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Author Topic: Biggest Concerns about the SB - Rank 'em  (Read 580 times)
Manimal
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« on: Jan 27, 2009 at 11:12 »

Here are my biggest fears about this matchup. For me, this list is ranked in terms of the concern and how likely I think it will be a factor:

1. Grimm knows LeBeau. You could argue that no human being on Earth knows more about how to block LeBeau's scheme than the guy whose men practiced against it for three years. If we can't rush the passer, or force 'Zona to commit to protection more than they want to, it could turn into a shootout, fast.

2. Special Teams. We could thump 'em on offense and defense but two big screwups on Special Teams could lose the game for us. The coverage units had an excellent regular season, but have given up big plays in each playoff game. Not a promising trend.

3. Ward will be a nonfactor. Two weeks to prepare should help the team look more capable of dealing with a diminished or absent Ward. But they were clearly in trouble without Ward against Baltimore.

4. Arizona runs the ball well. I think this is highly unlikely, but if they do run it well, I think we will lose the game. Here's the scenario I think could play out: LeBeau puts a small defense on the field to gear up to stop their passing attack, but the Cards then stay patient and take what the Steelers' D is conceding. In the past, we have used this strategy (against the Bengals and Colts, most notably) and those guys obliged us by going pass-wacky anyway. Whisenhunt may be smarter than that. We may need to be able to stop their run with just 2 down linemen on many plays.

5. Fitzgerald will be huge. I have this concern ranked so low because I assume that Fitzgerald will make some plays. I think he will get over 100 receiving yards for the game. What I mean here is that he has a monster game and has 100 by halftime.

6. Our offensive line stinks the joint up. This unit has improved and I have a gut feeling that they will be one of the top stories of the game. But if our running backs are constantly evading tacklers in the backfield, or Ben doesn't quite evade the grasp of several sack attempts, our offense could very serioulsy flounder. And we may not make the big plays this time to bail out the overall inefficiency.

7. Our DBs drop two or more easy picks. This could seriously be the difference between opening a blowout or the Cards staying in it.

8. Pass Interference. Fitz is so big and physical that he can often look like he's being interfered with even if he's not. A couple of these calls go against us, as they did against Baltimore, and it could ruin an otherwise stellar defensive performance.

9. Trick Plays. We beat 'em but they fool us a couple of times.

10.. No Big Plays. Our offense just fails to make any. I don't know that our offense is consistent enough to score without a few game-breakers.
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Finnegans Wake
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« Reply #1 on: Jan 27, 2009 at 11:19 »

For me, it comes down to two things.

One, they load the box and open the floodgates, getting FWP behind the LOS, shooting gaps and getting through unblocked for sacks.  Our OL seems better matched to big, slow maulers (see Eagles game).  If Adrian Wilson is up in the box early and often, Ben HAS to find a way to make them pay by getting shis shots downfield.

Two, it seems like these Steelers like the Rocky thing.  If we get up early, we tend to go to sleep.  But come out and lay 7 on us, and we get pissed.  Problem is, if the Cards do come out and have some early success, I'm not convinced we'll be consistent enough on O (esp. with a 75% Ward) to really erode a big early lead.
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aj_law
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« Reply #2 on: Jan 27, 2009 at 11:32 »

Very, very quickly, my biggest concerns ATM are as follows:

(1) Turnovers - Against an "opportunistic defense," they simply can't afford to spot 'em points/field position/time of possession/etc.  This isn't a breakthrough though.  Winning the turnover battle is usually a significant predictor of victory.

(2) Offensive line's effectiveness - If you've been watching this team for more than a few weeks, you don't need this one explained to you.  When they play well, the Steelers roll.  When there's a lot of standing around, hands on hips with a buncha "ah, SHIT!" facial expressions, that usually means the O is in for a long day and #7 has to work some serious magic.

(3) Ben's effectiveness - Just...be you, man.  Don't fuckin' worry about "atoning" for XL or any of that other crap.  Just...play the game and be yourself.  Be confident.  Be smart.  Be patient.

(4) Punting/Returns - I've limited this concern from "Special Teams" to just punting and returns as I believe that it's the group's only real weakness.  FGs are solid.  Coverage groups are good as well.  It's just the punting and the PR/KR that make you hold your breath.  

(5) Hines' health - I'm going to be very surprised if he is productive in this game.  Fully expect him to play, no doubt.  I just don't see him being a big force in the passing game.  If he has to plant/cut on that right leg, I expect his routes to end up looking very rounded.  Will likely still be a big factor in the run game (i.e. blocking) though so maybe they can work some deceptive magic into the passing game from that.  We'll see.

As an aside, I still find it amazing that this team has managed to get balls deep in the playoffs with a Pop Warner punter; an inconsistent, average to below average O-line; a sputtering running game; a tree stump of an OC; and virtually no KR/PR game whatsoever.  It's really a testament to the defense and how clutch #7 has been this year when push comes to shove.

C'mon guys, put it together and make it go.  One more game.
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steelerfaninCO
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« Reply #3 on: Jan 27, 2009 at 12:43 »

My big concern is if the offense fails to score TD's when they get in the RZ. The Cards O is going to get their yards and points, and its probably not out of the question to assume that the Cards can and will get around the max the D has allowed this season, which is 24 points. So, the Steelers are probably going to need 24+ points, which means they are going to have to score TD's. They can't afford to kick FG's when they get down there. BA usually doesn't have too many problems moving the ball between the 20's, but can really shat the bed in the RZ (like the 1st SD game). Yeah sure, Ben can't turn it over and all that, but the offense is going to need to score points. Especially since the longer the Cards are winning or are close, the more they will believe they can actually win.
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Preacherman0
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« Reply #4 on: Jan 27, 2009 at 14:32 »

Turnovers.  #1.  Maybe the only one.
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« Reply #5 on: Jan 27, 2009 at 15:02 »

In general, too, I just worry that the Steelers won't match the Cardinals' energy at the start of the game.

Tomlin better make sure this team understands that we don't win by just showing up and that if we're not totally prepared, focused, and jacked up by the time the ball is kicked off, we'll lose in embarassing fashion. He has to make them believe that.

I agree with AJ in the thread above that it's amazing D and QB play that got a team with this many problems this deep in the Super Bowl. Personally, I have to confess that I think the Steelers got some serious lucky breaks with the seeding -- which I am convinced has continued up to this game. We played teams who beat teams who, I think, were better, three rounds in a row now.

The Cardinals are very beatable but they have some matchups that could give the Steelers problems.
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steelerfaninCO
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« Reply #6 on: Feb 01, 2009 at 20:01 »

My big concern is if the offense fails to score TD's when they get in the RZ. The Cards O is going to get their yards and points, and its probably not out of the question to assume that the Cards can and will get around the max the D has allowed this season, which is 24 points. So, the Steelers are probably going to need 24+ points, which means they are going to have to score TD's. They can't afford to kick FG's when they get down there. BA usually doesn't have too many problems moving the ball between the 20's, but can really shat the bed in the RZ (like the 1st SD game). Yeah sure, Ben can't turn it over and all that, but the offense is going to need to score points. Especially since the longer the Cards are winning or are close, the more they will believe they can actually win.

They've got to score in the effing RZ. I was afraid of this. BA just has no idea how score inside the 20. Hopefully these 2 missed chances don't come back to hurt...Effing QB draw..
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