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Loose Slag from The Still Mill

November 14, 2001 by Still Mill


Loose Slag from The Still Mill

Some loose slag from the Stiller-Browns game�.

- Only in Pittsburgh does a coach get off as easy as Cowher does. I didn't tape the press conference this week, but I'm not aware that Cowher was asked anything about challenging the safety that gave Cleveland 2 points midway through the first quarter. Any time there's a very, very close play that puts points on the board for your opponent, it's well worth the challenge. Notice how Cleveland head coach Butch Davis quickly challenged the Stewart fumble, despite his staff seeing only one replay after the actual fumble. Davis was faced with the grim prospect of defending a 2nd & goal from the Clev. 1/2 yard line, and he was looking at the prospect of a very attainable TD and, if not, a chippie FG. So Davis quickly assessed the risk and figured that the benefit far outweighed the risk. It's ironic that, in the previous game, Cowher risked a timeout and challenged the successful FG by the Ravens, claiming that the quarter had expired just before the snap. Yet the very next week Cowher and his coaches upstairs watch Jerome Bettis lunge and stretch in a valiant -- and perhaps successful -- attempt to avoid the safety, yet they didn't see fit to risk a timeout in order to take two points off the scoreboard in a critical divisional road game.

- I mentioned this in my postgame report, and even the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette picked up on this in their articles on Monday�the half sack that was credited to Jason Gildon should have been credited to Joey Porter. Yet here we are, 3 days after the game, and the NFL is still crediting GilDong with 3-1/2 -- not 3 -- sacks in that game. In case you missed it, here are two photo angles of that sack that unequivocally prove that Gildon had absolutely nothing to do with the sack, except be a nearby innocent bystander. And even if you don't know which player wears what number, just look for the duck feet of Gildong�.


- Anyone been counting the number of dropped passes by the God of TEs , Mark Breuner ?

- If Bill Cowher is truly the genius that his bandwagoners are claiming, ask yourself this --- After seeing Jon Witman stumble and bumble last Sunday, while Dan Kreider was bulldozing defenders, exactly why has Witman remained the starting FB over a healthy Kreider ??

- There's been a lot of media and fan misinformation that poor, overworked Jason Gildon has been burdened with the task of almost always having to face the strong side of the formation. A long-time reader of this site asked me to break down the number of times Jason faced a strong side, vis a vis Joey Porter. As I was again breaking down the Cleveland tape tonight, my esteemed colleague Trenches called, and it turns out that he'd already done this exact breakdown for the Tampa game. (The under-prolific TrenchHead never got around to write a column about it. J ) Here's the breakdown from the Clev. game:

- Cleveland formations:

Strong left - 17

Balanced - 21

Strong right - 19

Note that this doesn't account for Couch's meaningless kneel at the very end of the 2Q. But I did include formations that were fully "conducted" but then showed up as "no play" because a defensive penalty on Holmes or a false start. Also note that one play was indiscernible, due to CBS "coming in late" after showing a graphic on the screen. The figures show that in the Browns' game, about 1/3 of the plays were a strong-side formation towards Gildon's side, a bit less than 1/3 strong toward Porter's, and a bit over 1/3 were balanced formations where neither side was 'strong'.

Here's Trenches' breakdown from the Tampa game a few weeks ago:

- Tampa formations:

Strong left - 28

Balanced - 15

Strong right - 23

In this particular game, the Bucs actually ran more strong side formations to their left (Steelers' right). At any rate, these 2 games clearly show that the old days of an NFL team blindly running the strong-side of the formation to the same side each and every play, are over. And so, too, are the days of "the right side being the strong side". In these two games, LOLB Jason Gildon did not, despite the absurd fallacies being propagated the past several weeks, face a preponderance of strong-side formations. In fact, the plays that he actually faced a strong side formation were in the stark minority. The reality is that some teams, like the Stillers and Jaguars, prefer to run left, based on the skill of their LT and LG. Other teams, like the Rams and Colts and, come to think of it, probably every other NFL team, aren't about to handcuff their offense with archaic, anachronistic "strong side is on the right" idiocy. Now that this fallacy has been summarily dispelled, if anyone has any other theories as to why Jason Gildon has been severely outplayed by the other OLB, Joey Porter, please send them to me at

- In the "Why not pat the ol' back myself?" department, last week, in this same Slag column, I wrote, "�Brownie will be back. Bet on it. It's very clear that Kris Brown has supreme confidence in his RANGE. Ergo, when he gets field goal opportunities that are WAY within his range, he does not drive thru the ball -- he gives it a half-kick, as his leg is strong enough to get the requisite distance. Not driving through, causes the ball to be "pushed", much the same as it does when driving a golf ball. The problem has nothing to do with "aiming further left", as some have said. It is simply a case of not driving thru ball with full leg extension." Said Kris Brown shortly after his game-winning FG versus Clev, "I think it was just a situation where instead of me just trying to swing through the ball, it was me trying to guide the ball. When I�m swinging through the ball, when I attack the ball, that�s when I have my best kicks." I try to read every major media site related to the Steelers and not one of them astutely broke down exactly what was ailing Kris Brown, sans this one�

- Since Cowher apparently doesn't have a clue about what ails Plex Burress, I'll set the record straight for that, too. Per the Wednesday PG, "He (Cowher) said Burress is not doing anything technically wrong to cause him to drop the ball. "No. There's going to be speculation, but certainly we want to catch every ball that's thrown our way . . . We'll continue to work," said Cowher. Cowher said a dropped pass "doesn't gall me." Hey Billy, there's two primary problems with Burress: 1.) He allows nearly every pass thrown to him to hit his chest pad, shoulder pad, face-mask, or anything else that is handy. 2.) This might very well exacerbate #1 -- I'm convinced Burress has vision problems, either with near-sightedness and/or "depth" (ie, judging a moving object in relation to oneself and surrounding objects). This last game convinced me of #2, as it was very apparent to me that Burress's inability to make the slightest adjustment appears to be in large part due to a vision problem.

- Both Hines Ward and Earl Holmes were fined $5K for their actions last Sunday. My thought on their actions�.? This is simply Stiller football, the same brand of roughhouse, take-no-prisoners football that won this franchise four Super Bowls. Good job, fellas, and let's see more��

- For those of you who are tired of reading the Gildong Report, rest assured, I'm tired of writing it. Never before in the history of journalism has so much been written about such pathetic mediocrity�

- If anyone is wondering, my preseason outlook predicted a 10-6 finish. At this juncture, 12-4 sounds even better�.

- Before too many Stiller fans get hoarse with their praising of Cowher for "standing up to Corey Fuller" in regards to Cowher's ridiculous shouting match with the Cleveland cornerback, let's not forget that we've seen this sort of Cowher imbecility backfire on his team. Back in 1997, Cowher so enraged Denver DE Alfred Williams with similar on-the-field-of-play foolishness that Williams went on a long post-game tirade about how pissed off it made him. A month later, the fired-up Doncos came back to Pittsburgh and handed Marty Jr. yet another miserable home playoff loss.

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