My apologies for not having my thoughts up sooner, but better late than never right? Especially after a performance as impressive the one the Steelers put on last night against the New Orleans Saints in the Hall of Fame Game from Canton Ohio.
300 1st half yards; 200 in the air! That's bigtime for a regular season game! For a playoff game, that's just about unheard of. New offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was agressive early and often last night. Big Ben aired one out to Cedrick Wilson on our second offensive play for 55 yards. What a throw by Ben. I don't think we have the league's best deep threats, but going deep is fairly low risk for very high potential reward. I hope we see more of that. I can just ramble on and on about how awesome we looked last night, but instead I'll present some of the notes I took as I watched excitedly.
*Daniel Sepulveda looked pretty good. He only average 37.3 yards per punt, but that will go up. What I was excited to see was the ball being in the air longer than 1.1 seconds-which seemed to be the maximum hang time Chris Gardocki could muster last year while trying to preserve his longest current streak without a punt being blocked. So long as Sepulveda doesnt out kick our coverage too often, I think we're going to see a vast improvement in our punt-return coverage.
*I was dissapointed to see Jeff 'Spikey' Reed miss that easy FG in the first half. The long dyed spikes are no longer good luck Jeff. Find a barber.
*Anyone else remember LeMarr Woodley's athletic play in pass coverage on one of the Saints' first drives. Woodley, who won all his hardware on the defensive line last year at Michigan, dropped into coverage against a Saints TE and jumped in front of a Brees pass to make an athletic knockdown. I also liked his reaction after the play. No ridiculous chest thumping. Just got up excited and gave Clark Haggans a chest bump. He looked pumped to be out there. I'm stoked to see him play this year.
*Those who have read the site for awhile no I like Charlie Batch. He doesn't have the same upside as some of the other back-ups in this league. But if Big Ben were to go down with an injury, I'd feel much better with Batch coming in that I would with most of the unproven young back up QBs in this league.
*Max Starks looked pretty dumpy last night. He missed a couple of assignments in run blocking schemes, and basically waived at his defender as he blew past him. He wasn't too great in pass protection either, although some of that had to do with St. Pierre holding on to the ball too long.
*I like Bruce Arians quick striking pass attack. If we do line up 4 and 5 WR sets, I like our chances at avoiding some of the pass protection issues that could come to haunt us if we become too predictable. It's going to be imperative that we keep defensive coordinators guessing with our play calling.
*Carey Davis! Who the hell is Carey Davis. He's a battering ram I tell you! At least for a night he was. He knew exactly when to run north-south, when to cut back, and he always finished off his runs by going for that extra couple of yards. Not sure if there's a spot for him, but there damn well better be if he keeps looking impressive in the forthcoming weeks.
*Lots of us want to love Willie Reed. The bottom line though is he has yet to live up to some of the practice hype, even in preseason games. He made several mental errors as a kick returner last night: muffing one punt and failing to communicate to his front-man, Tyrone Carter, to get out of the way so that the punt wouldn't inadvertently hit him. Reed did make a nice play as a WR, so I hope his roster spot isn't contigent exclusively on his special teams play.
*I can't put too much stock into the way the defense played last night against a flat, listless Saints' offense. Still, we looked physical, intense, and interested in competing. Perhaps Mike Tomlin has gotten in this unit's head that there's no such thing as a day off or a play off. The D seems to be playing with maximum intensity be it during practice or during a preseason game.
*I've got a few more thoughts to share tomorrow, but chime in on what I've offered with thoughts of your own.