Thursday, November 21, 2013

Steelers Week 11, Reflections

We won.  I still can't believe it.  I was saying that all afternoon.  And after the Philly game was (pretty much) over, the local NJ station decided to show the game and it was awesome to see the Bumblebees play in a win.

Some other thoughts
  1. Finally a win over a good team.  Because the AFC stinks, we're now in the wild-card hunt, and because we beat a good team, I can see us actually doing that.  
  2. I love the win, and will savor it, but WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED IN THAT SECOND QUARTER?!? 
  3. And, not to rain too much on my parade, but the Lions are (a) a dome team playing the cold and rain, (b) probably didn't take the Steelers seriously (much like the Jets didn't, I think, back in Week 6).  The Lions definitely seemed to give up in the second half.  But I'll take it because the same things can be said for many a road team.
  4. Yet, we were also missing 4 key guys: Brett "Fear the Beard" Kiesel (DE), Ramon Foster (G), LaMarr Woodley (LB), Shamarko Thomas (S).  Only Thomas, a good player, could be replaced well.  Foster's absence was especially problematic; he was replaced by Guy Whimper - who was a tackle playing the Guard spot.  This is why, I believe, we couldn't run a lick.
  5. I've said in weeks past, bolstered by something Charlie Batch said, that Ben is awesome in no-huddle but Haley was likely the one to keep him back.  The fact that the Steelers ran no-huddle, and won, could be a sign that the bosses found out Haley was the problem, and may even support my contention that Haley was the source for the trade rumors.  (Mark "Psychopath" Madden agrees, so does Starkey)
  6. Tunch says that when the QB gets the ball out quickly then the O-line can play aggressively because they don't fear being over-extended.  I think that the O-line has suffered over the years - including injuries - because of the play extensions.  
  7. More about the play-calling - focused on no-huddle - is coming out this week.  See here from Joe Starkey.
  8. Wow - Megatron and Antonio Brown share jerseys.
  9. This is a great piece about Will Allen who played a few games for the Cowboys before returning to the Steelers. He confirms something I've heard from others, that the Steelers have a healthy culture: "Everybody's given a chance to prove themselves, given a chance to play together and the guys we truly sincerely believe in everyone," Allen said of the Steelers' organization.
    "The coaches believe in the players. The players believe in the coaches, and you just see this even path now. If guys are consistently not performing, you're not going to be on the field. Obviously you're not going to play. But everybody is encouraging, everybody is uplifting, everybody is pushing for everybody's best. That's what you want. // "We understand that it's a business, but football is a business. Winning is our business. But if we're not a team, if we're not together in it all, then we have nothing. That's the mindset in Pittsburgh."
    It's good to know it's true.
OK, now comes the real test.  I thought we were going to lose to the Lions.  We had home advantage, and that carried the day.  Who knows, had we played the Patriots at home maybe we could've done the same thing.  

Playing Cleveland at home will not be easy.  They've beaten CIN and BAL at home (but lost badly to DET, hmmm) and we just seem to be faulty on the road.   That said, their offense is not good and it's our defense that falls apart on the road - just see the Vikings, Raiders, Patriots games for evidence.  As such, I'm not as worried about that matchup (any more than I should).  It's that our offense is the better unit and will need to save us on the road.

The CLE defense is brutal; ESPN ranks them 4th against the pass, 8th against run.  To contrast, admitted this is by week 12 not when we played each team: TEN is 7/20, CIN 6/10; CHI 17/31, MIN 29/14, NYJ 23/1, BAL 13/11, OAK 25/6, NE 12/27, BUF 11/24, DET 30/5.  It's the passing defense that's the concern (our running game won't improve until we get actual linemen). Not only will CLE be the best defense overall we've faced, they are the best against the pass.

No huddle is not so functional on the road due to crowd noise, and the CLE pass defense will harsh our strength.  Maybe this is the game that Haley will bring out the true pass throwing halfback option.  Because if we lose this game, we'd might as well pack up the season.  This is the easiest of the 2 remaining road division games since we need to go into Baltimore on only 3 days rest.  I can't see us winning that game easily, and its likely we'll lose these next two.  And just like our earlier "winning streak" my hopes could be dangerously inflated and I'm trying to tamp that down.

If we win the next 2, I seriously think we'll be the 6th wildcard.  If we lose even 1 of them, we're pretty much toast.

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