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Know Thy Enemy: Denver Broncos

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Video courtesy of Benstonium

Welcome to the this year’s first installment of Know Thy Enemy. You may notice another Know Thy Enemy running on another Pittsburgh Steelers site, a site I started and a feature I began writing five years ago. Obviously those uncreative hacks can’t think up their own material so they’ve decided to coast along with my leftovers. Accept no cheap substitutes!

For the newbies, Know Thy Enemy is my weekly catch-all post where I preview the Steelers’ upcoming game. I analyze the team’s opponent, look at how they match up, and also give a final run down of key injuries for either side. So without further ado, let’s get to it!

The Denver Broncos handed the Steelers what was undoubtedly one of their most embarrassing playoff losses ever last season. Even defensive mastermind Dick LeBeau is still shaking his head over how last season ended. Ordinarily when a team engineers a magical playoff run which culminates in a franchise’s biggest win in nearly a decade, they spend the off-season building upon what got them there. John Elway, VP and de facto GM of Denver, went the other way. He tore it all down and decided to start over.


Of course Elway’s biggest move was jettisoning the man responsible for all his team’s magic, Tim Tebow. They were comfortable giving up on the Messiah because they were able to acquire a Football God. Peyton Manning, fresh off a season lost to serious neck surgery, was cut loose by the rebuilding Colts. Elway pounced and thus ended the Tebow Era in Denver.

The history of superstar QBs leaving their original team at the twilight of their career isn’t pretty. Joe Namath stumbled through a forgettable season with the Rams and Johnny U finished up with an unmemorable run with the Chargers. Joe Montana had slightly better results with the Chiefs (including a memorable overtime playoff win against Bill Cowher‘s Steelers, thanks to some inept punting from Mark Royals). Much like riding the Thunderbolt at Kennywood or making love to a woman, the second time is never as good as the first. Preseason reports were Manning looked every bit the Manning of old but experiencing the same level of success as he had with the Colts, where he won 12+ games in eight of his thirteen years, would definitely be a case of defying history.
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Art Rooney Must Answer To Big Ben

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Anybody else expecting a nice quiet off-season for the Pittsburgh Steelers?

If so, you’ve got to be sorely disappointed. The Steelers coaching carousel continues to go round-and-round with yesterday’s news that linebackers coach Keith Butler is in serious negotiations to join the Indianapolis Colts as their defensive coordinator. Butler has long been tabbed as Dick LeBeau‘s heir apparent to the point the Steelers refused to allow him to interview with Pittsburgh West Arizona about their DC job last summer. However, his contract is up this year and with LeBeau returning next season, it looks like he’s sick of waiting his turn.

In a twist of irony, if Butler does leave for Indianapolis, he’ll join ex-offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who was named the Colts OC on Friday. Wait, I thought BA had “retired?” That bald-faced lie went up in smoke faster than Bret Favre’s last three “retirements.” In fact, team president Art Rooney II (who from this point on, I’ll nickname the Deuce as to separate him from the one true honorable Art Rooney) has now all but admitted it was his call to can Arians.

“I think the questions of how we got here are not really relevant,” the Deuce told the Post-Gazette when pressed on the issue of where the dismissal of Arians came from. If that non-denial denial wasn’t damning enough, he all but outed himself two sentences later when he said, “I think it was time for a change, and we’re looking forward to moving on.” Oh, YOU think it’s time for a change, huh Artie? What does your HEAD COACH think? Or doesn’t his opinion matter?
Read More »Art Rooney Must Answer To Big Ben

Know Thy Enemy: Cincinnati Bengals

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This weekend, the Pittsburgh Steelers face the Cincinnati Bengals in a crucial AFC match-up. Unfortunately, most of you who live out-of-state will have to fire up the satellite dish or visit your favorite Steeler bar in order to watch since it’s neither a national nor prime time game. In fact, all Bengal games start at one o’clock because they have to be indoors before curfew as a condition of parole.

Anyway, when last we left Cincy, franchise quarterback Carson Palmer was saying he’d rather retire than strap on their orange jumpsuit ever again. Hardheaded GM/Owner Mike Brown eventually traded him to the desperate Oakland Raiders which for Palmer must have been like being handed a Get Out Of Jail Free card. The haul in return was impressive, a first rounder and a second that becomes a first if the Raiduhs win a playoff game, which I’m sure Cincy will use to augment their team with the best available criminals in next year’s draft.
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Week 9 Recap: Out Roethlisbergering Roethlisberger

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On Saturday, I got snookered into watching what was laughingly dubbed “The Game of the Century” between Alabama and LSU. The media’s desperate efforts to convince us that sloppy snoozefest was an “instant classic” doesn’t change the fact there were five good offensive plays in the whole thing, four of which were by lineman. The latest chapter in the epic rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers invited comparisons to that game by the blabbering fools in the the booth, which is like comparing a Porsche to a Kia. Last night was a true Game of the Century.

Unfortunately, the Steelers came out on the losing end.

Ninety-two yards. Those three words will live in Steeler infamy alongside Tim McKyer, Joe Nedney and SpyGate. Ninety-two yards. How does the most vaunted defense in the NFL allow a team to drive almost the length of the field in less than two minutes with the game on the line?
Read More »Week 9 Recap: Out Roethlisbergering Roethlisberger

Will Mike Tomlin Bring Tampa To Pittsburgh?

No, I’m not talking about an apathetic fan base and a sea of empty seats at every home game. The Pitt Panthers already have that covered.

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin first rose to prominence as a defensive backs coach under Tony Dungy down in Tampa. Dungy’s defense of choice was a modified version of the 4-3 scheme he learned as a player (and later coach) under Chuck Noll. Despite Tomlin’s preference for running the Tampa-2, one of the conditions upon his hiring was he retain Dick LeBeau, inventor and master of the 3-4 zone blitz. Considering the Steelers have ranked at or near the top of the NFL in total defense every year since he arrived in Pittsburgh, I’m sure Tomlin has had no complaints about the change.

Besides LeBeau being one of the finest defensive minds of all-time, management didn’t want to change philosophies because they simply didn’t have the right personnel. Whenever a team switches from 3-4 to 4-3 (or vice versa) there is an adjustment period because what is expected from each player changes. Some of you may remember a couple years back when fatass Albert Haynesworth pitched a fit because Washington switched from a 4-3 (where he could collect a bunch of stats, and the bonuses that went with them, by rushing the quarterback) to a 3-4 (where, like our linemen, his primary job was to occupy blockers and create gaps for others to make plays). If you ever wondered why the Steelers love stocking up on linebackers in the draft, it’s because our scheme depends on having plenty of strong, athletic linebackers on the roster.

Unfortunately, we currently have a bunch of strong, athletic linebackers on the injury report.
Read More »Will Mike Tomlin Bring Tampa To Pittsburgh?

Week 8 Recap: Out-Patrioting The Patriots

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Two out of three ain’t bad.

In my game preview, I listed three things I thought the Pittsburgh Steelers absolutely had to do in order to defeat the New England Patriots. To be honest, I didn’t think they’d actually do any of them. Well, fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, thy name is Bill Belichick.

The Steelers completely overhauled their usual game plan on both sides of the ball yesterday. The result was a convincing 25-17 victory over the hated Patriots. It was, by any measure, the team’s most impressive performance of 2011. If the Black and Gold goes on a run which culminates in another trip up the Stairway to Seven, we’re undoubtedly going to look back at week eight as the turning point in the season.

Longtime Steeler fans will remember an infamous Monday Night game many years back when the Patriots came out throwing on something like twenty consecutive plays. Yesterday, the Steelers gave them a taste of their own medicine. Ben Roethlisberger threw the ball 32 times. In the first half.

Ben would finish the afternoon 36/50 for 365 yards and 2 TDs. He came out firing and never let up, even when it would have been prudent to do so. I’ve been a Steeler fan for a pretty long time. While I’m not exactly reaching for Touch of Grey, I remember seeing John Stallworth catch passes from Mark Malone. I’ve never seen a better performance by a Steeler signal caller than the one Ben put forth yesterday.
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Know Thy Enemy: New England Patriots

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If Mick was right that women weaken legs, Rob Gronkowski will be in a wheelchair on Sunday.

The Baltimore Ravens are considered the biggest rivals of the Pittsburgh Steelers. With all due respect (which is to say, none), I disagree. A true rivalry is borne out of two equals battling to accomplish the same goal. The Ratbirds haven’t beaten the Steelers in a meaningful game since Ben Roethlisberger first stepped foot in Heinz Field. Over the past ten years, they’ve been a good team but not a great one.

No, there are only two teams who can legitimately claim greatness here in the 21st century. The Steelers and the New England Patriots. Over the past decade, the Patriots have appeared in four Super Bowls and won three. The Black and Gold have appeared in three, winning two. If it were not for the Patriots, the Steelers alone would be able to lay claim to the title of the NFL’s premiere franchise.

If that fact weren’t galling enough, our history with the Patriots is as unfortunate as Baltimore’s is with us. Tom Brady is 6-1 against the Steelers, and overall the Patriots are 7-2 against Pittsburgh since Dreamboat took over signal-calling duties up in New England. Even more heart-breaking, the Pats are 3-1 in post-season meetings. More recently, who can forget the Patriots humiliating 39-26 defeat of the Steelers last season?
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Know Thy Enemy: Jacksonville Jaguars

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The [intlink id=”20″ type=”category”]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] currently sit at thirteen point favorites over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The last time they were a huge favorite, they put forth a less than inspiring effort against the Seattle Seahawks. Oh how things change one week to the next in the wacky NFL. The team we saw last week is a far cry from the one that sputtered through the first quarter of the season.

However, since reverse psychology worked so well last week…

The Steelers will lose. After last last week’s impressive performance, they’ve grown soft. They’re reading their own press clippings. This has trap game written all over it. Bet the under.
Read More »Know Thy Enemy: Jacksonville Jaguars