Tag Archives: Daniel McCullers

The Revenge of the Bubble Guys: Steelers @ Carolina

via Steelers.com

As we all know, the interest (or, for some, the only vestige of an interest) in the final preseason game is getting one more look at the roster bubble guys. Which brings up my first question—why is it a “bubble?” I could see a player being “on the bubbly” if he actually makes the 53 man roster. If I were Joe Haden I would be very tempted to invest in some bubbly, although perhaps he should wait until the bye week at this point. Kevin Colbert is perhaps on the bubbly tonight, as he has a nice new contract after 175 wins as GM for the Steelers.

But tonight there is an extra soupçon of intrigue, outside of any sort of bubble, as Vance McDonald is playing. Joe Haden, although he attended the team meeting this morning, is not, but it will certainly be interesting to see the shiny new tight end.

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Pittsburgh’s Goin’ to the Super Bowl: Winning the Battles in the Trenches


AP photo: Don Wright

I recently promised to cover the defensive line “soon,” and given the plethora of plumbing problems and viral indispositions, this counts as soon.

In many ways the core of the defensive line is the most uniformly impressive group on the team. The middle is anchored by Javon Hargrave, who could have but didn’t win the Steelers’ Rookie of the Year award. Read more

Fifth Quarter Report: 2016 Steelers, Defense ‘n at

Fifth Quarter Report: 2016 Steelers, continuedimg_1737

by Ivan Cole

The Team, Part Three: Defense and more

Defensive Line

Defensive line coach John Mitchell fired a lot of people up last spring singing the praises of Daniel McCullers. He wasn’t necessarily wrong in doing so. Big Dan did improve. It’s just that no one could have anticipated how big a first impression the rookie Javon Hargrave made.

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Flopping in Miami: Steelers at Dolphins


(AP Photo)

This is another of those game recaps nobody wants to write. It’s easy and fun to write about a win, but I find with a loss, especially one as disheartening as this one, it’s difficult to force oneself to focus on the task at hand, being as one would prefer to forget the whole thing. So this will be one of those “highlights and lowlights” sort of posts, and we will leave the heavy hitting for Tuesday.

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The Case for the 2016 Pittsburgh Steelers: Part 4


via cameronheyward.com

by Ivan Cole

This may seem like I am contradicting myself, but after gushing over the stratospheric potential of the Steelers offense, I believe the most intriguing aspect of the 2016 squad may well be the defense.

Where the defense is at the start of the season, and more importantly, where they will be in the middle and the end is harder to read for a variety of reasons. We can begin with the global perspective.

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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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Training Camp Battles: Defensive Tackle

Nate Guldry/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

I will be alternating offense and defense in these posts. Links for the previous posts can be found at the bottom of the page. Before I get into the nitty gritty of this particular training camp battle, though, here is some information I think we all are glad to hear.

Peter King and some of the MMQB staff spent Monday’s practice at Latrobe, and King had lots of interesting things to say, which you can read about hereBut what caught my attention was the short video by senior report Albert Breer, who had this to say:

Takeaway No. 1—that was probably the most physical practice I’ve been to in a couple of years anywhere in the NFL, and maybe one of the five or six most physical practices I’ve been to in a dozen years covering the league. 

The article quoted Mike Tomlin:

“It’s a necessary part of the team-building process for us,” he said. “We don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what others do, we want to have a winning edge. Physicality is still as much a part of the game of football as it’s always been, from my perspective. That’s why we take our approach to team building. We got 90 guys out there, many of which are new; we’re trying to evaluate them. When you play with that level of intensity, and tackling at times, it eliminates a lot of speculation and provides clarity.”


Hopefully it won’t just result in weeding out some guys via injury. Mind you, it doesn’t seem possible to avoid, no matter how careful everyone is.

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Meet the New Steeler: DE Ricardo Mathews


AP photo/Ben Margot

Last season Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward played an unbelievable number of snaps for the Steelers—88% of them for Heyward, almost 79% for Tuitt. Part of the reason was, of course, that they were the best options. But part of the reason they didn’t get more time off more often was that they were more or less the only options.

This season may look rather different for them. It wasn’t looking good at first. The Steelers didn’t re-sign Cam Thomas, something which was rather expected in the face of his ineffectiveness. They also let Steve McLendon walk, and he signed with the Jets. This took the backups from “dangerously thin” to “practically non-existent.”

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Developing the “Talent”: Defensive Line Coach John Mitchell


Gene J. Puskar, AP photo

The more I look at this draft, the more I feel as if the Steelers have sold out, if you will, to the guys they think have “hearts and smarts,” even if (or perhaps even especially if) they are considered raw and untutored. Since every player taken in the draft, beginning with Round One Pick One, is going to have shortcomings somewhere or other, I’m wondering if they wouldn’t rather deal with deficiencies of technique and experience than take a guy who thinks he knows what he’s doing.

I wrote those words as part of yesterday’s profile of Javon Hargrave, and started to ponder how Coach Mitchell might deal with him. As I looked up information on Mitchell I realized he deserved his own article, and here it is. In fact, I’m going profile all of the position coaches who are dealing with the new draftees during the coming weeks, because the players chosen are not the entire equation. Some of how they turn out is going to depend on how well they work with their coaches, and how well their coaches work with them. Read more

Steelers ‘X’ Factors for 2016: Defense

Matt Freed—Post-Gazette

by Ivan Cole

Here’s Part II of my off-season speculations. (For Part I click here.) As noted in the previous article, the rules are simple:

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.

As usual, please feel free to add your thoughts below. Read more