My Friggin’ Worthless Opinion…Denver Game

November 12, 2009

I have to be honest.  I was in such a bad mood on Monday night that I almost resolved not to watch the game.  If the Steelers lost, it would put me in an even worse mood, so what good was that?

I actually made it to the 2nd quarter before heading to the television.

Fortunately, I got in front of the game just in time to see Ty Carter returning a Kyle Orton pick for a touchdown.  After that, I was at ease for the rest of the night.  Here are 10 reasons why:

10.  Even after Denver returned a Big Ben fumble for six in the third quarter, I wasn’t worried.  The Steelers were really moving the ball well when they gave up the sack and fumble return.  It was obvious they had made the half time adjustments, they were FINALLY using the no-huddle, and it did not appear that the Broncos had many answers for them.  That play was an a blip on the screen that was not a true picture of where the game was headed.
When I saw Ben taking charge and talking to the offense, I knew we were going down the field on the next drive.

9.  Ben wanted to run the no-huddle because he thought it would be effective against Denver.  Ben was right.  Perhaps Bruce Arians should listen to him a little more often.  I’m not a fan of going no-huddle ALL the time; but as sharp as Ben runs it, they should use it several times a game.  At LEAST.

8.  Mike Wallace was a steal.  This guy has what it takes to be a big-time wide receiver in the NFL, and may eventually be better than Santonio Holmes (yeah, I said it).  Limas Sweed, methinks your days are numbered.

7.  Shhhhh…Do you hear that?  Do you hear the sound of silence?  Actually, that’s the sound of the Rashard Mendenhall critics.  Yeah, I think we made a pretty good first-round choice there, and I don’t anticipate that Ray-ray Lewis will be knocking him off-track this season.  Oh, Ray may hurt him by falling on the pile after Mendy breaks off another 15-yard run, but that’s about it.

6.  Speaking of running backs…It makes me really sad to see Willie Parker on the sidelines, basically waiting for the season to end. We are probably witnessing the end of his time in Pittsburgh as Mendenhall secures the starting job.
I like FWP, like what he has done for us, and what he has done for himself. He has overcome a lot to become on of the top runners in the league and a Super Bowl record holder. But he’s getting older, and running backs just aren’t worth the money as they age. Here’s to hoping he can still make a splash with another team…as long as they are not on the schedule next season.

5. The Old Man still has it! Sure, Hines Ward isn’t as fast. He’s a little chunky. And he’s achieved his ultimate goal of being named the NFL’s Dirtiest Player. But he is still THE man, and he can still play. He’s as smart and saavy as always, and he’s still the guy Ben goes to when he needs a sure thing. The flip-and-hurdle touchdown at the end of the Denver game was just a thing of beauty.

4. I have now learned my Fantasy League lesson. I started Philip Livers (err…Rivers), Nate Burleson and Marques Colston this weekend. I would have dominate had I gone with Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward and Mike Wallace. Okay, so I won anyway, but I left about 20 points on the field.
Another nugget of advice: Never start a Seattle player over a Steeler. Ever. Burleson and TJ Whose-your-momma have killed me twice this season.

3. Ummmm…so who is the best defense in the NFL? There is a saying: “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.” The Denver D may have the best stats, but they aren’t the Pittsburgh Steelers. Saying that Denver’s D is better would fall under the “Damn Lie” category.

2. Tyrone Carter: AFC Defensive Player of the Week. And I would have to agree with that award. I’ve said it before this season and I’ll say it again: Carter has become a solid backup/nickel player for the Steelers and we are fortunate to have him. His problem is that he has to back up two of the best safeties in the NFL, and we Steeler fans judge him according to that standard.
I’m certainly glad that Mike Tomlin put Ryan Clark on the bench, and I’m even more glad that Ty Carter confirmed the decision.

1. Brett Keisel was a steal as a 7th-round pick. Dude doesn’t get a lot of sacks, stats, or recognition. He just gets after it and gets it done, week in and week out–a guy who does it the “Steeler Way” for sure.

BONUS: I am anxiously anticipating Sunday’s game. If Bruce Arians will let Ben play his game, I fully expect the Steelers to take over the division lead. Am I nervous about that prediction? Yes. But I also have every reason to believe that the Steelers will keep rolling.
I’m just hoping that Chad Johnson Whatever-his-name-is will have to get some gold teeth replaced after the game.

Teams to Buy

November 6, 2009

Teams to Buy: I’m not saying that one of these teams is even going to the Super Bowl, much less win it.  I do think that these teams have a really good chance to go to the playoffs and make some noise.  It would not be a surprise if this looks ridiculous by the end of the season.  But if I were a betting man, I would put money on these teams right now.

 

Indianapolis Colts: Well, here we go again.  The Colts are undefeated. (Yawn)

It seems that we cannot get through a season without the Colts winning 12 games in a row at some point in the season.  And most of the time, we watch them follow it up with some kind of monumental playoff blunder.

But that may not happen this year, because Peyton Manning is having what may be the best year of his career.  It’s not the best because of his stats.  It’s his best because he lost Marvin Harrison and he is STILL dominating the game.  He’s spreading the ball around and had the Colts undefeated…AGAIN…and giving the Colts a chance to go the distance.

 

Minnesota Vikings: Lord, I hate to even bring up Brett Favre.  I mean, I really hate it.  But I have no choice.

Brett is playing great ball and he has the Vikings playing great ball.  Sidney Rice and Adrian Peterson are the real deal, the offensive line is solid, the defense is great.

I’m not predicting a Vikings Super Bowl because Brett could well have another late season meltdown.  If he gets buried a few more times like he did against Pittsburgh, he might not last until January.  What makes the Vikings dangerous is the rest of the team.  They’re good enough to carry them with an average or below Brett Favre.

New Orleans Saints: Their offense is just about unstoppable, particularly by anyone in the NFC.  They are set up to play at home in the playoffs.  But the impressive thing is the defense.

Last year, the Saints had 22 takeaways, 5 fumble recoveries, and no defensive touchdowns for the season.  This year, the defense has 21 takeaways, 6 fumble recoveries, and 6 touchdowns for the season.  If they can even keep up half of that pace, the Saints might actually get the #1 seed.  But no, I do not think they will go undefeated.

Teams to Watch

November 6, 2009

Teams to Watch: There are a lot of teams that win “ugly” in the NFL.  They often fly under the radar and never seem to draw the attention of the ESPN and Fox Sports gurus.  But they still win.  And they are teams that you need to have on your “Watch List” as we draw close to the midpoint of the NFL season.

 

Arizona Cardinals: Okay, I already said that I wasn’t buying them…but I am watching them.  Everyone is blathering about their defense and their “shut-down” corners.  If the D is so great and the corners are so great, then why are they last in the league in pass defense?  And why did the Carolina Panthers carve them up like a Thanksgiving turkey last Sunday?

Still, they are in a weak division and they have all the tools—including Kurt Warner, an improved defense, and a stable full of offensive weapons.  I believe they will, at LEAST, come out on top of their division and have a shot at another playoff run.

 

Denver Broncos:  I absolutely cannot believe I’m saying this.  I despise Denver, I’ve always despised Denver,  I despised Elway, I despised Cutler, and I despised Mike Shanarat (pardon me, Shanahan).  I despise them even more now that they have another goofball with cutoff sleeves and hoodie.  Bill Bellycheat has groupies now—what’s the world coming to?

But I cannot deny that they are playing well, in spite of their pasting at Baltimore.  Orton is efficient, the defense is solid under Mike Nolan, and they have jumped out to a huge lead in the division.  They will almost surely get some playoff games at Mile High, and that gives them a huge advantage.  They can probably win the division by going .500 the rest of the way.

 

New England Patriots: Okay, they pounded the Bucs and Titans.

Oooooooo, I’m shaking!

It’s hard to tell if Tom Brady is fully back or if the Pats have just hammered bad teams.  But make no mistake, the Patriots will make a run for it.  Their defense is sketchy, but I’m not betting against Tom Brady making the playoffs, at least.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers: Yes, the defending Super Bowl champions are far from a sure thing.  Their offensive line is better, but their offensive coordinator is not.  (Well, at least not MUCH better).  The defense suddenly looks a little old and clearly misses Bryant McFadden.  Troy Polumalu may not be healthy all year.

Yet, they continue to win.  They are 5-2 and have a fairly manageable schedule the rest of the way.  No matter what the circumstances, the Steelers find a way to win, and no team in the league is better at snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

And don’t forget that Big Ben is still the quarterback.  In perhaps his greatest statistical season, he still has the ability to pull out wins when he needs them—kind of like another #7 from a few years back.

 

Philadelphia Eagles: The tales of the Eagles’ demise have been greatly exaggerated.  I still have no clue how they lost to the Raiders, but they seem to have one of those hiccups every season.  They may be vulnerable on the road, but they have enough to make some noise this season.

NFL Teams NOT to Buy

November 4, 2009

SELL List

If you listen to NFL analysts, a few teams are THE team every time they win a game.  We’re warning you:  Don’t drink the koolaid!  Here is a list of teams that you need to sell…and if you’re smart, you surely will NOT BUY.

 

Atlanta Falcons:  I love the Falcons.  I’ve always loved the Falcons.  I even loved them through the Steve Bartkowski days and the Gerald Riggs era.  I stayed with the team through the regimes of Dan Henning, Marion Campbell, Jerry Glanville, and June Jones.  I endured the drafting of Aundrey Bruce and Tony Smith in the first round (you don’t know who they are for a reason).   Then there was Jim Mora Jr., Michael Vick, Booby (pardon me, BOBBY) Petrino, etc.  Now, the Falcons have Matt Ryan and solid coaching and a good chance to have consecutive winning seasons.  For the first time.  EVER.

I think they’ll get to 9-7, but not much more.  The problem is the defense.  They lost their starting corner against the Bears, and they couldn’t consistently stop teams even when they had him.  They are a bend-but-don’t-break, turnover-based defense that relies on big plays to win.  Eventually, that bites you in the butt.

They’ll finish over .500, but that’s about it.  (sob)

 

Baltimore Ravens:  Yeah, I said it.  The Apostle Ray Lewis may come after me with some type of cutting device, but I said it.

Everyone is excited that the Ravens now have an offense.  Too bad they can’t stop anyone.  Their defense looks like they should be listening to the Policeman’s Benevolent Association Orchestra at the Queens Convalescence Center.  Hey Ray-Ray, save some of that annoying pregame dancing energy for the game, baby!

 

Chicago Bears:  Look at Jay Cutler’s performance this year and compare it to former Bear Kyle Orton’s performance this year.  Need I say more?

No, but I’m going to say it anyway.

Lovie Smith, will you PLEASE walk over to Cutler and just straight-up smack that dopey moon I-couldn’t-care-less-because-I’m-still-hung-over look off his face?

 

Cincinnati Bengals:  There is one good reason not to buy the Bengals:  Emotion.  This team was ahead 45-10 on Sunday, and they kept their starting running back in the game to run it up on his former team.  That’s an emotional decision.  All that emotion is great, IF everything is going your way.  But what happens when things go bad?

The Bengals become the Bungles.  Again.  They may be in the playoffs when it happens, but it will happen.

 

Dallas Cowboys:  Oh yeah!  They are back!  They looked great beating the Atlanta Falcons!  They looked awesome against the Seattle Seahawks!  (See “Atlanta Falcons” above and “NFC West” below).

It’s still Tony Romo and Wade Phillips and Jerry Jones.  Plus, they automatically have bad karma from Keith Brooking.  He spent the entire postseason press conference talking smack about his former Atlanta teammates.  Dude, you won ONE game, get over it!  That kind of bad juju will bite you in the butt.

 

Houston Texans:  It has now been “The Year” for the Texans for about three years.  They just cannot develop any consistency, they have two remaining games with Indy,

 

Miami Dolphins:  I love their toughness, their running game, the wildcat, etc.  But they have a brutal schedule and their defense just can’t seem to stop anyone right now.  I think Chad Henne is the QB of the future, with the key word being future.  As in, not this year.

 

New York Giants:  Am I the only one who does not like the Giants’ starting QB?  Yes, it is still the very overhyped and overrated Ellie…er, Eli…Manning.  Just because he plays in New York doesn’t mean he’s good.  They’ll be awesome against the Rams of the world, but they will struggle with good teams (0-3 so far).

 

New York Jets:  A rookie quarterback is still a rookie quarterback.  Mark Sanchez has turned into a pumpkin, and eating a hot dog on the sidelines during a game doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season.  Even if it was against the Raiders.

 

San Diego Chargers:  They play the same tune every year:  Start slow, get it together, make the playoffs.  But at the end of the day, Norv Turner is still your head coach.  You should have taken your chances with MartyBall.

 

The Entire NFC West:  So far this season, all of the teams have been on a roller coaster ride.  The Cardinals may pull out of it, but “inconsistency” has been the story for these teams for a while.

Except for the Rams.  They are a model of consistency because they stink all the time.

 

Tampa Bay, Buffalo, St. Louis, Detroit, Washington, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Oakland, and Kansas City: We’ll talk about them when we get to a “teams lobbying for the #1 pick” post.  Don’t buy any of them, unless they get moved to the NCAA.  Division III, that is.

The BA/BS Report

October 27, 2009

The BA/BS Report

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the offensive side of the ball…

I had fully intended to post a long list of compliments after the San Diego game and probably could have done the same after Cleveland and Detroit.  But then, it happened.

The Vikings came to town.

Let me first confess some bias in today’s post.  Poor performances by the Pittsburgh offense pretty much cost me a fantasy football matchup and dropped me into fourth place (or worse).  Yes, I am bitter!

Aside from that, I have tried to take an objective look at Sunday’s game.  From any angle, it wasn’t pretty on the offensive side of the ball.

We can start with the fact that we just did not look well prepared.  Part of this can be naturally attributed to a solid effort by the Minnesota defense.  But I am of the opinion that we have enough weapons on offense that we should not get shut down.

We can continue by thinking about that tough Viking defense.  We did not do anything out of the ordinary, nothing to really throw them off their game.  Brett Favre went with hard cadence and quick counts to counter our defensive movement.

What did we do to counter the Minnesota defense?

Uhhhhh…

We still see that Bruce Arians can come up with a pretty impressive plan to start a game.  And that plan stays pretty impressive-looking against a poor defense or a defense that just cannot adjust.  When the competition elevates and the plan doesn’t work, our offense looks like a train wreck.

For the last two years, the offensive line took the brunt of the blame for the offensive failings.  The Oline has actually developed into an adequate—perhaps even decent—unit.  But Arians continues to put them in difficult situations and still doesn’t make the most of their improvement.

Case in point:  Where, oh where, is the no-huddle offense?

I am actually starting to think that Arians will not run the no-huddle because it shows his incompetence.  Okay, I’m a little paranoid, but we’re not talking about the Grassy Knoll or WMDs.  We’re talking about an arrogant and insecure offensive coordinator who is regularly outcoached by opponents.  Now, he’s getting outcoached by his own QB.

The no-huddle would have shut down the Vikings blitz, worn out their massive defensive line, allowed our oline to use wear out their opponent, and helped us control the clock and move the chains.

Arians instead chose to rely on the defense to get touchdowns for him.  It’s not a bad plan for the Steelers defense, but at some point we may actually need the offense to perform against a top opponent.

Ben is the man, and everyone knows it.  GIVE HIM THE FOOTBALL and let him do what he does.  Hey Bruce, that might actually make you look SMART for a few minutes.

I really thought we had turned the corner on offense.

Oh well, looks like we’re still going the same way.  And Arians isn’t stopping to ask for directions, even from his quarterback.

My Friggin’ Worthless Opinion–Vikings Game

October 26, 2009

I took last week off from the blog for a couple of reasons.  One was that I had about a million things to do for my doctoral classes and for my, you know, REAL job.

The other was that listening to Bill Hillgrove does not exactly qualify you to discuss the game.  I mean, Bill is a little biased.  Let me add that nothing can make you feel like you’re in the 1940s quite like huddling the family around a radio in the living room, listening to the game.  Okay, so it was a computer…close enough!

Here are ten thoughts on the Steelers, with a few “bonus” thoughts on the Vikings:

10.  I will be posting the BA/BS Report by tomorrow.  There will be a lot to say about the offensive “Game Plan.”  Even in parentheses, I use that term very loosely.

9.  Am I the only person who thinks that SanAntonio Holmes will not be with the Steelers beyond his rookie contract?  Great talent, but he is dropping passes that seem to go relatively unnoticed.  He handles the ball about as well as he handles a dime bag…or, um, uh…a six-pack.  With the emergence of Mike Wallace, who looks like a potential #2, we might not be willing to pay the money to keep Holmes.  He just has an attitude that doesn’t seem to “fit.”

8.  Speaking of future departures, Jeff Reed…oh, Jeff Reed…can someone please take his flask away and get him some black coffee when he gets to the stadium?

Bonus: As bad as our offensive game plan was, the Minnesota defense is pretty damn good.  They have some studs on that side of the ball and remind me a lot of, well, the Steelers.

7.  Again on departures:  I hope that we don’t pull a Dan Snyder and pretend that Willie Parker is coming back, or is in any way the starting running back for this team.  Rashard Mendenhall is the man, and Mewelde Moore is his sidekick.  Love me some FWP, but his time in Pittsburgh is over.

6.  Our offensive line is (gulp, choke, eat words) not that bad at all.  Credit here goes to Tomlin and maybe Colbert for sticking with some guys that we didn’t think could get it done.

Bonus: I am still steaming about Moose Johnson’s appalling show of man-love for Brett Favre and the Vikings.  Get a room, Moose!  No one wants to see your public fornication with Brett.

5.  While Moose was slobbering all over the Vikings and their great plays, the announcers apparently missed the fact that Troy and Ryan were rattling the teeth of the Vikings’ receivers.  Harvin is still trying to clear the snot-bubbles off his face.

Bonus: Sidney Rice is the real deal.  Got his bell rung and still made plays.  Same for Adrian Peterson, although he did some bell-ringing of his own.

4.  Speaking of snot-bubbles, William Gay might want to start running through plays instead of trying to tackle by stopping in front of Adrian Peterson.  For the record, he also had a clear lane to Brett Favre in the first half and inexplicably stopped, allowing Favre to make a big completion.  Step up dude, in spite of the unfortunate stereotypes and clichés that accompany your last name.

3.  Brett Keisel is one of the most underrated players on this team, perhaps in this league.  He was instrumental in both turnovers in the fourth quarter.

2.  We wanted turnovers and big plays from our defense.  We got it.  Thankfully and mercifully.  And in the same thankful and merciful manner, we have now have the off week to let Timmons and Troy get healthy.

Final Bonus: Tool.  Poser.  Douche-bag.  I think that you can take any of those three and apply them to Brad Childress and Brett Favre.  Brad:  You have AP.  You have a stud offensive line.  And you fail to run it, FOUR times from the one-yard line?  Oh, and please spare us the yelling and fist pumping from the sideline.

By the way, your beard actually makes you look like less of a tool.  But the fact that you didn’t grow it until you got Scruffy as your QB makes you look like a total tool.

Brett…Brett, Brett, Brett.  You were accused of being disengaged and a bad teammate in New York.  Your response is to run down the field to your wide receiver after Ryan Clark rocks him.  The only bigger douche at that point was Moose Johnson, who proved that he was a huge douche by showering you with kisses for being the biggest poser/douche on the planet.

1.  Was there a better sight than James Harrison face-planting Brett Favre in the turf on the final play of the game?  This brought me unspeakable joy!

My Friggin’ Worthless Opinion–Detroit (Part 2)

October 12, 2009

Sorry to break this up into two sections, but I had to give everyone a breather after a longer-than-usual list.  I also needed to take a step back and consider begging forgiveness for daring to criticize my coaching idol, Dick LeBeau.

Now, back to the show.

4.  Ben Roethlisberger made a terrible mistake on a pick six Sunday–but not the mistake that everyone thinks.  It wasn’t a bad read so much as it was making a decision before the read was ever made.  I am firmly convinced that Ben broke the huddle determined to go right back to Mike Wallace after Wallace dropped a perfectly-thrown sure touchdown a couple of plays earlier.

I hate the result, but I like the idea.  I can live with Ben’s mistake because he was being a leader and trying to make get his boy back on track.  Just a hint, Ben:  Be patient!  Wallace was much happier to catch the long TD later in the game.

3.  Offensive line. Well, they didn’t look great, but they certainly did not seem to take any steps back this week.  Outside of some foolish penalties (Willie Colon) and some slack play in the fourth quarter, they were decent.

2.  Ben took three sacks on Sunday. And make no mistake, BEN took them.  The offensive line gave him plenty of time, and either he could not make a decision or could not find an open receiver.  The two positives out of this are that he did not throw a bad pass to avoid a sack- a la Daunte Culpepper–and he did not take any hard hits.  Better to go down that make another horrendous mistake.

1.  If this offense can keep things moving, if the offensive line can keep improving, if Mendenhall can keep improving, and if Ben can stay healthy, this could be the best Steeler offense since the 1970s.

HONORABLE MENTIONPreacherman’s Homer Moment of the Week:

I was not happy to see it happen against the Steelers, but I was thrilled to see Furman University alum Jerome Felton get the football and have a great game running, receiving, and blocking.  This is a guy who graduated with a 3.5 GPA, meaning that he’s probably a little more cerebral than any fullback we have on the roster.

Also worth noting that fellow Furman grad Joel Bell, cut by the magnificent Buffalo Bills and awesome Tennessee Titans and completely ignored by the Oline-challenged Steelers, is starting for Saskatchewan in the Canadian league.  He is supposedly on-track to earn all-league honors this year.  Hello Mr. Colbert, calling Mr. Colbert:  You could have had both of these guys for NOTHING!  Would that have hurt this team?  Just because they went to a small college does not mean that they cannot play.

My Friggin’ Worthless Opinion on Sunday’s Game vs. Detroit (Part 1)

October 12, 2009

The Steelers now stand at 3-2, one game behind the division-leading (cough, choke, vomit) Cincinnati Bengals.  It was surely not pretty, but it’s a win—and a game that the Steelers probably would have lost in the Super Bowl hangover of 2006.  Hell, they may have even lost it three weeks ago.

But this time, they held onto the victory in spite of a very lackluster performance.  Here are 10 thoughts on what the Steelers did yesterday, with a few ideas for what they had better do in the very near future.

10.  Yes, it was a very lackluster game. It was bordering on slack, and just short of sorry.  We did not look focused or prepared or even very interested in playing.  We seemed to just be glad to get out of Detroit with a win, and Steeler Nation is surely glad that we at least accomplished that.

9.  I did not record the end of the game (most of you know my policy on this considering my 0-8 streak on recorded games).  I am very glad that I did not.  There is no excuse for the meltdowns that we continue to have in the fourth quarter, and someone on the coaching staff or the team or the front office needs to address this.  Now.  Once is an aberration, twice is a oddity, three times is a trend, and four times is bordering on an outright crisis.

8.  Some interesting quotes from the Post-Gazette this morning:

“We’re still searching for the Steelers,” said linebacker James Farrior, a defensive captain…

The Steelers, ahead by 15 points late in the fourth quarter, allowed an 82-yard drive by the Lions that cut the margin to eight when Daunte Culpepper threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Northcutt with 4:57 left.

Then, with 1:54 left, the Lions found themselves with a first down at the Steelers’ 21 and Operation Blitzburgh went into effect. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau ordered some blitzes, and the Steelers sacked Culpepper on three consecutive plays, pushing the Lions back to the 45 and, in essence, closing out a game that should have been put away much earlier.

“We dialed them up,” safety Ryan Clark said. “A lot of other games we haven’t been dialing up the pressures. Coach LeBeau just got aggressive. I guess he figured if we’re going to get beat, if we’re going to give up leads, let’s give them up being who we are.”

Let’s just deal with the Elephant in the Room:  Dick LeBeau has not done a great job with the defense this season.  Yes, I said it.  I may be struck down for blasphemy, but I said it.

Perhaps he has pulled back due to lack of confidence in a depleted secondary.  Perhaps the loss of Troy has made him more hesitant.  Whatever the reason, he has not brought this defense up to his usual standards.

Ryan Clark is a trusted leader and voice in the Steeler locker room.  For the second week in a row, he has implied that we are not playing the kind of defense that we need to be playing.  James Farrior, an undisputed leader for this team, is now hinting in the same direction.  It is time to start “dialing up the pressures” a lot more often.  I am hopeful that Troy’s return will bring about added confidence in what this defense can do.

7.  Lamar Woodley, paging Mr. Woodley…are you in the building?  Where have you gone, Mr. Woodley?  To me, Lamar Woodley looks heavier, slower, and not nearly as strong as he did last season.  Hopefully this is just a young player who has not quite learned to deal with the Super Bowl Hangover, and he will pull it back together in the next few weeks.  It might also help if Coach LeBeau will come up with some creative ways to free him up.

6.  I am thrilled with the way that the defense stepped up in crunch time at the end of the game. Hopefully this will now become the trend rather than the exception.

5.  I am also glad that we could sneak in one more week of rest for Troy. Hopefully, we can get by the Browns without using him too much, and let him unload on the Ragin’ Cajun and the Vikings.

My Friggin’ Worthless Opinion on Sunday’s Game vs. Sandy Eggo

October 5, 2009

Well, well, well…feeling a whole lot better this week than I did last week.  Or the week before that.  Or really, the week before that.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, especially on offense, came out and absolutely dominated the San Diego Chargers Sunday night.  The score made it look close.  It wasn’t.  Outside of a few freak plays, the Steelers dominated.  If Troy Polamalu had played, it might have been a shutout.

Here are 10 things that you need to know about the Steelers after week 4:

10.  Can you say, “Free agent running back Willie Parker?”  I have always been a fan of Parker, and admired what he overcame to become a player in this league.  But Rashard Mendenhall proved that Mike Tomlin now has his full attention, and that he can be the running back the Steelers expected when he was drafted in round one in 2008.

9.  I never thought I would say this, but the offensive line is really beginning to look good.  The game plan was solid (see “The BA/BS Report” tomorrow) and the line executed it to perfection.

8.  Speaking of the offensive line, here’s to hoping that Chris Kemoeatu is okay after his knee injury last night.  That guy absolutely “beasted” the San Diego defense by himself.  When you pull and take out a starting LB with the forearm shiver, then turn and blow up a safety, you are playing some football.  Our hope is that the brains are finally beginning to catch up to Kemo’s brawn.

7.  I think that concerns about the age and possible demise of Hines Ward are greatly exaggerated.

6.  You can have whatever quarterback you want.  You can pick your fantasy studs like Aaron Rogers.  You can have your “best QBs of all-time” if you want.  I will start my franchise with Ben Roethlisberger.  He was great last year when he was running for his life.  With a little time to throw the ball this year, he is amazing.

5.  Santonio Holmes did a better job of catching the football last night.  I would now like to see him learn when to stay inbounds.

4.  Our special teams have looked decent overall for the first three games.  They were absolutely dreadful last night.  They basically allowed the Chargers to get back into the game.

3.  In spite of their shortcomings, I blame Tomlin for not having the “hands” team on the field and failing to use Mewelde Moore in game situations where hanging on to the ball is critical.

2.  Defensively, I would bet that we are far and away the best team in the league through three quarters.  I would bet that we are the worst in the fourth quarter.  It’s beyond time for James Harrison and Lamar Woodley to step up.

1.  Troy, get well soon.  PLEASE!!!!!!

The BA (or BS) Report, @Cincinatti

September 29, 2009

Another game brings us another reason to over-analyze the work of Bruce Arians. Tiring as it may be, I am committed to the cause.  Others are more committed (www.firebrucearians.com) but I’ll settle for providing supplemental material to support the truth.

Once again, Arians did not call a terrible game and actually showed some willingness to make some adjustments.  Well, some adjustments to the game plan.  Some adjustments BEFORE the actual game.

During the game?  Not so much.

Let’s start with the positives.  Arians FINALLY realized what I pointed out last week–that pulling linemen out of the same formation for every running play just might be tipping off the defense.  This week, he came back with a lot more straight-ahead blocking schemes, with much better success.

Unfortunately, he went with it a little too long.

The Steelers demonstrated an adequate if not spectacular rushing attack through three quarters.  It’s too bad that the game didn’t end there.  The fourth quarter brought a return of the run-run-pass format that has killed the Steelers offense for the last two seasons of Arians’ tenure.

Shocking as it may be, it did not work.

I understand the desire to play “Cowherball” at the end of the game, but I have a “newsflash” for BA and Mike Tomlin.  The Bus is gone.  Jeff Hartings is gone.  Alan Faneca is gone.  Dan Kreider is gone.  The Steelers are not that team anymore, and efforts to make us that team are a waste.

It might help if the coaches could keep Rashard Mendenhall focused; or perhaps put Isaac Redman on the field since he is supposedly the short-yardage guru. But, since this is not going to happen, I have a better idea.

Put the ball in the hands of the man, the one and only Ben Roethlisberger.

What should Arians have done in the fourth quarter with an 11-point lead? What should he have done?  I will tell you what he should have done:  He should have gone NO-HUDDLE!

What, you say?  Blasphemy!  Is that Steeler football?  Would Bill Cowher have ever done that?  Did you know that Bill Cowher’s record was 7,341-1-1 when leading by 10 or more in the fourth quarter after the vendors had stopped selling beer?  By the way, it took Cowher 14 years to win a Super Bowl.

Wake up, kids.  The Steelers have a new tradition–let Big Ben strike.  After all, he has won two Super Bowls in five years.

When the game is on the line, I do not want it to rest on Willie Parker and an inconsistent (but improving) offensive line.  I want the ball in the hands of one man, and he wears #7.

It’s time to start trusting the man with the lead in the closing minutes in the same way they trust him for a comeback.

A few other nuggets from the offensive side of the ball:

-SSDD: After having early success with straight running plays, Arians pulled his usual stunt and kept running the same play from the same formation throughout the game.

-Why No-Huddle? After dominating the Titans with the no-huddle offense, it has disappeared from the game plan.  Brilliant.

-Red Zone?  Dead Zone: Once again, the Steelers ended two more drives inside the Red Zone with field goals (at least Reed made both of them).  One ended with Willie Parker falling down at the 1-foot line.  Why Tomlin did not go for it on that fourth down is beyond me.

-Santonio Holmes and Limus Sweed: In spite of all Arians’ shortcomings, we win both of the last two games if these two learn how to run routes/catch the football.

-Silence, Hines!: I had no major issues with Hines Ward’s comments last week–until we got to game time.  I have to believe that his talk about the referees and penalties drew some extra looks, resulting in two deadly pass interference penalties.  One had to be a little payback, as it may have been the most bogus call since the Tuck Rule.

Stop


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