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Your 2010 Steelers (Pitt fan perspective)


lillloyd
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Hello everyone, NON smack-talking Steelers fan here. Just thought I'd share a few (hopefully objective!) thoughts about the 2010 version of the Steelers, and maybe correct some misconceptions along the way, since you probably don't follow the Steelers the same way you follow your Falcons.

Here we go...

1. The Steelers are NOT a dominant running team. Somehow this myth still persists nationally, but the reality is that Pitt hasn't had a top 10 ground game since 2007 (and we had major problems in short yardage even prior to that). We've actually morphed into a pass-first team over the last couple of years. That all said, the Steelers claim they are "recommitting" to the run game this year, and our OL has enough road graders to do it...but it remains to be seen if they'll be successful.

2. The Steelers OL is very shaky in pass protection. Part of the reason we may be starting Dixon is that Batch might be killed behind our line. Kemo (LG) seems to get beaten a couple of times a game; Flozell Adams is 35 has had his struggles "flipping" from LT to RT; Trai Essex (RG) is really a backup who's starting because we have no one better. Our rookie C (Pouncey) has looked dominant and is already our best lineman...but he's a rookie, snapping to a QB making his second start. If I were the Falcons, I'd blitz the living **** out of Pitt and make them prove they can handle blitz pickup.

3. The Steelers D should be much-improved...if we stay healthy. Our D's overall statistics (5th overall I believe in '09) belied the fact that we were atrocious in situational football (ie protecting 4thQ leads). Aaron Smith and Polamalu are our two most important defensive players, and both missed most of last year; just getting them back is a huge boost. In addition, I think we've actually improved several secondary positions: Polamalu is obviously a massive upgrade over Tyrone Carter (his injury sub last year); Bryant McFadden replaces William Gay at CB (who was terrible on the outside); William Gay now returns to the slot/nickel role where he's a much better fit.

4. The Steelers pass rush should be ferocious at home this Sunday. If Pitt doesn't get behind too early, the (rabid) home crowd should create a major advantage in passing situations. We have terrors off the edge in Woodley and Harrison, plus Lebeau dialing up exotic blitzes in a favorable environment, presumably with improved secondary coverage behind the front 7. (One thing to watch for: ILB Lawrence Timmons (#94) has been an absolute beast in the preseason and looks poised for a breakout year. He has comparable atheticism and burst to Polamalu but is 50 lbs heavier, and should be our next Pro Bowl linebacker.)

5. Our Special Teams coverage units have been abysmal. Reed can't get the ball into the end zone on kickoffs, and our cover teams don't cover. At one point last year I believe we gave up some sort of return TD in 4 or 5 straight games. Usually you don't think of ST as having a major influence on a game, but in our case there's always a danger we'll spot the other team a backbreaking extra 7 points because of our coverage. It's no exaggeration to say that we would have won two more games last year if we'd had even average coverage units.

6. Watch for a lot of underneath stuff from Dixon. Wallace may have speed to burn, but I doubt Dixon can get him the ball deep, and Wallace is a work-in-progress everywhere else on the field. But (underrated!) Heath Miller and Ward are extremely effective, if not explosive, catching the ball underneath and moving the chains. Mendy's a good pass catcher and release valve out of the backfield as well.

7. Finally, for Fantasy buffs... Tomlin said today that Isaac Redman, who's looked great, has the short-yardage role. I don't know if this applies near the goal line, but don't be surprised if Redman replaces Mendenhall in the red zone.

This is still a very talented team, but it has a lot of question marks. Will the areas of emphasis (ST coverage, ground game, pass protection, secondary) actually improve? Can Polamalu and Smith stay healthy? How will the team respond if Dixon struggles (reportedly both the staff and the players were split on Dixon and Batch)?

I have no idea what this all means for this Sunday. I think if we can bottle up Turner, muster up a reasonable ground game ourselves, and keep Dixon from making game-changing mistakes, we can hang in there and maybe pull out a low-scoring win. But I worry about Dixon--although overall he had an excellent camp, he looked very shaky two weeks ago in Denver. I hope the opening game isn't too big for him.

Anyway, good luck Sunday, here's hoping we get a great (and most importantly INJURY FREE) game...

lillloyd

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Hello everyone, NON smack-talking Steelers fan here. Just thought I'd share a few (hopefully objective!) thoughts about the 2010 version of the Steelers, and maybe correct some misconceptions along the way, since you probably don't follow the Steelers the same way you follow your Falcons.

Here we go...

1. The Steelers are NOT a dominant running team. Somehow this myth still persists nationally, but the reality is that Pitt hasn't had a top 10 ground game since 2007 (and we had major problems in short yardage even prior to that). We've actually morphed into a pass-first team over the last couple of years. That all said, the Steelers claim they are "recommitting" to the run game this year, and our OL has enough road graders to do it...but it remains to be seen if they'll be successful.

2. The Steelers OL is very shaky in pass protection. Part of the reason we may be starting Dixon is that Batch might be killed behind our line. Kemo (LG) seems to get beaten a couple of times a game; Flozell Adams is 35 has had his struggles "flipping" from LT to RT; Trai Essex (RG) is really a backup who's starting because we have no one better. Our rookie C (Pouncey) has looked dominant and is already our best lineman...but he's a rookie, snapping to a QB making his second start. If I were the Falcons, I'd blitz the living **** out of Pitt and make them prove they can handle blitz pickup.

3. The Steelers D should be much-improved...if we stay healthy. Our D's overall statistics (5th overall I believe in '09) belied the fact that we were atrocious in situational football (ie protecting 4thQ leads). Aaron Smith and Polamalu are our two most important defensive players, and both missed most of last year; just getting them back is a huge boost. In addition, I think we've actually improved several secondary positions: Polamalu is obviously a massive upgrade over Tyrone Carter (his injury sub last year); Bryant McFadden replaces William Gay at CB (who was terrible on the outside); William Gay now returns to the slot/nickel role where he's a much better fit.

4. The Steelers pass rush should be ferocious at home this Sunday. If Pitt doesn't get behind too early, the (rabid) home crowd should create a major advantage in passing situations. We have terrors off the edge in Woodley and Harrison, plus Lebeau dialing up exotic blitzes in a favorable environment, presumably with improved secondary coverage behind the front 7. (One thing to watch for: ILB Lawrence Timmons (#94) has been an absolute beast in the preseason and looks poised for a breakout year. He has comparable atheticism and burst to Polamalu but is 50 lbs heavier, and should be our next Pro Bowl linebacker.)

5. Our Special Teams coverage units have been abysmal. Reed can't get the ball into the end zone on kickoffs, and our cover teams don't cover. At one point last year I believe we gave up some sort of return TD in 4 or 5 straight games. Usually you don't think of ST as having a major influence on a game, but in our case there's always a danger we'll spot the other team a backbreaking extra 7 points because of our coverage. It's no exaggeration to say that we would have won two more games last year if we'd had even average coverage units.

6. Watch for a lot of underneath stuff from Dixon. Wallace may have speed to burn, but I doubt Dixon can get him the ball deep, and Wallace is a work-in-progress everywhere else on the field. But (underrated!) Heath Miller and Ward are extremely effective, if not explosive, catching the ball underneath and moving the chains. Mendy's a good pass catcher and release valve out of the backfield as well.

7. Finally, for Fantasy buffs... Tomlin said today that Isaac Redman, who's looked great, has the short-yardage role. I don't know if this applies near the goal line, but don't be surprised if Redman replaces Mendenhall in the red zone.

This is still a very talented team, but it has a lot of question marks. Will the areas of emphasis (ST coverage, ground game, pass protection, secondary) actually improve? Can Polamalu and Smith stay healthy? How will the team respond if Dixon struggles (reportedly both the staff and the players were split on Dixon and Batch)?

I have no idea what this all means for this Sunday. I think if we can bottle up Turner, muster up a reasonable ground game ourselves, and keep Dixon from making game-changing mistakes, we can hang in there and maybe pull out a low-scoring win. But I worry about Dixon--although overall he had an excellent camp, he looked very shaky two weeks ago in Denver. I hope the opening game isn't too big for him.

Anyway, good luck Sunday, here's hoping we get a great (and most importantly INJURY FREE) game...

lillloyd

Cool gives me some different stuff to watch for.

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Thanks for the insights on your team. Based on what you said, it sounds to me that we'll stick to the old cliche', "stop the run, run the ball". This, combined with some good special teams play will mean Falcons will win the field position battle and wear down the Steelers D. Can't wait till Sunday!!

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Hello everyone, NON smack-talking Steelers fan here. Just thought I'd share a few (hopefully objective!) thoughts about the 2010 version of the Steelers, and maybe correct some misconceptions along the way, since you probably don't follow the Steelers the same way you follow your Falcons.

Here we go...

1. The Steelers are NOT a dominant running team. Somehow this myth still persists nationally, but the reality is that Pitt hasn't had a top 10 ground game since 2007 (and we had major problems in short yardage even prior to that). We've actually morphed into a pass-first team over the last couple of years. That all said, the Steelers claim they are "recommitting" to the run game this year, and our OL has enough road graders to do it...but it remains to be seen if they'll be successful.

2. The Steelers OL is very shaky in pass protection. Part of the reason we may be starting Dixon is that Batch might be killed behind our line. Kemo (LG) seems to get beaten a couple of times a game; Flozell Adams is 35 has had his struggles "flipping" from LT to RT; Trai Essex (RG) is really a backup who's starting because we have no one better. Our rookie C (Pouncey) has looked dominant and is already our best lineman...but he's a rookie, snapping to a QB making his second start. If I were the Falcons, I'd blitz the living **** out of Pitt and make them prove they can handle blitz pickup.

3. The Steelers D should be much-improved...if we stay healthy. Our D's overall statistics (5th overall I believe in '09) belied the fact that we were atrocious in situational football (ie protecting 4thQ leads). Aaron Smith and Polamalu are our two most important defensive players, and both missed most of last year; just getting them back is a huge boost. In addition, I think we've actually improved several secondary positions: Polamalu is obviously a massive upgrade over Tyrone Carter (his injury sub last year); Bryant McFadden replaces William Gay at CB (who was terrible on the outside); William Gay now returns to the slot/nickel role where he's a much better fit.

4. The Steelers pass rush should be ferocious at home this Sunday. If Pitt doesn't get behind too early, the (rabid) home crowd should create a major advantage in passing situations. We have terrors off the edge in Woodley and Harrison, plus Lebeau dialing up exotic blitzes in a favorable environment, presumably with improved secondary coverage behind the front 7. (One thing to watch for: ILB Lawrence Timmons (#94) has been an absolute beast in the preseason and looks poised for a breakout year. He has comparable atheticism and burst to Polamalu but is 50 lbs heavier, and should be our next Pro Bowl linebacker.)

5. Our Special Teams coverage units have been abysmal. Reed can't get the ball into the end zone on kickoffs, and our cover teams don't cover. At one point last year I believe we gave up some sort of return TD in 4 or 5 straight games. Usually you don't think of ST as having a major influence on a game, but in our case there's always a danger we'll spot the other team a backbreaking extra 7 points because of our coverage. It's no exaggeration to say that we would have won two more games last year if we'd had even average coverage units.

6. Watch for a lot of underneath stuff from Dixon. Wallace may have speed to burn, but I doubt Dixon can get him the ball deep, and Wallace is a work-in-progress everywhere else on the field. But (underrated!) Heath Miller and Ward are extremely effective, if not explosive, catching the ball underneath and moving the chains. Mendy's a good pass catcher and release valve out of the backfield as well.

7. Finally, for Fantasy buffs... Tomlin said today that Isaac Redman, who's looked great, has the short-yardage role. I don't know if this applies near the goal line, but don't be surprised if Redman replaces Mendenhall in the red zone.

This is still a very talented team, but it has a lot of question marks. Will the areas of emphasis (ST coverage, ground game, pass protection, secondary) actually improve? Can Polamalu and Smith stay healthy? How will the team respond if Dixon struggles (reportedly both the staff and the players were split on Dixon and Batch)?

I have no idea what this all means for this Sunday. I think if we can bottle up Turner, muster up a reasonable ground game ourselves, and keep Dixon from making game-changing mistakes, we can hang in there and maybe pull out a low-scoring win. But I worry about Dixon--although overall he had an excellent camp, he looked very shaky two weeks ago in Denver. I hope the opening game isn't too big for him.

Anyway, good luck Sunday, here's hoping we get a great (and most importantly INJURY FREE) game...

lillloyd

Makes for interesting game matchups. We've been very solid on Special teams, and our qb helps our OL look better than they are. Our offense will probably look to establish the run and short pass, which should offset the strong pass rush, plus our offense didn't establish much rhythm during the preseason so I question how much they would attempt to threaten with the passing game unless they fell behind. We had one of the better run defenses in the league last year and it looks to be as good if not better this year. Our pass defense has been rebuilt but untested, and Pit doesn't figure to be the team to test that unit at the moment.

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Hello everyone, NON smack-talking Steelers fan here. Just thought I'd share a few (hopefully objective!) thoughts about the 2010 version of the Steelers, and maybe correct some misconceptions along the way, since you probably don't follow the Steelers the same way you follow your Falcons.

...

Anyway, good luck Sunday, here's hoping we get a great (and most importantly INJURY FREE) game...

lillloyd

Hey man great post, well worth reading. This game should be a war, especially defensively. Let's all hope for a great game and NO injuries.

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lilloyd,

I, by no means, think that just because your team is going to be without the star QB, that we are going to destroy them on Sunday. The steelers still have a great recieving corps. and a good(not great) defense, along with pretty good back up QBs.

And ofcourse, the fact that we are going to be in your house.

With that said, our defense has been beefed up(with high expectation), and our offense like the years before, has potentially great weapons(if utilized). The important thing for us is that everyone is healthy and they are more than anxious to get out on that field Sunday and start this season out with a bang!

Matt Ryan is coming off of a 2nd year slump, and is ready to prove that he is going to become an elite QB in this league. Michael Turner has lost 20 pounds and is as fast as ever. Tony Gonzales is entering his last season and is going to fight as hard as he can to get that ring on his finger.

Be ready for a great game, but I'm sorry to say, it's going to be a long ride home for all of you Steelers fans. :P

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Thanks for the assessment.

As for the Falcons - here you go:

1. The Falcons ARE a dominant running team. Our OL is built for the run and they play with a nasty streak. They aren't necessarily the biggest guys in the league, but they are good pullers and play through the whistle. Our fullback, Ovie Mughelli does a great job in the lead. Michael Turner is back to form - and although he didn't take many hand-offs in the Preseason - I think he'll dominate the snaps in this game. If the Steelers do shut him down - then you have an excellent chance of winning the game. Let him get started - and it will be a long day for your D. I have much respect for the Steelers D - so this will be the most interesting match-up of the day for me.

2. The Falcons OL is, in my opinion, also very shaky in pass protection. You seldom see a pocket formed - and Ryan has to throw quickly or throw it away way more than he should. They didn't really let us peek at the real passing game in preseason, they were trying specific things out and our first team squad wasn't on the field much. However, based on what I have seen in training camp - our young QB looked much more in sync with our receivers and frankly, most of us can't wait to see how it looks on the field when the games count. The one thing I'm sure of is that our QB is excellent against the blitz, but has struggled somewhat against the 3-4 defenses. If the Steelers D shuts down the Falcons run game - then it might be a long day for our O.

3. Our receiving corp is in better shape than last year. Gonzolez has had a year with the team - he's more comfortable with the play calling and Ryan. Roddy White has all the makings of a top 5 WR - and we hope he is in top form for the game. Our slot receiver, Harry Douglas, who plays for us much like Welker plays for New England (not comparing the 2 guys - just the position) has sure hands, he's fast and he can take it to the house before you know it. He was hurt in training camp last year, so we are excited to see him back out there for us this year. I believe they will be using Jerious Norwood, who's actually our RB more in the passing game as well - and anytime he touches the ball, he can be very dangerous. That being said, we are lacking our true #2 receiver, and while I love the guy who's filling in (Brian Finneran), this is the area that concerns me the most in our passing game.

4. Defense is where we have made the most improvements, and I am so excited with the defense this year. While little has been made of it in the media (typical coverage for the Falcons, though (lol)), the Falcons have been quietly putting together a dynamic, super fast, aggressive group that should shock a lot of people this year. We have our DT back (Jerry). The only thing that bothers me is that Babineaux will not be in this game (suspension) and I really think we could use him. That being said, this is a speedy, young group with a lot of swagger this year. I am so looking forward to seeing them Sunday. Our run defense has been good, but I think the pass defense will be much improved this year.

5. Special Teams is an area we excel in. Our Punter (although I hope he doesn't even see the field except for Kick-offs) and special teams group set the record in the NFL for fewest return yards in '08 with just 49 for the year. Last year, we were missing quite a few key pieces in that group and it got out of control, but I expect to see them return to form this year. Our return guys in 2008 were Norwood for KR and Douglas for PR, but both got hurt last year before the first game, so Eric Weems stepped up and took on both jobs. He ended up with an avg of 25.3 yds on 48 KR and avg of 10 yds on 27 PR. Now, both the other guys are healthy and I've seen them all practicing on special teams, but Eric is listed as both this year, with Douglas backing him up on PR and our rookie Franks backup for KR. The ST is an area of strength for the Falcons, with one exception. We just don't know how well our PK will do. Last year was a nightmare, and we replaced him near the end of the year. This is a big ??? for us.

We do have a talented but young team and we are all (im)patiently waiting to see how they produce in the regular season.

Here's to 60 FULL minutes of hard, fast football with no injuries!

RISE UP, FALCONS!!!!

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All I know is that Turner and Weems had better hold onto the ball. Those two have had some problems holding onto the ball when its dry.

That's what I'm afraid of. First game of the season you know the players might be too jacked up and with the threat of rain, I just hope they don't lose focus.

Our equipment guy will bring the correct shoes.

Should not be a real issue. ;)

Hope it's not much an issue. I'd hate to see anyone get hurt right out of the gate.

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