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    Default collapse is a team-wide endeavor

    Steelers' collapse is a team-wide endeavor
    By Mark Kaboly
    Daily News Sports Editor
    Sunday, December 13, 2009

    It's the question that everyone is asking: What's wrong with the Steelers?

    "That's the million-dollar question," said linebacker James Farrior after the Steelers lost their fifth consecutive game Thursday that all but knocked them out of the playoff race just months after winning a record sixth Super Bowl.

    So what is wrong with the Steelers?

    How did they go from winning a Super Bowl, starting the season 6-2 and being labeled the best team in the NFL after beating the Denver Broncos on the road, to the team that lost to Kansas City, Oakland and Cleveland in one disastrous stretch?

    Well, that's the problem. Nobody knows the answer.

    Farrior doesn't. "If somebody knew that answer, I think we would be doing better," he said.

    Hines Ward doesn't. "I have no idea. I really don't have an answer."

    Casey Hampton doesn't. "If I could explain to you how we are losing and what is going on, we wouldn't be losing."

    Reigning defensive player of the year James Harrison? No clue. "I am going to tell you what everybody else is telling you: I don't know."

    Even the men who are paid to come up with such answers on television broadcasts are at a loss for words.

    Former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer, an NFL analyst for ESPN, breaks down hours and hours of film per week on each team, yet he's also baffled by the Steelers' demise.

    "I have no idea," Dilfer said. "It's mind-boggling. I'm frustrated because I take great pride in how I study film and what I look for and trying to be ahead of the curve, and I was dead wrong on them."

    Indications point toward the culprit stemming from overconfidence after winning a Super Bowl title in 2008.

    "We have to realize that we are not the '08 Pittsburgh Steelers," safety Ryan Clark said.

    Even so, they played like the '08 Steelers for the first half of the year. At the midway point, they were 6-2 with two fluky road losses to Chicago and Cincinnati. Publications such as Sports Illustrated were picking them to play in the Super Bowl and wondering whether they'd lose another game.

    Five weeks later, the Steelers are 6-7 and all but out of the playoff hunt.

    "We have the same team as last year," Ward said. "How do you win a Super Bowl one year and not make it and lose five straight the next year?"

    Not being able to pinpoint the problem has been extremely frustrating to the players.

    "When you go to work every day, you feel like you put all the effort that you need to, you study tape and do all the little things that go into the work week and when you come out and play, it just doesn't happen," Farrior said.

    Each phase of the Steelers' game can be blamed for the collapse.

    Offense

    Despite projecting to have a 3,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher and two 1,000-yard receivers for the first time in nearly a decade, the offense has been lacking at times.

    The unit has rarely been able to put games away. The Steelers gained 258 first-half yards but managed only 13 points in a Week 3 loss against the Bengals. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had an interception returned for a touchdown, and Limas Sweed dropped a touchdown pass in the end zone a little bit later.

    The offense failed to score a touchdown the next time the Steelers played the Bengals, struggled in the red zone against the Chiefs and didn't score a touchdown against the Browns' 32nd-ranked defense.

    Defense

    When your defense gives up five fourth-quarter leads, the unit that was No. 1 in the NFL two consecutive seasons has become an enigma.

    The defense is still ranked in the top five in the league but has failed to make critical plays in crucial situations.

    "Right now, the difference between this year and last year is we're not making those plays," veteran defensive back Deshea Townsend said.

    The Steelers allowed Chicago, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Oakland and Baltimore to score on the final drive of the game to win.

    "We are not getting it done," Hampton said. "It is what it is now. We know how to win, but we just are not doing it."

    Injuries to Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith could be a reason. Smith has missed the past eight games, and Polamalu has missed two four-game stints in which the Steelers are 2-6.

    "Yeah, those are hard losses to overcome," Dilfer said. "That doesn't explain why you only score six points against the Cleveland Browns. That doesn't explain why it takes you four quarters to score against the Raiders. It doesn't explain a lot of other issues."

    Special teams

    Bob Ligashesky's unit has contributed a lot to the losing streak and fall from grace. Jeff Reed missed two field goals in a Week 2 loss to Chicago, but that paled in comparison to the kick coverage unit giving up touchdown returns in four of five games during midseason.

    It got so bad that two weeks ago coach Mike Tomlin signed two veterans off the street, Corey Ivy and Rocky Boiman, and put them right on the field.

    Coaching

    Tomlin started his third training camp in curious fashion by giving veterans days off much more than usual. He then gave the team the entire bye week off, raising even more eyebrows.

    Last week, he made a public comment about making changes with a veteran, Super Bowl-winning roster, then did not follow through on his proclamation.

    "Mike Tomlin has to accept a lot of the responsibility," NFL.com's Vic Carucci said. "His team seemed to lose interest in the past few weeks, and especially (Thursday) night."

    The Steelers have three games left on the schedule against three playoff-caliber teams. Although the Steelers are not in an ideal situation, three wins and a whole bunch of losses by Jacksonville, Baltimore, Miami and the New York Jets could land them in the playoffs.

    Anything less than that will keep the Steelers on the sidelines for the postseason.

    "This is like a bad dream," Hampton said. "It's unbelievable, man."

    The Terrible Timeline

    A chronological list of some reasons that may have caused the Steelers' fall from grace this season:

    [HIGH-LIGHT]March[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    Third receiver Nate Washington and cornerback Bryant McFadden are not re-signed and leave via free agency.

    Owner Dan Rooney is nominated by President Obama as Ambassador to Ireland, meaning day-to-day operations will solely belong to son Art II.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]July[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is faced with a civil lawsuit and sexual assault allegations.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]August[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    Coach Mike Tomlin runs a noticeably softer training camp than in previous years.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]September[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    Management ceases negotiations with Ryan Clark, Casey Hampton, Willie Parker and Jeff Reed, each of whom is in the final year of his contract

    All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu injures his knee in the first quarter of the season opener and misses four games.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]October[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    Defensive lineman Aaron Smith injures his right shoulder and is sidelined for the rest of the season.

    Reed is arrested for the second time since the Super Bowl, this time for allegedly scuffling with police outside a North Side bar.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]November[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    Polamalu suffers another knee injury that keeps him out of the lineup for four more games.

    Steelers give up fourth kickoff return for a touchdown in five games when Kansas City's Jamaal Charles goes the distance.

    Roethlisberger sustains the fourth concussion of his career and misses a game against the Baltimore Ravens.

    Wide receiver Hines Ward says locker room is divided because of Roethlisberger's absence from the Ravens game.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]December[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    Tomlin vows to make changes following a fourth consecutive loss, but the starting lineup remains largely intact in a 13-6 loss to Cleveland Browns.

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...7.html?feed=9#
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

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    Default Re: collapse is a team-wide endeavor

    I read that in the Trib this morn when I was having breakfast at Kings.

    Mmmm, Kings...

    Anyway, say what you want about Dilfer, but he is a very good objective analyst and I thought his point of view, being an outsider and all, was most telling:

    Even the men who are paid to come up with such answers on television broadcasts are at a loss for words.

    Former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer, an NFL analyst for ESPN, breaks down hours and hours of film per week on each team, yet he's also baffled by the Steelers' demise.

    "I have no idea," Dilfer said. "It's mind-boggling. I'm frustrated because I take great pride in how I study film and what I look for and trying to be ahead of the curve, and I was dead wrong on them."

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    Default Re: collapse is a team-wide endeavor

    Mind numbing isn't it? I haven't got answers yet that is supposed to be what COACHES are PAID to do. Isn't it? I can pin point the start of it though. The second loss to the Bengals. Steelers played a boring, unimaginative gameplan and looked flat. Should have been an all out screaming wildman beat down game. The swagger, the Steeler persona was missing and has been ever since. Looks like a team wide case of depression.
    Last edited by Skeeter; Dec-13-2009 at 12:17 PM.

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    Default Re: collapse is a team-wide endeavor

    Let's be honest here...

    A subject that fans love to debate is the greatest super bowl team in history.

    Well, we have here in the Steelers the worst superbowl team ever based on their following season.

    They have tied or set a new the record for returns allowed.

    They have presently tied a record for consecutive losses by a defending championship team.

    Make no mistake about it, hey will break that record for consecutive losses and set a new one.

    How low they set the bar is anyone's guess.

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    Default Re: collapse is a team-wide endeavor

    Quote Originally Posted by vandelay industries View Post
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    I read that in the Trib this morn when I was [HIGH-LIGHT]having breakfast at Kings.

    Mmmm, Kings...[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    Oh man, I love Kings!..... Always do the open-faced turkey, with fries and light gravy over both...
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

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    Default Re: collapse is a team-wide endeavor

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackJackGold View Post
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    How low they set the bar is anyone's guess.
    Very true...

    ... Someone in one of the threads referenced this season as a "train wreck", and it's rather accurate... It's gonna be interesting to see just how bad it gets, and when this team reaches bottom... Our remaining games are not easy.
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

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    Default Re: collapse is a team-wide endeavor

    Quote Originally Posted by NKySteeler View Post
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    Oh man, I love Kings!..... Always do the open-faced turkey, with fries and light gravy over both...

    Light gravy?

    You vagina.

    I'd drink gravy if I could.


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    Default Re: collapse is a team-wide endeavor

    You can't get any lower than losing to the 2009 Raider, Chiefs, and Browns in consecutive weeks.

    From 6-2 to 6-7....

    6-10 is the final record.

    Somewhere in weeks 6-9 Tomlin lost his team.

    They quit on him.

    Why?

    I have been saying it all along....

    Tampa Cover Two.

    Once the defense lost faith in his leadership it spread through to the offense too.

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    Default Re: collapse is a team-wide endeavor

    Quote Originally Posted by vandelay industries View Post
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    Light gravy?

    You vagina.

    I'd drink gravy if I could.

    .... No... The "lighter" colored gravy, as opposed to the brown gravy they use for their roast beef...
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

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    Default Re: collapse is a team-wide endeavor

    Quote Originally Posted by NKySteeler View Post
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    .... No... The "lighter" colored gravy, as opposed to the brown gravy they use for their roast beef...

    Ah, yes yes yes.

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    Default Re: collapse is a team-wide endeavor

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackJackGold View Post
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    You can't get any lower than losing to the 2009 Raider, Chiefs, and Browns in consecutive weeks.

    From 6-2 to 6-7....

    6-10 is the final record.

    Somewhere in weeks 6-9 Tomlin lost his team.

    They quit on him.

    Why?

    I have been saying it all along....

    Tampa Cover Two.

    Once the defense lost faith in his leadership it spread through to the offense too.

    I hate the mother ****ing Tampa 2 defense it was one of the reasons I did not want Tomlin here at all. Keeping Lebeau made it clear we weren't going to it and I breathed a sigh of relief. But in the back of my mind I know it's always a possibility as long as Tomlin is around. I hope he goes long before I ever see that defense played by the Steelers .

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    Default Re: collapse is a team-wide endeavor

    Dilfer says the experts can't find answers but I have one. Here is what I think....

    [HIGH-LIGHT]Injuries to Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith could be a reason. Smith has missed the past eight games, and Polamalu has missed two four-game stints in which the Steelers are 2-6.

    "Yeah, those are hard losses to overcome," Dilfer said. "That doesn't explain why you only score six points against the Cleveland Browns. That doesn't explain why it takes you four quarters to score against the Raiders. It doesn't explain a lot of other issues[/HIGH-LIGHT]."

    I blame the offense for the Steelers woes and here is why....

    Lebeaus Defense is a 'bend but don't break' defense', so they do give up some yards but typically lock it down once the ball nears the redzone. So they can be on the field for a bit cause they give such huge cushions with their defensive backs. But normally after being on the field they get a break because our offense then goes out and at least puts a little something together to move the football. I mean even if you run 6 plays for say 2 or 3 first downs, that eats up a lot more clock than coming out and running 3 plays, a few of which are typically pass plays, and they are incomplete. The clock stops which makes the game longer meaning we can have more series in the game. So the defense isn't getting the break they need for 3/4 of the game because our offense blows for 3/4 of the game. So then it hits the 4th quarter and they are gassed. Why are they gassed?

    Lets look back at how this team prepared for this season. The offseason was shorter than most years due to winning the Superbowl. I am sure after winning the Superbowl a lot of the players went home and hooted and hollered it up with their friends and family for a few weeks. Then a lot of them had more media and appearance obligations since they were winners. They went through their normal mini camp routines and then comes 'Camp Cupcake'. This training camp was touted as the easiest ever at St. Vincent. Well after camp we did pretty well on defense but our starting offense blew. I personally think we haven't had any kind of fluidity to our offense since the miraculous drive in the Superbowl. Ben has been off with the receivers timing wise.

    Throw in Tomlin giving them the whole bye week off and things have been royaly screwed since we won the Superbowl. I think we need an offseason to let this feeling of being a loser drive the team and wash this season away. Hopefully this offseason the players regain the winning attitude and are driven by the losing. There definately needs to be some tweaking of the roster as well. I think we cast aside some of the rule players like Madison, Woods, etc. in order to keep some luxury players like Logan and maybe one of the young CB in Lewis or Burnett.

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    Default Re: collapse is a team-wide endeavor

    Quote Originally Posted by LasVegasGuy View Post
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    I hate the mother ****ing Tampa 2 defense it was one of the reasons I did not want Tomlin here at all. Keeping Lebeau made it clear we weren't going to it and I breathed a sigh of relief. But in the back of my mind I know it's always a possibility as long as Tomlin is around. I hope he goes long before I ever see that defense played by the Steelers .

    It's been there in the 4th qtr all year.


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    Default Re: collapse is a team-wide endeavor

    Last year, the offense seemed to jump out to double digit leads frequently making the other team one dimensional. To get back in the game the had to throw the ball and we would get after the QB. The QB would be running for his life, making all kinds of bad throws, which our average secondary look good.
    This year, Arians has mastered the art of turning 7 points into 3 and keeping other teams in the game. Our defense never gets into attack mode while our secondary is being exposed as average at the very best. This is what I am seeing as I watch this years Steelers. A ****ty offensive coordinater, who can't call plays in the redzone that will get the ball in the endzone, is directly handcuffing a defense built to attack and pressure the QB by leaving points on the field instead of putting them on the scoreboard.
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    Default Re: collapse is a team-wide endeavor

    Quote Originally Posted by LasVegasGuy View Post
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    I hate the mother ****ing Tampa 2 defense it was one of the reasons I did not want Tomlin here at all. Keeping Lebeau made it clear we weren't going to it and I breathed a sigh of relief. But in the back of my mind I know it's always a possibility as long as Tomlin is around. I hope he goes long before I ever see that defense played by the Steelers .
    I heard Tony Dungy in an interview this year where he said that Chuck Noll actually devised the Tampa 2 defense and Tony just copied it.

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