Loose Slag From The Still Mill (Sep 27th)
* The media has focused on the fact that Josh had to hold the ball for the late FG, since The Graham Reaper was injured. I frankly have no problem with Josh holding, nor does Kris Brown, since Josh does loads of holding chores during practice while the starting offense does whatever they do. (We still don't know what they do in practice�) My beef with the final FG, is why did Josh set up his hold on the 40-yard line, rather than the 39 ?? Go look at the tape, if you have it. Or review the game stats, which show the FG attempt to be 50-yards, not 49. The line of scrimmage for this play was clearly the 32. The spot of the hold should always be 7 yards back -- not 8 -- so that defenders rushing around end cannot veer in to block the ball. For whatever bizarre reason, Miller set up camp on the 40, and Brown said nothing to rectify this. Had Brown's kick missed by a couple feet -- rather than a couple yards -- I'd have been mighty pissed about this lack of carrying out what is a basic, simple football alignment.
* After scrubbing the tape, I do owe it to yunz to convey that the Stillers used a new formation in the Titan game. It's a 1-back set, with a TE (Breuner) lined up next to the tackle, and another TE (Geason) on the same side, in the slot. On the other side of the formation, 2 WRs are split out. This was barely used in the 1st half, but was used a good deal in the 2nd half. Bettis was getting a nice crease to run thru nearly EVERY time he ran out of this formation, to include his longest run of the day of 23 yards.
I'm actually eager to see more of this. It gives us some of what I've been pleading for months for: some spreading of the formation, and a 1-back set. It gives us a chance to both run and pass out of this formation. My one concern, is that I don't think Geason is a good enough threat in the passing game. Sure, he caught a 35-yard pass, but the Titans had never seen this formation until that game, and he was simply not covered. I'd rather use a WR, like perhaps Malcolm, so that there's more of a passing option. Of course, perhaps Geason, or Tuman (if he still exists ????) can emerge. Or perhaps Cowhead and Gayrpide will start seeing the benefits of this formation, and simply replace Geason at times with a 3rd receiver like Shaw. Three weeks into this season -- and counting preseason, 7 previous games -- we finally see some new wrinkle in this stale offense. Actually, this is the FIRST innovation of ANY KIND in this offense since the '98 season kicked off. And it produced some superb results on the ground, as well as a 35-yard big play to Geason. WHY did it take so long to roll out a new wrinkle�.and will it take another 3 years to see another one??
* Among what little was worthy in his press conference, Cowher was expounding on how his offense is actually getting some decent yardage on 1st and 2nd downs, but not converting 3rd downs. He went on to say, and I quote, "We're putting ourselves in a position to be successful...we're just not finishing." Hey, no shit, Sherlock. Teams that FINISH a drive do it by scoring TOUCHDOWNS. They do it by taking some risk....they don't BRAG about "we're the only team in the NFL to not throw an INT." Teams that cash in on 3rd downs do it with some BALLS....they don't continually play fiddle-faddle with draw plays, screen passes, and 3-yard dinks on 3rd and 7. FINISHING is a mindset. Cowher has no interest in finishing ANYTHING, except his next meal and his next TV commercial. Teams interested in FINISHING don't spike the ball with 40 seconds left, on 1st down on the 40-yard line, which is a hopeless 57-yard FG. Teams interested in FINISHING don't run a draw play on 3rd and 2 at the opponent's 11, a week after running the SAME draw play on 1st & goal at the 8-yard line. If Cowher wants things to be finished, he needs to look in the mirror and start becoming part of the SOLUTION, rather than part of the problem.
* Guy Spunker from Fox Sports Pgh. claimed yesterday that "Fans are calling for more blitzing, but on the 3 big plays, we blitzed and Tennessee still completed big plays." The 3 plays he was specifically referring to, were the 67-yarder to Pickens; McNair's 1st pass on that 3rd & 11; and the winning TD pass to Kimmey. This is sheer balderdash from Spunker, and here's why:
1. On the Pickens play, 5 men rushed -- Kimo, Sullie, Gildon, Kirk, and Scott. Kirkland came on a delayed rush and was picked up by Eddie George, and Scott blitzed from where he was guarding a slot receiver, and the receiver ended up blocking Chad. Against 5 lineman, a WR, and a RB, this is hardly what I call a "blitz". By blitz, I mean sending in real pass-rushers, or DBs who can come from a weak side untouched, and overwhelm the blockers in order to harass, pressure, and hurry the QB.
2. On the 3rd & 11 McNair completion late in the 4th quarter, only FOUR men rushed -- Gildon, Sullie, Kimo, and Porter. 4 men, against 5 linemen & a RB. Unlike Spunker, I don't call a vanilla 4-man rush a "blitz".
3. On the winning TD, as I've already mentioned in the post-game report, Flowers was the 5th pass-rusher on that play --- and when the ball was snapped, he was NINE yards from the line of scrimmage. Guy Spunker might think this constitutes a "blitz", but not even Michael Johnson can be lined up 9 yards from the line and expect to get pressure on the QB. As it was, Flowers was caught up in a scrum in the middle of the line, and obviously did nothing to harass McNair. The 4th rusher, by the way, was a DB, which appeared to be Simmons. He got crushed by the RG and E. George. The other 3 rushers were the DL. So, on this "blitz", you have 3 DL, a tiny nickel-back rushing up the gut, and a safety rushing from a spot 9 yards downfield. Meanwhile, our 2 best pass rushers -- Gildon and Porter -- weren't part of this rush at all.
Sorry, Guy --- you might be able to bamboozle some of your audience, but not everyone. Unlike you and the Stiller staff, some of us actually review tape. This "blitzing" that this team is doing is a pathetic joke. We need to get back to the days of bringing HEAT with 6 rushers, who are at or near the line of scrimmage, and who actually have some brawn and strength. Or using a CB, like Rod Woodson often did, coming from the weak, blind side of the formation. THAT is a blitz, not this namby-pamby shit that Cowher and Lewis have been toying around with for 3 games now.
* Speaking of the rush, Porter has been very quiet since the Raven game, when he stripped Banks. Porter needs to get it in gear. However, at the same time, this staff needs to start using Porter more on the RUSH. Of those 3 big plays, Porter rushed on only one of them. I noticed in film study that Porter is being used extensively as a cover man. While Porter has good quickness and speed to cover ball-catchers, his best usefulness to this team right now is as a PASS RUSHER. You simply cannot take the team's BEST pass rusher, and make him a cover guy. The team needs to use a nickel back to cover people, and let Porter rush the passer, rather than the other way around.
* The other day, I was contemplating the great mysteries of life.�
If a tree falls in the woods, does it make any sound???
If the Stillers play the Bengals, is there any scoring???
If Cowher gets the ball, 1st and goal on the 2 with 25 seconds left, does he kick a field goal???
The Still Mill