Welcome to PatsFans.com

State of the Steelers (2013 ed.)

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by lillloyd, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. lillloyd

    lillloyd Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2010
    Messages:
    255
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0 / 0 / -0

    Hey guys -- I'm not around much, but when Pitt and NE play I try to do one of these writeups here, just to share some Steelers info ahead of the game.

    I'll say this right off the top: I don't think we're a good football team, but I also don't think we're quite as bad talent-wise as the record says. We're like a lot of teams with lousy records -- we have talent in some areas, and maybe with a bit better luck--and fewer injuries in key spots--we'd have a couple more wins.

    But the bottom line is that this is a flawed team that is not playing well, and is not deep enough to overcome the defections and injuries it has sustained.

    Steelers D - Front 7

    A lot has been made of the lack of production at ROLB, which has essentially been a platoon between Jason Worlids and 1st rounder Jarvis Jones. This *is* a big deal, although Lamar Woodley's return to form mitigates this somewhat. Rookies simply shouldn't start in this complex of a defense, and Jones--for all his physical talent--has not generated consistent pressure and is frequently out of position. He's been benched for Worlids, who will make no one forget a circa 2008 James Harrison.

    That said, the main problem IMHO has been the uncharacteristically weak run defense, which in the bottom third of the league. Steve McClendon has not been consistent at NT, but it's much more than that...frankly we seem out of position and borderline undisciplined frequently. Part of this has to do with losing Larry Foote, who made all of the defensive calls, and replacing him with a rookie (Vince Williams). I'm sure part is due to having two rookies plus other new starters on D.

    Regardless, the run defense is light years away from what it was last year, and teams are getting good production on early downs AND gashing Pitt for big running plays.

    Steelers D - Secondary

    Our pass defense is ranked very highly, but this is a bit misleading. For one, teams have had success running the ball...they don't have to throw. In addition, teams have repeatedly beat us on critical pass plays (3rd and longs or key possessions in the game). It seems that when the stakes are high, the pass D comes up small.

    I believe both Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark have had down years, which may simply be aging. (Note that Troy is back in shape and has been superb...he's not part of the problem IMHO). CB Cortez Allen, who we still have high hopes for, has been nicked frequently and has been inconsistent. And of course the entire secondary has been hurt by a meager pass rush outside of Woodley.

    Finally, the entire defense has been at a disadvantage by the simple fact that Pitt has played from behind almost the entire year. Certainly the defense contributes to that, but there have been precious few opportunities to "pin their ears back". On those rare instances where we have had the lead (Jets game), they've looked more like the Steelers D we're used to seeing.

    NE Offense vs Pitt Defense

    This presents an interesting choice for the Pats, strategy-wise--while I'm sure there's a desire to get the passing game going, the reality is that Pittsburgh is soft against the run. Savvy as BB is, I'd expect a heavy workload for your RBs, running straight at McClendon and our rookie ILB. I'm guessing that's exactly what LeBeau does NOT want -- he would like to get out of the base defense (which takes McClendon and Williams out) and get into specialty packages (which essentially subs in an extra CB and safety--rookie Sharmarko Thomas--and leaves Timmons in the middle of the field alongside TP, who basically functions as a LB).

    So basically, while I think NE would *prefer* to throw the ball, and Pitt would prefer to be in their pass subs package, the fact is that Pitt's lousy run D may force the game to be a grinder, with more base run packages on both sides.

    If NE does decide to spread it out, it will be an interesting chess match. If you recall, Lebeau had great success in 2011 against NE. In that game, Pitt played press coverage and put Cortez Allen across from Gronk...it turned out to be very effective. Woodley was a terror that game before leaving injured. It's hard to say if such a strategy would work again, given how different Pitt's D is today....That said, the one advantage I would give Pitt on D would be a resurgent Woodley against Vollmer's RT replacement.

    Steelers Offense

    Any discussion of the Steelers offense starts and ends with the line.

    The deal is this: 1) we have a major talent deficiency at LT; 2) we do not have NFL quality depth on the OL; 3) we have had major injury issues on the OL that have only exacerbated the first two issues; 4) on top of everything else, we've had communications and assignment issues that frequently defenders unblocked.

    We lost our top 3 guards in the OAK game; whether any of them can go Sunday will be a major factor in Pitt's ability to stay competitive. DeCastro is our best lineman; our run game suffers without him. And if LG Foster can't go, Beachum (an average LT at best to begin with) kicks inside, and Mike Adams starts at LT...and Mike Adams has quite literally been just about the worst LT in football this year, both from an "eye test" perspective, and actual grading (Pro Football Focus). FWIW Velasco has been a capable replacement at center (although obviously we miss the IR'd Pouncey).

    I actually think the Steelers are fine at the skill positions. I don't think Miller is all the way back, but he's getting there. They're very high on Le'Veon Bell, and I think the enthusiasm is justified--he's a patient, 3 down, big back with quick feet and power. Ben has been skewered for ball protection issues, but I don't think this criticism has been coming from people who've actually watched the games (if they had, they would see a consistent jailbreak and Ben running for his life...a statue pocket passer like Peyton would have been broken in half on IR by now).

    In any event, it's really hard to evaluate the skill guys when the OL play has been so poor and disjointed; they can't pass block, and with the exception of the Ravens game they haven't been able to open running lanes.

    Steelers Offense vs Pats D

    I confess I know little about the state of the Pats D aside from the injuries they've suffered to Mayo and Wilfork. If Pitt can get Foster and DeCastro back, I would expect to see them attack the middle with Bell like they did against the Ravens. They really have no choice but to try this--they can't reliably have Ben pass 40 or 50 times in a game because the linemen have proven they can't hold their blocks.

    From the Patriots perspective, if they can simply stop the run I expect they'll create major problems for Pitt's pass protection, just like every other team has. They should blitz creatively and make Pitt's linemen prove they can be sound in their assignments (which they haven't been). OTOH, if Adams has to play at LT, the Pats can also probably get away with rushing 4 while still getting consistent pressure. Adams is a turnstile. RT Marcus Gilbert has had issues as well (although to be fair, his play has improved of late).

    That all said, Pitt *does* have competent skill position players. They've been uneven, but if Pitt's OL does somehow create a pocket, Ben, Brown and Sanders (along with Miller underneath) can hurt defenses. But the shaky line play has had a major effect on the play-calling, which emphasizes quick passes (WR bubble screens, plus more swing passes to Bell of late). So a lot of Pitt's potential explosiveness is negated by Haley's (understandable) efforts to protect a weak line.

    Final Thoughts

    I think this has been a poor year all around for Pittsburgh--and this includes the coaching, top to bottom. The overall play has been disjointed. There have many instances of the defense not getting lined up properly, or inexplicably leaving gap assignments. (Exhibit A: take a look at Pryor's 93 yard run last week!) The OL can't seem to figure out which blitzers to block. Even Ben and the wideouts seem like they're on a different page a couple times a game.

    If they could get these basics sorted out, I think Pitt could at least be an average team--maybe even a team that could put a scare into a team like NE on Sunday. But considering the fact they haven't done this all year--plus factoring in their desperate OL situation--I have a hard time envisioning a win for Pitt this Sunday. I think NE will run, get a lead, and leave Pitt playing catch-up, which will in turn lead to turnovers and mistakes.

    I hope I'm wrong here, but:

    NE 30-10


    lillloyd
  2. everlong

    everlong Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2007
    Messages:
    5,881
    Likes Received:
    89
    Ratings:
    +154 / 1 / -1

    #12 Jersey

    Thanks for the write up. A pleasure to have fans from other teams come and participate in a civil manner.
  3. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2005
    Messages:
    13,244
    Likes Received:
    102
    Ratings:
    +323 / 0 / -1

    Thanks much for the detailed analysis, it is extremely helpful in better understanding an upcoming opponent. The best source of this type of information is from someone like yourself that follows the team on a regular basis, rather than a national writer that is attempting to critique 32 teams. I was just just hoping/wondering if you or one of your fellow Steeler fans would stop by, and am glad that you did.


    I previously mentioned this in another thread, but this would be a more appropriate place to ask for your opinion. Your thoughts?


    = = = = =​


    It seems to me that the issue with Pittsburgh's defense the last few years is that they no longer come up with the big play - specifically, turnovers. Whether the reason for that is because their playmakers have become older and slower, a change in scheme and philosophy, a combination of both, or something else - I'm not really sure.


    Yards per Game:
    2011: 271.8 (1st)
    2012: 275.8 (1st)
    2013: 302.9 (3rd)

    Rushing Yards per Game:
    2011: 99.8 (8th)
    2012: 90.6 (2nd)
    2013: 121.9 (27th)

    Rushing Yards per Carry:
    2011: 4.0 (9th)
    2012: 3.7 (4th)
    2013: 4.0 (17th)

    Passing Yards per Game:
    2011: 172 (1st)
    2012: 185 (1st)
    2013: 181 (2nd)

    Passing Yards per Attempt:
    2011: 5.6 (1st)
    2012: 6.0 (1st)
    2013: 6.4 (5th)

    Sacks:
    2011: 35 (17th)
    2012: 37 (17th)
    2013: 10 (30th)

    Takeaways:
    2011: 15 (32nd)
    2012: 20 (25th)
    2013: 5 (Tied for last)
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
  4. SteelersCanada

    SteelersCanada Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2012
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    5
    Ratings:
    +6 / 0 / -0

    You left out a couple of key, very crucial things.

    DeCastro vs. perhaps Tommy Kelly, or a second string DE is a match-up I'll take all day long, especially how he's been playing as of late. Also, Velasco seems to have built chemistry with him in the interior of the line. That could be huge. LT is just bad, you're right. Beachum is improving however.

    The most key part you left out, however, was Le'Veon Bell vs. a depleted Patriots DLine. This guy is primed for a big game (assuming Todd locates his head from his ass) and this could be it. If the Dolphins could run at will against the Patriots, Le'Veon should have no problem doing it. Our offense works best off of play action as well. That could be the difference.
  5. SoCal Pmen

    SoCal Pmen Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2007
    Messages:
    1,991
    Likes Received:
    2
    Ratings:
    +2 / 0 / -0

    #54 Jersey

    Great write up. Thanks for sharing. I haven't watched too many Steeler games this year but every time these teams do meet, you can throw out the records as it will likely be close. Pitt is a desperate team right now and will be playing as if their season is on the line.
  6. sb1

    sb1 Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Messages:
    2,044
    Likes Received:
    27
    Ratings:
    +53 / 0 / -11

    #12 Jersey

    Steeler fans were excited about Isaac Redman a couple years back....oops.

    Not that Mendy would have been a better option with all his injuries...
  7. SVN

    SVN Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2005
    Messages:
    22,554
    Likes Received:
    28
    Ratings:
    +46 / 0 / -0

    Thanks for the anaylysis and hope you are right but the final score ? - Dont know if you have watched our offense this yr :). Its going to come down to the final mins IMO. And if pitt takes a lead like miami did vs us , I dont think they let up like miami did.They have a better QB and a better defense.
  8. JackBauer

    JackBauer On the Roster

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2005
    Messages:
    15,931
    Likes Received:
    232
    Ratings:
    +447 / 6 / -7

    Think he can make it up to 3.5 YPC?
  9. sb1

    sb1 Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Messages:
    2,044
    Likes Received:
    27
    Ratings:
    +53 / 0 / -11

    #12 Jersey

    And in recent years they haven't played too many top caliber opponents. I remember in 2011 they had the "#1 ranked defense"... and yet the stats above speak for themselves, plus the fact they played eight games in their schedule against bottom-10 ranked passing teams and just one team in the top 10.

    This is why I cannot agree with the insistence of fanatics of a certain former NFL QB that Pitt "had a great defense" a couple years ago when they lost to said QB's team in the playoffs. Any defense that can't make stops or big plays is NOT a great defense.
  10. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2005
    Messages:
    13,244
    Likes Received:
    102
    Ratings:
    +323 / 0 / -1

    I think most Pats fans would agree that the NEP run defense versus a Pittsburgh's rushing offense (specifically Le'Veon Bell) is probably the biggest concern.

    What happened versus Oakland? Bell was running so well the week before against Baltimore (I haven't watched the game against the Raiders yet). Was it a case of falling behind and abandoning the run, or something else?
  11. Get it shawtaay

    Get it shawtaay Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2012
    Messages:
    689
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0 / 0 / -0

    #32 Jersey

    While the Pats secondary has done well, I'm worried about Antonio Brown.

    Even if Talib is healthy, I really don't want to see him matched up with Brown. He's exactly the type of player who would give Talib fits.

    Of course, the good news is that if he can hold down Brown, you wonder if anyone is going to get the better of him this season.
  12. lillloyd

    lillloyd Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2010
    Messages:
    255
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0 / 0 / -0

    The Steelers were behind 14-0 before they could blink. And they lost their top 3 guards in the game. Their line--already a relatively weak unit--was a shambles; they literally had different guys in different positions each series. We had someone named Cody Wallace playing LG in the second half...Cody Wallace (god bless 'em) should not be playing on Sundays.

    I think if there is some hope for Pitt it is their play the Sunday before, against Baltimore. Granted, Ngata was dinged a bit, but the Pitt line got a very good push against what was statistically a good run defense. So I think the capability is there, but a lot rides on who is healthy guard-wise.
  13. lillloyd

    lillloyd Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2010
    Messages:
    255
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0 / 0 / -0

    LOL I'd challenge AP to get to 3.5YPC behind this line.

    It's kind of hard to explain unless you've seen all the games...but the line (with the exception of the Balt game) has truly been THAT bad.

    Seriously, while no one's comparing Bell to AP or Barry Sanders, I actually think Bell has a bright future in Pitt. But the stats won't come until the line issues are sorted out.
  14. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2006
    Messages:
    27,073
    Likes Received:
    506
    Ratings:
    +1,386 / 26 / -47

    No Jersey Selected

    Do you see the Steelers throwing a gameplan out there like they did in 2011 where they played mostly press and sent four guys after Brady most of the time? Either way, I think the Pats would be better prepared for that now, but I'm just wondering.
  15. JackBauer

    JackBauer On the Roster

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2005
    Messages:
    15,931
    Likes Received:
    232
    Ratings:
    +447 / 6 / -7

    Don't worry, I'm just busting your chops ;)
  16. lillloyd

    lillloyd Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2010
    Messages:
    255
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0 / 0 / -0


    You raise an interesting and oft-discussed question in Steeler Nation.

    First off, I think the age issue as a whole is a bit overstated. It's no good to get younger if you're not getting better; certainly Jarvis Jones and Jason Worlids are faster than James Harrison (even 2011 James Harrison), but they aren't good football players yet.

    More than that, the age on the Steelers defense really boils down to four players at this point, two of which (Clark and Keisel) are steadily losing snaps to younger players. You could point at Ike Taylor, who has not had a great year, but he's never generated turnovers...he has hands of stone. TP is the only other player over 30 starting on the defense currently, and he's arguably (maybe aside from Timmons) been the best player on the defense. He looks completely rejuvanated. There is a very real possibility that next year, TP will be the only starter left over thirty, and the nucleus of the defense will turn over to Timmons, Woodley, and younger players such as Cam Heyward, Cortez Allen, Jarvis Jones, and Shamarko Thomas.

    Dave Bryan of Steelers Depot recently did an analysis of the turnover drought -- basically he concluded that the Steelers defense, as much as almost any team over the past ten years, has been a front runner, with 35% of their turnovers coming when up 10+ points. In contrast, when down 7-10 points or more, their turnover/play percentage dips to a miserable 1.69%. This reflects how the Steelers defense plays -- extremely conservative ("keep it in front of you") in tight games, and aggressive with a lead.

    He argues his point in a lot of detail, but the bottom line is that PItt -- beyond its obvious transitions at key spots on the defense -- has played from behind most of the year this year, and its turnover percentage is pretty much in line with previous years when playing from behind. But due to a miserable offense, a bunch of turnovers, and a D that is questionable against the run, Pitt has found itself behind most of the time. We had most of our turnovers in the one game where we held a double-digit lead (Jets).

    I don't mean to suggest that our 2013 defense is great and it's just a matter of circumstance--obviously our defense is less than what it was--but rather that the turnover drought is somewhat predictable given how these games have played out.

    Steelers Defensive Sacks & Turnovers Unlikely To Improve Until Offense Starts Scoring | Steelers Depot
  17. Ozymandias

    Ozymandias Rookie

    Joined:
    May 16, 2012
    Messages:
    2,425
    Likes Received:
    3
    Ratings:
    +12 / 0 / -1

    Thanks for the analysis, mate.

    All things considered, I agree with everything you've stated here -- except the final score. I believe the Patriots will be in a dogfight to the finish. I don't expect to see a blow-out here by any stretch of the imagination.

    The Steelers almost always play the Patriots tough in the regular season. I expect that trend will continue on Sunday.
  18. lillloyd

    lillloyd Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2010
    Messages:
    255
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0 / 0 / -0

    If DeCastro is healthy I'll buy in on there being an advantage there. He was really making huge strides this year, I hope this isn't a nagging injury going forward.

    RE/ the running game, I think again it depends on who can play Sunday and how effective they can be while nicked on the OL. On paper, as you say this could be a favorable matchup (Steelers interior run blocking vs NE middle run D), based on how Pitt fared against Balt's interior D. We'll see.

    In hindsight, it's a shame we couldn't have traded for Monroe instead of Levi Brown. As it stands, if the running game is stuffed, and Adams is playing LT, we're almost guaranteed a bunch of sacks and turnovers.
  19. Elijah

    Elijah PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2010
    Messages:
    2,261
    Likes Received:
    35
    Ratings:
    +87 / 9 / -3

    #11 Jersey

    Don't forget about the Halloween effect...2004 and 2011...
  20. Ivan

    Ivan On the Roster

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2011
    Messages:
    6,159
    Likes Received:
    211
    Ratings:
    +638 / 18 / -19

    #75 Jersey


    This is one of the reasons I feel like they should allow Talib to sit for another week, which would give him five weeks to recover from the hip flexor. A. brown is a burner, and although Talib has good speed the burners are not his best match-up, the more physical receivers are. Let him rest, use Dennard and Ryan on Brown and Arrington on Sanders.

Share This Page

unset ($sidebar_block_show); ?>