Steelers Today - A Pittsburgh Steelers blog


Steelers vs. Cardinals Preview

October 21, 2011 By: Admin Category: Pre-Game Analyses

The Steelers travel to Arizona to face the “Steelers West” this Sunday.  This will be the first time the two teams have met since they squared off in Super Bowl XLIII.

The “Steelers West” (also known by some as the Arizona Cardinals) are always an unusual opponent to face.  That’s because they look like an offshoot of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  And in some ways, they are.

We all know that former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is now the head coach of the Cardinals.  Former Steelers assistant head coach and offensive line coach Russ Grimm holds the same position for the Cardinals.  Former Steelers assistant coach Ray Horton is now the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator.  Former Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend is now their defensive backs coach.

Former Steelers linebackers Joey Porter and Clark Haggans both play for the Cardinals.  Most Steelers fans probably thought they were both retired.  But they’re actually playing in Arizona.  So is former Steeler Nick Eason.  And Crezdon Butler (though he’s on injured reserve).  If Alan Faneca hadn’t chosen to retire during the off-season, he’d probably still be on the Cardinals’ roster as well.

I know they say that “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery”, but what the Cardinals have done verges on the ridiculous.

Despite emulating the Steelers’ roster, the Cardinals haven’t been able to emulate their results.   They ended the 2010 season with a meager 5-11 record.  They’re 1-4 this season, and are one of the worst teams in the NFC.

The Cardinals’ problems began with the retirement of quarterback Kurt Warner.  Ken Whisenhunt cut Matt Leinart, the supposed heir apparent, and has had a revolving door of starting quarterbacks since then.

Most recently, the Cardinals signed Philadelphia Eagles’ backup QB Kevin Kolb to be their starter.  At best, Kolb has been adequate.  He’s thrown 6 interceptions, while throwing only 5 TD passes.  In general, teams like to see their quarterback throw more touchdowns than interceptions.  Kolb may want to work on that.  He may also want to work on improving his QB Rating, which is only 77.2.

Make no mistake, the Cardinals have weapons.  Former Pitt Panther wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is still one of the most dangerous receiving threats in the NFL.  He’ll give the Steelers’ secondary a considerable challenge.  And running back Beanie Wells is averaging 4.8 yards per carry, and has 6 touchdowns in only 5 games.

But despite their impressive list of former Steelers players and coaches, the Cardinals have little chance of actually beating the Steelers.  They have a mediocre offense, and a defense that’s even worse.

The Steelers never seem to blow anybody out, regardless of how bad their opponent is.  So the game will probably be close.  But the Steelers should come away with a win, and a 5-2 record, while the Cardinals sink to 1-5, and Ken Whisenhunt finds himself on the hot seat.

I guess copying the Steelers can only get you so far.


Steelers win Not-So-Super Bowl.

August 14, 2009 By: Admin Category: Post-Game Reports

August 14, 2009
By Donald Starver

Thursday’s Super Bowl rematch turned out to be not so super.  While fans are always anxious for the start of a new NFL season, the early pre-season games are always rather dull.  This game proved to be no different.

The Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 20 - 10.  However, the score sounds much more exciting than the game actually was.

As expected, the Steelers starters played very little.  Big Ben completed 4 of 6 passes for a whopping 33 yards.  Hines Ward caught 2 passes for 19 yards, while Santonio Holmes caught none.

But of course these games aren’t for the veterans.  After all, we already know what they can do.  Rather, the early pre-season games are an opportunity for the young players to show what they can do.  So let’s look at how the young players did.


Limas Sweed - Following an infamous dropped pass in last year’s playoffs, Limas Sweed has been heavily scrutinized by Steelers fans.  He needed a good game, and he delivered.  Sweed only caught two passes, but they both had a fairly high degree of difficulty.  Moreover, he averaged 28 yards per reception, and his longest was a 45 yard catch.

Sweed catch

Limas Sweed

Shaun McDonald - The free agent from Detroit led all receivers with 69 receiving yards.

Joe Burnett - Rookie cornerback Joe Burnett caught his first NFL interception and almost ran it back for a touchdown.

Ziggy Hood - The Steelers’ first round draft pick collected his first NFL sack.

Isaac Redman - The free agent running back made a strong statement that he should be the Steelers’ short yardage back.  He has been the most impressive in training camp, and this game proved to be no different.  Redman led all Steelers backs in rushing yards, while also scoring 2 touchdowns.

Isaac Redman scores again.

Isaac Redman scores again.

Dan Sepulveda - No more Berger.  No more Ernster.  Nope, Dan the man is back.  Sepulveda punted 6 times and averaged 49.5 yards per punt.  That’s much better than the 12 yards per punt that Mitch Berger and Paul Ernster averaged last season (okay, maybe they averaged more than 12 yards per punt, but it certainly seemed like 12 yards).


Rashard Mendenhall - Did he even play?  I see his name in the box score, but I certainly don’t remember seeing him do anything.

Joe Burnett - Yeah, he made an interception.  But he also fumbled a punt return.  He’s not going to win a job like that.

Frank Summers - Everyone is waiting for Frank “the tank” to become the next bus.  However it’s undrafted free agent rookie Isaac Redman who’s scoring all the touchdowns.

Piotr Czech - It’s going to be almost impossible to displace Jeff Reed as the Steelers’ kicker.  Czech is going to have to be perfect in order to do it.  Missing a 36 yard field goal didn’t look like perfection to me.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Steelers’ offensive line didn’t allow any sacks.  Not one (yeah, I don’t believe it either).  That’s got to count for something.  Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ offensive line allowed their quarterbacks to be sacked 4 times.  It’s too soon to draw any conclusions yet, but I’ll take any opportunity I can to compliment the Steelers’ o-line.

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2009 bloggers’ mock draft: pick #31

March 25, 2009 By: Admin Category: Draft/Free Agency

Steelers Today has hooked up with 31 other NFL bloggers from around the country to do a bloggers’ mock draft. All 32 NFL teams are represented in the mock draft.

The mock draft is sponsored by Cleveland Browns blog No Logo Needed. For more details on the bloggers’ mock draft, click here.

With the 31st pick of the 2009 NFL Draft the Arizona Cardinals select……

Chris Wells, Running Back, Ohio State
The Cardinals might be the only team in the league that counts running back as one of their top Draft Day priorities, but that could work out well for them as there should be some excellent options on the board here.  Knowshon Moreno is long gone, but the Cardinals are happy to see Beanie Wells slip to them at the 31st pick.  This is very possible in the real draft as well.   Running backs do tend to slide a bit and unless a team goes against the grain and takes one even though it’s not a glaring need, a la Pittsburgh with Rashard Mendenhall last year, Wells could still be available late in round one.

The Cardinals could also use an upgrade at center and after the way James Harrison abused Mike Gandy in the Super Bowl they have to at least consider bringing in a new left tackle as well. Keep an eye on outside linebacker here too because even though the Cards have some solid options like Travis LaBoy and Chike Okeafor they really don’t  have that impact pass rusher at  the position.

The draft results so far are shown below. Click on the individual pick to read each blogger’s rationale for his selection.

1. Detroit Lions: Mathew Stafford, QB (Georgia)
2. St. Louis Rams: Eugene Monroe, OT (Virginia)
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Aaron Curry, LB (Wake Forest)
4. Seattle Seahawks: Michael Crabtree, WR (Texas Tech)
5. Cleveland Browns: Rey Maualuga, LB (Southern California)
6. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Smith, OT (Baylor)
7. Oakland Raiders: Jeremy Maclin, WR (Missouri)
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: B.J. Raji, DT (Boston College)
9. Green Bay Packers, Brian Orakpo, DE (Texas)
10. San Francisco 49ers, Everette Brown, OLB (Florida State)
11. Buffalo Bills, Clay Matthews, OLB (Southern California)
12. Denver Broncos, Malcolm Jenkins, CB (Ohio State)
13. Washington Redskins, Andre Smith, OT (Alabama)
14. New Orleans Saints, Brian Cushing, OLB (Southern California)
15. Houston Texans, Michael Oher, OT (Ole Miss)
16. San Diego Chargers, Eben Britton, OT (Arizona)
17. New York Jets, Tyson Jackson, DE (LSU)
18. Chicago Bears, Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR (Maryland)
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Percy Harvin, WR  (Florida)
20. Detroit Lions, Aaron Maybin, DE (Penn State)
21. Philadelphia Eagles, Vontae Davis, CB (Illinois)
22. Minnesota Vikings, Mark Sanchez, QB (Southern California)
23. New England Patriots, Knowshon Moreno, RB (Georgia)
24. Atlanta Falcons, Clint Sintim, LB (Virginia)
25. Miami Dolphins, Larry English, LB (Northern Illinois)
26. Baltimore Ravens, Kenny Britt, WR (Rutgers)
27. Indianapolis Colts, Peria Jerry, DT (Mississippi State)
28. Philadelphia Eagles, Alex Mack, C (California)
29. New York Giants, Hakeem Nicks, WR (North Carolina)
30. Tennessee Titans, D. J. Moore, CB (Vanderbilt)
31. Arizona Cardinals, Chris Wells, RB (Ohio State)

The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the clock.

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Final thoughts before the big game…..

February 01, 2009 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

It’s finally game day, and NFL Network has been doing what seems like 365 days of Super Bowl coverage.  In about 5 hour, the game will begin.  At last.

There’s not much more that I can say about the game.  I think I’ve been pretty thorough with my pre-game analyses.  However, there are a couple of other blogs that I follow that had some interesting items about the game that I thought were worth sharing.

Our friends over at did a 4-part series on the Super Bowl that I thought was very good.  I’ve said on many occasions that these guys do some of the best Steelers analysis on the net.  Their site isn’t pretty, but they more than make up for their lack of style with great substance.  Here’s their analysis:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

As you can probably tell, I like sites that provide analysis.  That’s why I was very happy when the folks over at Pittsburgh Steelers Fanatic found this analysis from Football Outsiders.  It is a bit long, but it is very thorough.  Definitely worth reading.

Even the Baltimore Sun (boo!) had to acknowledge the power of Steeler Nation in this article.

Jim Shearer of Yinz Luv Da Stillers did this Super Bowl edition.  If you don’t check out Jim’s videos each week, you’re missing a real treat.


Finally, Sean of Sean’s Ramblings asked several Steelers bloggers what they’d be wearing for the Super Bowl.  My response is included among them.

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Super Bowl XLIII: Cardinals vs. Steelers Key Matchups

January 29, 2009 By: Admin Category: Pre-Game Analyses

January 29, 2009
By Donald Starver

We are (finally) getting closer to the big game.  Time seems to go in slow motion in the two weeks between the AFC/NFC Championship games and the Super Bowl.  I could swear that the Steelers-Ravens AFC Championship game happened about a month ago.

With only 3 days remaining until kickoff, it’s time to look at the key matchups that will probably determine the outcome of the Super Bowl.  However, before reading this, you may want to check out our Super Bowl Preview.  In that article, we break down the Steelers-Cardinal’s meeting from last season (that the Cardinals won 21-14), and we outline why this year’s meeting will be different.

So, without further ado, here are this week’s key matchups:

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald vs. Steelers CB Ike Taylor
Ike usually lines up on the opposite side of the field than where Fitzgerald normally does.  However, whenever the Steelers play a team with a world-class wide receiver (Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison, etc.), they typically have Ike Taylor shadow him, regardless of where he lines up.  The Steelers have a tremendous amount of confidence in Ike Taylor and his abilities.  Ike has been one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL for several years, and he still doesn’t get the credit that he deserves.

Everyone has been anointing Larry Fitzgerald as the greatest receiver in the universe lately, and admittedly, he has been phenomenal during the playoffs.  However, Ike Taylor is going to pose a different challenge than Larry has faced recently.   Most cornerbacks in the NFL tend to be small and fast.  Ike Taylor is BIG and fast.  While Larry Fitzgerald is 6’3″, Taylor is 6’2″, and will be able to look Fitzgerald directly in the eyes.  Moreover, Taylor is faster than Fitzgerald.  Much faster.  Fitzgerald has been praised for his amazing leaping ability.  Throughout the playoffs, he has consistently jumped higher than his defenders and come down with the ball.  Leapin’ Larry’s 38 inch vertical is indeed impressive.  Unfortunately (for Larry), Ike Taylor’s measured vertical is 40 inches.  So Fitzgerald will be going against a corner who is just as big as he is, but who can run faster and jump higher.

I know everyone has already crowned Larry Fitzgerald as the king of this Super Bowl, but I’m going to disagree with the crowd.  Ike Taylor is going to show the rest of the world what Steelers’ fans already know.  He won’t be able to shut Fitzgerald down completely, nobody can do that.  But he won’t get abused by him either.  Advantage: Neither.

Steelers center Justin Hartwig vs. Cardinals’ tackle Darnell Dockett
As we wrote in our Super Bowl Preview, the Cardinals’ win over the Steelers last year was partially due to the dominant performance that Darnell Docket had over former Steelers’ center Sean Mahan.  Dockett owned Mahan.  He spent almost the entire game in the Steelers’ backfield.  He also recorded 2.5 sacks on Ben Roethlisberger.   That is probably one of the reasons why Justin Hartwig was brought in to replace Mahan.

Steelers guard Chris Kemoeatu will help Hartwig with Dockett.  Together, they should be able to keep the 2007 Pro Bowler from repeating the performance he had last year against the Steelers.  Advantage: Cardinals.

Steelers CB Bryant McFadden vs. Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin
There’s been so much talk about Larry Fitzgerald during these playoffs that everyone seems to be forgetting the Cardinals’ other wide receiver, Anquan Boldin.  You know, the other Cardinals wide receiver who will also be starting in the Pro Bowl.  Boldin hasn’t been utilized as much during the playoffs as he was during the regular season (and he let Cardinals’ offensive coordinator Todd Haley know that he doesn’t appreciate that fact).

Boldin will be matched up against his former Florida State teammate Bryant McFadden.  Having practiced against one another in college, these two should be pretty familiar with one another.  In his first year as the Steelers’ starting CB, McFadden quickly proved how effective he can be.  He rarely gets beat, and is very physical.  I’m going to give the nod in this matchup to Boldin only because he’s a Pro Bowl starter.  Advantage: Cardinals.

Steelers WR Santonio Holmes vs. Cardinals CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Everyone is talking about Larry Fitzgerald vs. Ike Taylor, but the more meaningful WR/CB battle may prove to be Santonio Holmes versus Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.  Last year when these two teams met, Holmes torched the Cardinals for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns.  He actually had more receiving yardage and touchdowns than Larry Fitzgerald had in that game.

Rogers-Cromartie is a young, brash, athletic rookie who has really helped the Cardinals’ secondary.  He is going to get even better as he matures.  But right now, he is not good enough to stop Santonio Holmes.  Advantage: Steelers.

Steelers TE Heath Miller vs. Cardinals S Adrian Wilson
This should prove to be another interesting matchup.  Heath Miller has probably the best hands on the Steelers team after Hines Ward.  He never drops the ball.  I mean NEVER.  Miller could (and should) be in the same category as Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates.  Unfortunately, the Steelers seem to be allergic to throwing him the ball.  When it is thrown to him, Heath always catches the ball, and after the catch he seems to drag tacklers at least ten additional yards following their initial contact.

When Miller comes into the seam of the Cardinals defense, he will be met by safety Adrian Wilson.  Wilson is best known by casual fans for his YouTube video in which he jumps over a 66 inch high bar.  But beyond being a physical freak, Wilson is actually a very good safety.  He will be an NFC starter in this year’s Pro Bowl.

Both of these players are so good that it’s hard to pick one over the other.  Advantage: Neither.

Steelers NT Casey Hampton vs. Cardinals center Lyle Sendlein
This matchup features two University of Texas alums going at it.  However, it is a Longhorn reunion that Lyle Sendlein would probably rather have avoided.  Sendlein is a competent, but not spectacular center who is in his first year as a full-time starter.  “Big Snack” is going to eat the poor kid alive.  If I were Sendlein, I’d load up my pockets with Krispy Kreme donuts and offer one to Hampton before each snap.  That won’t stop Hampton from running him over, but it will at least give him a brief reprieve while Hampton chews.  Advantage: Steelers.

Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley versus RT Levi Brown
Levi Brown and LaMarr Woodley came out of college the same year, Brown from Penn State, and Woodley from Michigan.  As Big Ten Alum, they’re used to going up against one another.  Only this time, it is in the Super Bowl.  Brown was the more highly touted player coming out of college.  He was the 5th overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft, and some scouts thought he was as good or better than Browns’ tackle Joe Thomas.  Woodley slipped to the second round in that same draft.

Fast forward one year, and while Brown is a starting right tackle on a Super Bowl team, he has not been spectacular.  Woodley, on the other hand, has turned into a sack machine.  He is strong enough to bull rush his opponent, and fast enough to go around them.  In this battle of Penn State vs. Michigan, go with Michigan.   Advantage: Steelers.

Steelers LB James Harrison vs. Cardinals LT Michael Gandy
James Harrison is the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.  Gandy is a journeyman left tackle who is playing for his third NFL team.  That just about sums it up.  Advantage: Steelers.

Steelers CB DeShea Townsend vs. Cardinal WR Steve Breaston
The Cardinals usually have an advantage when they go to Steve Breaston.  Breaston is a #3 receiver who is good enough to start for most NFL teams.  However, the Cardinals have two Pro Bowl starting receivers, so Breaston is stuck at #3.  Most opponents don’t have a #3 cornerback who is good enough to stick with Breaston.  The Steelers do.  DeShea Townsend has been the Steelers’ starter since…….well, I’m not sure how long it’s been, but I’m pretty sure that he played alongside Mel Blount.  Townsend lost his starting position this year to Bryant McFadden only after Townsend got injured.  McFadden played so well that he never gave up the starting spot when Townsend returned.  But Townsend is still starter quality.  Just like Breaston.  Advantage:  Neither. 

Steelers safety Troy Polamalu vs. Everybody
Troy Polamalu isn’t your usual safety.  If he were an ordinary safety, we’d probably be doing a matchup of him versus a tight end or wide receiver, or even a running back coming out of the backfield.  But this is Troy Polamalu we’re talking about.  Troy’s position defies definition.  He’s called a “safety”, but he’s really a cornerbackertacklesafety.  He plays all over the place.  That’s why Troy will be matched up with just about everyone on the Cardinals’ team at some point during the game.  Regardless of who he goes up against, my money’s on Troy.    Advantage: Steelers.

Steelers LB Lawrence Timmons vs. Kurt Warner
It’s going to take a group effort to slow down Kurt Warner. However, I know that Lawrence Timmons is going to play a key role in whatever formula Dick LeBeau concocts. Timmons is insanely fast, and will probably replace Larry Foote quite often to help drop back and cover the seams in the defense that Warner is so good at finding. Timmons has the speed to cover a tight end (or even a WR) one-on-one. He can also close so quickly that any opening that Warner sees will quickly be shut. Timmons may well be one of the most valuable non-starters in the NFL. Advantage: Cardinals.

Cardinals’QB Kurt Warner vs. Steelers defense
This is going to be a good battle.  The NFL’s top pass defense against the NFL’s #2 passer (in yardage).  It is going to take the whole Steelers defense to stop Warner.  That’s because Warner reads defenses so well, and gets rid of the ball so fast.  Warner is a former league MVP, so he has to be respected.  But he’s not Superman.  Warner can be sacked.  He’s already been sacked 26 times this season.

To get to Warner, the Steelers are going to need a group effort.  James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley are going to have to provide heavy pressure from the edges.  Simultaneosly, the cornerbacks are going to have to play the Cardinals’ receivers close to the line and make early contact to redirect them from their intended path.  Warner is a disciplined QB who throws timing patterns where the receiver is supposed to be.  If they get delayed, Warner’s pass will fall incomplete.  The Steelers’ linebackers may not get many sacks on Warner, but their pressure will account for incomplete passes that won’t show up in the box score.  Advantage: Steelers.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger vs. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
I’m sure my readers get tired of hearing me say this, but the Steelers’ fate rest on the shoulders of one man, Ben Roethlisberger.  As Roethlisberger goes, so go the Steelers.  When Big Ben is good, he’s very good.  But unfortunately the inverse is also true; when he’s bad, he’s very bad.

The Steelers don’t need Roethlisberger to play the role of Peyton Manning or Tom Brady.  Roethlisberger isn’t that type of quarterback.  He doesn’t carve up defenses with his arm the way those two do.  Instead, we need him to play smart, disciplined football.  If Ben manages the offense and avoids turnovers, the Steelers should win this game pretty easily.

Unfortunately, I’ve been hearing Ben reflecting far too much on his poor play in his first Super Bowl.  Ben really seems to be bothered by that.  I hope he doesn’t try to do too much in order to prove that he can do better than he did last time.  If he does that, he’ll probably press and throw silly interceptions.

Trust me on this one, Ben.  Nobody will care about your stats if your team wins.  Stay within yourself and trust your teammates to make plays.  If you do that, you will go down in history as a great quarterback who won multiple Super Bowls, regardless of what the statistics say.   Advantage: We shall see.

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