Bungles 28, Stillers 20 ���. Sep 2418, 2006 ����Game #3
Stillers-Bungles Postgame Analysis and Grades
(today�s analysis is written by StillTrap in Still Mill�s absence on a work boondoggle.)
The Stillers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory today, as a game in which they controlled and outplayed the Bungles, got away from them, and sent them reeling to 1-2. Turnovers were the key to defeat, and they could not have come at worse possible times for the Stillers. They must regroup and lick their wounds on the bye week, which comes at the best possible time.
QB: Big Ben was 18 of 39 for 208 yards and 3 killer INTs. His first drive was fairly good, and the plays were mixed up well. He hit Heath Miller on the first drive, but rarely looked Heath�s way the rest of the game. Some of his passes were affected by the perennially shitty field conditions at Heinz, including the deep INT in the third quarter. Replays clearly show that Ben�s front foot slides as he strides into the throw. Other passes of Ben�s were low, others did not have a tight spiral, however, the TD drop thrown to Washington had a nice tight spiral to it. Ben�s INT at the end of the second drive was inexcusable, as Ben threw off his back foot, off-balance, and across the grain. All of these things added up to an easy pick. The pick at the end of the game was wretched and ill-advised. Washington wasn�t even close to being open, and the truth be told, it wasn�t exactly necessary to throw into the endzone with 18 seconds left. A catch for the first down inside the 10, followed by a spike, would have been enough for another throw into the EZ. Ben does get credit for eluding the pass rush most of the game. C-.
RB: Parker had a terrific game, showing elusiveness, cutback ability, and tough bulldozing. He ended up with 133 yards. He held onto the football. Parker is quickly developing into a running back, when given good blocking, that can be one of the top threats in the NFL. Verron Haynes ends up being one of the goats today, by virtue of his inexcusable fumble late in the game. Haynes did have some nice, hard-nosed runs, getting 24 tough yards for a 4.8 ypc. He also had 5 catches for 33 yards, including a very good catch of a low ball late in the game, but none of these things make up for the costly fumble. Parker-A, Haynes-C-.
FB: Kreider through some very solid blocks, including the one on Parker�s first TD run that cleared the path. Dan is forbidden from toting the rock in Cowherd�s offense, even though his career ypc is over 5. A.
WR: Cedric the entertainer Wilson led this group with 3 catches for 73 yards, and a nice reverse early in the game. Nonetheless, Cedric also dropped an easy low throw from Ben later in the game. His clutch catch along the far sideline in the last drive was a key to keeping the drive going. Ward was quiet, finishing the day with only 2 grabs for 17 yards. Holmes had a few catches late in the game, but this writer is having flashbacks of Troy Edwards with the young Holmes. It seems that Whisenhunt is using the Kevin Gaypride playbook when it comes to Santonio�that is, all his patterns are hitches, comebackers,and buttonhooks. What is up with that? Trap thought we drafted this guy to go deep, and run with the ball after the catch? These type patterns do not allow for him to utilize his abilities. Nate Washington had the horrendous drop at the end of the game�a pass that every receiver in the NFL must catch. Washington�s big mistake on the drop was foolishly worrying about making sure he was in the endzone instead of making sure he caught the ball. Willie Reid was not allowed to dress. C-.
TE: Heath Miller was used on the first drive, then barely looked at thereafter. His blocking was excellent. B.
OL: The offensive line had a very good game. The entire line got a good surge on most all running plays, and opened good holes and creases for Parker to run through. It was a tremendous improvement over last week. This writer was particularly impressed with Kendall Simmon�s play � he consistently got to the second level, and bulldozed many a Bungle defender. Hartings and Faneca were excellent, and Faneca�s pulling to the right side was outstanding. Marvel may have been the weak link this week, but he was definitely serviceable. Starks continues to be a stout run-blocker, and only a decent pass blocker. This week marked the return of Smashmouth Football! A.
DL: The defensive line limited Rudi to only 47 yards for the game. Other than the 97-yard TD drive after the Big Ben INT in the endzone the DL was solid against the run. They got terrific push upfield rushing the passer, and constantly harassed Palmer. Keisel and Smith both had sacks. Keisel, Smith, and Hampton were all very solid for most of the game, save for the long TD drive, and the draw play after the Ricardo Cokehead fumble. B+.
LB: Foote and Farrior led the way in this group with 9 and 7 tackles, respectively. Foote continues to improve, and make the Stiller front office look ingenius for signing him up long term before last season. Foote had a sack, and a couple of tackles for losses. Farrior inexplicably takes himself out of the play on the draw that the Bungles get the TD on after the Ricardo Jokely punt fumble. Watching the replay, it appears that there is no reason whatsoever why Farrior leaves the middle LB position. This writer can only surmise that he freelanced, which was the kiss of death on that play, because Foote is not in that defense, leaving Farrior as the only man in the middle. Everyone saw the resulting run into the EZ, and it wasn�t good. Clark Haggans was again a monster coming off the edge, getting 2 sacks, and helping cause a fumble. His run support was good, and he continues to show why he is the best kept LB secret in all of football.
At the very bottom of the Steelers stat sheet for the second week in a row was the "Most Feared Man in the NFL", Big Joey Porter. Mister Fearsome finished with a whopping 1assist and zero solos. Added to that, The Big Fearmonger applied zero pressure the ENTIRE day. He did have a nice pass break-up early on. Other than getting into a jawing match with Chad Johnson in pre-game warm-ups, Big Joey did a lot of standing around. He is quietly becoming the next Jason Gildong, and his moniker of being �most feared� is laughable. His run support is average, and his pass-rushing technique is such a �one trick pony� that most NFL teams have figured out how to block him. Fortunately, the Colts are not one of them. Big 3 LB�s � B+, Big Joey � D.
DB: This was a mixed bag. Some of the play by this crew was outstanding, especially in the 3rd quarter. Some of the play was below average, especially in the first half. Ike Taylor�s failure to look for the ball directly resulted in the Bungle�s first TD. Taylor had excellent position, but simply never saw the ball coming. Pis Henry outfoxed him, and Taylor was toast. Taylor did have an INT in the game. Townsend also had an INT, and had a couple of good pass break-ups. His run support was solid, totaling 5 solo tackles. Townsend was weak in allowing Houshmanwhatshisname catch the TD pass on his back. After DeShae initially batted the ball, he stumbled and fell away from the receiver, allowing the TD catch to be made. Ricardo Tokely had great position on the Bungle second TD before the half, but failed to stick his right arm out to deflect the ball. This is simply poor technique. When a DB has a receiver blanketed, he HAS to stick a hand and arm out when the ball comes. Pathetic. Ryan Clark�s hit on Pis Henry was Bee-yoo-tee-ful!! Oh, yeah! Troy Polamolu was limited, due to his lingering shoulder pain. He missed a number of tackles, just like last week, and is clearly unable to wreck havoc like he is capable. The bye week could not have come at a better time to get the best defender in the NFL healthy. C.
Spec teams: Where does Trap start? With the Ricardo Cokehead fumble? With the Pis Gardocki shankfuck punt? With the blocked field goal? With the squib kick by the Bungles that was allowed to roll all the way through the endzone? In short, the special teams were a goatfuck. Sure, Harrison and Kriewaldt and Morey made some nice tackles in coverage, but as a whole, when the chips were down, it was a debacle. This writer expressed trepidation as soon as he saw Ricardo Cokesniffer go back in single safety, in the wind, to field a punt deep in our territory. Trap recalls his comment being, �shit, I hope he doesn�t drop it.� Drop it he did. After he dropped it, he went after it like a 5�year-old on an Easter egg hunt, using a fork. Now, Trap doesn�t want to get off on a rant here, but, the Super Bowl Champions had very little to fill in terms of holes this offseason. In fact, only kickoff returns and punt returns needed to be seriously addressed. In the draft, they intelligently went after those needs. Five months later, we have these abortions in special teams to look forward to??? Good God, man, have they lost their minds?? Willie Reid can�t dress? Holmes can�t return punts? Or kickoffs? All we have is Ricardo Cokesmoker? The Human Fumbling Machine??? It�s not like the Stillers didn�t know what they have in Ricardo Jokely. He fumbled last preseason, he fumbled last year, he fumbled this preseason. Admittedly, the team has stated that Jokely has �poor instincts�. They have admitted that he is �inconsistent�. OKAY. Here�s an idea: Let�s not let him touch the football. Is this too much to ask? F.
OC: Cheesenhunt improved since last week. His playcalling was better, the tempo of the game was better, and he did what he needed to do for a victory today. However, he still does not get the TE involved in the offense enough. If a team is going to spend a 1st round pick on a TE, that team damn well better utilize him for more than a blocking sled. The same must be said for the 1st round WR. The patterns Holmes is being asked to run are atrocious for someone of his pedigree. These are the type of patterns Joe Jurevicious runs, not a speedy wideout with 4.3 speed. Combine this with the mandatory deep throws to Hines Ward every week, and this writer has his ire raised with Mr. Cheesenhunt. Ward runs a 4.6, and Holmes runs a 4.3. �Nuf said. The reverse on the first drive, along with the flare pass to Parker that we�ll never see again, was good creativity by the OC. The stubborn insistence at running screen plays into the ground when the defense knows they�re coming was not. Just before Big Ben threw the long INT, the Stillers were pounding the ground game all over the Bungle defense. There was really no reason to pass on that play, but Trap will forgive it, because Trap is always in favor of taking a deep shot downfield, especially on first down. In this case, however, that was not the play called � Big Ben improvised it, and ended up slipping on the �new� awful Heinz Field turf. B+.
DC: This was a tale of two halves. LeBeau�s defense giving up a 97-yard drive was putrid. It was the longest drive the Bungles have had in years. Key 3rd downs were not stopped by the D on this drive. Then, under 2 mintues before the half, the defense allowed another march down the field and score another TD. This TD should have been any easy break-up in the EZ by Coclough, but, alas, Coke doesn�t have the instincts to stick his hand up. LeBeau did a wonderful job of resurrecting the defense at halftime. This writer has acknowledged in the past that there may be no better coordinator in the NFL at making halftime adjustments. The Stiller D came out swarming in the second half, and engulfed Carson Palmer like Tony Siragusa on an enchilada. The hitting improved, and the tackling was better. The receivers were covered well, with the exception of House coming down with the TD on his back. LeBeau used a variety of blitzes, and was able to do so without Polamolu being involved much at all. Trap looks for this D to be even more rabid coming out of the bye week. First half � C-. Second half � A-.
HC: Cowherd is where the buck stops. OKAY, the buck on the special teams debacle stops right at Cowherd�s doorstep. Cowherd prides himself in being a former special teamer, and special teams coach, yet his special teams have provided more stench over the years than a Casey Hampton fart. This game was given away with the Cokehead fumble on the punt return. Cowherd had one thing to fix this offseason, and that was the return teams. Randle El left, and Quincy Morgan was cut. Cowherd�s plan was to use 1st round pick Holmes on punt returns, and 3rd round pick Reid on kick returns. Or maybe even Reid on both. Or maybe Holmes on both. After diddledicking all preseason, what are we left with? Neither doing neither. Ricardo Coclough, who has a history of fumbling everything from punts to kickoffs to INT�s to toothpaste out of the tube, is Cowherd�s �solution�. Bill � you blew it. YOU GAVE THIS GAME AWAY, specifically because your special teams were woefully unprepared, just as they have been year after year after year. Winds were swirling, the punt was coming deep into your own territory, and you were holding a precarious 3-point lead. This writer advocates �two deep� in this situation, instead of �single safety� to minimize the chance of the debacle that happened. In case one guy misfields the punt, the other guy gets on it. Anyway, the bottom line is, Bill had months to prepare for the punt and kickoff return teams, he had four preseason games to do it, and they are still hosed up. The announcers joked about it, the studio crew joked about it, and tomorrow, Trap�s fellow co-workers will laugh about it. But, it�s no joke, Bill. Other teams have huge holes to fill in the offseason. You have little to fill, and you�ve shown time and time again, when it comes to special teams, you just can�t get it right. Additionally, all the taunting penalties of today are a direct reflection of the head coach. So are the Big Mouth Porter antics before each game. The buck stops here, Bill. How about stopping it..? F.
Synopsis: A game given away. The Stillers should rightly be 2-1 today. They should be going into the bye week on a high. The defense should be proud of how they came out and took the game to the Bungles in the 2nd half. The OL should be proud of how they manhandled the Bungle front seven. Instead, the team goes into the bye wondering when, if ever, their head coach is going to fix the special teams that take the short bus to every game. They go into the bye week wondering if they can overcome not one, but two teams ahead of them in the standings. They go into the bye week wondering if their quarterback will find his rhythm. They go into the bye week wondering if their all-world safety can heal and become the force he once was. They go into the bye week wondering if Willie Reid will ever be allowed to dress for an NFL game.
This writer thinks they will right the ship. There is a lot of pride on this team, and the leaders on this team will not let the head coach have victories stolen from them. This Stiller team will be reckoned with later in the season. Until then, a week lost�..
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