the number of running backs drafted in the first round in each decade; that's not something you just know off-hand unless you're either Mel Kiper or just plain nuts about the draft.

But I became intrigued by the subject after the conclusion of the most recent NFL Draft. There were three running backs drafted in the first round this year, and that isn't necessarily an indication of a downward trend--for example, there were only three running backs drafted in in the first round in 1984 and 1985 combined--but it did spark my interest enough to do some research on the trends of running backs drafted in the first round, and whether or not there actually has been a decline over the years.

Thanks to wikipedia, I was able to do that research, and the stats tell me that the number of running backs drafted in the first round has trended downward over the past four-decades.

In a twenty year span from 1970-1989, there were 88 running backs drafted in the first round for an average of 4.4 per draft.

That tells me that teams were placing way more emphasis on the run in those days, and they needed a horse in order to carry out their game-day strategy.

However, over the next twenty years, things shifted just a bit. From 1990-2009, there were 65 running backs drafted in the first round for an average of 3.25 per draft.

If there aren't as many running backs taken in the first round these days, what offensive skill position is gaining momentum?

Well, wide receiver, of course.

In the decade of the '70's, there were 25 wide receivers drafted in the first round compared to 41 running backs. But in the decade just concluded--the 00's--there were 43 wide receivers drafted compared to 31 running backs.

These days, receivers like A.J. Green and Julio Jones are being drafted in the top 10--last year, the Atlanta Falcons traded five draft picks to the Cleveland Browns in order to move into the sixth spot so they could draft Jones--while productive running backs like Chris Johnson and Mark Ingram are slipping into the end of the first round.

This tells me that NFL teams are putting way more emphasis on passing the football these days, and they need a gazelle in-order to carry out their game-day strategy.

So, while we might still covet a good hard-nosed running attack here in Steeler Nation, it's easy to see what the rest of the NFL likes.

Franchise backs are still nice to have (who wouldn't want Adrian Peterson as the focal point of their team?), but wide receivers are just a little more valuable in today's NFL.

At least that's what the draft trends say.



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain


Talkin’ Safeties: Much Remains the Same Among Steelers’ Deep Secondary

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While the rest of the Steelers' defense has gotten younger over the past two seasons, the safeties have remained the same. SS Troy Polamalu, FS Ryan Clark and FS/SS Ryan Mundy will still be the Steelers' three-deep come 2012, and it's hard to take exception to that.

The backend anchor to the league's top passing defense, the unit may not have forced many turnovers (four interceptions between the three of them) but by and large prevented big plays, and helped keep opponents off the scoreboard.

The challenge in 2012 will come in the form of much better quarterbacks on the schedule.

Was the Steelers' secondary improved from 2010 to 2011?

This isn't at all scientific, but it just never felt like it was better, despite being statistically on par in many areas. The complete lack of turnovers was bordering on historic lows, and Polamalu is usually the guy forcing those. It wasn't the 2010 Defensive Player of the Year's best all around season, but it was still effective enough for a 12-4 record and a playoff spot.

Notice how I still haven't answered the question? It's hard to say, but one thing is for sure, they gave up fewer big plays (34 plays of 20+ yards, and three of 40+, compared to 35 and 7 in 2010). That's largely on the safeties.

Was it a mistake to not address either position in the draft?

As it usually is, time will tell. We won't know if any safety in a position for the Steelers to have selected will be worth anything. Odds are someone will produce above the level at which he was taken, and the Hindsight Is 20/20 Cops will be all over the Steelers. As it is, the safety position is solid in Pittsburgh. Like every position on every team, it always helps to have guys to develop, but you aren't able to do that at every position, so they'll have to wait another year.

Knowing Clark will be out for Week 1 at Denver, is there a concern of dropping the second consecutive season opener?

While the Steelers always would have had the possibility (eventuality) of playing in Denver, therefore, being without Ryan Clark, the playoff game last year wasn't even close to the amount of time they now have to prepare for it. It's still a difficult transition, but at the very least, Mundy will enter training camp knowing he's going to have to start; a tough enough task, made even moreso by the presence of Broncos QB Peyton Manning.

Even with Clark, the Steelers will have their hands full in the opener. Denver is a very tough defensive team and winning there is never an easy thing to do. But just like the military, it's Next Man Up in Pittsburgh. Mundy will have to produce.

Will Polamalu remain healthy?

It's almost a given now he's going to get nicked up in one way or another. Lends even more weight to the depth concerns, and how all three of them - Polamalu, Clark and Mundy - can make arguments of being the team's MVP. If any one of them go down for a substantial period of time, it will be interesting to see how the Steelers handle it.

I mentioned the possibility of using rookie LB Sean Spence in a nickel or dime safety role, and while that obviously remains to be seen, it doesn't appear the Steelers have another option that's any more valid than that idea.

CB William Gay moved onto Arizona, and with him left an emergency safety option. CB Bryant McFadden played a little bit as a deep safety over the past year and a half. With neither of those two back, logic would suggest perhaps one of the cornerbacks could be taught a safety role in case of injury.

Will this unit improve on the amount of forced turnovers they had in 2011?

It's hard to miss, honestly. However, it was obvious under the direction of Carnell Lake, the entire secondary, safeties in particular, were more fundamentally sound in coverage, and took less risks. It's hard to argue with the numbers - league's top pass defense in terms of yards per game, gave up less than 15 points a game. But there were times when the defense really needed to step up and get the ball back to the offense. Imagine what another five interceptions over 16 games would have done.

The quarterbacks they faced in 2011 just weren't all that great, were they?

No, and that's a definite concern. With improving passing offenses in Cincinnati and Baltimore, and a non-division schedule that includes both Mannings, Tony Romo and Phillip Rivers, they will be tested in the air more this year than last.

The number of sacks they had (35) won't cut it. Getting to the passer isn't the job of the secondary, but the amount of time in which they can convince a passer to hang onto the ball leads to sacks as well.

The key stat against Denver in the playoffs: Broncos 5 sacks, Steelers 0. Manning is a bit less mobile, as is Rivers and Eli, but they throw well with pressure. Considering that's three games right there, the Steelers will have to lean on their safeties to continue preventing big plays and trying to give the front seven a chance to land on blitzes.



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

Steelers’ Adams has much to prove


Wed, 09 May 2012 17:23:06
by SCOTT BROWN




The body looks ready-made to repel NFL pass rushers, but it isn’t the only reason why the Steelers assumed the risk that came with drafting Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams.
Watch his face break into a grin at the mention of a struggling high school freshman he once mentored, and it offers a glimpse into the kind of character that the Steelers are gambling will ultimately prevail.
“Emmanuel Leath,” Adams said Friday after his first Steelers practice. “Now he’s working with kids, and to be able to make an impact in a young man’s life like that is special to me.”
Rookie minicamp concludes today at the team’s South Side facility, and five practices — in shorts, no less — won’t change Adams’ profile as the player with the most upside and baggage in the Steelers’ draft class.
The 6-foot-7, 323-pound Adams, perhaps not coincidentally, is rooming with first-round pick David DeCastro. The two became friends during pre-draft training in Arizona, but they also offer a study in contrast.
De...

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Examining the Super Steelers of the 70′s Has Made Me Realize Why Fans Expect So Much

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I remember the day quite well. It was in 2008, the Monday after the Steelers had just left Cincinnati with a very impressive 38-10 victory. The Bengals were certainly not a great team, and Pittsburgh did exactly what a future Super Bowl Champion was supposed to do.

I was discussing the game with my boss, and instead of being satisfied about the outcome, all he did was complain about the things that the Steelers did wrong in the game, like their inefficiency in the red zone, for example. I couldn't believe my ears. I didn't even bother arguing with the guy because it was just pointless. I mean, who wouldn't enjoy a four-touchdown victory?

My mom is another one. She's obviously old enough to have seen a lot of great Steelers football, but she only became a die-hard fan in 2004. For whatever reason, she can't seem to comprehend that the other team is actually trying to win, too. Before a big playoff game, for example, she'll often ask me, "is (insert playoff team here) any good?" And when I try to explain to her that most playoff teams are, in fact, very good, she gives me this puzzled look and is often taken aback when I suggest that the Steelers might actually lose the game.

I catch myself doing this kind of stuff, too, from time-to-time (okay, all the time). For instance, in the week two game against the Seahawks, Seattle stuffed the Steelers on 4th and goal when Seahawks' safety Earl Thomas stopped Rashard Mendenhall at the goal line. The first thing I did was complain about the missed block on the play. But, when thinking about it rationally, I had to concede that Thomas, a pretty good young safety, simply made a great play.

Had Steelers safety Troy Polamalu made a similar play (and he has countless times throughout his career), I would have been praising his name and arguing with Ravens fans about how he was ten times better than Ed Reed. And I certainly wouldn't have even considered the poor blocking by the opposing team.

The old cliche of "the other team gets paid, too" is often used in these kinds of discussions, but if we all realize that there is another team out there on the field, why do we get so upset with games like the Steelers 13-9 victory against the Chiefs Sunday night? Yes, it was ugly, and yes, the Steelers should have won by at least two scores, but they won, and that should really be all that matters, right?

Immediately after Keenan Lewis ended the near-nightmare with his interception, I complained about the score being closer than it should have been, and my girlfriend gave me a lecture and called me a "typical Steelers fan."

I guess she's right. I mean, this kind of thing has been going on for decades. Pittsburgh sports personality Guy Junker has said that the post-game shows following the team's Super Bowl XIII and XIV victories were filled with callers complaining about the mistakes that were made during those games.

During the Mike Tomlin era, the team has come under a bit of scrutiny for playing way too many close games and never being able to step on the throat of the opposition when they have them down and ripe for a blow-out.

During the 2009 campaign, Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette was discussing all the close games that Pittsburgh was involved in and, to paraphrase, said "hey, those Steelers teams from the 70's didn't always blow out their opponents. They had their share of close, ugly victories, too."

For a couple of years, I've had that little quote in the back of my mind and always wanted to research those 70's squads just to see what the margin of victory really was. Therefore, I decided to compile some data and compare that era with some other Steelers playoff years.

I'll be honest, I fully expected to find that the Super Steelers of the 70's had to pull a lot of close games out and that their margin of victory was similar to that of other Steelers playoff eras, but I was quite impressed to discover just how dominant those teams were. During the Steelers playoff years of the 70's (1972-1979), their regular season average margin of victory (amv) was 16.21. And in six of those eight seasons, their amv was no lower than 15.3. The 1975 and 1976 teams were especially impressive, as their amv over the course of those two seasons was 20.3.

To give you a comparison, the Steelers have had 13 playoff teams since 1992 and have only achieved an amv of at least 15 points three times--1996 (15), 2005 (15.36) and 2007 (17.1).

A lot of Steelers fans, who are critical of the way the Steelers achieve their victories these days (Bruce Arians sucks, lack of a running game, etc.), will often point to Bill Cowhers teams, and how they "imposed their will" on their opponents at the end of games. Well, maybe they did impose their will in the time of possession and in rushing yards, but the amv for Cowher's playoff teams from the 90's was 12.43, and the amv of his playoff teams from the 00's was 11.7.

The amv in Tomlin's playoff years has been a not too shabby 14.79.

Then, I decided to examine the close victories over the years--seven points or less--and the people that have been critical of Mike Tomlin's teams for having to pull out so many close games (if you can really criticize a team for finding a way to win a lot of tight games), well, they certainly have their ammo.

The Steelers advanced to the Super Bowl six times before the Mike Tomlin era, and only the 1978 team had as many as five close victories during its campaign.

Mike Tomlin has taken the Steelers to two Super Bowls in his career, and the 2008 World Champion Steelers won a whopping six games by seven points or less, and the 2010 AFC Champion Steelers won five games by seven points or less. The Steelers won 24 regular season games combined during those two years, so that means that nearly half of their victories were of the close variety.

That might prove people right when they say that Mike Tomlin's teams always let the opposition hang around, but like the saying goes, "There's more than one way to skin a cat."

For as dominant as Chuck Noll's 1976 Steelers were (22.3 amv and only one win of seven points or less), his team didn't advance to the Super Bowl like Mike Tomlin's heart-burn inducing 2008 and 2010 squads did.

We might get frustrated with how the current Pittsburgh Steelers get the job done, but trophies are trophies no matter how much a team has to struggle to win them.

Finally, now that I've studied those 70's Steelers teams, I understand, not only my mentality, but the mentality that has been passed down from generation to generation in Steeler Nation. Now I know why we often think that the opposition is the Washington Generals to our team's Harlem Globetrotters.

Now I understand why my boss gets annoyed even after a blow-out and why my mother couldn't understand it when the Steelers headed into Super Bowl XLV as the underdog.

Nine Hall of Famers, four Lombardi trophies and a 16.21 amv will do that to a Nation.

Once a region witnesses that type of domination, it's kind of hard to accept anything less.



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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