Steelers Today - A Pittsburgh Steelers blog


What have we learned so far?

November 03, 2009 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

The NFL just finished week 8.  That’s the halfway point in the season (although the Steelers have only played 7 games).  With the Steelers coming off of a bye week, it seemed like a good time to reflect back on the season so far to see what we’ve learned so far about the 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers.

These are in no particular order.  But as I think back to what has occurred so far this season, these are some thoughts that come to mind.

1.  The Steelers could easily be 7-0.
The Steelers find themselves with a 5-2 record.  However, the two losses could have just as easily been wins.  In the loss to the Bengals, the Steelers dominated just about every statistical category.  From yards of offense to time of possession, the Steelers were dominant.  Yet, a dropped touchdown by Limas Sweed, a missed field goal by Jeff Reed, and poor 4th quarter defense somehow led to a loss.

Similarly, in the 17-14 loss to the Chicago  Bears, the Steelers led in most statistical categories.  Most viewers would probably have thought that the game was a blowout in the Steelers favor.  But untimely turnovers, and two missed field goals by Jeff Reed led to yet another unexpected Steelers loss

If not for two poorly played 4th quarters, the Steelers would be right there with the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts as the last remaining undefeated teams in the NFL.

2. The Steelers are a passing offense
I know that that is anathema to some Steelers fans.  After all, the Steelers have ALWAYS been a power running team.  In some fans’ minds, the Steelers SHOULD always be a power running team.  But the reality is that this offense is a passing offense.  Just ask Big Ben.

The Steelers’ passing attack is ranked #5 in the NFL, and they actually average more yards per game than the potent New Orleans Saints offense led by Drew Brees.  Chew on that for a moment. 

The Steelers have 3 receivers among the NFL’s top 30 in total number of receptions.  They have 4 receivers among the top 40 in the NFL in receiving yards.  Are these the Steelers that we’re talking about?

While the Steelers have the #5 passing attack in the NFL, their rushing attack is ranked #18.  The Steelers don’t have a running  back in the top 15 in the NFL in rushing yards.

3. Big Ben still takes too many sacks
This is becoming a broken record.  I am not even going to try to ascertain whether the fault lies with the offensive line, or with Big Ben himself.  But suffice it to say that Ben spends far too much time on his back. 

Roethlisberger has already been sacked 20 times.  He’s well on his way to another 40+ sacks season.  I’m no doctor, but that can’t be good for his health and longevity.

Roethlisberger is sacked....again.

Roethlisberger is sacked....again.

4.  The Steelers pass defense has still not played to their full potential
While the Steelers’ run defense is ranked #1 in the NFL, their pass defense is ranked #17.  That’s a big departure from last year’s defense that was ranked #1 against the pass.

The biggest contributor to the decline has been the absence of Troy Polamalu.  Now that Polamalu is back, I expect to see the Steelers pass defense show a marked improvement.

5.  Limas Sweed is not the answer to the Steelers’ #3 receiver need
Drop.  Drop.  Drop.  ‘Nuff said.

6.  Mike Wallace IS the answer to the Steelers’ #3 receiver need
I’m starting to feel like a broken record, but I’ll say it again; I love Mike Wallace.  The kid doesn’t play like a rookie.  He’s got dependable hands, and he’s got speed to burn.  That’s a deadly combination for a #3 receiver.  Because Wallace is the #3 receiver, he’s usually matched up against the opponent’s #3 cornerback, or against a safety.  Wallace’s speed would pose a challenge to a #1 cornerback.  A #3 cornerback or the average safety has absolutely no chance against the kid.

Steelers WR Mike Wallace

Steelers WR Mike Wallace

7.  It’s still too early to assess Rashard Mendenhall
I know that some fans want to anoint Rashard Mendenhall as the next great Steelers running back.  And Mendenhall’s 5.4 yards per carry average is compelling evidence of his potential.  But Mendenhall has to do a better job of protecting the ball before he can truly be trusted to carry the load for the Steelers. 

8.  Jeff Reed’s antics may have insured his exit from Pittsburgh
I have always been a supporter of Jeff Reed.  When he missed those field goals that cost us games against the Bears and Bengals earlier this year, I stood up for Reed.  When he had his little incident at Sheetz, I also stood up for Reed.  However, Reed’s antics are growing tiresome.

Reed has been one of the most dependable kickers in the NFL during his time with the Steelers.  However, Reed is also the player who is most likely to embarrass the organization off the field.  He doesn’t seem to understand that Steeler Nation takes great pride in the fact that the Steelers are excellent off the field, as well as on the field.  We know that guys like Terrell Owens, De’Angelo Hall, Jeremy Shockey, Tank Johnson, or Randy Moss could never play for the Steelers, despite their considerable talent.  So if we wouldn’t bring in guys with that type of all-world talent, why do we continue to tolerate Reed’s misdeeds?

So there you have it, Steeler Nation.  Those are some of the things that we’ve learned so far this season.  Are there any other observations that we’ve forgotten?  Do you disagree with any of the observations that we’ve made?  What have YOU learned about the Steelers so far?  We’d love to hear your thoughts.


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13 Comments to “What have we learned so far?”

  1. Yes, 7-0 was possible, but so was 3-4 if the D didn’t step up. Titans missed a 37 yd FG and had a 31 yd FG blocked. Then the Lions, inside of 2-minutes drove 21 yds and a 2-pt conversion away from tying that game.

  2. good article donald.

    I just have to ask why it is ok for you to call out reed and see the need for his departure but when i made the same point last week you seemed to dismiss my comments saying something to the effect of we’ve always had off field problems its just that the media is paying more attention to it now.

    You see, I know most people don’t side with me on this but I believe that a high standard of public morals come with those over-inflated salaries. The paying fans should be able to expect more from these PROFESSIONALS. Players love to be looked up to and cherish being role models for children except when it comes to living that out.

    I can only hope that someday the FAN (including myself) will begin to hold these divas accountable with our wallets.

    I’m like you, I sure do not want to see the Steeler players start looking like some of these other examples you listed.


  3. Rob,
    You are correct. I was trying to look at the bright side, but there definitely were a few games that the Steelers came uncomfortably close to winning.

    At this point, I want to believe that the Steelers are a very good team. But I must admit that at times they have looked like a very bad team. The jury is definitely still out on the 2009 Steelers.

  4. Tony,
    Perhaps you swayed me. I am not above that.

    I don’t think that any of Reed’s incidents taken alone were that grievous. However, it is the continuing pattern that concerns me. When will he be in the news next? I don’t think it’s a matter of “if”, but “when”. :-(

  5. No.


    We can’t lose Reed. Who else can kick at Heinz? Remember Kris Brown? He’s pretty good at HOU, but was horrible at PIT. Reed isn’t the first “poor character” guy that the Steelers have kept around.

    The OL hasn’t been playing that badly. Ben is at fault for most of those sacks. That is how he plays. If he’s not sacked, he makes the big play. I wonder how long his career will last…

  6. Dan,

    what makes the steelers stand apart from most teams goes far past championships, great coaches (past and present), incredible talent, and kicking at Heinz Field. The steelers rarely have problem children. I remember a great young receiver that had a few off the field problems and attitude issues (nothing glaring maybe but enough) that was not kept around and many questioned the move. As we view plax through bars maybe a few have reconsidered.

    Personally, i want to leave all the discussions about drugs, guns, fighting, alcohol, egos, dog fighting, etc… in the laps of other organizations.

    I’ve gone as far as saying if Big Ben were to be guilty then he goes too. And that would hurt me to the very core!

    If it is just about wins, loses, and talent play fantasy, it’s pretty fun. :)

  7. Donald,

    I believe you are exactly right, sadly. :(

  8. Leonard Riddle Jr says:

    I have one observation about the ’09 Steelers. “They are who we thought they were!” This is the team that seemingly every year finds a way to lay a few eggs. Last year it was the Giants and Colts and almost the Cowboys. The only teams to soundly beat ‘em were Phily and Tennessee. Well, in this new season, the stinkers are already on the table. You’ve already covered the losses and the ugly wins. My question is, who is the team that’s capable of going toe-to-toe and beat the snot out of Pittsburgh? I look at the league and at the remaining schedule and I don’t see the 2008 Eagles or Titans out there anywhere. I’ve got a feeling, after next Monday night, the Steelers bandwagon is going to get overloaded. And if I’m right, Lombardi #7 might be inevitable.

  9. Leonard,
    I think you may be right. I am not ready to crown the Steelers just yet, but I do think that you may be onto something.

    Just look at how people were talking about the Vikings before we beat them. I really wish the Ravens hadn’t beaten the Broncos already, because I feel very sure that the Steelers are going to beat them. That would make 2 very impressive wins under our belt.

    Personally, I don’t fear either the Saints or the Colts. Only time will tell whether we can beat either of those teams. But right now, I think we’d have a very good chance against them.

    The one thing that give me concern is the way the Steelers’ offense generates a lot of yardage, but doesn’t necessarily translate the yardage into points. Hopefully they’ll fix that little problem.

  10. I want to comment on a few things that you mentioned above and I’ll start with Big Ben. Unfortunately we have to accept that he is going to take hits thats just who he is and I think it’s the equivalent to how that crybaby for the Vikings he’s going to throw interceptions at any given moment and if he’s on your team you have to accept that as well.

    In reference to the Jeff Reed thing I think this very well could be his last season with the team. I think the reason are because a) the off the field issues even though they are relatively small they are there and on top of that he isn’t helping himself by with the sub-par play on the field. His one true mistake is having all these things happen while coming up for a new contract.

    Lastly I think we should start judging the defense based in the performance from here on out because Troy is back and most of our injured players are either out for the season. What does everyone else think?

    Also on a side note what is the mid-season evaluation on Stephan Logan? I know we’ve seen flashes but he has yet to impress me based on all the pre-season hype.

  11. Benny,

    I agree, I am truly disappointed in Logans. I really thought with his seemly good return ability and return of sepulveda we would really be able to flip the field alot and create short drives. But as you pointed out that hasn’t happened. Our speccial teams really needs to be evaluated at year’s end I think.

  12. Benny & Tony,
    I think you’re being a bit hard on Logans. He has been a good return man. He catches and holds onto the ball (which is incredibly important). He also gets some pretty good returns.

    Is he taking it to the house on every return? No. But then again, who does. Even Devin Hester can’t repeat the type of performance that he once put up. Expecting huge return runs in every game is unrealistic.

    Logans’ numbers are acceptable. Not spectacular, but definitely acceptable.

    The special teams coverage unit on the other hand……

  13. donald,

    Your right. I was too hard on Logans. I really meant to take it all out on the unit as a whole. We allow too many yards on returns and have seen too many go the distance. Just disappointed that with an above avg. punter and Logans that we could flip some fields and shorten drives and it just doesn’t seem that has happened.

    So see, I have admitted I was out of line. :)


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