Wednesday Apple Pie

What has happened to Jeff Reed? What? You don't know? Oh, I see, the team's playing poorly, but you don't have time to look at the two missed field goals by Jeff Reed? If it were Kris Brown, you'd have been screaming up a storm. Oh, but that's when we're winning and we know that field goal kicking is a liability. Now what? It doesn't matter?

Well, it matters to me. And I'm going to ask the question: What is wrong with Reed?

His percentage is down drastically from a very reliable 89.5% to 74.1% this season. But the really worry is where his misses have been coming from. He was perfect inside the 40 last season. This year, he's 15 of 18 from inside the 40, and two of those misses have been inside the 30.

He's also 4 – 8 between 40 and 50 yards. This is where the true test of a kicker's reliability lies. The great kickers make Kicks inside the 40 gimmes, but they hit the ones inside the 50 with regularity. To be fair, he has made his only attempt outside of 50 yards, but the kid with the booming leg was short on attempts of 47 and 48 yards last Sunday. Granted it was cold and the ball was probably rock hard, but come on Jeff. You aren't Gary Anderson or Morten Andersen. Those guys can't kick outside that distance any longer, but you can.

A kicker's job is to give the offense a high percentage chance to score anytime it reaches the 35 yard line. That means that the kicker should be able to hit a 53-yard field goal or less anytime he walks onto the field. Right now, Reed is only giving the Steelers a 55.5% chance to score between the 35 and 22 yard lines (what I like to call the critical range). In that same range, he gave them a 70% chance to score last season. What a difference.

In Kris Brown's disaster year of 2001, he only gave the Steelers a 47% chance of scoring in that critical range, or to round that off, 50%. Reed is giving the Steelers only 5 percentage points over that rounded off statistic.

So, I'll ask again. What is wrong with Jeff Reed?

Apple Pix-Six: Week 14 Review

1. Indianapolis 29 Tennessee 27: The Titans looked strong at the start and finish, while the Colts dominated everything in the middle. When Marvin Harrison dropped what was a sure touchdown pass at the 7 yard line, I thought the Colts were in trouble. When Harrison fumbled later, I thought the Titans were destined to win the game. But, as Cowboy Matt said, "you let a team sniff the end zone too often and they'll put it in there." That's just what the Colts did. After 4 consecutive field goals, the dam broke and the Titans were in trouble.

2. New England 12 Miami 0: Not quite Snow Bowl 2003, but the Dolphins couldn't get anything mustered on the ground or through the air with the conditions the way they were on the field. In fact, the Patriots couldn't either. The game would come down to which team's defense made the big play. Teddy Bruschi answered that question.

3. Philadelphia 36 Dallas 10: The worst kept secret in football is out: Quincy Carter sucks. He had Cowboy Matt up a tree because he didn't have the guts or the time to throw the ball down field. That being said, Carter just isn't a very good quarterback and, no matter how good a defense or offensive line, a bad quarterback and poor running game will soon spell doom. The Cowboys are now in danger of falling out of the playoffs.

4. Denver 45 Kansas City 27: I left Jason "The Bronco Fan" and the game at halftime. I had to get home to the Girl Apple. But from the first half I saw that the Clinton Portis was not going to go home without winning this game and Mike Shanahan was going to make sure Portis would have a hand in the outcome, unlike last year against San Diego when the team ignored Portis in overtime only to watch La Danian Tomlinson continue to get carries. After Eddie "I quit once" Kennison gave a ridiculous gangsta stare into the Denver crowd after his second quarter touchdown, I thought that his actions would probably come back to haunt him, remembering shades of Bobby Shaw's "Superman T-shirt" charade. I was right and Jason celebrates.

5. Baltimore 31 Cincinnati 13: This was Jamal Lewis' game. No run-of-the-mill quarterbacks (i.e. Jon Kitna and Anthony Wright) were going to determine the outcome of this game. Sure Lewis fumbled, but when they needed yards, Lewis was all over the place. I remarked to Cowboy Matt about the state of the NFL quarterback, "Where have all the good quarterbacks gone?" Obviously not to Baltimore or Cincinnati. Word to the Bengals: Kitna will not win you jack. Word to Baltimore: Wright will not win you jack.

6. Minnesota 34 Seattle 7: I've never seen a team play so poorly away from home. I've also never seen a team let Randy Moss beat them up and down the field like this since Detroit on Thanksgiving Day 5 years ago.

Apple Pix-Six: Week 15

1. Philadelphia at Miami (GOTW): The Eagles control their destiny, as do the Dolphins. But both can't win this game. Makes for some good beer poppin', nacho-eating, Monday night fun.

2. Seattle at St. Louis: The Rams can virtually win the division by beating Seattle at home. Something tells me this won't be a contest because the ‘Hawks are severely overrated and don't play well on the road.

3. Baltimore at Oakland: The Ravens win the division if they defeat Oakland and Cincinnati loses. It's that simple. And with the Raiders having given up on the season, the Ravens will enjoy a wild card match-up at home.

4. Dallas at Washington: The Cowboys desperately need to win. The Redskins are playing for pride or at least for jobs next season. Thank God Bruce Smith got his record. Nice to know that that's the only reason he's been playing well past his optimal performance level. Now please retire. Please.

5. Cleveland at Denver: The Broncos have a chance to really put a stamp on the final wild card spot, especially with the Dolphins hosting the Eagles. With the Bengals losing last week, the Titans losing and the Dolphins losing, the Broncos right now would be in the playoffs.

6. Buffalo at Tennessee: The Titans are licking their wounds and, if McNair doesn't play, they could conceivably miss the playoffs by dropping two of their last three.

The Playoff Power Core Rankings: Week 15

This is not a prediction of how the playoffs would break down if they began today.

1New England – The Pats got the HFSt. Louis – Looking like it's 1999
2Indianapolis – Stranglehold on the South Philadelphia – Would have HF advantage
3 Kansas City – Meet Randy Moss this week Minnesota – Slowly staring to play better
4 Baltimore – Will win AFC North Dallas – Can Tuna still count on Quincy Carter?
5 Tennessee – First two-game losing streak Green Bay – Had a little trouble with Chicago
6 Denver – Clinton Portis saves the day Carolina – Slowly fading down the stretch

Fruits of Labor (stock is rising)

  • Jerome Bettis First 100-yard game of the season for the Steelers and just about to pass Franco Harris.

Rotten Produce (stock is falling)

  • Chad Scott He is the resident villain right now.

Missed Point Opportunities (MPO)

Drives2nd Drive (Missed Field Goal) 6th Drive (INT)
7th Drive (Missed Field Goal) 8th Drive (Punt after INT)
8th Drive (INT) 9th Drive (Fumble)
9th Drive (Fumble) 12th Drive (INT)
Extra Point for multiple dead drives

Season MPO Record: 5 – 8

Wisdom From the Girl Apple

Girl Apple: So what player do you not like on the Steelers right now?

Apple: Player or players? If I had to pick one, I'd have to say…Jason Gildon.

Girl Apple: Why?

Apple: He's way past his prime and not playing well at all.

Girl Apple: Why doesn't the coach bench him?

Apple: Well, Cowher feels a loyalty to his players.

Girl Apple: So, its not Gildon's fault that he's still playing?

Apple: No. I guess not. But he makes way too much money.

Girl Apple: But didn't the Steelers offer him that money?

Apple: Yes but…why…YES THEY DID! So it's the front office's fault…or should I say the organization's fault because they've put themselves in a position where they are playing guys who make way to much money.

Girl Apple: Exactly. Now go to bed, it's your week of finals.

Apple: Yes dear. More wisdom from the Girl Apple.

Super Pappy Fried Chicken's Keys To The Game

  • This week's contest pits the Jets of New York against the Steelers of Pittsburgh in a battle of the Goliaths of underachieving mediocrity. A.K.A. -- "The game I dropped entirely too much coin to attend just to freeze the beer while it is sitting in my gullet." All that being said, there are a few things that need to happen to make it one to remember.
  • Jerome Bettis has finally got enough reps this season that his wheels are greased and he is starting to run downhill. That, coupled with the steadily improving but still inadequate offensive line, achieves key number one - Ball Control.
  • The play calling on defense must be less predictable. First down - run stop. Second down - blitz. Third down - give up the first down on a third and long with horrendous pass coverage. That's not been cutting it. My solution: Let the front seven have their way. BLITZ. BLITZ. BLITZ!!!
  • It would be easy to say they have to stop Curtis Martin, but more importantly they have to keep the ball away from Santana Moss. Lesser receivers have used the Steelers secondary and this kid has the potential to tear even the best defenses a new one.
  • Finally, Julie has to finish the eight foot by five foot Terrible Towel that is gonna get us on the jumbotron. Keep an eye out for it. Pappy Fried Chicken and his crew are lookin' to get some well-deserved TV time while trying not to get the frozen snot beat out of us.

Thoughts Assisted By Yuengling

  • In the past two games against the Jets, the Steelers have allowed only 426 total yards while out-scoring the Jets, 38 to 9.
  • Here's another problem with the Steelers secondary, Brent Alexander leads the team in interceptions (4).

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