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.)
One of the things which was so impressive about the coaching job Mike Tomlin did, at least for those who were noticing, was how he managed to not only SAY things like “The Standard is the Standard” but actually get the team to believe it and play like it.
No, Landry Jones did not play like Ben Roethlisberger, mostly. Oh, he made a few really nice throws and a few boneheaded interceptions, which had a familiar feel, but it wasn’t like having Roethlisberger on the field, other than on a hellishly bad day for Ben. Which is only to be expected, because he is, after all, a backup quarterback, a fourth-round pick who had never thrown a pass in an NFL game until coming on the field in relief of an injured Michael Vick.
AP photo/Billy Hurst: The Fire Heard Around the NFL…
I write this with the sort of heavy heart I usually have when chronicling a Steelers loss. In fact, I didn’t feel this bad when they lost to the Patriots.
2015 was supposed to be the year the offense carried the defense. And make no mistake, there are still a lot of playmakers on this team. But part of the “playmakerliness”, if I may be allowed to coin a term, is predicated on the chemistry between Roethlisberger and his receivers.
It was heartening to see Bell ripping off a few good runs against a very good defensive front. And all of a sudden we might be seeing the sort of two-back look a lot of people were hoping for but Tomlin nixed. But given that everyone is going to key in on the run, it might not be a successful strategy.