An Outsider's View of the AFC Playoff Field (and Threats to Pats)

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lillloyd

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
Just wanted to give this a quick bump for anyone that may have missed it.

For anyone that doesn't know him, @lillloyd has been a long-time occasional visitor that offers some very refreshing outside perspective. I always enjoy reading well thought out football opinions from fans of other teams, as they see a whole lot more of their favorite teams and their division rivals than we do. Thanks much for taking the time to write.
Thanks JMT--I'm not around much, but whenever I stop by I always feel welcome here :)
 

TommyBrady12

Hall of Fame Poster
2020 Weekly NFL Picks Winner
Tuitt has a chance to be an outstanding 3-4 end for a long time. Very hopeful that he works out.

Wheaton is a hard worker and has a promising skill set, but his longer-term development may be hampered by the fact that his profile (smallish quick/fast WR) is too similar to Brown's, whereas Martavis Bryant's skill set (size/larger catch radius/good long speed) may complement Brown's much better.

That all said I thought Easley was looking like a keeper for NE?

Tuitt and wheaton were guys many on this board wanted the patriots to nab.

Easeley has skill set to be good, but is coming off two major ACL surgeries. He's boom or bust.
 

Oswlek

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Easeley has skill set to be good, but is coming off two major ACL surgeries. He's boom or bust.

Despite his knee issues this past season, Easley is no more likely to have another catastrophic knee injury than anyone else. Dominique is more likely to be a good NFL starter than a boom or a bust.
 

Mike the Brit

Minuteman Target
PatsFans.com Supporter
Do you mean, am I worried that he'll get run into the ground long-term, and become injury-prone? If that's your question, I guess my answer is not really, for a couple of reasons:

-- a pretty healthy percentage of his touches are receptions, and generally speaking I don't think *receiving* touches carry the same weight as actual carries. (On a typical carry between the tackles, an RB may get hit straight on several times; but on a reception the RB is in space and is less likely to take a beating.) I think the comparisons of Bell and Matt Forte are pretty spot on -- you'll notice Bell, for all of his focus, could still finish shy of 300 carries for the year. But like Forte he may be in that 70 - 90 reception range annually.

-- I don't think the current arrangement (Bell with no proven vet behind him) will last longer than this year. Clearly the Steelers brass wanted a reliable vet behind Bell when they went after Blount in FA; it simply didn't work out. I fully expect them to add some experience and talent behind him next year since they already tried this year.

Remember too that Bell is a fairly big back (230 maybe, even after the weight loss) that *can* take a pounding, but rarely needs to because he has good short-area quickness and doesn't take a ton of direct hits.

Having said all that, maybe Bell gets injured the very next game, who knows. But I don't think it will be because of excessive workload this year if he does...sometimes injuries just happen.

Good reply. I guess I meant "all of the above".

1. The offense at present seems to me to be really revolving around Bell. And there's no real Plan B if he's injured. I mean, the Patriots have lost Ridley, have Blount and Gray banged up but still have a pretty decent "heavy" back in Brandon Bolden. Surely you need more back-up.

2. Furthermore, the number of touches he's getting seem to indicate that he may be worn down by the end of the season, even if he's not injured. I see the distinction between carries and catches you point to, but it seems to me that any half-bright Defensive Co-ordinator is going to come up with the plan: hit Bell hard and often.
 

Oswlek

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
BTW, for those afraid of Pitt, root hard for them to win tonight. If they win, they'll take the 3rd seed and cannot face NE until the AFCCG... after knocking out the Broncos in round 2.

Assuming SD wins, the team that comes to the Razor in the divisionals would be one of SD, Cincy or Indy. That looks mighty tasty!
 

Mike the Brit

Minuteman Target
PatsFans.com Supporter
Good reply. I guess I meant "all of the above".

1. The offense at present seems to me to be really revolving around Bell. And there's no real Plan B if he's injured. I mean, the Patriots have lost Ridley, have Blount and Gray banged up but still have a pretty decent "heavy" back in Brandon Bolden. Surely you need more back-up.

2. Furthermore, the number of touches he's getting seem to indicate that he may be worn down by the end of the season, even if he's not injured. I see the distinction between carries and catches you point to, but it seems to me that any half-bright Defensive Co-ordinator is going to come up with the plan: hit Bell hard and often.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sport...ell-knee-injury-pittsburgh-steelers/20986941/

Well ...
 

supafly

Eff you, Shula
PatsFans.com Supporter
2019 Weekly Picks Winner

He really seems to have dodged a bullet with the "no structural damage" designation.

For what it's worth, he also was seen leaving their locker room without the aid of crutches or even a brace.

The biggest question will be whether or not he'll be able to go on Saturday which won't be answered until later on in the week, but it doesn't appear that he's even definitely going to miss that game, let alone any others.
 

Mike the Brit

Minuteman Target
PatsFans.com Supporter
He really seems to have dodged a bullet with the "no structural damage" designation.

For what it's worth, he also was seen leaving their locker room without the aid of crutches or even a brace.

The biggest question will be whether or not he'll be able to go on Saturday which won't be answered until later on in the week, but it doesn't appear that he's even definitely going to miss that game, let alone any others.

OK, but, since the Steelers need to play him if they possibly can, I'd be sceptical about any "he's fine and ready to go" messages. Remember the Gronk in the Superbowl?
 

Oswlek

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Pitt's secondary was awful yesterday. On every all-22 replay, there were at least two guys open. Literally, every single one. Often times, Dalton's pass didn't target either of them.

I'll give them some credit, though. The front seven has come a long way. It was abominable in the first half of the year, but now it's OK.
 

lillloyd

Third String But Playing on Special Teams

I'm assuming this wasn't the kind of injury occurence that you were talking about in your initial post? (not sure if you actually saw the Bell hit, but it was very reminiscient of the Gronk hit -- just a guy coming across the middle and getting a direct shot on his knee). This wasn't a guy getting injured because he was wearing down under a heavy workload, or getting beaten up during a 30 carry game....this was just the unfortunate "wrong time, wrong place" kind of hit that happens from time to time in the league.

Bell's *extremely* fortunate that this wasn't a MAJOR injury requiring months of rehabilitation. So while we're obviously not happy that he's dinged, the bigger picture is that our star RB didn't get his knee completely shredded (and frankly, that's what it looked like on the initial replays :( One of our LBs, Sean Spence, had a very similar-looking direct shot on his knee two years ago in his rookie preseason, and he's only now playing (his 3rd year).

Again though this wasn't some kind of overuse /weardown injury. The only way you could prevent Bell (or Gronk for that matter) getting injured on a play like this is to never send him out on a pass pattern.
 

lillloyd

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
Pitt's secondary was awful yesterday. On every all-22 replay, there were at least two guys open. Literally, every single one. Often times, Dalton's pass didn't target either of them.

I'll give them some credit, though. The front seven has come a long way. It was abominable in the first half of the year, but now it's OK.

I haven't seen the all-22 but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if that were the case. We have been getting by recently on improving pressure from the front 7, which covers somewhat for our deficiencies on the back end. But we have both talent deficiencies and injury problems back there. We also happen to draft CBs much in the way NE drafts WRs, which has left our talent pipeline dry there (Cortez Allen, the would-be heir apparent to Ike, had a miserable year that landed him on IR).

TBH I don't even know if Taylor / Polamalu eventually coming back will make much of a difference. They're both at the end of the line. I suppose they might help with just knowing general assignments (a frequent problem this year) but I'm not 100% sure that from a performance standpoint they'd improve matters, as dinged up as they are.

It's a weird year to be a Steelers fan. Top-ranked offense and record-setters all over on that side of the ball...and a defense with one of the worst DVOAs out there.
 

lillloyd

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
Blount is going to go HAM on the Steelers in the AFCCG.
I would almost be happy if that happened, as it assumes that we'll win two playoff games ;)

FWIW I'm genuinely puzzled by all of the posts on this forum talking about Blount as if he was somehow 'wronged' by the Steelers organization, or that the Steelers somehow screwed up for releasing him.

Blount left a game before it was over, packed his stuff up, and left the locker room before the team even arrived. He walked out on a night when his supposed best friend on the team, Bell, was having a career night. More importantly, there were reports that this was just the tip of the iceberg--that issues had been brewing for several weeks. (The swiftness of Blount's release--despite Pitt's lack of proven depth behind Bell--would seem to corroborate those reports.) And on top of all that, Blount simply wasn't playing well. Outside of some garbage yards against a dispirited CAR team week 2, he was averaging less than 3 yards a carry.

There's no disputing that he was a great pickup for you guys, as he knows your system and you seem to have the one locker room that can keep a guy like this in line. But it was *his own actions* that doomed him here--really, what choice did Pitt have, given all of the above? (Let's be real: would NE keep a guy acting so selfishly -- so contrary to the "Patriot Way" -- around? Or would they cut him, just like Pitt?)

So to suggest that Blount has some kind of legitimate axe to grind with Pitt--or that Pitt somehow erred in releasing him -- is way off the mark IMO. 5 teams in 5 years, combined with his Oregon days and his recent Pitt experience, makes me think Blount remains a bit of a knucklehead (albeit, a talented one :)
 

juny

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
Get well soon Bell! I hate the ratbirds. I'm guessing lilloyd will be rooting for the pats in the unlikely case of a balt upset.
 

supafly

Eff you, Shula
PatsFans.com Supporter
2019 Weekly Picks Winner
OK, but, since the Steelers need to play him if they possibly can, I'd be sceptical about any "he's fine and ready to go" messages. Remember the Gronk in the Superbowl?

I'm just pointing out the fact that they're pretty lucky to have avoided any structural damage, need for braces, crutches, etc.

He may end up missing Saturday night's game vs. BAL, but he's very likely to be back in 2 weeks if they advance. Of course, he may play on Saturday at 65-70 percent too, we'll have to see. Having Le'Veon Bell at 65-70 percent is still a pretty significant weapon.
 

Mike the Brit

Minuteman Target
PatsFans.com Supporter
I'm assuming this wasn't the kind of injury occurence that you were talking about in your initial post? (not sure if you actually saw the Bell hit, but it was very reminiscient of the Gronk hit -- just a guy coming across the middle and getting a direct shot on his knee). This wasn't a guy getting injured because he was wearing down under a heavy workload, or getting beaten up during a 30 carry game....this was just the unfortunate "wrong time, wrong place" kind of hit that happens from time to time in the league.

Bell's *extremely* fortunate that this wasn't a MAJOR injury requiring months of rehabilitation. So while we're obviously not happy that he's dinged, the bigger picture is that our star RB didn't get his knee completely shredded (and frankly, that's what it looked like on the initial replays :( One of our LBs, Sean Spence, had a very similar-looking direct shot on his knee two years ago in his rookie preseason, and he's only now playing (his 3rd year).

Again though this wasn't some kind of overuse /weardown injury. The only way you could prevent Bell (or Gronk for that matter) getting injured on a play like this is to never send him out on a pass pattern.

If you look at my post, you'll see that I compared the huge weight that the Steelers were putting on Bell with the multiple running backs of others and said that this looked like risking all on one player. I mentioned BOTH the constant risk of injury to RBs and the potential overloading and wearing down. I know you're a Steelers fan, but we're being civil to you, so there's no need to be a homer apologist for them.
 

lillloyd

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
If you look at my post, you'll see that I compared the huge weight that the Steelers were putting on Bell with the multiple running backs of others and said that this looked like risking all on one player. I mentioned BOTH the constant risk of injury to RBs and the potential overloading and wearing down. I know you're a Steelers fan, but we're being civil to you, so there's no need to be a homer apologist for them.

Mike,

FWIW Pitt really seems to like Josh Harris (their current backup RB). He had a nice run (59 yd 'TD') that was called back Sunday, and some of the Pitt beat writers (Ilkin/Wolfley) have been singing his praises for a while. So the hope here is that he can be our Jonas Gray--an UFA who can fill in capably if Bell is out.

I actually think Pitt can be okay *running* the ball in Bell's absence -- our OL has improved enough that I think a decent backup RB can have some success in a pinch. Where there will be simply a massive dropoff will be in the pass game, where Bell has been huge in making positive (sometimes, explosive!) plays on checkdowns when the wideouts are covered up...plus he's great in pass pro.

Pitt was fortunate to have a veteran, RB1-capable backup in Blount while they had him. They clearly had concerns similar to what you've raised prior to the season, since they made the effort to sign him. It's too bad for Pitt that Blount committed what's basically a fireable offense; whether you're in the NFL or in a corporate gig, if you literally walk off the job you'll justifiably be treated harshly. But the point is, Pitt *did* actually make a solid effort to address RB depth by signing Blount in the first place.

Not sure what was meant by the "homer apologist" remark -- I think (?) I do a decent job of staying pretty objective and non-combative (I think if you search my previous posts here on this forum, it will bear that out). I think we just disagree -- IMO Pittsburgh acted reasonably here, both in initially trying to shore up their RB depth by signing Blount, AND subsequently cutting him when his behavior went too far out of line.
I suppose you might fault them for not signing a FA vet to replace Blount (some lobbied for Ben Tate but he was cut--twice--for similar reasons as Blount). But for better or worse that's not been Pitt's M.O. -- they tend to fill from within, and frankly signing Blount in the first place was a bit out of character.

Anyway, I appreciate the civility (both from you and from the forum in general), and I hope my previous response wasn't interpreted as NOT being civil...it definitely wasn't meant that way.:)
 
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