Big Lead Sports Bar

12/11/2009

ROCK BOTTOM

BROWNS (2-11) 13
STEELERS (6-7) 6

ROETHLISBERGER 18/32, 201 YARDS
MENDENHALL 16 CARRIES, 53 YARDS
HOLMES 6 CATCHES, 93 YARDS


Well, I guess we have a new candidate for that "Most Painful Losses" list, because this one's going to reverberate for a loooong time.

You collectively have made so many keen observations in the "vent" post that I don't know what I could add. But I'll at least take a shot:

1. Time to play The Blame Game.

2. Gotta start at the top. Mike Tomlin wants to talk tough, and the buck stops with him. He did not have his team ready to play, period. Losing to three teams (Cleveland, Kansas City, Oakland) with a combined record of 9-28 is not exactly the stuff of Lombardi and Noll. He makes bold statements in down times, he promises change, but when the bell rings, it's the same underperfoming lineup on the field to underperform again. He's lost to Eric Mangini, Todd Haley and Tom Cable in the last month. That's unleashing hell.

3. Coordinators: If this wasn't the beginning of the end for Bruce Arians, I don't know what is. You can guarantee that changes will be made to the coaching staff, and he seems to be at the top of everyone's list. Not far behind is Bob Ligashesky, who oversees the special teams, a unit that gave up another long return on Thursday night that was just a few yards short of a touchdown, and offensive line coach Larry Zierlein, whose unit was the worst of them all on Thursday.

4. And finally, Dick LeBeau is starting to get some deserved heat. If we can praise him in the good times, it's only fair to criticize him in the bad. His defense has been the weak link on this year's team, and that's a phrase I'd never believe I'd write. The corners have zero interceptions. Zero! How is that even possible? (Well, I know how - they can't catch). The defensive playmakers are not making plays. We do have the defensive MVP, right? James Farrior has clearly lost a step. Deshea Townsend may have finally reached the end of the road. William Gay is clearly not as good as the Steelers anticipated when they let Bryant McFadden walk. Tyrone Carter and Ryan Clark need to go to tackling school. Shall I go on?

5. The offense:

A black hole on this night. Poor game plan and even worse execution. Eight sacks to the Browns is not just inexcusable, it's downright embarrassing. Those players should return their game checks. That made it hard for Ben Roethlisberger to do much, but it clearly wasn't his finest hour, either. The entire passing game was out of rhythm all night, with the exception of a solid game from Santonio Holmes. I don't know when Heath Miller forgot how to catch, but I've now seen a few memorable examples this year. Hines Ward deserves praise for getting himself in playing condition, but he was basically a non-factor, as was Mike Wallace. David Johnson dropped a pass, as did Rashard Mendenhall, who ran for a pedestrian 3.3 yards per carry on 16 attempts. Willie Parker got his usual three touches and did virtually nothing. Add it all up, and you get six points against a one-win team.

6. The defense:

They surrendered the first rushing touchdown by a Browns RB all season. That should begin to tell you the story of their night. They held Brady Quinn to six completions, but they sure can't write home about their effort against Josh Cribbs, who befuddled them for a 10.9 YPC average on eight touches. Where were they on the 37-yard pass play to Mohammed Massoquoi?

7. The total picture:

This might be the worst team in the NFL at the moment, and I'm not joking. Not in terms of talent, but in terms of results. If they were a college team and they lost to KC, Cleveland and Oakland, their ranking would fall from the ceiling with the speed of a chandelier with a cut cord. The coaches are being outcoached and do not have their players ready to play. The players are professionals and should not need coaches to prod them along. And the fans expect and deserve better after supporting this team with so many dollars. I can accept a loss. I can't accept the appearance that the players don't care. The heat will be turned up a notch on this team, and it's a monster that they created.

8. The future:

I expect many changes for this team in 2010. Of the remaining free agents, Willie Parker and Ryan Clark are probably your best bets to move on, and it remains to be seen where the team stands on bringing back Jeff Reed. Charlie Batch has probably seen his last action as a Steeler, and possibly in the NFL. There has to be changes in the offensive line and in the secondary, which hasn't been this weak since the Chad Scott days. Casey Hampton is going to want big money, and that might not come from a team that is coming off of a season like this. And you can virtually guarantee that the coaching staff will have some level of turnover. Heads will roll with an output like this.

9. Keeping perspective:

I understand that this was in particular a horrendous loss and that the past month has been a football nightmare that doesn't want to end. But that does not mean the Steelers will not be good again in our lifetimes. In fact, there are many parallels between this season and 2006: injuries to key players ('06 Roethlisberger concussion/motorcycle wreck/appendectomy; '09 Polamalu knee, Aaron Smith shoulder & Roethlisberger concussion); the loss of key free agents ('06 Chris Hope, Antwaan Randle-El, '09 McFadden & Larry Foote); and extremely bad losses ('06 Oakland, '09 Oakland/Cleveland/KC). And the Steelers got their house in order quickly enough to make the playoffs in 2007 and win the whole thing in 2008. This traditionally is not an organization that goes into a prolonged tailspin (unless you forget about most of the years prior to the '70s). Let's just say I don't anticipate a Pirate-like streak of losing seasons from this franchise.

One thing is for certain: Mike Tomlin is going to be the coach and Ben Roethlisberger is going to be the quarterback going forward. If you think otherwise, you haven't been following this organization's history very well. They don't fire coaches on a whim and they give their QBs a long rope, especially when they've won two Super Bowls. So you can probably forget about Dennis Dixon behind center, as if that would change anything. As for the rest of the team, I do expect some major changes.

10. The rest of the season

Green Bay, Baltimore and Miami all look like losses if this team continues to play at the same level. That's going to be up to the players and coaches to decide whether or not they have any remaining pride, or if the last month has drained away every last ounce. The Packers are one of the most improved teams in the league, Baltimore is always a tough game, and Miami is still in the playoff hunt. Things could get a little better or much, much worse over the next three weeks.

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20 comments:

BurressWithButterflyWings said...

I am glad to see I am not the only one who is tired of Talkin Tomlin's empty threats. Its just funny how when I said it before, people came back with " We did win the SB with him last year".

This is virtually the same team, and I dont care what anybody says the O-Line is better and Mendy is an upgrade over FWP. That means he doesn't know what the hell he is doing and that's the bottom line.

Arrogance is a JOKE. The running game would have worked if he had any balance and had a clue as to how to disguise a play.

Does anybody on here think that this team ISN'T divided?

Clint Pitts said...

Well, the good news is we have 3 weeks to try some new players out. Everyone has a 3 week try out to prove they should be back. We have 3 areas of need CBs, OL, and DL.

I think our biggest problem was losing Smith. When we have Hampton, Smith, and Harrison on the line, that give the offense 3 guys they need to double team. when they don't you force pressure, force throws and help the secondary. I think Clark is great when a team only has 3 seconds to throw and he can keep everything in front of him, when he has to start runnning because the team can't get pressure, it's over.

Put Fox in Farrior's spot, draft a CB first round (Patrick Robinson, FSU), bring in a real fullback who can just block, I don't care if he never caught a pass in his life, find some depth at DL, and bring in OL in the draft and in FA.

Also get rid of Arians, every 3rd down they brought 5 or 6 and not once did we run a screen to take advantage of it.

trobian3 said...

NO ADJUSTMENTS... I don't know what else to say. We all know by now Bruce Arians is just awful, but dare I say the unthinkable, has Dick LeBeau reached his end. Don't get me wrong... I love the man, but he is 72 years old. If thats not it. Then fire Tomlin today, and pay Cowher 7 million. At least he could win with a lead, maybe not afcc games. Anyways if the Steelers don't draft a cornerback in the first round this year... preferably Eric Berry from UT, there will be more problems next year.

Clint Pitts said...

Berry is going to go top 5, no way we get him unless we drop the next 3 games and make a small trade. He's also looked at as more of a safety. No real elite corners this year.

Corey said...

i can't think of a worse team in the league at this point either - we've lost to the worst three teams in the past three weeks....what a shame!

Koz said...

So at 71 LeBeau is a genius. At 72 he's a senile old man!!!


I love the postgame fan meltdown.

AJ said...

We need Dan Rooney back as team president!!! Clearly this is all Art II's fault. The minute he took over everything went to hell. I mean, we won the SB last year with Dan. I bet Ireland has a better football team right now.


Then again... I might be overreacting.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Art II's been the team president since 2003.

Like I've said a zillion times, I give Tomlin all the credit in the world for last year. He did a great job.

But that was last year, and the job he's done under the scrutiny of being defending champs this year has been as bad as last year's job was good.

Clint Pitts said...

Looking back on it, most people (including me) praised Tomlin for immediately saying, "Last year's team won a Super Bowl this is a whole new team."

Does anyone think that this may have been a bad approach? I haven't decided my opinion on this yet but they haven't shown the confidence of a Super Bowl team all season other than the Minnesota game. Maybe that attitude combined with a few tough losses caused them to lose their 'magic' and 'swagger'. not criticizing Tomlin since I thought it was genius at the time, just something I've been thinking about.

Then again maybe it's just been injury problems after playing 19 games last season with a team led by a handful of guys who's window is about to close.

Steve said...

How can Ike Taylor not get singled out when disecting the horrendous secondary. I'd trade him, Gay, Carter, Townsend and Mundy for McFadden back.

I'd also take that 2006 team any day over this one. They came out of the gate slow because of the lame duck coach situation, combined with the post championship hangover that this current team and many teams often deal with, but at least that 2006 team had the pride in them to step up and try winning some games some against quality opponents when it didn't even matter, instead of playing with no heart, no character and no desire when games still did matter against the worst in the NFL like this current abomination did and still does.

This is absolutely the worst team in the league right now no question and I'd conservatively rank them 47th out of the 31 other teams that still have the decency to show up and play and given day.

Steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dawgpound16365 said...

Shouldn't the title of this recap be HAMMER OVER NAIL!!! You Steeler fans have no idea what rock bottom is. If Steeler fans have had to deal with all of the happenings the Browns have had to (The Fumble, The Drive, Red Right 88, The Move to Baltimore)there would be no Steeler nation, I can guarantee that. I'm sure now some fans will hop off the bandwagon and put there jerseys back in there closets. But don't worry, once you start winning again they will dust them off and hop right back on the bandwagon. You know Cleveland fans are LOYAL, and after reading post game comments of this game all over the internet, I'm not so sure about Steeler fans!!!!!!!

NickDawg said...

dawgpound your a douchbag...go back to your booger eating shits blog if there even is one...Since you claim clevland fans are so loyal, why were there only 100 people at the game last night with 50 of them dawning the black n gold...and dont give me the weather excuse...go back under the rock you came out from and we will see you in another 7 yrs when the shit stains get their one win every 20 games agaist the steelers...enjoy this while you can

Cornelius said...

The Steelers blowing is like snow in Atlanta. It happens rarely, but when it does, everyone freaks out and starts buying milk and bread.

We will be fine. The Stillers will be fine. Tomlin will right this ship and if he doesn't, his days will be numbered. This isn't an organization that is willing to go back to the days of Bubby Brister.

MJ said...

Why is the apocalyptic conversation just beginning? Did any of you actually think we were a lock to win the Browns game?

After the KC/Oakland games, nothing is out of the realm of possibilities with this squad, including losing eight straight to finish the season 6-10.

Josh said...

Geez, calm down folks. Last time we had this bad of a year, people wanted Cowhers head on a stick, then he came back and won the superbowl. So calm down, it isn't the best year. Yeah, it sucks, but starting to fire people left and right is a good way to go into building mode next year. You want the same record next year, too?

I think when you have a year like this, you end up stepping back and making yourself out to kill people next year, so expect a pissed off Steelers team next year.

First of all, I don't expect coaching changes. If you read up on Tony Dungy, he was forced in TB to fire coaches he still believed in, and he feels like that is why he couldn't succeed there. Tomlin is from the Dungy tree, so expect to see that here.

I, too, am pissed at the lack of lineup changes that were promised. I think both starting CBs should have sat the whole game, to be honest. There WERE changes, but it was Moore and Holmes on returns. Both ended in disaster. Yeah, Logan ended up not living up to his unfair overboasting hype... but he still had good yardage on return. Quit messing with that part... it was the returns that killed us.

I think the problems of the defense really come down to 1 major factor, and it isn't Troy Polamalu:

It's Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith. The defensive line isn't half as dominant with Smith out, so the LBs not only have a harder time with the pass rush, but they have to focus so much on the run, leaving the secondary on an island to have to worry not just about the big play (which is just what they normally concern themselves with), but also the mid area that the LBs cover. And without their leader and 'guy who can handle the middle by himself' Polamalu, the unit is mediocre at best.

LeBeau's system still works, the injuries put the wrong personnel on the field to run it. The depth the Steelers have are mostly speed guys, not the physical guys needed to run the system. We may transition to a 4-3, possible cover-2 team in the next couple years, but that isn't the worst thing in the world. Remember, the Cover-2 is based on the Steelers D of the 90s. Put Timmons in the middle, a free agent or young LB next to him, and rotate Silverback and Woodley between DE and OLB. Smith/Kiesel/Hood would rotate at DT. Devastating front 7, Troy Polamalu as your 'John Lynch', and viola... a strong cover-2 that can also handle the run... something Dungy was never able to do.

A few other comments:
- I think Arians gets scared, which is why he passes more instead of running. Remember, we are a 'balanced' team, not a running team. You don't want the ball in Roethlisberger, Wards, Holmes, Millers, or Wallaces hands? Mendenhall is great, but he needs to work on a 7 man front, not an 8.

- David Johnson isn't a TE as much as an H-back, and a hell of a blocker. He's the FB you guys all want... but someone need to talk Arians into using a FB instead of a second TE in his system.

That's all I got for now... disappointed as everyone else is, but I don't think slashing and cutting everywhere is the best solution...

The Taxidermist said...

I love how a lot of people are saying "all steelers fans are bandwagon fans. If they were as bad as the Browns they would have no fans." I hate to tell them but the Steelers were popular in Pittsburgh even before we won our first four Super Bowls. It was because the Steelers would beat up other teams. Then all the sudden they actually started winning. Like I told somebody else, it wouldn't be any fun if you won all the time. Dealing with adversity is what makes Super Bowl's so special. How special was Cowher's Super Bowl win? All that he went through and finally won it all. Don't you think that Browns fans would trade a mediocre season for 2 Super Bowls in the last 4 years? Steeler fans need to stop their whining. Yeah it sucks to lose, especially to the Browns. I was upset, but I got over it eventually.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Cleveland fans are loyal?

About 1/4 of the seats in that stadium where empty last night, and half of those that were full had Steeler fans in them.

Now look, I know that when things aren't going well there are some no-shows at these games, that happens to all NFL teams. But those that live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones my friend....


Anyways, this is too good:

http://post-gazette.com/pg/09345/1020421-100.stm

Harrison's mom beat someone up.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Ike Taylor's not that old, definitely not to the age when NFL players start declining yet, and it's not like he forgot how to be a good corner.

I just think with the loss of McFadden to FA, Troy to injury, and the aging of Deshea, some guys back there are pressing and making uncharacteristic mistakes.

Like I said in another post, losing breeds losing.

Bill said...

I kind of wish this post would have been titled:
Nail 13
Hammer 6

This one was embarrassing.