Monthly Archives: August 2016

Scouting for Steelers: Defensive Backs

via Steelers.com

I’m focusing on the defense because I’m hoping that most of what we’ve seen from the offense isn’t what we will be seeing with the actual first team on the field. And since the defensive backs are probably the position group that has generated the most angst (I’m guessing TE is a distant second) it’s worth having a look.

As I discovered, it can be pretty hard to figure out who lined up where and who was actually on the field. So I’m just going to approach the group as a whole, making some assumptions about who was likely to have been playing, based upon when the front-line starters mostly packed it in.

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Scouting for Steelers Part 3: Farther Back on the Defensive Front

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Charles LeClaire, USA Today Sports

I covered the first half of the game from the standpoint of the defensive front in Part 2,  and we’ll move on to the second half of the game, where a host of young guys had a opportunity to catch the eye of the coaching staff.

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Scouting for Steelers, Part II: Defensive Front

Nate Guldry/Post-Gazette

As I explained in Part I, I decided to go back and review the Steelers/Lions games from the standpoint of a scout, since the Steelers are clearly setting up their game plan with the idea of winning it as a very secondary concern. So let’s look at some of the guys on the bubble in the defensive front.

The first question is, who was getting the playing time, and where? I would go through and figure it out myself except that there’s no need to duplicate the fine work done by Dave Bryan at Steelers Depot. The big questions are, 1. Who starts at nose tackle in the 3-4 alignment, 2. Who backs up Tuitt and Heyward, and 3. Who plays in the sub-packages?

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Scouting for Steelers, Part 1

Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports

My game recap of Steelers/Eagles was, shall we say, less than enthusiastic. It’s pretty hard to get excited about a game in which the Steelers did not score a single point, and which featured four interceptions in the first half. But even as I watched, and even as I wrote it, I knew in my heart of hearts that impressing Steeler Nation was not the purpose of this, or any, preseason game. The coaching staff is looking for separation as they have to get serious about who to cut, and they are looking to avoid injuries, especially for the guys they can’t afford to lose.

This was brought home very clearly by a comment to the article by George Siegal, who said:

…the preseason is about individual performance, not team performance… [Craig] Wolfley said that if you watch a preseason game as a game, you’ll be disappointed, but if you watch it with a scouting eye, watching certain players to see how they play, it will be interesting. I’m paraphrasing, not direct quotes.

Both of those apply to this game in a big way. It seems to me that Coach T uses these games to evaluate players even more than most other teams. Other teams seem to get excited about the game, Tomlin gets excited (as excited as he gets anyway) about a player making a good play. He will get his backups in against the opponents first team as much as he can. Some coaches are concerned about winning because their teams need to learn how to win, that’s not the case in Pittsburgh. I’ve seen Coach T put second or third team players into bad situations to see how they do.

David Todd said in the post game show that in the last 15 preseason games the Steelers are 2-13. I have to approve of Tomlins methods, because it seems to work. He could keep the stars out for the entire preseason and they wouldn’t miss a beat and the players who need the reps are getting them. But it sure makes these games tough to watch..

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Random Post-Training Camp Observations: The Lombardi in August

QBs

Charles LeClaire photo

by Ivan Cole

Some of us Steelers Nation folk who live in the Washington DC metro diaspora have found much amusement over the years as we have watched Washington fans celebrate capturing the Vince Lombardi Trophy in March. They have declared all sort of aggressive maneuvers, thus assuring themselves possession of that silver trophy and ignoring certain obvious realities. I would quickly add that followers of other teams do it as well. Many of the chronically clueless of Steelers Nation often lament the fact that Pittsburgh seems relatively uninterested in this sort of exercise.

But before we pat ourselves on the back for our wisdom, we might meditate upon the habit of doing something very similar in July/August. They don’t give out the Lombardi in August either. Or in September for that matter. There are things such as key injuries to concern ourselves about in preseason and the first quarter or so of the regular season, but for me the story doesn’t really begin until sometime around Columbus Day. And there is still plenty of mystery to deal with even then usually. So, while there are interesting issues afoot, forgive my relative lack of angst short of Labor Day.

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Steelers Fall Flat Vs. Eagles

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers-Training Camp

Eli Rogers: via USA Today Sports

Another week, another depressing report. I will look hard for bright spots, because the score of 17-0, Eagles, tells you the bright spots are not terribly obvious.

I took careful notes, and I could go through them for you, but actually the game can be condensed thusly:

First Half

  • The Good News: No three-and-outs
  • The Bad News: They weren’t necessary for the Eagles’ defense, as they intercepted Jones four times.

Second Half:

  • The Good News: No interceptions from Dustin Vaughan
  • The Bad News: No points from Dustin Vaughan either.

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Character (Ac)Counts: Scouting for Steelers

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Keith Srakocic, AP photo

I’ve gotten a bit behind on my reading. How far behind? I just got around to the May 9 edition of ESPN Magazine. I clicked on an article which seemed vaguely interesting  [no more paper subscriptions for me!] and struck gold.

The article in question is called In the age of analytics, putting the focus back on scouting.”  As you might suspect from the use of “analytics,” it’s about baseball. But bear with me.

The article is written about the Midwest Territory scout for the Minnesota Twins, Mike Ruth. As it begins he has shown up to a voluntary workout at Tulane, a week before official practices begin. As he stands in the cold, nearly alone except for a few university people, who should show up but a scout he recognizes immediately, because he is from another small-market team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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