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Great article that sheds some light on how the Steelers played our offense


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When Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White caught 13 passes for 111 yards against the Steelers on Sunday, left cornerback Bryant McFadden wasn't fazed.

In fact, McFadden took offense to media and fan criticism this week that he was victimized by White.

For starters, the Steelers' defense didn't allow a touchdown in a 15-9 overtime win at Heinz Field.

White was targeted 23 times, meaning that he failed to make a catch on 10 other occasions. White was held to only 8.5 yards a catch.

The assignment of defending White generally fell to McFadden, since they usually lined up on the same side of the field. However, William Gay also played on the left, and safety Troy Polamalu was shaded to that side when he intercepted a pass intended for White late in regulation.

"He was targeted 23 times - sometimes 23 completions is a whole ballgame for a team," said McFadden, who didn't practice Thursday because of a groin injury. "As far as yards per catch, we did what we needed to do. He was their big-play guy, their Pro Bowl receiver. Not allowing him to make a big play and get in the end zone was something we needed to do to be successful."

McFadden's workload could decrease in Sunday's game at Tennessee. The Titans feature an explosive running attack powered by Chris Johnson. They aren't likely to pass as much as Atlanta did.

However, quarterback Vince Young is developing chemistry with wide receiver Nate Washington, a former Steeler. The pair connected on a long touchdown pass against Oakland in the opener.

Asked if he expects Young to test his side of the field, McFadden replied: "You have to expect the unexpected."

The way McFadden views last Sunday's situation, when the Steelers shut down Atlanta's ground game, the Falcons, who rushed for only 58 yards, were forced to throw more than they wanted.

Of quarterback Matt Ryan's 43 pass attempts, more than half were directed toward White. Tight end Tony Gonzalez was held to only two catches for 35 yards.

The Steelers cornerbacks kept Atlanta's passing game in front of them, and McFadden kept White out of the end zone.

"It's very hard for a team to drive like that. Those plays are not going to beat us," said McFadden, who recorded a career-high 14 tackles against Atlanta. "Most offenses don't want to be nickel and diming all the time. If we can keep everything in front of us and punish them and make tackles, that's what we're going to do.

"A lot of people read into it the wrong way. People watching from the couch really don't understand football. They think it wasn't a good job. But on our end, we did what (defensive coordinator **** LeBeau) wanted us to do."

Gay, who is becoming a fixture at nickel back when he isn't filling in at cornerback, agreed with McFadden's analysis that the secondary was following orders by playing soft coverage against the Falcons.

"It's tough to run 10-yard outs the whole game and win," said Gay, who will start against Tennessee if McFadden doesn't play. "We tried to erase the big plays. No passes over 25 yards. Coach LeBeau teaches that."

Folks,this sums up much of what we have to contend with. Mularkey's offenses have always been nickel and dime passes mixed with the run game. When the offense can maintain long drives and then get in the end zone, we are tough to beat. Fans need to come to grips with the fact that we are a ball control offense. We run the ball (to run clock), we run the quick passing game (to run clock). It frustrates the opposing defense when you are constantly being gashed for 3-4 yards either through the air or on the ground. It keeps our defense fresh to enable them to try to get three and outs so our offense can run more clock.

We aren't a quick strike offense. That's the frustrating part. If we get behind in a game or the run game is stymied, we have to lean on the passing game. Now think of what the other defense is trying to execute. They know we are going to pass more, so they back the corners off and allow the short passes and ensure they tackle well. Matt was baited in that sideline throw that Troy picked off. Those are the breaks though. Ice man will learn from it.

So in conclusion, this is our 2010 Falcons warts and all. I'm a big fan of what we are trying to achieve both on offense and defense. Remember, this is a team game. The defense has to match the offense and vice versa. You can't have a heavy blitz scheme with a ball control offense. If the blitz doesn't make it home, the defense will give up the quick score. The ball control goes out the window. Prime example of meshing the defense and offense...the Saints explosive offense and their gambling defense. What are your thoughts?

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I knew someone would point that quote out (lol)! But seriously, what else do you do when McFadden is playing 10 yards off? We can't go deep on that so we have to take the underneath passes. When the defense is backed off like that any successful deep pass has to be a breakdown in coverage.

There was a breakdown in coverage we didn't take

advantage of on the Polamalu interception. He left

where he should have been and we should have made

him pay instead we were caught making what we thought

was a safe throw.

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If we are being honest about the Pittsburgh game, the passing game held up ok(notice I didn't say it was great). It was the running game that fell flat on its face. Had we been able to run the ball, it would have also helped our passing numbers because that is the best way to slow down the blitz and keep a defense honest. 2nd and 5 is also much easier to convert than 2nd and 8.

The hardest time to complete a long pass is when you are in a passing situation and the defense knows it. We really need some short yardage situations if we want the best shots at burning someone for a long completion. I think the Steelers do deserve credit for coming at us with a great game plan and executing it perfectly. But like I said, the run game is what failed us last Sunday.

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if the corners are playing off 10yds then throw a quick hitch for five or six until they play tighter that sets up a short 2 and three. You take what the defense gives you sometimes, they clearly where playing the deep ball so kill them with passes out the backfield and some screens and misdirection screens by the time they realize it we can gash them for some good yards.................. AWWW NEVERMIND

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if the corners are playing off 10yds then throw a quick hitch for five or six until they play tighter that sets up a short 2 and three. You take what the defense gives you sometimes, they clearly where playing the deep ball so kill them with passes out the backfield and some screens and misdirection screens by the time they realize it we can gash them for some good yards.................. AWWW NEVERMIND

I play Madden too.

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I was with you all the way until you actually agreed with our philosophy and then criticized the Saints'. I'd say their aggressive philosophy has worked pretty good.

I never criticized the Saints and their philosophy. I was merely pointing out that their defense meshes with their offense. They have a high powered quick strike offense coupled with a more gambling defense. If the defense gives up points, who cares because they believe the offense will get those points back. If the defense gets a turnover, the offense get points to run up the score. We aren't that kinda team. We control the clock. So meshing a more aggressive blitzing scheme hurts the team overall. So again, I wasn't criticizing, just saying what it is.

There was a breakdown in coverage we didn't take

advantage of on the Polamalu interception. He left

where he should have been and we should have made

him pay instead we were caught making what we thought

was a safe throw.

The Steelers were in Quarters coverage or a form of it(cover 4). The safeties read the #2 vertical threat and man them up if they go vertical. If #2 doesn't go vertical the safety doubles the outside #1 receiver. Troy made a heck of a play! That's what you're supposed to do in quarters. I really think Matt just had a brain fart on that throw. Luckily, that pick didn't cost us the game in regulation. Indeed we could have driven down the field to score but I digress.

I personally do not like our offensive game plan.IMO It only works in our favor if we score touchdowns everytime if we waste 5 min off the clock just to score 3 points to me that's not very effective and it def doesn't work in our favor if we are playing a quick scoring high powered offense.

You're correct. If we get caught in a shootout, we probably will lose. I understand what you want in a offense. You want a prolific high powered offense like the Saints. I get that. But...we aren't that team. We are built like the Pats when they won their first Super Bowl. Ball control offense and a stout defense. As long as TD and company are employed by Blank this will be our team. We've invested a lot of time and money to build our team that way. I'm not suggesting we change a thing. I think we just need to execute better and eliminate the penalties. Also we have to capitalize on the mistakes that other teams will make.

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The beautiful thing about the Saints offense is they can play both ball control or quick strike depending on the situation.

As much as I detest the Saints (all in fun) you're correct. You guys have the best if not one of the best Olines in the NFL. Up until the last few years the Saints were a pass happy team. All of a sudden a light came on and you guys started to ground and pound. I believe that is the reason you guys are such a hard team to win against. Case in point the season opener last Thursday. You came out passing the first half. The second half you ran a more ball control offense. I'm a firm believer in controlling the clock via the ground or short passing game. Once you seized control of the game the Vikes had to get away from their game plan. It forced them to take more chances. Couple that with an opportunistic defense and you have a recipe for the win.

As much as I want an explosive offense in the ATL, I'm just being realistic in that we aren't there yet. It takes time to get that perfect balance on offense as well as defense. A few years ago the Saints were all pass offense.

Now they can run the rock too. Much props...but...them Dirtybirds are on the verge. I can't wait till next week. I'll be at that game wearing my lucky Ryan jersey. Last time I went to an away game the Vikes went down back in 08. That game was awesome!

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I knew someone would point that quote out (lol)! But seriously, what else do you do when McFadden is playing 10 yards off?

Crossing routes both shallow and deep with the right combination route will be wide open all day long. Rice built a Hall of Fame Career destroying the Falcon's 10 yards off the line of scrimmage defense.

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There was a breakdown in coverage we didn't take

advantage of on the Polamalu interception. He left

where he should have been and we should have made

him pay instead we were caught making what we thought

was a safe throw.

IF you watch the replay, Troy and the CB switched places, so essentially Troy became the CB on the play, and the CB became the over the top safety. So there really was no break-down to take advantage of, because it was designed/function of the coverage they were running.

Also we could have taken better advantage of their defense lapses if we could have had a better O-line play giving Ryan more time to scan the field. There was entirely too much pressure on Ryan when he had to throw the ball, which MUST be fixed if we are truly going to be an Elite team.

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