Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: Steelers DBs have stepped it up lately

      
  1. #1
    Palmetto Steel's Avatar
    Status : Palmetto Steel is offline
    Rank : Legend
    Join Date : Oct 9, 2009
    Posts : 23,379
    Threads : 3263
    Last Online : Nov-30-2015 @ 06:36 PM
    Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo

    Default Steelers DBs have stepped it up lately

    Steelers DBs have stepped it up lately
    January 30, 2011
    By: JIM WEXELL
    Herald Standard

    PITTSBURGH - You may have seen the replay of last year's Packers-Steelers thriller that's playing on NFL Network these days.

    If you haven't, these are the "miked up" highlights:

    - A Packers assistant coach on the sideline: "They can't stop us!"

    - Steelers coach Mike Tomlin after the game: "We hadn't stopped them."

    Tomlin was explaining to reporters why, with 4:03 left and leading by two points, he called for an onside kick.

    He knew his defense couldn't stop the Packers. He also knew that if the Packers recovered the kick, they'd score quickly and give Ben Roethlisberger enough time to pull out a miracle.

    They did. And Ben did.

    [IMGR]http://i51.tinypic.com/izrcqq.jpg[/IMGR]But if you saw the replay of last year's Packers-Steelers thriller, you also saw Tyrone Carter and Joe Burnett roaming the Steelers' secondary instead of Troy Polamalu and Bryant McFadden. And you saw a different William Gay - not the one who's since turned his game around.

    "In the words of a great philosopher, Bartholomew Scott, neither one of us could stop a nosebleed," Steelers free safety Ryan Clark said of that game.

    The Steelers believe they can stop a nosebleed this season mainly because of their improved secondary.

    Last season, the Steelers allowed an average of 215 yards passing per game and a passer rating of 83.4. And in the 11 games that Polamalu missed with a knee injury, the defense allowed 219 yards passing per game and a passer rating of 89.4.

    This season, the pass defense has been better overall (214 pass yards per game; 73.1 passer rating), but particularly since Tom Brady and the Patriots gave them a wake-up call.

    In the last nine games, the Steelers have allowed only 163 pass yards per game and a 60.0 passer rating. And Polamalu missed two of those nine games.

    In detailing the differences, Clark started with the transformation of Gay, who's now a strong No. 3 cornerback behind McFadden and Ike Taylor.

    "I think the year William experienced last year - even though there was a lot of negativity surrounding it - was big for him," Clark said. "I think it changed his work ethic. Having a situation where they brought a guy back and basically gave him a position - it wasn't a position battle for cornerback - it's totally changed the way he's played the game, the way he's approached the game, and he's been a major, major part of us being better this year.

    "Also having Bryant back for his leadership and knowledge of the game, now you have two guys over there that you're confident in that can make plays and run the defense correctly. It's a huge plus."

    Clark also praised the performance of Ryan Mundy, who's been this season's injury replacement for Polamalu, and No. 4 cornerback Anthony Madison.

    They'll all be needed against the Packers, whose receiving corps continues to run four deep: Greg Jennings (76 receptions, 16.6 avg. per catch, 12 TDs), James Jones (50-13.6-5), Donald Driver (51-11.1-4) and Jordy Nelson (45-12.9-2) were their top four WRs last year as well. Against the Steelers, they combined for 14 catches for 301 yards and two touchdowns.

    Rookie Andrew Quarless (21-11.3-1) of Penn State is the new Packers' tight end. He was a midseason replacement for the injured Jermichael Finley, who may have been Aaron Rodgers' best weapon against the Steelers last season with nine catches for 74 yards.

    Rodgers passed for 376 yards that day, the most the Steelers had allowed any team since 2007.

    "I think last year's team was an anomaly, I really do," said Steelers secondary coach Ray Horton. "If you look at the defenses this year and in 2008, those are more representative of who we are.

    Horton admits that Gay isn't the same player he was last season.

    "He's just more focused," Horton said. "Ike is probably exactly the same, but I think the difference is he's looking for the ball sooner than he did last year. Last year he would look very late for the ball. Having B-Mac back is obviously a comfort and it allowed one more player to be our special teams player. A healthy Troy; Ryan is still steady. So, it's the same bunch of guys but probably more serious, more focused.

    "Their pride was hurt a year ago by how we played. Statistically we didn't play horrible, but we didn't play to our standards."

    http://www.heraldstandard.com/news_d...up-lately.html
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

  2. #2
    Mister Pittsburgh's Avatar
    Status : Mister Pittsburgh is offline
    Rank : Major Leaguer
    Join Date : Oct 16, 2009
    Posts : 1,383
    Threads : 122
    Last Online : Apr-27-2013 @ 05:09 PM

    Default Re: Steelers DBs have stepped it up lately

    The two touchdowns we gave up last week were due to a pick play in the endzone which has been an issue, same happened in the Ravens game, and the deep bomb to Holmes where Ike fell down and Clark was chasing, not the deepest man.

    Secondary can talk all they want. Horton can talk all he wants. Come Sunday at 6:30, the talking is over and its time to back it up. You want respect secondary, then earn it and bring our 7th title home. In my opinion our secondary is going to be the key between winning and losing.

  3. #3
    Palmetto Steel's Avatar
    Status : Palmetto Steel is offline
    Rank : Legend
    Join Date : Oct 9, 2009
    Posts : 23,379
    Threads : 3263
    Last Online : Nov-30-2015 @ 06:36 PM
    Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo

    Default Re: Steelers DBs have stepped it up lately

    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Pittsburgh View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    Secondary can talk all they want. Horton can talk all he wants. Come Sunday at 6:30, the talking is over and its time to back it up. You want respect secondary, then earn it and bring our 7th title home. In my opinion our secondary is going to be the key between winning and losing.
    Agreed... I've been down on our secondary all season, and it's no secret that I dislike Horton with every fiber of my being... Time will tell, and as you said, it's time to play the game... I WANT to believe, I really do...
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

  4. #4
    Palmetto Steel's Avatar
    Status : Palmetto Steel is offline
    Rank : Legend
    Join Date : Oct 9, 2009
    Posts : 23,379
    Threads : 3263
    Last Online : Nov-30-2015 @ 06:36 PM
    Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo

    Default Re: Steelers DBs have stepped it up lately

    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Pittsburgh View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    Secondary can talk all they want. Horton can talk all he wants. Come Sunday at 6:30, the talking is over and its time to back it up. You want respect secondary, then earn it and bring our 7th title home. In my opinion our secondary is going to be the key between winning and losing.
    Agreed... I've been down on our secondary all season, and it's no secret that I dislike Horton with every fiber of my being... Time will tell, and as you said, it's time to play the game... I WANT to believe, I really do...
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

  5. #5
    Palmetto Steel's Avatar
    Status : Palmetto Steel is offline
    Rank : Legend
    Join Date : Oct 9, 2009
    Posts : 23,379
    Threads : 3263
    Last Online : Nov-30-2015 @ 06:36 PM
    Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo

    Default Re: Steelers DBs have stepped it up lately

    Steelers' secondary faces 'big challenge'
    Rodgers has many talented options in Packers' receiving corps

    Sunday, January 30, 2011
    By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    These Steelers probably have faced better quarterbacks than Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers.

    And they surely have faced better individual receivers than anyone on the Packers' roster.

    But add it all up?

    "They have a more talented group than most," safety Ryan Clark said. "If you mention Tom Brady and you compare Green Bay's group to the one in New England, Green Bay wins by a landslide."

    "It's probably the best receiving corps in the league," the other safety, Troy Polamalu, said. "And, when you have Rodgers there, too ... we're going to have a tough challenge."

    It might be the singular challenge that defines Super Bowl XLV next week in Arlington, Texas: Green Bay's No. 5-ranked pass offense, averaging 258 yards per game with a remarkable five players having 40-plus catches, vs. the Steelers' secondary.

    Check out the Packers' receivers:

    • Donald Driver is the best-known name, though he is in the twilight of his career with his 36th birthday next week. Still, he was effective this season with 51 catches for 565 yards. His 9,615 career yards rank No. 2 on Green Bay's all-time list, 41 behind James Lofton.

    • Greg Jennings, 27, is the real star and the big-play man. His 76 catches ranked 18th in the NFL, and his 1,265 yards included 12 touchdowns. His 27 catches of 40-plus yards since 2007 are most in the NFL.

    • James Jones, 26, set career highs with 50 catches for 679 yards and five touchdowns. Thirty-three of those catches brought first downs, and he has three career touchdowns of 65-plus yards.

    • Jordy Nelson, 25, opened this season as the primary kick returner but graduated to make 45 catches for 582 yards. His development has included 12 playoff catches.

    Add running back Brandon Jackson's 43 catches, and Rodgers has no less than a handful of reliable, dangerous options.

    To boot, they sound strikingly confident.

    "They've got a great defense," Driver said of the Steelers, "but our biggest thing is that it's not about them, it's about us. If we play the way we've been playing all season long, that tells you what we can do. We know that no one can beat us but ourselves. That's been a proven fact."

    It is easy to see how Rodgers passed for 3,922 yards and 28 touchdowns in the regular season and, in three playoff games, has completed a superb 71 percent of his passes for 790 yards and six touchdowns. He also has converted half of all third-down opportunities by passing and -- get this -- has thrown only one incomplete pass in the red zone. And even that drew a pass interference penalty.

    "It all starts with Aaron Rodgers," Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor said. "When it's time to score, they score, and he's the one getting it done."

    The Packers' hard-throwing, fleet-footed quarterback has blossomed into a force in his third season out of Brett Favre's shadow. But that will be less of a direct concern for the secondary than how to take away all of Rodgers' many options.

    "They have third and fourth receivers who can be starters in this league, and they force you to match up your third and fourth defensive backs against them. And they've got a quarterback who's confident enough to use all those guys," Clark said. "It's a huge challenge, but I think it's a challenge that we're up to. Fortunately, we've got a coach who knows how to scheme things to make the best plays, and that's what we're going to do."

    Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's scheme will not be evident to the outside world until the teams take the field, of course, but this much is certain: The Steelers' defensive backs must match the receivers, man-for-man.

    Polamalu and Clark are exceptional safeties, and Taylor, a cornerback, has been solid in coverage. But Bryant McFadden might not be 100 percent because of an abdominal injury, which could force William Gay to play the other corner and limit McFadden to the nickel package with five defensive backs.

    The Steelers could use more of the nickel than usual, but they likely will not take the extra step with a dime. LeBeau has tried the dime only sparingly in the past year, for two compelling reasons: The dime takes linebacker Lawrence Timmons, a good cover man, off the field in favor of Anthony Madison; and, the Steelers' heaviest use of the dime came in the ugly, 39-26 loss to Brady and the Patriots in November.

    In Green Bay's 21-14 victory against Chicago in the NFC championship, the Bears used their standard cover-2 defense as Rodgers completed 17 of 30 passes for 244 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. But frigid temperatures might have affected those figures more than the scheme, and the weather will be moot next week under a closed roof: Rodgers' passer rating of 111.5 in indoor games since 2008 is the NFL's best.

    The Steelers, like the Bears, deploy mostly a cover-2, and that should not change. What might change is how Polamalu is used: He is football's ultimate wild card, often improvising on instinct alone. In these playoffs, though, he has been hard to notice because he has mostly played in "center field," the football vernacular for deep, preventive coverage.

    Applying heat to Rodgers is not easy, given his release and mobility, so it might pay for Polamalu to move closer to the line of scrimmage, either to keep the Packers guessing or to blitz.

    "It's tough because they have a lot of different personnel groups," Polamalu said. "Rodgers gets the ball out of his hand really quickly, he's extremely accurate, and he throws the deep ball. There are a lot of different things to guard against."

    Another thing: If Polamalu moves to the line, that will put even more pressure on the other defensive backs to contain the big play.

    Recent history is unkind in this regard: Although the Steelers ranked No. 12 in pass defense in the regular season and fared well in bottling the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets in the playoffs -- both teams had reputable receiving corps -- it was only last year at Heinz Field that Rodgers and the Packers passed for 383 yards in what wound up a wild 37-36 victory for the Steelers on the final play.

    In the playoffs later that year, McFadden, then with Arizona, was tormented by Rodgers as part of the quarterback's 423-yard output. The Cardinals won, 51-45, but that sort of torching can leave scars.

    Does the Steelers' depth chart in the secondary match the Green Bay receivers?

    "I believe so," McFadden said. "But it's a big challenge. It's the first time we've faced a team with so many receivers. They can line up with five wideouts, and you just pick your poison."

    "We've got to bring our 'A' game," Taylor said. "If you've got to sell your soul to the devil for this game, you do it. There's 32 teams in the NFL, only two standing. Whatever it takes, you've got to do it."

    Taylor will have the biggest challenge if, as expected, he is assigned to track the speedy Jennings.

    "I'm always up for a challenge," Taylor said. "That's my personality, from pingpong to Madden on PlayStation, I'm up to it. If you look at what Jennings has done, he's been solid, a Pro Bowl guy. But I'll be there."

    One transparent aspect of the Steelers' plan: Be physical.

    "The way I look at it, the more time the ball's in the air, the more chances we have to make plays and bang people," Clark said. "Knock some balls out and make them fear catching the ball across the middle."

    "Let them know they're going to get hit for 60 minutes," Taylor said.

    "We're not going to worry," Gay said. "We faced a lot of hot quarterbacks, a lot of good receivers, and we're going to prepare the best way we can to stop this offense, too."

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11030/1121329-66.stm
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

Quick Reply Quick Reply

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Members who have read this thread: 0

There are no members to list at the moment.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •