Afternoon of the Living Dead: A Discussion of the Steelers / Bills Preseason Game
Although we aren’t focused on current news on this site and aren’t really capable of “rapid reactions,” it did occur to me that we could have a Round Robin sort of game recap/commentary by utilizing the wonders of the interwebs. So this week we have comments from Clark, perhaps better known as PaVaSteeler, Mike, aka Homer J, and myself.
Ivan may also chip in some comments, which I will add in an update. He was mercifully spared watching the actual game because he was attending a board meeting of a group devoted to making life better for victims of human trafficking, which just goes to show that good deeds do actually go unpunished on rare occasions.
This is a test. If it were a real discussion, you would need to go to your basement and weep amongst your Steelers paraphernalia, because the Steelers would have just frittered away one of only 16 regular-season games in a most unseemly fashion.
Please let us know whether you enjoy this format, and if so whether you would like to participate. I suppose we could just have game threads, but frankly one doesn’t see people at their best or most coherent at those times, and I would just as soon avoid them.
If you wish to take part you may contact me via my website, Choral Music on the Edge. There is a “contact me” link on the top of the left sidebar. I haven’t yet figured out how to put a contact form on this site which doesn’t require a phone number and opening hours. And now, down to the business at hand.
The game began on a high note. Or, as PaVa said, at least they won the coin toss. Note it was one Steeler vs. four Bills. The lone Steeler on the field had something to do with one of the few remaining highlights.
In a foreshadowing of things to come, the Steelers’ heralded offense, at full strength other than the lack of Maurkice Pouncey, went three-and-out. The defense, in what was not a foreshadowing but rather what proved to be a brutal dose of reality, promptly gave up a touchdown. As Homer J. said:
The defense looks horrific. Buffalo cutting through them like that proverbial hot knife through butter. Shazier fell flat on his butt on the pass to Clay. Will Allen was late providing help. It is scary as hell to see how first units have completely had their way with the Steeler starting defense.
And if Clay can make them look that bad, the name Gronkowski should give you night sweats.
The defense seems to step it up when the second string QB comes in, but I don’t think that happens much in the regular season. From my feeble recollection, first string QB’s stick around for most regular season games, and that doesn’t bode well for what looks like a Swiss Cheese Curtain.
But then the cavalry arrived and the Steelers scored both a touchdown and a two-point conversion. That’s more like it. As Homer J said: “Ben looked good. DeAngelo Williams has looked very, very good.”
Defense is back on the field. Not for long, though. The old-style Steel Curtain would have had a three-and-out. The new-style defense is also off the field after three snaps, as PaVa points out:
Bills score twice, each in only 3 plays…not good.
He also noted:
Bills 2nd score: Looked like Bills knew from where pressure was coming; 3 man rush stymied and receiver easily split seam.
Once again the offense comes through, this time with Michael Vick. Homer J:
Vick has looked absolutely terrific. Good blocking to seal them on the outside.
PaVa puts in a cautionary word, though:
That pitch to Archer from Vick will only work if Vick keeps it; Archer can’t run through tackles.
Actually, he can, as long as the defense on the other side of the tackles is the Steelers defense. So I guess the statement is accurate, since they have to play other teams’ defenses.
PaVa also said “Beachum struggling… Is he thinking too much with Vick being left handed?” Interesting point.
Great pass and run, Vick to Bryant. Bryant looks great, and so does Wheaton.
If you are looking for something to build on, it is that we were worried about back-ups at RB and QB, and now it looks like there’s nothing to worry about there. Vick looks absolutely like the answer to the back-up QB problem. He has the mobility, he has the arm, he has the receivers, and he has the pass blocking to make it happen.
This is probably the last encouraging thing in the game. It only gets worse.
Hartley kicks off and pulls a hammy or something like that. I never really like Hartley. Never liked Taft, either, for that matter.
Someone should file an injunction forcing Tomlin to find a punter who can also place-kick, and someone who can hold in just such an emergency. I’d hate to see this happen in a game. I mean, we all remember Deebo long-snapping. Placekickers, punters, and long-snappers DO get hurt, and if you don’t have a back-up in pre-season, whaddya gonna do in regular season?
My personal feeling was, the Bills had an extra. It would have been only neighborly to loan us one of theirs. But they didn’t offer, and thus the Steelers were forced to go for it on a 3rd and 9, and got 5 yards or so. The damage could have been worse. They turned it over on downs at the Bills’ 21 yard line, so it was scarcely worse than a touchback.
They didn’t get three points, of course. But in the end those three points would have been just a drop in the bucket…
Homer gave up at this point:
I can’t watch any more. If I watch any more, I will lose my appetite. And, besides, there’s a great
sunset special at Chef Geoff’s. Homer is of a certain age where early bird specials appeal to him.
I am not worried about the offense, but the defense looks positively awful.
No excuse that the D is showing vanilla. The truth is they are showing that vanilla—or whatever flavor they are serving up—can not stop any first team offense as of yet. A big part of that is that they are not experienced as a unit, and it shows. Some guys arrive early, or on time, and others arrive late — and that leaves big seams.
Heyward is a beast, but he misses his beast buddy Tuitt.
There are plenty of parts in the front seven. Still not sure about the back four. And they certainly aren’t in sync yet.
My inclination is that they have what they need and this team will become much better as the season goes on, but it’s time to fasten your seatbelt. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride for the first month, at least.
And with everything in flux, how the hell is Danny Smith going to assemble an efficient special teams unit?
Based on what I’ve seen, Jimmy Garaffalo would be a great fantasy pick for week one.
Homer also gave me the title for the post, and a parting shot:
Tomlin said too many guys looked like the walking dead out there.
The George Romero classic “Night of the Living Dead” was filmed in and around Pittsburgh. We got to see the sequel, “Afternoon of the Living Dead,” which took place in Buffalo, which is actually Cleveland – without all the glitter.
They should have provided air sickness bags for those watching yesterday….
PaVa had some questions as well. (It seems no one had the stomach to comment on the second half in more than general terms.)
Is the abysmal performance by the defense, specifically the failure to execute fundamentals, (1) a product of the CBA’s influence on training camp; (2) a product of the coaches’ failure to teach them in training camp; (3) the rawness of the young players?
I say no to (1) because our pre-season opponents haven’t exhibited the same level of deficient tackling… So what do the remaining options indicate?
I would add to his comment about choice (1) that all of the other teams we have played after the Hall of Fame game have had one game less than the Steelers. Scary stuff.
If there’s one tiny excuse I could make for the defense, I suppose it would be that the Bills first-team O-line stayed in for most of the game. It’s not much of one, though. Feel free to mock me for even offering an excuse.
I always try to look at the bright side. Maybe this means Bill Belechick won’t even bother to game plan for Week 1. Or, as one of the Tribune-Review writers suggested this morning, if Tom Brady isn’t playing, maybe he won’t bother to dress a quarterback…
I took careful notes on the rest of the game, which I scarcely have the heart to go back through.
Hombre de Acero of Steel Curtain Rising used to run a feature on Behind the Steel Curtain called “Five Burning Questions.” (Maybe he still does, but I couldn’t find any recent examples.) As I watched the last few dreary minutes of Saturday’s game, I found I had about a million burning questions and not a lot of answers.
I expect Mike Tomlin feels just the same. He commented that judging by yesterday’s game you could pretty much cut ALL of the young guys. “Burn!,” as my children would say.
So here are a Dozen Disquieting Questions, some followed by a Few Feeble Answers:
(1) Who helped or hindered their case today?
The better question is probably “did anyone help their case today?” Mike Tomlin didn’t appear to think so.
(2) Did Jordan Berry do enough to actually be the favorite for the punter job?
I would say he’s one of the few with a positive answer to (1). He had a couple of great punts from near his own endzone. He did a decent job on kick-offs on short notice. Bob Labriola named him the Steelers Digest Player of the Week.
On the other hand, I expect there weren’t a lot of choices, since they presumably don’t want to say anything nice to Martavus Bryant right now, since he’s such a knucklehead. They presumably don’t want to say anything anything more about Michael Vick than necessary, either. That pretty much leaves the second punter to be the highlight of the game.
(3) We lost another kicker. They are doing an MRI on Garrett Hartley, but I can’t imagine the Steelers don’t just sign the first decent-looking kicker to get cut by another team, rather than wait around to see whether Hartley is going to stay healthy. So would you go with an old guy like Jay Feely or go after one of the promising-looking young ones who didn’t beat out the incumbent?
(4) Is Josh Harris the 3rd running back if you’re the coach, after what he did(n’t) do yesterday? Or Dri Archer? If not one of them, then who? Are you looking at the waiver wire?
(5) If you’re Danny Smith, are you turning purple when Jesse James has two false starts in a row with the punter already backed up almost to the goal line? Do you think his heart is going to make it through this season?
(6) Did any of the receivers show you anything which makes you think they can fill in for Bryant? It would have been nice to see Darrius Heyward-Bey, for instance.
(7) Did anyone else catch Charlie Batch’s (or maybe Bob Pompeani’s) comment to the effect that Bryant would be able to play while his case is still under appeal? Does this mean it’s at least theoretically possible he could play for the first couple of games while Le’Veon Bell is out?
(8) And speaking of Le’Veon, did it worry anyone that he didn’t look as good as DeAngelo Williams? Is this because Pouncey is gone?
(9) Why was Danny Smith engaged in conversation with Ramon Foster in the middle of the game? You wouldn’t think they would be exchanging marinara recipes or something like that, but I can’t think of any other reason for the special teams coach to be chatting with an offensive lineman.
(10) And can anyone tell me why that simply awful foghorn/train whistle noise doesn’t count as artificial crowd noise? That was really annoying. REALLY annoying…
(11) If you were Rex Ryan, would you have gotten the tattoo with your wife in a Jets jersey in the first place?
(12) Sorry, what I meant to ask was, which would have been your choice in the Bills’ QB competition?
Feel free to respond to any of these questions, or to pose your own. I highly recommend doing either over just staying in your basement until the season is over…