Back to basics...the Steelers way

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  • Sure, this Steelers squad isn't like your (grand)fathers. It's not even like the one I grew up watching throughout the 90's. But what we seen this year, just won't do. The reality is, they're not hard enough and too distracted. It's almost as if they're going through the motions at times. Like the Bears game this year, what was that about again?


    I have to place blame where it belongs, this team is definitely in Tomlin's mold. It's high time he breaks that mold, however, and go much harder than this current group. His teams need to be more hard nosed if they want to succeed in their chase for #7. There's too many distractions from outside sources, players are caught up with whatever is going on with social media, and then, the actual media keeps mining the locker room for bulletin board material...and the players actually gives it to them. That can't continue. And as much as Tomlin likes to let players be who they are, there are times when he needs to be more hands on to rein the guys in a bit. They need to be more mindful of what they say and do. And they need to maintain discipline on and off the field. Not that they're the Bengals or anything close.


    The issue is, the Steelers organization has a certain image to the rest of the league. We as fans know this too well. Other teams and their fans know it as well. Their assumption of the Steelers and their fans is that we're spoiled by success. But the truth is deeper than that, the Steelers organization and it's fans are driven to be the best. As fans, we want the Black and Gold to win at all costs, within the rules, of course. It's no different than what the organization expects out of themselves. The focus should always be on the prize at the end of the season: Bring that Lombardi back to Pittsburgh, where it belongs. Anything else is nonsense and shouldn't be accepted as 'alright' or 'good enough'. That just won't do.


    So here we are, peering at the off-season and all the pending scenarios the Steelers could possibly take. Two things are currently known at this point in time...


    1. Ben wants to come back next year.

    2. Tomlin IS NOT going to be fired.


    Everything else is pretty much in the air at this point and time, as far as the roster is concern. I intend to break this down the best I can as the off-season progresses. I'm currently thinking the biggest needs for this team are ILB (2?), S, P, RB, TE. (these are not in order of importance...) But definitely ILB and S.


    Another issue that I think Tomlin needs to think about is replacing Butler. Hate to say it, but Butler's schemes leaves one wishing for better. Notice that I said replace Butler, not fire Butler...I still think he has some worth on this team.


    Replacing Haley is a given, but finding a coordinator that can get the best out of this talent shouldn't be too difficult. I don't anticipate the Steelers asking Haley for another go...and they shouldn't. Imagine what Mike Martz could do with this talent. Chan Gailey would have a heart attack with this much talent at his disposal. I do have some interesting thoughts for OC. One of which would be to move Munchak to OC...and bring Faneca on board as OL coach.


    Anyways...lots of time between now and next camp.

  • I really feel bad for Mike Mitchell right now. When he first came to Pittsburgh, he was a bit on the ragged edge side of things. Playing like he belonged on the old Raiders teams from the 90's, ie; out of control at times, unfocused. in his time in Pittsburgh, he began to learn more control over himself. He became a better player for it, too. But this past Sunday, just might have been the last time we ever see him again. The cap hit for Mitchell is just too high. He's 31 now, with a 8.1m cap hit for 2018.


    How do you justify this? I can't. I'm not sure the front office can either. And Mitchell knows it as well. Apparently, he broke down as he went to turn in his jersey, as has been customary for decades. He found it difficult to pull it off. It sort of reminds me of Lee Flowers time in Pittsburgh,,,


    There are times when players make mistakes during a game, and it bothers them until the next play, others take a week or longer. Mitchell certainly had his share of bad moments, he had his share of good ones as well. His experience in Pittsburgh is not unlike others that have been there. Most fans probably won't blink an eye if he's not on the roster next season, just as they didn't worry much about Flowers being gone. it's easy to root for the superstar, highly talented players coming out of college. It's all too easy to forget those that came to Pittsburgh without the accolades.


    So to Mike Mitchell, if this is the end, thanks for everything you've done in Pittsburgh. You're not a mere footnote in this organization's history, but a key member that helped this secondary during it's dark hour. It's never easy to replace a legend like Troy Polamalu. You've done well enough, as far as I'm concern.

  • Damn DSH, I was getting ready to say good bye, but you sucked me back in......we just need to bring in some new posters.


    Great post by the way.

    "this place is a bit like Atlas Shrugged" ---Lemonhead


    "I think we're going to need a bigger boat"


    "Oh George, not the livestock"!

  • Interesting stat.....The Bears and the Jags beat the entire AFC North....food for thought.

    Power running teams. There was a time that the AFC North/Central owned this particular ideology of the game. But it died off slowly after the rules change. The Bears and Jags both have very talented RBs that clearly stir the drink of their respective offense. Meanwhile, the AFC North have strangely left that kind of offense behind. The Jags and Bears have proved that it still works.


    In fact, the AFC North in particular needs to take a step back and look at what it has become. There's a lack of identity in this division. It shows on offense and defense. None of the defenses in this division are particularly stout, but they flow to the ball pretty good.

  • So Coach T beat me to the punch, and officially announced Randy Fichtner as OC of the Steelers going forward. So much for giving Munchak a chance. Hopefully, Fichtner can correct the few issues seen under Haley's tenure, such as, stop using Bryant for Bubble Screens, more use of the TE as the outlet for Ben, get rid of the 5 Wide and re-institute the QB sneak.


    I would suggest using Bryant, Brown and JJSS in a single back formation in most cases. That gives Ben his principle targets, along with Bell (should he be signed...). And if he wants to, switch up with the TE and FB. The only way those three come off the field, is if one of them gets hurt or you need another TE in the RZ (but with JuJu being the size he is...). What we saw under Haley, however, he was constantly pulling somebody out to plug another player in, say JuJu comes out for Eli Rogers...why?? It made no sense. And yet, it was a weekly thing with Haley. Rarely did the play calling make much sense. there was a lack of cohesion from one play to the next as if he was tossing something on the wall, and hoping it would stick. That's just bollocks!


    And then, there is the Red Zone issue. Is there any reason not to utilize the TE in the RZ? I'm all ears, eyes, and whatever. There were moments I found myself shouting , "Why aren't you using the TE here?!" TE has the easiest path to the EZ,, and Haley oft times didn't even bother calling a play for the position. And when he did it was like "OMG, who's that guy with the ball in his hands?! He was out there this entire time??"


    In any case, Randy Fichtner is no stranger to this team, and he has been around for quite some time now. He should know who's suitable for what scenarios, but I'm really curious to see how he calls plays for this cache of talent.

  • Sucks to say this but, it's time for Bell to go.


    Tomlin needs to send a message here, and it's one worth communicating this off-season. Because unless Ed Bouchette is blowing smoke in our faces, Bell's tardiness doesn't cut the mustard. In fact, showing up late for walk through's coming off a bye week, just my opinion, is totally unacceptable. Particularly unacceptable for a RB that expects to be paid high end WR money. There's this thing called being professional. I'm not seeing it, if what Ed has said here is true.


    In fact, now that I think about it, his antics, if what Ed has said here is factual, couldn't have come at a more worse, or timely fashion. I get the impression that Bell feels he's irreplaceable. But take a good look at the RBs entering the draft. There are MONSTERS coming out. Some are fast, slick, slippery and smooth. And others are simply brutally so. Bell, for all of his talents, still lack in two distinct areas.


    1) He lacks the 3rd gear

    2) He's selfish, immature


    And if you weigh things out, this isn't the kind of player to throw 15 mil per season at. I mean, he has a variety of talents that gives you pause and think he's the best in the game. but the two things he lacks, makes it impossible to justify the logic. So you may as well trade him or let him walk away. The sooner the better. Save that money for other areas of need and get a couple more picks to boot.


    If what Ed has said in his article is true....


    Here's what I do see happening, and it's the typical classic move by the Steelers: Contract restructuring is underway.


    They have to lock Bell up for at least 3 years. And after that 3 year run, they got to let him go, or suffer the consequences. He wants guaranteed money, and that's the prime issue here. And not to say that Bell is wrong for being concern about his future, he has every right to be.


    The thing is, between him and Brown, things become a bit more tricky after three years in, of this new contract. It might not be an issue if they could play defense too. But how else do you get the men you need up front on defense, if all the money is locked up on offense? The primary disadvantage of the Steelers is that annually, they're pretty much cemented at the rear on draft day. They won't ever be like the Jags are now, 10 years worth of getting Top 10 picks, half of which are Top 5, and suddenly everything is alright. Nope. not happening. There would be hell to pay if that ever happened in Pittsburgh.


    But that's the issue going on in Pittsburgh right now. They need help on defense, badly. They have an issue with Shazier's future being uncertain, although, Shazier seems pretty optimistic about his return. But let's say Shazier actually does return and is fine, they still need one more man to fill in the void left behind by Timmons. This is a pretty big deal in the literal scheme of things. And they have to think beyond just next year. Cam Heyward has been a fixture in Pittsburgh for 7 seasons. I'll take a wild guess and say that before it's all said and done, they'll have to meet with Cam for another contract. How do you handle Watt's future contract, if Bell is busy ballin' with it? That will happen 3 years from now...


    There's the issue of resigning Haden this off-season. if you told me to weigh the prime concern for this off-season, keep Haden or Bell....just my opinion. so long Bell. The change to the secondary with Haden on the roster, is pretty damn impressive.


    Bell will likely get his money, as the Steelers can't keep play charades with Bell, and Le'Veon acting as if it's all good. But it's just my opinion, even though things would change quite a bit for Ben and the O-Line, I'd trade him for picks, simply because I couldn't afford him, with all the other issues surrounding this team.

  • The 'Something' wrong with the Steelers 3-4...

    1) Hargrave is too light in the pants

    2) The ILBs, while mobile, lack size

    3) Non-aggression DOES NOT WORK with the 3-4


    Yep, jumping right into it. The Steelers D shouldn't deviate from what it used to be, just because offenses have the upper hand with the rule book. I've always felt this way. Because if you look at how offenses were when the 3-4 was first brought into the league, offenses were just beginning to go to the air more and more. And through it all, the 3-4 had survived the onslaught. Often times, winning those battles with it's flexibility, even while in the base defense.


    And something that must be addressed, that can never be disputed again, because we've seen the failure on multiple occasions during this past season, is the 3-4 CAN NOT AFFORD TO BE WEAK UP THE MIDDLE. And the primary weakness of the Tomlin 3-4 is Jarvon Hargrave. He's simply too light and get's pushed around. It's nice to have pass rushing lineman in the 3-4. Don't get me wrong here. But if you can't stand up at the point of attack, getting gashed up the middle by running plays, what's the purpose of running a 3-4? Perhaps the toughest position to play in football is nose tackle. You'll have to take on, at times, 2 OLs at once to help free up the guys around you. You can't afford to not take on 2 OLs at once. And in doing so, you need to be one mean SOB in the meanwhile. Relentlessly, restless, vengeful. Hargrave has the drive, the 'WANT TO', but he doesn't have the weight to stand up to 2 OLs and lacks the strength to do this consistently. At his current size, he'd do very well as a DE in the 3-4, but as a NT, it's just not there.


    One of the reasons why McCullers was kept on the roster, was in the hopes that he could be that guy. He does have the desired size and is capable of holdup two OLs. But being honest here, he's a 2 ton truck driven by a 4 cylinder engine. It's just not there for him to do the job. If it were just him in a 4-3, he might get by. But being a NT, he can't afford to be tossed around because of the lack of drive. He'd be a massive liability, and that's how they've treated him to date. McCullers, sadly, has to be cut from this roster. He simply does not fit the needs of this defense.


    Having thought long and hard about this over the last 48 hours, the Steelers better concern themselves with getting a guy that fits the needs here. If they intend to keep Hargrave where he is, he's going to have to add strength and put on some weight, so he can hold up at the point of attack, force offenses to account for him. If Hargrave can't put on the weight, move him to DE. Heyward isn't exactly getting younger out there, although, he does look like he has a few more years yet to play.


    We have good ILBs. They're very mobile and assertive. But when it comes to stuffing the run, somebody needs to bulk up and put the smack down on the RB. And that's where the size of the current group is an issue for this defense (they're all the same size...). I imagine that ILB will be Vince Williams. I hope that's what he'll concentrate on this offseason. Williams has it, but not enough of it. When Lawrence Timmons first came into the league, he pretty much red-shirted the season to bulk up, while sitting behind Harrison. It paid off the following season, when Foote left the 2nd time around. And as time went on, he became bigger, faster, stronger. It came to a point where he was basically a human hammer when tracking down the ball carrier. Williams is basically the same size as Timmons was, when he was entering the league. That's a bad deal. That won't help in the run game. And he can't afford to stay as he is.


    Somebody has to see this as an issue, otherwise, nothing changes with this defense. If he can't do it, they better spend a high rd pick for one. No later than the 2nd rd. And this is where the sad part comes in, they might have to trade some picks to do it. Not that the Steelers need every single pick, but to get the guy they truly need, there may be a need to pay in blood. Lets face it: No team in the league wants to help the Steelers out. So if the deal isn't High Fructose Corn Syrup, chances are, the Steelers might have to keep their fingers cross.


    But despite all of this happening, getting a NT that battles in the trenches like a Kodiak bear, getting that ILB that makes Levon Kirkland giddy, none of it matters if the coaches run the defense like a wuss. The 3-4 is inherently aggressive. It was never meant to be overtly passive. Some of the scariest defenses in history came from the 3-4 (And Bill Belichick ran two of them, one of which was as the Defensive Cord of the Giants under Bill Parcells...the other as the HC of the Patriots). And it mainly starts upfront, as all defenses should. Of course, with the 3-4, there's really no other choice but to be aggressive, you only have 3 DLs, so at least one LB is in need to bring pressure. All of this talk about using 3 men to bring pressure is crap. You're essentially running a 'Prevent' doing so.


    THERE IS NO 'TAMPA 2' IN THE 3-4. THAT IS ESSENTIALLY A PREVENT DEFENSE UNDER THE 3-4.


    You can run a zone blitz, but without the front seven asserting itself, your defense is no better than tackling dummies. Can't afford to tell the NT to be passive. Can't afford to keep your OLB in passing lanes all game long. You need to mix things up and keep the offense thinking about what you're bringing next. Pressure, confusion and chaos, fear mongering. That QB needs to feel massive anxiety from the time he breaks the huddle to the moment he gets the snap. The OLs need to feel the same way. That's what the 3-4 is best at. Tomlin and his staff needs to focus on that. They're trying to turn the 3-4, IMO, into something it was never meant to be.


    I'm not a know it all, and I only have the most basic knowledge of what I've seen of the 3-4 over the years. But I'd suggest to them, hire Dom Capers or somebody to help consult them on the issues they're facing. While Capers has had his share of failures, it's not because of the schemes. The thinking behind those same plays made some of his defenses dominant in this league. And of course, he's not alone in this league.


    Finally, this is such a small part of it, aside from the injuries and players bolting for more money or opportunity. But there's really no other way to advance forward, without addressing the defense's woes. They can have discussions about what to do. But at some point, it needs to be recognized as an echo chamber, if you're agreeing to the same stuff and nothing has improved. At that point, you need to cut bait and start fresh. But since Tomlin has already stated that no changes would come to the Defensive staff....Steelers fans won't be patient forever.

  • Some post thoughts to "The 'Something' wrong with the Steelers 3-4..."


    The first indication that something was wrong with the middle of this defense, actually came when they played the Cowboys ('16). That run from Zeke Elliott was downright embarrassing (everyone knows which one it was). Of course, the initial thinking of many was likely, "It was just a fluke. that won't happen again...". But there were Steelers fans that said otherwise, and of course, "FIRE TOMLIN!!! :rant: " followed soon after....


    Two things in particular happened on that play, the first was Hargrave gave ground to the Cowboys center, in fact, he straight up collapsed out of the gap. It seems to be an issue with Hargrave against the run. The other issue is even if Jones got over in time, there was an OG waiting to take him out of the play. But he couldn't get out of the grasp of the OT anyhow. Shazier was eventually swallowed up by the OG, that weakside run was devastating. Just watched it again tonight. Jones wouldn't have had a chance even if he were there. Everyone went to the strong side. EVERYONE.


    Dontari Poe is said to be hitting the free market. Imagine this defense with Poe anchoring the line with Heyward and Tuitt beside him....I would not want to play credit card roulette with those three in attendance. Not even at McDonalds! Wi th that said, I suspect they'll be looking at a NT in this draft, perhaps before they do ILB.

  • I have two questions for you. One of which, EVERY STEELERS FAN SHOULD KNOW. The 2nd of which, comes to the individual's train of thought. So here we go....


    1) What is the quickest path to the reach the endzone?


    Every fan of the Steelers should know this without thinking about it. The answer: In a straight line, right up the middle. As easy as breathing. No matter what era of the game we talk about, no matter who the QB, WR, or RB is, running in a straight line, right up the middle of the field, is always the quickest way to score points.


    So now, the 2nd question...

    Why are fans so hell bent on tossing Bud Dupree into the recycling bin?


    Some might be wondering about this line of questioning. But if you stop and think about the failure of the defense the last couple of years, it begins to make sense. Bud is heading into his 4th year, come the 2018 season. In a way, you could call it an abbreviated 2rd season, he missed all but 7 games in 2016, thanks to a groin pull that persisted until late in the season. This year, he had a shoulder injury early in the season. And despite the fact he had 6 sacks, 30 tackles and 9 assists, we have fans hoping he's gone after the year. Perhaps it's just me, but I find this quite insane.


    I get the idea of not wanting to pick up his 5th year option. I'm not a fan of these 5th year options, because it inflates a player's actual worth. Btu here's the issue I really have here. We're talking about a 24 year old player that has only just begun to find his groove in this league. His biggest challenge is staying healthy, it's not an issue of skill. He's an up and coming OLB, keep this in mind going forward. And in the search of looking at improving the defense, there are actually fans out there that want him gone. Calling him 'Jason Gildon', calling him 'Bud the Dud', saying his 6 sacks on the year aren't that impressive....


    What does this have to do with stopping the running game going up the middle of the formation?


    Bud is setting the edge, he's not stopping the run up the gut, unless he crashes inside (he's not perfect at setting the edge, as he makes bad decisions from time to time, getting caught up inside...). If you go back and review the games in which the Steelers were pounded badly by the run, it was up the middle where the most damage was done. Hargrave was simply manhandled when teams decided to run up the gut. Shazier at times wasn't enough to stop the run by himself. If you can't stop the run, the edge, your secondary, none of that matters. Time is being eaten up, your defense is being worn out. Your defense becomes sloppy. And stopping the other team's momentum becomes a prime issue.


    if the core of the 3-4 is weak, it doesn't matter how strong or skilled your OLBs are. You need a tree stump in the middle of the field. This defense hasn't had such a player since Casey Hampton left the scene.


    And about Dupree being Jason Gildon...if Dupree had Gildon's Prime years production right now, the Steelers wouldn't be able to afford his 5th year option. When I first saw a fan's comment about Dupree being Gildon, I just shook my head. Gildon sat behind all pros in the early part of his career. He wasn't replacing Kevin Greene or Lloyd in his dreams, as a rookie. He played special teams during those days. Gildon didn't hit his prime until later on. One hopes that Dupree does the same, and perhaps sooner, so the naysayers can go sit in the corner for awhile. Until then, I hope they find a real NT this off-season. The man in the middle makes everyone around him better.

  • DSH you always get me fired up...lol. i agree with not giving up on Dupree yet. he is still young and has a ton of athletic potential. I would almost consider moving him inside along side Williams should Williams bulk up in size and if Shazier does not return. unless of course he shows exactly what can be done with all this potential he has on the outside if he can stay healthy. I agree with pretty much everything you have said.

  • Oh, BTW, that 2 man front formation needs to be trashed.


    For some reason, Coach T and Butler have concocted this idea that they could utilize a 2 DL front with LBs, with a 3-4 look. It's a failure in that, against the run, there's no plug whatsoever. Sure, it puts quicker players on the field, and it may help in the passing game. And there have been times it showed some worth. But it's clearly not the solution to this defense. Some of the biggest plays that have went against them, came from that 2 man front look. They need to get back to the 3-4 Base or move on to a 4-3. Some fans are thinking that the 4-3 is the best answer, and personally, I'd be hard pressed to disagree with that. Especially now that Shazier's career is a question mark right now. But I'd equally argue that they should dabble with both formations. Because the sole issue is PRESSURE. They're not getting very much of it with this strange 2 man front.

  • Just updating my thoughts heading into the Draft...


    Needs: ILB, S, NT, RB, P


    I thought about the TE position for awhile, since the first posting of this thread. Do the Steelers really need a Dynamic TE? The Steelers are so top heavy on the cap on the offensive side of the ball, that they've ruined some of their potential to find better players on defense. Not that the Steelers would ever go after a high price defensive player in FA, anyhow. But they will go for a vet that's solid enough to fit their needs...


    The fact that they have to deal with Bell in this offseason, hamstrings any real potential they have to improve, should he be signed. Even with contract restructuring, they'll be mortgaging the future in doing so. All of this is duly noted in this thread. With the money Bell is asking for, they could go and sign Dontari Poe to a 3-4 yr deal, and put the running game on notice, on the defensive side. A good plug up the middle changes everything for a "3-4" defense. Here's another name of intrigue: Haloti Ngata. I've always liked Ngata as a player, was sick to my stomach when the Ravens drafted him, however. It appears his time in Detroit has ended, so why not take a flyer on him? If the goal is to get that Championship before Ben retires, Ngata would be an interesting addition to this defense. Another name of interest is Star Lotulelei...


    But none of it would matter, if Tomlin and Butler still intend to believe that this '2 man' front is the way forward. Something like this defensive front, requires critical thinking. What if, instead of using Heyward and Tuitt, they utilized 2 NT instead?

  • Man I like the way Moats talks.......Wish he weren't in the twilight of his career. No bitching from him about the way things have changed for the ILBs.

    "this place is a bit like Atlas Shrugged" ---Lemonhead


    "I think we're going to need a bigger boat"


    "Oh George, not the livestock"!