Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Belichick is LeBeau's Daddy; Other Thoughts on Steelers-Pats


There are a lot of fingers to point after this debacle, but I think the blame for this one lies squarely on the coaching staff. This was by far the worst coaching performance in the Dick LeBeau-era and the offense, as against New Orleans, could do nothing early. The stats and points put up when the game was out of hand only serve to mislead. The Steelers were beaten badly in every aspect of the game.


The Steelers continue to get dinged up. Hines Ward left Sunday night's game early with a concussion which ended his streak of consecutive games with a catch at 186. To his credit Ward deemed the hit he took to be a clean one and didn't seem overly concerned with the streak. He expects to be back Sunday. Others injured included Lawrence Timmons, Troy Polamalu and Crezdon Butler. All will be limited in practice this week, but Timmons and Polamalu are expected to play Sunday. Will Allen and Brett Kiesel could be back Sunday, while Aaron Smith is still weeks away.


The Good: (Silver Linings)
*Mike Wallace has now established himself as one of the better receivers in the game. Against the Patriots he had career highs with eight catches for 136 yards and two TDs. Wallace is now third in the league in receptions of 20+ yards with 14, his 21.4 yards/catch is fourth in the NFL and his seven TDs is tied for fifth among receivers.

*It continues to be overlooked, but the Steelers are running the ball reasonably well. They had 69 yards on 12 carries in the first half for 5.8 yard/carry average, but only ran it four times in the second half because they fell so far behind.

The Bad:
*The Steelers were again held scoreless in the first quarter and have scored a total of ten first quarter points in Ben's five games as QB. Those ten points came against the Bengals and were a direct result of Cincinnati turnovers deep in their own territory.

*Roethisberger was 7 for 20 for 90 yards in the first half and looked confused by the defensive schemes the Pats were throwing at him. He also threw another pick six.

*The Steelers went three-and-out on their first possession of each half and the Pats scored on the ensuing drive each time.

*Wallace and Antwaan Randle El dropped touchdown passes in the first half that would have helped keep the Steelers within striking distance later in the game.

*The makeshift offensive line gave up five sacks to a team that had 13 thru eight games coming in. As in the game against the Saints, the line showed very little ability to adjust to the different schemes being thrown at them.


The Good:
*Nothing. Really. Maybe the fact that they won't play Tom Brady again during the regular season. He was fantastic.

The Bad:
*Everything. Really. This is what I wrote last week after the Cincinnati game: 
Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark were non-existant in pass defense for the second week in a row. Receivers have been running down the field uncovered and the Steelers did nothing to counter the Bengals move of putting T. O. in the slot, where he was able to take advantage of a much smaller William Gay. The Steelers safeties have to play better, especially Troy who seems to have gone missing the last 3-4 games.
Change "Owens" to "Gronkowski" and the paragraph is unfortunately useful again this week.

*The defensive line was completely neutralized. The Patriots were able to mix their play calling efficiently and move the ball on the ground. They got 17 yards on their first running play from scrimmage and finished with over 100 yards on the ground, the first Steelers opponent to do so this year.

*The linebackers got very little pressure on Brady and he was able to pick apart the defense as a result. Football Outsiders rated Brady's performance in terms of DYAR the best of the year and the second best against the Steelers since 1993. The best? Brady's performance against the Black & Gold in 2007.

*The secondary. Gay has been awful covering the slot of late and McFadden hasn't been much better. Polamalu has not made an impactful play in weeks.

*The defense created no turnovers.

Special Teams:

The Good:
*Emmanuel Sanders continues to be a threat and has ensured he will get a helmet every Sunday. He'll probably also soon supplant Randle El as the third wideout in the three-wide formation. 

The Bad:
*Jeff Reed missed a 26-yard field goal. He is no longer employed by the Steelers.


The Good:
*It's hard to find anything good in an ass-whipping like that. I guess the fact that the Steelers were only down 10-3 at the half is a credit to something.

The Bad:
*Bill Belichick has repeatedly beaten the Steelers by relying on a short passing game, knowing the Steelers will give up the underneath stuff and protect against the deep ball. This wasn't a secret. The interesting aspect of the tactical battle was to see how Dick LeBeau and the Steelers defense would respond. Nothing. LeBeau dialed up nothing new and the Patriots methodically picked the Steelers apart underneath and out of the slot, something the Bengals had exposed the week before. It was the worst coaching performance in the Dick LeBeau-era in my opinion.

*The Steelers have come out slow in each game with Roethlisberger as QB. They need to figure out a way to jump start the offense so they can play with a lead, mix the play calling and run the ball more often.

*The Steelers had no answers to the Patriots defensive formations and blitz packages early and were again hesitant to go to the no-huddle which has been effective in the past.

*Once again the defense was unable to make in-game adjustments when exposed by their opponent. 

Big Officiating Calls:

*Nothing that impacted the flow or outcome of the game.

Up Next: The 5-4 division-leading Oakland Raiders at Heinz Field at 1:00 Sunday. The Raiders beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh last year 27-24, scoring 21 4th quarter points, the Steelers fourth of five consecutive losses.


Martan said...

Sitting at the game, it was clear to me that the zone defense was just not working (and I even said so to my wife). When the Steelers tried man-to-man for a couple of drives in second half, they actually stopped the Patriots (which I again pointed out to my wife). But then the Steelers went back to zone and got torched some more.

The next day, I was watching Football Night in America on my DVR (recorded just before the game). Dungy says you beat Roethlisberger by not letting him roll to his right. Rodney Harrison says on national TV you beat Brady by playing man-to-man defense. (!?!?!)

The NFL is a copycat league and, as Tomlin often says, there is "a body of work" of video out there showing how to exploit each team. The Patriots did not let Roethlisberger roll to his right. Rodney Harrison did not say anything that LeBeau did not know.

Maybe LeBeau wants to save the man-to-man in case we play the Pats in the playoffs. Or maybe he really thinks his guys just cannot match up man-to-man. But we have to assume he knew what he was doing. We just do not know why.

greek said...

I don't understand the logic of not blitzing more. I would bring 6 guys each and every play and force Brady to release the ball much quicker. I also think knocking him down early in the game changes his comfort in the pocket. I only remember a few 6 man blitzes and one led to a intentional grounding penalty. Rushing 3 has not worked against him for 9 years, its time they tried something different. As a side note, William Gay has been exposed for 2 weeks in a row, they need to try a new 3rd corner.

The Hammer said...

Gotta hit him early, like they have done to Peyton in the past. Can't leave Gay alone on a big receiver in the slot. I can't believe somebody didn't make an adjustment at some point.