Monday, October 10, 2011

On the typical Sunday during the fall and winter, I am a prime candidate for a heart attack or stroke.

The reports of Hines Ward's demise were highly inaccurate.

On the typical Sunday during the fall and winter, I am a prime candidate for a heart attack or stroke. Being a Steeler fan isn't easy when your coach says, "Style points don't matter", which translates into--you can forget about winning by 2 touchdowns. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge Mike Tomlin fan, but it is nice to win with comfort once in a while. On Sunday, the Steelers manhandled the Tennessee Titans winning 38-17.

On their initial drive, the Titans amassed 69 yards and the Steeler defense looked poised to remain in their recent, human form. Over the next five drives, the Titans could only muster 49 yards. It seemed like Dick LeBeau set the bait by allowing the Titans their first drive, only to stifle them for most of the balance of the game.

On the other hand, the Steeler offense attacked its prey in a less than normal fashion. Gone were the 5 step drops, 40 yard throws and tiptoe-through-the-tulips running game and in its place was a surgical dismemberment via short, quick passes and punishing runs up the middle.  Yes, the prodigal Steeler running game found its way home in the form of Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer. Redman ran like a man possessed, bulling his way through the teeth of the Titans' stingy defense for 49 yards. Jonathan Dwyer acquitted himself of the charge that he was a chubby, out of shape running back who, by the grace of God, was bestowed a roster spot in early September. Dwyer accounted for 107 of the Steelers 174 total rushing yards which included a 76 yard burst off right tackle. Even if you subtracted Dwyer's big run, the Steelers still averaged 3.6 yards per carry. That's pretty good when you have a patchwork offensive line facing the league's 8th best rushing defense coming into this week. The Steeler passing attack looked more like Brady to Welker than Big Ben to Wallace (or Brown or Sanders or Ward). Big Ben's big arm was rifling passes before the Titan defensive backs could react. The Titans never adjusted enough to stop the Steeler assault and a decisive win was in the books.

Dissecting the Dwyer Run
I went back and watched the Dwyer run several times.  This is the Steelers bread-and-butter play off the right side that tends to bust big runs. 
Marcus Gilbert—absolutely buried the defensive tackle.  The only thing that stopped Gilbert from blocking his man into the 3rd row was Pouncey putting a Titan on the ground.  A+++ block
David Johnson—sealed the inside linebacker and then went downfield trying to hit more people.
Heath Miller—pushed the outside linebacker about 3yds downfield sealing the outside.
Doug Legursky—pulled and made an excellent trap block on the inside linebacker
Jonathan Dwyer—hit the hole fast and didn’t break stride until he was tackled at the 15yd line.

Here are some of my thoughts on other performances from Sunday:

Big Ben—excellent timing and decision-making.  Got the ball out fast and anticipated the receiver breaks.  Often Ben waits until the receiver makes his break and then throws the ball.  Sunday, he was on fire (except for the last pass before halftime which was picked off).
Isaac Redman—his desire to get the extra yard was Bettis-like and ignited the Steeler offense.  You almost never see him tackled by one guy.  That was 49 tough and admirable yards.
Hines Ward—after reading my blog last week, some Steeler fans said that I didn’t know what I was talking about when I said that the Steelers should throw short passes to Hines Ward.  They were right, I have no idea what I am talking about. 7 catches, 54 yards, 2 TD’s.  I hope I’m wrong right through the Super Bowl.
Heath Miller—he is the King of the middle of the field.
Doug Legursky—he’s a great backup but (unless he is playing hurt) he just can’t be a starter.  Great block on the Dwyer run but he gets pushed around too much.
Antonio Brown—I have a feeling that he will have 2 kickoff returns for touchdowns this season.  He’s close, reeeeeaaaal close.
Special teams—speaking of special teams, great job on the fake punt, I loved it.  But what’s up with the blocked punt, not getting the onside kick and allowing a kickoff returner to get to the 43 yard line?  Might need some extra practice this week. 
Brett Keisel—remember when I said that we were lacking a push from the defensive line?  The Deisel push is back!
Chris Hoke—played like a brick wall yesterday.  Excellent job.
Ziggy Hood—I saw Ziggy all over the field.  If he wasn’t making a tackle, he was pursuing the ball carrier until he was on the ground.
Lamarr Woodley—maybe I should call him out every week.  He was un-blockable.  Some people thought that he was playing poorly because his wallet was weighing him down.  Others said it was injuries to the defense that was taking him out of the mix.  Or that the opposing offense was scheming to get him to drop into coverage so that they would only have to worry about blocking Harrison.  Whatever it was, the Titans couldn’t handle it.
Troy Polamalu—if you just watched what Troy did yesterday, you can see why the Steeler defense isn’t the same when he’s not there.
Bruce Arians—last but not least is the man with the plan.  Bruce Arians was a maestro calling plays.  He had the offense establish the run and short passing game (the Titans had 8 and sometimes 9 in the box to stop the run) and then used play fakes to pass on deeper routes later in the game.  Ben looked as comfortable as he has ever looked in the pocket and the offensive line held up when not being asked to block for 5, 6 or 7+ seconds.  This is exactly the type of game plan that I mentioned in previous blog posts.  It helps the offensive line because they don’t have to hold their blocks as long, it helps Ben with timing and not getting hit and it keeps the defense on its heels not knowing where the ball is going to go next.  Bravo Bruce, don’t change a thing!

I would love to hear your thoughts on the game and the team.  Feel free to leave comments on the blog.  Thanks for reading!  And remember, no matter where you go in this world, you’re ALWAYS in Steeler Country!

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree more about Redman and Dwyer. I've been screaming myself hoarse for those two to be the 1-2 tandem since August!
    The offense is clearly a full grade better with Starks, who with all his weight and injury issues, still knows the system - and would take a bullet for BR.
    Legursky, while not there yet, isn't the guy who will cost you the game, either. His versatility (to play at least a plausible center) adds to his value.
    Hokey is still rock solid when given the chance to play.
    Woodley is showing why he got the paycheck, clearly the stud linebacker right now.
    I also believe that Timmons is the reason you show patience with your top pick. He's still getting better and I believe in 2 years, he'll be the clear-cut best LB on the squad.