Tag Archives: Bruce Gradkowski

Ben’s “Rust” Issue, Part 3



via Sporting News

This post is mainly to tie up a few threads before I launch into the sequel, which is to compare the issues we’re finding with Ben to other quarterbacks. As far as Ben goes, we’ve looked at the general numbers in Part 1 and broken them down some more in Part 2. 

Now we will look at whether there is anything to the idea that the Steelers “play down” to sub-.500 opposition. This seems as if it shouldn’t even be debatable, as the record under Mike Tomlin is fairly clear. Or is it? The difficulty is, it’s all very well if a team is under .500 at the time to say “See, the Steelers suck against bad teams.”

Read more

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..

Read more

A Few More Thoughts on Steelers/Lions


via Steelers.com

Friday night as I wrote my post I didn’t really even use the quite detailed game notes I made, thus leading to attributing DHB’s touchdown catch to Xavier Grimble. I decided that despite my reluctance to relive that game, I should really go through and see if there is more to glean from the game. So here goes.

The two guys who lined up in the endzone to take kickoffs were Sammie Coates and Fitzgerald Toussaint for the first half and Levi Norwood and Daryl Richardson for the second half. Many of the kickoffs were not returnable, although a couple in the second half were rather short. Whether that was by design or because the rookie kicker was nervous, I don’t know.

But in no instance did any returner for the Steelers get the ball past the 22 yard line. Since a touchback is placed at the 25 yard line, it will be surprising if many teams opt for returns when the ball enters the end zone. UNLESS, that is, you have a guy like Detroit rookie seventh-round pick Dwayne Washington, who took it to the house last night. I feel fairly confident in stating at this juncture that the Steelers haven’t found someone like that yet.

Read more

Some Thoughts on a Rather Uninspiring Preseason Game 1



Gene J. Puskar/AP photo

Steelers/Lions is in the books, and the usual stuff happened.

Bruce Gradkowski got injured (hamstring) after a three-and-out and a drive featuring two first downs. He played a total of ten snaps. Hopefully it’s not a big deal, but I wrote “out for the season” in my notes. We’ll see.

An offensive lineman got injured, and although he walked off the field by himself it didn’t look great. It was Brian Mihalik, AKA Alejandro Villanueva 2. He is another defensive lineman cut by the Eagles, signed by Pittsburgh, and converted to an offensive lineman. As it happens, he’s also 6’9″. Weird.

Ross Ventrone left with a hamstring injury, the same thing that got him cut last season.

It was that kind of night.

Read more

Training Camp Diary: Tuesday August 9th

Lions-SteelersIt was a big day in Going Deep land. Homer J., Ivan, and his brother Andy drove up from DC and we met up at Saint Vincent. Ivan has met me for practices before, but not Homer or Andy. I asked Andy when the last time he had been to training camp was, and he told me this was the first. Homer said he hadn’t been to camp for a very long time. He didn’t say how long that time was, but the bleachers upon which we were sitting and the fields in front of us were not part of the experience the last time he went. He also said that Loren Toews was showing everybody up his last time at camp. A bit of Googling reveals that his last time at Steelers camp must have been in about 1973.

It was a gorgeous day, and we had great seats, or as great as narrow aluminum bleacher seats which you are sharing with many, many people can be. But we were in the shade, the breeze was blowing a good bit of the time, and the humidity was low enough that not only could you see the surrounding hills, you could see the trees on them. That’s a good day in August in western PA.

In fact, it was so great altogether that at one point Homer called over to Ivan and me as we were intently watching the action on the field and said, sweeping his arm in a careful arc to avoid taking out the people behind him, “Just look around for a minute and appreciate how remarkable this is!” So we did, because when Homer speaks we all listen.

Read more

Training Camp Battles: Quarterback

Adam Hunger, USA Today Sports

I began this series with general musings about how the coaching staff makes decisions in close races. I used the Robert Golden/Sean Davis (and really, to be fair, Shamarko Thomas) competition for starting strong safety as a vehicle. But today I’m going to go into more specifics on some of the contests, since many of them involve guys one has heard little or nothing about.

The difficulty with a series such as this is it may already be out of date by the time it’s published, as two offensive players have been cut and another one signed in the past few days.

Read more

The Loss of Suisham: A Sign That Steelers’ Luck is Changing for the Better?


Peter Diana, Post-Gazette

by Ivan Cole

What an odd thing to suggest, right? Hang with me for a bit as I attempt to make a case for the past year’s journey of Shaun Suisham standing as a symbol of an important change of fortune for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016.

One of the weaknesses, an occupational handicap if you will, of being fans and observers of the game is our incessant focus upon the urgency of the moment. Every roster move, no matter how mundane, every injury, no matter how minor, can become infused with deep and lasting meaning. Sometimes such is true, often it is not.

I have sat at training camp and listened to fans become frustrated because Ben Roethlisberger threw a poor pass. In training camp. In August. An ominous sign pointing to our diminished prospects of getting to the Super Bowl, right?

This doesn’t mean that small occurrences can’t have outsized meanings. The trick is to discern what may really be meaningful, and what can be confidently dismissed as being, well, ridiculous. Read more

Shoring Up the Depth at QB: Are The Pittsburgh Steelers Preparing to Develop From Within?

Pittsburgh Steelers players participate in the Organized Team Activity (OTA) at the UPMC Sport Performance Complex.

via Steelers.com

One of the frequent topics of discussion in recent years as the NFL Draft approaches concerns the Steelers’ future at quarterback. Many commentators/commenters, some with more credentials than others, have suggested the Steelers take Quarterback X, Y, or Z (generally projected to go in the later rounds, and generally felt by the commenter to have enormous potential) as a “development project” to sit and learn behind Ben Roethlisberger.

It’s pretty clear Ben Roethlisberger isn’t going to play forever. There are a lot of miles on his 6’4″ “241 pound” frame. (I would love to know what the real figure is, and how much it varies from the beginning of training camp to the end of the regular season.) He might want to play forever (and even that is doubtful, given the new perspective he expressed on taking a potentially concussive hit last November), but as Peyton Manning showed the world during the past few seasons, there comes a time when old age and treachery can no longer (or just barely) overcome youth and enthusiasm.

Read more

Steelers ‘X’ Factors for 2016: Offense

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Dallas Cowboys

Matthew Emmons—USA Today Sports

by Ivan Cole

Now that the group of players who will be auditioning for roles in the 2016 edition of the Pittsburgh Steelers is largely set I thought I might amuse myself by making some educated guesses as to which ones may make the difference in a championship run.

But I wanted to move beyond the ‘Yeah, duh,’ kind of selections like Ben Roethlisberger or Antonio Brown. Too easy, too obvious and maybe not entirely accurate. Instead I wanted to take a shot at those players who may currently be flying under the radar. So my rules here are as follows:

  • The players I select could be in the conversation as key factors in the team’s success, but are probably not at this time.
  • They can be anyone from established superstars to non-drafted newcomers (admittedly a tougher call, but a good part of the fun).

This exercise is undertaken with the understanding that injuries and unanticipated personnel moves could radically alter the assumptions and landscape of the discussion, and that the conversation will evolve as the season progresses and more information is forthcoming.

Of course, all are invited to chime in with your ideas as well.

Read more

The Sunday Football-Related Music Post: From Gridiron to Gospel


via Toledo Blade

There are a lot of things I thought about writing on for today, but since it’s Easter I just couldn’t bring myself to put up a review of Le’Veon Bell’s rap mixtape (that appears next Sunday,) or the punk rock band made up of members of the Dallas Cowboys (that’s coming, once I can bring myself to do the research.) Even opera (yes, there’s another opera singer coming in a few weeks) is too violent and secular. No, I’m going full-on Gospel today.

One of the earliest posts in the series was on the NFL Gospel Choir, and that was a lot of fun. But this post features a man who played Division 1 football with Bruce Gradkowski at Toledo but didn’t make it to the NFL, as, like so many promising college athletes, injury derailed his career. After a few surprising twists and turns he’s returning to his roots. Read more