Friday, October 22, 2010

Steelers Game Day 6 - @ Miami Dolphins

The Steelers go down to Miami fresh off a Browns beat down to take on the Dolphins. Another warm weather game for the Steelers, but I think they are ok with that. Go check the scores against the Titans and Bucs if you don't believe it.

Big road game that starts a serious four game stretch for the Steelers. After this they go to New Orleans then to Cincinnati then home against the Pats. This four game stretch will show us a lot about the Steelers and what they are made of. Should be good.

Lets get into it:

Last Week:
Pittsburgh 28, Cleveland 10
Passing: Roethlisberger: 16/27, 257 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 27 car, 84 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Wallace: 3 rec, 90 yards, 1 TD

Miami 23, Green Bay 20
Passing: Henne: 23/39, 231 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Brown: 19 car, 73 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Marshall: 10 rec, 127 yards, 0 TD

Offense (rank in NFL)
Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 291.2 yards/game (28th)
Miami: 347.8 yards/game (12th)

Pittsburgh: 160.2 yards/game (28th)
Miami: 232.2 yards/game (13th)

Pittsburgh: 131 yards/game (9th)
Miami: 115.6 yards/game (14th)

Pittsburgh: 22.8 points/game (10th)
Miami: 17.8 points/game (24th)

Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 296.6 yards/game (6th)
Miami: 311.2 yards/game (9th)

Pittsburgh: 63.6 yards/game (1st)
Miami: 109.4 yards/game (16th)

Pittsburgh: 233 yards/game (24th)
Miami: 201.8 yards/game (12th)

Pittsburgh: 12 points/game (1st)
Miami: 22.4 points/game (23rd)

Pittsburgh is back down to the Sunshine state. Just a few weeks after they bent over the Tampa Bay Bucs they will be in Miami to take on the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins are a pretty interesting mammal. I mean they look pretty sweet if you get to see them out in the ocean, right?

This from the most trusted source in all of college paper writing, Wikipedia:

Dolphins are marine mammals that are closely related to whales and porpoises. There are almost forty species of dolphin in seventeen genera. They vary in size from 1.2 m (4 ft) and 40 kg (90 lb) Maui's Dolphin, up to 9.5 m (30 ft) and 10 tonnes (9.8 LT; 11 ST) (the Orca or Killer Whale). They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and are carnivores, mostly eating fish and squid. The family Delphinidae is the largest in the Cetacean order, and relatively recent: dolphins evolved about ten million years ago, during the Miocene. Dolphins are among the most intelligent animals and their often friendly appearance and seemingly playful attitude have made them popular in human culture.

You know all of that is true because:

Oh, wait, what? You mean we aren't talking about those dolphins? On man.

Well now that I have refocused my line here... I guess I can talk about this football team they say they have in Miami.

So the University of Miami, they also call it the U.

Wait, that isn't it either? They have more football? Is it Florida State? No? Jesus they certainly don't have an NFL team do they? Oh they do? Shit.

(frantically searches the google machine to find out)

Well I'll be damned, they do have a team. The Miami Dolphins. I was wondering why they would have college stats in the NFL section when I was looking up the stat comparison above.

Ok, well when I look at this Dolphins team I really just see a pretty average team. They don't do anything great and they are not incredibly weak in any one area. Just average. What kinda surprised me when I was looking over stuff about them is that they are 0-2 at home this year and 3-0 on the road. You don't see that too often. Most of the time you see that reversed, but hey, I will take it.

Since 2001 the Black and Gold are 4-0 against the Teal team from down south. To be honest that really doesn't mean anything but I still like to say it to kind of seem like I am hyping the Steelers up. You know how it is. The Steelers are also 7-3 in their last 10 games, that also means something.

Clearing the best chance that the Dolphins have to win on Sunday is for Brandon Marshall to touch the football, as many times as possible. 10 catches is a lot for a receiver, but if Marshall has 15 then will be right in line where they need to be to win the football game. Despite catching 37 balls for almost 500 yards this season Marshall only has one touchdown catch. You know Marshall is going to catch balls and you know he is going to gain some yards, just keep him out of the end zone.

When talking about keeping Marshall out of the end zone just think back to when the Steelers played the Falcons earlier in the year and what they were able to do with Roddy White. White was targeted 20+ times and he made his 100 yards, but they were all underneath routes and he didn't find the end zone. That should be the key for the secondary. He is going to make his catches, just don't let one or two of them get behind the secondary.

The Dolphins have a decent running attack with a few players that can actually run the rock. While Ricky Williams isn't what he used to be he is still a pretty good running back, especially since he isn't be relied upon to be the top back in the system. Ronnie Brown is the other back in the system and he carries the ball a little bit more than Williams does and he also runs the teams wildcat package. If you remember back a few years it was the Dolphins who got the party started in the NFL with the wildcat and it was Ronnie Brown that ran all over the place with it. Now that it has been around for a while teams know how to defend it better, but it will still be a weapon.

The Steelers didn't see too much of the wildcat against the Browns because James Harrison decided he didn't want to play defense against it any more and knock out Josh Cribbs, but I have a feeling the Steelers will see some of it Sunday. Brown isn't as dynamic as Josh Cribbs in terms of athletic ability, but he has a better sense of how to find the gaps, being that he is a true running back and not a receiver. I think the Steelers should be ready and even though they aren't the best against defending the wildcat they will get the job done. We all know if there is one thing the Steelers are good at is stopping the run.

Stopping the run means that once again a quarterback is going to have to beat the Steelers. While I think that the Dolphins might be able to move the ball on the ground a little bit more than most teams we have played but then again I just don't think of Chad Henne as anything more than a slightly above average quarterback. He does what he needs to do and gets the ball to Brandon Marshall. On the year Henne is completing 63% of his passes for 1,195 yards, 7 touchdowns and five interceptions. Not going to blow you away but still not something you can just shrug your shoulders at. Can Chad Henne beat the Steelers himself? Meh, probably not.

The underrated part of this Miami Dolphins team is their defense. They can play some football. If Ben Roethlisberger was still suspended and it was Chuck Batch back there I really don't know if I would feel real great about the game on Sunday. Sadly, for the Dolphins, Ben is playing on the football field on Sunday, bad news for Miami.

Cameron Wake is pretty much the real deal. Outside of any linebacker from Pittsburgh, and Clay Mathews, Wake might be the best linebacker in the NFL right now. He has just been lights out good. Wake has six sacks, which ties him for fourth in the NFL. Now, before we go out and get all worked up about him, lets put some of this in perspective. He has three sacks in his last game against Green Bay. That is still pretty legit but skews his numbers pretty significantly. Still, this will be a good test for the offensive line, again, to see if they can keep Ben clean. To be fair the Steelers offensive line has only got their quarterback sacked nine times, the entire season. To put that in perspective the Jay Cutler got sacked by the Giants defense nine times IN ONE HALF.

Part of keeping our quarterback clean has been getting back to the running game. More touches by Rashard equals less sacks. This offensive line is better at run blocking than it is at pass blocking so it should work to the Steelers advantage. There can also be a strong case made that Rashard Mendenhall is the team MVP so far this season. The line has been giving him a few creases and he has been taking full advantage. Rashard is tied for sixth in the NFL in rushes of 20+ yards with four of them and averages 99 yards per contest, fourth in the NFL. That isn't saying that it is all Rashard, because it is not. The line is doing their job and Rashard is reading the blocks and making teams play, even with eight in the box.

Ben is going to do what Ben does, play good football. He came back last week and was pretty solid with his play, but he was visibly rusty. He is still going to have some rust this week but you best believe it is not going to be like last week. He will be sharper and he will get into a groove much faster this week. Last week it took him a half to kind of find some timing and find a groove, but it should not take him nearly as long this week. Mike Wallace seems to be very happy that Ben is back and now the Steelers have that home run threat. Twan is doing a nice job of working the underneath route and Hines is just doing what Hines does so it should be a pretty good offensive week. It will also be a nice test against a pretty good defense.

James Harrison is angry, and that is not good for Miami. He is pissed because he was fined and he is going to take it out on Chad Henne and company. He will have his work cut out for him because he might be matched up against Jake Long. Long is a very good lineman that has really come into his own and he is going to be very tough to beat, but James is mad. There is also the thing of having LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons. You can't have Jake Long block them all so it will be intersting.

I will also be looking to see if the Dolphins are going to try and take a book from Baltimore and max protect most of the game. I didn't get to watch the Browns game a ton, but I know when the Steelers played Baltimore the Ravens were keeping tight ends in and giving help to Flacco when he went back to pass to give him time. Basically they were keeping more people in to block than the Steelers had rushing. It will be interesting if the Dolphins try to push that and see what the Steelers secondary can do.

In the end I think the Steelers got this on lock. Steelers 27, Dolphins 16

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