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Author Topic: Heads must roll  (Read 3302 times)
Preacherman0
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« on: Dec 17, 2007 at 09:38 »

I know that it probably won't happen because it's not the "Steeler" way to do things.  But I think that it's time for some people to get the axe.  Stay with my argument here for a minute.

Our offense has actually REGRESSED from last year.  In a season when we were 8-8, we are playing worse on offense than we did a year ago.  Think about that and let it sink in.  I was not a huge fan of the Whizinator, but we have actually gone backwards from him.  It's hard to believe, but think about it:  Last year, I never had any doubt that we would move the football.  I just wondered when we were going to give it back to the other team (fumble, int, etc).  

This year, I hold my breath hoping for a first down.  I'm praying that Ben has sense enough to start running before the line opens the floodgates.  I actually HOPE for him to take the checkdowns and short routes because I'm worried that he'll get killed trying to throw the ball down the field.  I worried about that enough last year, but it's getting worse.  I don't have any hope for a long bomb or a big play, and I'd rather not even think about whether or not our receivers are going to catch the ball.  In spite of the hits he takes on this board, the only bright spot IMO is Willie Parker.  Say what you want, he has come to play the last couple of weeks in spite of the fact that most of the team, including the coaches, acted like they were watching the game on tv with a cold beer.

Even in his first year, it is time for Mike Tomlin to make some changes.  I understand the calm, even-tempered approach and all that, but reality needs to set in at some point and he needs to see the big picture.  He has several players, coaches, and people within the organization who need to go.  In priority order:

Arians, Marvel Smith, Faneca, Mahan, Scouting staff, and Kevin Colbert.

I am not willing to give Bruce Arians a "pass" on this season.  He is absolutely inept, and it shows in the attitude and play of the team.  They look like they are all lost out there.  The last time that I witnessed Hines Ward dropping this many passes was in 2003, when no one had a clue what was going on.  When things are working, Hines is catching the ball.  Not sure why that happens, but receivers seem to be shocked when the ball comes their way.  That tells me that we are very unsure of what we're doing and what's happening.

His insistence on the stupidity of 18-step drops and 3rd and 14 draw plays and screens and his refusal to adjust during the game is not acceptable.  I agree with DJF that you can't put all the "blame" on play calling; and, you can't completely scrap everything.  But I haven't seen us make any decent adjustments since the second half vs. Denver.  I don't even think we made adjustments vs. Cleveland, we just started putting the ball in the end zone instead of kicking FGs.

If he keeps this up, the frustration is really going to seep in and we could be witnessing a disaster in the last two games of the season.  I am worried that Ben is going to get seriously hurt unless we put in some three-step drops and some WELL-TIMED, WELL-EXECUTED screens and draws.  That's the only way that we're going to beat the pressure, and as Jax should us yesterday, they can get pressure 4 on 5 vs. this oline.  If everyone is dropping into coverage, then dink-and-dunk them to death or RUN THE FRIGGIN' BALL!  If there is not some significant improvement in the offense over the next two games, let the axe drop on the Bruce Arians Experiment.

Now, I say "Run the ball" in this sense:  Run it if we've demonstrated some ability to do it.  As in, FWP is averaging 7 ypc.  But as we all know, that is going to be a rarity behind the wall that we loosely refer to as our offensive line.  More like a "Leaking Dam" than a wall.

Faneca is a dead issue because he is not going to take reasonable money to return, and I don't think the Rooneys will do it anyway because of his big fat redheaded mouth.  Let him go out to the desert with his butt buddies.

It is time to cut our losses with Mahan and Marvel Smith.  Smith looks absolutely inept out there, whether it's injury or ability or whatever.  An aching back is difficult when you're sitting at a desk much less trying to play football.  He's had the problem for a few years and it's a pretty good indication that he's lost it, just can't recover and play.  Let him go try somewhere else or retire with some dignity, he deserves that for what he's done in his career to this point.  But don't bring him back unless you plan to use him as a backup, and rework his deal for backup money.  Mahan--well, let him be the Duffy of the new century.  He might be a serviceable backup, but that's all he is.  I guess you could give him a shot at guard, but he ain't no center.

For the record, Simmons should be gone (I can barely stand to watch him) but we can't do it, obviously, because of $$$.  I still believe that Starks and Colon have a lot of upside and can play.  As for Kemo, move him to defense, play him, or cut him.  If he's too dumb to play offense then let him back up Snack and clog the middle.

That leads us to the joke that is our scouting dept. and front office.  I doubt it will happen and Tomlin has little power to influence it, but how about letting them know that you're not happy with what they're doing?  Should we make a list of bad signings/resignings/draft picks?  In no particular order:

-Coclough
-Simmons
-#95 (can't even remember his name)
-Essex
-Bo Lacy
-Spaeth
-Mahan
-Okobi (did play well in spots)
-Nkwenti
-Receiver from GA

Need we go on?  

I can't even tell you how many draft picks we have left on the team from the Colbert era, maybe someone else has some research on this.  But I can't remember many guys that we brought in via the draft who we've kept.  In fact, I can't remember the names of a lot of our draft picks.  What does that tell you?

Let's also factor in the veterans we've lost (Keydrick Vincent) and the lack of serious FA acquisitions (Cedric Wilson???  Sean Mahan???).  I give him credit for Ryan Clark, Hartings, and drafting Ben and Troy, but I think his blunders have begun to outweigh his successes.

Perhaps things will change with Tomlin being here this year.  Maybe he'll be a little less loyal to vets than Cowher was to at least SOME vet players.  The fact that the FO didn't see the need to get some real linemen on both sides of the ball tells me that Colbert is not getting it done.  Perhaps it's time to let Tomlin bring in someone that can work with him.  A team that has prided itself on building in the draft next to have a GM that knows who to draft and HOW to draft rather than reaching for the likes of Trai Essex and Ricardo Coclough.

Well, that's just my opinion.  Fire away!
« Last Edit: Dec 17, 2007 at 09:39 by Preacherman0 » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: Dec 17, 2007 at 09:53 »

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Even in his first year, it is time for Mike Tomlin to make some changes.  I understand the calm, even-tempered approach and all that, but reality needs to set in at some point and he needs to see the big picture.
This was a great post.  I just wanted to re-iterate the part above.


I'm all about the "professional" approach, but clearly Tomlin isn't implementing it clearly, because aside from the first Baltimore game, his team has come out entirely flat in just about every game this season.

It's to the point that we need to rely on the 4th quarter rally just to get us back from where we should've been in the first quarter.

Time for that garbage to stop.  Tomlin needs to start showing a bit of emotion, because there's a fine line between "professional" and "emotionless", and his team has been crossed over it for most of the season.


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Hercules50.
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« Reply #2 on: Dec 17, 2007 at 09:55 »

I think you make a lot of great points and I agree with the one big point, which is that the team should rethink its commitment to continuity and make some changes.

In particular, I wouldn't be disappointed to see Colbert go. I think the only thing he does well is make first-round selections, and he's average-to-terrible at everything else. The FO can be relied on to keep the most important Steelers here (good deals were negotiated with FWP, Troy, others, and I'm confident they'll do a good job with Ben's deal). But that's more Omar than Colbert, anyway.

I disagree about Arians, and I think I'm in a 2% category. I like his aggressiveness, and I like the downfield attack. It's not his fault we have the worst offensive line in football. Further in his defense, his system has allowed our top two playmakers, Willie and Ben, to have statistically outstanding seasons, and the team is heading toward a team-record for points scored.

There are plenty of stats that point in the other direction, I know, and the team's record against good defenses isn't any good. I don't think Arians is great, and he may not even be good, but I just don't think he's the problem.

Are there little things here and there that I'd like him to do? More slants and quick passes, of course. More passes to Heath Miller, many more. Making Santonio the priority in the downfield passing game. Yes there have been calls here and there I haven't liked, but I think usually it's the results of the play, not the play selection, that's the problem.

Should Willie have run more against the Jags? Possibly. I hear fans say they should have run Willie two or three times after his big runs. But I think some of these fans would say Arians is too predictable if we run it a lot, or too cute when he does the unexpected.

As for draws on 3rd-and-15, it depends on the situation. Many, many NFL teams concede the series and run draws on this type of play, for good reasons in many cases, so Arians isn't alone here.

As for the line, I don't think Colon is very good, while I think Simmons would be functional if he were playing with talent around him. But Mahan and Colon are awful, and Simmons isnt' good enough to overcome the mistakes next door to him.

Starks is going to be expensive to keep and the question is going to be whether the team thinks he's worth the investment.

Anyway, these are just my opinions, and good post, Preach. I'll root hard for this team the last two weeks, I want Tomlin and some of the young guys to get some playoff experience, but this offseason is going to require a lot of work and creative thinking by the FO and the coaching staff.
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« Reply #3 on: Dec 17, 2007 at 11:15 »

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I disagree about Arians, and I think I'm in a 2% category. I like his aggressiveness, and I like the downfield attack. It's not his fault we have the worst offensive line in football. Further in his defense, his system has allowed our top two playmakers, Willie and Ben, to have statistically outstanding seasons, and the team is heading toward a team-record for points scored.
 
I agree and disagree. I DO think everyone seems overly fixated on BA's playcalling. Yes, he's shat the bed at times, but fact is fact -- his OL sucks dick. Not much can be done.

At the same time, I think that BA doesn't seem to adjust when the OL is playing particularly poorly in some facet. If they aren't able to even remotely pass-protect, then he needs to call plays that have shorter drops and  quicker throws. He isn't doing that.

Ditto for his refusal to let Ben run a no-huddle, in games where it has been apparent that this is the only way we have been able to move the ball.

I'm not in favor of firing Arians, though, because I hate constantly changing coaches. That type of inconsistency makes QB's heads spin. I'd rather keep BA, but give him better players at the OL.

Then, if he can't get it done, well, he's done.
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« Reply #4 on: Dec 17, 2007 at 20:59 »

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I'm not in favor of firing Arians, though, because I hate constantly changing coaches. That type of inconsistency makes QB's heads spin. I'd rather keep BA, but give him better players at the OL.

Then, if he can't get it done, well, he's done.
excellent point.  while i havent been a fan of BA's much of the year either, trying to get Ben into some kind of comfort zone has to count for something.  having 3 different OC's in 3 years (and a near-death experience thrown in for good measure) makes it hard for a QB to take his game to the next level.

i guess my big problem with BA is the fact that he NEVER adjusts in-game after seeing how the opposing defense has reacted.  it's like he has a gameplan drawn up, and he's going to call those plays, no matter what is going on in the game at that time.  that's something that Tomlin has to talk to him about, because that's what is killing the offense moreso than the overall gameplan.

Arians has to have another year and a better O-line before we can totally write him off, IMO.  that being said, i will admit i dont know if i have the patience to wait it out another year with Arians calling the plays.
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« Reply #5 on: Dec 17, 2007 at 21:23 »

I wouldn't be suprised to see wholesale coaching changes.  Maybe it's just in my head, but it seems like there were a few articles around the time when Tomlin was hired that suggested many of the staff, while not foisted upon Tomlin, were strongly suggested as people to retain.

Would anyone be suprised to see the end of the 3-4 as the base after this season?  Will Lebeau care to run a Tampa 2 type defense?  Could be a new hire there.  And Tomlin might have a guy (his own) in mind to run the offense  as well.  

Could be a very different team next season.  

I doubt Tomlin has any influence whatsoever over Colbert.  Forget that.

And one draft won't fix the OL.  Gonna have to make due with what there is and hope that one of the draftees will make the starting cut.  I hate to hope for the best here, but that's pretty much where we are.  

Wouldn't be a bit suprised to see a staff and roster shakeup after the season.  Then again, status quo won't suprise either.
« Last Edit: Dec 17, 2007 at 21:24 by jonzr » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: Dec 17, 2007 at 23:50 »

You have to be pretty lucky to get enough O-line horses (Jordan Gross, Logan Mankins, etc.) out of the draft to be effective in Year 1.  

I've been a fairly harsh critic of Arians for junk like his two and three TE system with players that don't block well, or swapping out Kreider for Davis and trying to run between the tackles.  However, the guy I'm starting to wonder about is the O-line coach, Zeirlein, in that the existing linemen such as M. Smith, Simmons, and Starks have actually regressed since 2005.  It may prove to be Tomlin's first real coaching mistake.  

The thing that worries me about Arians, Zeirlein, and ST coach Ligashesky is that their track record elsewhere wasn't all that good with the Browns, Browns, and Rams respectively.  Heck, the Browns O-line looks a lot better this year than last.  They retooled it and drafted Joe Thomas early, but still wonder whether coaching has something to do with it as well.
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« Reply #7 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 06:42 »

I've already felt that Zeirlein is on a short leash, since he sent the entire league porno.

Figured that the team couldn't replace him that late in the game, but if he didn't prove his worth, his ass is gone.  
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« Reply #8 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 08:10 »

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You have to be pretty lucky to get enough O-line horses (Jordan Gross, Logan Mankins, etc.) out of the draft to be effective in Year 1.  
 
I agree completely that the draft wouldn't give us an instant fix. But I don't see too many other options beyond the draft. I don't want us to throw a boatload of money at a Porkchop Womack or some other mediocre vet.

Gotta start somewhere, I think. Consider the Packers. After '05, they let their starting guards go but they drafted heavily on the O-line, and started, I believe, two rookies at guard throughout '06. They had their ups and downs, but this season, the Packers line has been very good. (Of course, they have excellent tackles, and that helps!)

I also agree with you that our line coach is unimpressive, based on results. On the other hand, I think our linemen began slipping way back even in '05, so it may not be his fault, either. Good point though, about what teams these guys came from and what results they had...
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« Reply #9 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 08:21 »

Playing devil's advocate on the BA burial, are we sure it's all on him?  Ben's physical skills, heart, and desire on the field aren't questionable, but isn't he supposed to be taking on a bigger role in the offensive playcalling?  Is he making the right reads pre-snap?  Is he calling for those deep patterns looking for the big play, putting himself and his O line in a bind?

I dunno, just asking.  
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« Reply #10 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 09:06 »

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Playing devil's advocate on the BA burial, are we sure it's all on him?  Ben's physical skills, heart, and desire on the field aren't questionable, but isn't he supposed to be taking on a bigger role in the offensive playcalling?  Is he making the right reads pre-snap?  Is he calling for those deep patterns looking for the big play, putting himself and his O line in a bind?

I dunno, just asking.
Great questions. I sure don't have any answers but I bet these points you raise are a part of the problem -- how much of the problem is hard to know, I would guess.

Maybe there's a learning curve involved for Ben. Still, there are too many plays when Ben's running for his life as soon as he gets to his drop. That suggests to me that the line is just getting whooped.

My informal recall is that when Ben audibles, the play he goes to doesn't work. But I haven't paid real close attention to this.
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« Reply #11 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 09:07 »

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Ben's physical skills, heart, and desire on the field aren't questionable, but isn't he supposed to be taking on a bigger role in the offensive playcalling? Is he making the right reads pre-snap?

I've wondered that, especially since this is Ben's first year really doing that.  I'm especially curious about how he's doing calling the protections.  But I don't know how we can really know that.

The only tell-tale sign that I see is this:  When Ben's going no-huddle and calling the plays, we seem almost guarenteed to move the ball.  When we're running the regular offense, it's pretty hit-or-miss.  That would SEEM to indicate that he's getting it right.

Quote
However, the guy I'm starting to wonder about is the O-line coach, Zeirlein, in that the existing linemen such as M. Smith, Simmons, and Starks have actually regressed since 2005. It may prove to be Tomlin's first real coaching mistake.

Wondered about this as well.  I know we weren't tearing it up even in 2005, but we have definitely taken a step backwards this year.  The only exception that I would make is Starks.  I think he's actually gotten better as the season has rolled on.

I remember in 2004 when our oline actually struck fear in defenses.  This year, we couldn't even scare the Dolphins.

What bothers me, and may point to a coaching/motivation issue, is a lack of effort.  Willie Colon is terrible about quitting on plays too early, not staying with his block.  Simmons just folds sometimes on pass protection, and often does not get initial movement at the POA.  Smith?  Well, maybe it's injuries, but he looks absolutely slow and sloppy.  And don't even get me started on Mahan.  Thing is, as bad as these guys are, you can be scrappy and hard-nosed and go until the whistle blows.  We don't seem to have that fire, and that's at least partially coaching.

Quote
And one draft won't fix the OL. Gonna have to make due with what there is and hope that one of the draftees will make the starting cut. I hate to hope for the best here, but that's pretty much where we are.

I think we are two drafts away, MINIMUM, from getting the oline back to an acceptable level.  I think it's a tremendous credit to Ben and FWP that they've had the seasons that they are having, considering the amount of heat they are getting from a rather porous group up front.

Quote
Wouldn't be a bit suprised to see a staff and roster shakeup after the season. Then again, status quo won't suprise either.

So true.  But I think we're more likely to see those two things shake up than we are to see some kind of shakeup with the head man.  It seems the Steelers want to stick with a HC, but they are willing to make some moves with assistants; and, I don't see Tomlin being as "vet-loyal" as Cowher was.



 
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« Reply #12 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 10:08 »

I don't think BR is calling many of the plays except in the no huddle. And it doesn't seem, at least to me, that he is missing calling out blocking assignments. Guys, namely Smith amd Mahan(although everyone is culpable), are just getting beat one on one, on  a consistent basis. I haven't seen many people come in totally unblocked suggesting a missed assignment.

My problem with BA, is that he is still calling plays that take way to long to develope considering the OL's obvious shortcomings.

Lost in all this BS is Ben set the single season franchise record for TD passes on Sunday. He now has 29(Bradshaw '78- 28TD's). And has 2 games to spare. FWP still leads the league in rushing yards, albeit barely over LT. So something right is happening. Can you imagine what the O would be like with a dominant OL? Scary good...
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« Reply #13 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 10:25 »

I don't think we're two drafts away on OL, if we have a really good draft this year.  Rookies in bold, backups italicized.

LT - [Williams/Oher/Otah]; M. Smith.
LG - Best of: Simmons, Kemo, Mahan; the other of: Simmons, Kemo, Mahan.
C - Pollak; Mahan or Stapleton.
RG - Colon; one of Simmons, Kemo, and Mahan.
RT - Starks.

I think you do that, you have a line.  A pretty good line.  And next year, you plug in a new LG and draft some RT depth, R2 and R4-5.
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« Reply #14 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 11:48 »

I seem to recall the Browns offense being quite good the one year Arians was their offensive coordinator with a pretty shoddy group of players. I mean, Kelly Holcomb, Kevin Johnson, Dennis Northcut, Quincy Morgan and Andre Davis put up almost 600 (or something insane like that) yards of offense in a playoff game at Heinz Field.


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« Reply #15 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 12:20 »

I am not an Arians apologist, but the line play is crippling some play calling.

I have not been a fan of his offensive game plans many times this year, but you can't deny that BR is playing great and thriving in the system.

It seems to me that the o-line is getting beat one-on-one and even one-on-two way to often.

I have not see many guys come free and clear which means he is making the right line calls, but the linemen are not making the blocks.

Nothing seems smooth and crisp. Everything seems to be a struggle.
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« Reply #16 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 12:29 »

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Nothing seems smooth and crisp. Everything seems to be a struggle.

That's a good way to put it.  We seem to be "stumbling" into plays, even successful ones, rather than executing them.
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« Reply #17 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 12:32 »

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I don't think we're two drafts away on OL, if we have a really good draft this year. Rookies in bold, backups italicized.

LT - [Williams/Oher/Otah]; M. Smith.
LG - Best of: Simmons, Kemo, Mahan; the other of: Simmons, Kemo, Mahan.
C - Pollak; Mahan or Stapleton.
RG - Colon; one of Simmons, Kemo, and Mahan.
RT - Starks.

I think you do that, you have a line. A pretty good line. And next year, you plug in a new LG and draft some RT depth, R2 and R4-5.

If we end up with your mock draft, it could happen.  
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« Reply #18 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 12:40 »

Agree, DJF, and though the Browns went south the year afterward, it does reflect on Arians understanding of the passing game.  Which presumably landed him the WR Coach job with the Steelers.  It does look like he'd really prefer to run an updated version of the Rams offense, with vertical offense and Fast Willie doing an impression of Faulk.  You can get a lot of rush yards out of that type of offense, but it's not something that's familiar to the fans at Heinz.

Here's a less-than-flattering assessment of Zierlein:

http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/2007/02/07/...larry-zierlein/

I assume he came to the 'Burgh on Arians' recommendation from their pairing with the Browns and on relatively short notice.  Interesting that he's been an OL coach for virtually his entire 30 year career.  To be fair, and noted earlier, the PSO were already getting away from pure power football after 2004.

If Faneca leaves after this year, maybe the PSO bites the bullet and goes with a ZBS.  If so, they are going to need a TE that can actually block some.
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« Reply #19 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 12:58 »

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I don't think we're two drafts away on OL, if we have a really good draft this year.  Rookies in bold, backups italicized.

LT - [Williams/Oher/Otah]; M. Smith.
LG - Best of: Simmons, Kemo, Mahan; the other of: Simmons, Kemo, Mahan.
C - Pollak; Mahan or Stapleton.
RG - Colon; one of Simmons, Kemo, and Mahan.
RT - Starks.
 
Yeah, that's pretty much what I said over on ESPN in some draft talk thread.

The only caveat I added was that they snag a FA OG who would be brought in to compete (unseat) somebody and I was kinda pulling for an OC with a mean streak like Wallace.  Other than that, pretty much the same.

Oher > FA/Mahan/Simmons/Colon > Wallace > FA/Mahan/Simmons/Colon >  Starks (extended) or Smith (restructured)

If they make the right moves, they can certainly turn that group around in one season.  As long as they don't do what Cowher did for the last 3 or 4 seasons in Pittsburgh, anything should be an improvement.
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« Reply #20 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 13:09 »

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I seem to recall the Browns offense being quite good the one year Arians was their offensive coordinator with a pretty shoddy group of players. I mean, Kelly Holcomb, Kevin Johnson, Dennis Northcut, Quincy Morgan and Andre Davis put up almost 600 (or something insane like that) yards of offense in a playoff game at Heinz Field.


Greatest game ever, by the way.
I wouldn't be too quick to annoint an offense as "good" just because they lit up a Steeler secondary consisting of Charred Scott, Duhwayne Washington, Burnt Alexander and Flowers.

I don't think Cleveland has even sniffed being a top 10 offense (this year aside) since the Kosar/Byner/Mack/Slaughter era.

And, if it's not the greatest game, it's gotta be top 3, at least.
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« Reply #21 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 13:24 »

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I assume he came to the 'Burgh on Arians' recommendation from their pairing with the Browns and on relatively short notice.  Interesting that he's been an OL coach for virtually his entire 30 year career.  To be fair, and noted earlier, the PSO were already getting away from pure power football after 2004.

If Faneca leaves after this year, maybe the PSO bites the bullet and goes with a ZBS.  If so, they are going to need a TE that can actually block some.
I've often wondered if we shouldn't go to more a ZBS scheme.  The strengths of our offense aren't Kordell managing the safe passing game as Bussy batters the opposing lines.  It's Ben, making plays on the fly, with FWP zipping when he can.  Totally different dynamic, perhaps a ZBS would better serve?  

Or at least, more ZBS in the mix.  Retain some power plays and blocking schemes.  Do most ZBS teams run a pure zone scheme, or do they mix it up, a la 3-4 teams playing 4-3 sometimes?
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« Reply #22 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 13:26 »

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Nothing seems smooth and crisp. Everything seems to be a struggle.

That's a good way to put it.  We seem to be "stumbling" into plays, even successful ones, rather than executing them.
Here I am watching the lead-in to MNF, debating whether I should take the Vikes and lay the points (smartly, for once this year, I decided against...) and they're showing some nice looking Tavaris Jackson highlights.

All season, I think I watched maybe one half of a Minnesota game earlier this year and save for the usual ESPN AP highlights, haven't seen much else of them.  So, I'm actually looking forward to seeing this kid in action as a lot of the preseason talk surrounding him was that he was a "terrible" NFL QB prospect; "shouldn't be starting;" "will make a nice backup someday;" blah, blah, blah...

Shortly into the first quarter, this kid is looking pretty good.  Nice PAP; looks confident; pretty good touch on a RB screen over a couple defenders; eludes the rush on another play and hits Taylor in the flat; 5 step drop on another play...BAM!...zings it to somebody; 3 step drop...BAM!...quick shot to some dude dressed in purple posing as a WR.

THEE whole time they're doing this I'm thinking to myself, if their OC can make Jackson look intermittedly competent with a nice rhythm passing game, you mean to tell me that Arians can't do that much with a guy like #7 and weapons in #10, #86 and #83?

Sure, TJ made some bad tosses and one of his INTs looked like he was shooting a 3 pointer from the top of the arc, but I gotta say, he played much better than I expected.  And, I think a big part of that was the OC putting him in the best possible position to be effective.

Ask yourself this, when was the last time you saw a game highlight or replay where Ben was taking a 5 step drop then throwing to a spot where the WR hasn't even made his cut yet?

I sure as hell don't remember any.

Yet, I've seen QB after QB after mediocre QB make those plays over and over and over again.  I watch a lot of other games and when you see guys like Kitna or Hasselbeck or Warner or Orton or Tavaris motherfucking Jackson doing it, repeatedly, I gotta ask, "why can't Ben do it?"  If we assume he's capable, which I think is a reasonable assumption, then, it's gotta be on the guy that carries that laminated T.G.I. Friday's look-alike menu thing that's holding them back.
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« Reply #23 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 13:29 »

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I assume he came to the 'Burgh on Arians' recommendation from their pairing with the Browns and on relatively short notice.  Interesting that he's been an OL coach for virtually his entire 30 year career.  To be fair, and noted earlier, the PSO were already getting away from pure power football after 2004.

If Faneca leaves after this year, maybe the PSO bites the bullet and goes with a ZBS.  If so, they are going to need a TE that can actually block some.
I've often wondered if we shouldn't go to more a ZBS scheme.  The strengths of our offense aren't Kordell managing the safe passing game as Bussy batters the opposing lines.  It's Ben, making plays on the fly, with FWP zipping when he can.  Totally different dynamic, perhaps a ZBS would better serve?  

Or at least, more ZBS in the mix.  Retain some power plays and blocking schemes.  Do most ZBS teams run a pure zone scheme, or do they mix it up, a la 3-4 teams playing 4-3 sometimes?
I read an in-depth article somewhere (possibly football outsiders) that said that most teams run a combination but some are pure, with the Broncos given as an example of using ZBS on nearly every play and the Steelers as the team on the other end of the spectrum, virtually never going ZBS.

And yes, I have thought that Willie, being a speedy one-cut runner, would put of Terrell Davis-like numbers in a Denver system.

And I bet it wouldn't hurt Ben's numbers, either. His game is a lot like Elway's, and that fit the Denver scheme.  
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« Reply #24 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 13:50 »

I'm really not inclined to ax any coaches this year.  If Zeirlein goes, I won't cry, but even there, how much is coaching and how much is (lack of) talent?  As for BA, I think he's been inconsistent, but not outside of the Mularkey-Whisenhunt continuum.  Again: better line play, better execution of O?  

Just look at two division rivals.  The Bengals had one smooth motherfukcing offense for the Palmer years... but then they let Steinbach go, and Anderson's been hurt.  Suddenly they're playing like turds.

Opposite end: Browns couldn't get a spark going with a couple of twigs, a gallon of kerosene and a Zippo last year, and this year they add Steinbach and Thomas and get the center situation resolved: BAM, they're explosive.  

It's easy to overlook the truism that it all starts in the lines, but seeing how quickly Ben's pocket has collapsed, not just Sunday but at times all season, and seeing how our guys get blown backwards on running plays, is it any wonder the offense sputters?  Without Aaron Smith, teams gouge us running right.  Again, we need to solidify the line on D, and get better depth, or we'll see this happen more and more.

I guess you could make a case for Lig getting canned, but it's been an ongoing problem here.  I'd like to know if there's some systemic issue we're not seeing.  
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« Reply #25 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 15:34 »

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I guess you could make a case for Lig getting canned, but it's been an ongoing problem here.  I'd like to know if there's some systemic issue we're not seeing.
Agree with that, Finny.  Some teams just seem to have bad ST's year after year, so you do wonder if it's the HC, a team carrying 10 offensive linemen, or a front office that overspends on its top end and is filling out the roster (read, ST) with Div. I talent.  Who knows?

I won't throw in the towel in 2008 if the entire coaching staff returns, but would sure like to see a little less of the same ol', same ol'.  Other than injury, what we had in Week 5 looks a lot like what we have in Week 15.  Good for the Pats, not so much for the PS.

I saw the same thing, Herc, and will add that all teams have Cover 2, zone blitz, and ZBS in the playbook.  It just looks like the PSO has gone away from the strong mobile 305# linemen in favor of bigger guys that would seem more effective in the tandem ZBS blocks.  At least Tomlin knows what that stuff is supposed to look like.
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« Reply #26 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 18:06 »

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All season, I think I watched maybe one half of a Minnesota game earlier this year and save for the usual ESPN AP highlights, haven't seen much else of them.  So, I'm actually looking forward to seeing this kid in action as a lot of the preseason talk surrounding him was that he was a "terrible" NFL QB prospect; "shouldn't be starting;" "will make a nice backup someday;" blah, blah, blah...

Shortly into the first quarter, this kid is looking pretty good.  Nice PAP; looks confident; pretty good touch on a RB screen over a couple defenders; eludes the rush on another play and hits Taylor in the flat; 5 step drop on another play...BAM!...zings it to somebody; 3 step drop...BAM!...quick shot to some dude dressed in purple posing as a WR.

THEE whole time they're doing this I'm thinking to myself, if their OC can make Jackson look intermittedly competent with a nice rhythm passing game, you mean to tell me that Arians can't do that much with a guy like #7 and weapons in #10, #86 and #83?

 
I think a lot of this is due to both a tremendous running back tandem and a fantastic offensive line.  Remember what a commitment that team made, paying for Hutch, etc.

We have one really good back, one decent one, (neither as good as AD), and a shitty, shitty line (I'd trade ANY three of our linemen for Hutchinson, straight up).

Kinda apples and oranges, if you ask me.
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« Reply #27 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 18:27 »

Arians's Cleveland units ranked 31st, 23rd, and 26th in total O.

He blows.
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« Reply #28 on: Dec 18, 2007 at 20:40 »

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Arians's Cleveland units ranked 31st, 23rd, and 26th in total O.

He blows.
Yep.  I bet he cheated in college, too.
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« Reply #29 on: Dec 19, 2007 at 09:38 »

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I've often wondered if we shouldn't go to more a ZBS scheme. The strengths of our offense aren't Kordell managing the safe passing game as Bussy batters the opposing lines. It's Ben, making plays on the fly, with FWP zipping when he can. Totally different dynamic, perhaps a ZBS would better serve?

My boy switched schools this year to a team that runs ZBS.  He hates it, I hate it, and I have no idea how teams are able to make it work.  But, when you look at Denver, how can you argue with success?  I do think that one of the keys is having a quicker line--better at angles and movement rather than just whipping guys at the POA.  This would seem to fit with guys that pull very well (Simmons, Faneca) and guys that clearly can't win the battle off the ball (Mahan).  Not sure how it would play with our rather slow-footed tackles.  My boy's more of a "head-to-head" kind of player, and that's what he played up until this year, so he's really struggled with the scheme.


Quote
Ask yourself this, when was the last time you saw a game highlight or replay where Ben was taking a 5 step drop then throwing to a spot where the WR hasn't even made his cut yet?

I sure as hell don't remember any.

And this is my issue with BA.  It's the SSDD.  Same plays out of the same formations.  Same passes out of the same formations.  We're either going two runs/pass/punt when we're not running the ball well; or, we're going pass/pass/pass punt when FWP is averaging 7 a carry.

Whether it's a firing or making adjustments to what we're doing, something's got to change with the coaching, no matter how bad the oline.  You have to adjust to the personnel that you have.
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« Reply #30 on: Dec 19, 2007 at 10:36 »

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All season, I think I watched maybe one half of a Minnesota game earlier this year and save for the usual ESPN AP highlights, haven't seen much else of them.
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« Reply #31 on: Dec 19, 2007 at 10:43 »

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Still, it's not like Pittsburgh has a shitty running game; they're top 10, top 5, in the league.  If they were...the Jets or the Bears or the Packers, for example, I wouldn't be making the comparison.  Opposing teams do have to respect a big play player like #39 and very often, you'll see 7 or 8 in the box.  Basically, the same fronts that Minnesota sees.
 
I think you make a lot of great points, aj, but I for one don't think we have a good running game. Our "ranking" is a dumb, context-free stat -- measuring only yards. But yards say almost nothing.

Part of it is how often we run it. Aren't we "ranked" something like 29th in passing? Again, that's because the NFL ranks only yards.  No one would say our passing game is one of the worst in football though.

How often have we been able to go out and impose a consistent running game on a good defense outside of garbage time? I'd say it's been between rare and never.

So in my mind, we don't compare with what the Vikes are doing, IMO.

 
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« Reply #32 on: Dec 19, 2007 at 11:08 »

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Still, it's not like Pittsburgh has a shitty running game; they're top 10, top 5, in the league.  If they were...the Jets or the Bears or the Packers, for example, I wouldn't be making the comparison.  Opposing teams do have to respect a big play player like #39 and very often, you'll see 7 or 8 in the box.  Basically, the same fronts that Minnesota sees.
 
I think you make a lot of great points, aj, but I for one don't think we have a good running game. Our "ranking" is a dumb, context-free stat -- measuring only yards. But yards say almost nothing.

Part of it is how often we run it. Aren't we "ranked" something like 29th in passing? Again, that's because the NFL ranks only yards.  No one would say our passing game is one of the worst in football though.

How often have we been able to go out and impose a consistent running game on a good defense outside of garbage time? I'd say it's been between rare and never.

So in my mind, we don't compare with what the Vikes are doing, IMO.
That's fair.  

But, I'm not basing the label of "good running game" solely on stats because if that were the case, I wouldn't have said top 10, I would've said top 3 which is pretty much where they've stood, stats-wise, all year.  I'm just spouting at the mouth of where I think they stand, overall.  And, to me, I think it's around a top 10 squad.

Put it this way, when teams face Pittsburgh, do you think they come in with the mentality of "let's focus on containing their running game" or "let's focus on containing their passing game?"

As good as Ben has been this year, I think most opposing defenses still have the mindset when they face Pittsburgh of "try to control their groundgame; keep Parker from hitting the home run; and force Ben to beat you with his arm."  Same goes for teams that face Minnesota.

That's really the point I was driving at in comparing them to how Minnesota looked on MNF.  

Yes, Minnesota is better at it than Pittsburgh, but it doesn't mean that Pittsburgh can't employ a similar philosophy.
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« Reply #33 on: Dec 19, 2007 at 18:02 »

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As good as Ben has been this year, I think most opposing defenses still have the mindset when they face Pittsburgh of "try to control their groundgame; keep Parker from hitting the home run; and force Ben to beat you with his arm."  Same goes for teams that face Minnesota.

 
I disagree. I think most teams have figured out that they need to attack the LOS with run blitz/ pass blitz. Serves the dual purpose of either collapsing the pocket and/or destroying the run.  

I think most defensive coordinators now fear more of Ben's mobility and big-play ability, and are willing to at least concede some running yards.  The first half of the Monday night game against the Ravens pretty much sealed that fact.  Willie got nowhere, but the Ravens got torched for TD pass after TD pass, all on national television. Think the league's defensive coordinators didn't take note?

And how has Ben and the O fared since? He's had success, but the sacks have now come fast and furious, as defensive coordinators for such crack defensive squads as the Jets have unleashed the hounds.  

Note that Parker has cracked the century mark the past few games, but it didn't matter, because we still lost. Ben has had to deal with tons of pressure, because everyone in the league knows our O-line blows. He's made plays and kept them in games, but how many times has he had a wave of defenders wash over him, leading to a major yardage loss? How many times have we seen Ben trying to operate in 3rd and +15 situations?

As for Minnesota, NO ONE fears their passing attack, everyone is selling out to stop their running attack, and NO ONE is stopping it. That's a credit to how solid that O-line is..
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« Reply #34 on: Dec 20, 2007 at 10:21 »

I think AJs point is pretty simple:  Minnesota at least LOOKS like they know what they're doing in the passing game, even with Jackson at QB.  There are plays where Minnesota looked very polished:  Drop, look throw.  Play-action, roll, throw.  Play-action, turn, throw to the spot.  Granted, at other times, they looked like a train wreck.  But what AJ is saying (and I agree):  If you can do that with Jackson, why not Ben?

BTW, I'm sure that most of you see the point or agree with it.  I THINK I can say that AJ and I just feel that it's as much coaching/gameplanning as it is personnel, moreso than others on the board.

When Ben goes back, I'm just hoping he doesn't get killed.  I think he's starting to feel the same way.  Looks like he's developing happy feet.  It's usually a case of waiting for him to break loose and run or buy time to throw it to someone.  It all looks very "choppy," as if they're just depending on Ben to make plays rather than providing him a game plan to help him succeed.  I think that we need to make some serious improvments in personnel, but also in the coaching staff if we want the Franchise (as in Ben) to keep progressing.

It also raises another question:  Do we have guys on the roster who can actually get OPEN?
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« Reply #35 on: Dec 20, 2007 at 11:48 »

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I think AJs point is pretty simple:  Minnesota at least LOOKS like they know what they're doing in the passing game, even with Jackson at QB.  There are plays where Minnesota looked very polished:  Drop, look throw.  Play-action, roll, throw.  Play-action, turn, throw to the spot.  Granted, at other times, they looked like a train wreck.  But what AJ is saying (and I agree):  If you can do that with Jackson, why not Ben?

BTW, I'm sure that most of you see the point or agree with it.  I THINK I can say that AJ and I just feel that it's as much coaching/gameplanning as it is personnel, moreso than others on the board.

When Ben goes back, I'm just hoping he doesn't get killed.  I think he's starting to feel the same way.  Looks like he's developing happy feet.  It's usually a case of waiting for him to break loose and run or buy time to throw it to someone.  It all looks very "choppy," as if they're just depending on Ben to make plays rather than providing him a game plan to help him succeed.  I think that we need to make some serious improvments in personnel, but also in the coaching staff if we want the Franchise (as in Ben) to keep progressing.

It also raises another question:  Do we have guys on the roster who can actually get OPEN?
Bin-go.

You pretty much summed up nicely in one post what I've failed miserably to get across in multiple babble filled posts.

Yeah, the fact that Minnesota's ground game is probably best in the league takes some pressure off their passing attack, but I find it hard to believe that with Pittsburgh's running attack, the Steelers can't manage to put together any sort of rhythm/timing passing attack.  As you intimated, everything (save for a hanful of exceptions per game) looks like it was drawn up in the dirt with a branch and a twig.  Lastly, when in doubt, go deep.  Horrible prescription for a leaky front five.  

I think tonight will be another opportunity to further illustrate my point.  The Rams are down what, 3 starting offensive linemen?  Should be a field day for the defense.  But, because their passing offense is based on a lot of timing, precision routes and quick developing plays, I'm willing to bet that the Rams will have a decent amount of success through the air.  They'll put the ball in the hands of their playmakers and ask them to make plays in space.

Plus, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if Pittsburgh continues to struggle throwing the ball (short of maybe some broken, big play bombs downfield) against a very mediocre defensive squad.  

I like Pittsburgh FTW tonight, but it'll be closer than it should be.  In case you haven't figured it out by now, I like the Rams (+7.5).
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« Reply #36 on: Dec 20, 2007 at 12:12 »

I think both perspectives in the thread are basically right:

1.) I don't think our running game is particularly effective or fearful.

2.) Our offense would benefit GREATLY from timing plays, quick slants, short passes in general where Ben drops back, sets his feet, and throws the ball.

As I've said elsewhere, that I like Arians's aggressive down-the-field mentality, and I think this plays to Ben's strengths, but it seems like #1, it's all we do, and #2 our O-Line stinks and is ill-equipped to handle the slow development that these long passes require.

I wonder if part of the problem is this: Maybe Ben's not that accurate a short passer? He seems at his best throwing a 15-yard strike. Seems like his bombs tend to be toss-ups and his short passes just plain inaccurate. But again, could be all about what he's asked to do.

And while I'm not as down on Arians as others are, he sometimes seems like he would be Mike Martz if the head coach didn't reign him in.
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« Reply #37 on: Dec 20, 2007 at 15:48 »

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In case you haven't figured it out by now, I like the Rams (+7.5).
Good...Bet big AJ. ;)
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« Reply #38 on: Dec 20, 2007 at 23:19 »

Better play calling tonight, aided by run push from the OL.  Willie would have had 200+ with those holes, not to take anything away from Noodgie.

Liked the play action, liked the subtle misdirection.  First possession of the second half was beautiful; I don't think we faced a third down that entire drive.

Ben was locked in from the get go, obviously.  
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« Reply #39 on: Dec 21, 2007 at 08:57 »

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In case you haven't figured it out by now, I like the Rams (+7.5).
Good...Bet big AJ. ;)
Your welcome, folks.
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« Reply #40 on: Dec 21, 2007 at 10:38 »

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In case you haven't figured it out by now, I like the Rams (+7.5).
Good...Bet big AJ. ;)
Your welcome, folks.
You're liking the Ravens, whatever the line, right?  Please?
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« Reply #41 on: Dec 21, 2007 at 12:05 »

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In case you haven't figured it out by now, I like the Rams (+7.5).
Good...Bet big AJ. ;)
Your welcome, folks.
You're liking the Ravens, whatever the line, right?  Please?
Too early to really say at this point, but I'd probably roll with the Ravens and the points if it's a double digit spread; anywhere in the 7.5 to 9.5 area would be a toss up.

All of this presumes Ben is healthy and plays and/or the game means anything to Pittsburgh.
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