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Between the Hashmarks: A Prediction That Has Come True For Steelers



I watched every second of Sunday’s game and yes, I witnessed the Seahawks defenders using a hands-on approach in covering Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant.  Even though there technically should have been some penalty flags flying, the officials let the receivers and defensive backs fight it out.  Scrappy football can be fun to watch.  What was not fun was watching Antwon Blake not use his hands at all.  In fact, there was one particular play where Blake simply threw his body at a Seattle receiver, his hands at his sides.  Yes, Ross Cockrell (pictured above) got his hands into the action, but unfortunately he and his fellow defensive backs were caught out of position and picked apart.

I am not blaming the loss on their play alone.  It was clear that the front office, Tomlin, Colbert and every coach involved in decision-making regarding the personnel they had for the back end of their defense was satisfactory – to them.  Unfortunately, they are likely to stick with that opinion.  “That was a hard-fought game. It was two teams fighting tooth and nail,” said Tomlin after the game. “We gave them some big plays on defense…but you can’t question the effort.”

Cam Heyward didn’t feel the same way.  “We’ve got to put a lot on us…but five touchdowns and 100 yards rushing is unacceptable,” Heyward said post-game.  “There were so many times we had (Seattle) on third and long and we didn’t capitalize.  We kept them on the field.  That’s disheartening because it means that we were doing our job on first and second [downs], and not getting off of the critical down.”  When he was asked about the long touchdown on a play where the Steelers had the Seahawks backed up on a long third down, Heyward said, “That’s in our favor, and there is no way we should be letting them score on those plays or convert on those plays, as well.”

The thing is this: Heyward really has very little to apologize for.  Yes, the defensive front seven could have pressured Wilson more, they could have shut down the run completely and they could have dropped into the seam for coverage.  The problem was that the Steelers defense has been ill-prepared all season long because the responsibility has been passed around instead of truly addressed.  It’s difficult for a defensive lineman to see what’s behind him – he has to count on his teammates to do their job down the field.  That isn’t happening.  And it isn’t happening because there was little to no concern before the season from Steelers leadership about an obvious deficit in player talent and ability to prevent long passes and big scores.

When asked about Doug Baldwin’s 80-yard touchdown reception, linebacker Jarvis Jones proved my point by saying, “I didn’t even see that play – I was on the rush.  I had my back turned to it.  I heard the roar from the crowd, so by the time I turned around he was down by the end zone.”

Safety Mike Mitchell said, “The biggest thing that stood out was the big plays, and that’s on us a whole. We can’t give up big plays because it turns a day where we are feeling like we are having success into a disaster.”

Why the media even asked Blake questions is beyond me.  Blake said that Baldwin’s 80-yard touchdown was due to the Seahawks running a “good concept to beat the coverage” the Steelers were in.  True.  When you can’t cover receivers, you’re going to get beat time and time again.

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  1. Justin

    November 30, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    This is so spot on. I put the blame at the top. Tomlin answers to the front office. If there is an issue, they should address it not excuse it. The Chief is rolling in his grave. Disgusting season.

  2. Lisa

    December 1, 2015 at 12:08 am

    Ummm…..the fake that resulted in no points for us and a T’D for them. Errors on the part of the WR, our premier TE in the locker room, 2 int’s… want to put this on the corners?

  3. OhioSteelers

    December 1, 2015 at 12:41 am

    I think the writer is putting the loss on tomlin and the steelers organization in general. Depth at corner was unaddressed. Tomlin and the staff choosing stupid plays. Making big ben think he has to be the man week to week. Did the Steelers look for depth at any position? No. They may have linebackers but everywhere else they were paper thin. This team cant compete the way they have been and be seen as successful. Do people read entire articles any more or just jump on the headline? Damn

  4. DaveB.

    December 1, 2015 at 6:09 am

    Christina , Your article was then and still is dead on the money . Mike Tomlin underestimated big time the talent and players he had in the secondary when it was fairly obvious to all that the talent simply was not on the roster . There is an old saying in life and its says , you reap what you sew . What does that mean in the case of the Steelers ? It means the Steelers had multiple chances in the offseason during free agency and again during the draft to upgrade the secondary . They didnt do it . They simply went with status quo . Its killed them most of the year and again today against Seattle . Between the stiff arm and arm tackling at thin air , the Seahawk receivers looked like Lynn Swann and Jerry Rice . Rest assured they are not . Bottom line , you reap what you sew and the Steelers are paying dearly for ignoring something that should never have been ignored . They have no one to blame but themselves .

  5. DrGeorge

    December 1, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Actually, Christina, fans on this site have made this point repeatedly for the past three years. Our corners and safeties simply aren’t good enough and haven’t been for some time. That was true even in Polamalu’s last two seasons, and we said so here. In the past year, we have upgraded the speed of the secondary, but tackling and coverage skills are still abysmal.

    For the record, we have also noted for years that the O-line talent is deficient, especially at LG and RT. I would have added LT, except that Villanueva is playing very well and finally appears to be the answer there. Over the past three seasons, the Patriots, Packers, Seahawks, and Ravens have all had to rebuild their O-lines due to injuries, and have found more than adequate talent without using top draft picks. The Steelers can’t seem to find adequate O-line talent even with top draft picks, as Adams, Gilbert, and Urbik illustrate. Even first round picks DeCastro and Pouncey, while solid, have not erased the memory of Faneca and Dawson.

    The reason for these glaring inadequacies is money. Colbert knows talent when he sees it — but we can’t afford the talent he identifies. There are big bucks tied up in our offensive skill positions, and the rest of the team has suffered because of that distorted emphasis. And the blame for that rests at the top.

  6. Austin

    December 1, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    Outside of AB who is underpaid compared to his elite contemporaries, Ben who deserves every penny he gets, perhaps Heath Miller, who are all these offensive skill positions where the money is tied up? By my count that’s only three if indeed you are referring to BIG mega contracts. I don’t believe the problem is with the personnel on the field sans the putrid secondary. This is evidenced by the fact that we were in the game with a chance to win after having turned the ball over three or four times. I believe our disgusting HC doesn’t put them in good enough positions to win as evidenced by: rolling out a fake a FG unit after switching out the holder for the backup QB; failing to call a timeout with just under three minutes left in the game on third and ten so the defense could plan out something (as if it would matter with suck and shit in the secondary otherwise known as a Blake and Allen); saying he never lives in his fear yet calls for two field goals on two separate ocassions from the one and two yard lines….THE SAME DAMN DISTANCE AS A TWO POINT CONVERSIONNTHAT HE HAS NO PROBLEM CALLING ON A REGULAR BASIS!!!!! The quarterback is good enough to win a championship and so are the receivers, tight end. Nth offensive line, although shaky, is no worse than many other teams in positions this year to win it all, the defensive front seven is adequate enough to win it all. Even the backup RB IS GOOD ENOUGH! The secondary…..LMFAO!

  7. DrGeorge

    December 2, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    Austin, I agree with your point about play calling. But you misconstrued my point on salaries.

    The top 8 average salaries and guaranteed money (in millions) on the roster are:
    Avg. Guar.
    Ben Rothlis. $21.8 $31
    C. Heyward $9.8 $15
    L. Timmons $9.5 $11
    M. Pouncey $8.8 $13
    A. Brown $8.4 $8.5
    M. Gilbert $6.1 $7.6
    M. Mitchell $5.0 $5.3
    C. Allen $6.1 $6.7

    Of those 8 players, only Timmons and Heyward are earning their keep. The guaranteed money is an even bigger problem, since it perpetuates the status quo. Shazier and Jarvis Jones are just below Allen in salary, but their guaranteed money is $9.5 and $8.7 respectively. Add it up the money for those 10 players, and it doesn’t leave much for the rest of the team. No matter how many yards Ben R. and AB rack up, they are not the whole team; they cannot compensate for deficiencies on our O-line and in the secondary.

    Excluding Timmons and Heyward, we simply are not getting our money’s worth from the other eight players named above — who are the apex of our salary structure. As for Ben R. and AB specifically, both could be adequately replaced for much less money, and the difference used to strengthen other components of the team. Our passing statistics might decline a little, but the improved quality of the team would more than compensate for it. Or to put it another way, relative to the whole team, these 8 players are way over-valued and the resulting salary disparity directly limits our ability to recruit better talent at other positions. It takes a whole team to win, and the proof is in the pudding. Despite all our star players, we are what the record says we are — a mediocre NFL team.

    Now, we must ask, why does this imbalance exist? And the answer is obvious: Tomlin and management want it that way. And that fact indicates a greater flaw in the organization than merely a few bad calls on the field. The real problem is systemic, and it won’t be easy to fix.

  8. Austin

    December 2, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    I agree it is systematic and tomlin and, to a degree, Colbert, are the culpable ones. However, which QB would you prefer to have on the team?!?! ALL elite QB’s make that kind of money. It’s not just Pittsburgh so you might want to blame the whole NFL?!?! When is the last time, I mean I can’t believe I have to point this out to someone as “intelligent” as you but, when is the last time a QB NOT getting that kind of money won the super bowl?!?! I believe there have been TWO in the last thirty years. Would you like me to list them. Hell, let’s go back 40 years! What would Bradshaw or Staubach or Stabler or Montana or young or elway or Aikman or favre be worth today?!?! Hell, even someone like Theisman or Rypien or Plunkett would get hefty contracts today! The Brad johnsons and Trent Dilfers are the exception so if you prefer to insanely propose that you’d rather have a five percent chance to win the super bowl, have fun defending that stance because that’s what 2 out of 40 is! I can’t argue that the steelers have misappropriated some of their funds in putrid attempts to stay competitive! But singalong out the QB is not only preposterous, it’s laughable and lacks ALL empirical reasoning when viewing the NFL through the contemporary scope of which positions pay what types of dollars. You make no cents, Doc! See what I did there? While you at it, go tell Green Bay, New England, et. al that Aaron Rodgers and Brady and company make too much and that without them, those respective organizations would have better luck without them! Yes, it certainly is systematic in New England opposite of ours and in a good, productive, conducive to winning football is which is in stark contrast to our climate but even the football gods who now seemingly reside in New England didn’t see it fit for that great system to do much with Matt Cassel! He would, however, fit within the paradigm of your financial proposal! Unbelievable!

  9. DaveB.

    December 3, 2015 at 7:16 am

    Having an elite quarterback in the NFL is a double edged sword . Do you want to win 8 or 9 games a year and hopefully compete for a playoff spot with an average quarterback or do you want to win 11 or 12 games a year and be a contender every season ? Thats the question you have to ask yourself . If your answer is the latter , you have to have the elite quarterback and that means a large chunk of the payroll is going to him . Thats the NFL today and its not going anywhere . There is no grace period in the NFL . Its a win now , what have you done for me lately league , and the pressure to win is monumental . In the case of the Steelers , this is more about decision making than it is money . The secondary could have been upgraded without spending a ton of money and it wasnt done . EXAMPLE – If Boykin is so bad that he cant get on the field , why did you sign him ? Did you not research this kid before you signed him ? Obviously , they didnt . Example – Why did you sign Cortez Allen to a big contract extension when it was obvious the kid cant play . The Steelers decision making on player evaluation stinks , plain and simple and that falls at the feet of Colbert and Tomlin . These guys ARE NOT ON THE SAME PAGE . Until that changes , this is what you have to look forward to .

  10. Austin

    December 3, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Thank you! And when is the last time Timmons made splash play after splash play? To say he is earning his money more than Ben or AB makes my stomach turn! Without Timmons we still stink’ but at least we can plug someone in like Vince Williams or spence and be competitive!, without Ben or AB we ain’t winning anything! Maybe doc is Mike tomlin! I can’t think of any other reason one would pine for Timmons save for that was his first draft pick. Of course I’m being facetious! Or am I?!?!!

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