Tag Archives: Vance McDonald

Some More Random Thoughts on Steelers v. Bengals

Photo via Steelers.com/Karl Rosen

By Ivan Cole

Unlike Rebecca I saw the game in real time. These are the things that impressed me about this performance:

Meanness.

Rebecca and some others might have not have understood my comments in a previous post about Pittsburgh lacking a certain quality of meanness. I think this is because we often conflate ‘mean’ with ‘dirty’. This is, I believe, the Bengal’s fatal flaw. Cincinnati, as usual, was the dirtier team. Pittsburgh was the meaner team. What the highlights did not adequately convey was, despite the closeness of the score, how thoroughly the Steelers beat the Bengals up. The difference could be most clearly seen when comparing the play and effectiveness of Vance McDonald, who connects with Ben Roethlisberger through Bible studies and cancer survivor James Connor with that of Vontaze Burfict. Burfict played dirty. McDonald and Connor played mean. The result was a parade of Bengal players forced to the sideline, the locker room, and concussion protocol without roughness or unsportsmanlike penalties, while, despite threats and Cincinnati’s best efforts, the Steelers came through relatively unscathed. Read more

Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 Fourth Quarter Report: Part Three

A658B5B2-FB0F-41DF-B4A6-05CE4892A8A7By Ivan Cole

Offense

Earlier in the season it all seemed upside down and wrong. Predicted to be the strength of the team, the offense was sputtering. They and the team were being carried by a defense which appeared to be as much of a surprise in the opposite direction. Folks were fully engaged in one of the favorite pastimes of Steelers Nation—hating on offensive coordinator Todd Haley. A few individuals were grumbling within the unit. There were suggestions that some players were losing one or more steps, while others had reached the ceiling of their capabilities. Had that juggernaut Steeler offense, led by the Killer B’s, been just a mirage, a tease?

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Pittsburgh Steelers Fourth Quarter Report, Part 1

E07A5A20-E908-4AEC-BE40-8DADA9353D3BPhoto via Steelers.com

By Ivan Cole

A different approach

Of course, the great news is that though the regular season is concluded, this is not the end. This is the key objective and measure of success for every professional football franchise. The team met, indeed, exceeded comfortably the standard that allows for participation in overtime—the fifth quarter playoffs–the penultimate goal for the Pittsburgh organization.

Nonetheless, I believe this to be the proper time to assess this team’s journey. I feel this approach is merited for three reasons:

While the ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl, realistically, success in the regular season is the variable over which you can exercise the most control in preparation and performance. Failure in this area renders playoff concerns irrelevant. Plus, there are factors in the playoff equation that often defy common assumptions from the beginning of the team building process. For example, who would have asserted six months ago that it would be Jacksonville, as opposed to Houston, who would be breathing down the Steelers’ neck in the playoff chase?

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5 Smoldering Questions on the Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 2

photo via Steelers.com

By Not-Hombre de Acero

Hombre is off pottering around the world somewhere, and thus the Smoldering Mantle falls on my shoulders this week. It’s a pretty hot place to be. So let’s get this started:

1. One could scarcely even ask this question in an ordinary year, but with the big flurry of horse-trading in which the Steelers engaged just prior to the season, it’s reasonable to ponder this. After watching last Sunday’s game, if you could upgrade any one player with a modest free-agent signing, who (or which position) would it be? [For the purposes of this question we’ll assume such a player would be available to be signed.]

2. And, in a similar vein, from what you’ve seen so far, do you think the trades/signings the Steelers made just prior to the season are going to be a success? Specifically, do you prefer Haden to Cockrell, McDonald to David Johnson (since that was the effective result,) and Wilcox to, I suppose, Golden?

3. I’ve heard theories as to why the offensive line seemed to be quite effective in pass protection but not in run blocking last Sunday, including it being a silent conspiracy to punish Bell for missing training camp. Do you have any thoughts on this?

4. A number of people have been upset about the massive number of penalties the Steelers took in the first game. Do you think this was due to any of the things I’ve heard expressed, as listed?

A. Mike Tomlin runs an undisciplined team.

B. Referee bias

C. Just another problem with Le’Veon Bell’s holdout (although it wasn’t technically a holdout)

D. A result of the cutting of padded practices and meaningful pre-season games (if I may be allowed to posit the latter.)

E. Other (Please elucidate.)

5. When looking at the league-wide scores in Week 1, it struck me how few really close games there were. There were only two decided by 3 points—Steelers @ Browns and Chargers @ Broncos—and only one other decided by less than a touchdown (Falcons @ Bears.) The average difference was 10 and a half points, with the high being Colts @ Rams (in which the Rams won by 37 points. Really!)

And, curiously, four of the six games decided by more than two touchdowns were a win by the visiting team. Including, of course, the Chiefs embarrassing the Patriots. (That was unnecessary but oh so satisfying to point out…)

So do you find it worrisome that the Steelers were on the bottom end of this scale against the Browns? Or do you think it’s a matter of what Mike Tomlin calls September football?

Bonus question: Since I’m really into the trade questions, here’s a more-than-usually frivolous one—if you could trade Antonio Brown for the entire 70s Steel Curtain defensive front, just for this year, would you do it, and why or why not? If so, how would you deal with the penalties they would certainly incur?

The Case for the 2017 Pittsburgh Steelers: Part Four—The Offense

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via Steelers.com

by Ivan Cole

Editor’s note: Ordinarily I would have put up a post today with an opponent preview, but the truth is, nobody knows who the heck the Cleveland Browns are at the moment. The one thing we can be sure of (I think) is that they would like to make a statement on Sunday. They will have at least one fewer playmaker than expected to do so, though, as Myles Garrett, their top-of-the-first-round pick, the man who asserted that one of his top priorities was to “chop down” Ben Roethlisberger, got injured in practice and is almost certainly out, at least for this week. Hopefully this doesn’t give the offensive line a false sense of security. So instead of reading my wholly unsupported speculations about what the Browns will look like on Sunday, you get the privilege of reading more of Ivan’s brilliant writing:

Where things currently stand

I have been asserting throughout that everything about this season, from the outcome to the methods that might be resorted to achieve it would deviate from what many of us had come to view as normal. Usually by Labor Day the deal is mainly done with the 53-man roster and practice squad set. But in the interim between my setting down these words and the time they reach your eyes significant changes could well have occurred. So, with the understanding that this may still be a work in progress rather than a definitive preview of the 2017 season let’s bring a few things spoken of previously up to date.

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Some Random Thoughts on the trade for TE Vance McDonald

It’s official—the 49ers traded McDonald to the Steelers for a bucket of bubble gum. Actually, they swapped picks next season, giving the Steelers their 5th-round pick in exchange for the Steelers’ fourth-rounder. Which I guess means the Steelers won’t be drafting another quarterback next year, unless they get a fourth-round comp pick, because that’s where they seem to take them lately.

So let’s take a quick look at what sort of player we can expect to see and why he’s here. I’ll take the second question first, because it can be answered by Mike Tomlin’s typically succinct and (when he wishes to be) blunt reply to reporters today—the tight ends on the roster are not “varsity players.”

“Varsity” and “JV” seem to be this year’s Tomlinisms—the distinction between what, in last year’s Tomlin-speak, would have been “above-the-line” and “below-the-line.” I find myself wondering if this represents a heightened sense of urgency on Tomlin’s part, perhaps because the Roethlisberger Window is inexorably closing. I say that because there seems to be a more personal dig in calling someone’s performance “JV” as opposed to “below the line,” which is a bit more, as Dame Edna might say, kind and caring. But maybe there’s no difference, and he’s just looking for a way to get everyone’s attention.

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