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Steelers vs. Jags: Evaluating the WRs

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What can you say about the job Hines Ward and Heath Miller did on Saturday night other than 'Wow, these guys are special competitors.'

I wrote this about Hines after he set the Steelers' franchise record for TD receptions

He's a special, special talent and one of the very select athletes, in any sport, that one could legitimately feel confident going to war with, no matter the opponent, no matter the circumstance, no matter the odds. That edge he brings is why none of us were that surprised when we made our run in 2005...
Well, Hines was at it again on Saturday, catching 10 passes for 135 yards. He made all the tough catches, got in the faces of the physical Jags defenders, and sold that pass interference penalty in the endzone brilliantly. He's the penultamate gamer, and he, along with Heath Miller, helped our offense be widly efficient in the second half.

Our first 4 second half possesions: FG, TD, TD, TD. Very impressive stuff after a disastrous first half.

I've already mentioned Heath Miller in a previous post, but I'll again quickly reiterate that we've got one of the 5 best TEs in the league on our side. He's so sure-handed, tough in traffic and versatile. There's absolutely no reason that he shouldn't be catching 60-80 balls a year for the next 4 seasons. Anything short of that would be a disservice to his talents and his capability to effect a football game. You don't just have to find Miller in the seam either. You can spread him out wide and let him work near the sidelines, you can throw him short hot patterns and let him break a tackle, and you can let him work against a LB over the middle. I really hope Arians utilizes him next season like he did on Saturday night.  

Santonio hauled in 3 passes for 49 yards and a TD, and continues to prove why Colbert and the Rooneys traded up to get him 2 years ago. He'll need to continue getting stronger and more polished with his route running in the future, but he provided us with a much-needed game-breaking threat all season long. However, I think at times we tried to use him as that deep threat too often. At times this led to him not getting as many looks as he perhaps should have. I'll also note (without any hard data) that it seemed like many of Ben's mistakes this year (there were few) came when he tried to force feed Holmes the ball. If we utilized Miller more, I think Holmes would find himself drawing fewer defenders more often.

All in all, a solid game from the WRs and TEs. Spaeth got in on the action, though his near fumble almost gave me a heart attack and that was basically the last we heard of him. Looking back, I'm not sure using a draft pick on him was the smartest move in the world consiering how special Heath is. Backup TEs are a dime a dozen in this league, and unless you plan on throwing to the TEs almost exclusively, there's just no need to have two quality TEs that you gameplan around. My two cents at least.

I'm truly excited about this offense in the next two years while Hines Ward is still fresh enough to contribute like he did Saturday night. Him, Holmes, Miller, and Parker is an awfully good core to build an offense around. Throw in a Pro-Bowl QB and the sky's the limit. If only we could protect the QB...