It was nice to get football back on last weekend, but it did not feel completely official until I saw the Black and Gold take the field Saturday night. Something about seeing Tomlin walk up and down the sidelines with a stern look on his face, watching LeBeau feverishly scribble on a dry erase board, and all of the other tell-tale signs of Pittsburgh Steelers football that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Unfortunately, I was unable to catch the game last night and participate in the game thread because of the always awful TV contracts. Thankfully, however, NFL network was kind enough to put the replay on early this morning. So I sat down with a bowl of Froot Loops, a note pad, and rewindable DVR to jot down my notes on the game.
Thanks to 50 for getting up his notes on the game. Seen here.
I will first start off with the players that stood out to me most and then follow that up with some quick slants from my notes.
I was rather disappointed with the Hotel's play last night. I understand that he is making the shift from the left side of the line, but he seemed a bit sluggish last night. I am hopeful that he still does not have his footwork down mentally and that we will see large strides in the next month. Anyway, Adams got beat outright with a speed blitz off the edge on one snap. Additionally, on another snap he got beat inside by a spin move, but luckily the throw was out early. On the bright side, Adams looked very powerful when he did get on his blocks and had a great push in a few running plays I saw him in.
I am not on the "Start Dixon or we are going to go 0-4" team, but I was not pleased with Lefty's play last night. First and foremost, tuck your dang jersey in. You look like a bum out there like that. Moving on, remember when we thought Lefty's cannon could not possibly under-throw Wallace, well he did. Wallace had about 2 steps on his CB and was past the safety, but Lefty under-threw him on a play that shoulda been a sure TD. Lefty did have a few good connections, but nothing to write home about. Lastly, his mobility has to be a huge concern if the line is going to play as shaky as it did last night.
Dixon played good, not great, but good. He appears to be able to make a play with his feet at any moment during a game. That could clearly be seen with the several first down scampers he had. Unfortunately, I believe that Dixon's decision making is not top notch. It seemed on a few plays he took off well before the pocket broke down and may have missed a few open WRs that could have added 10 more yards to the gain. Dixon did have two great connections with Arnaz Battle for 51 yards and Antonio Brown for a 68 yard TD. It is a bit disconcerting that 116 of his 128 yards came on two passes alone. All in all, Dixon's performance last night demanded the attention of the coaches.
Rashard did his thing. He still spins away from contact instead of lowering his pads and delivering a hit like I want him to. Also, it depresses me how careless he remains with the ball. On his fumble he was running outside and holding the ball out there for anyone to punch out. That fumble pretty much thwarted the drive. I need to see a better effort from Mendenhall next game.
If the roster cuts were tomorrow and we had just last night to make our decision Issac Redman would make the 53 man roster easily. Redman did it all last night; he ran hard, caught a couple passes, looked tremendous in blitz pick up, threw some great blocks, got yards after contact, etc. Last year, one of the biggest reasons he got cut, was his lack of conditioning. Those concerns seem to be a figment of the past. There was one series where Redman touched the ball on 7 of 11 snaps. As of now, I think the coaches would have a hard time making a case to cut Mr. BTSC HoF.
Besides Flozell, Keenan was my biggest player of interest prior to the game. I would have to say that I am very pleased with his performance. Lewis broke up a TD pass to Calvin Johnson only to be "beat" a few players later for a touchdown. I thought Johnson pushed off, but it is water under the bridge at this point. I thought Lewis made several great tackles in the open field, which reminded me of the early days of Bryant McFadden's knack for that type of play.
This kid is FAST! He showcased his speed on a great catch and run that resulted in a 68 yard touchdown. He also, had a nice end-around for 8 yards. I am pretty excited about both of the rookie WRs we have this year.
- Frank Summers started at FB and had a nice short catch for a 1st down. I did see him miss a block pretty badly on one run.
- No Ben. No Ward. =(
- Daniel Sepulveda destroyed every punt he got off. Why did we not get to see him do any kickoffs?
- Aaron Smith is back and making plays. You cannot tell he missed the majority of last season.
- Mewelde Moore had an absolutely monster block on a designed Dixon run to the outside.
- Lawrence Timmons looked fantastic in limited time. I saw him diagnosis plays like a savvy veteran and make a great stop on a run and also force a bad pass for the interception with his blitz. It is time for him to break out.
- James Harrison made a big offensive lineman look like a puppy in the way of a train.
- Potsie (James Farrior) looked very good in a coverage play. It seemed, at least for last night, that he had found that step he "lost" last year.
- Anthony Madison was making plays all over the field. It kind of reminded me of what Troy does. He made ST tackles and several good open field tackles as a DB.
- Joe Burnett appeared to be coming along quite nicely. He made some nice plays, specifically the TD he broke up.
- Jeff Reed's kick offs got shorter and shorter as the night went on, but his leg was reliable as ever as he went 3/3.
- Tyler Grisham did not look like a poor man's Wes Welker last night. He did beat a DB on one play only to be under thrown, but he also made a pretty bad read on a designed screen for him. He could have gotten 8+ yards but only ended up with 4.
- Larry Foote got his ankles broken on one play and missed a tackle.
- The Febreeze Sport commercials with Dhani Jones were hilarious.
- I was rather unimpressed with Dwyer. However, he has gotten limited camp snaps because of his injury.
The Steelers now have a full week to work on everything we saw last night. Our next game is on Saturday the 21st against the Giants of New York.