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January 4, 2017
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Artie Burns – created by God – believes he can, in fact, cover Jarvis Landry

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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins

Jarvis Landry — shown here making a catch in front of Artie Burns — on if there’s a DB who can stop him: “I have not found one yet and probably never will find one in my career.” (Photo courtesy USA Today)

 

 

 

SOUTH SIDE – On the seventh day, God rested. The NFL, however, plays on Sundays. So Jarvis Landry wonders why God didn’t spend at least part of that day creating the world’s perfect cornerback.

 

 

Because if He did, according Landry, someone – finally – might be able to cover him.

 

 

Landry is the leading receiver for the Miami Dolphins, who of course are in Pittsburgh this Sunday to play the Steelers in an AFC wild-card game.

 

 

Last week, The Ringer’s Kevin Clark asked Landry what defensive back can stop him. Landry replied, “I have not found one yet and probably never will find one in my career.”

 

 

This exchange ensued:

 

Why?

“God hasn’t made one. He can’t and he won’t.”

There must be someone, right? Seattle’s Richard Sherman?

“One-on-one? No.”

Arizona’s Patrick Peterson?

“No.”

New England’s Malcolm Butler?

“No.”

Kansas City’s Marcus Peters?

“No.”

He volunteers a name:

“Deion Sanders? No.”

 

 

The Steelers’ Ross Cockrell and Artie Burns weren’t even under consideration, of course – which is understandable considering the duo combines for just 32 career starts. And Landry also had a good-but-not-remarkable day when he faced the Steelers in South Florida on Oct. 16: In only three games this season did Jarvis Landry have more catches than he had against the Steelers (seven). In only four games did he attain more yardage (91).

 

 

Burns was asked Wednesday morning what he thought about Landry’s comments:

“I mean, that’s his opinion, that’s his motto, that’s the way he thinks. Every man has to have a high opinion of themselves and has got to boost their confidence and stuff like that, you know? That’s just the way thinks.

“I don’t know him on a personal level – I’ve seen him play, I respect his game and he’s a real good receiver.”

 

 

Burns was asked if he has the same “no-one-can-beat-me” mentality as a cornerback:

“Most definitely. That’s the nature of ‘ball; you gotta have that ego about yourself. You can’t just go out there and be like, ‘Oh this guy is real good – he might beat me,’ or something like that.”

 

 

Burns was not a starter for that 30-15 loss to the Dolphins; he became one two weeks later. Now, he rarely leaves the field for the Steelers’ defense. Safe to say, we’l learn Sunday whether Burns is an earthly human being capable of limiting Landry.

 

 

(Then again, no confirmation is available on the carbon-based life flesh-and-blood composition of the DB’s for the Jets or 49ers, who this season during games held Landry to 33 and 28 receiving yards, respectively).

 

 

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December 29, 2016
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Another Browns season finale? Reliving the, um, classic QBs from ones of the recent past

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BG

Impress your friends by identifying each of the six less-than-heralded QBs who have started for the Browns in season finales against Mike Tomlin Steelers teams! (AP photos) (Answers, clockwise from above: Bruce Gradkowski, Austin Davis, Jason Campbell, Seneca Wallace, :::Inserted Robert Griffin II/Cody Kessler photo for the Jan. 1, 2017 game:::, Colt McCoy, Thaddeus Lewis).

AD JC TL SW CM

CKRG3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If it’s the final game of the regular season for the Steelers of recent vintage, it must be Cleveland on the other side.

 

And the Browns must be starting a journeyman quarterback.

 

For the seventh time in Mike Tomlin’s 10-year tenure, the Steelers will end their regular season with a game against the Browns. Considering Cleveland is 38-105 since Tomlin’s first season-ending meeting with the Browns in 2008, it should come as no surprise that these Cleveland teams facing the Steelers haven’t been of the best quality (.278 average winning percentage).

 

Tomlin’s Steelers have won all six of  these prior meetings, outscoring the Browns 157-47 (average of 26.2-7.8).

 

But with the Browns always having been eliminated (of course), that’s helped contribute – along with some other unfortunate factors – to some less-than-heralded quarterbacks lining up to face the Steelers in these late December/early January, er, showdowns.

 

Of the seven prior Browns quarterbacks to start against the Steelers in season finales, three had fewer than 10 career starts heading into the game (including one making his NFL debut), three had their FINAL game they started and finished in the NFL and another was making his first start in more than two years.

 

In other words, the Steelers haven’t traditionally been facing the Browns *starters* in these games. (Insert punchline here about that being a good thing in light of their starters in this time period being the likes of Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden and Johnny Manziel).

 

The six men who have started for the Browns at QB in Week 17 against Mike Tomlin’s Steelers have combined to post a passer rating of 50.6 in these games, ranging from the relatively-impressive 83.3 by the immortal Thaddeus Lewis in his NFL debut Dec. 30, 2012 — to the 1.0 rating that poor future Steeler (and Seton-LaSalle alum) Bruce Gradkowski put up in a 31-0 loss on Dec. 28, 2008.

 

 

Season Result              Browns QB      Stats (com-att, yds, TD-INT (rtg)         Cle QB history

2008    31-0 Pit W       Bruce Gradkowski       5- 16, 18 yds, 0-2 (1.0)            1st start in 2+ years

2010    41-9 Pit W       Colt McCoy                 20- 41, 241 yds, 1-3 (71.2)      8th career start

2011    13-9 Pit W       Seneca Wallace          16- 41, 177 yds, 0-1 (42.4)      Final start he finished

2012    24-10 Pit W     Thaddeus Lewis           22- 32, 204 yds, 1-1 (83.3)      1st career NFL game

2013    20-7 Pit W       Jason Campbell           23- 41, 240 yds, 1-1 (71.2)      Final NFL start

2015    28-12 Pit W     Austin Davis                24- 46, 240 yds, 0-2 (49.2)      10th start, final game

2016    ??

TOTALS            PIT 6-0, 157-47 score              110-for-217 (50.7 %), 1,088 yards, 3 TDs, 10 INTs

 

 

 

This year, we get the added bonus of adding Landry Jones to this list of QBs who have started in this season-finale series – albeit, him for the Steelers.

 

Enjoy the game Sunday. And Happy New Year.

 

 

 

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December 22, 2016
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski – Mike Wallace: Brown, Sanders and I “would be the best” WR corps in NFL now

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Young Money

They spent three seasons together. They’ve combined for more than 20,000 career receiving yards.

 

 

MY LIVING ROOM – It was 2009 all over again for Mike Wallace.

 

He might be fresh into his 30s, he might even (barely/reluctantly/but-not-really) acknowledge he’s not as fast as he once was. But when Wallace joined a conference call early Wednesday afternoon, he was a rookie 23-year-old all over again: boastful, charismatic, gregarious and full of confidence in speaking with Pittsburgh media.

 

It’s been almost four years since Wallace last wore a Steelers uniform. But he hasn’t lost his playful cockiness.

 

“If you watch me, I still run away from anybody,” Wallace said when someone suggested he wasn’t as fast as he was in his Pittsburgh days. “I’m still a world-class sprinter. I might have lost half a step – but that’s still a step faster than anyone else.”

 

Wallace is on his third team in four seasons since he was allowed to walk as a free agent when the Steelers refused to acquiesce to his contract demands – and instead gave that money to a younger precocious receiver that you might have heard of.

 

Anyway… speaking of Antonio Brown… Wallace and he were not only once teammates – they had a “third wheel” of sorts in Emmanuel Sanders. Wallace was a Steelers’ third round pick in 2009, and the following year the team took Sanders in Round 3 and Brown in Round 6. How many teams over the past, oh, quarter-century or so, assembled a trio that good over a span of two drafts – let alone without using a first- or second-round pick to do so?

 

In their younger days, Wallace, Brown and Sanders called themselves “The Young Money Crew” (with Hines Ward the supplementary “Old Money”). Wallace was asked Wednesday how that trio would be regarded among NFL receiving corps if they’d stayed on the same team together for all these years.

 

“We would be the best,” Wallace said (because of course). “We would be the best. We wouldn’t be ‘Young Money’ anymore; we’d be ‘New Money.’”

 

It’s quite the hypothetical because no way the Steelers (or, likely, ANY team) would have paid all three on second, lucrative contracts (for example, the combined guarantees in the three’s respective biggest contracts – so far – is more than $65 million). Plus, there’s the ego factor – one of them would have been relegated to a No. 3 role.

 

But just for fun, imagine a team with all three. They’ve combined for 1,516 catches for 21,126 yards and 133 receiving touchdowns – and that doesn’t even counting rushing (Wallace has 237 yards), playoffs (Sanders has 36 catches in eight postseason games) or punt/kickoff returns (Brown has almost 3,000 yards and five touchdowns returning).

 

Sunday, Brown’s Steelers face Wallace’s Ravens with the AFC North title largely at stake. (Sanders is in his third season with Denver).

 

“New Money” all over again.

 

 

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December 12, 2016
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: “These guys are busting their butts” – Steelers undermanned DL getting job done

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EP-312119678

Stephon Tuitt was as happy and fired up after Sunday’s game as he was during it. (AP photo)

 

 

 

NORTHEAST AMERICA’S SNOW BELT – Amongst the bustle of a jovial visitor’s locker room at New Era Field late Sunday afternoon, Cameron Heyward took a moment to bask in the glow of a victory.

 

“Very proud,” Heyward said, beaming, when asked what he thought of the performance of the shorthanded and undermanned Steelers defensive line that he’s been relegated into being a well-paid cheerleader and virtual assistant coach for.

 

“What they did out there, every play, I just thought they had a good rotation with the guys they did have,” Heyward said of the four men who handled the entirety of Sunday’s win against the Bills. “And you appreciate it. It speaks to their level of conditioning.”

 

It speaks to that – and so much more. Playing a run-first team, in a snow-storm, without two of its starters and down, in total resources, a third of its manpower from just a few weeks ago, the Steelers’ defensive line had one of its best outings of the season.

 

Heyward, of course, was ruled out for the season a month ago because of a pectoral injury. This week, Javon Hargrave was unavailable because he remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

 

That left just four men — with standout Stephon Tuitt the last starter standing – to go against the league’s No. 1 rushing attack Sunday. In addition to Tuitt were veteran journeyman Ricardo Mathews, second-year sixth-round pick L.T. Walton and backup nose tackle “Big” Dan McCullers to handle all 52 defensive snaps Buffalo’s offense took.

 

The results? LeSean McCoy averaged just 2.3 yards per carry after entering the game at 5.5. Tyrod Taylor was sacked five times and hit on eight occasions. The Bills were limited to 275 yards.

 

“I’m so impressed with our defensive line, it’s crazy,” Tuitt said. “We had Cam who went down, and to have these guys to come up and show up and play hard, man, you can’t do it by yourself. When you’ve got a defensive line that cares and does everything it’s supposed to and works hard, you can only get better.”

 

Tuitt, just 23 and in his third season, has taken over the mantle of the Steelers’ defensive line’s on-field leader. He played every snap Sunday.

 

Typically, the Steelers (like most NFL and college teams) rely on a rotation of bodies on the defensive line to keep players fresh. The Steelers regularly have five defensive linemen in uniform on gamedays, and sometimes even six.

 

Not Sunday. Not in the snow and not against McCoy and the Bills’ above-average offensive line. The Steelers only had Mathews (largely phased out of the defense at midseason), McCullers (one career start prior to Sunday) and Walton (79 career defensive snaps prior to Sunday) to supplement Tuitt.

 

The proverbial “division of labor” was simple: McCullers and Walton at nose and end, respectively, when the Steelers were in “base” defense (when the Bills showed “run” or “bigger” personnel). Mathews opposite Tuitt in the nickel (in mostly pass-heavy situations).

 

It worked.

 

“These guys are busting their butts,” Tuitt said. “It doesn’t matter if none of us get any media attention or not – it’s just in general we are doing what we are supposed to do with our details.

 

“We love each other and will continue to fight for each other across the game.

 

“Big Dan, LT, Ricardo Mathews, when Javon get back – just in general, those guys including myself we are leaning getting better week in and week out – and this is the best time to get better in December football when we have a chance to get a playoff spot and if we do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll get in the playoffs and make a lot of noise.”

 

If the Steelers indeed do get into the playoffs and make a lot of noise when they do, the play of the sans-Heyward defensive line will likely be a reason why.

 

 

 

 

 

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December 5, 2016
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Bell piles up yards, AB/Ben tie Terry/Lynn, snap counts, MORE!

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Bell

Mike Tomlin seems to be riding Le’Veon Bell until his wheels fall off? (Tribune-Review photos from Chaz Palla and Chris Horner)

 

 

 

From the proverbial cutting room floor of a writer who unleashes his own form of, um, heck in December….

 

 

**Another 100 for Bell**

Le’Veon Bell continues to pile up yardage.

 

He had 118 rushing yards on 29 carries, meaning he eclipsed 100 rushing yards for the three consecutive games for the first time in his career.

 

Bell – who had 146 and 120 yards, respectively, in wins at Cleveland and Indianapolis late last month – added six catches for 64 yards to give him 1,318 yards from scrimmage in nine games this season.

 

Despite missing the first three games of the season because of suspension, Bell is fifth in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (he’s first in yards per game at 146.4). Incidentally, he’s also 10th in the AFC in receptions – despite playing only nine games and despite, of course, being a RUNNING back.

 

Bell’s three-game 100-yard rushing streak is the first for a Steeler since Willie Parker had four consecutive such games in 2006-07.

 

 

**Safety dance**

For the first time in more than 25 months, the Steelers were credited with a safety.

 

Twelve minutes into the game, Giants tackle Ereck Flowers was flagged for holding James Harrison in the end zone. By rule, the infraction automatically awarded the Steelers two points, accounting for their first safety since an Oct. 26, 2014 home win against Indianapolis.

 

 

**Brown/Ben tie Terry/Lynn**

All 49 of Antonio Brown’s touchdown catches have come off passes from Ben Roethlisberger. That ties the Terry Bradshaw-Lynn Swann duo for the most by a quarterback/receiver combination in Steelers’ history.AB

 

Brown has six touchdowns in his past five games and now has his second-most in a season with 11. Brown had 13 receiving touchdowns in 2014.

 

Brown is still in search of his first return touchdown of 2016 (he’s had 10 punt returns in addition to his first kickoff return since 2013). Brown had one punt return touchdown in each of the prior three seasons and has had at least one special-teams return TD in five of the six seasons he’s played.

 

 

**Grimble healthy but inactive**

In addition to kicker Chris Boswell, also inactive for the Steelers were quarterback Zach Mettenberger, running backs DeAngelo Williams (knee) and Daryl Richardson, tackle Brian Mihalik, tight end Xavier Grimble and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (foot).

 

It was the first healthy scratch for Grimble this season; he’d missed the previous two game because of a quadriceps injury but was given a green light to play after practicing fully all last week.

 

 

**OLB rotation**

James Harrison and Anthony Chickillo were on the field for the Steelers’ first defensive snap Sunday. Bud Dupree  played the second series across from Harrison.
Jarvis Jones and Arthur Moats? They were fighting for scraps.

 

During the second quarter, Moats became the fourth outside linebacker to play for the Steelers. It wasn’t until after halftime that the Steelers’ first-round pick outside linebacker from 3 ½ years ago,  Jones, was given playing time on defense.

 

 

Rather than re-type these in paragraph form, I’ll take the easy way out and just copy-and-paste my tweets on the OLB snap counts and all other things playing time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also from Sunday:

 

Joe Rutter’s game story: The Steelers opened December with the kind of signature win that could make them a force to be reckoned with in January

 

Kevin Gorman’s column: ‘Old guys’ Harrison and Timmons lead Steelers defense’s resurgence

 

My piece of Ladarius Green’s emergence into the offense

 

The notes that did NOT get cut, from myself and Trib Executive Sports Editor Kevin Smith

 

The Gameday Grades for the Steelers in the win

 

 

 

Remember to check out PghTrib.com!

 

 

Have a good day.

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December 1, 2016
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Rookie WR Ayers getting 1st-team reps, returning punts in practice

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Ayers

Demarcus Ayers, shown here during training camp, which for him was hindered by an ankle injury. (Chaz Palla/Tribune-Review photo)

 

 

When DeMarcus Ayers had what he called “a high and low ankle sprain” during the second week of his inaugural NFL training camp, the Steelers could have placed him on season-ending injured reserve.

 

 

Worst yet, the team could have released him via an injury settlement.

 

 

But, in a sign both of the faith the team had in him and in the rookie’s perseverance, Ayers toughed it out throughout the preseason, was placed on the practice squad and – slowly throughout the past three months – gradually worked himself back to full health.

 

 

Is he, at long last, about to be rewarded for it?

 

 

“Hopefully, I’m active this week and I get the opportunity to go out there,” Ayers said after Wednesday’s practice. “Whether it’s blocking or returning punts, whatever they need me to do, I’ll be up to the task.”

 

 

As colleague Joe Rutter reported, Ayers has been getting reps in practice with the first-team offense this week and has been told by coaches to prepare for a promotion to the 53-man roster. Wednesday, Ayers was in star Antonio Brown’s usual (split end) spot. But on days in which  Brown was not being given a “Veteran’s Day Off ,” Ayers had been practicing mostly at the other two WR spots – at least, when he wasn’t on scout team, which was most of the time.

 

Not this week. As the injuries have piled up to the Steelers’ receiving corps all season long, Ayers has finally worked his way into what could be a contributing role.

 

Of the five wide receivers on the Steelers’ 53-man roster at the moment, one is out with an injury for what appears to be (at very least) a few more weeks (Darrius Heyward-Bey, who’s still getting around gingerly) and another might not get back to 100 percent health all season (Sammie Coates and his broken fingers). That leaves just Brown, first-year Eli Rogers and journeyman Cobi Hamilton at wideout.

 

Screenshot_2016-11-30-23-31-38-1

Ayers (5-9, 182), who was extremely productive in college at Houston (98 catches for 1,222 yards last season), might be on the verge of getting his shot.

 

Screenshot_2016-11-30-23-31-58-1

Ayers statistics in college at Houston on offense (above) and on special teams. (Courtesy www.sports-reference.com)

“In the meetings all year, they have just been telling me, ‘Hey we will need you at some point,’” Ayers said. “I have been growing every week and it’s been impressive to see and I actually feel good about getting better, and just keep getting better.

 

“And to get a chance to go with Ben helps me understand how he goes through his calls on the field and in game situations. The pace is also good for me, so when I get out there practice will be much harder than the game. So it’s good to get good feedback from him and all the other guys.”

 

Where Ayers’ immediate impact could potentially be most felt perhaps is as a returner. He was a two-time All-AAC return man. Ayers said he has been returning punts in practice recently, and he’s been part of kickoff return teams with the Steelers in practice too.

 

But it wasn’t until this week that Ayers was given work on offense commensurate with a player who has the apparent look of one who could make his NFL regular-season debut. “A great feeling,” Ayers said.

 

“These guys are starting to trust me, and I’m learning the playbook more and more and starting to get a lot of reps now. So whenever my number is called I will be ready.”

 

We probably won’t find out Ayers is promoted until Saturday afternoon. To make room, maybe Heyward-Bey goes to IR, maybe RB Daryl Richardson or CB Al-Hajj Shabazz is sent back down to the practice squad, maybe L.J. Fort is released. Ayers insists, if a move is made, he won’t know until after the final practice of the week at the earliest.

 

“Normally, the way they do stuff around here we find out later in the week,” Ayers said. “But it’s always a good sign when you’re running with the ‘1’s,’ because a lot of the guys who have stepped into those roles throughout their week have normally got rewarded. It’s kind of like an interview to see if you’re prepared for the week, and then Saturday when we come in … we’re kind of told what’s going on.”

 

The Sunday roster must be set by 4 p.m. Saturday.

 

 

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November 24, 2016
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Steelers’ recent mixed history against backup quarterbacks

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Steelers Titans Football

Future Steeler Zach Mettenberger almost beat the Steelers in 2014 – but not quite. (AP Photo)

 

 

INTERSTATE 70 – A quick morning post as esteemed colleagues Joe Rutter and Kevin Gorman and I make the trip to Indianapolis for the Thanksgiving Night game between the Steelers and Colts.

 

By now you’re surely aware that Scott Tolzien is starting for Indianapolis against the Steelers (if you’re a person checking out this blog on the holiday I assume you’re a big enough Steelers fan that you’d be keeping up on these kind of things).

 

The Steelers have had plenty of instances recently where they didn’t have their star quarterback available (they’ve lost three of the five in which Ben Roethlisberger was playing less than half the game these past two seasons), so believe me when I say they won’t be feeling any sympathy for the Andrew Luck-less Colts. They’ve had their meetings with less-than-heralded quarterbacks.

Mallett

Arguably the most embarrassing Steelers recent defeat to a backup QB was Ryan Mallett last year. (AP photo)

 

The Steelers, as you might recall, faced a backup the most recent time they faced the Colts. Last December, it was 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck under center at Heinz Field in what ended up an easy Steelers’ win.

 

Counting the playoffs (beating the A.J. McCarron-led Bengals in January), the Steelers have won five of their past six when facing a fill-in quarterback… but they’d lost three of four such instances prior to that run.

 

(Note: defining a “backup QB” isn’t as simple as you might think… Do benchings count? What about a late-season coach’s decision for a losing team to try out a youngster in lieu of a go-nowhere veteran? In short, for my purposes in this blog, I counted only games in which the Steelers were facing a team in which its starter was INJURED… and even at that, for example, I credit Dak Prescott as “starter” even though he gained his job because of injury because, well, he became the starter. It can be inexact, but bare with my subjective judgments here, ok?).

 

We’ll chat again tonight. Enjoy the game – and more importantly, enjoy Thanksgiving with your families.

 

Steelers against backup QBs the past four seasons

Date                Opponent        Quarterback    Comp/Att/Yards/TD/INT         Result

11/24/16         at Colts            Scott Tolzien                ???                               ???

*-1/9/16          at Bengals       A.J. McCarron             23/41/212/1/1            W 18-16

1/3/16             at Browns        Austin Davis                24/46/240/0/2            W 28-12

12/27/15         at Ravens        Ryan Mallett               28/41/274/1/0            L 20-17

12/20/15         Broncos           Brock Osweiler           21/44/296/3/1            W 34-27

12/6/15           Colts                Matt Hasselbeck         16/26/169/1/2            W 45-10

11/17/14         at Titans          Zach Mettenberger    15/24/263/2/1            W 27-24

11/9/14           at Jets              Mike Vick                    10/18/132/2/0            L 20-13

9/28/14           Buccaneers     Mike Glennon             21/42/2/1                    L 27-24

12/23/13         at Packers       Matt Flynn                   21/39/1/1                    W 38-31

9/29/13           Vikings             Matt Cassel                 16/25/248/2/0            L 34-27

*-Playoffs

**-at London

 

 

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November 16, 2016
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Steelers’ offense looks for answers on the road

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Mike Tomlin vowed to “turn over all stones.”

 

 

Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t know what that might entail.

 

 

mia

Scenes from the Steelers’ carnage on the road over the past two months. (AP photos)

But perhaps Ben said it best when it comes analyzing the Steelers’ struggles away from Heinz Field.

 

 

 

“Losing,” the quarterback said, forcing a chuckle.

 

 

Yes, the Steelers have done plenty of that recently when playing on the road – they’ve dropped three consecutive heading into Sunday’s game at Cleveland. But moreso than the raw results are the offense’s lack of production.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Philadelphia Eagles

 

I’ve written about Roethlisberger, in particular – and those home/road splits for him have only gotten worse since that was published a month ago (they’d be even far worse yet aside from yardage and points racked up against the Ravens’ prevent defense in the fourth quarter two weeks ago).

 

 

Balt

Here are some raw numbers:

 

 

 

STEELERS OFFENSE HOME/ROAD SPLITS (particularly, during 3-game road losing streak)

 

Statistic                                   Home                          Road                Last 3 on road

Points/game                            28.8                             17.5                 10.7

Yards/game                            413.8                           315.5               275.0

TD/INT/Passer rating          16/3/112.9                 5/5/73.8         2/4/59.3

Rush yards/game                  95.2                             85.0                 64.3

Record                                     3-2                               1-3                   0-3

 

 

 

 

It’s so dramatic that the Steelers offense at home and on the road are virtually mirror images of each other.

 

 

Counting only their HOME performances, this is where the Steelers would rank among NFL offenses this season:

Third in yardage, fourth in points.

 

 

Counting only their ROAD performances, this is where the Steelers would rank among NFL offenses this season:

Fourth-to-last in yards, third-to-last in points.

 

 

 

 

“It’s just the comfort level of being at home,” Roethlisberger said. “Using the cadence; we get on the road, it’s obviously a lot louder and we have to use a silent count, and that means head bobs from the gun or under center – just sometimes timing could be off a little bit.

“But there’s no excuses; we need to step up. We’ve prided ourselves in years past here on being a great road football team. We need to do that, and we are gonna have to start this week.”

 

 

While Roethlisberger didn’t have any ideas for changing up the Steelers’ traveling routine to help make up for the difference, Tomlin at least acknowledged that searching for something to change up is worth the shot.

 

 

“We turn over all the stones,” Tomlin said. “And by that I mean every facet of what it is we’re doing here and how we do it. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to have knee-jerk reactions and change, but it means that we’re open to change. And we’re open to change for the right reasons. We’re open to change because it’s going to produce change that’s necessary for us to win. So we’re going to be looking at those things as we go through the week and as we formulate a game plan and lay out a platform or a schedule for the work that awaits us, specific to the work that involving the players.”

 

 

 

 

 

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November 9, 2016
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Cowboys’ Sean Lee on bringing the “Here We Go” Steelers tape to third-grade recess

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Sean Lee

Sean Lee was a Pro Bowl linebacker last season. (AP Photo)

 

 

The Steelers and Cowboys are two of the NFL’s glamour franchises, and they’ve met in three pretty well-played Super Bowls, too. The teams play Sunday at Heinz Field, but few on either team has too much of a connection to the most recent time they met in the big game (following the 1995 season).

 

 

One who does is Sean Lee. Now a Cowboys linebacker, Lee is an Upper St. Clair native who grew up, of course, a Steelers fan.

 

 

“Growing up in Pittsburgh, there’s no other option really,” Lee said from Dallas via conference call Thursday.

 

 

Lee said he was in third grade when the Steelers played the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX (Dallas won, 27-17).

 

 

“I was the guy bringing the ‘Here We Go’ theme song tape to recess,” Lee said. “Playing it over and over again.”

 

 

In case you forgot what the “Here We Go” song is – first off, how could you? Second, you can thank me for leaving it in your head the rest of your day (sorry):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daryll Clark, Joe Paterno, Sean Lee

Sean Lee, in the captain’s photo for Penn State in 2009. (AP Photo)

Lee also is a proud Penn State alumnus. You can tell he watches the Nittany Lions as much as he can. Unsolicited (Lee was asked, generally, about PSU’s rebound season – they’re No. 10 in the College Football Playoff rankings), Lee talked about the Pitt-Penn State rivalry reborn this season, too:

 

“They’re playing well,” Lee said of the Nittany Lions. “You know, I watched the Pitt-Penn State game. We never got to play in the Pitt-Penn State game, and when I was at school we always wanted to play Pitt. I guess I didn’t realize how much bad blood there was until they played this year. That was a fun game to watch.

 

 

 

“I know Pitt played well and ended up winning. But since that game and, really, since the Michigan game, Penn State has done a great job getting better week in and week out. It’s fun to really see them play well the last couple weeks.”

 

 

 

Lee ranks sixth in the NFL in tackles (one spot ahead of former PSU teammate, Paul Posluszny of Hopewell) for the Cowboys this season, his seventh. His 12 interceptions since he entered the league also are tied for the most by an NFL linebacker in that time.

 

 

He’s never faced the Steelers.

 

 

 

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November 2, 2016
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Harbaugh happy with Mike Wallace, even if he hasn’t been the same WR since leaving Pittsburgh

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17

Mike Wallace in happier (career-wise) times, with the Steelers. (TribLive file photo)

 

 

It’s been 3 ½ years since Mike Wallace left the Steelers at a point in his career when he was one of the most feared deep threats in the game.

 

Since? He’s been – looking at the bottom-line production, at least – barely an adequate starting-level NFL receiver.

 

That hasn’t deterred his newest head coach – his third in those 3 ½ years since Wallace left the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent following four seasons that, for the most part, were highly productive. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh told Pittsburgh reporters via conference call Wednesday that, despite no-better-than-slightly-average statistics, Wallace has been a welcome addition to the Ravens in Year 1 with the team.

 

“He’s doing a lot of different things, and we’re moving him around and he’s running some different routes – pretty much the whole route tree – and he’s doing a good job,” Harbaugh said. “I’m real happy with him; I like his effort, his attitude, his competitiveness, he loves football… He’s just been a pleasure to be around.”

 

Sunday in Baltimore, Wallace will face the Steelers for the second time. In his first meeting, he had two catches for 19 yards in a 34-28 snow-filled win by the Dolphins in December 2013.

 

The speedy receiver has had too many such days since signing a five-year, $60 million contract with Miami in March 2013. He lasted only two seasons with the Dolphins before a 2014 trade to the Minnesota Vikings — collecting $37 million in the process.  After his release this past winter, the Ravens picked up Wallace for a more reasonable (though still costly) two-year, $11.5 million deal.

 

The Steelers didn’t pay him any more than $5.5 million total over his four seasons with them. Fair to say they got a MUCH better return on their investment.

 

 

Wallace’s stats with the Steelers and since leaving the team:

 

Time period                            Games                Rec      Yds            Avg      TDs

As a Steeler (2009-2012)          63                   235      4,042        17.2      32

Since (with Mia/Minn/Balt)    55                    214      2,755        12.9      20

 

 

The average yards per catch is what most tells the story, of course. But an even bigger indication of the diminished big-play capability of Wallace since he left Pittsburgh is in counting his touchdown catches of 40-plus yards:

 

 

MIKE WALLACE CAREER TOUCHDOWN CATCHES OF 40 OR MORE YEARS

Time period                            Games             40-plus yard TD recs

As a Steeler (2009-2012)        63                                16

Since (with Mia/Minn/Balt)    55                                1

 

 

That alone exhibits how Wallace has fallen from “dangerous” to “middling” among the pecking order of NFL wide receivers.

 

 

 

 

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