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Steelers-Bengals Recap

Steelers lose in what has now become typical fashion to the Bengals 20-10.

The Good – Not much to be honest. Newly signed offensive lineman Fernando Velasco, apparently not with the team long enough for the negative effects of the O-line to wear off on him, played great at center. Smart, blocking well, picking up assignments and actually looking like he gave a damn. There was a play in the 1st half where Redman was short the first down and Velasco came running in behind him to push him ahead for the first. I said to myself “That can’t be one of the regular starters” and sure enough it wasn’t.  When was the last time a Steelers O-lineman showed that kind of initiative? 2006?  Just give it a couple weeks, though, and I’m sure he’ll be playing lethargic and dumb.

Willie Gay had a strong first half with some nice tackling and decent coverage.

Ike Taylor started off rough with some soft coverage and missed tackles but played #1 Cincy WR Green really well for most of the game.

Manny Sanders had a couple nice snags and yards after the catch.

Rookie WR Moye had a nice fade grab in the endzone. A rookie coming out of nowhere into a game and scoring a TD was strange to see with the Steelers.

No penalties in the first half.

Kiesel had a solid game, hustling like the great vet that he is, batting a pass on a 3rd and goal for the Bengals that might’ve resulted in a TD. In the end it didn’t matter but with a competent offense it might have.

Woodley had some decent pressure on a handful of plays. No sacks, though and a good bit of patty cake play early on.

Rookie Jarvis Jones had a couple real nice tackles, including one on kickoff return coverage.

Defensive lineman Cameron Heyward almost caused a TO with a nice hit on QB Andy Dalton in the 2nd half.

The ST’s didn’t have any glaring penalties or mistakes. Oh wait, Gay was offsides on a Bengals FG attempt, although the Bengals made the FG so it didn’t matter.

Troy was flying around the field, looks to be in top form which is always good. Unfortunately he can’t do it all.

The defense was solid at times, showed some heart. A couple pieces away I believe from being a dominant defense again.

The Bad – A lot of things.

On virtually every series there seemed to be at least one crucial mental mistake, drop, bad pass, gaffe or coaching miscue.

Youngster TE Paulson caught a big pass deep in Cincy territory in the 1st half only to have it stripped. He gets up off the turf like he’s in a stupor, I don’t know what the hell he was doing, Bengals recover it. The refs blew the whistle and ruled the play over, Ben smartly tries to quickly get the next play off so the Bengals can’t challenge it but the Steelers coaching staff is stupidly trying to substitute players, allowing the Bengals to challenge and consequently get the ball. Just stupid and frustrating.

I’m not on the “FIRE HALEY” bandwagon but I’m very close. Some of his play calling is indeed asinine (End around to Cotchery??? The slowest WR on the team? WTF. Opening drive, 3 straight run plays and punt, get the hell out of here) and he seems to fail to adapt to situations or take advantage of the other teams defense.  His offense never seems to be in sync. When you combine that with some poor execution and some questionable talent and what you see is what you get, barely any points or sustained drives. Another problem is Ben is really not the kind of QB that fits Haley’s offense. I’m honestly not sure what offense Ben fits in or if he’s even coachable but it doesn’t look like it’s this one. The few times the offense did sustain drives is when Ben was running the no-huddle offense. Thing is, the same thing happened under Arians as well so again, I’m not sure what the ultimate solution is with Ben at QB.

Speaking of Ben, he definitely was off on some passes. At times he seemed to rush some passes even though he had time, at other times he seemed to be oblivious to the pass rush. Frustrating stuff.  Some other offensive gaffes and fun times –

On a 3rd and long in the 2nd quarter Ben throws to  an open spot for what would’ve been a  first down but Cotchery runs a different route. It’s at this point that I say out loud “Ben, stop throwing to Cotchery, the guy is either drunk or high.” Before the play, the offense had too many men in the huddle and an obviously pissed off Ben had to call a TO. Great coached team. Tomlin has complete control on this one.

I like Cotchery and he’s usually dependable but by the 2nd quarter this is where coaching (or in the Steelers case, a lack thereof) must come into play and sit him down for a while to get his head straight. The entire first half he ran a number of wrong routes (or at least it seemed) and had a bad drop on an easy short pass over the middle. It seriously seemed like he was on drugs or something.

The WR’s as a whole had problems getting separation on several plays.

First offensive drive of 2nd half, Ben with a vintage “Ben play” buying time and making a sweet play for the first down on a 3rd and long is called back on a completely bullshit “tripping” penalty on tackle Gilbert. How did the ref even see this “trip” but yet miss all the blatant holds on Harrison  over the years? Boggles the mind. On the following 3rd down play, Ben tries to be Ben again and takes a nasty sack, where the refs missed a facemask as Ben’s helmet and head are pulled back at a nasty angle.

Redman is slower than dirt, why this guy was named the starter on opening day is mind numbing and shows further poor judgment and talent evaluation by the coaching staff. On a 3rd and 2 Redman runs like a tentative old lady and comes up way short in the 3rd quarter. Another bad playcall, execution and effort. Par for course. Again, why is Redman getting these key run plays? He was injured and then apparently had a concussion and obviously isn’t running well regardless. Give me a fucking break.

Mike Adams is having a bad season. He simply can’t hold his blocks. He had a tough matchup in tonight’s game but he just seems slow and uninterested half the time. Just poor effort.

– 2 total offensive yards in the 3rd quarter.

Where are the short dumpoffs over the middle or into the flat to RB’s? With all the problems this offense had in this game (O-line, WR’s running wrong routes, problems getting separation, non-existent run game) where were these simple short passes? There was a little bit of it but not nearly enough.

Watching Tomlin smiling on the sideline with the score 17-10 towards the end of the 3rd quarter. Maybe Tomlin thinks this is Pop Warner football and he isn’t getting paid millions to coach the team. Or maybe he’s more concerned about looking cool and relaxed for the cameras? I have no clue but it’s pretty strange to see that from a head coach of an NFL team.

The feeling, as the game progressed, that this defense is incapable of not only forcing a turnover but also incapable of an actual sack on the opposing QB. The defense is trying and did have some nice pressure at times but it just doesn’t feel like it’s going to happen with this unit. One freaking sack.

The defense looking gassed on the Bengals 3rd quarter TD drive. The run defense, overall, isn’t very impressive. Probably one of the weaker run defenses the Steelers have had in some time as the D-line seems to be filled now with more athletic guys as opposed to “hole pluggers”. Continually the D-line on run plays either got no penetration or was simply pushed back off the line of scrimmage.

Watching Ike “Hands of Stone” Taylor half-heartingly try to to snag an errant Dalton blooper deep in the 4th quarter. It’s like he knows there is no chance in hell.

Honestly not impressed with the rookie safety Thomas, seems like a younger Ryan Clark, slow and may be able to deliver some big hits if the right opportunity presents itself (ie, the ballcarrier doesn’t see it coming). Not exactly the kind of safety you want in today’s pass heavy, overly officiated NFL.

Safety Ryan Clark allowing a Bengals TE to get wide open for a huge gain, leading to one Bengals TD score. Clark with another bad open field tackle attempt, resulting in an extra 10 yards for the Bengals on the play. Clark, one of the most overrated frauds in the NFL, had another poor game, hardly any positive contributions.

Summary – It’s a long season but it’s hard picturing this team getting more than 6 or 7 wins and that might be a generous estimate at this point. To be honest, the only real interesting things to watch with this team is when Haley gets fired, because if the offense continues to score around 10 a game he’ll definitely be getting fired, and in what week will the Steelers get their first win? Tomlin will be safe for another year regardless of what happens which is a depressing thought but the conservative Rooneys will be too stubborn and proud to make a coaching change I’m guessing. But how much longer do the fans have to put up with this kind of performance on the field? It feels like Groundhogs Day with the same mental mistakes, coaching blunders, unprepared and lethargic team showing up game after game after game. This goes back seasons now. I honestly believe the Steelers are probably the worst coached team in the NFL. Are the Rooneys watching the same sad excuse for a team that has been showing up recently? Do they even care?

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