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 Post subject: The Fifth Quarter - Lions Game Notes
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:23 am 
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A very abbreviated version of this old column. I've had a few thoughts bouncing around my head that I figured I'd share as we hit the midway point of the season.

What's up with Ben?
The QB who played his career with more balls than brains -moreso than any QB I've ever seen - has gone bizarro Ben. He's playing with fear right now. I've talked at length on these boards and on the podcast over the years about scouting QBs. One of the first things I look for is what does a QB do under pressure and more specifically what does he does with an open receiver and an unblocked pass rusher bearing down in his face. Ben has always been tough as nails and willing to take a shot in order to hit his receiver. He never ducked, half armed a throw or changed his mechanics. This season is different. Four times in the Lions game alone Ben half assed a pass where he seemed more concerned with avoiding any contact over competing the pass. The reason for this, I'll leave up to you all to hazard a guess at. Maybe the neuter Ben movement from the front office changed his mentality, perhaps it's his advanced age, maybe he just can't handle the hits any more. The fact that he is changing mechanics under pressure bothers me more than anything else on this team right now. If I were scouting a college player and he did what Ben did tonight I wouldn't want to draft him.

Now add in the fact that the best part of Ben's game is all but gone over the first half of the season. What I'm talking about is the busted play that he turns into magic. The reason that has disappeared is because of the second biggest thing I look for in a QB. What does he do when a play breaks down. Roethlisberger was always such a stud because when the play busted, he kept his eyes downfield looking for the homerun. Now he is too quick to throw it away or take the shortest dump off he can find. I still think Ben is a fine QB, but to win a SB he needs to be more than that. The crazy thing about Ben's game right now is that he isn't declining because of an erosion of skill or his body breaking down, he's struggling because mentally he isn't the same. Maybe the retirement talk is stuck in his head. $200 million in the bank, a beautiful wife and 3 kids can change a mans priorities. Somebody close to Ben needs to challenge him as a man to get back to being who he was as a football player. If he does that, he can win a ring this season.


Ditto that for AB the punt returner
WTF is he doing back there? Fair caches with nobody within 12 yards, not fielding punts at the 20 and letting them roll to the 10. I understand he should be off punt duty, but he's not. AB is a below average return man right now and shouldn't be. Again, it's all mental. The kick return unit is dead last in the league because they use a short yardage back and possession receiver to return kicks.. The punt returns should be better if they only tried to be.

About JuJu
Has any rookie ever endeared himself to the city so quickly? From the second he was drafted JuJu has done all the right things. He seems genuinely excited to be a Steeler. The youthful exuberance is infectious to his teammates, and he has all the traits of a guy who will be a core Steeler for a decade. The block he made on the screen pass on 3rd and long that freed up AB to get the first down was the type of play that he's done all year. Those little selfless things win ball games. When you have a "me first Martavis" on the roster, this kid sticks out as a breath of fresh air. Tremendous blocker, very strong runner with the ball, and difficult to tackle. Add in a reliable catcher of the football and chain mover. It was poetic just to see this guy break the Steelers record for longest TD reception on a night where Bryant was benched for being a selfish idiot. The Steelers couldn't have drafted two better men with their first two picks. Watt and JuJu are no-nonsense hard workers who hustle and do the little things to win football games.

Stats That Stick
7 - Steelers Sunday Night Football winning streak.
18 - The average margin of victory in those games
1 - sacks allowed by Steelers in the past 3 weeks despite missing Marcus Gilbert.
51 - Roethlisberger now has 51 300-yard games
272 - Receivng yards Smith-Schuster has out produced Martvis Bryant by in the past month

Random Thoughts
*Can any pair of linebackers in the league vertical jump as high as Shazier and Watt? Save me the combine measurements, on the field those guys can get up and after a pass.

*Mike Hilton is the most important newcomer to this roster. Well maybe after Haden, but not by much. He's been brilliant all around.

*Gilbert, Tuitt, McDonald, Bryant should all be back after the break. Crossing fingers the first half string of relatively good health continues.

*Bryant's new role when he comes back should be rookie year Martavis duties. JuJu took his job, Bryant should be the third receiver. Let him play the slot some and just take the top off the defense.

*This offense is 6th in yards and 14th in the league in points. Yet another year where their point production badly trails their yardage. Zero creativity in the red zone mixed with bad penalties and drops is killing them.


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 Post subject: Re: The Fifth Quarter - Lions Game Notes
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:29 am 
I disagree on Ben I think his problems stem from crappy WR and TE groups and Haley.


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 Post subject: Re: The Fifth Quarter - Lions Game Notes
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:30 am 
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Agree about Ben. But it is what it is. He can still be good, but he's changed. Time defeats us all. He's changing his game to protect his longevity (hopefully). I'm not ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater like some are.

The red zone offense must improve. Unfortunately, the "brain trust" views execution as the only problem. The play calling and formations must change. I don't know if the coaching staff can evolve, or perhaps more accurately is humble enough to do so.

Juju was a great pick. The kind of guy who will be a captain as he gets older. May not be the fastest in the world but he knows what he's doing and will do the little things that really make a difference to a team. Refreshing that someone so young is such an old school throwback.


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 Post subject: Re: The Fifth Quarter - Lions Game Notes
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:33 am 
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Good to see this. It’s clear that the Steelers best WRs are Brown, JuJu, and Bryant. Bryant is better than the second TE. He is also better than Nix. I understand based on packages some of those guys will eat some snaps. But it should only be some.


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 Post subject: Re: The Fifth Quarter - Lions Game Notes
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:35 am 
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SteelerChef wrote:
I disagree on Ben I think his problems stem from crappy WR and TE groups and Haley.


Those are big parts of why his numbers are down. The fact that he's pulling up on throws and quitting on busted plays is what has me concerned. That's not Ben. Not who he is at all. Mentally he isn't where he needs to be.


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 Post subject: Re: The Fifth Quarter - Lions Game Notes
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:38 am 
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Zeke5123 wrote:
Good to see this. It’s clear that the Steelers best WRs are Brown, JuJu, and Bryant. Bryant is better than the second TE. He is also better than Nix. I understand based on packages some of those guys will eat some snaps. But it should only be some.


I don't know man. Nix was killing it lining up out wide. :lol: :lol: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: The Fifth Quarter - Lions Game Notes
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:44 am 
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SP wrote:
About JuJu
Has any rookie ever endeared himself to the city so quickly? From the second he was drafted JuJu has done all the right things. He seems genuinely excited to be a Steeler. The youthful exuberance is infectious to his teammates, and he has all the traits of a guy who will be a core Steeler for a decade. The block he made on the screen pass on 3rd and long that freed up AB to get the first down was the type of play that he's done all year. Those little selfless things win ball games. When you have a "me first Martavis" on the roster, this kid sticks out as a breath of fresh air. Tremendous blocker, very strong runner with the ball, and difficult to tackle. Add in a reliable catcher of the football and chain mover. It was poetic just to see this guy break the Steelers record for longest TD reception on a night where Bryant was benched for being a selfish idiot. The Steelers couldn't have drafted two better men with their first two picks. Watt and JuJu are no-nonsense hard workers who hustle and do the little things to win football games.


Where would this team be this season without their 1st an 2nd round draft picks?

That is a serious injection of young talent.


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 Post subject: Re: The Fifth Quarter - Lions Game Notes
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:45 am 
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Ben has been consistently missing high a lot this year. Leads me to think he’s using some lazy footwork and poor technique in his steps. Haven’t seen anyone really do a breakdown of it but I’d be interested in the results.

This passing offense is *so* close to really busting out in a lot of ways. It’s almost comical at this point how we find new ways to screw ourselves. If nothing else, the law of averages would lead you to believe that we’ll get some more red zone conversions in the passing game in the seconf half. I’d spend most of my bye week focusing on just that alone.


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 Post subject: Re: The Fifth Quarter - Lions Game Notes
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:47 am 
SP wrote:
SteelerChef wrote:
I disagree on Ben I think his problems stem from crappy WR and TE groups and Haley.


Those are big parts of why his numbers are down. The fact that he's pulling up on throws and quitting on busted plays is what has me concerned. That's not Ben. Not who he is at all. Mentally he isn't where he needs to be.


Hmmm ? Not sure I see that but I will cede to your wisdom for the moment and hope things improve.

What I see is this:

- hugely stupid playing calling

- a pass catching group that breaks down like this:

AB seems to get targeted even in double and triple coverage. Thats never going to work well consistently.

MB and JJSS who both can and have made plays but lack consistency and disappear at times for various reasons

Everyone else that for the most part have just been horrible. Worst route running least athletic ability most undynamic group of spare parts in the pass game I can remember in a long time


Last edited by SteelerChef on Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Fifth Quarter - Lions Game Notes
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:47 am 
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I don't think Ben has changed.

What I see is a guy who is just barely off - and there are many reasons for that. It's just been magnified by a shitfest around him, There are many, many things about this offense that are "just a little off". Yes, I blame almost all of that on Haley.

We get huge plays in the deep/intermediate middle of the field....We get huge plays off PA....And we lock that shit up and throw away the key as if attacking downfield is a chastity belt.

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