Of all the Steelers last night the play of Troy Polamalu stood out to me the most. He is a live wire to be sure. It just seems like he's moving a little faster than everyone else around him, and when he makes contact it seems that helmets tend to fly off.
I expect LeBeau to have a ball with this guy this year, blitzing him from every angle imaginable and also having him play around the line of scrimmage as much as possible. I think Troy could be our defensive MVP this season. He's got mad skills and a defensive coordinator itching to use them.
On the flip-side, I watched in dismay as Ike Taylor missed a few tackles and otherwise did not seem to make an impact. I did not however, get to zero in on him in coverage. Thinking back to last year I do remember being more impressed with his coverage ability that run support/tackling. Maybe that's his weakness, but given his size and quickness you would think he should improve.
Colclough turned in a solid first game, though I also could not follow him in coverage too much. He definitely has an NFL style break on the ball, perhaps unlike some of our other corners. LeBeau's job here is clear. Try to get Colclough's on the field this year as much as possible without overwhelming him with schemes. Man on man in the slot would be a good assignment. Colclough also showed some serious return skills and looks to be the favorite to be our primary kick returner. However, my major concern with Colclough on returns is that he carries the ball like a loaf of bread (away from his body). Our special teams coach needs to jump on this little habit RIGHT AWAY. I'd rather have a 15 yard return from JT Wall than a 45 yard return with a fumble from Colclough.
The only thing I will say about Alonzo Jackson is that he is playing on the wrong team. He is a 4-3 rush end. You'd think we would have known the type of defense we run when we drafted the guy. I haven't heard anybody else mention it so I'll go ahead and say that Clint Kriewaldt looked to be playing well last night. He and Foote provide some good depth at LB. Now if we could just find a staring OLB.
Our starting O-Line did seem to perform very well last night. The only sub I tried to focus on was Starks and he did not have an encouraging debut. I'll give him a free pass on this game, but if he continues to play the way he did last night we need to bring in another offensive tackle.
The running backs to me as a whole looked below NFL standards. The common theme with the top three is lack of speed. The one guy I cannot figure out why people like is Dante Brown. Sorry fellas, but this guy has no NFL potential. Some guys just stand out to me as not being NFL caliber, and Dante Brown is one of them. The fact that I hear so much about him reinforces to me that as a unit our running backs are not up to snuff. Willie Parker did flash to me on his one return. He seems to have speed and also looked strong for his size. Unfortunately he didn't get many chances with the rock. I hope we stop wasting our time with Brown and give Parker some more reps.
Zamir Cobb looks capable, but I think he'll be hard pressed to take Lee Mays' job. Although considering that they are battling for the final roster spot at WR, ability to contribute on special teams will most likely be the deciding factor. Considering Mays' size, speed and experience, he may have the special teams edge.
As for the play at QB, it was a solid performance. Ben Rowdy did not quite overwhelm me with his arm or overall play, but it definitely was a solid performance considering it was his first action and that he's been in camp less than two weeks. As confirmed by Cowher's gesture pretending to shoot a duck, Rowdy's sole TD was a wobbler. However, the good QB's just get it done ala Tom Brady. It doesn't always have to be a frozen rope or otherwise look pretty. St. Pierre does not have great arm strength, pocket awareness, or maneuverability, but I suppose he passes as a developmental type 3rd QB. That said, we would be looking to free agents for a starter if our Nos. 1 and 2 went down.
Overall I thought it was a solid first performance.
SteelinGA had this to say about the game:
After having to stay up till 4:30 am to see the game on DTV, I feel like crap physically but pretty good about the Steelers. Having read other's comments, I'll add:
Max Starks - yeah he looked bad on some plays, but, I'll double check when I watch the tape again...it appeared to me that he played a helluva lot of snaps on both RT and LT. It just seemed I noticed his number out there a bunch, and he usually recovered after a bad play to make an acceptable play. He's just a freakin rookie in his first game, and I'm sure his head was swimming as much as he played. Don't be too quick to condemn him. He's a big, strong but not fat guy, and let's let Russ work with him.
First team D - didn't play yesterday. With Townsend, Scott, and Hope out, our yet to be determined second team secondary was playing against Steve Mariucci's soon to be high powered first team offense. All we learned was that Willie Williams appears to have lost not a step, but two, and Kendrell Bell is still not any good in pass coverage. But our D line looked awesome, and once Bell and Williams went to the bench the D improved. Lebeau has work to do, but it's going to be allright.
It sounds crazy, but one could make a decent argument from last night's game to put Larry Foote ahead of Kendrell Bell on the depth chart. Perhaps that might wake Kendrell up.
Girls could tackle Bettis these days. And he's overweight. I'll bet he tips the scales at 260+. After watching a svelte Ron Dayne the other night, it's sad that if Bettis was going to even show up at camp this late in his career, he couldn't come in shape to give himself the best chance. Well, he had a great career...it always comes down to the famous final scene.
The first team offense....wow. I forgot what a dominant Steeler O-line looked like. Faneca and Simmons alone in top form can overcome a lot of other guys' weaknesses - not that Smith and Hartings were weak... That was some serious run blocking. It was everything it ever was in the past...we're gonna run, and you're gonna get demoralized because you don't really like our style of brutal smashmouth football. Detroit couldn't stop it, and if Duce doesn't fumble at the goalline, we win the game. Duce isn't known as a fumbler so we'll just be glad it happened in a meaningless game. That rushing attack will work on nearly every team in the NFL except our own run D in practice, the Ravens, and the Patriots, probably the only 3 teams that shut down our running game consistently. But then, we can pass and Maddox was on as well as the starting 3 WRs...and with Duce in on all downs thus not tipping our hands on pass or run like when Amos replaced Bettis on third, this is an offense that can set the tone and dominate. It's going to be about impossible for teams NOT to put a safety in the box on third down when Duce is in the backfield and he can run up the middle...that'll help one of the WRs. Jay R looked good, and Kranchik might make the field as a second TE occasionally and surprise people with a big play. If they stay healthy...the swagger is back! If only it was Dawson trotting out of the huddle up to the line of scrimmage...man, I miss the attitude he brought to the game.
Roth looked good for a rookie in his first game, but Maddox was about perfect. But Maddox is limited by his physical tools, and when Roth settles down as a passer and learns the offense, he'll bench Maddox due to his athleticism and pocket presence. He's going to be like Elway or McNair, the kind of QB that breaks a defense's heart as he eludes the pass rush, leaves the pocket, then makes a great completion as the defense breaks down. We finally have a franchise QB again...been a long time. It will be interesting to see how much Roth improves game to game. The way Maddox played, Roth will have to show tremendous improvement to unseat Maddox in the pre-season, and I doubt he can do it. Then when the season starts, the only way he get's playing time is if Maddox get's hurt. Still, it's a happy scenario to watch...
I liked our d-line, first, second and third team!
Did I say Larry Foote looked good? So what if he's 6-0, 234? Not all linebackers in the NFL are 6-3, 255. He's getting good. Definitely a solid backup.
In the next game or two, I'd let Duce play only one series, or if he has a hurting hangnail I'd let him sit out. We know what he brings and no use getting him injured, just like how they barely played Bettis in his first pre-season as a Steeler (and I stole him in the 5th round for my fantasy team). We need to see who can do the job if Staley get's hurt. I don't think Bettis can do it anymore. He's slow and he goes down easy, and that will demoralize our newly re-energized run blocking o-line. We really need to see who out of Haynes, Brown and Parker can do the job if Staley get's hurt.
Troy looked excellent...can't wait to see him with Hope, Scott, and Townsend.
Barring injuries, the AFC North better fear us. Go bet on it.
12th Man Articles are those submitted by members of the SteelCitySports.com online community.