Loose Slag from The Still Mill (Dec. 13th, '01)
Some loose slag from the Stiller-Jets game and other related thoughts....
- It's a fact that Rich Tylski is the least capable of our starting O-linemen. That said, I relish his return to the lineup. Despite any babble you might continue to hear, Oliver Ross had another shabby game this past weekend. His pulling is poor, as his ability to reach-block when his assigned defender is not lined up directly across from his nose.
- Stewart's bomb to Plex was a wee bit underthrown, but the play-action fake on that play was perhaps the best I have ever seen from Stewart. It was so good that even Boomer Esiason -- a well-known master of the playfake -- would have been impressed. I mention this, because in a tight playoff game, with a defense edgy and eager to jump on Jerome Bettis, this same play-fake could very well deliver the game-winning score.
- Wondering about our 3rd down success? To be sure, Stewart deserves a lot of credit. After all, he's keeping cool under blitz pressure, and he's delivering the ball with crisp accuracy. But the other major factor is the depth and talent of this WR corps. I've asked before -- is there a defensive secondary out there with enough quality in their nickel/dime defense, that can cover the foursome of Ward, Plex, Shaw, and Edwards�.?
- By the way, while I scrubbed the tape, I noticed that, for the most part, Stewart is no longer throwing off his back foot. Amazing, how using the correct mechanics can really help at a position like QB. Equally amazing is what a QB coach can do for the most important position on the football field.
- Mularkey's wasting of, and use of, timeouts continues to perplex me. In the 4th quarter, with about 7-1/2 minutes remaining, Burress dove to the ground and caught a short slant for about 9 yards. As you may recall, Plex didn't feel anyone touch him, so he got up and ran to the end zone, just in case. The replays clearly showed that he was gently touched. Ok, fine. But in the meantime, the entire Stiller offense slopped around as though they were taking a tour of the nearby Andy Warhol museum, and the playclock ran down to the point that the offense had to waste a timeout. This is sheer asininity. If Burress was too far downfield to get back to the huddle, he could have been waived off by the staff, and by fellow players, and another receiver could have been quickly inserted. We were facing a 3rd & 1 play anyway, so it's not like Burress' services were absolutely mandatory. When you're clinging to an 8-point lead in the 4Q, there's no reason at all to waste a timeout like this. Mularkey gets the blame, because, as the OC, he's responsible when dumbshit things like this happen. He's in contact with enough coaches on the sideline, that Burress' fruitless dash to the end zone should not result in a timeout. The other bizarre TO occurred just before Brown's final FG, at 2:21 of the 4Q. The Stillers had the ball at the 3 yard line, and decided to boot the FG. But they wanted to run the playclock down as much as possible, so they let it run down to about 0:01 and then called their 2nd timeout. Say what ?? This is yet another asinine waste of a timeout. Running the clock down prior to the FG is a great idea. But the ball is on the 3-yard line, so we were looking at a 20-yard FG, or, essentially an extra point. Why not simply take the 5-yard penalty ?? Some will squawk that, by taking a penalty, we'd jeopardize struggling kicker Kris Brown's chance at making the FG. If you truly believe that asking Brown to kick from 25-yards out is such a steep risk as opposed to the 20-yard FG, then you absolutely must also believe that Brown is totally incapable as an NFL kicker and should be replaced immediately. I myself don't believe that, but it anyone -- to include the Stillers coaching staff -- felt that taking a delay of game penalty was unwise because it would turn a 20-yard chipshot into a 25-yard chipshot, then they must also have exactly zero confidence in Kris Brown.
- Fu didn't gain a lot of yardage (50 yards on 21 carries) but he did some very impressive work in the 2nd half in grinding for first-down yardage. He seems to have a good knack of the spatial relationship & awareness in terms of where the first down marker is. Fu also impressed me in the Jets game with his ability to get low -- in a submarine kind of style -- in order to get under tacklers and get the requisite yardage for the 1st down.
- Mark Bruener was lost for the season nearly a month ago. Shouldn't the world have come to an end by now�.?
- The lousy condition of the turf at Heinz Field, which has annoyed me all season, was absolutely pitiful in this latest game. And this was after it'd been re-sodded. Ward, Burress, Amoz, Fu, Edwards, Shaw, Porter, Scott -- these guys were all slipping on clumps of dirt. I've seen hockey coaches run across the ice in street shoes and have better traction. If this is what the WPIAL high school football championships will do to this field, then the Stillers need to politely turn down any future requests to play at Heinz Field. Sorry, but a team that has a $53M player payroll, plus several million more for coaches and support staff, has the duty to its players, fans, and owner to play on the best surface possible. Clearly, that surface is not the current grass turf at Heinz Field�