Stillers/Ravens - Miscellaneous Notes
For the umpteenth time in the past couple years, Josh Miller earns MVP honors for the Stillers (at least in my book). It's a sad day when your punter is the highlight of your team.
Plax Burress once again showed what he can do for the team if he ever gets the ball. His body positioning and control more closely resembles a veteran receiver than a rookie. He didn't catch a deep strike, but nearly did by using height/reach advantage and a veteran nudge of the defender before leaping for the jump ball. He will definitely make a few big plays before the season is over.
In addition to Burress, the Stillers receiving corps in general showed more promise than during the pre-season. The dropped passes were minimized. Nice catches were made by Bruener at the 5 (remember him? the MIA TE?), Bobby Shaw and Hines Ward (although Hines landed out-of-bounds, the concentration he exhibited to snag a ball near the goal line was superb).
The bums of the week are definitely the offensive linemen. I am in shock and cannot fathom how bad they played. The run blocking was awful and the pass blocking was bad most of the day. The overall effort could best be described by any of the following: swiss cheese, turn-stiles, revolving doors... the list goes on.
Don't be fooled by the Ravens only scoring 16 points, the defense was not much better although their sub-par play was exaggerated by the vanilla play calling. As the Ravens ran all day long, we saw little if any stunts, blitzes (run or pass), etc. The "blitzes" today consisted of occassionally sneaking a single defender up to the line of scrimmage in plenty of time to warn the opposing offense. If the defense is to have any chance at carrying this team, then Pittsburgh needs to once again become Bliztburgh and take chances! The D is prone to big plays when playing vanilla, so why not roll the dice?? If you give any average NFL QB 8 seconds to make a decision, he will burn you more times than not...PERIOD. What will happen when playing the Titans, Jaguars or Redskins? Don't answer that please.
The poorest showing of the day was the final of Kordell's three plays (all inside the 5). The play was intended to be a handoff to the Bus. Der Dawson snapped the ball and Stewart left without the ball....looked down at the bouncing ball but turned and continued his movement back towards Bettis. He continued the play right to the point where he was supposed to stuff the ball into Jerome's gut. At that point, Stewart looked completely confused as if he had no idea what happened. I didn't know whether to laugh, cry or vomit. Purely incredible.
Perhaps the second poorest showing of the day was in the stands. It's true that expectations are down and the team's play is autrocious BUT the stands were depleted long before the game was truly over. This is very disappointing. Three Rivers no longer provides home field advantage; it provides a home field disadvantage.
That's all for now...Trenches