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  • Hearing from Carolina Panthers and their fans about Steelers game

    Carolina-Panthers-Fans-Cam-Newton

    Robert E. Smith, Jr. – Four Questions/Answers with Panthers Fans

    Question 1: Who is the ‘x factor’ in Sunday night’s game between Carolina and Pittsburgh?

    Thomas Dixon:  Kevin Benjamin. Newton needs a reliable target to throw the ball to. Benjamin is the best wide receiver on the roster.

    Brad Edwards:   Johnathon Stewart. His size and speed can create a problem for the Steelers defense especially when he is able run off tackle.

    Question 2:  What is the Panthers’ main weakness heading into Sundays game against the Pittsburgh Steelers?

    Thomas Dixon:  I would say lack of depth at wide receiver. Outside of Kevin Benjamin and Jericho Cotchery, none of the others receivers scare a defense.

    Brad Edwards:  The offensive line for sure. Cam Newton has been hit more than any other quarterback since entering the league. His ribs are already injured and he can’t afford to take extra hits.

    Question 3: Who on the Pittsburgh Steelers team do you fear the most?

    Thomas Dixon: Antonio Brown. The guy is a dual threat at receiver and punt return. Very shifty and has sure hands.

    Brad Edwards: Ben Roethlisberger without a doubt. He has been productive for so long and knows how to read any defense.

    Question 4:  When you think of Steelers football what comes to mind?

    Thomas Dixon: A physical team who now has speed on both sides of the football.You know you are in for a smash mouth game playing the Steelers

    Brad Edwards: A team that will bring it for 60 minutes. A team that is well coached and knows how to stop the run and pressure the quarterback.

    Christina Rivers’ – What the Carolina Panthers are saying about the matchup

    Carolina head coach Ron Rivera on the Panthers’ running back situation:

    Against Detroit – DeAngelo Williams (thigh), fullback Mike Tolbert (injured in-game), Fozzy Whittaker (quad) – leaving just Jonathan Stewart at RB.

    “Mike is OK,” Rivera said on Monday.  “We’ll see how he progresses with his treatment.  He kind of hyperventilated on the field because he couldn’t get a clean gasp of air.  He’s pretty sore because he took a nice shot to the sternum.”

    Whittaker pulled his quad, and Rivera classified the injury as “week-by-week.”

    Williams is expected to return to practice this week.  “DeAngelo is looking pretty good,” Rivera said. “We’ll see how he is on Wednesday on the practice field.”

    ***

    Center Ryan Kalil on Panthers’ offensive front:

    “I think we have a good enough group to have a good running game, but I don’t think we’ve been consistent enough to make that go,” Kalil said.  “We just have to be better. We can’t have a, ‘My bad,’ from one guy on one play and another, ‘My bad,’ on the next play. A lot of it is just not communicating properly, and that is something we can work on and get better at.”

    ***

    Head coach Ron Rivera regarding safety position:

    “We like to rotate based on situations.”

    In Week 1, Charles Godfrey played 71 percent of the defensive snaps at strong safety, with Roman Harper playing just 34 percent.  In Week 3, Harper played 90 percent and Godfrey just 10 percent.

     
  • Steelers fans frustrated with “excuses”

    San Diego Chargers v Pittsburgh Steelers

    It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Pittsburgh Steelers are in transition. They’ve spent the past two NFL seasons (2012-2013) in a position that has not lived up to the traditional winning ways of the franchise. After going 1-3 in the preseason, the Steelers managed their first game against the Cleveland Browns and played miserably against the Baltimore Ravens. With week three coming up against the Carolina Panthers, Steelers fans are looking for more of an explanation as to what is “wrong” with the team rather than the sound bites they feel the team and coaches have been offering.

    Hearing from the fans

    There has been a definite shift from the die-hard, ride until you die spirit that typically permeates ‘Steelers Nation’. The once loud and proud fanbase has turned bitterly disappointed and runs to the extreme of negativity thus far in the 2014 NFL season.

    One has only to go to social media sites Twitter and Facebook, or to the Steelers’ official website (steelers.com) to see that frustration over performance has boiled over into heated debates. It’s typical for an NFL team to receive negative responses from fans when performance is down. What isn’t typical for Steelers fans is what they perceive to be unaddressed issues.

    Head coach Mike Tomlin uses the word “obvious” – a lot. Fans are starting to find the usage annoying and passive.

    “If things are obvious,” Greg Daniels, a fan from near Nashville, Tennessee, wrote, “why can’t coach T be specific about how the team will address what is wrong? I love the Steelers, but the organization is heading in the wrong direction.”

    “I don’t want to hear the word ‘obvious’ one more time from Tomlin or any of the coaches,” wrote Ted Hamilton. “Let’s start hearing what is going to be done, period.”

    Frustration running over among teammates

    Brett Keisel and Mike Mitchell, both veterans on the Steelers defense in 2014, were vocal on Monday about the necessity for the entire team to play at a professional level. Their comments, although not directed at any particular player, appear to be aimed mainly at the youthful members of their squad.
    Unfortunately for those young teammates, time may have run out for them to get a sympathetic ear about personal struggles to get into the next gear – the NFL gear.

    Football is a team sport, and the blame for wins and losses should fall squarely and evenly on everyone’s shoulders. Unfortunately, the slow pace of how rookies and younger players have progressed, especially on defense, will continue to be a topic of scrutiny. Other NFL teams have young players as well, and they don’t appear to be having the concentration, assignment and fundamental difficulties that the Steelers are. The Steelers picked up some very talented players in the last two offseasons in rookie free agents and draft picks. They’ll be expected to grow up fast and get on board with the program or risk becoming the scapegoats to fans.

    Where do you think adjustments need to be made? Comment below and join in the conversation with other fans by clicking here to post on our forum at GridironChatter.com

     
  • Total Team Effort Needed From Steelers To Contain Cam Newton

    Cam_Newton_vs_Pittsburgh_Steelers

     

    Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers were successful in defeating the Detroit Loins this past Sunday (NFL Week Two). Newton has won 13 of his last 18 starts (including playoffs). If Pittsburgh is to prevent win number 14, a total team effort is needed from the Steelers to contain Cam Newton.

     

    Newton clearly has potential to make a big play from anywhere on the field, so the Steelers offense will need to control the time of possession. Less time for Newton to operate could very well throw the Panthers offense off rhythm. Also, it will allow the running back combination of Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount to wear down the Panthers defense. The Steelers offense will need to be more aggressive in their play-calling in order to pick up steady yards on each possession.

    When it comes to the point in which the Pittsburgh Steelers must kick the ball away, punter Brad Wing must be efficient in his hang time and getting great distance downfield. The special teams coverage must not allow the Panthers returners to gain efficient yards, in turn allowing the Carolina  offense to have a short field to work with.

    When Newton is on the field the Steelers must provide an aggressive pass rush. Newton, who stands at 6’5, 250, is clearly bigger than the average quarterback. It will not be nearly enough just to attempt to arm-tackle Newton. The Pittsburgh Steelers defense has be more stout in stopping the run, which will force Carolina to become more predictable.

    Outside linebackers Jarvis Jones and Jason Worlids must be able to pressure Newton and make sure they both don’t over-pursue, allowing Newton to escape and gain rushing yards on the outside. The secondary cannot afford to drop potential interceptions as they did three times during their Week One match against the Cleveland Browns.

    The Steelers have not faced a dual threat at quarterback like Newton in quite some time, and a complete team effort will for sure be needed to contain him. If Newton is stopped, the Pittsburgh Steelers will win. If Newton is allowed to play like he has over the past 18 games, then the Pittsburgh Steelers could very well suffer their second loss of the 2014 season.

     
  • Steelers should take note of Carolina, Detroit game

    Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers

    The Pittsburgh Steelers already experienced what Week Two of the 2014 NFL Season had in store for them.  That doesn’t mean that Pittsburgh shouldn’t keep an eye on how the Carolina Panthers play the Detroit Lions today, however.  With it appearing more likely that quarterback Cam Newton will return to lead a 1-0 Panthers team, the Steelers can get an early view of what they are likely to face on the road next Sunday.

    After missing week one with a rib injury and testing his agility following offseason ankle surgery, Carolina head coach Ron Rivera watched Newton practice in full pads ahead of the team’s meeting with Detroit. According to Rivera, there is “no doubt” that Newton is ready.   “He’s gotten progressively better,” said Rivera.  “His rythm is back.  His timing with his receivers seems to be pretty sound right now.  His decision making was good…” Newton has the arm-strength to stretch any NFL defense to its extremes, but his mobility outside the pocket may be a bit more restricted.

    How Newton fares, arm versus legs, could paint a picture that would give Pittsburgh’s struggling defense a blueprint for stopping him.  With De’Angelo Williams a question mark at running back, Jonathan Stewart is likely to get the majority of the carries with journeyman receiver Jerricho Cotchery and Kelvin Benjamin being the top two receiving targets.  Tight end Greg Olsen has been dealing with family issues, but is a versatile option when he is in the game.

    Pittsburgh’s defense got picked apart bit by bit against the Ravens. While Baltimore looked a lot better on the eyes than the Steelers did Thursday night, statistically Baltimore wasn’t setting any records.  The Steelers had a breakdown in fundamentals.  Tackling, coverage, open-field pursuit, maintaining position, playing routes, rushing the passer, containing the rusher – it was all missing at one time or another against the Ravens.  At times, several fundamental football items were missing from the defense on the very same play.

    Carolina will not have an easy outing against Detroit, and Pittsburgh should be able to watch specific areas – how much Newton is able to move around behind his offensive line before succumbing to pressure, how his footwork is, how he reads the Lions defense, whether the run or pass game gets favored – to put together a game plan that takes advantages of weaknesses on Carolina’s offense with proper personnel on Steelers defense.

    Likewise, the Steelers offense should pay close attention to what Matthew Stafford throws at guys on Carolina’s defense; like Roman Harper, Melvin White, Thomas DeCoud and Antoine Cason.  Does Stafford take the defensive backs long, or use short passes for success? Does he play towards or away from Greg Hardy?  Can Charles Johnson get a good bullrush at him, or is Luke Keuchly more disruptive?

    The Panthers defense is going to respect Stafford and his offensive arsenal, so there is no better time than today for the Steelers to keep track of what Carolina’s defense bites on or fails at and plan accordingly as well.

    It’s a rare opportunity in any NFL season when you get a full ten days to dust off the grime and disappointment.  Steelers fans are praying the Baltimore game isn’t the best Pittsburgh has to offer this season, as is the organization all around.  If the Steelers can get a mental snapshot of how Carolina does today, they are already several steps closer to a much better outcome in Week Three.

     
  • Infusion Of Youth Needed

    It is no secret that one of the main problems for the Pittsburgh Steelers is the defensive. This season the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line has struggled with dealing with multiple assignments. But the Pittsburgh Steelers have two intriguing prospects who could be a huge help to the defensive line now.

    Defensive end Stephon Tuitt and defensive tackle Daniel Mccullers were both drafted in this year draft. Both have great size and athleticism for men of their immense size. Both have impressed in training camp to be kept on the active roster. Veterans Steve Mclendon and Cam Thomas have struggled stopping the run and pass. Mclendon has not done a consistent job of commanding double teams. Mcculllers who stands 6’6″ 352 pounds has the size and presence to command double teams something Mclendon has not done. With the lack of pass rush Thomas has provided it’s clear Tuitt size and energy would only benefit the defensive line and provide some much needed pass rush. When Tuitt was drafted it was projected that Tuitt would start sooner or later. With the lack of production from Thomas the time for Tuitt to star doesn’t seen far away. It was expected that Mclendon would rush the passer more this season. Through two games Mclendon has provided very little pass rush.At the point of attack this season Mclendon has not held his ground very well. Evidence of the defense allowing over 200 yards,rushing in the first two games.

    When Mccullers was drafted it was projected he would not play much this season. If the Pittsburgh Steelers are to make a playoff push it’s safe to safe that a physcial presence in the middle is needed. If and when the defensive line is improved the entire defense will look much better. Allowing the linebackers to be more free to run.and hit. And the secondary will not have to cover the wide receivers so long.

     
  • It Just Was Not Their Night

    The Pittsburgh Steelers suffered,a crushing lost to the Baltimore Ravens 26-6. From missed opportunities to questionable calls nothing seen to go right with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Coaching: During the course of game it was clear the game plan was off. The defensive strategy to stop the run failed miserably. The offensive did not commit to the running game that was ok. The passing game left much to be desired. The special teams did nothing special in returns and changing the course of the game. Coaching Grade F

    Offense: Ben Roethlisberger 30 game streak with at least one touchdown came to a end. There was no receiver who had over 100 yards. Also there was no runner who rushed for over 100 yards. Offensive line struggled against the Baltimore front seven. Le’Von Bell did not receive enough touches in the game neither did running back LeGarrette Blount. Over the last six quarters the offense play calling and execution has been below average Offense Grade F

    Defense: The score doesn’t fully indicate how the defense played. No forced turnovers,no sacks will not cut it. Held Joe Flacco to under 200 yards passing. Allowed Benard Pierce to rush for 96 yards on 22 carries. The defensive line struggled once again. Allowed two touchdowns to the same player in tight end Owen Daniels. Kept both starting wide recievers under 100 yards receiving. Positive was a couple of goal line stands.

    Special Teams: The presence of Dri Archer was missed. Antonio Brown didn’t have any big returns. Defensive return team did a decent job against not allowing any big returns. Punter Brad Wing had another solid outing.

     
  • Coach Tomlin’s Comments After The Loss To The Ravens

    Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens

    Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin talks following Thursday night’s loss to the Ravens.

    Head Coach Mike Tomlin: It was a disappointing effort for us. A lot of self-inflicted wounds are going to prevent you from being in football games like that. We turned the ball over too often. We were highly penalized, particularly on the drives that they were able to manufacture and produce points. We were highly penalized defensively. Those two things are a lethal combination. You turn the ball over, you are highly penalized, you’re extending drives. You are going to lose football games like that and we did tonight. I’m not going to accept it, they can’t accept it. It happened tonight, but we’ve got to make the necessary corrections to move forward and make sure it doesn’t happen again. These games are too precious.

    Last week you talked about communication issues with the defense. Was this more of an execution issue?
    There wasn’t any issue. We turned the ball over and were highly penalized. That’s why we lost the football game.

    Is there anything you can do to eliminate the penalties?
    Yeah, we have to play cleaner. We have to play cleaner. We have to play better technically and cleaner.

    Re: Ben Roethlisberger missing some throws
    It wasn’t a winning performance by any of us.

    Re: Coverage problems against their tight ends
    It wasn’t significant in determining the outcome of the game. You drop back, you throw, you are going to catch some. The story from my perspective, until I watch the tape, is what I told you.

    Re: The early fumble by Justin Brown having an impact
    It’s a game of 60 minutes. The outcome of the game is not going to be defined in the initial moments of the game, whether it’s positive or negative. We did too much of what I outlined over the course of 60 minutes.

    Re: Injury update
    A bunch of bumps and bruises. Steve McLendon had a shoulder and wasn’t able to return. I’ll have an update for you at the appropriate time. I don’t have anything other than that.

    Re: Lawrence Timmons injury

    He went back into the game.

    Re: Ryan Shazier coming out of the game for Sean Spence
    We are going to roll people. We’ve got capable guys. Sean Spence is a capable guy. We played them both.

     
 
 
 
 
 

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