´ Steel Curtain Rising: October 2012

Which were the most important reasons the Steelers lost to the Ravens (pick all that apply)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Steelers Defeat Redskins 27-12

When the Pittsburgh Steelers last faced the Washington Redskins in 2008, the folks in DC labeled it a “statement game.”

Leading a 6-2 Redskins squad, head coach Jim Zorn appeared to be establishing himself as a bright, young, offensive mind. Under his tutelage, Jason Campbell finally seemed to be hitting his stride.
Four years later the two teams met again, and while no one called it a “statement game,” both teams had something to prove….

Setting Up for a Shoot Out

The Washington Redskins are of course all about Robert Griffin III or RG3. Coming out of college, RG3 was touted as a defensive coordinator’s nightmare, a true, mobile quarterback who could also pass within the pocket.

Of course people have made similar claims about players like Aiki Smith, Cabe McNown, Daunte Culpepper, etc…. But RG3 did something those players never did:
  • He delivered above and beyond the pre-season hype. 
What would Dick LeBeau do? The legendary Steelers defensive coordinator entered the game 14-1 vs. rookie quarterbacks since his return to Pittsburgh in 2004.

But 2012 has tested LeBeau, as he defense had given up three 4th quarter leads resulting in three losses.

LeBeau’s defense held against Andy Dalton, but how would it fare against a rookie who after only 7 games is already one of the game’s most dangerous threats?

Could LeBeau’s aging defense contain the RG3 juggernaut, or would this game devolve into a “whoever has the ball last wins” contest that is too typical of today’s NFL?

The Shoot Out that Never Was…

The anticipated shoot out between the Young Turk RG3 and Ben Roethlisberger and Young Money (aka Wallace, Brown and Sanders) never materialized.

It failed to materialize because Dick LeBeau and his counterpart Todd Haley both broke two sacrosanct two commandments that dictate success in of the modern NFL:
  • Thou shalt not run
  • Thou shalt not play physical defense that compromises the passing game
Fortunately, for Steelers Nation, neither LeBeau nor Haley read the updated cataclysm.

The Art of a Drop

Nothing in football frustrates more than a drop. In a word, drops….
  • Convert touchdowns into field goals
  • Transform 1st and 10 into a punt
  • Erode momentum and stall drives
Sometimes mental lapses cause drops. Sometimes the players don’t have good hands. Sometimes drops are endemic of a larger lack of focus….
  • …But sometimes defenses induce drops
In 1990 the Pittsburgh Steelers started 2-2 without scoring an offensive touchdown.  During one of those victories the rival Houston Oilers and their Run’N Shoot offense couldn’t hold on to anything.

Then defensive coordinator Dave Brazil explained how Pittsburgh’s defensive backs actually allowed Houston’s receivers catch the ball early on, only to lay in the wood after. As the game progressed, Houston's Pro Bowl quartet of receivers began dropping balls in droves.

NFL rules protecting defenseless receivers are supposed to change all of that. Yet against the Redskins the, Steelers secondary showed that you can aggressively go after receivers while staying in the rules.
  • The results of LeBeau’s strategy were evident in the Redskins collective butter fingers 
Numerous times Redskins dropped balls when black jerseys were barely in sight. That’s when you know the secondary has intimidated the opposing receiving corps – guys fear hits when none are imminent.

The secondary of course wasn’t solely responsible for the Steelers success, just as RG3 is not the only Redskins weapon. Pittsburgh contained one of the NFL’s most potent rushing attacks.

Alfred Morris and Darrell Young did rip off impressive runs, but they never threatened to take over the game, just as RG3 made some nice completions, but never got into a rhythm with his receivers.

Credit Dick LeBeau for his game plan. Credit his players for executing it.

Throw to Score, Run to Win

Todd Haley was hired as offensive coordinator with three purposes in mind:
  • Keep Ben Roethlisberger upright
  • Improve scoring, particularly in the Red Zone
  • (Re)Establish the run
During the first six weeks of the season Haley has done an excellent job with number one. And while the Steelers scoring hasn’t quite below expectations given available offensive talent, Haley’s done OK in the Red Zone.

Part of the reason that scoring has not been higher lies in Haley’s plan to protect Ben by getting the ball out of his hands via shorter passes.

The strategy has yielded a tremendous time of possession advantage for Pittsburgh but up until recently that time of possession has come through the air.
  • All time of possession minutes, however, are not created equally. 
There’s value added to time of possession gained on the ground. Opponents get worn down. Tackles get broken. Cornerbacks throw inane fits. Running backs register double digit runs. You impose your will.

For the second straight game the Steelers have built up early leads and then taken the air out of the ball on the ground behind Jonathan Dwyer.

Somewhere the late Ron Erhardt is smiling, knowing that even after he’s passed the “Throw to score. Run to win,” philosophy that he brought to Pittsburgh lives on.
  • Ironically it’s a strategy he and Bill Parcells used to best the Redskins countless times in the 80’s.
The double irony is that the real test will come in Pittsburgh’s ability to replicate that success next week against a far more formidable New York Giants team.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Steelers Signal Special Teams Shake Up, Activate Cromartie-Smith

With Maurkice Pouncey returning to the line up, the Steelers waived offensive lineman John Malecki. So much was expected, just as it is expected that John Malecki will return to the practice squad.

But the Steelers made another move which is more interesting by activating another practice squad player, namely safety Damon Cromartie-Smith.

That move likely signals that corner back Marcus Van Dyke is headed for the bench. The Steelers picked up Van Dyke off of waivers just before the season, and he’s largely played special teams. While did distinguished himself in early weeks, lately he’s been drawing attention to himself for the wrong reason – namely penalties.

In Antonio Brown and Chris Rainey the Steelers have two players capable of doing damage as return men. But neither player has been able to work up any momentum because every time they get a good return, it ends in a penalty. Mike Tomlin vowed to bench the responsible parties....
  • ....and while Van Dyke has not been the only offender, he has been a repeat offender.
Damon Cromartie-Smith spent the first 12 games of the Steelers 2011 season on the practice squad, but was activated for the final four due to injuries. He didn’t play much in the secondary, but did help out on specials teams.

Expect to see Cromarti-Smith covering kicks Sunday afternoon while Van Dyke watches in street clothes.

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NFL Semana 8: Previo en español de Steelers-Redskins

Manaña, domigo 28 de octubre, los Pittsburgh Steelers (3 - 3) enfrentarán en Heinz Field, a los Washington Redskins (3 - 4).

Son dos equipos con marcas mediocres que sin embargo, esconden talentos bajo la manga. Los Redskins se presentan a priori como un contendiente amenazante, capaz de exponer las debilidades de un equipo local que no se ha afianzado lo suficiente, por diferentes razones, como para aspirar a pasar a la postemporada.

Steelers Contra Redskins - Head to Head

Washington es la 5º ofensiva general de la NFL mientras que los Steelers se ubican en el 11º lugar en este rubro. El punto que más juega a favor de los Redskins es que tienen el ataque por tierra más poderoso de la liga mientras que los locales se ubican en el 9º lugar de la liga defendiendo la corrida. La ausencia del SS Troy Polamalu (quien ya ha sido excluido de la alineación) no sólo permite ventaja en el juego aéreo sino que también se nota en incapacidad del equipo, en muchas ocasiones, para sellar la línea durante los acarreos rivales.
  • Como contrapartida los Steelers aventajan a su rival del domingo en el ataque aéreo: 6º ofensiva general pasando contra la 20º.
  • Se podría decir que mientras los Steelers preferirán atacar por aire, los Redskins van a tender a correr con la pelota, porque además, los locales son la segunda defensiva contra el pase permitiendo solo 184 yds por partido.
Para los Steelers será muy importante contar nuevamente con una línea ofensiva integra y con el juego terrestre a pleno. Se espera el retorno de los corredores Issac Redman y Rashard Mendenhall así como del centro Maurkice Pouncey y del tackle derecho Marcus Gilbert. Si se contara con el staff por tierra a pleno, el planteo podría ser más parecido al llevado adelante contra Philadelphia durante la semana 5.
  • Otro aspecto del juego en donde los Steelers podrían marcar diferencia es en la conversión de terceros intentos, rubro en cual lideran la liga, con un 54% de efectividad.
  • Al respecto, durante los partidos anteriores, han tenido dificultades para avanzar la pelota en  1 º y 2º down por lo que esta cualidad les ha permitido mantener vivas las marchas ofensivas.
La defensa acerera es la segunda de la liga, pero su mayor déficit más allá de los números, es que no ha podido sostener los resultados hasta el final.

RG 3 is Big as Ben...?  

Sin embargo, Robert Griffin III, tiene cualidades únicas. Es elusivo, atlético, preciso y corre en jugadas rotas sacando siempre algo de ellas. Es sin dudas un play maker. (Todas esas cualidades pueden ser referidas de Ben Roethlisberger también.)
  • Además tiene en su haber más TD por acarreos que su corredor principal Alfred Morris.
  • Sin dudas los linieros y los LB, quienes han tenido problemas para entrar cargando por fuera de los tackles el domingo pasado, sobre todo James Harrison, tendrán la ardua tarea tratar de atraparlo y de presionarlo tras la línea de golpeo.
Será un duro compromiso para ambos equipos.

Washington está muy apremiado por obtener un resultado favorable ya que se encuentra último en su división y 12º en la Conferencia Nacional. Un poco mejor están los Steelers, ubicados en un mediocre 7º puesto de la AFC y todavía con chances de disputar la División. Pero, como dije alguna vez, no le sobra nada.

Ya le temporada está por la mitad.

Hay poco margen para errores.
                                                           El Dr. de Acero

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Steelers Report Card vs. Bengals @ Paul Brown Stadium

From the grade book of a teacher who is glad to see his star pupil finally passed one of those standardized tests which had bedeviled him, here is the Steelers Report Card for their victory over Cincinnati. As a caveat, no other report cards were consulted prior to this posting.

Quarterback
How good was Ben Roethlisberger? How about the fact that he gets a good grade inspite of the fact that interception cost the team at least three points and that his fumble set up seven for Cincinnati? His errors were costly, but he atoned for those by getting the team on the board with a touchdown and a 2 point conversion to close the half. Roethlisberger excelled on third down, and would have done even better had he not suffered multiple drops. Grade:  B

Running Back 
For the first time since draft day 2010, Jonathan Dwyer looked like the steal he was supposed to be. He hit the holes hard and with determination  and refused to stop moving his legs until the whistle blew. Chris Rainey likewise made good on a beautiful 11 yard go ahead touchdown run. Will Johnson played well and about the only negative was Baron Batch's dropped touchdown. Grade: A

Wide Receiver
Do the Steelers have a better, more versatile athlete than Antonio Brown? Brown threw, he rushed, he caught, he returned and he did an incredible job of making yards after the catch. Heath Miller did little besides catch passes in the end zone. Oscar worthy injury aside, Emmanuel Sanders is beginning to remind me of a young Hines Ward, simply because Sanders is establishing himself as a player who delivers when you need a catch. Should Mike Wallace wonder why, despite being an every play home run threat, no one sacrificed a first round draft pick and Larry Fitzgerald like money, he need only review tape of his dropped touchdowns and dropped third down passes. Grade:  B

Offensive Line
Take away Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert and what do you get? The line’s best night of the year. For the first time since moving to guard, Willie Colon reminded everyone of why he was once considered the team’s best offensive lineman. Mike Adams got his first start, and while he did have some hiccups he did well. The run blocking was stupendous, especially when it needed to be, although Ben Roethlisberger faced a heavier pass rush than he has lately, which brings the grade down a little.  Grade:  B

Defensive Line
When the game started, it looked like the Law Firm and co. were going to run all over the Steelers. But the line, like the rest of the defense, made the necessary adjustments. Ziggy Hood led the unit with 2 tackles and had two passes defensed. Casey Hampton completely stoned Green-Ellis late in the game when Cincinnati was desperate to move the ball. I’d still like to see a little more from the line, but they did shut down the run and collapse the pocket.  Grade:  B-

Linebackers
LaMarr Woodley’s interception turned the game, but that was the unit’s only splash play. Woodley was also credited with two pressures. Lawrence Timmons led the unit in tackles but otherwise did not make much noise. James Harrison did not register a single stat, which obviously must raise an eyebrow. Larry Foote was solid in run support.  Grade:  B-

Secondary
Ike Taylor trashed the media this week, but then backed up his words with actions. A.J. Green only had one catch. Yes, it was a touchdown, but that ball was perfectly thrown. Keenan Lewis not only kept his man quiet, but also saved a touchdown with a brilliant play. Ryan Clark’s value to this unit cannot be underestimated. He was simply around the ball all night. His counterparts, Will Allen and Ryan Mundy, however, could have done more in run support.  Bottom line is Cincinnati could not throw the ball in the second half, despite getting 3 drives in the 4th quarter alone. Grade:  A

Special Teams
Let’s start with the positives. Shaun Suisham not only went 3-3, but they were all from 40 yards plus. Antonio Brown and Chris Rainy also showed themselves to be excellent return men…. When their runs aren’t getting nullified by penalties. Seriously, it’s getting to the point where spectators naturally expect to see a flag after a Steelers return. This contributed to the Oakland defeat, and could have done so again. These must stop. The kickoff return unit also allowed a 45 yard return to start the 2nd half. That was also the only drive where the Bengals scored. Coincidence? Don’t fool yourself. Suisham’s kicking is all that keeps this grade above the line.  Grade:  C-

Coaching
Since the day he arrived in Pittsburgh, Mike Tomlin has preached “The Standard is The Standard.” The Steelers early 2012 injury woes have not caused Tomlin to alter his tone. The Steelers had given up four 4th quarter leads in four straight road losses. They went into Cincinnati with sans four starters and a key back up. Yet, The Standard remained The Standard.

Todd Haley called an excellent game, and had it not been for drops at key moments, conservatively speaking, the Steelers could have easily scored two more touchdowns. Dick LeBeau not only made the necessary adjustments, he and Tomlin were wise enough to put their faith in Ike Taylor, he played his best game of the season. The Steelers could have started stronger, and one would like to see the offense add to those 4th quarter leads, but all and all a solid night for the coaches. Grade:  B+

Unsung Hero
The great thing about the Bengals game is that so many players stepped up. Ike Taylor, Keenan Lewis, Chris Rainey and others have gotten their due. There’s one man however, who quietly stepped in and maintained The Standard. Willie Colon rightly is credited for having a monster night, but the truth is he can’t do it if the guy next to him isn’t taking care of business. And business was taken care of in the center, and for that Doug Legursky is the Unsung Hero of the Steelers victory over the Bengals.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Versus Bengals, Steelers Buck 4th Quarter Meltdown Trend to Reach .500

It was now or never time for the 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers arrived Paul Brown Stadium Sunday night as a once proud team licking its wounds, clinging to the hope promised in 2 wins and dreading the dark omens raised in three straight road games lost in the 4th quarter.

Certified NFL bottom feeders, led by quarterbacks whose best days were behind them, had dealt the Steelers two of those losses, ensuring that the sting sunk a little deeper.
  • At lot was at stake. This wasn't just a road game, it wasn't just another AFC game, it was an AFC North game. 
When a 2-3 team finishes the game six, some mathematical realities begin to set in.
  • Finish 3-3 and you're one game away from officially righting the ship. 
  • 2-4 brings a profoundly altered reality. 
You’ve dug a three week hole between your team and the sunny side of .500. And even if you get yourself out, you’ve likely seeded the ability to control your own destiny.

The Steelers took to the field in Cincinnati with a choice between two decidedly different fates. Which one would they choose?

Comedy of Errors That Failed to Be Funny....

In the lead up to the Bengals game, Steel Curtain Rising joked about the fact that a good portion of the team’s injury situation had been created by Steelers tripping over each other (not to single out Marcus Gilbert.)
  • Unfortunately, the Steelers took the tripping theme to heart, but not in terms in injuries, but in terms of broken plays. 
The Steelers sin for the first 28 minutes of the first half wasn't to put on a poor performance, it was to put on a mediocre one.
  • The defense allowed the Bengals to run with ease
  • Mike Wallace committed a number of drive-stalling drops
  • Baron Batch dropped a sure-fire touchdown on an otherwise excellently executed reverse flee-flicker
  • Ben Roethlisberger threw a pick in the end zone
At the two minute warning the Steelers were lucky to be behind by only eight, and the only real question was, “Would the defense cave again, or would it make a stop?”

 “Sometimes the Ball Just Bounces Your Way.” 

That oft cited cliché is true enough because randomness does play a factor in sports, just as in life.
  • But the simple fact remains that luck means very little if you fail to take advantage.
There’s little question that the ball slipped out of Andy Dalton’s hands but LaMarr Woodley was focused enough to capitalize on that error.

Six plays later and Ben Roethlisberger connected with Heath Miller in the end zone. Mike Tomlin doubled down on the two point conversion, and his team delivered.
  • In the space of just 1:23 the Steelers had gone from under achieving basket case road team tying the game going into the half.
That was all well and good, but the Steelers had been far from kind to themselves during second halves on the road. Could they shake the curse….?

A New 4th Quarter Script

The record will reflect that the Steelers entered the 4th Quarter with the game tied. Chris Rainey changed that with his brilliant 11 yard run courtesy of the road-grading offensive line.
  • That put the Steelers up by 7 with all but :44 seconds elapsed in the final period. 
In other words, the Bengals had Pittsburgh just where they wanted them. This was, after all, exactly when things fell apart vs. Denver, Oakland, and Tennessee.
  • The Steelers, however did something different.
First, Jonathan Dwyer channeled his inner Jerome Bettis, running for 55 yards in the 4th quarter alone, and ripping off runs of 15, 14, and 32 yards in the process

Second, the Steelers actually played defense in the 4th quarter. No heroics, no splash plays, no Polamaluesque game-changing fumbles or interceptions. The Steelers simply played defense, forcing the Bengals to punt on each of their 3 fourth quarter possessions.

The Steelers defense kept the Bengals from making long gains on first and second, and then got off the field on third down. And they did it on three consecutive 4th quarter possessions.

Encouraging to say the least.

Proper Perspective

The win over the Bengals puts the Steelers at 3-3. It ended a string of fourth quarter melt downs, ended a series of losses to AFC teams, and got the Steelers their first AFC North win.

All pluses.
  • But please, no one mistake this for the apocryphal “statement game.” 
By definition, no team makes a statement by merely .500. But the Steelers needed a win, and they got one, and that’s a start.

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Los Steelers Ganaron Contra Los Bengals en Cincinnati

Durante la séptima jornada de la temporada 2012 de la NFL, los Pittsburgh Steelers (3 - 3) lograron su primera victoria como visitantes al superar a los Cincinnati Bengals (3 - 4) por 24 a 17 en el Sunday Night Football. De esta manera los Acereros alcanzaron el segundo lugar en su división y el HC Mike Tomlin, estiró a 9 - 2 su récord contra los Bengals.

Steelers Memorial Hospital

Los Steelers enfrentaban su cuarto encuentro como visitantes con la carga de tener a varios jugadores centrales en el banco debido a lesiones y al nada alentador récord de 3 derrotas consecutivas fuera de Heinz Field. Las incógnitas eran cómo defender el juego terrestre en ausencia de Troy Polamalu como recurso extra, cerrando brechas en la línea y cómo desarrollar un ataque consistente y balanceado con sus dos corredores, Rashard Mendenhall y Issac Redman, fuera del equipo.

Así planteadas las dificultades, se agregaba la controversia (?) creada por las declaraciones de Ben Roethlisberger acerca del acuerdo o no que él podría tener con su Coordinador Ofensivo Todd Haley, sobre la modalidad “Dink 'N Donk” de ofensiva.

Claves para Pittsburgh en el Pre Game

Por el lado de la defensiva:
  • Presionar al QR Andy Dalton ya que este es más propenso a lanzar intercepciones si juega presionado (en 5 de nueve ocasiones).
  • Contrarrestar con los profundos, el juego aéreo de los Bengals neutralizando al WR A. J. Green.
  • No permitir la conversión de terceros downs.
  • Que el dúo de LB LaMarr Woodley-James Harrison funcione.
  • Forzar pérdidas de balón e intercepciones para mantener vivo el espíritu del equipo.
Para la ofensiva la ganancia estaría en:
  • Que el QB Ben Roethlisberger tenga una buena noche ya que gran parte de la ofensiva recaería sobre su brazo y
  • Lograr sostener los resultados favorables y poder rematar el partido, puesto que los 3 partidos que se perdieron se iban ganando al entrar al último cuarto.
  • No desaprovechar las oportunidades de ventaja que dé el juego.
El juego.

Habrá dicho Mike Tomlin en algún momento “Señores: Nos tapa el agua...”?

Primera marcha. Tercer intento y largo. Pase de QB Ben (Por favor, entiendan de quién hablo. Evitenme tener que escribir cada vez “Roethlisberger”) a Mike Wallace quien la deja caer.
  • Larry Foote suelta una intercepción
  • 1er y 10 desde la 8 de PIT. Situación comprometida. QB Ben lanza por el medio, profundo y Wallace la deja caer en la yarda 35
  • Jugada de pizarrón. Antonio Brown lanza un pase perfecto a Baron Batch quien estaba solo y con todo el terreno hacia la zona final libre. La deja caer.
Dos jugadas más tarde, Big Ben lanza por el centro a Heath Miller y resulta en una intercepción en la zona final.

Big Ben suelta la pelota profundo en su campo durante una captura en la que el liniero Adams no soportó la embestida. Acto seguido, 1er y 10. Pase de Dalton y TD


Wallace deja caer un pase de TD dentro de la zona final (vale aclarar que la pelota es apenas desviada por un defensivo un instante antes)

  • 7 (siete) oportunidades perdidas en un cuarto y medio. Demasiado para abrigar esperanzas.
En el medio de todo esto la defensiva por tierra era arrasada, al punto que Cincinnati va por el primer down en un 4to y 1 en la yarda 21 de PIT en la primera marcha (no mostrando ningún respeto por esa defensiva terrestre), que resultará finalmente en TD: 15 jugadas, 80 yardas, casi todo por tierra.
  • En el segundo TD de Cincy, luego del fumble de Ben, Dalton busca directamente a A. Green que estaba marcado por Ike Taylor
  • Estos hechos remarcaban lo que decía al principio, sobre 3 de los puntos clave que Pittsburgh debía tener en cuenta.
Repito: Defensa del ataque terrestre por ausencia de Polamalu, Defensivos profundos vulnerables y oportunidades de ventaja desperdiciadas.
Cincinnati ganaba por un preocupante 14 a 3

Pero a partir de entonces, basado en un gran partido de A. Brown (reitero lo de Gran partido), un fundamental Heath Miller no ya sólo recibiendo pases - uno de los cuales convirtió en el primer TD de los Steelers de esa noche - sino bloqueando y permitiendo yardas que por entonces eran pocas, los Acereros comienzan a encontrar el rumbo no sin dificultades.
  • B. Batch, Rainy y Dwyer chocaban una y otra vez contra la línea de golpeo a la que no podían atravesar.
Y aquí es donde me voy a quitar el sombrero para saludar a la ofensiva “Dink & Dunk del Sr. Haley”: Dado que no había corredores efectivos ni brechas que atravesar en la línea de golpeo, el pase corto hacia las bandas y las jugadas reversibles con los corredores se transformaron en la manera de proponer un juego ofensivo, alternante, que traía a la defensiva de los Bengals a juntarse a la zona del cajón y permitía recepciones de mediano yardaje con Antonio Brown, Jerricho Cotchery, Heath Miller y Emmanuel Sanders (no incluyo a Wallace porque las dejaba caer a todas...). De manera que el juego por tierra era llevado a cabo por los corredores y también por los receptores mientras se preparaba para entrar en juego Jonathan “the van” Dwyer .

La intercepción que cayó del cielo

Promediando el 2do cuarto cayó en manos de LaMarr Woodley una pelota que venía rebotando, logrando así la tercera (sí, la tercera. No hay nada más...) intercepción de la temporada. Miller anotó el TD y se jugaron la conversión de 2 puntos.

Esta llamada, creo yo, debe ser tomada como una llamado a la inspiración de un equipo que venía maltratado. Se discutirá mucho si era correcto ir por los 2 puntos en ese momento. Y yo creo que sí: si no lo conseguían no pasaba nada. Pero si lo anotaban sería una dosis extra de confianza justo antes del medio tiempo. Habrían remontado el marcador.

  • No iban por los 2 puntos.
  • Iban por el partido.
  • El equipo se va al descanso empatado en 14. Nada mal.
La segunda mitad mostró un equipo de Pittsburgh que fue mejorando en algunos aspectos importantes del juego.

Dalton fue incapaz de establecer el juego aéreo productivo. Lanzó sólo 4 pases de más de 10 yardas lo que me permite asumir que sus receptores no lograron despegarse de la marca. Se destacó Keenan Lewis interviniendo en 2 ocasiones clave del juego y Ike Taylor neutralizando a A.J. Green.


En la segunda mitad Cincinnati tuvo 6 marchas. Sólo la primera terminó en Gol de Campo. Las restantes fueron despejes (en cuatro ocasiones 3 y OUT). La defensiva pudo hacerse cargo del marcador y lo sostuvo anulando por completo a la ofensiva de los Bengals

Mejoró la protección a Ben. Tuvo más tiempo en varias ocasiones pudiendo conectar con Brown y Sanders campo arriba.

Con el correr del partido la línea ofensiva de los Steelers fue abriendo mejores brechas por donde correr aunque se avanzaba poco en 1er y 2do down

Al comenzar el último cuarto Chris Rainey anotó un TD por tierra, gracias a un excelente bloqueo de Heath. Miller. Los Steelers así pasaban al frente en el marcador y ”la sombra de la derrota del último cuarto” se sentó al lado de cada uno de nosotros, los espectadores.
Por mérito de equipo y como producto de una gran remontada se sostuvo el marcador. “The Van” Dwyer corrió de manera efectiva durante la segunda mitad alcanzando una nada despreciable cifra de 122 yds personales. Deberemos dar crédito también a la línea ofensiva, por supuesto, que contribuyó al logro de 168 yardas totales por tierra (nada mal para un equipo arrancó el juego sin sus dos corredores principales y que se las arregló para acarrear con: Jonathan Dwyer, Chris Rainey, Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, Will Johnson, Baron Batch y Ben Roethlisberger)

Cuáles son las dudas que persisten?
  • No termina de explotar Wallace. Corrió para 17 yds, tuvo 8 atrapadas para 52 yds (12 yds la más larga...)
  • La línea ofensiva es para mí, una incógnita.
  • No se recuperan pelotas. No se provocan fumbles ni INT
  • No se capturó ni una vez al QB rival.
  • Se siguen perdiendo oportunidades de sacar ventaja durante los partidos.
  • James Harrison parece una sombra del que fue: no registró ningún tackle...
  • Jugadores fuera de juego por lesiones.
Fue un interesante partido por todas las alternativas y las oportunidades de análisis que permite.

Ahora los Steelers escoltan a los Ravens en la división Norte de la Conferencia Americana.
No es donde esperábamos estar pero es mejor de donde podríamos estar. 

A no desesperar


Hasta pronto.


                                                            - Dr de Acero


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Monday, October 22, 2012

Steelers Defeat Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium

My, what a difference 11 days makes, doesn't it? When we last left our beloved Pittsburgh Steelers they we licking their wounds after another 4th quarter collapse on the road.

The Steelers wrote a different story tonight, coming from behind to take and then hold a lead on the road vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.

It certainly did not start pretty, as the Steelers first half can only be characterized as a comedy of errors. But that began to change inside the two minute warning, as LaMarr Woodley intercepted a deflected pass.

Ben Roethlisberger and his team mates went right to work, marching down the field and scoring a touchdown and then getting the two point conversion, with Big Ben hitting Heath Miller on both strikes.

But this victory was more than just the Steelers getting production out of their prime time players. Across both sides of the ball, understudies stepped up.
On the defensive side of the ball:
This game was far from perfect. Special teams penalties continued to be an issue, and the Bengals ran a little to well for comfort.

But the Steelers converted third down after third down, and the defense, for a change, got off the field on third down, and that was the difference in this game.

Its almost 1:00 am here in Buenos Aires, and work looms tomorrow. But Steel Curtain Rising will be back with full analysis of the game. In the mean time, Go Steelers!

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Steelers Can't Stop Tripping Over Themselves. Literally


The Pittsburgh Steelers are tripping over each other. One might be tempted to apply that metaphor to the team’s three 4th quarter melt downs, but in this case it was literally true.

First it was Marcus Gilbert colliding with David Johnson, and then with David DeCastro, then rolled over Maurkice Pouncey, injuring all three men in the process.

Now its Ben Roethlisberger’s turn, as Roethlisberger stepped on another player’s foot in practice and rolled his own ankle.

Alan Robinson of the Tribune-Review reported that Roethlisberger was seen with ice around his ankle and walking with a slight limp after practice.
  • Roethlisberger, however insisted that he would play. 
Good news no doubt, the Steelers really do seem to be walking on collective banana peels.

Pouncey and Woodley to Play, Redman and Mendenhall Likely Out

Robinson also reported that Maurkice Pouncey has in fact practiced some this week, a sign that he might play. Very good news for a Steelers team that is dangerously thin across the offensive line.

The Steelers are also expecting LaMarr Woodley back in the line up. While that’s also good news, hamstring injuries are tricky things, and one can only hope he’s not exposing himself to worsening the injury.

The news was not quite so good for Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman, both of whom have not practiced, and are not likely to play.

Should that be the case, the Steelers will get a chance to see what they really have with Jonathan Dwyer, Chris Rainey and Baron Batch.

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Steelers Titans Resumen en Español

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Parece que se perdió por poco. Pero realmente, fue así?


Los Pittsburgh Steelers acaban de perder su tercer juego de la temporada como visitantes, en Nashville, Tennessee, frente a un mal equipo como los Titans. Es el segundo encuentro que pierden mediante gol de campo restando apenas algunos segundos en el reloj.
Este punto sea tal vez el más frustrante para la Nación Steeler.

La sensación que este aficionado tuvo durante los 2 cotejos en donde se perdió de este modo (Oakland Raiders y el último versus los Titans) es de una tensión, un stress que va in crescendo desde el primer cuarto y que no se acaba de resolver porque el partido nunca se termina de cerrar, de “abrochar” (como solemos decir por estas latitudes). Al final del día y en los últimos 10 minutos del último cuarto la defensiva se mostrará incapaz de detener la estocada final y todo se pierde.

Claro que, llegar a ese punto esperando que la defensiva mate o muera, significa que durante el resto del juego no se obtuvo la suficiente ventaja para transcurrir los minutos finales dejando que el reloj corriera a su favor.


Dar aliento a un muerto...


Sin dudas este partido lo perdieron los Steelers “en muchas áreas del juego”, tal cual lo afirmado en conferencia de prensa por el Entrenador Jefe Mike Tomlin. “No estamos haciendo lo suficiente para terminar los partidos en ambientes hostiles”, dijo al finalizar el juego

Los Pittsburgh Steelers no pudieron responder a la situación planteada por las lesiones que una a una fueron apareciendo desde temprano en el juego. (C Maurkice Pouncey, LB Chris Carter, T Marcus Gilbert, RB Rashard Mendenhall, RB Isaac Redman y LB Brandon Johnson) Quedaron sin juego terrestre y con una línea ofensiva diezmada: el juego terrestre, que parecía haber renacido tan solo cuatro días antes, quedó limitado a unas exiguas 56 yardas. 
  • Se desbalanceó la ofensiva, desplazándose hacia el juego aéreo: 22 corridas con un pobre promedio de 2,5 yds por acarreo, contra 40 intentos de pase.
  • Otra vez el mariscal Ben Roethlisberger tuvo sobre sus hombros el peso de la ofensiva. 24 pases completos sobre 40 intentos para 363 yardas, 1 INT y 1 TD fueron sus números de la tarde en la Ciudad de la Música.
  • No deja de sorprender la falta de sincronía entre “Big Ben” y el que fuera su objetivo predilecto en la temporada pasada, el WR Mike Wallace (excepción hecha del único pase de TD que lanzó el QB)
Sin embargo, me pregunto, qué influencia habrá tenido el hecho de que el receptor no haya regularizado su situación contractual hasta pocas semanas antes del inicio de la temporada regular por lo que se vió impedido de entrenar con el resto del equipo? 

Miller, Sanders, Brown y hasta Redman fueron los objetivos prioritarios, buscándolo solamente en 4 oportunidades, 2 de ellas con pase incompleto.

La línea ofensiva vió alterado su funcionamiento desde la primera jugada del partido para ellos, cuando se lesionó el centro M. Pouncey. No pudieron contener las embestidas de los linebackers exteriores de los Titans, situación de apremio que muchas veces fue disimulada por la movilidad de Roethlisberger.

La ofensiva cayó en un abismo desde el final del 1er cuarto y durante todo el segundo en donde el resultado de sus marchas fueron: despeje bloqueado (que habría de terminar en TD para los locales) / despeje / despeje / despeje / pase interceptado (que también resultaría en puntos de Gol de Campo para los Titanes)

Si analizamos el desempeño de la defensiva a lo largo de esta temporada hay números generales que no son para nada malos: la cantidad de yardas totales permitidas son 1479 (3° en toda la NFL), permiten 475 yds por tierra (6° NFL).
  • Si analizamos las yardas totales por aire, permiten 1004 yds (3° NFL) promediando 208 yds por juego (4° NFL)
Sin embargo, defendiendo por aire se puede ver que ocupan el último lugar en intercepciones con solo 2 en toda la temporada, y el puesto 22 en cantidad de capturas de mariscal (11 sacks).

Por tierra ocupan el puesto número 22 en fumbles forzados (solo 4 de los cuales recuperó la mitad) La defensiva volvió a fallar en cuanto a la recuperación de pelotas, obteniendo solo 1 INT a traves de Lawrence Timmons.

  • Pero las estadísticas no siempre explican lo que pasa en los partidos. 
No refiere a jugadas clave. No explican que el bloqueo de una patada puede hacer renacer a un equipo y llevar a perderte un cuarto entero y permitir que el contrincante se vaya al descanso arriba en el marcador

Las claves para el resto de la temporada, lo que puede marcar la diferencia entre las vacaciones tempranas o la postemporada se reduce a cuatro ítems:
  • Control de la línea de golpeo
  • Hacer las jugadas que “hay que hacer
  • Equilibrar la ofensiva fortaleciendo el juego terrestre y
  • Recuperar pelotas para la ofensiva.

Todos estos puntos por ahora parecen muy difíciles de conseguir. La línea ofensiva tiene muchas bajas por lesiones. Los corredores también están lesionados.
Durante el juego contra Philadelphia se recuperaron pelotas por fumbles y nada se hizo con ellas...

Ahora los Steelers están 2-3 y 0-3 jugando de visitantes.
Hacia adelante quedan partidos “on the road” en los que se puede perder perfectamente: Cincy, NYG, Baltimore y Dallas .
Queda poco lugar para los errores si se quiere llegar a la postemporada.

                                                                         - Dr. de Acero

Para leer mas sobre los Hombres De Acero en español, clicen acá.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Steelers Suspend Alameda Ta’amu, Resign Crobin Bryant

The Pittsburgh Steelers made two roster moves today. One was expected, the other came as somewhat of a surprise.

The Steelers first move was to suspend Alameda Ta’amu for two games following Ta'amu's arrest for drunk driving and fleeing police. While the move was expected, it did open the door to potential controversy.

After the Steelers shipped Santonio Holmes off to the New York Jets for his transgressions, they put the rest of the locker room on notice that anyone else who ran afoul of the law would be out.

A two game suspension is a real punishment, but pales in comparison to the threat of the waiver wire, especially when you consider that Ta’amu was basically a project.

Steelers Sign Lineman

Ta’amu had not dressed for a game, so he’ll hardly be missed this weekend vs. Cincinnati. However, the Steelers almost certainly will be without the services of Marcus Gilbert and Marukice Pouncey, both of whom were injured in the loss to Tennessee.

A roster move on the offensive line was widely expected, and still may materialize.

However, that has yet to happen, as the Steelers resigned defensive lineman Corbin Bryant.

Corbin Byrant played on the practice squad of the Steelers throughout 2011, but Bryant was activated when Aaron Smith went on IR, and he played in the Steelers victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Byrant had a strong training camp, joining Steve McLendon, LaMarr Woodley, and Chris Carter as the only defenders to register a sack during preseason. It was a mild surprise that Bryant did not make the team’s practice squad.

The move to sign him to the active roster is somewhat puzzling, given that he takes the roster spot of a man who never dressed. But it also suggests, at least potentially, that Mike Tomlin is not happy with the performance of the defensive line in general, and might at least be interested in seeing what Bryant can do.

Practice Squad Moves

Possibly anticipating their next move, the Steelers signed Jaques McClendon to their practice squad, and waived 7th round pick Jamie McCoy to make room for him.

Observers have speculated that the Steelers will activate offensive lineman John Malecki from their practice squad for the Bengals game to shore up a unit at which they are dangerously thin.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Alameda Ta'amu Arrested Felon Charges Pending

The 2012 season has not been kind to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the team's defensive line has earned its fair share of the blame.

One potential source of help may now be off the table, as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that the Steelers 4th round draft pick Alameda Ta'amu was arrested on the South Side this weekend after attempting to flee police both by car and the by foot. The incident led to the injury of a young woman and damage of several vehicles. Court documents indicate that Ta'amu allegedly had been driving drunk.

Further Disappointment from a Fourth Round Pick

The Steelers traded up to grab Ta'amu in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft, with many commentators immediately suggesting that Ta'amu was a successor to Casey Hampton. Although no one was projecting him as a starter, many felt he would get significant playing time almost immediately.

However, Ta'amu struggled in training camp and by the middle of the preseason many were already labeling him a "project."
  • Ta'amu has not dressed for any of the Steelers five 2012 regular season games.
Most people in Steelers Nation (and many outside it) have the impression the Steelers do not tolerate players with off the field discipline problems. The reality, however, is mixed.

Historically the Steelers have parted ways, with a number of players who've run afoul of the law, such as Tim Worley and Bam Morris. Players such as James Harrison, Santonio Holmes, and Ben Roethlisberger were ultimately given second chances (although Roethlisberger of course was neither arrested nor charged with a criminal offense.)

It remains to be seen the Steelers will do in the case of Ta'amu.

Suffice to say he can not be endearing himself to Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin, and Art Rooney II.

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Steelers Report Card for Steelers/Titans @ LP Field

This week's Report Card for the Steelers loss to the Titans come by way of my good friend Tony Defeo, who is pitch hitting for me as the game was not show in Buenos Aires. You can read Tony's thoughts on the Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins at Pittsburgh's Best Sports Blog. Tony is also a regular at Behind the Steel Curtain. Many thanks to Tony.

Quarterback 

Ben Roethlisberger did surpass Terry Bradshaw to become the all-time passing leader in team history, and he did have a pretty good all-around game, going 24-40 for 363 yards, with a touchdown and interception. The touchdown was an 82 yard pass to Mike Wallace in the first quarter, and it was a familiar sight for the passing combo that hadn't been seen since the first half of last season. However, the interception was a poorly underthrown pass to Antonio Brown near the end of the first half immediately after he hooked up with Isaac Redman for a 55 yard catch and run deep into Titans' territory. This was a potential three or even 10 point swing, as the Titans responded with a field goal drive to close out the half and take a 16-10 lead. Ben also missed a wide open Emmanuel Sanders on the drive that resulted in the Suisham 52 yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter. Sure, the Steelers got three, but a completion to Sanders there would have kept the drive alive and possibly led to a game-sealing touchdown. Speaking of which, Roethlisberger also missed a wide open Baron Batch on third and six shortly before the missed 54 yard field goal in the game's final minute. I realize that Ben was scrambling for his life on the play, but it's the kind of play that he's known for, and the team desperately needed their franchise quarterback to bail them out right there.  Grade: B-

Running Backs

After a great return last week vs. the Eagles, Rashard Mendenhall was out of action after only six carries for six yards, this time with an Achilles injury, and Redman and Co. couldn't pick up the slack, as the Steelers ground attack was downright awful, accumulating 56 yards on 22 carries (42 on 21 if you take away Ben's 14 yard scramble). Redman did have a career day catching the ball out of the backfield--including a 33 yard gain on the Steelers' first possession where he broke several tackles--and his 105 receiving yards marked the first time since 1970 that a Steelers back eclipsed the 100 yard mark in receiving. However, Redman only gained 14 yards on the ground before leaving the game with a knee injury. Baron Batch replaced him and ran hard and scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough to make up for another bad day running the football for the offense. Grade: D-

Wide Receivers

The 82 yard touchdown catch by Mike Wallace in the first quarter looked to be a foreshadowing of what was yet to come as the Titans secondary is one of the worst in the NFL. However, Wallace would only catch one more pass the rest of the game. As for Brown, he was pretty ineffective, only catching five passes for 20 yards and was far from the dynamic play-maker that he was a season ago. Tight end Heath Miller was his usual reliable self, and Sanders made a few key third down receptions, but all-in-all, a subpar day for the receiving corps. Grade: C-

Offensive Line

What would a Steelers game be without some injuries up front? This time, Maurkice Pouncey and Maurcus Gilbert both left the game with injuries and did not return. Mike Adams replaced Gilbert at right tackle and Doug Legursky replaced Pouncey at center. I guess all things considered, the line hung in there, but as I said earlier, the running game was practically non-existent, and Ben wasn't exactly under attack the whole game--only one sack--but that could be attributed to his talent for escaping danger and his new ability of getting rid of the ball faster. Grade: D+

Defensive Line

Titans running back Chris Johnson had 91 yards as Tennessee looked to take advantage of Pittsburgh's struggles with the stretch play. Johnson wasn't that much of a factor, but he did leave an awful lot of yards on the field by hesitating and hitting the wrong holes. I thought the defensive line was ripe for the picking if Johnson would have been more aggressive. The holes appeared to be there way too much for my tastes. Grade: D

Linebackers

James Harrison short-circuited the Titans first drive of the game by sacking Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck on first and goal from the two, forcing Tennessee to eventually settle for three. Also, Larry Foote sacked Hasselbeck in the third quarter and nearly caused a fumble. And Lawrence Timmons had the unit's only takeaway when he intercepted a Hasselbeck pass at mid-field in the fourth quarter shortly after the Steelers had taken a 20-16 advantage. However, they were part of a unit that let up another crucial fourth quarter drive when the Titans drove 80 yards for the game-tying touchdown with four minutes left. And Harrison was badly victimized on the pivotal 25 yard completion to tight end Jared Cook that set the Titans up for the game winning field goal. Grade: C-

Secondary

After having his best season in 2011, Ike Taylor has regressed to the point where he seems to just want to grab and wrestle with his receiver on each and every play. In week 2, Ike was the victim of some pretty questionable calls by the replacement officials, but now he's making the regular officials jobs much easier with his obvious manhandling of wide receivers. Thursday night was no exception, as Taylor was flagged for pass interference on the Titans' initial possession that resulted in three points. Later on in the first half, Taylor had a pass interference penalty that was declined because of a long completion, and he was called for holding on third and 10 during the game-tying touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. Keenan Lewis had a pretty decent game with three passes defensed, but he also had his hands on a fairly easy interception during the above mentioned game-tying touchdown drive and failed to close the deal. Grade: D-

Special Teams

There was the good: Chris Rainey's 49 yard kickoff return to start Pittsburgh's initial possession, and the 52 yard field goal by kicker Shaun Suisham that gave the Steelers a 23-16 lead in the fourth quarter. And then there was the bad: Punter Drew Butler on the receiving end of a blocked punt on the final play of the first quarter that gave the Titans the football at the one yard line and led to Tennessee's first touchdown. Unfortunately, the bad far out-weighed the good, as the special teams breakdown may have been the ultimate difference. Grade: D

Coaching

They say hindsight is 20/20, but I'm still baffled by Mike Tomlin's decision to try the 54 yard field goal with 54 seconds remaining. I realize that Suisham had earlier made a 52 yarder with room to spare, but it was just way too risky that late in a tie game. If you punt there, worst case scenario is Tennessee has the football at the 20 with about 40 seconds left, needing at least 50 yards to reach ideal field goal range. However, once Suisham missed, and Tennessee gained possession at their own 45 yard line and only needed about 20 yards, it was just a matter of a completion or two before the Steelers were in trouble.

Maybe it's the ultimate indictment of his defense that Tomlin couldn't even trust it to keep a team from driving into field goal range after starting from its own 20 in the final minute of regulation. Speaking of which, Thursday night marked the fourth time in five games that Dick Lebeau's unit failed to protect a fourth quarter advantage. I know that Polamalu and Woodley did not play. However, Lebeau has received his fair share of praise throughout his storied career, so I think it's only fair that he receives a good deal of criticism for what looks to be a very average defense that simply cannot protect late leads.  But he wasn't the only coordinator that failed on Thursday.

Todd Haley
 needs to be called out for not attacking the Titans secondary more aggressively. Former Titans safety Blaine Bishop, who now does analysis and studio work for his old team, was on a local radio station this week, and when asked about the Titans secondary, he practically mocked their inability to cover anyone. Why the Steelers didn't attack the Titans deep more often than they did is beyond me. Grade: F

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Steelers Cut Weslye Saunders

In a move which amounts to a minor surprise, the Pittsburgh Steelers have parted ways with reserve tight end Weslye Saunders.

Saunders joined the team as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2011. Saunders went undrafted largely because discipline issues impacted his college career.

Prior to those issues, some experts projected him as high as a second round pick.

Although Saunders only had four receptions as a rookie, many pegged him to develop into the next Kevin Colbert's undrafted rookie free agent steal.

However, Saunders ran afoul of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, and was forced to serve a four game suspension. Many expected the team to activate him today, but obviously the team moved in a different direction.

Salary Cap Concerns and the Development of David Paulson

The Steelers certainly weren't going to carry four tight ends, which meant that one of the three on their roster would have to go. Heath Miller certainly was going no where.

That left Leonard Pope and David Paulson. Saunders had not started particularly strong in preseason but came on late with three catches for 45 yards and a touchdown.

Entering the season David Paulson was seen as keeping a roster spot warm for Saunders, but Paulson has played well both on special teams and had even made his presence felt in the receiving game.

In contrast, Pope, a free agent acquisition, had done little to justify the investment the Steelers made in acquiring him.

But therein (perhaps) lies the catch. Had the Steelers cut Pope they’d have been on the hook for his entire salary for the 2012 season. Now, per the Post-Gazette report announcing his waiver, Pope was only making the veteran minimum.

But the Steelers salary cap situation is precarious and with mounting injuries, the team needs to limit dollars spent on players no longer with the team. This may not be the only, or even chief reason the Steelers opted for Pope over Saunders, but it has to have factored into their decision.

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Steelers Fall to Titans, 26-23

There's one thing we know for certain about the 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers -- they're not a strong road team. Traveling to Tennessee, an environ that has never been favorable to them, the Steelers gave up yet another 4th quarter lead and dropped their 3rd game of the season 26-23.

The night was historic in a sense, as Ben Roethlisberger broke Terry Bradshaw's career passing yardage total. However, the record means little to Roethlisberger himself, who sees that additional championships as his only record important to him.

A third Super Bowl for Roethlisberger does not appear to be in the offing his year, to say the least.

In addition to giving the Steelers another road loss and another AFC loss, the game was costly in terms of injuries, as Maurkice Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert, Chris Carter, Isaac Redman, and Rashard Menedenhall were all injured.

The sailing does look to get rough from here on out. But rest assured Steel Curtain Rising will continue to follow the Black and Gold every step of the way.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mendenhall's BACK!, Where Does that Leave Redman and Dwyer?

Kudos to Rashard Mendenhall. He clearly gave the entire Steelers offense a shot in the arm, and because of that the Steelers running game was able to push Pittsburgh past Philly.

Since arriving in as Pittsburgh’s first round draft pick in 2008, Mendenhall has seen his share of criticism, and Steel Curtain Rising is no exception.

The enjoyable, and tantalizing thing about Mendenhall is that when he hits a hole decisively he can run with any of the top backs in the NFL. That’s a bold claim but skeptics need only remember his:
So fortunately for Steelers Nation, Mendenhall was “on” in his return from a nasty ACL injury.
  • But what does that say about the other two Steelers running backs?
There were many in Steelers Nation, yours truly one of the, who didn’t think Mendenhall’s absence was going to be that important. That’s simply because Mendenhall has never run with the kind of consistency needed to establish himself as one of the top runners in the NFL.

The logic therefore was that the Steelers would suffer little in a running back by committee system.
  • The pathetic results of the Steelers rushing game in weeks 1-3 would seem to wholeheartedly refute that argument.
Numbers don’t lie. But does the resurgence of the Steelers running game with Mendenhall's return prove that the Steelers rushing attack would be doomed should it be forced to rely on Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer?
  • This scribe says “no.”
There hasn’t been much reporting about this in the press since August, but both Redman and Dwyer were hurt in August. In fact, the Steelers were forced to sign DeJuan Harris off of waivers, just to field a full complement of running backs before their final preseason game.
  • Neither man was likely at 100% when the season started.
This should be especially obvious in the case of Redman, whose performance was way, way below the standard he set for himself.

Even with Sunday’s stronger showing against the Eagles, Redman’s season rushing average is a measly 2.5 yards per carry.
  • In 2010 Redman averaged 4.7 yards per carry
  • In 2011 he clocked in at 4.4 yards per carry
Now a lot of those carries came in sport duty situation, which is not the same as building up an averge as a feature back. But Redman played lights out in his two starter like situations, namely the finale vs. Cleveland and the Tebowing in Denver.

Jonathan Dwyer poses a more complicated question, as his body of work is far more limited.
  • But even this limited sample suggests that Dwyer’s performance of 2012 represents far much more of a floor than a ceiling.
Be clear about one thing, a healthy and productive Rashard Mendenhall should be a welcome sign to Steelers Nation.

But also rest assured that a healthy Redman and Dwyer can also deliver.

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