Sunday, October 30, 2011

Quick Preview and My Big Mouth.

Ok, just found out that Hines Ward is out against the Patriots.  Dang, I really didn't mean it.  Seriously, I thought we could see a Steelers' win even without Hines, but it would be helpful to have another option.  Now, the young receiving corps better step it up big against the Patriots later today, but to do that, it's not just getting open and catching passes from Ben.  The Steelers' offensive line needs to protect Ben in order to let him succeed and keep drives alive.  In addition, the running game needs to get on track against the Pats' defense, even with a struggling Pats defense because when you have the running game shifted into high gear, it puts a lot of pressure on the other team in terms of time of possession and relieving said pressure on your team's quarterback.  Ben can run and extend plays, but he needs to find open receivers to stay alive and keep the ball out of Tom Brady's hands.  Albert Haynesworth, one of two big additions for the Pats in the offseason, hasn't been a big factor but with the way the run game has been for the Steelers lately, this is his chance to make an impact.  The Steelers' coaching staff needs to protect Ben otherwise it will be a long day for him.  Overall, the Steelers' offense needs to run on all cylinders and not turn the ball over, otherwise the Patriots will shred the Steelers again.

Defensively, again without James Harrison and just saw on CBS that James Farrior's out too.  Things have been okay defensively for the Steelers the past few weeks, but now they face a much better offense in the Pats.  The defensive front needs to not only put pressure on Brady, but also force him to make mistakes and sack him.  The Patriots have always been able to protect Brady well enough to let him make passes that lead to game-winning drives. His receiving corps is deadly, with Welker being the main factor.  Rob Gronkowski is also a major part of the offense as he's another option for Brady as his main tight end.  Chad Johnson is also going to be there, and while he hasn't been able to get on track this season, like Haynesworth, Chad will look to be a factor because he's played for years against the Steelers as a Bengal, and he'll see this as motivation to have a big day.  The Steelers defensive backfield needs to make sure they're all clicking like clockwork in order to stop the Pats, not letting the receivers get yards after the catch.  Ike needs to be careful, otherwise those penalties he got last week against the Cardinals will bite the Steelers in the end.  Troy Polamalu also needs to be an impact on defense, whether it's stopping Welker and the passing game or the run game.  Lamarr Woodley needs to step up his game big time and this is his shot to show that he isn't just feasting on less potent opposing offenses.  In short, the Steelers' defense has its chance to finally get over the hump, so to speak, against Belichick and Brady's Patriots, and use this as motivation to win another Super Bowl.

Special teams is also a factor, as Welker is dangerous in that area too.  The Steelers have been able to protect the ball and stop opposing teams' special teams, but they still need to keep it up against the Pats as field position will be crucial in this game.  We'll see how the Steelers respond today.

Overall, I do wish Hines was playing, really I do.  He has a chance to join an exclusive club, 12,000 career yards, but not today.  I know I said the Steelers could win without him and we don't need him today.  He can still be a factor later in the season, but it's best he doesn't play today to save him for later to prevent further injury.  Still, if he was healthy, he would be another key weapon for Ben's game.  Today, though, it's about the young receivers, Heath Miller, the running game, and the defense.  Ben needs to step up big game and show he's ready to lead this team again to a championship.  Hopefully it'll be much closer than last season's practical blowout in Pittsburgh, but I hope it's a Steelers win, 38-30.

Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Again the Late Recap but To the Point.

Alright, alright, I know.  Late recap again of the previous week's game.  So I was feeling really high and let real life settle in.  The game was nearly perfect.  Nearly, cause the running game for the Steelers was anemic against the Cardinals' defense.  Ben, though, picked up the slack with a bomb to Mike Wallace and a couple other TD passes to go with it.  Ben's really picked it up since opening day.  Antonio Brown had a sick one-handed grab that really showed the Steelers have something going.  Granted, it was against bad teams mostly, but he's done very well.  Tomlin and Arians have done better in terms of the passing game, with the exception of the Jags game I didn't get to see.  Still, the Steelers' offensive line have to do a better job against the Patriots tomorrow to allow Ben to do his thing.  Hines Ward's out I think tomorrow, since he's been listed as questionable but we won't miss him cause his presence is always felt.  He's Myron Cope to the players as Cope was to the general citizens of Steeler Nation.  Still, it'd be nice to see him play tomorrow cause he's really helped the young receivers step up, as we've seen lately with them.  Hines is really important in the passing game, and I hope he'll still be important after his playing days are done.

Defensively, wow.  What can I say?? It seems a totally different team even without James Harrison.  Lamarr Woodley, man, what a beast he's been lately.  A safety he got after forcing Kevin Kolb to have an intentional grounding, to go along with sacks.  The defensive line has done well in terms of putting pressure on the opposing quarterback, but the run defense still concerns me.  They haven't really faced powerful runners in a while and I hope when they face an even competent running team, that they'll be able to respond well.  Ike Taylor has to be careful cause he went overboard in his physicality.  Nothing wrong with it, just he needs to be careful in terms of getting penalized and he needs to do his job as a cornerback without getting flagged.  As for the rest, eh.  They did well but we'll see how they respond to the Patriots' passing game.

Special teams was alright, just keep the ball safe and not let anyone attempt to block a kick, a punt, or force a turnover of any kind.

Overall, nice game. Now we need to see how they do tomorrow against the Patriots.  Hopefully, they can keep it up and stop the Pats.

Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Late Recap Again/Preview

Sorry guys, but I didn't recap cause of real life and the fact I didn't get to see the game. Am I happy they won?  Yes and no. Why? They did get the W, but they actually should have lost to the Jaguars after they let them come back from being down 17-0.  Sure, the Steelers' run game got back on track again, with Rashard Mendenhall being a 100-yd game back again after a while, but the offense from what I saw/read just sputtered.  The defense did do well, but actually could have done more in terms of impact.  The entire team cannot expect to just let teams come back and still hope to hold on for a win.  The Steelers were up by almost twenty points at halftime, and nearly lost.  I can only hope the Steelers team gets it together against the Cardinals today.  The offense needs to stop going for the deep throw all the time, and actually manage the game.  Yes, stay aggressive but let's not go overboard.

Speaking of the Cardinals, it's a rematch between two Super Bowl contenders from a couple years ago.  The Steelers' D needs to come out and finish strong to stop the deadly Larry Fitzgerald.  Yeah, Kevin Kolb's essentially a rookie since he got traded from the Eagles because this is his first year being named as the starter from day one.  He's done alright, all things considered, since the Cardinals went through the QB carousel all of last season.  He's been stable, and the Eagles did draft him some years back thinking he was a star in the making.  Maybe, but until then, the Steelers defense have to be strong and not let him be successful with the ball, whenever they face him.  The Steelers may be doing better statistically in the passing game, but the run defense still needs some work and they need to step it up again with Casey Hampton out and James Harrison not yet coming back, whereas Aaron Smith is again not finishing the season due to injury.  Things are okay, at least, cause Troy Polamalu will start despite having a concussion, as medical doctors cleared him and it doesn't appear too serious.  Hopefully Troy can make an impact again, and maybe the defense overall can force some turnovers finally.  We shall see.

On offense, as mentioned, there has to be less tendency to throw the deep ball.  Mike Wallace can catch in whatever way, long, short, medium.  If he's not open, then don't throw it to him.  Find the open receiver, even a running back.  Don't just hold the ball long and hope for a big play.  Ben needs to stay alive and keep the ball out of the opposing team's hands.  Stay upright and find the open receiver or throw the ball away.  The O-line is again banged up with Doug Legursky being injured but on the team section I just saw on Y! Sports, he's not out so that's a good sign.  The offensive line needs to protect Ben and open running lanes.  Speaking of Ben, he just said in an article from the Steelers' official website that he wants the no-huddle being used more often.  That should be at least attempted, if not outright used.  Time to throw in some wrinkles to keep opposing defenses guessing.  Keep the ball longer and win the time of possession battle.  Don't let the other team get a chance. The offense needs to start clicking and beat down teams.

Special teams, again field position and protecting the punter and kicker.  Let's see something good out of the team's special teams unit.

Hopefully the Steelers win again, but it'll be close.  Steelers win 26-17.

Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Late, late recap from last week. Very short preview today.

Sorry for the lateness, guys.  Just happy that the Steelers actually protected Ben, and having Max Starks actually made a difference. No doubt we're hoping for the same today against the Jaguars.  Run game was good, but can Mendenhall get back on track? Don't know, don't care.  Just win, guys, and you do it by protecting Ben and opening running lanes.  Redman and Dwyer both looked good, so hopefully Mendenhall will get the same.  Regardless of the records, the Jags will look to go after Ben and stop the running game.  They'll also look to stop the passing game, so hopefully Ben and the offense will still function well.  We saw what they could do when the offense goes running in a balanced, efficient manner.  Hopefully it'll be the same today.

Steelers' defense wasn't bad.  Ok, things were out of hand for the Titans, and Chris Johnson wasn't able to run, but the defense did fine in the passing game, and the front did fine even without James Harrison.  Hopefully the defense can still do well against Maurice Jones-Drew, he's a freak of nature running back.  The Steelers D needs to stop him, and prevent Blaine Gabbert from looking like a superstar by pressuring him and forcing him to make mistakes.  The defense was able to do well against the Titans last week, and a bit of luck was also good for the team too.  Let's hope the Steelers D will get on track again for the second straight week.

Special teams needs to wake up.  Seriously, don't let the opposing team's guys break through and block field goal kicks and punt attempts, otherwise there won't be a penalty that will call back those touchdowns as we saw the past two weeks.  And don't let the opposing team recover onside kicks.  Just lucky the Steelers were able to pull away, so the Steelers' special teams needs to be on its best behavior game wise and make the plays needed to win.

All in all, better last week.  Hope for the same today.  Beat the Jags, Steelers.  Let's get on track.  It'll be close, since these two teams always play close.  I believe it'll be close again, and it'll be a Steelers' win 21-13.

Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Steelers-Texans Recap: Bad and Ugly. Nothing Good.

Oi vey!  Maybe I shouldn't put up previews on game day since the Steelers actually won their games when I previewed at least the day before the game.  It's probably because I put up the preview on the day of the Steelers game against the Texans.

Damn is all I can say with disgust.  The O-line was obviously a mess as we saw Ben get sacked 5 times, lose the ball during one of those sacks (though that was wiped out by a Texans penalty), Ben running for his life pretty much all game and the running game is again nonexistent.  Worse, Ben has a sprained foot when I watched ESPN, but that's actually better than a broken foot when this was first reported.  Ben might have had a broken one and it would've been significant, but the MRI results yesterday was negative so it's good news.  Rashard Mendenhall is also dealing with an injury but maybe those two should sit this one out, even though they are competitors.  I'm just worried for the rest of their seasons, even their careers further down the line.  That O-line is just a mess, and Tomlin needs to figure out how to make this work.  Hindsight is 20/20, and the organization is now wishing they at least kept Flozell Adams or signed another lineman before the season started.  Also, what is Bruce Arians doing not running the ball even once on their next to last drive?  All three were passes, and nothing.  Ben shouldn't have to keep running for his life.  It's like when I read a column from Y! Sports, Ben should just let his teammates make plays.  Throw the ball but not really long.  Make short and middle throws, or just run when there's pressure bearing down on him.  Those things will really help Ben survive.  Overall, we have to see if Tomlin can get the offense going against the Titans, cause that team is definitely improving and the O-line is just ripe for the Titans' pickings.

Speaking of the Titans, Chris Johnson is looking to have the same kind of day Arian Foster had this past Sunday.  The Steelesr let a running back have at least 100 yards rushing for the second time in four games.  Ray Rice was the other in the first game of the season.  The Steelers defensive line is just awful right now, with only one turnover I can recall forced by that line and not a whole lot of sacks.  This is concerning.  Yeah, they're old and deteriorating in skills, but this is a veteran unit that should know how to make plays even with those factors.  Lamarr Woodley isn't even a factor.  The linebacking corps isn't any better, actually the defensive backfield isn't all that great.  Troy hasn't made a pick or sack yet, and there moments where he could have made a big play but didn't, with Foster's big second-half TD run being the most obvious.  The odd thing is that the passing defense is statistically better while the run defense is worse.  At least we saw promise from Keenan Lewis.  I actually can't see any positives from either side of the ball.  The defense didn't get shredded any further because of Andre Johnson's freakish injury, which is just odd of how it happened but it really kept him out of the game.  Speaking of injury, Aaron Smith is also dealing with a foot problem for the Steelers, and now we better hope the young guys step up.  The Steelers defense needs to get motivated, or at least better prepared because that usually reliable unit isn't getting it done so far this season.  Tomlin and LeBeau better figure out what to do with this unit, or it will be a longer season.

Special teams....geez, how lucky is it that the Texans got themselves a lot of penalties that kept the Steelers in the game?  I still don't get how the Steelers couldn't keep the Texans from even reaching the ball.  That blocked field goal shouldn't have even happened.  A lot of things have gone wrong for the Steelers in that game, and the coaching staff needs to keep them motivated.  More importantly, health is vital and Ben, even when injured, needs to be the leader since he is the face of the franchise.  The same can be said for Troy, or even Harrison and Woodley.  Those guys need to lead this team, and the Steelers need to pull it together before things get even more out of hand.

I still believe in this team, but it's getting harder.  It's one game at a time now, and it starts with the Titans.  Let's hope the Steelers get back on track this upcoming Sunday.

Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Steelers v. Texans: Key Matchup

Another AFC South team the Steelers face, and this one is more dangerous than the Colts.  Simply because they actually have their starting QB healthy, and Matt Schaub isn't a slouch at all.  Sure he's not Brady or Peyton, but he's been statistically successful and he's got plenty of weapons in man beast receiver Andre Johnson and tight end Owen Daniels, along with Arian Foster who is gimpy but still dangerous as running back, along with Ben Tate who has carried the load when Foster was out.  The Texans offense is dangerous, and the Steelers need to not only blitz the QB, but also be able to cover the Texans' receiving corps and stop the run.  Last week, the Colts were able to run the ball on the Steelers D-line, and there were moments where the Colts actually would have won the game with wide open receivers, just with QB Curtis Painter not getting a lot of reps.  Hopefully Troy shows up again, and the Steelers linebackers and defensive line put pressure and stuff the Texans' running game, especially with Brett Keisel out.  As usual, I'm worried about the Steelers defensive backfield, so let's hope they step up a lot.

On offense, oy!  The offensive line got blasted last week in Indy, and injuries again force an O-line shuffle.  Doug Legursky and Johnathan Scott are out.  Trai Essex at left tackle and Ramon Foster at right guard.  Maurkice Pouncey, ouch, he's questionable but I think he should play.  If not, oh boy.  The O-line needs to be able to give Ben time to throw the ball as he got hammered again last week, not to mention the running game had been practically nonexistent last week.  Let's hope the Steelers get that going and fast.  Also, Ben shouldn't have to keep looking downfield, but Bruce Arians' playcalling as offensive coordinator has been questionable.  Play-action's great, but let's not keep throwing downfield as we saw against the Colts last week, short to medium throws helped a lot to put the Steelers in position to win the game, and that put the pressure off Ben.  Some more of those throws will help set up not only the deep game but also the running game.  In any case, let's hope the Steelers offense can finally click on all cylinders and let it set the momentum for the rest of the season.

Special teams, eh, what else but stop the Texans from getting even decent field position and the Steelers put themselves in good field position.  Shawn Suisham kicked the game-winning field goal but he better make all of his kicks, otherwise he'll start to feel the heat from Pittsburgh.  All in all, get a well-rounded game going, guys.

I'm always going Steelers, but it'll be close again, with the Steelers winning 24-16.  I just hope to not have anymore heart attacks this week, but the Steelers aren't going to blow away teams unless they play near perfect football.  Let's hope the Steelers start moving today.

Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go!

Recap: The Finale. BUCS LOSE.

Pirates 3, Brewers 7
Yes, this recap is late, sorry about that. Not a great way to end the season, but against a playoff team, not getting swept might be considered a victory. As much as I hate to say it, the Brewers look like a very complete team and have a good chance to go all the way this year. I think Phillies-Brewers for the NLCS should be an interesting matchup, although I'll still root for the DBacks, Rays, and Tigers to make it to the Fall Classic.

As for this game, Neil Walker was the only real offense of note, as he went 2 for 4 with 2 doubles. Derrek Lee also had a double, possibly his last hit in a Pirates uniform. Jeff Locke took the loss after giving up 5 ER in 4.0 innings. He gave up 3 home runs in the process. Sorry kid, but you're not quite ready to stick in the majors just yet. Maybe in a couple more years.