Shapes of Things to Come?

Here are some thoughts of a reporter who now feels like he's covering the SEC: The Steelers have had 108 passes thrown and 72 completed against them in two games for 697 yards. If that trend continues this season, opposing quarterbacks will finish 576-of-864 for 5,576 yards.

Given the above, the Steelers wasted a first-round draft choice on nose tackle Casey Hampton. There's no need for a run-stuffing nose tackle when teams aren't going to attempt to run the ball.

In one of my first stories for this web site, I said the Steelers secondary could be their downfall this season. I opined that instead of signing a third quarterback - Charlie Batch - the Steelers would have been better served signing a veteran cornerback. I'll be the first to admit I was wrong. The Steelers should have signed two veteran cornerbacks. They're going to need them because their current group is going to log 10,000 miles by November.

Lost amid the wreckage of Sunday night's loss was the fact that Joey Porter probably earned himself a Pro Bowl trip with a 12-tackle, 3-sack, 2-interception effort. Also lost was the fact that Jerome Bettis finally looks like he's getting his wheels back. Bettis only gained 41 yards, but he did it on 10 carries. Bettis looked better making his cuts Sunday night and will be a factor if the Steelers ever figure out how to keep teams from dropping back to pass 60 times against them.

The Steelers may actually have the plan in place to stop all of this passing. For some unknown reason, they didn't feel the Raiders would come out throwing Sunday night and laid back for about the first 10 plays. After that, however, they were sending five or six pass-rushers on nearly every play. They ended up sacking quarterback Rich Gannon five times and picking him off twice. And for all of those throws, the Raiders scored just two offensive touchdowns. Gannon made some unbelievable throws and the Oakland receivers caught nearly everything to beat the Steelers. Sorry, but I can't see too many teams left on Pittsburgh's schedule that will be able to make that game plan work.

That being said, the road to the playoffs is now going to go through Oakland and New England, so the Steelers better figure something out.

Did I mention playoffs? Yep. Despite this start, the Steelers will still win the AFC North going away. Baltimore may be the worst team in the league and Cincinnati would also have to get some consideration in that group. Cleveland? Puhleez. The only thing softer in the middle than the Browns defense is Rosie O'Donnell. And the Browns still can't run the ball.

Kendall Simmons played pretty well Sunday night and was not making the major mistakes that Oliver Ross did the week before at right guard.

The Steelers are going to have a tough decision to make when Kendrell Bell comes back in two weeks. Clark Haggans has played pretty well at rush end, recording 2.5 sacks in two games. He may have earned the right to play until further notice.

The Steelers will use Bell's ankle injury as a reason to keep Haggans on the field until he looks like he doesn't belong there any more.

Amos Zereoue is running like he's lost right now.

Plaxico Burress is lost right now.

--Dale Lolley

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