TAMPA FL - SEPTEMBER 26: Rookie center Maurkice Pouncey #53 of the Pittsburgh Steelers points during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on September 26 2010 in Tampa Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Some incomplete and across-the-board thoughts I've been having about the Pittsburgh Steelers recently. Hopefully you'll have some opinions on some of these topics and will weigh in yourself.
* Let's start with the collective play of the offensive line on Sunday. There's really not enough praise that can be heaped on the following five men upfront (from left to right): Max Starks, Chris Kemoeatu, Maurkice Pouncey, Doug Legursky, and Flozell Adams. It's not just those five that deserve a tip of the cap for their early season work. Remarkably, every last offensive lineman on the 53-man roster has seen playing time this season. I'm beginning to wonder just how much of a steal the Steelers got in new offensive line coach Sean Kugler. I was excited about the hiring after reading just a little bit about Kugler. Then this summer, I asked Dale Lolley to write about Kugler and his work with the offensive line this spring and summer for this year's preseason publication for MSP. Here's a few excerpts of Lolley's article about Kugler:
"He is definitely a breath of fresh air," said Steelers right tackle Willie Colon. "We are learning so much from a teaching standpoint from him. For a guy who has been around the game, playing it, teaching it and is passionate about it, that is what he brings to the table. I love him. He's really been awesome to work with. He is going to lead us to the water; all we have to do is drink it."
"I want the offensive line for the Steelers to play efficient football," Kugler said. "If it is a third-and-short, we need to convert. If it is a third-and-long, we need to convert. We have to be efficient on first and second downs if we want to run or throw it to get into good situations on third down. I look more at efficiency. Are we running the ball efficiently? Are we putting ourselves in consistent third-and-short, makeable downs, or are we getting one-yard gains and then we are sitting there in a third-and-long where it is tough sledding as an offensive line and as an offensive football team?
"So, it's efficiency in the run game, and protecting the quarterback, or more accurately, eliminating unnecessary hits on the quarterback. There are going to be sacks, or some protections where there is a hot-throw where a guy is left unblocked, but as many times as we can take away an unnecessary hit off the quarterback due to our technique or our scheme, we can take pride in that."
All great stuff from what looks like one motivated young coach. I think we have a winner in Kugler. And as you can see here, the Steelers have been solid on 1st and 10. The Steelers have work to do on 3rd down (10-of-38), but they were better this past Sunday against the Buccaneers (4-of-9).
* In the comments section of a recent post, I've read several people mention how they believe that the Steelers' Bye Week is coming at a perfect time. I beg to differ.
Too early. Maybe if the Steelers were sitting at 1-2 or 2-1 would I agree, but as is, even with a loss to the Baltimore Ravens this coming Sunday, the Steelers will be in great shape at the quarter pole. Yes, it's nice that Ben Roethlisberger will have two weeks to work with his teammates before taking the field against the Cleveland Browns in Week 6. But does Big Ben really need two weeks to prepare for the Browns? Maybe, we'll see. But I'm still concerned about the prospect of having to go 12 straight weeks without a break following the Bye. In my ideal world, the Steelers would have their week off following their game against the New Orleans Saints on Halloween. They're on a roll now, and outside of looking forward to getting Roethlisberger back, there's no real pressing need injury-wise for this team to need a break. I suppose my concerns would be alleviated if the Steelers could manage to secure one of the top-two seeds in the AFC Playoffs and get the opening Wild Card Weekend off.
* Is there any team in the NFL with as interesting a mix of young guys (rookies & 2nd year players) and seasoned, proven veterans? I may just have to dig in to the particulars of every 32 rosters to find out. But my guess would have to be there isn't many, if any at all. Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau's ability to rotate in fresh, hungry young bodies with championship-tested veterans makes this team more intriguing than any I can remember in recent memory, certainly in the Tomlin era. Hopefully, this infusion of young talent also raises the team's potential ceiling to an even higher level than it's been in year's past, including in '08, their most recent championship season.
* One day at a time, but this new-look Steelers' roster might also be perfectly suited to handle the rigors of an 18-game schedule in 2011 and/or 2012.
* Has an offensive lineman ever won Rookie of the Year. I imagine someone has, but I won't look that one up, and will instead leave it to one of you to inform us. Might Maurkice Pouncey make a run at the award this year? How exciting is it that this kid is so good at such a young age?!? Pouncey gets his first bigtime test this coming Sunday when he squares off against Raven's NT Halot Ngata.
* BTSC's Week 3 Top 5 Teams:
* If my calculations are correct, the average starting position of Steelers' opponents last year following kickoffs was ~31.5 yard line. Through three games, the average starting field position after Reed kickoffs is the 24 yard line. Quite a significant improvement.