Tag Archives: Keith Butler

5 Smoldering Questions on the Pittsburgh Steelers: Week 14

A1FC1295-1AED-4025-9825-4AC2339004C3Photo via Steelers.com

By Hombre de Acero

Watching the Steelers win over the Baltimore Ravens was watching a legend in the making. The victory at Heinz Field clinched yet another AFC North title for Pittsburgh, but hold off on breaking out the celebratory kielbasa and Iron City Beer (yes, I’m serious about the latter one) as the New England Patriots are coming to town. But before we can see if the Steelers can corral the elephant in the room, this corner of Steelers Nation must first resolve these 5 Smoldering Questions on the Steelers.

1. While Pittsburgh prevailed against the Ravens, the Steelers defense looked like it sorely missed Ryan Shazier at several points. Yet, for as badly as they played overall, the Steelers defense stopped the Ravens cold on 3 of 4 fourth quarter possessions.

Do you think that Mike Tomlin and Keith Butler will be able to coax enough consistency out of this defense for the Steelers to be competitive against New England? Justify your answer.

2. Surprise, Surprise! The Patriots lost to Miami on Monday Night Football. Do you think this loss unmasks a vulnerability or do you fear that it will only serve to strengthen New England’s resolve?

3. After his first stint at returning kicks, Mike Tomlin indicated that Martavis Bryant would get more chances to do so. Against the Bengals, Bryant did it again and had a touchdown called back on a penalty.

Yet, against the Ravens, Bryant only narrowly avoided disaster. When asked about it, Mike Tomlin responded this way:

Do you think that our esteemed head coach is guilty of, as we would say in Spanish double discurso (speaking out of both sides of one mouth.)

4. Hombre asked me to include a question based on the idea of rituals. Players tend to be quite superstitious, but they have nothing on the fans. I mentioned several weeks ago the Steelers T-shirt I wore for the Titans game, and was advised not to wash it. Well, I didn’t wash it, but I didn’t remember to wear it for the next few games either. (Generally I watch the games in whatever I have on at the moment, which is usually church clothes…) You all might note that the only game the Steelers have won by a comfortable margin is the Titans game…

Hombre mentioned the following: 

The Steelers are 11-2 when he watches on tape delay (even if the delay is only via pausing the game for a handful of minutes). His concern is this:

“Although no one’s mentioned it, my guess is the locals will suggest we get together to watch the game, which would mean no tape delay!”

These sorts of decisions aren’t easy. I was quite concerned last Saturday because I needed to dust underneath the Steelers nutcracker which overlooks the computer screen where I watch, and I was afraid I wouldn’t get it back in the exact same position. 

What about you all? Do you have rituals that you believe, in your heart of hearts, can influence the course of a Steelers game, for good or ill?

5. Sometimes in the present it becomes too easy to forget the past. The Pittsburgh Steelers once actually owned Bill Belichick, albeit a long time ago. Recent, Steelers history against the Patriots has been fraught with nothing but frustration for Pittsburgh.

The Steelers have won 3 times against Belichick 2.0, have beaten Belichick-Brady twice with only one win coming in the Mike Tomlin era and the other coming when Ben Roethlisberger was a rookie.

The Steelers average margin of loss to the Patriots has been by 13.5 points, or just shy of two touchdowns (although that margin “improves” to 9.6 at Heinz Field).

What, if anything, makes you think that this time, things will finally be different?

There you go folks.

5 Smoldering Questions on the Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 12

NFL: DEC 04 Giants at SteelersThe Green Bay Packers arrived in Pittsburgh as two-touchdown underdogs and, in keeping with the tone and tenor of everything thus far this season, the game would of course go down to the wire as the Steelers pulled out a 31-28 win over the Packers thanks to Chris Boswell’s record-tying field goal.

Next week brings the Patrio… er um, sees the Steelers take the road to Cincinnati to face off against their AFC North rivals, the Bengals. But before Steelers Nation can cross its fingers and clutch its rosary beads ahead of their next encounter with Vontaze Burfict we must first resolve these 5 Smoldering Questions on the Steelers.

1. Ok, let’s begin by addressing Mike Tomlin’s decision to acknowledge the elephant in the room, namely that the Steelers and Patriots are the class of the AFC and that their match up with the at Heinz Field month will likely determine the playoff pecking order.

First, do you think Tomlin’s departure from “coach speak” either indicates a lack of focus or a lack of respect towards the Bengals and Ravens?

Second, regardless of your feelings on the first part of this question, do you worry that Tomlin might be tempting fate by engaging in a little of what Art Rooney Sr. might have termed “Putting on the dog?”

Defend your answer.

2. Martavis Bryant saw his first duty as a kick returner on Sunday night and provided the Steelers longest kick return of the season. Mike Tomlin has indicated he might get more chances there. Do you think it is wise for the Steelers to risk their defacto number 2 receiver on return duties?

3. A week ago I invited readers elsewhere to vote on game ball winners for the Steelers win over the Titans. Given that the Steelers offense had exploded for 40 points, Todd Haley’s name was on the ballot, and multiple votes were allowed. You can see the results here:

While this sample is in no way representative of the rest of Steelers Nation, do you agree with the decision of the voters to give Todd Haley a gigantic collective cold shoulder?

4. Since Joe Haden left the game against the Colts the Steelers defense has given up touchdown passes of 61 yards, 60 yards, 75 yards, 39 yards, 54 yards and 55 yards. Or, in slightly more sophisticated mathematical terms, the Keith Butler’s boys have allowed one 57 yard touchdown pass in ever 27 and half minutes of play. (In truth, the average is worse for the Steelers, since the first bomb came at the tail end of the 2nd quarter against the Colts.)

What’s going on and is this a problem that can be fixed if and when Joe Haden returns to the lineup?

5. A commonly held assumption is that the Steelers draft outside linebackers to pressure the quarterback, yet neither Bud Dupree nor T.J. Watt is close to leading the Steelers in sacks.

However, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo argues that the Keith Butler is using the duo as much in coverage as he is as pass rushers.

While this makes a certain sense, and Fittipaldo’s article is extremely well reported, we must also keep in mind that in 2015 and 2016 Steelers Nation was treated to continual leaks from the coaching staff about how Jarvis Jones was doing extremely well in run defense and coverage despite his low sack totals.

Do you think something similar might be at work here, particularly with Bud Dupree who is now in his third season?

You know the drill from here on out. Use only No. 2 dark pencils but do not use Faber Castells. You must show work to get full credit and looking at your neighbor’s paper is not only allowed, its encouraged.

Have at it.

On Second Thought: Homer’s Game Notes and Grades for Steelers @ Lions

E864D25C-8D9A-4A66-B2DF-99EAE09BE8B3.jpegPhoto via Steelers.com—Nice stiff-arm, JuJu…

You know the drill. Heavily edited game notes—Homer writes comments on each play—and his grades…Ed.

Homer began his notes with this, emphasis his:

JUJU’S BIG ADVENTURE. A 97-YARD BIKE LANE COMES TO THE MOTOR CITY AND LOOK AT JUJU’S PEDALS.
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Steelers @ Chiefs: the Acceptable, the Objectionable, and the Appalling

Phot via Steelers.com

This post should really be called The Return of the Native, or some equally classy literary name, because the big news is:

  • 1: The Chiefs are no longer undefeated.
  • 2: James Harrison is BACCKK!

It is possible that No. 2 had something to do with No. 1.

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Week 3 Opponent Preview: The Philadelphia Eagles

image

via csnphilly.com

There are a lot of factors in this game which make it more interesting than the usual non-divisional opponent. The Eagles have a baby quarterback who has looked very good so far, a brand-new head coach, and they just shut out the Steelers in the preseason.

Let’s dispose of the last item right away. Whatever happened in the preseason has no bearing whatsoever on the upcoming game. First of all, their quarterback is different, and very possibly better, although Sam Bradford killed it in Minnesota last Sunday. The Steelers’ quarterback is also different, and very definitely better.

But the main reason is, the two head coaches had very different goals for that particular game, which a moment’s reflection should make clear.

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The Case for The Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016: Part 1

by Ivan Cole

Dan Rooney, Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, Art Rooney II

AP photo

In some ways it can be argued that this post is premature. For one thing, as I write this the roster hasn’t been cut to 75 yet, much less the final 53.

However, this year, more than most, the issues which will influence this team’s fate seem pretty straightforward and are unlikely to be significantly affected by personnel decisions involving lower in the depth chart players.

Also, as they say, any battle plan goes out the window once the first shot is fired. Acknowledging such, I am more interested in some level of accuracy as it relates to the broader themes as opposed to the details, and to my thinking, the themes are clear.

Leadership and management

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A Blast from the Past: Third Round Part 2

Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports Sean Spence takes the field during his rookie training camp.

The 2012 third round pick was someone we were all pretty excited about by partway through his first training camp. Sean Spence was fast, and he was a football player. Before that, though, some of us had concerns about him. The first knock on him was his size, the second his intelligence, the third his character. All of these except possibly the first are ironic in retrospect. Here’s what I wrote immediately after he was drafted:

Mike Tomlin said in the post­-draft presser, “he encompasses a lot of football character things that we value.” But there were some concerns. Reportedly, he got a 12 on the Wonderlic, and he was suspended for one game in college for “receiving improper benefits.” The NCAA violation was already an issue with the second round pick. In Spence’s case it was not a big deal. It does, however, call into question his intelligence, which was already reeling from the blow of getting a 12 on the Wonderlic.

But how much does the Wonderlic really matter?  It is a multiple choice intelligence test given at the combine, and is used by employers. It is designed to test the capacity of prospective employees for problem­ solving and learning. A score of 20 (out of 50 questions) indicates average intelligence, correlating to an IQ of around 100. Read more

Developing the Talent: Outside Linebackers Coach Joey Porter

As I typed the title for this article I felt a great sense of anticipation. Some articles are easy to write, some are difficult. Some are slow going, but gratifying, but I have a feeling this one is going to be just plain fun. There’s something about Coach Porter that just makes me smile.

Because Joey Porter was already gone from Pittsburgh before I became a Steelers fan, I missed seeing him play. But you don’t have to have seen him play to have heard the stories. The King of Trash Talk—the baddest, most brash player around. His reputation precedes him, as a larger-than-life member of the Steelers revival, I suppose you might call it—when the Steelers finally took home a Lombardi after a 26-year hiatus.

But there is much more to Coach Porter than meets the eye, or ear.

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On Second Thought: Steelers vs. Browns

061314-14-NFL-Steelers-Chuck-Noll-OB-PI.vresize.1200.675.high.93.jpg

via Fox Sports/  Whatever It Takes

Lazarus rising (a nod to Homer)

PaVaSteelers turned to me at the end and said, “I didn’t expect this.” And to be brutally honest, neither had I. My plan for today was a perfunctory “Second Thought” piece, followed by a very nice post mortem of the 2015 Pittsburgh Steelers season.

Let me be clear now. I wasn’t drinking any of the Kool Aid that essentially said the loss in Baltimore was proof positive of the dysfunction of the Tomlin regime. I wasn’t that angry.

But any real hope for a positive outcome and a playoff berth today meant I had to place my faith in Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills. Uh, no. I wasn’t going to consciously court that particular variety of misery.

Bill S. and Homer were also present, one of the few times that the four of us were in the same place to take in a game this season. Appropriate, in that this was the last game of the regular season (the playoffs are promised to no one), and it was just good manners to come to the funeral and pay your respects while the plug is being pulled. Not that improbable events don’t occur on the last day of the season. We had borne witness to such a thing two years earlier. Read more

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