Continuing with yesterday’s post, here is the information for the second half play. But first, here are the DB snap counts, from Dave Bryan of Steelers Depot:
- Montel Garner: 41 defensive snaps, 3 ST snaps
- Sean Davis: 40 defensive snaps, 10 ST snaps
- Kevin White: 32 defensive snaps, 10 ST snaps
- Al-Hajj Shabazz: 32 defensive snaps, 7 ST snaps
- Shamarko Thomas: 31 defensive snaps, 11 ST snaps
- Donald Washington: 30 defensive snaps, 7 ST snaps
- Doran Grant: 26 defensive snaps, 5 ST snaps
- Jordan Dangerfield: 15 defensive snaps, 12 ST snaps
- Jacob Hagen: 15 defensive snaps, 7 ST snaps
- Robert Golden: 15 defensive snaps, 2 ST snaps
- Mike Mitchell: 15 defensive snaps
- William Gay: 15 defensive snaps
- Ross Cockrell: 14 defensive snaps
- Ray Vinopal: 12 defensive snaps, 4 ST snaps
- Julian Whigham: 12 defensive snaps, 2 ST snaps
That’s a lot of defensive backs. It’s easy to see who the Steelers are envisioning as starters among the vets. And speaking of veteran players, one question I had, since I barely knew some of these names, is who is a vet and who’s a newbie. The answers are:
- Donald Washington: 4 years
- Doran Grant: 2 years (sort of)
- Jordan Dangerfield: 1 year
- Montel Garner: 1 year
- Jacob Hagen: 1 year
- Al-Hajj Shabazz: 1 year
- Ray Vinopal: 1 year
- Kevin White: 1 year
- Julian Whigham: Rookie
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.
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.
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.
The 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.)
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