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Ups n' Downs - Eagles Edition

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Ups

1.  Chase Claypool -  This kid may end up being everything we HOPED Martavis Bryant would be.   

2.  OC Fitchner -  One of his best called games.  Still want him gone, but I will give him credit.  He kept Ben upright by calling quick developing routes and adjusted well to what the Eagles were doing on D.  

3.  Ben -  playing game manager well.  If our defense was playing like last year, it would be just fine.  As it stands, I feel like Ben is going to have to do more if we want to beat the better teams.

4.  All around offensive talent -  We have a lot of nice pieces that complement each other well.  Lets hope Fitchner and Tomlin continue to utilize them effectively.

5.  4-0.    Its not really the prettiest 4-0, but we may need this buffer as our schedule gets tougher, especially after getting screwed by the Covid stuff.

 

Down 

1.  Refs -  I usually dont include this anymore because its almost always bad, but this was honestly one of the worst officiated games Ive ever seen, for both teams.  The NFL should be embarrassed.

2.  Secondary/pass D -   I dont get it...whats with the steep drop off?  Are they playing softer in coverage than last year?    Did every single player regress?   Is it poor coaching?   I mean, I do believe our secondary still lacks talent, but it should still be good enough, with our pass rush, to be better than it has bee most of this season against largely weak QB play.

3.  Tomlin -  At some point, you have to ask when enough is enough.   Tomlin has his good qualities, but Im convinced his shortcomings will always hold us back from being a top tier team.   Even at 4-0, does anyone actually feel like we are a top team?  I sure dont.  Im not bashing him or blaming him for everything, but Im annoyed by the same old issues year after year.

4.  Commentators -  may start watching games on mute.

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The defense played much more Man-to-man last year.  Much less this year and QBs are making them pay for playing zones.

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Agree with your notes:

Up

Now a Claypool believer. Big time talent. I stand corrected.
The play calling was great today. Running was tough, but they found ways to use talent and get into space.
Ben. Has he ever protected the ball so well? Just great.The deep ball will come.
Tuitt. He's coming on.
A win.

Down

The secondary. They kept Philly in the game.
The injuries. Decastro. Pouncey. Diontae.
The refs. Some really awful calls today - two bad PIs, a terrible roughing the passer.
Butler. Not changing up the coverages.
Just giving up that many points. This shouldn't have been so close.

Overall though, I really like this squad. If they ever fire on all cylinders it'll be scary.
I'm still worried about the secondary and OLine.






 

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1 hour ago, jebrick said:

The defense played much more Man-to-man last year.  Much less this year and QBs are making them pay for playing zones.

this bothers me.  Good qb's will have their way once again.   A down in general for the defence this season is that I only see 1 FF from them all season at nfl.com, is that correct?  Thats 7 TO's total in 4 games,  not what top tier defences have on a per game average.  40+ TO's for a season is good, this average now is at about 28 TO's o.O

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1 hour ago, jebrick said:

The defense played much more Man-to-man last year.  Much less this year and QBs are making them pay for playing zones.

I kind of hope that the defense is trying to not show it's hand with more exotic coverages and things. It seems like we're blitzing with soft zones over it a lot this year. Maybe we're saving the best for better opponents. Butler and Co switched to a more man dominate scheme at halftime against Houston. That seemed to work well, and they did it when they faced adversity. 

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3 minutes ago, MOSteelers56 said:

I kind of hope that the defense is trying to not show it's hand with more exotic coverages and things. It seems like we're blitzing with soft zones over it a lot this year. Maybe we're saving the best for better opponents. Butler and Co switched to a more man dominate scheme at halftime against Houston. That seemed to work well, and they did it when they faced adversity. 

or maybe butler  forgot about last season and will go back to old habits.  When we play the chargers, lets see if bostic covers Allen

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On the conversation of defense:

They basically just wrapped preseason.  Our D always looked ugly in preseason and weeks 1 and 2.  Wake me up when it's mid-November and looking this bad.

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Up for the run D also- yes they gave up a long TD run but take that 1 play away and they only gave up 9yds on 11 runs for the RBs. And Wentz was contained too. 

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3 hours ago, warfelg said:

On the conversation of defense:

They basically just wrapped preseason.  Our D always looked ugly in preseason and weeks 1 and 2.  Wake me up when it's mid-November and looking this bad.

They always play vanilla defense in preseason.  Right now the secondary just isnt playing at the level they should.   Not saying they can't improve, but its more than just " not enough practice".    Our defense is largely in tact from last year.  They arent adapting to a new scheme or a bunch of new players.

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4 minutes ago, 43M said:

They always play vanilla defense in preseason.  Right now the secondary just isnt playing at the level they should.   Not saying they can't improve, but its more than just " not enough practice".    Our defense is largely in tact from last year.  They arent adapting to a new scheme or a bunch of new players.

I'm not saying it's not enough practice.  Around the league right now defenses are playing pretty vanilla.  IIRC we're still the only one that hasn't given up 30+ yet.  I think the issue is offenses have no issues being exotic, while defenses due based on lack of tape.  OC's know no one has the tape of a formation so they know what to expect.  DC's don't yet have a great picture of what offensive tendencies are yet.  When you put that together offenses are going to play better, defenses are going to struggle.  

I'm not trying to absolve our defense from bad play.  It still has its own issue to work out.  But this certainly doesn't help.  Like I said in the post you quoted....I'll be worried in another 3-4 weeks.

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11 hours ago, 43M said:

Ups

1.  Chase Claypool -  This kid may end up being everything we HOPED Martavis Bryant would be.   

Great point. I think it is still early to make a conclusion, but man he is certainly off to a great start.

2.  OC Fitchner -  One of his best called games.  Still want him gone, but I will give him credit.  He kept Ben upright by calling quick developing routes and adjusted well to what the Eagles were doing on D.  

I agree this was one of his better games and he will appear to get better as the offense gets more comfortable playing together. I will add that Ben was patient and took what the defense gave him. He played smart and attacked a very aggressive and solid defense that has at times given him problems in the past.

3.  Ben -  playing game manager well.  If our defense was playing like last year, it would be just fine.  As it stands, I feel like Ben is going to have to do more if we want to beat the better teams.

I disagree with you here. Ben played very smart. This was a team that matched up well with the Steelers and in three of four previous meetings had played the Steelers tough and definitely outplayed them in the two games at Philly. I think Ben could have thrown for 350 yards fairly easy minus some of the poor ref calls that stopped or stalled drives.  I honestly believe that Ben is the least of this team's problems.  He can still play with any QB in the NFL.  This team will only go as far as Ben can go. I think he is a good and consistent enough pro to go all the way. Will they? It is still early with a lot of football left.  The good thing is that this team nor Ben have played its best.

4.  All around offensive talent -  We have a lot of nice pieces that complement each other well.  Lets hope Fitchner and Tomlin continue to utilize them effectively.

Still have to remember that this team and offense has not hit its stride. No preseason, QB coming off sitting nearly a year and getting back in stride, young players developing, injuries and working in new players and circumstances. This is life, but getting a team of coaches, roster players, and practice squad players working together and being consistent is very tough. I expect the Steelers to get better.

5.  4-0.    Its not really the prettiest 4-0, but we may need this buffer as our schedule gets tougher, especially after getting screwed by the Covid stuff.

I know we use the term pretty wins and ugly wins, but 4-0 is 4-0. It is even more special to me because of all the circumstances, lack of OTA's, pre-season, and the Covid-19 stuff. Adversity helps to create champions.  We did not get it done with more talented teams, stars, and expectations. Take the ride for what it is and enjoy the ride. This team won't go 16-0 or more importantly 19-0.  I believe that they will win more than they lose. In most of the Steelers losses, they contribute to beating themselves. If they can play smart and eliminate the friendly fire hits, this team will be hard to beat on both sides. What is scary is they are winning and have not really had a game or games where they have played good complimentary football.  

Down 

1.  Refs -  I usually don't include this anymore because its almost always bad, but this was honestly one of the worst officiated games I've ever seen, for both teams.  The NFL should be embarrassed.

This is at least the second game that this crew has made some absolute horrible calls. My issue is that the NFL does not correct them. They refuse to admit wrong and the consistency factor is poor with this crew.  Some calls are made on the field and if it is a judgement, then you are not supposed to be able to overturn it. (Claypool sideline catch that was initially called a catch). The phantom PI calls were definitely bad on both sides. But the refs greatly influenced the flow/outcome of the game by allowing a phantom call that aided the Steelers and then two more that greatly hurt the Steelers.

2.  Secondary/pass D -   I don't get it...what's with the steep drop off?  Are they playing softer in coverage than last year?    Did every single player regress?   Is it poor coaching?   I mean, I do believe our secondary still lacks talent, but it should still be good enough, with our pass rush, to be better than it has bee most of this season against largely weak QB play.

I expected the secondary to be the toughest and most consistent part of our defense.  Minkah, Nelson and Haden have not played nearly as well or consistent as they did in 2019. Edmunds has been up and down, but overall better than he was the past few years thus far. Hilton is a great blitzer and his coverage skills have not improved. His best year covering was probably two or three years ago. Cam hasn't made some of the plays that we expect from him as well. Overall, this unit has better play in its potential.

3.  Tomlin -  At some point, you have to ask when enough is enough.   Tomlin has his good qualities, but I'm convinced his shortcomings will always hold us back from being a top tier team.   Even at 4-0, does anyone actually feel like we are a top team?  I sure don't.  I'm not bashing him or blaming him for everything, but I'm annoyed by the same old issues year after year.

Please explain. I don't get this at all. He has the team 4-0 and has won despite not playing their best football.  He should be in the coach of the year conversations.  

4.  Commentators -  may start watching games on mute.

Some announcers are simply better than the other.  I don't pay them much attention. I can deal with announcers who have favorites or a bias even, but poor refs; I just can't abide. The NFL needs to do something about the refs and the poor consistency.

4 hours ago, warfelg said:

On the conversation of defense:

They basically just wrapped preseason.  Our D always looked ugly in preseason and weeks 1 and 2.  Wake me up when it's mid-November and looking this bad.

I understand this and realize that our defense is still not playing its best football. The team overall has not complimented each other well offensively, defensively and special teams.  As the team gets comfortable playing in games, they will get better. However, a strength (Secondary) does not look nearly as strong. In fact, early on, it looks like it has regressed (Edmunds the exception his overall play slightly better than it has been). I am not ready to panic or define this defense at this point, but it is something that I think warrants keeping an eye on.

11 minutes ago, 43M said:

They always play vanilla defense in preseason.  Right now the secondary just isn't playing at the level they should.   

Agreed. Fact. I think it is fixable though. There is too much savvy and talent back there. Minkah is a top five level FS, but hasn't played like on. Haden and Nelson are a very good complimentary set of CB's. They are probably the best tandem this team has had since the days of Bill Cowhers early 90's Steelers.

Not saying they can't improve, but its more than just " not enough practice".    Our defense is largely in tact from last year.  They aren't adapting to a new scheme or a bunch of new players.

I think the secondary is something to keep an eye on, but not yet time to make a judgement or write them off either.

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It seems like the refs have been calling far more PIs. OPI and DPI. I read that holding calls were way down, but to the eye test, it looks like PI is way up. 

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1 hour ago, Steeler Hitman said:

Please explain. I don't get this at all. He has the team 4-0 and has won despite not playing their best football.  He should be in the coach of the year conversations.  

You dont get that we constantly play down to lesser teams year after year and look woefully underprepared way too often for a team with a 14 year tenured head coach?  This is what....like the 3rd time this year we almost blew a big lead late in the game?   

We have played 4 games...3 teams with pretty meh at best QBs.   We struggled to beat all of them.  The fact that we cant best lesser teams more convincingly is somewhat concerning.   And you cant keep blaming lack of preseason for all of our issues.   These issues go years back.

We are 4-0, but yes...it does kinda matter how you got there.  This team hasnt really impressed me.   The wins don't necessarily have to be pretty, but there are a lot of concerns, especially as we play better teams.  We have gotten away with things we wont keep getting away with.

At 4-0, no coach should be in the CoY discussion.  Its 1/4 of the season.   So much can change, especially this year.

Bottom line...yesterday was yet another game we let a lesser team hang around longer than we should have.  This has been a problem for a LONG time.   Its not ALL on Tomlin, but it mostly is since he regularly has problems getting his teams to play quality football for 4 full quarters.  

We will see what happens  going forward, but Im not as optimistic as some of you seem to be.   I do think we will make the playoffs, but I dont see us being a top contender at this point.   Lets see the defense improve and this team be able to play at a high level more than just 2 or 3 quarters a game.

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15 hours ago, 43M said:

You don't get that we constantly play down to lesser teams year after year and look woefully underprepared way too often for a team with a 14 year tenured head coach? 

I very respectfully disagree my friend. This year is not a typical year and yet for some reason we all expect business as usual. No OTA's, no time live with players, no actual pre-season games, no film on a few of our opponents, QB hadn't played in a year, not a lot of practice with receivers, etc., players getting into game playing shape. Those are all real factors as to why the "style points" aren't so pretty.  I don't think the Steelers played down to or took anyone lightly. Denver was a case of a back-up coming in with nothing to lose. We experienced that last year with Mason and Duck.A After teams got used to them, it was tough getting a first down let alone scoring. Our points are up and we are winning. I think the coaches have done a much better job of making adjustments as well. 

This is what....like the 3rd time this year we almost blew a big lead late in the game?   

We got hosed on some bad calls in the Eagles and Denver game in the second half that hurt the Steelers putting both the Broncos and Eagles away early.  Claypool catches a long pass along the sideline for 33 yards. It's ruled a catch on the field. Even the so-called horrible announcers thought it was a catch or at worst, not conclusive enough to overturn the call. The great refs did. Next play Ebron catches a pass and fumbles. Then Claypool adjusts to an under-thrown ball, the defender falls and he races to the endzone for a TD. Called back!    Drive stalls. These all mess up the ebb and flow of the offense and change momentum and even field position. Bad calls happened both ways, but I don't want the refs determining or I should say "influencing" the  outcome or flow of a game. Take those plays away and the Steelers could easily put up 40+ plus on the Eagles and they could have scored against the Giants, Broncos and Texans, but Coach T chose not to do a Coach Belichick  and run up the score in case of a late season tie breaker. 

We have played 4 games...3 teams with pretty meh at best QBs.   We struggled to beat all of them.  The fact that we can't best lesser teams more convincingly is somewhat concerning.   And you can't keep blaming lack of preseason for all of our issues.   These issues go years back.

The Steelers have made some mental mistakes no doubt, but that is to be expected. The offense has gotten better each week. Despite giving up big plays in all games, the defense steps up and make crucial stops to help them win. They adjust to injuries and it is next man up. You can say things are the same, I take the glass half full approach right now as they are WINNING in spite of these things. In the past, we could and would have lost all four games. 

I think that we have to realize that this team is who it is. We had an offense that was supposed to be like what the Chiefs are today a few years ago. They never lived up to the hype. They didn't do enough to get where they should. An offense with Ben, Bell and Brown in their prime underachieved. A team with an aging Ben, Connors and Ju Ju and company are thus far getting it done.

Overall, I see improvement between week one and week four. The defense is not as dominant as we had hoped. Yet when we need a stop they get it. Yet after a 74 yard first quarter TD run, they hold the entire team to 90 yards rushing the entire game. The defense is getting sacks and creating turnovers. The Wentz INT in the third quarter lead to putting the Steelers up 17. 

It is not just no preseason. it was no off season. The same holds true for what the Lakers did in the NBA. We are in a pandemic and all of the normal rules get tossed. To do what the Lakers did and what several NFL teams are having success doing now despite the circumstances are amazing. My hope is the Steelers can persevere and get better throughout this as the Lakers did as a team.

We are 4-0, but yes...it does kinda matter how you got there.  This team hasn't really impressed me.   The wins don't necessarily have to be pretty, but there are a lot of concerns, especially as we play better teams.  We have gotten away with things we won't keep getting away with.

At the end of the day this team is 4-0. They were 0-2 last year and lost Ben and then fell to 1-3 during the same time. Big swing upward. I get that they are not winning like say the Ravens (in dominant fashion). Can this team beat any team? I think so. I will add when they play their A games against A teams. Each game is like a microcosm within itself. You have weird trends. The Raiders blew out the Chiefs. They didn't make some of the same plays against Buffalo and lost. Teams go through some changes, but one or two games shouldn't define them. especially this early.

At 4-0, no coach should be in the CoY discussion.  Its 1/4 of the season.   So much can change, especially this year.

I am not by any means saying name someone any more-so than crowning a SB champ after four weeks. I think Tomlin has done some good coaching despite the circumstances the past two seasons. It's early, but he catches it for his shortcomings, just showing some love for his overall job thus far.

Bottom line...yesterday was yet another game we let a lesser team hang around longer than we should have.  This has been a problem for a LONG time.   It's not ALL on Tomlin, but it mostly is since he regularly has problems getting his teams to play quality football for 4 full quarters.  

At the end of the year no one will remember the score as much as the fact that you won games. The 70's Steelers never played their absolute best games in the SB either. Both Dallas games were closer than they should have been for the talent there. The dominated the Vikings in a defensive battle, but it was an ugly game. Seattle actually outplayed the Steelers for parts of that game and our top defense and QB were nowhere near at their best. Ditto for Arizona. The Steelers couldn't run the ball and despite moving the ball between the 20's where almost losing save James Harrison's INT return for a TD. We have six rings and none of them have been as pretty or dominant as say when they beat the old Houston Oilers 34-5 or dominated the Raiders in Oakland in 1974. I want to see this team play their A game at  some point. They have not dominated a team since the Carolina win at home in 2018. They can win 14-10, 24-22, or 45-38. It is a win at the end of the day and moves you closer to playing in the postseason where there is no tomorrow. 

We will see what happens  going forward, but I'm not as optimistic as some of you seem to be.   I do think we will make the playoffs, but I don't see us being a top contender at this point.   Let's see the defense improve and this team be able to play at a high level more than just 2 or 3 quarters a game.

I agree with you here. I am optimistic, but also realistic. I agree. If this was the best that this team could play, then I would be more concerned. This team has started slow the past several years and had to come back starting in 2016. Them getting off to a fast start is better than the opposite. They have also faded late the past two seasons. I hope that come December, January and February, the Steelers have come into their own on both sides of the ball and are playing their best football. This team has yet to have a solid game of complimentary football. When the Steelers can do this and do it consistently, they are a hard team for any team to beat when all four cylinders are clicking (coaching, special teams, defense and offense).

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Ray Ray has been an up for me.  No hesitation on his returns and they are starting to integrate him in to the offence. I'd like to see some more packages for McFarland as well.

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