Murphy's Law was in full affect yesterday. There's not much you can take from a game like that. You just accept it and move on. I think we as Steelers fans are really spoiled. In times like these we should be thankful. The Steelers rarely get pasted, I mean think about it. When was the last time we lost a game by 28 points? When was the last the the Ravens lost by 28 points? The point is that it happens to every team in the NFL at some point or another, we've just been on the winning end of these pastings more often than not. That can spoil anyone but I fully expect the team to bounce back next week. The sky is clearly not falling and I think this may have been the wake up call that we needed. I'd be more worried if the Steelers came out flat next weekend. Here or a couple of changes I think we could/should see next week.
1. Ziggy Hood starting
I think the play that tells this story is the goal line run ray rice had on the ravens second touchdown. Yanda took Aaron Smith and with no help, drove him into the ground. Aaron Smith is not in playing shape. He was taken out of every play that I can remember. Now this isn't a call to cut Smith or a cry that he is done. But rather a more conservative approach to bringing him back. Smith last played a NFL game last September. I believe that in his 3rd year Ziggy Hood is more than capable to get the majority of minutes while Smith is eased back into playing shape. I think we'll also see more of Cameron Heyward on the field also as Keisel seemed rendered in-effective also. If you know anything about the 3-4 you know that if the line is suffering then the linebackers will suffer which in turn cause the secondary to suffer. It all starts up front with 3-4. The line has to create push and occupy multiple blockers so that the linebackers can come clean up the play. With that being said, Hampton still looks good as he was able to get much push from what I was able to see.
2. Stevenson Sylvester playing on passing downs
Foote came in to replace Farrior on a couple of series. I truly didn't understand this move. Foote is a good backup but replacing him for Farrior and expecting better containment of Ray Rice and the tight ends. Thats like changing from a stock Acura TL and replacing it with stock Volkswagen Jetta and expecting to beat a Ferrari in a race. Farrior is slow but foote is slower. Farrior is much better in other areas also. What does make sense though is putting Sylvester out there, he may lack experience, but he does have the speed and quickness to better contain what they want him to contain. This is Sylvester's second year, I believe he has shown enough to get a chance to show whether or not he can take over for Farrior full time in the future. But Foote has shown that he is not the answer.
3. Marcus Gilbert at RG
Gilbert may not be ready for the tackle position yet but trying him at at guard should be looked at. Ngata is one of the best linemen in the NFL but Doug Legursky made him look like Mean Joe Greene out there. There was several missed assignments and outright whiffs. At least fall on him to impede his progress so we can get a hand off completed. Marcus received a lot of praised for his play in the preseason. It wouldn't hurt to give him a look at RG in practice. If he shows well then play him.
In conclusion, I know the knee-jerk reaction is that this is the end of the Steelers. But in all honestly, any team, young or old, who turns over the ball 7 times will get blown out. The ravens did nothing special. Their new additions didn't shine much. Lee Evans had 0 catches, so much for all that speed and the bills terrible offense (they put up 41 points yesterday). Ricky did well but the wholes he was running through were massive. I'll contribute Leach and McKinnie's success against Harrison to Harrison lack of playing shape more than anything else. Harrison has owned McKinnie before and seeing him huffing and puffing on the sideline was a clear sign that Harrison is not in playing shape. (So much for sandbagging Tomlin.) He'll come around. What's more disappointing though is how Woodley got handled. One meaningless sack and not much pressure. I expect more from Woodley especially since he will need to take over as the leading sacker and QB pressure guy as Harrison begins to wear down due to age. I don't know if the coaches will make these changes but I hope there are some changes. Our Secondary only allowed 4 receptions to the WRs yesterday, they had a decent game. The issue is can the Steelers improve up front by the time we play the Ravens again. We'll see.