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Author Topic: I love Willie ... BUT  (Read 4344 times)
LambertsFrontTeeth
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« Reply #10 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 06:46 »

Also, I think if you study running in the NFL historically, that the more you run, the longer the runs get as you tire out the opposing D.

I bet there were plenty of first half's where Bettis was gaining only a couple per, but in the second half, as the defense tired, those runs start to get longer, raising the average/carry.
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Hercules50
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« Reply #11 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 08:06 »

I fall somewhere in the middle here.

I don't find convincing the argument that, in those games where Willie put up low rushing totals, it was because he had few carries and that, had he gotten enough carries, he would have somehow "worn down the defenses" and finished with a stronger game.

I don't get this argument. In those games -- particularly against Jax, SD, and Balty -- Willie was getting NOTHING done. How can you blame the coaches for not giving the ball to him more in those cases when the running game wasn't accomplishing anything at all?

Anyway, I'm not saying that it was Willie's fault. But some combination of Willie and the run blocking was getting miserable results in those games.

And I don't quite buy the idea that, because these were elite run defenses, that it's no big deal. Good running games did better than we did against those units. But I think that our running game -- the overall season numbers be damned -- wasn't all that good last year.

The running game had good games against, let's see, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Carolina -- lots of bad teams. Against good running teams, we were stuffed and dominated.

So while Willie's one of my favorite players and I think a good back, I share the original poster's skepticism that our running game is fine as long as Willie's healthy. The running game has to perform better than it did last year -- and whether that means Willie needs to get better, or the line's play, or our schemes -- whatever.
 
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« Reply #12 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 08:27 »

I think the problem with some of Willie's poorer performances last year was Whiz had no counter for the run blitz on early downs.  Screens were really hit or miss, and the predictable tendencies for the offense made runblitzing a no-brainer for opposing DCs.  Whiz loved the play action, and Willie sucked at blocking.  Not a good pairing.  Get him before he gets going, and if it's play action- better yet.  Haven't got to see it yet, but Parker is said to have improved his blocking, and with Arians' contra-tendencies emphasis this, hopefully that'll take away most of our oppenents D gameplans this year.

The only other thing with Parker that I'd like to see him get better at is looking for the cutback.  He's fast, but he's not shifty, and when he bounces out it's always with the flow.  Never against it, not unless by design, which they did with some success at times last year.  Lot of times it seems when you see the D bunching in the direction of the flow, that cutback opportunity is there and he never sees it.
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Finnegans Wake
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« Reply #13 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 08:46 »

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Agree, it tells you almost as much about the O-line as it does about FWP.  I think if FWP had been playing consistently in the rush happy 15-1 season in 2004, you would have seen more even game totals.  

For example, Clinton Portis has similar seasonal numbers to FWP over 4 years.  In most years, he was consistently around 100 yds/game, but in 2004, he had a year that looked a lot like Willie Parker's.  And last year, his totals looked more like Willie Wonka.

Interesting point by altimus, but I wouldn't read too much into the game-to-game stuff for another couple of years.  

FWIW, another back that consistently has this type of low-high rush total pattern in all years is Jamal Lewis.  I hope I'm right on this and that he sucks eggs in Clevehole, but my contention was that Lewis was never a true power back in the pros.  He was more like Chuck Muncie, a big back that had quickness and speed.  When some of that left via wear, tear, and prison, you end up with a generic 3.5 yd/carry back.
Nail on the head there.  Our OL worries me, frankly.  How's that spread O gonna work if we gotta keep a FB and a TE in to block on passing downs?  Sheesh.  And Willie, he can do it all, but not if his leads are getting abused.  
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altimusprime
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« Reply #14 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 09:20 »

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Agree, it tells you almost as much about the O-line as it does about FWP.  I think if FWP had been playing consistently in the rush happy 15-1 season in 2004, you would have seen more even game totals. 

For example, Clinton Portis has similar seasonal numbers to FWP over 4 years.  In most years, he was consistently around 100 yds/game, but in 2004, he had a year that looked a lot like Willie Parker's.  And last year, his totals looked more like Willie Wonka.

Interesting point by altimus, but I wouldn't read too much into the game-to-game stuff for another couple of years. 

FWIW, another back that consistently has this type of low-high rush total pattern in all years is Jamal Lewis.  I hope I'm right on this and that he sucks eggs in Clevehole, but my contention was that Lewis was never a true power back in the pros.  He was more like Chuck Muncie, a big back that had quickness and speed.  When some of that left via wear, tear, and prison, you end up with a generic 3.5 yd/carry back.
Nail on the head there.  Our OL worries me, frankly.  How's that spread O gonna work if we gotta keep a FB and a TE in to block on passing downs?  Sheesh.  And Willie, he can do it all, but not if his leads are getting abused.
And for the record, I'm way more concerned about the OL than FWP. I have some concerns over His Fastness (ew - how douchey am I?) but like I said earlier, I'm kind of playing devil's advocate a little. The OL scares me more and I see it as the team's biggest question mark. D backs concern me a little, too, but not as much.

 
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altimusprime
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« Reply #15 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 09:21 »

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I think the problem with some of Willie's poorer performances last year was Whiz had no counter for the run blitz on early downs.  Screens were really hit or miss, and the predictable tendencies for the offense made runblitzing a no-brainer for opposing DCs.
That makes a lot of sense to me.

 
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Hercules50
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« Reply #16 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 09:23 »

Yeah, O-line is good cause for worry.

I think that, if all goes well, they can be merely an above-average unit.

But I think the potential is there for total disaster. Which could have widespread implications -- like ruining Ben's confidence at a critical moment in his career.

We're a pro football team with one Left Tackle on the squad -- and even he is really a RT.

WTF Colbert?
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aj_law
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« Reply #17 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 09:46 »

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Our OL worries me, frankly.  How's that spread O gonna work if we gotta keep a FB and a TE in to block on passing downs?  Sheesh.  And Willie, he can do it all, but not if his leads are getting abused.
This seems like a recurring theme for the past, oh I dunno, 2, 3, 4 years, at least?  I mean, how many running jokes have we had about the line over the years?  

Uh, this just in...another FA lineman doesn't interview with Pittsburgh.

I remember thinking when Mahan was coming in for a visit that Pittsburgh signs FA linemen almost as often as they replace their head coach.  Almost every year since '03 or '04, you could say that the line was a concern (or at least, it was clearly going to be a concern in the near future), but every damn year passed and they did virtually nothing to address the growing 800 pound gorilla in the room.  Every year seemed to be a patchwork approach to the front five.  Guys left and they'd plug a guy here and there and you'd usually see a dropoff in performance.  

When they're not spending on FAs and the highest they're willing to go on a lineman in the draft is a late Day One pick (consider that Simmons was the last R1 pick and that was five years ago), you figure that sooner or later it's going to catch up with them.  If one of those later round guys actually develops into a serviceable starter, it helps to stem the tide a little, but Pittsburgh really hasn't had that.  Starks looked like he might be the exception, but losing a starting spot this year isn't going to help his case.  Hopefully Colon can buck the trend and stick in his place.

The fact that they've only got 2 starting linemen from the last 7 drafts doesn't bode well for the immediate future.  And, none of the others that are on the roster look like they're breaking the starting lineup anytime soon.  Couple that with 2 FA signings over that timespan and you've got a line that's rapidly aging with no real solid prospects waiting in the wings.

Maybe this year will finally be the year when they make some big moves?  A R1 pick?  A solid FA signing?  Both?  With Faneca likely gone; Smith getting another year older; Mahan needing to prove he can hack it as the starting OC; ditto Colon at RT; Starks is probably gone too; and Simmons, probably (hopefully??!!...can't believe I'm saying that...) getting extended, there's the prospect of having a lot of turnover to a group that needs a lot of work as is.

Scary.  Shit.
« Last Edit: Aug 22, 2007 at 10:01 by aj_law » Logged

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Hercules50
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« Reply #18 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 10:00 »

Yeah I'd say that the last time we had a rock-solid line around here was when we had Gandy at LT.

Not saying we should have re-singed him, but when he left he should have invested something significant in another LT instead of moving Marvel over and playing musical chairs with the right side of the line.

As for the lack of FAs or high draft picks invested in the line, evidently the team believes it can draft these guys on Day 2 and coach 'em up.  
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aj_law
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« Reply #19 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 10:19 »

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As for the lack of FAs or high draft picks invested in the line, evidently the team believes it can draft these guys on Day 2 and coach 'em up.
I suppose.  The only real problem with that is that isn't how they did things during the late 90s and early 00s when that front five was solid.  At one point, that group had a bunch of 1st rounders and top talent.  Gandy, Hartings, Smith, Faneca, Simmons were all first rounders, I think.  

You simply can't go from that to trying to mold marginal players into good or great players and expect to maintain your dominance.

Where's the next stud lineman on their roster?
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