Post-Jags: Rants and Ramblings of a Mad Man
The game against the Jags was such a disgrace that's it's nearly inconceivable that one could pull any positives from the game (at least from a performance standpoint). Focus, execution and teamwork are three words that can be used only if "lack of" proceeds them. Whether looking at receivers running routes 1-2 yards short of the sticks on 3rd down or the punt block where Schneck and Witman mysteriously attempted to block each other's man, the execution was horrendous.
Trying to walk away from today's game with a positive slant is like trying to make chicken salad out of chicken shit. It doesn't matter how you dress, it is what it is. Not even the unfortunate injuries can be blamed. Losing Kimo and K. Bell early is tough for the defense, but the injuries (Bell's in particular) were exaggerated by poor coaching decisions -- namely the decision to scratch Mike Jones from the game. You CANNOT scratch Mike Jones, the only backer to collect regular 3rd down experience in the pre-season. Especially when Fiala is THE MAN if an ILB injury occurs. When you look at Holmes and Bell and their innate intensity, the decision is even more ludicrous. These guys play with insane intensity which increases their risk of injury. Stupid decision!
What a way to start the season...
Things to watch for in coming weeks:
Improved offense: Things can't get much worse right? The offensive line played a fluke of a bad game. This crew is definitely not as bad as they played Sunday. I don't expect dominant play and consistency week in and week out, but I also don't expect many repeat performances of that magnitude. Another factor that has to be considered is the horrible rain. The offense is not built to overcome 18 point deficits under favorable circumstances -- throw in a big dose of rain and you're facing unfavorable odds.
Physical play: Both the offense and the defense were tossed around like salad. Given the aggressive pre-season play and the players on the roster, rest assured that such sloth-like play will not continue.
Can Plex catch a ball with his hands? During multiple pre-season games and now in the regular season, he's shown that he cannot or will not go up over a DB and pluck the ball out of the air with his hands. As a result, rather than sustaining a drive on 3rd and 7 during the first series, Pittsburgh punts....a crucial, drive ending play to start the game! Way to set the stage, Plex! He needs to start using his hands, but I'm not convinced that he ever will. Keep an eye on Burress and his insistence to use his gut and shoulder pads to cradle the ball!
No time for panic!
In order to turn the corner this year (in my definition a 10-6 finish), I felt (still do) that the team must win 2 out of 3 from the Jags, KC and Tampa in the first 6 games. It can still be done, but the more difficult of the paths has been chosen. KC and Tampa on the road, back-to-back are tough games. Thankfully, there's time for improvement between now and then.
Since it is only the first game of the season, we should all unbunch our panties, briefs or boxers and relax (unfortunately I'm too high-strung to do so). Baltimore did not look great despite their win and Tennessee lost. There are 15 games left and plenty of time to make up for a slovenly opener, but it must start Sunday night with a trouncing of the Clowns at Heinz field. A big win at home might just do wonders...