Friday, September 16, 2011

Steelers Game Day 2 - vs. Seattle Seahawks

Well last week wasn’t actually ideal for what the Steelers were looking to do to open the season, was it? The Steelers got taken behind the shed and physically and mentally beat down to the hand of their top rivals. It wasn’t pretty and the guys weren’t too happy about it.

Last week the Seahawks took a loss to the 49ers by a pretty big margin and they will be coming to Heinz Field from all the way across the country to take on the Steelers and they should be in for a rude awakening when they come in to the Black and Golf clad crowd for the first home game of the season.

Most will remember that the Steelers and Seahawks met for the Super Bowl a few years ago in one of the most exciting (read: boring) Super Bowls in the history of the Super Bowl. Since that time the Seahawks have fallen off the cliff and the Steelers continue to make the playoffs and get to (and win) Super Bowls. This time around, however, the state of the teams is about the same. Both team’s got outplayed in week one and both teams need a win in a pretty bad way even though this is only week two.

To be honest the Steelers don’t play all that often, in fact it is only 16 times including that one Super Bowl matchup, so you really can’t get up much for this game. I don’t want to say this game has kind of a “meh” feeling to it but this game kind of has a “meh” feel to it. This isn’t a rival and this isn’t one of the best teams in the NFC so this just feels like an average early season NFL game where one team is favored by two scores over a team that most felt wasn’t going to be very good. That doesn’t mean that the Steelers should take this as a win because that is exactly what they did with the Ravens and that didn’t turn out well.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that I think the Seahawks can come in and beat the Steelers because I just don’t think they are talented enough, but the Steelers have been beaten by bad teams following Super Bowl appearances.

The preview is going to be more serious this week and a little light because, as I said above, this is a tough game to get into and really the Seahawks are a young team and don’t really have those players that grab your attention. Without further ado here is the statistical breakdown for the teams:


Last Week:

Baltimore 35, Pittsburgh 7
Passing: Roethlisberger - 22/41, 280 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall - 12 carries, 45 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Wallace - 8 rec, 107 yards, 0 TD

San Francisco 33, Seattle 17
Passing: Jackson - 21/37, 197 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Lynch - 13 carries, 33 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Baldwin - 3 rec, 83 yards, 1 TD
All-Time Record vs. Seattle: 8-8

Last Five Meetings

Oct. 7, 2007 - Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 0
Feb. 5, 2006 - Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 0 - Super Bowl XL
Nov. 2, 2003 - Seattle 23, Pittsburgh 16
Sep. 26, 1999 - Seattle 29, Pittsburgh 10
Sep. 27, 1998 - Pittsburgh 13, Seattle 10

Team Stats

Offense (rank in NFL)

Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 312 yards/game (22nd)
Seattle: 219 yards/game (29th)

Passing
Pittsburgh: 246 yards/game (17th)
Seattle: 155 yards/game (t-27th)

Rushing
Pittsburgh: 66 yards/game (25th)
Seattle: 64 yards/game (t-26th)

Points
Pittsburgh: 7 points/game (t-30th)
Seattle: 17 points/game (t-22nd)


Defense

Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 385 yards/game (21st)
Seattle: 209 yards/game (2nd)

Rush
Pittsburgh: 170yards/game (28th)
Seattle: 85 yards/game (15th)

Pass
Pittsburgh: 215 yards/game (13th)
Seattle: 124 yards/game (4th)

Points
Pittsburgh: 35 points/game (29th)
Seattle: 33 points/game (26th)

Hit the jump for the positional review of the Seahawks and some more junk



Quarterback


If the thought of Tarvaris Jackson doesn’t scare you one bit then you’re not alone. I mean last week I talked about how I wasn’t scored to face Joe Flacco (which didn’t work out too well) but now you are asking me what I think about Jackson? That is almost laughable.

Jackson has 21 games started under his beld and has only started six since the 2007 season so to say that he has experience would be a reach and the most touchdown passes he threw in a year was nine which he did twice in 2007(12 starts) and in 2008 (five starts, nine games played).

You know what Mike Tomlin things of Jackson? He said today that “Boy, he’s a legitimate tough guy at the quarterback position.” Um, OK. What does that mean actually? It doesn’t really mean that much.

In week one Jackson had a decent game in a Seattle loss when he went 21-of-37 for 197 yards and two touchdowns. Certainly not a great number on the YPA but if the Steelers can’t get any pressure on him we have been known to give up some completions and in that respect Jackson might (probably not) have a chance to beat us.

The quarterback ground in Seattle is not going to beat you. In 21 games started, 36 played, Jackson has thrown for just over 4,000 yards and throws for about 116 yards a game. If the Steelers buckle down and stop the running game I think they should be alright getting after Jackson.

Backs



When you think about the Seahawks with someone you will most likely talk about this play in the first five seconds of talking about them.



Your conversation about the Seahawks would probably end about five seconds after that because, come on, what else are you going to be talking about. Best part of the run? The ball grab as he goes into the end zone. Classic.

This year Lynch didn’t have the same start that he finished that 2010 playoff game with against the Saints. He carried the ball 13 times for only 33 yards for a 2.5 yard per carry average. Last season Lynch carried the ball 165 times for 573 yards (3.5 ypc) so let’s not act like this guy lead the league in rushing all because of one run where it looked like the Steelers against Ray Rice when we talk about tackling.

Lynch has only ran against the Steelers one times when he was with the Bills and ran the ball 18 times for 64 yards and also made a catch for 22 yards and no scores. This isn’t a guy we saw too much considering that he played in the AFC East for a number of years.

If you think someone else is going to carry the football for the Hawks then you are kidding yourself. Tarvaris Jackson had four carries and that was pretty much it. Justin Forsett got three carries for three yards but other than that the Seahawks didn’t do much. 64 yards on 22 carries isn’t going to cut it, especially when your quarterback is Tavaris Jackson. Woof. I would hate to be a Seahawks fan right now. Even Minnesota didn’t want Jackson and they had Brett Favre when he turned 60.



Oh man that is great.

Receivers

Doug Baldwin, Mike Williams (not the good one), Zach Miller and Lynch. That is what the Steelers secondary is going up against in game two of the season. I am not going to lie to you I am writing this preview trying to look for ways that the Seahawks are going to win and the quarterback and receiver spots leave a ton to be desired. No wonder Matt Hasselbeck left.

Oh yea the Seahawks also have Sidney Rice. He didn’t play in week one. Still waiting to hear if he is alive.

In the last six years the Hawks have had six different receiving leaders and in the last four years their offense has not ranked above 21st in the league. Yikes.

Baldwin is the 23 year old rookie from Stanford isn’t a big guy. He stands two inches short of six feet and isn’t even 190 pounds soaking wet. He seems to fit the mold of Dion Branch who is no longer with the team but Baldwin got the go with Rice out. He caught the only touchdown pass of the game from Jackson and a had 83 yards on only four catches.

Ben Obomanu might be the best threat the Seahawks have if Rice doesn’t go again. Last season he caught 30 balls for almost 500 yards and five touchdowns. He has been in the league since 2006 when he was on the Hawks practice squad but other than last year he has never had more than 200 yards receiving in any one season.

Mike Williams and Golden Tate will give the Seahawks some addition threats but there really isn’t too much to be worried about. Last season Williams led the team with 751 yards receiving on 65 catches but only pulled in two touchdown passes while Tate caught 21 passes for 227 yards in his rookie campaign after being drafted out of Notre Dame.

Offensive Line










The offensive line should look pretty familiar if you are a Steelers fan because we saw a lot of the names over the past couple of drafts.

Left tackle Russell Okung and right guard John Moffitt were scouted pretty heavily by the Steelers as they are joined by center Max Unger and right tackle James Carpenter round out a very young offensive line.

Both Moffitt and Carpenter are in their rookie year while Okung has one year under his belt and Unger has two. Not an ideal situation for your club to be so amazingly young at the position but I guess they try to make up for that with Robert Gallery who has more experience than the rest of the line, combined.

Gallery is just as knew as the rookies are, however, the Seahawks signed the vet back in late July so there is very little experience in the Pete Carroll system for anyone in the offensive line.

Defense

Left defensive end Chris Clemons returns after a productive 2010 season where he lead the team with 11 sacks and made 49 tackles. Last week Clemons made only three tackles and didn’t record a sack against the 49ers but when you have struggled as much as the Steelers offensive line has you can’t overlook anyone and must pay special attention to all because we have been known to get to Ben and cause trouble.

Strong safety Kam Chancellor led the Seahawks in week one with 10 tackles as he starts his second full year. I am not going to lie to you, it is great to have players in the secondary that can tackle but it is not the situation where you want your safeties and defensive backfield making all the tackles. Free safety Earl Thomas, who is also in his second year, made nine tackles last week.

David Hawthorne was the team’s leading tackler last season with 110 from his middle linebacker position and is flanked by outside linebacker Aaron Curry who made 73 tackles a season ago and five in week one against San Francisco.

The Seahawks did a nice job holding the 49ers to only 209 total yards while they held running back Frank Gore to just 59 yards on 22 carries.Quarterback Alex Smith passed for just 124 yards in the game so the defensive secondary did a nice job on the receivers but let’s not act like the 49ers are God’s gift to offense as I can’t imagine anyone putting Smith and their receivers on the same plane as Roethlisberger and his group of skill position players, no matter how bad they were against the Ravens.

The Seahawks defense also didn’t force a single interception and failed to register a sack last week. Last season the Seahawks were one of the worst team defenses so if the Steelers can get back to what they do offensively I don’t see this being a huge problem but as we saw in the playoffs all it takes is a little momentum to get a team going and dropping a game to this team is not what the Steelers want to do.

Odds and Ends

-The Steelers need to come out and put this game out of reach early. Last season the Seahawks did make the playoffs but they did so as a 7-9 team. For those of you wondering, that is not very good. Add to the fact that Seattle is coming off a pretty bad loss last week to San Francisco and they have to come all the way across the country to play at Heinz Field, which is not an easy place to play. I know I joke here a lot and pretty much go about the season as if the Steelers are never going to lose but it is really hard to look at this game and figure out a way to spin it where the Steelers are going to lose. I know they have lost to the Browns and Raiders before but those season were total disasters and I just don’t see this season being one (hopefully).

-Just in case anyone wanted to know Mike Holmgren is still mad about Super Bowl XL. I hope he is reading this (as he should be) so he can see this:



Suck it.

-The offensive line is a huge question mark. Willie Colon is out for the season after tearing his triceps and that means that second round pick Marcus Gilbert is going to be thrown into the fire right away. I have no doubt it my mind that the Seahawks are going to attack him all day and see what he is able to handle in his first ever start. The offensive line wasn’t that great against Baltimore as a lot of the guys were either out of position or being pushed around because they were getting too upright on the snap of the ball. I have no doubt that they heard about this all week but what can we really expect with Doug Legursky and Jon Scott starting in two of the spots? Hopefully Gilbert can show why he was a second round pick and the unit can stay healthy as I am sure continuity is a huge factor in sloppy play.

-Last week was a tough one for the Steelers defense. They gave up 170 yards on the ground to the Ravens and it was pretty embarrassing for a defense that is so good at stopping the run and they are going to have something to prove. While I think this game is a win for the Steelers I think they could use this as an opportunity to get some confidence and get back on the right track. There has been a ton of talk about how the Steelers defense is too slow and they are past their prime and that might just be what the Steelers like to hear at this point. You know the veterans on this team loves to use this stuff to motivate them and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Steelers defense had a huge day on Sunday.

-On offense it will be important for the Steelers to do two things, and at first sight they might seem like the total opposite. They need to run the football more and they need to stretch out the Seahawks secondary with multiple wide receiver sets. Last week Rashard Mendenhall had a great first half of the game against Baltimore but when things started to get out of hand they had to totally abandon it in favor of the pass. Pound the rock early and keep the Seahawks honest. The offensive line might not be great, or even good, but getting the running game going will go a long way. The running game will open up the possibility to throw out four receivers and see if the young safeties of the Seahawks can cover Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders in the slots. In the same respect if you can spread out the Seahawks and get them thinking throw when they bring out three and four receivers then you can go back to the run with draws and inside handoffs and really keep them off balanced and be able to utilize the full complement of offensive weapons. Make sense? Yea, I didn’t get it either.

-I expect Troy and Lawrence Timmons to have big games. Timmons looked out of place against the Ravens and that was pretty uncharacteristic from what we have seen from the last year. Timmons might have been the best defensive player on the field last year that nobody talks about and he is the most athletic player on that defense, in my opinion. Against Baltimore he seemed a step slow and sort of lost and the Steelers paid for it when Ray Rice ran wild on screen plays and was being Timmons with ease. I don’t think it is a secret that Polamalu isn’t the best cover guy on the field and if you think that then you don’t really watch him. He makes spectacular plays on the field at huge times but he will never be confused with a great cover guy and I am OK with that. He was washed out against Baltimore, like much of the defense was, but I don’t expect that to last. For the first time in a long time Troy is healthy so I would be shocked to see him as out of place as he was against Baltimore.

-If the Steelers can come out and score the first 10 or 14 points of the game they should cruise. The Seahawks are going to come after it hard but the talent level should win out in this game. Getting back on track this week is key for the Steelers and I think they should do so.

Prediction: Steelers 31-Seahawks 13



Hit it.

4 comments:

  1. Pretty funny stuff. Seattle's got "no attention" grabbing players, eh? Ok. Whatever to that. Make sure you're paying attention on Sunday and remember to correct yourself after the game on that one.

    As far as "not wanting your safeties making all the tackles", that is really only true in situations where the opposition is picking up big chunks of yardage. It makes no difference at all who's getting the tackles as long as the offense is being kept in check.

    As far as being outplayed by S.F. goes, that is another misconception on your part. Before S.F. returned a kick and a punt for a TD, the game was well within Seattle's reach. Their special teams melted down, and definitely got outplayed, but the same cannot be said about the Seahawks defense. Look at the game logs and see how many times the 9'ers were either stopped on 3rd down or forced to settle for FG's in the redzone.

    Seattle's offense is definitely shaky, and they've got OL issues, but I wouldn't expect to see Pitt's offense just have their way with Seattle's D. This is going to be a brutal game most of the way through; probably fairly low scoring. At some point Pitt will probably establish a solid lead, and they may even cover the spread, but it won't be due to Pitt's offense vs. Seattle's D.

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  2. I agree. I said as much that the Seattle defense played well against the 49ers. Not getting to the QB and not causing turnovers will hurt them though. The ST killed them though. Maybe outplayed was the wrong word to use.

    No idea where you see this "no attention" thing. Never said that.

    When your top two tackles (for last week) are your safties then it means one of two things: 1) The running backs were getting into the secondary (they weren't) or 2) you are giving up a lot of completions. If you are going to try to convince me that it is OK for your top tackles to be DB's or your FS/SS then you are really kidding yourself. Look at the top defenses in the league last year. All led by linebackers. That is who should be making your tackles.

    Seattles defense is for sure their strong suit though and I am looking forward to watching Curry play. I like his style. Thanks for stopping by, I always like to have the "enemy" come over and visit. I would tell you good luck, but I wouldn't mean it.

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  3. I haven't had a chance yet to really watch the Steelers offense this year, and I do not know if they'll attempt to duplicate the conservative approach that S.F. used, but for the most part the lack of sacks and hits on the QB was due in large to a very quick/short passing game that the 9'ers were running.

    Seattle has edge rushers. That really isn't their problem when it comes to pressuring the QB. What they lack right now is a tried and true interior pass rusher. That concerns me with a QB like Roth who is known for his ability to take off and run, because all he'll need to do is step up in the pocket and take off if the edges collapse around him w/out any push coming from the middle.

    Kam and Thomas leading the team in tackles last week has nothing to do with poor backer play, but Seattle's starting mike backer was out of the game as you know. The majority of the tackles Seattle's safeties made were either at or near the LoS, or only 4 yards or so past it. It isn't like S.F. was breaking into the 3rd level of the defense and the safeties had to clean up the mess.

    Kam Chancellor is basically like a LB. Think Adrian Wilson. He's a big safety that comes down hill hard and tackles well. He's not exceptionally fast, but he is fast enough and has strong instincts. Watching Earl Thomas play is in some ways similar to watching Polamalu. He has ridiculous speed and range and is basically fearless in terms of giving up his body, which worries me at times because he's not quite as thick as Troy is.

    I won't wish you false luck either, but what I do wish for is a good game where preferably no player on either side is seriously injured.

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  4. Yea, our offense has a lot of speed receivers and will try to stretch the field. While Roethlisberger isn't good at throwing the "deep ball" he can get the ball down the field (always top of the league in YPA) and the speed of the receivers is among the best in the league.

    I was more refering to overall leading tackles for a season. I do remember SF playing pretty conservative so I can imagine the DB's being able to play closer to the line. With the speed the Steelers have and the ability to throw out four capable receivers I would say that if they lead the game in tackles then Seattle will be in big trouble.

    Our offensive line is pretty bad but hopefully our tackles can keep the outside rush at bay. Should be interesting.

    No injuries would be a big victory.

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