5 Smoldering Questions on the Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 6

photo via Steelers.com

Hombre de Acero is still wandering the world, so you all are going to have to make do with more Spluttering Questions this week. Not but what the questions would be fairly spluttery anyhow after the Massacre at Heinz Field. So without further ado:

1. Anybody with a smartphone and the ability to look up a few stats was aware that the Jaguars, while possessing what Ike Taylor declared two weeks ago was the best corner tandem in the league, were not very impressive against the run. That would lead simple folk like some of us to think the Steelers would, well, run the ball. Le’Veon Bell had fifteen carries. Why do you think this is? No profanity, please…

2. James Harrison was a supposedly unhealthy scratch in Baltimore. He was a healthy scratch in Pittsburgh. How soon do you expect to see him on the field, and how mad do you think he will be?

3. Mike Tomlin is not known for wasting challenges. When he does challenge a play he usually wins. Neither challenge last Sunday looked at all promising, and indeed all he did was lose 1/3 of his timeouts. Why do you think he challenged those plays, particularly the second one? Was it sheer desperation, or something more rational?

4. Time to look ahead to next Sunday, when a brighter day will dawn. Except for the fact that the Steelers have to travel to the noisiest stadium in the NFL and play the only remaining undefeated team, on national television. Is there anything you can think of which gives you any hope for a happier outcome than last week?

And finally, with apologies to Hombre:

5. You get a phone call with a 412 area code. You pick it up and are asked to hold for Coach Tomlin. He says hello and then gives you 60 seconds to tell him one thing you would do to improve the offense. He notes that just saying “run the damn ball” is not helpful. Could you give him one specific tweak, either in personnel or scheme, which doesn’t involve anyone not currently on the team or staff?

I completely understand if you’re too depressed to answer these. As you can tell, I’m not over that game either. But if you can bring yourself to pick up your No. 2 pencil, I would be very interested to hear what you have to say. Otherwise, class dismissed…


  • 1. It baffles me that the steelers do this. It is not just under Haley either. I remember games pre-Haley where we went up against the worst run defense in the NFL and decided to throw the ball the entire game. What gets me is that Ben just kept throwing towards Ramsey. He is one of the best in the NFL. Why continuously throw his way? Ugh, this just drums up even more questions.

    2. Pretty Darn Mad I would expect. Also, I am so happy to say, we really don’t need him at the moment. Watt and Dupree are playing lights out. To have Mr. Harrison on the bench due to the skill at the position is such a HUGE positive. Won’t stop me from wearing his jersey every week though.

    3. The First one was somewhat understandable. I thought from the initial replays he caught the ball half a yard short of the 40. The second one was a mystery. It was pretty obvious the ball hit the ground and Brown’s fingers were not under the ball. I don’t think it was desperation at the time though. There was still a lot of game to be played and we weren’t down by much.

    4. Can’t “play down” to this team? I know we have discussed this and your article about Tomlin’s tendency, which turns out really isn’t the case, but no matter who you are, when you are thinking you are going up against a team that is inferior, you don’t tend to play 100%. This game will be played at 100%, or we will get stomped. Defense, please come out to play like you have all season. That will be a big step in getting the win.

    5. Hmmmm, I would definitely end the call with RUN THE DAMN BALL! The other 55 seconds, have Ben and the receivers spend the entirety of the week (no time off) working on route running and timing, especially with Bryant, who hs not looked like himself at all this season(understandable, but it is getting to be too far into the season for this to be). Make sure Ben is comfortable with his receivers. Obviously Brown doesn’t need it, but he is REALLY trying to force the ball to him too much.

    Side note on this: From Steeler games this season at least, it seems the refs are allowing the DB’s and receivers to play ball more than previous seasons. I noticed that on Ben’s last pick, though it was a very ill advised throw, and a wounded duck to boot, you could see Ramsey hook Brown’s arm and drag him to the ground, thus keeping him from making a play at the ball. Had that not happened he may have been able to deny Jax that last pick. Nothing was called, but it seemed kind of blatant and obvious.


  • cold_old_steelers_fan

    1) no idea
    2) Mad or not, I don’t expect him to get a game day jersey
    3) I thought the first challenge was as much about giving the Steelers defence a minute or two to catch their breath and to compose themselves. I didn’t watch as far as the second challenge (iirc).
    4) I will probably PVR the game and only watch it if it isn’t a disaster. I am still smarting about my three teams all laying eggs on the weekend.
    5) I wonder how many running plays Ben checked out of during the first half. Still, when I watched it didn’t seem like they were having any success running the ball. I was wondering if the Steelers would have had more success with Connor and Walton, seeing as they have a different running style. If nothing else they would have been punishing the tacklers.

    Bonus answer for unasked question: I do wish there was a non-intrusive test for CTE that could be administered to living players.


  • 1. I don’t believe we were that unbalanced until we had to play catch-up. We did not get killed because we ran, we got killed by back to back pick sixes.

    5. The day Mike Tomlin wants, much less needs, my advice should be his last day as Steelers’ coach.


  • 1) Haley assumed – correctly – that JAX would sell out to stop the run and crowd the box. He assumed – incorrectly – that the way to beat that would be a bunch of short to intermediate passes just beyond the box. And he passed three straight times on first and goal from the five, and should never be forgiven for such folly. After the two pick sixes, they had no choice but to pass, and that skewed the pass-run numbers even more.

    2. Expect to see him on the field this week or next – and he’ll be pretty mad. Question isn’t about his demeanor or his strength. The question is how much quickness does he have left?

    3) The second challenge was a theological magnum mysterium. Unless Tomlin wanted to give his defense a good, long rest as opposed to just a sixty second time out. O Magnum Mysterium.

    4.Yeah. They’ve beaten KC the last couple of times, and, at least KC doesn’t stink. The Steelers play lousy against teams that stink.

    5. Use Conner and Watson more often, and run the damn ball on third and short. You have a solid, experienced offensive line and a short yardage specialist. Every time Watson has had his hands on the ball, he’s gotten the yardage needed for a first down. And Conner’s quick burst on power sweeps provides a solid change of pace from Bell’s dancing style. You have the weapons, guys. Use them.

    Homer is so depressed he’s leaving the county tomorrow, heading to the True North, Strong and Free. But he’ll be back some time on Sunday evening.


    • cold_old_steelers_fan

      I hope you have a good visit here. Just don’t watch the Winnipeg Blue Bombers… if the Steelers are depressing, the Bomber lost their starting QB.


  • 1. I would script for the first quarter pass heavywith shallow crosses, bunches that give a short middle and deep read, and TE seam routes out of run formations. See how their defense responds. Then keep at it until they show a defense Bell can exploit. The more important strategy in my mind is to go for it on fourth down every time it is 3 yards or less and from our 35 to field goal range. I think our defense can hold up their offense even with a short field. I wrote that on Sat. The idea being give them something they dont expect. Get them off balance a bit then use our strength against their weakness. In hindsigth I think I was correct.
    Why not more running? We got behind late and I think Ben audibled out of runs to pass early on.

    2. I suspect he knew snaps would be zero in Sep and few in Oct. and is more anxious to get going than angry. KC is a perfect time to get him some live action before the must win game with the Bengals where he makes a key stop to force a punt.

    3. In fact I didnot watch the game so can only conjecture he was grasping at straws to stem the avalanche.

    4. After this grand embarrassment I think Tomlin is mad enough to Unleash Hell and it wont be pretty. Remember the last time that happened? Oh Wait

    5. Similar tonumber one. Get Ben some pass plays with short middle and deep reads all on the same side of the field. TE seam routes out of run formations and
    much more of two people in the backfield. If not Nix then Connor and/nightmare show a little misdirection and a little change of pace running style


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