Know Thy Enemy: Minnesota Vikings

 Posted by at 12:16 pm  Game Preview, Linebackers, Running Backs, Secondary  Comments Off on Know Thy Enemy: Minnesota Vikings
Sep 272013
 

steelers standing

There’s a sight rarer than Todd Haley’s El Camino Comet, the Blood Moon, and a solar eclipse all rolled into one. Yes, the Cleveland Browns can say they are ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the standings. In a bit of scheduled irony, the Browns’ victim last Sunday is this week’s opponent for the Black and Gold. Let’s hope for a similar result because I really don’t think I could live with losing to a team that lost to Cleveland.

The Minnesota Vikings are not a particularly good team. Then again, neither are the Steelers since we’re both 0-3. Complicating matters is the game will be played at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Minny has been overseas since Tuesday while Mike Tomlin and crew decided to hop a red-eye last night in order to arrive in London on Friday morning (their time). Hopefully, this is one strategy which pays off. Continue reading »

Ben Roethlisberger Calls Out Le’Veon Bell

 Posted by at 4:39 am  Big Ben, Le'Veon Bell  Comments Off on Ben Roethlisberger Calls Out Le’Veon Bell
Sep 262013
 

LeVeon-Bell

The Pittsburgh Steelers have high expectations for running back Le’Veon Bell. They clearly hope they’ve finally found their Next Bus. In the meantime, if they need to find their prized rookie, they’ll need to look underneath a bus. That’s where he’s been tossed by none other than starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

On his weekly radio show (which is quickly becoming the source of more hilarity than a Mike Tomlin press conference), Big Ben was asked about Bell’s impending insertion into the starting line-up this Sunday against the Vikings. In the latest example of a Black and Gold team divided, Ben’s response was less enthusiastic. Here’s his full answer: Continue reading »

Week 3 Recap: Still Winless In 2013

 Posted by at 4:23 am  Antonio Brown, Big Ben, Recaps, Running Backs  Comments Off on Week 3 Recap: Still Winless In 2013
Sep 232013
 

footballbearsvssteelen7pjq

During the preseason they just didn’t care. Nothing went right in week one. Last Monday, a laughable running game combined with a porous offensive line to spell doom. So whose turn would it be to crap the bed this week?

Ben Roethlisberger, come on down!

The Pittsburgh Steelers remained winless in 2013 – counting preseason – falling to the Chicago Bears 40-23 on Sunday Night Football. On the positive side, the offense finally showed some signs of life. As expected, the return of Heath Miller opened things up in both the running and passing games. Unfortunately, the Black and Gold found yet another way to lose as they’ve become seemingly allergic to success.

When did we become the Cleveland Browns? Continue reading »

Know Thy Enemy: Da Bears

 Posted by at 11:47 am  Game Preview, Injury Report  Comments Off on Know Thy Enemy: Da Bears
Sep 202013
 

 47f40_kristin-cavallari-jay-cutler-through-the-years-2-1024x698-e1327326374597

The Pittsburgh Steelers play their second nation game in as many weeks when they host the Chicago Bears on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.  Da Bears are 2-0 after two razor close wins over the Bungles and Vikings. The Steelers are… Well, no need to rehash the state of misery the Black and Gold have found themselves in after a truly wretched start to the season.

In the past 23 years, only 22 teams that started 0-2 have made the playoffs. During that same time frame, a grand total of 3 have made it after starting 0-3. So as bad as the Steelers have looked the first two games, there could still be hope if they win this week. That’s because after this week their schedule softens considerably – Jets, Bills, Raiders, two games against the Browns, who all but raised a white flag over the Factory of Sadness by trading Trent Richardson on Wednesday – to the point we could look up two months from now and find ourselves 5-5. Then it’s just a matter of getting hot down the stretch.

But for all that to happen, the Steelers must – MUST – beat the Bears. Continue reading »

Heath Miller Nearing Return, Bell Not So Much

 Posted by at 11:33 am  Heath Miller, Injury Report, Le'Veon Bell  Comments Off on Heath Miller Nearing Return, Bell Not So Much
Sep 192013
 

122412-1-NFL-Steelers-Heath-Miller-OB-PI_20121224170833590_660_320

The Pittsburgh Steelers released their injury report on Tuesday and for once the news was optimistic.  The news got even better yesterday with word All-Pro tight end Heath Miller has returned to full practice with signs pointing toward a possible return Sunday night against the Chicago Bears.

Meanwhile, rookie running back Le’Veon Bell continues to work through his Lisfranc injury with an expectation that he’ll “ramp up” his participation. While Bell has been limited at practice, it looks like he’s well on the way to returning to a regular activity providing everything goes smoothly this week. Continue reading »

Heath Miller Activated Off PUP

 Posted by at 12:33 pm  Heath Miller, Injury Report  Comments Off on Heath Miller Activated Off PUP
Sep 042013
 

122412-1-NFL-Steelers-Heath-Miller-OB-PI_20121224170833590_660_320

Lost among all the activity surrounding the 53 man roster was news that Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl tight end Heath Miller has been activated off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Don’t get too excited over the prospect of shouting “HEEEEAATTTTH” after a clutch third down catch yet, though. Heath is still working his way back from the catastrophic knee injury he suffered in last year’s season finale. This is more or less a procedural move.

Under the NFL’s bizarre injury policies, players on the PUP can’t do anything but lay on the training table and stand around the sideline. For Miller to actually practice with the team, he needed to be placed on the active roster. Until he puts on the pads and starts throwing blocks and running routes, I wouldn’t expect to see him in the starting line-up anytime soon. Continue reading »

Heath Miller To Miss First Month Of Season?

 Posted by at 5:50 am  Heath Miller, Injury Report, Tight Ends  Comments Off on Heath Miller To Miss First Month Of Season?
Aug 212013
 

122412-1-NFL-Steelers-Heath-Miller-OB-PI_20121224170833590_660_320

The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t played a single meaningful game this season and we’re already deeply concerned about their injury situation. To review, the Black and Gold have suffered a rash of injuries that has decimated depth to at secondary, running back, and tight end.  The good news, that is if you believe the updates given out by incorrigible liar Mike Tomlin, is that many of those players will be back before long.

One who may not be is Heath Miller. Continue reading »

Steelers Sign Spaeth: Super Bowl Is Ours

 Posted by at 4:42 am  Free Agency, Heath Miller, Roster Moves  Comments Off on Steelers Sign Spaeth: Super Bowl Is Ours
Mar 182013
 

There are thirty-two teams in the National Football League. According the Pittsburgh Steelers, there is but only one. At least, that’s the impression one sometimes gets from the moves they make. The Steelers have signed five free agents thus far, two played for them last year (Larry Foote and Plaxico Burress) and another two were longtime Steelers who played elsewhere in recent years (William Gay and the recently signed Matt Spaeth).

The only non-Steeler to be signed was back-up quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who happens to be a Pittsburgh native. And we laugh about the Cardinals being Steel City-centric…

Anyway, the return of Spaeth gives the Steelers a little insurance at the tight end position going into camp. Heath Miller tore his knee to hell in last season’s finale so it’s anybody’s guess if he’ll be ready by camp or what they can realistically expect out of him in 2013. Heath’s a man’s man and not a lazy fatass like LaMarr Woodley so I’m sure he’ll do everything he can to come back but when your rip every ligament in your knee that ends with CL, it’s best not to set exceptions too high.

Heath is that rare talent that excels at both catching passes and blocking. The Steelers have two tight ends currently on the roster who can conceivably pick up the slack catching the ball. Unfortunately, neither David Paulsen nor Leonard Pope is considered much of a blocker. Some website called Pro Football Focus, which tries to ruin football with a bunch of useless made-up stats like those sabrematrician dorks ruined baseball, claims their analysis “proves” Spaeth was the best blocking TE in football last season. As somebody who’s actually watched him play, that notion is laughable even though he is a certainly an upgrade over both our current TEs in the trenches.

 

Oct 122012
 

Now it’s time to panic.

The Tennessee Titans defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-23 on Thursday Night Football. I repeat, the 1-3 Titans starting a 37 year old backup QB defeated the Steelers. Where do I begin?

I suppose I’ll start by saying this is a total team loss. Anybody pointing to one specific area as “the reason they lost” has no idea what they’re talking about. The defense, for all their struggles, only gave up one legit TD with the other being a gimme from the 1 yard line after a blocked punt. The offense, despite a 363 yard passing day from Ben Roethlisberger to move ahead of Terry Bradshaw as the team’s all-time yardage leader, made some plays but they also missed a lot of chances. And the special teams, well, the blocked punt was just the latest miscue in a season full of them. Maybe Mike Tomlin shouldn’t have ousted Al Everest so he could give his buddy the job.

Regarding the special teams, Stonecold Shaun Suisham is one guy who can leave Tennessee with his head held high. Nobody has been more critical of him than I so trust me when I say making every field goal up through a 52 yarder early in the 4th quarter is all anybody can ask of him. It would’ve been nice for him to hit the 54 yarder at the end but that’s hardly a kick you automatically expect ANY kicker to make.

Right here is one of the problems with the Steelers. I’m talking about field goals instead of touchdowns. Once again, the offense moved in fits and starts, sputtering around for large stretches and failing to put the game away by scoring TOUCHDOWNS instead of settling for field goals. Twice the Steelers got inside the 15 and twice they came away with 3 instead of 6. You let teams hang around, even bad teams like the Titans, and bad things happen.

The receiving star was Isaac Redman. Wait, WHAT? Yes, for all we talk about Young Money and the best receiving corps in the NFL, it was our running back that caught 4 passes for 105 yards. Our TE, Heath Miller, chipped in with 6 catches for 67 yards. Antonio Brown? A measly 20 yards. Manny Sanders? A whopping 43.

Then we have Mike Wallace. Wallace had 94 yards and a TD on two, count’em two, catches. He scored doing pretty much the only thing he knows how to do: run fast straight down the field. I don’t want to hear any more bullshit about how Wallace is “a complete receiver.” Complete receivers catch many balls on a variety of patterns. Wallace is the ultimate all or nothing guy.

Unlike last week when the receivers dropped a ton of passes, this week much of the blame rests with Ben. He makes some great throws, like the bomb to Wallace, but then he’ll turn around and miss plays he needs to make. Suisham’s 52 yarder only happened because Ben made a terrible throw when he had Sanders wide open down the seam. Earlier in the game, he had Heath in the end zone and threw it behind him. Then there was a costly pick as time was running out in the half which probably cost the Steelers at least a field goal.

Like it or not, Ben needs a running game. When they run, they win. When they don’t, they lose. And last night, they couldn’t run at all. Much was due to having no running backs. Rashard Mendenhall played a couple series before leaving the game with what habitual liar Tomlin described as “some sort of Achilles problem.” Then iRed, who wasn’t carrying the ball well but has emerged as a great screen guy, left the game after taking a helmet to the knee. With Jon Dwyer in the doghouse, Baron Batch did his best in relief, even scoring his first career TD, but he’s not a starting caliber running back.

The other problem with the running game was the offensive line. As if losing our top two RBs wasn’t enough, we also lost 2/5 of our line. I think Maurkice Pouncey is way overrated but there is one huge difference between him and Doug Legursky. They’re about the same in pass protection but Pouncey is a much better run blocker. Ditto with Marcus Gilbert, who was replaced by rookie Mike Adams. Adams is fine at pass pro, perhaps even better than Gilbert, but he doesn’t run block very well.

Now let’s talk about the defense. Specifically, Ike Taylor. The Steelers only had 4 flags thrown on them yesterday, two of them went against Ike for pass interference (he had a third which was declined). When he wasn’t getting flagged, he was letting receivers run past, through, and around him. The Titans’ first FG was set up by a penalty on Ike. Their game tying drive was prolonged by a third down penalty on Ike. Their game tying TD was scored on Ike. Hasselbeck threw for 290 yards (and would’ve thrown for about 50 more if his receivers could catch the ball), about 50% of which was on Ike alone.

In summation, Ike sucks. Instead of making pornographic rap songs, he needs to start figuring out why he sucked against Denver and why he’s sucked ever since.

Keenan Lewis…KEENAN LEWIS is now our best corner. And yes, people are going to point out he dropped a crucial interception late in the 4th that could’ve altered the game. How many of those has Ike dropped? At least Lewis is actually covering people and making plays. Cortez Allen, pressed into duty as a safety when Will Allen got hurt, did his best although messed up several times. Ryan Clark led the team in tackles as he continues to be our defensive MVP. Lawrence Timmons continued his strong play, coming up with a big interception on a play that was positively Polamalu-esque.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the D held strong for three quarters, holding Tennessee to only 9 points (as I said, the blocked punt TD shouldn’t be held against them) while the offense dicked around. Then they totally collapsed in the 4th. Why Tomlin made the insane decision to try a 54 FG instead of punting and playing for overtime, I don’t know. Dick LeBeau making the asinine call of asking James “Missed the first month of the season because of a bum knee” Harrison to drop back in pass coverage instead of, oh say, SUPER SPEEDY LAWRENCE TIMMONS was equally perplexing.

I’ve avoided dire predictions and grand statements thus far this season. Well, that time is done. The Steelers, with about 12 starters on the disabled list, get 10 days off before facing the Bengals. That has now become a MUST WIN game. I don’t care if it’s still early in the season, I don’t care that neither Cincy nor the Ratbirds are setting the world on fire, you can’t start 2-4 and expect to go anywhere. It’s time to sink or swim.

Iron City Six Pack: Steelers-Raiders Edition

 Posted by at 5:52 am  Big Ben, Heath Miller, Redzone Redman, Six Pack, Uncategorized, Young Money  Comments Off on Iron City Six Pack: Steelers-Raiders Edition
Sep 262012
 

By Hennessy

Yinz love regular features. From Know Thy Enemy (accept no cheap substitutes!) to Wallace Watch ’12, our fearless leader, Chris, loves regular features, too. With hockey season on permanent hiatus (Thanks Bettman…BOOOO!), he thought it would be cool to do our own version of the 3 Stars of the Game. Of course, we have to list three goats as well.

Chris then had the brilliant notion, “If I’m going to do a weekly segment named after the Steel City’s favorite swill beer, why not ask the guy named after booze to do it?”

We hope you play along at home. List your three stars and three goats in the comments and maybe we can get some Pittsburgh Steelers talk going up in this bitch.

3 Stars of the Week

Ben Roethlisberger:

Todd Haley seems to be taking the chains off one link at a time, allowing Ben to air the ball out almost 50 times against Oakland. Completing 36 of those passes kept Pittsburgh in the game, and he managed to be the only player on offense not trying to turn the ball over, managing 0 interceptions and 0 fumbles. Ben looked more like himself on Sunday by scrambling and extending broken-down plays, while also taking several un-flagged shots to the legs. He kept trucking and lobbed four TD passes before the nightmare was over. Hats-off to the man in charge of a relatively productive offensive performance.

Heath Miller:

I don’t think it is worth mentioning again but Heeeeeaaath may be the most underrated player in the NFL. Ben has stated publicly that he fears the thought of playing without #83 on the field, and showed why against Oakland. Miller tied Wallace with eight receptions on the day, and managed to pull two of those down within the goal line. The often overlooked side of Heath was also apparent, as his “addition of another lineman” blocking style cleared the way for Ben to mark up 384 yards in the air. Heath’s block-and-catch presence has helped cement the weak O-Line for years, and proved its worth again on Sunday.

LaMarr Woodley:

Woodley was the only visible presence on the defense after Clark’s 1st play interception of Kimo von Oelhoffen’s old snuggle buddy. He set a benchmark by bringing down Palmer for his 50th career sack, only the 8th player in Black and Gold history to reach that milestone. Coming from a Steelers defense that missed more tackles than a communications major, Woodley added a much-needed wall behind the front-line. It was far from a stellar performance, but with Troy and Harrison sitting on the sideline it was critical that someone step up and lead the defensive effort.

3 Goats of the Week

Wallace, Brown and the Ball Control Circus:

No NFL coach has gone a full season without mouthing their version of “you can’t win games if you turn the ball over.” This is only true if the recovering team capitalizes on the generosity, which Oakland did twice. AB and Wallace tossed the ball around the field like the equipment manager filled them with helium. Oakland was viciously punching at the ball all afternoon, and our stellar receiving core seemed happy to act as their personal speed bags. Brown corralled his own fumble for a TD and Wallace saved his drop in the 3rd but the offense still let two of them go to the bad guys. The resulting scores surely didn’t help the Steelers’ cause.

The Secondary:

I stay away from fretting about injuries changing the outcome of the game. Every team has sidelined players, men hobbling off the field, and a less-than 100% roster on both sides of the ball. That being said, PLEASE COME BACK TROY. The position of safety is meant to be an “if all else fails” position. In the last three games when “all else failed,” so did our safety. Darren McFadden was the potential undoing of this victory, and he owned it. When Ryan Mundy wasn’t busy trying to get fined for sloppy hits or letting a weak receiving core burn him, he was trotting around wondering what to do when McFadden finally broke through. Answer: Fall on the ground and let him score. Pathetic.

Isaac Redman:

I chose to single out Redman only because he was the starter listed at our non-existent RB slot. Between Redman, Dwyer, Batch, and Rainey, the running game did less damage to Oakland than the San Andreas Fault. Redman put up 27 of their pathetic 54 total yards on the ground, so I guess in some parallel universe he is due credit for not running backwards or fumbling 5 times (Dwyer handled the fumbling honors). I hope Haley hasn’t been watching old tapes of Amos Zereoue to prepare for his dawning of the “New-Old Stillerz Football”.

This Week’s cure for your Six-Pack Hangover:

Much like an open bar at your ex’s remarriage, we should have known this would end up bad. What started off as a chance to drink free whiskey and rekindle an old rivalry quickly turned into seething hatred. Oh, and before you left, you made sure to make an ass out of yourself.

Unfortunately, the next scheduled chance to make up for that night on the town is two seasons away. At least we have a chance to lay low, use the upcoming bye week to rest our heads and headaches, and get ready for handling our swill a little better when we face yet another bi-annual pain in the ass, the Philadelphia Eagles.