Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Steelers Game Day 15 - vs. Carolina Panthers

Well after the Steelers couldn't take care of the Jets they will have to wait a few more weeks to possibly be crowned the AFC North Champions. Luckily the loss to the Jets really didn't mean anything in the grand scheme of things as the Ravens also beat the the Saints to keep pace with the Steelers. The Panthers will come to Pittsburgh on a short week and look for their third win on the season with a rookie QB, a banged up offensive line and a banged up front seven on defense. Good luck with that.

I hope the Panthers aren't startled when they learn the game is actually going to be on TV and in front of more than 6,000 people.

New York 22, Pittsburgh 17
Passing: Roethlisberger: 23/44, 264 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 17 car, 100 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Wallace: 7 rec, 102 yards, 0 TD

Carolina 19, Arizona 12
Passing: Clausen: 13/19, 141 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Stewart: 27 car, 137 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: LaFell: 3 rec, 33 yards, 0 TD

Offense (rank in NFL)

Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 335.6 yards/game (19th)
Carolina: 266.1 yards/game (32nd)

Pittsburgh: 213.5 yards/game (18th)
Carolina: 149.3 yards/game (32nd)

Pittsburgh: 122.1 yards/game (8th)
Carolina: 116.8 yards/game (12th)

Pittsburgh: 21.9 points/game (17th)
Carolina: 13.1 points/game (32nd)


Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 291.8 yards/game (3rd)
Carolina: 329.6 yards/game (12th)

Pittsburgh: 63.4 yards/game (1st)
Carolina: 126.2 yards/game (23rd)

Pittsburgh: 228.4 yards/game (24th)
Carolina: 203.4 yards/game (8th)

Pittsburgh: 15.7 points/game (t-1st)
Carolina: 25.0 points/game (24th)

I mean I could get here and try to make some lame jokes about the Panthers and how Jim Clausen might literally crap his pants on the field just looking at James Harrison during warm ups but I think the Panthers, and their fans, have been through enough this season. Two wins. I mean when the Steelers win eight games you would think that the team is going to fold and move because they have such a terrible season (and notice that that I said season and not seasons).

The Panthers got off the floor with what I am sure was a thrilling 19-12 win over the Cardinals.

This is Steelers/Dolphins rainstorm bad game.

Attendance was said to be 71,849. I want whatever the people counting those tickets are smoking. You got a better chance of seeing Jesus than seeing almost 72,000 people at that shit show.

Some quick facts for you: The Steelers are 3-1 all time against the Carolina Panthers and all four of those games have been played in December. Interesting.

Jump it.

It should be noted that when you are a two win team you are probably not going to have one quarterback who is playing well throughout the entire season.

Matt Moore started this season as the quarterback and he has played sporadically throughout the season and hasn’t seen the field since week nine. He has thrown five touchdowns and twice as many interceptions. Not real good.

Hand of the reigns to Jimmy Clausen. Clausen is a rookie from Notre Dame. I hate Notre Dame. Clausen has been under center for a majority of the season for Carolina. Not sure they really wanted to do that, but I guess they figured throwing him into the fire was better than nothing.

I don’t get to watch a whole lot of the Panthers. I get what I see off some highlights and a little bit of game stuff but as a whole I couldn’t tell you how good Clausen has been. Clausen has thrown more than 15 passes in nine different games and has two touchdown passes to show for that. In 243 pass attempts he has two touchdown passes. I realize that the Panthers aren’t good but you have a dynamic receiver on the field in Steve Smith and you have only thrown two touchdown passes.

If there is one good thing about Clausen is that he had his best game in the win over Arizona on Sunday. Clausen’s numbers might not have been the greatest (13/19, 141 yards, 1 TD) but as I read around the web a little bit the Panthers fan base (that is still around) seem to think this is a big step in his development. Some were talking as if Clausen needed a game where he threw a touchdown pass (something that he hasn’t done) and he needed a drive or two where he led his team down the field. I mean I guess you can get excited about that stuff when you win two games, but I just can’t see Clausen being successful on Sunday.

If there is one thing on the Carolina Panthers that kind of, maybe, might, scare me, it would be the rushing attack. The Panthers have a respectable rushing attack, but if there is one thing that I harp on every single week it is that the Steelers are REALLY good at stopping the run. They give up less than 65 yards per contest and rarely let any single running back to hit 50 yards.

Jon Stewart has been the lead dog for the Panthers as he has 668 rushing yards in 137 attempts. Stewart has teamed up with DeAngelo Williams the past few years to be known as “Smash and Dash” but that seems to have subsided since Williams was thrown on the IR about a month ago with a foot injury. Not good for a team with a rookie QB and a bad offense.

Outside of Stewart nobody really scares me. Not that Stewart really scares me, but he is a good player, just on a really bad team with some beat up offensive lineman. I expect him to maybe get 40 yards or so. It will be interesting to see how much the Panthers stick with the run as I expect the Steelers to make the rookie quarterback beat us.

The receiving core really starts and ends with Steve Smith. I think we all know how dynamic Steve Smith is and can be. I know many people might think that Smith isn’t as good as many people talk him up to be, but he really is. A lot of people would say that Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best but there is only so much you can do with the likes of Derek Anderson. Same for Smith. Clausen is a step down from Derek Anderson, if you can even imagine that.

To touch on how much in shambles the Panthers are offensively, especially in the passing game, you just have to look at Steve Smith being the leading receiver with 537 yards and 43 catches. Smith would be third on the Steelers receiving core in both stats and just above tight end Heath Miller. With no Big Ben for four games that says a lot, in my opinion.

Sixth round pick David Gettis is the teams second leading receiver. If you have never heard of him then you are not alone. He is also a rookie and probably wasn’t going to be looked upon to make an immediate impact, but alas he has to. 470 yards and averaging 14.7 yards per reception so that isn’t too bad. After having a huge day against Baltimore in week 11 (2 catches 92 yards, TD) he has games of 0, 16, 22 and 32 yards. Not going to work since you have to think Ike Taylor is going to get the assignment on Steve Smith.

This was the 88 yard bomb that he caught against Baltimore. He got some speed. I guess.

Another 2010 pick, Brandon LaFell is the teams third leading receiver. So two rookies and Steve Smith. Go it.

If I were a Panthers fan this is how I would feel about my passing game:

No idea about the Panther offensive line. The starters from left to right are Jordan Gross, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Ryan Kalil, Geoff Schwartz and Garry Williams.

What is funny is that on the Panthers two deep on their back up left tackle is their starting right tackle and their backup left guard and center is the same person. Sounds promising.

The Panthers are missing their starting tackle Jeff Otah the first week of November with a knee injury and lost Travelle Wharton to a toe injury.

I think the Steelers can relate to what is going on in Carolina, but as it should be noted the Panthers run game has been much better with Jon Stewart gaining 100+ yards in the last two games and the new offensive line has started together for five straight games. Although they are backups some chemistry might help them. Not really sure if they are going to be able to get the run game going but for Jimmy Clausens health they better give him a few seconds to throw.

Not only are the Panthers beat up on the offensive line, they are beat up on the front seven too. No wonder this team has only won two games this season. Man. Kinda makes you feel bad for them, then I realize that shit happens sometimes and you have to overcome it.

Here is a list of IR’d players from this season in just the front seven: Jason Williams (LB), Thomas Davis (LB), Dan Connor (LB), Jamar Williams (LB) Hilee Taylor (DE). While not all of these players are starters they are still depth guys also. When you look at a football team you have to realize that when someone gets hurt it doesn’t just involve that one position. If a starting linebacker goes down such as Dan Connor then you have to bring his backup, who probably play special teams. You probably aren’t going to make the new starting linebacker play special teams so you need to bring in someone else to play special teams. You are hurt in two spots. Not that easy. So it isn’t just the defensive starters that are important, you also have to replace role players.

So, for those players that are playing you have leading tackler James Anderson playing with 115 tackles on the season to go with 3.5 sacks, a pick and a forced fumble. His 115 tackles come in 10th in the league and I guess when you play on a defense that plays so much you are going to have someone in the top ten. Someone has to make the tackles right?

Jon Beason is going to be a guy that the Steelers have to have an eye on. Last season he led the Panthers with 142 tackles and has 104 already this season as he has been the most consistent linebacker for Carolina. He has six or more tackles in all but two games this season. Need to get a hat on him.

The Panther secondary is alright, pretty average, highlighted by Chris Gamble. Carolina, as a team, only gives up about 6.7 yards per attempt. That isn’t too shabby if you ask me, it’s actually good for ninth in the league. They have only given up 16 touchdown passes (6th in the league) while holding opposing quarterbacks to only 203 yards passing per game (8th in the league).

While Gamble doesn’t have a pick his opposite corner, Richard Marshall, has three interceptions. Not Earth shattering numbers. The safeties, Charles Godfrey and Sherrod Martin have had more success as Godfrey has five picks and is third on the team with 75 tackles and Martin has a pick of his own with 74 tackles.

Whatev. Ben is going to make it rain.

General thoughts:

-Can’t take this game lightly. I mean this game is pretty important since the Steelers need to have this win and a win against Cleveland to get that all important. I am a subscriber that it is true that any team can really win against any other this should be one of the ones that is on the boarder line of you having a better chance of seeing Jesus than this happening. Just stick to the game plan and everything should be more than ok.

-Troy should not play in this football game. I will go a step futher and even say that in my opinion Heath Miller should not play in this football game. I think everyone is pretty much in agreement for the first one, but I think I am on an island by myself for the second one. Miller has been cleared to play but concussions are no joke. Look at Austin Collie who has had three this year. Look at Aaron Rogers who had two in like a four week span. Miller took an awful hit and it was bad. One more week isn’t going to kill him sitting out. It is better for the long run and better to keep him healthy for another week. If the Steelers can’t win without both of them they don’t deserve the top seed.

-In the last three years the Steelers are 2-1 on short weeks. Last season this is where they fell into the five game losing streak when they lost to the Browns and Raiders in back to back weeks. Sure, like Mike Tomlin said, the short week is going to benefit the younger team, but I think the Steelers will be ok. With the talent discrepancy I think that the younger team talk isn’t going to be as much of a factor as many people think.

-Get the running game going and use the play action. I talk about this most weeks but when you can use play action it will suck up those safeties and give you more options over the top. Get Sanders or Wallace matched up one on one with their DB’s and I like our chances. Good things can happen.

-Take care of business. The Steelers typically do play down to their competition, especially when we have the ball on offense, but make no mistake that this game should be over by the third quarter. Get Ben and Rashard and some others out of the football game and let Chuck Batch get some snaps and some of the other players some PT. Any off time, even if it is just a quarter, is good off time.

Prediction? Steelers 27, Panthers 10.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

Lets take care of business guys.

Hit it.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know about it being a blowout for this one. The Steelers make a bad habit of playing down to teams and taking their foot off of the gas pedal. I say it's closer than advertised.