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Thread: Steelers 2012 Post-Mortem

      
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    Default Steelers 2012 Post-Mortem

    Okay, okay… so there is one game left. That said, the Steelers couldn’t be blamed if they kept mailing it in the way they have since the second Ravens game. All they need now is for the U.S. Postal Service to be the official sponsor of the final game with the Browns.

    But what exactly did happen to the 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers?

    One thing that was obvious right off the bat was the realization that games the Steelers typically won in years past were games that ended in the loss column this season. This was especially true in the second Bengals game and the Cowboys game, where poor decisions led to game ending turnovers. Those turnovers, in particular, lead to one really nagging question: What was the deal with Ben Roethlisberger?

    Until he was injured in the Chiefs game, Ben was on track to have one of his best years ever. Since his return, Ben has shown nothing… absolutely nothing. And the record reflected that, as the Steelers finished 0-3 with two of those losses happening at Heinz Field. A pretty consistent litany of overthrown passes and an offense that was successful only when it seemed it was up to it was the calling card of the Steelers offense in December.

    And this leads to yet another nagging question about Ben: with three years left on his deal, how should the Steelers approach him going forward? The past two seasons have been, by Steeler standards, fairly unacceptable. It is evident that the Steeler offense requires a strong leader at QB who can make plays. With particular emphasis on the most recent three games, is it fair to ask whether Ben can be both the strong leader and the play maker the Steelers demand out of their starting QB?

    If he can’t, the front office has a fairly tough decision on their hands. Do they use a pick early in the draft on an heir apparent? Or, do they continue to roll the dice on the prospect of their twice Super Bowl winning QB returning to form to lead the team back to the top of the Super Bowl podium, knowing he has limited time left on his current contract to do so?

    If they do choose the latter course of action, then how serious can the front office be taken when the need to have a capable backup for their star investment has never been greater. The reality is, Ben is now, officially, on the “wrong side of 30” from here forward. And with his style of play, it is fair to suggest that the Steelers might just be writing checks that Ben Roethlisberger’s body can’t cash. And with Charlie Batch staring a fairly obvious retirement decision in the face, Kevin Colbert and the rest of the Steelers brain trust have a whole host of questions about their most prominent position on the offense.

    The tea leaves are saying that the Steelers have no real choice but to either draft a QB with one of the first three picks in the 2013 Draft or play hard for one of the available free agent veterans who will be available this off-season. Either way, the front office must settle on at least one, or possibly, both alternatives before the start of next season. With Ben’s recent injury history, one would think it wise for the Steelers to have a game ready backup who will not look like a deer in headlights the next time Ben goes down.

    And make no mistake, Ben will go down again. His style of play all but suggests that it will happen.

    What about RB? Presently, the Steelers do not possess a player on their roster who can capably shoulder a reasonable load of the offense to take pressure off the passing game. And the Todd Haley offense, assuming it will ever be given a reasonable chance to succeed, needs to have the run and the pass games working in concert. The current RBs on the roster can be charitably described as players who would be excellent second RBs, getting 10 to 15 touches a game to work most effectively.

    Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and Rashard Mendenhall all have that 10 to 15 run capability, that is, when they don’t run like they’re about to be slapped in the face by an angry mother-in-law. None of these players runs particularly well between the tackles. And the Steelers run game doesn’t much exist outside the tackles. At least, it didn’t much exist in 2012.

    Adding a feature RB to the roster before the start of the 2013 season appears to be a good idea currently. Going into the next campaign expecting Jonathan Dwyer to all of a sudden become a feature back may be asking a bit too much based on what he has shown since becoming the starter.

    The current problems on offense have taken a toll on the Steelers in nearly every realm of their game. They have caused the defense to be put on the spot time and again, often times after performing above and beyond the call of duty. And the otherwise inadequate special teams play has been called on time and again when the offense has failed to convert a crucial third down or perform less than optimally in the red zone. A missed field goal by Shawn Suisham today looms large as the possible explanation for loss #8.

    The defense has needs, true enough. The middle portion of the defense, from front to back, could stand for some new blood. However, the Steelers defense has performed well for a good portion of the season despite showing some age. Again, getting some new play makers on defense will not be a mistaken choice.

    In a positive light, the large question mark at cornerback to start 2012 is considerably smaller with the emergence of Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen and Josh Victorian. All three still need some seasoning. But the future at that position is less uncertain now than it was at the beginning of the season.

    The biggest question facing the defense would be the future of Dick LeBeau. At times, the defense has looked tired, rusty and predictable. The tired and rusty part can be most attributed to needing new players to step up. The predictable part is something the defensive coaches need to explain, and the Dick LeBeau defense we have grown accustomed to might be showing signs that the rest of the league is on to him and that the defensive strategy needs more than just a tweak here and there.

    Mostly, the Steelers need to not miss when it comes to players selected to shore up established positions or to replace entrenched stars. One case in point: when Cameron Heyward does get a chance to play, he is typically at least equal to the task and he often exceeds expectations. The 2013 Steelers must find a way to get him in on far more downs than he was involved with in 2012.

    Lots more can be said of the 2012 Steelers. Much of it possibly involved newer and more creative uses of off-color language over one or a dozen beers during the game. But this season’s Steelers basically confirmed most of our fears concerning the team coming in.

    Many of us expected a whole lot more of this team this season, and we probably should have seen more good. But is it realistic to ask whether the Steelers of 2012 possibly over reached and just got lucky in the games they did win?

    What we do know is that the Steelers front office has plenty of work cut out for them in the months ahead and hopefully are already assembling the strategy to return the team back to the playoff mix in 2013.
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    Default Re: Steelers 2012 Post-Mortem

    Great read Hoppy, all the questions you ask have to be answered by the braintrust and very soon. As I see it, when the season is over the Steelers need to move Hood to replace Hampton and move McClendon to end and start opposite Heyward. McClendon is too small for the nose but quick enough for DE . Now the D-Line is much younger and more athletic.

    During the off-Season, the Steelers need to move Timmons back outside to replace Harrison. Timmons and Woodley would be a nightmare for opposing QB's. They both have power and expressiveness. Inside you'd have Foote (maybe), Chris Carter, and Stevenson Sylvester.

    In the Secondary, the CB's are Taylor, Allen, Lewis and Brown while the safeties are Troy, Clark, Van Dyke and Sean Spence along with Will Allen. While Spence got hurt playing ILB, he is much better suited to replace Ryan Clark.

    Yeah I know I'm not a coach, but these are common sense moves that make the team better with pieces that are already part of the puzzle. I'm going to expand on this in an article in the next day or so, but the fact is that some of the answers are already here.
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    Default Re: Steelers 2012 Post-Mortem

    What about RB? Presently, the Steelers do not possess a player on their roster who can capably shoulder a reasonable load of the offense to take pressure off the passing game. And the Todd Haley offense, assuming it will ever be given a reasonable chance to succeed, needs to have the run and the pass games working in concert. The current RBs on the roster can be charitably described as players who would be excellent second RBs, getting 10 to 15 touches a game to work most effectively.

    Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and Rashard Mendenhall all have that 10 to 15 run capability, that is, when they don’t run like they’re about to be slapped in the face by an angry mother-in-law. None of these players runs particularly well between the tackles. And the Steelers run game doesn’t much exist outside the tackles. At least, it didn’t much exist in 2012.

    Adding a feature RB to the roster before the start of the 2013 season appears to be a good idea currently. Going into the next campaign expecting Jonathan Dwyer to all of a sudden become a feature back may be asking a bit too much based on what he has shown since becoming the starter
    The Steelers do need a back because Mendenhall most likely will be gone.while Redman and Dwyer have some good qualities neither can be considered feature backs.
    But to me the Steelers biggest problem in the running game is the [B]WAY they run the ball,like you mentioned,they rarely try to run outside,everything is up the gut because "that's the Steeler way" They are predictable when they run,first 2 series of the game,first series of the second half.....first down run,second down run,3rd and long, pass incomplete, punt. But the biggest problem I see is....I never in my life seen slower developing run plays,every handoff is deep in the back field,the back takes forever to get to the line,partly because he's taking contact before he even reaches the line. That one game where Tomlin went for it on 4th and less than one,I can't remember who got the call,but the handoff was made at least 4 yards deep,at least, and guess what? The play didn't get the half yard needed.
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    Default Re: Steelers 2012 Post-Mortem

    Great read Hoppy

    Is James Harrison the same impact player? Minus the sack vs. Flacco the answer (4 sacks) is no. Was it injury related or are his best years behind him?

    Without Harrison is Woodley more of a Clark Haggans pass rusher? Adequate but not great?

    Can Troy be Troy for a full year?

    Is Ziggy Hood now a first round bust? Average isn't acceptable for first rounder

    The 2009 and 2011 headlined by Heyward and Hood are major question marks, below average drafts. 2008 was a VERY BAD DRAFT. The Steeler way is adding talent through the draft and those three years, 2012 I am withholding judgement, were not good and the Ravens and Bengals and Browns drafted better. But if you are going to build your team through the draft, and not address needs via free agency, then you HAVE TO DRAFT BETTER.

    The defense lacks the "Splash" plays, other than Lawrence Timmons who may have played at a Pro bowl level and is entering his prime.

    Is the 3-4 becoming vulnerable in the spread it out pass happy NFL? I am not sure but the thought has crossed my mind.

    Or...is it all that the turnovers just didn't come because of breaks? Since 2011 the Steelers are 31st in Take away differential or takeaways (not sure which but did here the stat on ESPN the other day).
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    Default Re: Steelers 2012 Post-Mortem

    To me all of Ben's suddenly unemotional play started when during the KC game when he got hurt and then subsequently when he had his first child. I really do wonder if he has lost his passion for playing hard in the game of NFL football. I also questioned his decision making during the TN game too.

    Maybe its his injury or maybe his prospective is now changed. How in the world does Batch lead team beat the ravens and then with Ben we lose 3 straight, Chargers, Boys, bengals. That doesn't sit well with me.

    As much as I hate to say it I think its time to get a new QB in Pittsburgh. Draft someone whose got good leadership, a 4 year starter and let him sit a year behind ben and learn and then he'll be ready. THe problem seems to be that this year there may not be that many if any good QB's in the draft.

    Now lets also think about some perspective. Can you imagine if you were a colts fan in the SB in 2009 I think it was (calendar 2010) and you lost the SB cause Pierre Garcon dropped a sure long gainer possibly TD in 3rd down in the first half and then you lost the game cause your own QB thru a pic 6 to the other team.

    If anyone would have told me that the colts would go the playoffs with a rookie QB and the steelers would not this year I'd have thought you would be crazy, but that is life in the NFL. Often I know I wonder if there are other forces at work. After all the main goal of the NFL is all about making $.

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    Default Re: Steelers 2012 Post-Mortem

    @ Steelreign: Given that Spence was drafted as an LB, would the conversion to a secondary player be problematic?

    Hoppy: Great read and your points are well taken. For the draft, I'd probably look for a Running Back for in the first round. Maybe a further OL in the second (Willie "Irritable" Colon should be replaced ASAP. Even though a rookie might get Ben killed, he'd do it without conceding so many penalties, so that would be a positive) and maybe a QB in the third.

    The reputation of the QBs in this draft beyond the obvious first couple of picks in Round One is iffy, so this might be the year to start looking for the inevitably required back-up.

    Good read, Hoppy and well said.
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    Default Re: Steelers 2012 Post-Mortem

    I really don't think things are as bad as they seem to be fresh off of watching them being eliminated from playoff contention. This is their first non-winning season since 2003 and Tomlin's first. After the reality of it all sinks in it'll be easier to look at the 2012 season with a little more objectivity. Ultimately it was more about turnovers this year than injures that did the Steelers in. They had too many and didn't force nearly enough of them.
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    Default Re: Steelers 2012 Post-Mortem

    There's also the argument that a non-winning season may lead to a harder scrutiny by the powers-that-be. I'm pretty sure that they don't like it and that it will rankle. The trick then is to not over react.

    I'm still puzzled by the O Line. They were doing fairly well for another patchwork year, right up to the point where the "Kugler to leave" rumours started and then they seemed to implode.
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    Default Re: Steelers 2012 Post-Mortem

    Several years ago Idont' think it was last year we gave up a lot of TD on KO and punt returns. I don't think we did that this year.

    Positives:

    Schizem (sp??) K did great.

    I think Rainey is a positive as well.

    TImmons and Will Allen (when he filled in at safety good tackler).

    Cortez Allen (wow what a difference he makes)

    Keenan Lewis played very well and saved several TD's (one @ cincy I remember well).

    We were a few plays from being 10-5 but instead we are 7-8.

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    Default Re: Steelers 2012 Post-Mortem

    Quote Originally Posted by War Machine View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    @ Steelreign: Given that Spence was drafted as an LB, would the conversion to a secondary player be problematic?

    Hoppy: Great read and your points are well taken. For the draft, I'd probably look for a Running Back for in the first round. Maybe a further OL in the second (Willie "Irritable" Colon should be replaced ASAP. Even though a rookie might get Ben killed, he'd do it without conceding so many penalties, so that would be a positive) and maybe a QB in the third.

    The reputation of the QBs in this draft beyond the obvious first couple of picks in Round One is iffy, so this might be the year to start looking for the inevitably required back-up.

    Good read, Hoppy and well said.
    I think with his smaller stature and his speed/athletic ability, he would have little difficulty playing strong safety ala Carnell Lake, who was a Linebacker at UCLA.
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