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After further review …


After watching the Steelers/Falcons preseason game on my DVR, here are some observations …

Matt Ryan threw 42 times for 220 yards in the first half Saturday against the Steelers, which obviously means the secondary will be the weak spot of the Steelers’ defense again this year.

Horse puckey, I say.

If you asked me, the Steelers’ secondary did exactly what Dick LeBeau expects them to do, and mind you, the two who will strap it up at the position in two weeks weren’t even dressed in Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden.

The Steelers went with William Gay and Keenan Lewis and most of the second quarter saw Donovan Warren and Crezdon Butler manning the cornerback positions.

Even with the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th corners on the roster playing, they did well against one of the top offenses in the league.

LeBeau asks his corners not to get beat deep and make tackles after receptions, and if that is done, eventually LeBeau knows his defense will make a play to either get off the field on third down or create a turnover.

And look what happened. The longest completion Ryan had was 22 yards, and eventually the defense made plays — a Lawrence Timmons interception and a Butler pick six.

Plenty of the those 42 attempts by Ryan came on 3-step drops as well and were geared toward the linebackers and safeties.

Sure, there we mistakes by the secondary, most notably Lewis and Gay, who totally were confused on a play that allowed Roddy White to gain big yards.

But Lewis rebounded by knocking down a pass intended for White in the end zone on the next play.

Sure the cornerbacks aren’t the best part of the Steelers’ defense, but just because you attempt 42 first-half passes doesn’t mean you played poorly.

* The first two offensive plays of the game for the Steelers — both catches by TE David Johnson — sure looked like the same exact play. Actually, it wasn’t the same play, but it was awfully close. The first play that resulted in a 16-yard catch by Johnson, was a play-action pass off the ’22 Double” — the play in which left guard Chris Kemoeatu pulls to the right.

The second play was almost identical except for Heath Miller not motioning from left to right and the offensive line zone blocking instead of Kemoeatu pulling.

As for Johnson, he ran the same exact route and beat Sean Weatherspoon twice.

* On Rashard Mendenhall’s touchdown run out of the “Bronco” package, give a star to both Johnson for his motion crack on the defensive end and Willie Colon for manhandling Weatherspoon and collapsing the entire left side of the defensive line.

* When offensive line coach Sean Kugler came on the scene last year, one of the first things he taught his linemen how to do was how to cut a defensive lineman properly.

Some may say the concept is a little shady because it could cause lower leg injuries to the unsuspecting defender, however, it is perfectly legal and plenty of teams employ that concept around the league.

Ironically, when Tony Hills tried to cut Peria Jerry on Antonio Brown’s end around, Hills got a piece of Maurkice Pouncey’s left ankle. It wasn’t until later that Pouncey got rolled up on that ankle that forced him to leave, but it was Hills that first got him

Live by the sword, die by the sword, I guess.

* Have you ever seen a team have an answer for LeBeau’s crossfire blitz where Lawrence Timmons and James Farrior cross from their inside linebacker position on a blitz?

* James Harrison just isn’t healthy. He was very quiet against the Falcons and what has been very noticable about Harrison is that his lack of power. Power is a big part of his game and it just isn’t there ever since off-season back sugeries.

* My take on Antonio Brown’s celebrations? How this kid is playing, he deserves to celebrate any way he darn well pleases. This isn’t the 70s anymore folks. Let the kid have some fun.

* Tony Hills didn’t look very good at all. But you have to give him a pass because you can tell he is still getting used to playing guard. He had problems with the Falcons getting to the second level, passing off stunting linemen and even pulling — all things that will come with more time at the position.

* Trust me, I am the last person to be a Roethlisberger apologist, but is the man ever going to get a call this year when it comes to head shots? The NFL wants to clean up the league especially when it comes to head shots but now twice in three games he gets clubbed to the helmet without a call. Saturday, he got his helmet ripped off and no call. Is this the sign of things to come this year?

* Julio Jones is fast. Period.

* What an absolute awful sight it was seeing Byron Leftwich screaming in pain after breaking his arm. It was one of the worst injuries I’ve ever saw.

Now for some quick word association hits with some key players as it was related to the Falcons game

OL Marcus Gilbert — Impressive
OL Willie Colon — Mauler
K Swayze Waters — Canon for a leg
CB Donovan Warren — Hanging in there
CB Crezdon Butler — Won a roster spot
DE Ziggy Hood — Still waiting for his to show up
LB Stevenson Sylvester — Always fast to the ball, but usually too fast
LB Larry Foote — Still has some left
DE Cameron Heyward — Was that him running almost stride-for-stride with Jacquizz Rodgers on Crezdon Butler’s interception?
RB Jon Dwyer — Can run, can’t block
S Will Allen — Underrated

– Mark Kaboly


Author: Mark Kaboly

Mark Kaboly is the Pittburgh Steelers beat writer for the Tribune-Review. Mark has covered more than 300 NFL football games in all 32 NFL cities as well as three Super Bowls -- XL in Detroit, XLIII in Tampa and XLV in Dallas. A Belle Vernon Area graduate, Mark earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a specialization in journalism from California University of Pennsylvania. Mark lives in Port Vue with his wife, Jennifer; daughter Briella; and boys Rocco and Bugsley Pug


  1. James Thompson says:

    I wouldn’t go as far as Sporting News has in predicting that the Steelers will go 14-2 on their way to another Superbowl, although they looked considerably better this past Saturday night than they had in their first pre season game versus the Redskins.

  2. rick gagliardo says:

    As questionable as the Steelers kick coverage has been over the years, I think it makes sense to keep Waters just for KO purposes. If 90% of his KO’s are touchbacks, his roster spot is validated because we won’t have to keep someone just to cover kicks. A KR cost us the Jets game last year. And the benefits of forcing teams to go 80 yds. against our D has been addressed before.

  3. DSK says:

    Regardless of what anyone says, I believe the secondary will cost them games this year. Any team with a decent quarterback will spread out the offense and go pass crazy…and will probably be successful. Don’t be surprised if a few really bad teams manage to pull a win against the Steelers (think teams with ugly orange uniforms).

    I remember seeing another young receiver that displayed the talent Antonio Brown has shown so far, and his name was Hines Ward. Brown will be the second receiver sooner than you think…I’d give him #3 right now. He might not have the height, but makes up for it with speed, good hands and talent. Just work on that endzone jump, Spiderman!

    Overall, the team looks good and can make another run at the Superbowl. The offense is as strong as it’s ever been, but will see growing pains on the line at times. The defense is the powerhouse it has always been except for finding another shut down corner opposite Taylor (who isn’t getting younger) and keeping everyone healthy. At this point, there’s no reason not to be excited about this year. There is noooooo way they should miss the playoffs, even if they have to come in as a wildcard if the Ravens bring their A game all season long.

  4. Chuck H. says:

    Antonio Brown is good, but does he have a celebration problem?? Can’t the coaches
    do anything to stop that sort of thing? A close game could be lost because of a an
    excessive celebration penalty. I know he is a rookie and probably full of himself, and,
    hopefully, he will quit the antics before the real season starts.
    I thought the whole team looked very good in the first half, and some or most of the rookies looked as good or better than in other years. GO, STEELERS!!!

  5. David says:

    my exact thoughts, touchdown’, go on to the next play, that touchdown doesn’t win the games, thought it goes along way in helping the cause, but celabrate with brief class, i mean i believe being excited about scoring is part of the game, i don’t want robots out there, but the game isn’t over at that point, no need for stupid penalties. brown, sanders, wallace, ward, we are deep with recievers, the best i have seen in years….sad to see what happened to Leftwich, talk about dejavu. this time last year was the same result for him, myself, i would really like to see us rid a steelers roster spot of Dixon, i just think long term he isn’t gonna want to step into Charlie’s shoes and accept a back up role, he isn’t a pressure Quarterback, see Roethlisberger…. i see all these stats about 10 quarterbacks supposedly better then roethlisberger, but only 3 have won superbowls…. we will represent the AFC in Superbowl XLVI ……

  6. rob says:

    The Steelers are looking better each week. Most other teams we play are going through big changes which will give us an early jump on the rest of the afc. We have good depth at most positions. Our team is old but talented. This year the Steelers could go undefeated. The key to doing so will be health issues. Our schedule gets easier toward the end of the season and we have a bye later in the year. We may be able to rest some guys for the playoffs and still win games. After the ravens we have sea hawks which should be a bit of break and we may play the colts with out Manning at 100% or with Collins at the helm. I see a big jump on other teams as quite possible. I believe we will be in indy in feb.

  7. Maureen says:

    Chuck H.,
    Antonio Brown is not a rookie. 2nd year player. Caught a wonderful “against the helmet” pass in the playoffs last year. Speedy Kick returner. Don’t worry. Tomlin has already instructed him on “celebration protocol” and Antonio has already stated his regrets about his behavior. I’m sure he’ll act like he’s been there before in all future games.

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