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After further review …

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Taking a look back at the Steelers-Jaguars game on my DVR.

As good as the Steelers offense was in the first half against Jacksonville is as bad as it was in the second half.

After racking up 315 first-half yards including 134 on the ground, the Steelers managed only 55 total yards while converting only 2-of-7 third downs in the second half while hanging on for a 17-13 win.

Why such a difference between the first and second halves?

Well, Jacksonville finally wised up and figured out that the Steelers are a right-handed running team.

Bruce Arians called 29 run plays against the Jaguars (not including quarterback scrambles) with 26 of them going to the right side.

Now, a couple of those runs were eventually cut back to the middle, but they originated over Ramon Foster and Jonathan Scott and more often than not, there was a pulling guard involved.

Rashard Mendenhall alone rushed 10 times for 110 yards in the first half over the right side. Isaac Redman added 22 more yards on 4 carries.

When Jacksonville decided to either overload that side or walk down safety Dawan Landry and place him on the outside shoulder of Scott or put corners Will Middleton or Drew Coleman near the line, the run game went away forcing a lot of 3rd-and-longs.

Mendenhall ran 10 more times to the right in the second half and could only muster 28 yards.

The Steelers have historically been a right-handed running team under Arians because of the success of the “22 Double” and “Pike 34”, but it became evident that teams are onto how the Steelers run the ball well only to the right.

Arians going to have to able to find some success on the other side as well. Running for 168 yards to the right and 18 to the left is good for padding numbers, but it might come back and bite the Steelers sooner rather than later.

It almost did against the Jaguars.

* So you still don’t think that the Steelers are a running team anymore?

Well, a week after using the fullback 15 times, Arians used David Johnson as a lead blocker 13 more times on Sunday.

Don’t think the Steelers are a power-running team anymore?

How about 31 runs through six games inside the 20-yard line compared to 16 pass attempts?

Sometimes perception becomes reality and that’s definitely the case with the Steelers.

Air Arians? Maybe not.

* Maybe Arians is going to the ground more often because of the play of his quarterback?

Well, that’s not true, but Ben Roethlisberger has been very inconsistent this year including Sunday.

Roethlisberger missed a bunch of throws including four of his six deep balls.

Roethlisberger underthrew Wallace, overthrew Emmanuel Sanders twice and was just arrant on another deep ball to Wallace to go along with some bad throws underneath as well.

Roethlisberger very well could’ve been intercepted three times in the first half if the Jaguars’ defensive backs could catch. Lowery, Coleman and Rashean Mathis all had sure interceptions bounce off their hands.

The quarterback needs to play better and more importantly, he has to play more consistent.

* Beaten twice pretty badly by a speed rusher one of which caused a fumble in a close game.

If that was Jonathan Scott getting whipped up by Dwight Freeney, we would be hearing about how bad of a lineman he is and how he needs to be benched.

But if Max Starks allows John Chick to him twice simply by speed, one of which caused a fumble, we hear nothing.

Hmmm ….

Starks has never been good with speed rushers, and that showed again against the Jaguars. He was beaten badly for sacks simply on speed.

I’m sure T-Sizzle is taking notes in Baltimore.

* On the surface, Brett Keisel had a monster game, and he did.

He was disruptive, he batted balls down, he had the most important sacks of the day – he did it all.

However, let’s not overlook that he either left his gap or was blown out of his gap at least five times that led to some big runs.

Just sayin’.

* It’s quite interesting to me that two consecutive weeks in a row on the opening play of the game, a guard tried to backside cut backup nose tackle Chris Hoke just to see him fight it off and make the tackle.

It’s a shame that Hoke got hurt against the Jags because he looked like he was a man possessed for the second consecutive week.

Saying that, I don’t like when Hoke goes to play left end like he did once or twice against the Jaguars. He seems uncomfortable and out of place there.

* Sorry, but Isaac Redman would’ve never scored that opening-drive touchdown Mendenhall did.

That’s why his is, and should, be the Steelers’ featured back.

* The Jaguars definitely were fortunate early in the game when Blaine Gabbert saw a blitz coming from James Farrior and Larry Foote up the middle and floated a pass outside to Maurice Jones-Drew.

After numerous rewinds, that ball was a lateral. Incidentally, the ball would’ve been recovered by MJD, but I’m sure the Steelers would’ve loved a 3rd-and 17 rather than a 3rd-and-7 in which the Jags converted.

* Who knows what it is, but LaMarr Woodley is playing a whole heck of a lot better over the past two weeks, and I’m not talking about the sacks he is accumulating.

Woodley is playing faster, with more power, and most importantly, is finally shedding blockers to make tackles at the point of attack to help the run game.

Now this is the guy who the Steelers paid $60 million to a few months back.

* I was the first to rip Trai Essex for his play at left tackle against Houston, and rightfully so.

I’ll be the first to say that Essex has showed that he can play guard pretty well. On Mendenhall’s 68-yard run, Essex pulled and made the key block on Paul Posluszny to spring him.

Speaking of that play, the Jaguars blamed it on a miss fit with the defense. I sure didn’t see that. It just looked like it was blocked up pretty well with Essex’s block making an 8-yard gain into a 68-yard gain.

By the way, Scott also caved in the entire side of the line to make the play go as well, but you won’t hear that out of the pundits.

* Mike Tomlin was about as bad as the Steelers’ offense in the second half.

I’m not so interested in Ryan Mundy getting called for a roughing the punter penalty that kept the Jags’ drive alive more than why in the world is there any sort of punt block on up 17-3 midway through the third quarter?

Don’t even get me started on Jonathan Dwyer’s first series coming at an important time in a close game in the fourth quarter.

* Don’t know how many more misses Shaun Suisham has in him before he gets to hang out with Jeff Reed.

Makeable kicks have to be made. Period.

* Ike Taylor had his worst game so far this year, but it was still pretty good.

Taylor allowed only two catches, but one was a touchdown by Jason Hill.

Here’s the breakdown so far through six games of who has caught balls against Taylor:

Andre Johnson, Houston 3-23 yards
Nate Washington, Tennessee 2-11 yards
Jason Hill, Jacksonville 1-18 yards, TD
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis 1-11 yards
Mike Williams, Seattle 1-9 yards
Damian Williams, Tennessee 1-8 yards
Mike Thomas, Jacksonville 1-3 yards
Pierre Garcon, Indianapolis 1-(-2) yards

Grading the Starters
QB – Ben Roethlisberger – C (Inconsistent)
RB – Rashard Mendenhall – A (Ran hard)
TE/FB – David Johnson – B (Does what he’s told)
WR – Mike Wallace – B (Was open deep all day)
WR – Hines Ward – B (Has a jump in his step lately)
WR – Antonio Brown – D (Did he play?)
TE – Heath Miller – B (Nothing he can’t do)
LT – Max Starks – C (Can’t allow John Chick to make you look bad)
LG – Doug Legursky – B (Getting better at pulling)
LG – Trai Essex – B (Better at guard than tackle)
C – Maurkice Pouncey – B (Playing better)
RG – Ramon Foster – B (Very few mental mistakes)
RT – Jonathan Scott – B (Solid effort)

DE – Ziggy Hood – C (Needs to be more physical)
NT – Chris Hoke – A (Disruptive when he was in there)
DE – Brett Keisel – B (Made plays)
LB – LaMarr Woodley – A (Back to the old Wood)
LB – James Farrior – A (Back to his old self)
LB – Larry Foote – C (Nothing spectacular)
LB – Lawrence Timmons – C (Better inside)
CB – Ike Taylor – B (Allowed first TD of year)
CB – William Gay – B (Not bad)
CB – Keenan Lewis – B (Makes a play a game)
S – Troy Polamalu – A (Makes big plays every week)
S – Ryan Clark – B (No big plays)

 By Mark Kaboly

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Author: Mark Kaboly

Mark Kaboly covers the Pittburgh Steelers for the Tribune-Review. Mark has covered more than 250 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, and boys Rocco and Bugsley Pug

Comments

  1. Mr.Cynical says:

    BA must go along with Suisham–they both can join Jeff Reed at a bar somewhere! We aren’t getting much better on offense that’s for sure (what team was that out there vs Tenn). BA needs to adjust to teams that expose what the Steelers are trying to do offensively–duh! I mean come on! Jacksonville adjusted to what we were doing offensively–they kicked our butts in the second half and no adjustments were made by our offense. Big Ben has looked like crap ever since last years playoffs. He’s missing wide open receivers; I’m having flashbacks of last years superbowl. Ike might have given up a touchdown pass but Mundy is at fault on that drive. If he wouldn’t have roughed the kicker we would have had the ball back.

    Can’t wait til the Steelers wake up this year.

  2. Uncle Rico says:

    Speaking of one of the few runs to the left, and Max Starks…. take another look at the nice 12 yard run by Mendenhall before the end of Q1 (I forgot to record it, but I’m pretty sure that’s the play, 2-10 from P28 2:47). Starks job is to get to the second level and hook the playside backer. Just focus entirely on Starks, and note his footspeed. Hard to believe that’s a professional athlete.

  3. Carol says:

    The offense is average in the red zone and has been for years. That’s why the point total doesn’t match the yards gained. The o-line isn’t good enough.

  4. Carol says:

    Mendentall “ran hard”? Excuse me, but isn’t he paid a lot of money to do that?

    My grade for this week:

    BR – Mark Kaboly – C (Better on preps.)

  5. Datruth4life says:

    Mark, I believe this O will be top 5 in red zone efficiency when Ben decides to use Heath Miller and Wes Saunders in the red zone more. Both of them are studs and huge targets at 6’5”, 260 lbs. and 6’6”, 270 lbs, respectively. This year’s D feels a lot like the D the year the Steelers got beat by Jacksonville in the playoffs – high ranking but couldn’t stop the run or produce turnovers on the field. To only have two turnovers so far this year through six games is unacceptable. By week 8, you are pretty much what you are. Time to work more of the kids in on D, including Sylvester, Heyward, Worilds, McClendon and Chris Carter.

  6. David says:

    We will never know if Redman doesn’t produce a touchdown on that run much like we will never know if he could have run for a hundred fourty six yards had he started, or for only 22 after the half. Doesn’t mean squat, Dwyer got 111 yards on a third the carries last week, but someone tell me, if you have a guy open with 10 yards in front of him, y not throw to him I saw 2 times where that was the case against jacksonville but Ben chose to go downfield and incomplete. Doesn’t make since to me, that’s not smart ball at all, I was able to only catch this game in the second half expecting a blowout , boy did I get set up for a joke. The Steelers were as bad the second half as they were good in the first, good thing jacksonville is jacksonville cause good teams rally to end up winning those types ball games, witch is why I’m a Steelers 4life baby, cause they did win in spite of themselves. We will be alright.

  7. David says:

    Tomlin needs have open tryouts for lockers, in the next few months that’s gonna be a crucial element to winning and I would hate to see us lose by 2 when we could have won by 1 had we made a fieldgoal instead of missing it. Our wins if losses could very well come down to a 36 yarder or a 44 yarder looking at our next 6 games, Foxy ain’t doing bad right now either is Cleveland, our division is looking tough so far and fieldgoals are a must here. Tomlin take heed to this comment please.

  8. L Milburn says:

    Larry Curious as to how many takeaways Harrison either caused directly or influenced last year when healthy. People forget he is one of the top 5 most disruptive players in FB and unfortunately it may be a long time till we replace him in kind-if ever.

  9. Glenn says:

    Every commentator and writer continues to overlook the playcalling in the second half. While WR’s were open downfield, there were gusting winds making it nearly impossible for Ben to hit them. So why wasn’t the love child of Forrest Gump and Rain Man {Arians} calling slants to Wallace across the middle? It is called YAC. [yards after the catch]. He loves to subject us to YAC on the WR screen. Why can’t he assess the situation and adjust his play calling? Heath Miller on a 10 yard in route; he left that one in the bag as well.

  10. Ollie says:

    I just don’t understand all of the injuries that keep accuring with the offensive line. This is one unit where there are usually less injuries all around the league. Most O-line players are the ones that play many consecutive games in a row without missing year after year. The Steelers use to be like that. I just think the players we have on this unit flat out are no good, except for the Center.

  11. Eddie says:

    Keisel deserves an A for the way he played on Sunday. Ben deserved a D with a warning (step it up or fail!) I’m tired of hearing him say, “It’s my fault. I have to play better.” Yea, we know, so do it already!

  12. Steve says:

    Definitely cause for concern with Suisham. Utah’s kicker made four in the wind on Saturday against Pitt and Scobee didn’t miss from pretty long range on Sunday. Seems like the only kicker struggling in Heinz field plays for the Steelers.

  13. EF says:

    The Steelers are obviously not playing championship caliber ball and unfortunately I’m not sure if they are capable of it. What I find the most disturbing is their in game coaching decisions. They had an opportunity before halftime with (2) timeouts and Jacksonville deep in their own territory to make them punt and possibly tack on extra points before halftime. They chose to let the clock expire and go to half with what they must of felt was a insurmountable lead. You would never see the Pats or Packers sit on the ball with a chance to bury their opponent !! The Steelers need to develope this foot on the throat, killer attitude or risk the chance of letting inferior teams stick around and lose a game that they have already won. I believe this coaching staffs game management skills are at best below the line and may cost this team games and or a championship.

  14. BAmustgo says:

    Remember the 09 season–we lost to the Chiefs after we had a substantial lead and we lost to the Raiders that same year (we finished 9-7)! The 2011 Steelers look like the 2009 team right now. The Steelers just don’t have the sense of urgency they need to be elite this year. Cardinals 24-21 over the Steelers this week. It doesn’t get any easier for us from there. . . Patriots, Ravens, and Bengals. Ahh but next year we will be dominant again–welcome to the Tomlin era.

  15. Rick says:

    Wow, a tale of two cities, or two halves, sort of.
    We played well through most of the first half, then poof. Ben got uncharacteristically inaccurate. Wasn’t pressure, something was not right. When the passing game went south so did the offense. Remember, the same is true being one dimensional works either way.
    Scott is doing much better on right side, Essex is a better guard than tackle. Yeah, Starks is not real quick on his feet, needs to work on that. Maybe he should go on “Dancing with the Stars”! ha ha
    Was reported Troy’s “concussion” the result of MD-J’s “hit” on him – was the other way around. Just glad it was not a serious head knock.
    Around the league players are complaining about inconsistency in officiating new rules. Is it affecting the game, absolutely. That stated, there ought to be an enforced replay on officiating calls that appear questionable. Why not, if the league is so all fired up about “player safety” and players being within rues, hold the officials to the same yardstick!
    Anderson is a fool – a Redskins player fined for making a legal block on an opponent during a kick return – because it affected that player’s ability to make the tackle. HUH? The next week that same Redskin held back on a block and the player made the tackle, which he might not have if there was no hesitation about playing the game.

    Way to go NFL, still screwing up the game.

  16. Steelers4Life says:

    To say Redman or Dwyer for that matter doesn’t get the TD on Mendenhall’s TD run is rediculous. It is impossible to know that, one cannot measure effort and desire. I suppose if it had been Mendenhall who made the TD catch and run Redman made last year against the Ravens, the same statment by the same people would have made about that run. No way anyone else makes that play… Guess what, Redman did make that play and scored a TD, which ended up being the deciding points in that game. It is an unknown and should be left as such.

    Mendy ran “better” this game than he had previously this season. One game does not make a hard runner or an effective one. Lets see how he runs moving foward and in particular how he does when he has to make the tough yards instead of having a hole a mack truck could fit through. For me this debate is not about talent, it is about who is making the most of the talent they have.

  17. Steelers4Life says:

    The 2011 Steelers will not be defined by individual performances. When the dust settles they will be defined by how they collectively come together and effectively execute as a complete team, or fail at doing so. Thus far, they have yet to play a complete game as a team. Even the win over Seattle had elements of the same failures that lead to the paper thin margine over JAX and a loss at Houston that should have been a victory.

    Individual effort matters, but it is only the difference maker when it is done in a way that makes the entire unit execute better as a whole. Arizona needs to be a victory for the Steelers, even more importantly it needs to be a complete game for this team. Baltimore and NE to follow will reveal what kind of team the 2011 Steelers are. A group of great players coming together as a team on the rise or a team with great players unable to come together as a team, resuliting in decline. Lets home it’s not the latter.

  18. Bill Z says:

    Has anyone seen Timmons lately? I can’t even find his number on the field. Are you sure he’s still playing? I know he’s playing out of position but you should be able to see him somewhere. Woodley and Polamalu finally got their heads in the game but Timmons and Ben haven’t yet. When that happens, look out!

  19. Carl says:

    Seems like we still have some Mendenhall hate going on. Let me state that I like all of our RB’s, but I am gonna agree with the writer here and say that Mendenhall is probably the only of our RBs that makes that TD, it was his speed and agility that got the corner on that play. Redman and Dwyer are both slower and more hard-yard type guys. Neither of them would have gone the whole 68 on Mendenhall’s long carry, in my estimation, for the same reason.
    Looking for Mendy to have another great game this week, the Cards have been god-awful against the run this year. May still be a tough game though, as this will be the Cardinal’s Superbowl game this year once again. Whisenhunt hates us…..

  20. Jason says:

    I can agree with most of what you said with the exception of Max Starks play on letting Chick get by him. If you go back and look at the play, you will note that Starks used the speed of Chick to push him out around where the quarterback should have been standing. Ben was 9-10 yards back instead of 6-7. Who drops back that far when the pocket is not being pushed back. How can the lineman know he is back there. I know this isn’t the best line, with all the inconsitencies of who is in there, but not all these hits or sacks on the QB are there fault.

  21. DSK says:

    This team will not beat the Ravens or Patriots. No player is exceeding their talent level or expectations…most are far below. Cardinals should be an easy win, but won’t be. The whole team including coaches are average at best and it’s really time to start looking for a new offensive coordinator. Might want to think about bringing in a new QB in the draft next year because Ben won’t last 3 more years with the beating he’s taken…and it shows in his quality of play. They’ve neglected the O-line too long and now it will take years to bring in enough talent to fix it. This team is hurting…one and done in the playoffs if they make it as a wildcard. Thank God for an easy schedule this year.

  22. Carl says:

    Bill Z, I agree on Timmons. Noticed that Worilds will be active for Sunday. Personally, I’d like to see them start him in place of Harrison agianst the Cardinals, and move Timmons back to the interior where he belongs. Would also be able to see what Worilds can do in a game situation, which needs to be done soon anyways.

  23. Scott P says:

    Further proof (not that any was needed) that Arians is an arrogant jerk who should have been fired years ago. How about making an adjustment to counter the one that the defense made?? The man is a complete moron.

  24. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    The Steelers will likely be underdogs to the Ravens, the Pats, and the 49ers. Given the improvement of both the Bengals and the Browns, 2 losses in the 4 games with them seems about right. Unless the Steelers get some things straightened out, those losses put them at 9–7.

    Q: How will the owners and coaches react to 9–7 (or worse, given an upset among the other games)?

    A. Drastic changes

    B. Minor tweaks

    C. Preserve the status quo

    What say you, Steelers Universe?

  25. David says:

    If we finish at or below 9-7 it would be indicative of the kindof season we are having at this time, and as far as wildcards go in the AFC a team probly would have to win at least 11 games to qualify. But should we finish 9 – 7 there should be the city fire alarm going off. A lot should change.

 
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