Tag Archives: Brandon Boykin

Developing the Talent: Carnell Lake, Part II

image.jpegThe previous post was getting unwieldy, because there is a great deal to talk about in terms of both Lake and the coaching job he has done so far. In the first post we looked at Lake’s first season (2011) which represented a high point for the secondary. It’s been mostly downhill since. According to Football Outsiders, the 2012 team dropped to No. 15 in the league, the 2013 team was No. 19, and the 2014 team was No. 30.

But guess what? Last season they finished at No. 13, despite not starting a single defensive back who ranked higher than No. 24, according to Pro Football Focus, among players with enough snaps to be ranked. The highest-ranked corner was Ross Cockrell, at No. 27. The highest-ranked safety was Mike Mitchell, at the afore-mentioned No. 24. They considered Antwon Blake to be essentially the worst corner in the league (and much of Steeler Nation would agree with them, I expect.)

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Thoughts and Predictions for the Steelers/Bengals Wild Card Game

steelers-bengalsAlthough I’ve been out of the epicenter of the Steelers universe, (in other words, I haven’t been in Pittsburgh since before Christmas) the modern miracle of the internet has kept me up to date in breathless detail. Have you heard that Ben Roethlisberger “called out” Martavis Bryant on his Tuesday radio program? If you haven’t, you must have been not just in the ICU but in a special unit with no TV or cell phones or visitors allowed, because every single word of Ben’s original comments, of his enlargements/ clarifications on Wednesday, of Martavis Bryant’s response, of Antonio Brown’s remarks, and also, presumably, what the Gator Ade guy thinks about it have appeared on fan sites, on ESPN, and everything in between.

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5 Smoldering Questions On the Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 15

via CBS Sports

by Hombre de Acero

Denver brought the NFL’s best defense into Heinz Field. For 30 minutes the Broncos got the best of Pittsburgh, but the Steelers rallied to win 34-27. The win improves the Steelers’ record to 9-5 and momentarily gives them the sixth seed in the AFC Wild Card race. But historic rivals Baltimore and Cleveland stand in Pittsburgh’s way….

Before Pittsburgh can confront its demons in Charm City and on the Mistake by the Lake, Steelers Nation must first resolve these 5 Smoldering Questions.

1. The win over Denver was dramatic by any measure. Just how important are you ready to say it is with two weeks to go in the regular season?
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On Second Thought: Colts vs Steelers

via Steelers Wire

 by Ivan Cole, with interpolations by Homer J. and [Rebecca]

Some quick thoughts on a late night.

R.I.P.—Jacoby Jones’ Pittsburgh Steelers career

The source of the only real drama of the evening, Jones pulled a ‘Scobee’ (Can we trademark that term?) and, in essence, ran himself out of a job. I and, I suspect, everyone else was through with him on the opening kickoff, but would tolerate him for the rest of the night as long as he kept a low profile. But on the fumbled punt, everyone from Mike Tomlin to toddlers sleeping in their mother’s arms were of one voice; ‘You’ve got to go, Jacoby! Not later. NOW!’

Or as Homer J. said:

Oh great heavenly days, what a way to start the game. The smoke still hasn’t cleared from the nonsensical fireworks crap and they’ve already fumbled it away with Jacoby Jones making us miss Dri Archer even more. Jones looked lost and tentative as hell out there, hesitating like a deer in the headlights. And he ended up a hood ornament, just like the deer. 

And on the next kickoff, Homer notes: Jones takes a knee two yards deep in end zone and crowd lets out huge cheer.

And later: Colts will get the second half kickoff, which is good in that Jacoby Jones won’t be able to fumble it...Sideline reporter quotes Tomlin saying Jacoby Jones is done for the night. Tomlin, once again, master of understatement.

Oh, by the way, Jacoby:  Ike Taylor called. He wants his hands back.

As I am writing this I am unaware of Jones’ status, but would anyone be surprised if someone drove him to the airport at halftime? [If I were Jones I would have called a cab right after that second fumble and saved the team the trouble. Personally, I would want to be well out of town before 70,000 Steeler fans emerged from the stadium…]

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Turnovers, Takeaways, and the Steelers 2015 Draft

via WTAE

by Rebecca Rollett

Back in 2012 I read the following comment in an article by John Dudley of the Erie Times-News: 

Through six weeks [of the 2012 season] the Steelers rank dead last in the league in takeaway-giveaway ratio at minus-10. The offense has turned the ball over 12 times and the defense has forced only two turnovers, one interception and one fumble. They have ranked lower than 24th in turnover ratio only once in franchise history, when they finished 27th in 2006.

This seemingly innocuous quote inspired a ridiculously long series of articles, bristling with statistics and game recaps. It did not, however, result in the Steelers improving in this category.

By 2013 this was old news. The Steelers just weren’t taking the ball away nearly enough. Part of the problem was perhaps that the bar was set way too high in 2010. The Super Bowl team had a +17 ratio of takeaways to turnovers, which was the highest by far in the past 10 seasons, and good for No. 2 in the league.

I thought it would be interesting to revisit this issue in light of some of the guys the Steelers drafted in 2015. But I also thought it might be instructive to compare what was happening with the Steelers with the rest of the league. First, though, let’s look at the Steelers from 2005—2014. Read more

The Hall of Fame Game: What is it and Why Play It?

Peter Diana photo, via Post-Gazette

by Rebecca Rollett

Let’s Have Some Football!

I think we’re all ready for some Steelers football by now. The off-season seemed even longer than usual this year—a barren wasteland of non-football activity. Thank heavens for the Pirates…

And I think I’m definitely in the minority here, but I like pre-season games. It gives a chance to shine to some young men who have aspired to make it to the NFL for perhaps most of their life. They finally have a shot at it, however brief the window may be.

And while a great many of them are going to fade away into the sunset in a few short weeks, perhaps never to be heard from again, they have these opportunities  to catch someone’s eye. Even if your current team doesn’t keep you on, maybe someone else will see something they like and pick you up. At least you had a chance.

And in fact preseason favorites do often get a more extended look. Linebacker Howard Johnson, better known as HoJo, made some pretty impressive-looking plays last summer, and was retained on the practice squad. He has another chance to grab a roster spot this season, although given the LB depth on the team at the moment, it maybe isn’t much of one.

But What is the “Hall of Fame” Game?

The fact that I don’t know about the Hall of Fame game demonstrates, I suppose, how short is my football fandom tenure and how little interest I take in other teams : ) But just in case any of you are also unaware of it, it turns out to be the traditional beginning of the preseason. Not surprisingly, it is played in Canton, Ohio on the same weekend as the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. 

It is generally although not invariably an AFC vs. NFC match-up. It was cancelled in 2011 during the labor dispute. I note that, had the labor agreement been ratified a mere three days earlier, the game would have been played. Knowing that at least the veteran players are probably not terribly keen on exhibition games which could result in injuries, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that the players held out the extra few days just to make sure the game would be cancelled. Read more

Character (Ac)Counts: Mentoring the Fledgling Steelers

via Post-Gazette, Peter Diana photo

by Rebecca Rollett

In my (many) years upon this earth, one of the things I’ve found to be universally true is that the toddler remains firmly entrenched in each one of us for our whole lives. The “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine too” attitude is part and parcel of our DNA. As we get older and smarter, we learn to disguise this in clever ways. We even, if we really work at it, come to see this as something which should be internally suppressed, as well as just tamed for company manners.

It’s All About the Pie

But it’s pretty hard for almost all of us to not view things from the “how does this benefit me” standpoint. After all, a great many of the things we want in life are part of a pie, if you will. It might be a really big pie, and it might even be an expandable pie, but once the pie has been divided up and shared around, it’s gone.

NFL roster spots are part of a very small, non-expandable pie. If the team decides to keep three quarterbacks or 11 linebackers or what have you, each of those 11 linebackers is reducing the number of other positions available.

But the calculation is even more stark than that. If the team will keep four running backs at most, and if two guys are locks for the position, then the other nine guys in the running backs room can see the writing on the wall. Simple math tells you every guy in the room represents one less chance you are going to get one of the two coveted remaining spots. Read more