Rapid Reports Clinching the Playoffs

I never thought a win could scare people as much as I've seen this last win for the Steelers scare a lot of their fans.  There are huge concerns about the offense.  These concerns are justifiable; every offense wants to score about 4 to 5 touchdowns a game.  That is the goal.  Our offense has scored 1 in the last 3 games.  Fortunately they don't give out the Lombardi to the best offense in the NFL.  I think we as fans lose sight of what is important sometimes.  All that matters in the NFL is that you win the game.  Do you think the Saints pissed their pants because it took them an onside kick and a defensive pick-6 to seal the super bowl win? What about the Tampa Bay Bucs?  Who's defense scored more than Oakland's offense in the Super Bowl almost a decade ago.  Would I like the offense to get it together?  Of course I would, but as this defense keeps getting better - the offense is becoming more of a luxury.  Its nice if we get it but even of the defense doesn't score a point we still win 9-7.  I have no problem with that; Rodger Goodell does, but I don't.  We have about a month to get the offense right.  We have about a month till we have to worry about the Patriots.  So I'm not going to worry about it till then.  If we do get it fixed then that is a huge plus.  But just because the offense isn't working now, doesn't mean it won't work in the future.  We just don't know.  The next three weeks we can win 6-3 in each game.  We'd still be 13-3 and in the 2nd seed in the playoffs.  Don't get sucked into to Rodger Goodell's NFL.

Coach Mike Tomlin when asked about the 17 offensive holding calls against the Steelers in the last four games: "What we need to do is cut down on the actions that are triggering the flags of course, which is grabbing and restricting."

I actually recorded the game this past week.  While watching it I noticed that we should have score a TD on one particular drive.  We overcame a 1st and 30 and a 1st and 20 on the same drive.  You tack on 30 yards to our drive and we have a TD.  Offensive Holds kill drives and more than anything our focus needs to start turning to the line instead of BA as to why the offense is struggling.  Sometimes his play-calling doesn't help but until he gets a decent offensive line we'll never know how good BA's offense can be.   I know some of you will hate me now for saying that.

 WR Mike Wallace isn't afraid of Jets star CB Darrelle Revis, despite his lofty credentials. "I don't care. I don't care about nobody," Wallace said. "He's just another guy. He's a real good player, but I'm a real good player myself."

I'm really interested in seeing how this match up develops.  Revis is a great CB but wallace has what few other WRs do, blazing speed.  You can't coach speed and you can't defend it.  As good as Revis is, if Wallace can significantly out run him then that may be a neutralization to Revis' skills.  Revis will be forced to play off, or have safety help constantly, if he plays off we can throw the screen, if the safety gives help then we'll have miller and ward to pick up the slack.  I really like to see Sanders start to get more production though.

WR Mike Wallace has a chance to become only the second receiver in NFL history to lead the league in average per catch in his first two years. Wesley Welker (Jets) did it in 1977-78. Bill Groman (Oilers) did it in the AFL in 1960-61

Wait.....Wes Welker is that old? 

 CB Keenan Lewis, who started the season as the nickel back, has fallen so far down the depth chart that rookie CB Crezdon Butler was activated ahead of Lewis last Sunday. 

For me this is the biggest disappointment of the year.  We picked Keenan Lewis in the 3rd round after we picked up Mike Wallace, that is where the similarities end.  Wallace and Lewis were friends and I thought they would drive each other and make each other better.  But we've seen Wallace consistently get better and Lewis consistently get worse.  Lewis is starting to look like a bust, this is his second year and he hasn't produced anything.  I was hoping that he could push B-Mac for his starting job and we'd have 3 decend CBs.  But that hasn't come to fruition and Butler has looked a lot better even in the pre-season.  Butler is more of the mold of Ike, if he can be consistent and show what he did in the preseason and we might just make up for the failed draft class of CBs two years ago (Lewis/Burnett)

For the second straight week, SS Troy Polamalu was named NFL Defensive Player of the Week. Polamalu intercepted two passes against the Bengals, returning one for a TD

Troy is setting himself up for the Defensive player of the year award.  If he continues to get picks and even sack/strips I think he is a lock for the award.

 Not participating in practice on Wednesday: RT Flozell Adams (ankle), CB Bryant McFadden (hamstring), SS Troy Polamalu (ankle), DE Aaron Smith (triceps), LB James Harrison (illness), and WR Hines Ward (not injury related). 

We can't afford any more injuries especially at the SS spot, take a knee next time Troy! :)

Coach Mike Tomlin on the Steelers' red-zone troubles: "We want to score touchdowns. There's a myriad of reasons we're not, and it usually points to execution problems. We aren't executing to our liking."

After looking at the game again, Tomlin is right.  Players have to turn it up in the redzone.  It gets harder to move the ball in the Redzone, we all know that.  But we can't shoot ourselves in the foot when its 1st and goal and get a holding penalty and all of a sudden its 1st and goal from the 20.  Its really hard to score like that.  Ben also has to focus more in the Redzone he has 2 throws that should have been interceptions in the Redzone in the first half.  (His shield may have had something to do with it)  If we are going to score TDs in the Redzone we need the line to not get holds and Ben to be more accurate.  We start executing then we will score some TDs.  Then we can start looking at BA if it doesn't work.

One of the big storylines this week will be Jets WR Santonio Holmes returning to Pittsburgh, where he started his career. "No question, he'll be fired up," CB Ike Taylor said. "He'll be ready. I'll be ready."

There are many fans who have nightmares of of Holmes catching the winning TD against us.  It will be something worth watching, how Holmes is received, how he performs.  But I would like to think we can get to the QB enough to where it won't matter.

TE Heath Miller (concussion) worked out on Tuesday morning and passed his post-concussion tests. He should be good to go for Sunday.

I heard someone, Sal Palantonio I believe, say that what Billecheck has done is made the TE the 'Queen' on the chess board.  I looked at the Patriots top receivers and their two TEs are 3 and 4.  I think for our offense to be more successive we need to use Miller more.  I understand that is hard when we mostly are keeping him in to help with blocking.  But Miller was huge last year and having a TE that you can rely on can open up the defense a lot.  

Ben Roethlisberger was hit illegally by Bengals DE Michael Johnson but no penalty flag was thrown. "It is what it is," Roethlisberger said. "It's a violent game. I've never complained about hits before and I won't start doing it now.

Indeed, its about time we stopped too, its not changing anything.  It is frustrating but it might just be wasted energy at this point.  I applaud those of you who still try.  I do think in the Playoffs, with the best refree crews and all the spotlights on each game, we will get those calls.  Plus I'm sure Tomlin is doing everything he can to get some protection for his QB.  

"B.A. and I talked about it a little bit the other day," Roethlisberger said. "I think we both had the same mindset; you get down there and it's 'how can we score on this play?' "

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I think they have that mindset not only in the redzone but in several other areas on the field too.  Sometimes I feel like they have good timing when going for the deep ball and sometimes its terrible timing.  3rd and 1 is a time where you don't want to go for the deep ball,  sometimes the offense needs to focus on just gaining yards, staying ahead of schedule on the chains.  Let the big plays come to you through the flow of the game.  Especially in the redzone, we'll get to the 8 yard line and just stall out.  If we could just get to the 3, the chances of scoring are greatly increased.

"Our first-and-10 passing has not been very good," Arians noted. "It's probably a little bit of my fault going for the end zone too much instead of going for a couple short ones."

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This is how we end up passing 3 straight downs.  If first down is an incomplete you feel compelled to pass on second down, if you only get a couple of yards there then you have to pass on third down.  I think you have to get at least 3 to 5 yards if you passing on first down to stay in schedule.  Then running on second down is a lot easier.  I do however think its more than a little bit of fault on Arians.

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