Peter Diana, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
As you can probably ascertain, I’m inaugurating a new series in which we** examine what we believe to be key elements in the team’s hope of playing next year in February. I’ve chosen Mike Munchak to start for various reasons, but mainly because it seems pretty clear that a healthy Ben Roethlisberger is going to be one of the primary components in making it to Minneapolis. And an awesome offensive line is one of the primary components of a healthy Ben Roethlisberger.
I have already written about Mike Munchak, but it has been almost two years. And that article, although it did go into the improvement in the o-line during Munchak’s tenure, was really more a comparison of his and Keith Butler’s coaching styles. This time I’m going to focus on Munchak. Read more
Kim Klement, USA Today Sports
If someone asked you about the a Steeler who was raised in South Florida and whose identical twin also plays in the NFL for a southern team, you would undoubtedly assume they were talking about Maurkice Pouncey. You might then be confused if the person says “No, I’m pretty sure the guy I mean plays defense.”
And that would be because this hypothetical person would be thinking of a much more recent addition to the Steelers than Maurkice—and for that matter a much more unheralded one. In short, s/he would be referring to Brandon Dixon.
Dixon was drafted in the sixth round in 2014 by the Jets. His brother Brian, also a cornerback, was signed as a UDFA by the Saints. Brandon, the older twin (by five minutes or so) and, according to his brother, the more serious one, was also the more successful of the two at the high school and college level, but Brian was the one who actually earned a roster spot on an NFL team first. He played for most of two seasons with the Saints, was signed briefly by the Cardinals, and is now at Jacksonville. Read more
The term “rubber match” implies that the Steelers and Bills are even in their last how ever many games, but this would be wrong. The last five games between the two franchises, beginning in 2001, are all Steelers wins, although if instead you go to Rex Ryan-coached teams there are a few Steelers losses in there. Of course, by the time you read this it is possible that Buffalo won’t be a Rex Ryan-coached team anymore, at least according to the rumor mill.
No, the “rubber match” aspect of this is literal, as those of you who watched the game can attest. (Let me say up front that I didn’t originate the expression. I saw it in a tweet which I can’t find again, and forgot to write down the name of the clever guy who came up with it.)
This game is but one of a series of weirdnesses to happen in Steeler games which caused serious delays—think the blackout at Candlestick Park or the artificial turf catching on fire in the Steelers (St. Louis) Rams tilt.
via Steelers.com—the annual Pouncey turkey giveaway at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
In yesterday’s 5 Smoldering Questions, Hombre de Acero added the following as a sort of bonus question:
Hopefully, all of you have non-football things to be thankful for, and those are far more important than anything that happens on the gridiron.
But who or what about the 2016 Steelers are you thankful for?
I didn’t answer that question because as it happens I’d already decided that was going to more or less be my post for today. Here goes: Read more
Jason Bridge/USA Today Sports
I admit it. I was nervous about this game. I was nervous about the Kansas City defense taking out critical Steelers offensive players such as Ben Roethlisberger. (In fact they did manage to take out Darrius Heyward-Bey, who had a touchdown pass and a special teams play which pinned Kansas City at about the 2 yard line. And Marcus Gilbert left with an ankle injury.) I was also worried about Marcus Peters, their second-year corner who leads the universe all-time in interceptions.
AP photo/Nick Wass
A few weeks back I wrote about the stated goal of the offense to score at least 30 points per game in light of what they actually did last season. Had Ben stayed healthy it isn’t crazy to think they could have done it, although the stinker of a game quarterbacked by Roethlisberger in Baltimore does give one a slight pause. But the offense has just upped the ante, and now they wish to not only score 30 points per game but average 5.0 yards per carry.
I’m pretty sure most of Steeler Nation would sign up for that. Is it realistic? Mark Kaboly of the Tribune-Review wrote yesterday:
A year ago without running back Le’Veon Bell for 10 games (injury and suspension), center Maurkice Pouncey for the season and tackle Kelvin Beachum for a significant portion of the year, the Steelers rushed for 4.4 yards per carry, which was eighth best in the league.
Good points. But Kaboly also noted that in recent years only the 2014 Seahawks and the 2013 Eagles have done it. (No one managed it last season.)
USA Today Sports
Some of the position battles are fairly clear. Appropriately, there is just a scrum in the halfbacks room. The almost-certain-to-be-suspended Le’Veon Bell is the clear No. 1, DeAngelo Williams is the clear No. 2, and Fitzgerald Toussaint would seem to be the the heir apparent to the No. 3 spot. Behind him you have a couple of guys who weren’t even UDFAs, rookie mini-camp invitee Brandon Brown-Dukes and last week’s signing, Christian Powell. They are competing with Cameron Stingily and Daryl Richardson, both veterans of a sort.
Stingily hails from Romeoville, Illinois, which seems promising, and was signed as a UDFA after the 2015 draft. He impressed the coaching staff last year enough to get a contract, and then was yet another victim of the Hall of Fame turf. He blew out his knee and was waived/injured. After spending the last year working out as much as he could while working at a warehouse and in a landscaping business to support himself and his daughter, the Steelers invited him to rookie minicamp again this year.
He feels he came in with a much better understanding of what was expected, and in better shape. He lost about 20 pounds and is now about 6-1, 230. He also felt he has been able to react more quickly, as he understands more of the playbook and has a feel for what the pace is like. He’s a guy you want to root for.
As is Brandon Brown-Dukes, the minuscule back from Mercyhurst. Tomlin likes what he’s seen enough to stop calling him “Mercyhurst” and use his name. BD, as the linked article suggests he should be called (that just too much of a mouthful) has been impressing at camp, and tomorrow night gives us the first chance to see whether this can, in any way, carry over into live game action.