Tag Archives: Markus Wheaton

Then and Now: The 2015 and 2016 Steelers

11292015-HAWKShighlights01We are coming up to the stretch run. Five more games to play, the division in sight but not in hand, and the Steelers are (perhaps) rounding into form. It sounded vaguely familiar to me, and I thought I would have a quick look at the situation a year ago.

One year ago the Steelers were 6-5, having just lost to the Seattle Seahawks. The team had been highly inconsistent during the season, but having to start a couple of backup quarterbacks is generally not a recipe for success. The defense, who had been showing signs of getting it together, gave up five touchdowns to Russell Wilson. The Steelers offense put up 30 points. The remarkable thing is they did so in a game in which they turned the ball over four times. But 30 points weren’t enough to counter a meltdown of massive proportions by the defense. Read more

5 Smoldering Questions: The High Flying Edition


Jared Wickerham/AP Photo

First I should note that “High Flying” refers to the Jets rather than, say, to any substances we sincerely hope our players are completely eschewing, at least until they retire…

1. Vince Williams has played in 55 NFL games (excluding the preseason, which scarcely counts) as of today. But as a starter his career has been checkered. He started 11 games his rookie year (2013,) three games in 2014, none in 2015, and of course the past two games this season. Here are his stats as a starter:

  • 2013: 33 total tackles, 0 sacks in 11 games (avg. 3 tackles per game)
  • 2014: 13 total tackles, 0 sacks in three games (average 4.3 tackles per game)
  • 2016: 25 total tackles, two sacks in two games (average 12.5 tackles per game)

This is a remarkable difference. Just for completeness, his average number of tackles as a non-starter in 2015 was 2.9 per game. He had a half sack. Any theories on what happened?

2. One of the beat writers (I think it was Ed Bouchette) noted that after one of his many drops Mike Tomlin was seen calming Sammie Coates down. It makes me think of Limas Sweed, another large, gifted receiver who had trouble holding onto the ball. My impression back in the day was that Limas Sweed was in Tomlin’s doghouse, and of course he was eventually cut. Do you think the difference in the treatment the two guys received (or appear to have received) is because of a difference in the receivers or a difference in Mike Tomlin?

3. Speaking of receivers, if you were the offensive coordinator and you were forced by some unfortunate circumstance or other to cut either Darrius Heyward-Bey or Markus Wheaton, who would get the ax and why? And no, you can’t answer “Eli Rogers.”

4. The offensive line for last Sunday was composed of a still-developing left tackle (Alejandro Villanueva,) a left guard who is still recovering from a sternum injury (Ramon Foster,) Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, and a journeyman offensive lineman who has mainly played center or guard making his first NFL start at right tackle (Chris Hubbard.) Nothing we saw of Hubbard in the preseason would lead one to believe he was an even adequate right tackle. The Jets front four is very well-regarded. Considering all of the above, which option or options makes the most sense?

  1. The Jets’ defensive linemen are not as good as advertised.
  2. Mike Munchak is a genius
  3. Todd Haley is a genius.
  4. Other?

5. Be honest now. If the fake field goal had worked, would you have loved it or still been mad?

Don’t forget to show your work.

Job Security in the NFL: Are Any Steelers Starters in Danger?

ar-160509526Today’s post was inspired by the following exchange on yesterday’s Asked and Answered, Bob Labriola’s Q and A column on Steelers.com:

QUESTION: Do you see Justin Gilbert getting a start against the Chiefs, and do you also see Mike Tomlin making any changes to the secondary?

ANSWER: Justin Gilbert starting against the Chiefs? No. But there could be some personnel changes to the secondary, and those changes could be dictated by injuries. Yesterday, Robert Golden (hamstring) and Sean Davis (back) both missed practice, and both of those guys have significant roles either in the starting lineup, in sub-package alignments, or both. As a rookie, Davis is going to have to show Mike Tomlin that he can practice, because knowing what to do is a big part of it. I cannot predict how the Steelers might react if either or both of those guys cannot play, but if changes have to be made, and those changes produce positive results, then my experience is that’s how changes can become permanent.

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On Second Thought: Steelers @ Eagles


Al Tielemans photo/SI

It’s pretty painful to contemplate this game in any depth. We can just all be grateful we aren’t the ones sitting in the film room, trying to explain to our position coaches what the heck just happened.

Perhaps the best way to think about this game is to look at the last time the Eagles spanked the Steelers in Philadelphia. That would be in 2008.

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Training Camp Battles: Wide Receivers


Jason Bridge/USA Today Sports

Links for the other articles in the series can be found at the bottom of the page.

Before last Friday’s game I would have said that the wide receiver situation was entirely straightforward. Antonio Brown is the unquestioned No. 1, and Markus Wheaton is the No. 2, as he’s better on the outside than in the slot anyhow. The No. 3 is Sammie Coates, and the Nos. 4 and 5 are Eli Rogers and Darrius Heyward-Bey, in whichever order.

After Sammie Coates had a seriously disappointing game, has this changed? Actually I don’t think so, unless he continues to struggle in game action. My guess is, like quite a few of the youngsters, he was trying too hard. In camp he makes it look effortless. Obviously, if he can’t translate the stuff he does on the practice field into game action, that’s another story. But he already has a nice track record in admittedly a very small sample size, in not only NFL games but playoff games.

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A Blast from the Past: Third Round Part 3

Don Ryan/AP photo

Because the 2012 third-round pick (Sean Spence) was such an interesting one, and because there was so much to say, I saved the (also interesting) 2013 third round pick for this article. Said pick would be wide receiver Markus Wheaton.

It has frequently been noted just how successful the Steelers have been with bargain-basement wide receivers in recent years, and how odd it is that they seem to have been so inept at choosing what is in essence an equivalent defensive position in defensive backs. And it is truly odd, and rather unfortunate. But I suppose we can at least be happy they have been so successful with receivers.

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On Second Thought: Broncos vs Steelers Merry Christmas from the Steelers

via Steelers.com

by Ivan Cole

During the years when the team is in the playoff hunt, games in and around the Christmas holiday can have a special resonance, the first and best example being the Immaculate Reception game which took place two days before Christmas. Elimination or irrelevancy can put a pretty gloomy pall over what is supposed to be a festive time. For 2015, the Steelers have us beginning Christmas week with a Victory Monday, not a small thing for Steelers Nation.

A flawed team
Following at least one of the points I made in my piece on approaching the finish line, despite the impressive victory plenty of the team’s flaws, particularly defensive, were on display, causing Homer J. to comment that this group probably won’t go far in the playoffs. Homer can be depressingly accurate when he’s being pessimistic, but the larger point has been missed. Unlike a day ago, if the season ends now the Steelers go to the playoffs. Read more

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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On Second Thought: Steelers at Seahawks Throwback Sunday?

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

by Ivan Cole, with interpolations by Homer J. and his famous report card

Today’s theme comes from a remark from Homer J as the game ended. He said that at the beginning of the year this would be how we would have expected to lose.

It is no way near as simple or clear cut as that, but there were enough of a resurfacing of some past concerns that it brings into question a lot of the revisionist thinking that surrounds this team’s strengths and weaknesses.

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Great Expectations, Abundant Disappointments? Steelers Third Round Draft Picks in the 21st Century

Historically, the Pittsburgh Steelers have done quite well at identifying talent and drafting good players. Naturally there have been a number of less-than-optimal outcomes. And despite what many people think, this did not begin with the Mike Tomlin era. Troy Edwards, anyone? Or Ricardo Colclough?

In recent years the Steelers have continued to draft some fine players. But the third round, a round in which the Steelers have drafted players such as Joey Porter, Max Starks, and Hines Ward, has seemingly been less impressive in recent years.

But have the Steelers really been that good at drafting in the third round in the 21st century? Despite a few major successes, the Steelers were right around the league average during the first decade of the 21st century. The release of Dri Archer, a player for whom many had high hopes and many more felt was a wasted draft pick, has started another round of the refrain “Tomlin doesn’t know how to draft.” This in turn prompted me to look back at the Steelers third round picks since 2000. (Ward was, of course, drafted in 1998 and won’t be considered further.)  Read more

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