Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


                        by Jayden Matthews (@JadyGirl7)

Wow! It amazes me that some people still have the audacity to blame Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley after what happened Sunday night in their 40-23 loss.

Just to clarify: HALEY IS NOT THE QUARTERBACK WHO COMMITTED FOUR TURNOVERS ALL BY HIMSELF. Nor is he the running back that coughed the ball up early in the second half. 

But, before I go any further, I want something clearly understood: anyone that follows If It Ain't Steel and reads us regularly knows that we love Ben Roethlisberger and have defended him a lot. But the big guy is making that hard right now with how he has been playing of late. 

Instead of looking like the elite quarterback we know him to be, Sunday night Big Ben was a turnover machine boarding on Jamarcus Russell status. Is it the offensive lines fault? Somewhat, but not completely.  

So, for Big Ben as well as the rest of the Steelers "performance" Sunday night, here is what we are going to call the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Good:

Big Ben threw for 406 yards and two touchdowns and was mainly responsible for the Steelers having a total of 11 splash/explosive plays (20 yards or more) Sunday night. They accounted for 271 of Big Ben's total passing yards.  

Jonathan Dwyer and Felix Jones brought some life back to the running game. The sad thing is that we have seen so little of it that when Jones broke for a 10-yard gain for a first down, the cheer from the crowd was so loud you would have thought they scored a touchdown. 

The player of the game was wide receiver Antonio Brown. He showed Sunday night that he may just be a No. 1 receiver after all. He showed he can come up in the clutch by making a leaping catch in double coverage in the back of the end zone, and then a one-handed grab which was his second touchdown of the night. AB had Steelers fans dancing with him as he showed that the Steelers do have a deep threat. 

Though, fans are still saying the team still needs erstwhile receiver Mike Wallace. Really? We maintain, as we always have, that they don’t and that the touchdowns will come for AB, and they sure did Sunday night. He finished the night with 9 catches for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns. AB leads the AFC in receiving yards (324), leads AFC receivers with 16 receptions for first downs and is the fourth leading receiver in entire NFL. 

Jerricho Cotchrey had a good game as well, bouncing back from last week. His main highlight being his fight for a first down.  

Heath Miller, Big Ben's safety valve and last season' steam MVP, made Ben and the other tight ends look better. Heath also got the loudest ovation of the night when his name was announced at the start of the game. 

The offensive line, or as I call them, "The Boobs", did have their moments. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert  did not play as badly as it first seemed, it's hard to believe that Fernando Velasco was on the scrap heap just three weeks ago and Kelvin Beachum continued his valuable play.

The defense played solidly overall. After the 55-yard run by Matt Forte early in the game, the defense held him 32 yards the rest of the game. The defensive line played very well yet again, including getting a sack from Brett Keisel. LaMarr Woodley also got a sack (2/54) putting him ahead of Greg Lloyd (53.5) for seventh all-time on the Steelers sack list. 

The Bad and The Ugly:

Big Ben had four turnovers as was said earlier. They weren't pretty, either. Listen, I know Big Ben hasn’t had the best protection, but he needs to realize that sometimes it is better to take the sack then to turn the ball over when in scoring position. He simply needs to protect the ball better. It could even be said that Ben hasn't been the same since his return from his injury last season. 
For instance, the interception last year at Dallas that put the Cowboys in scoring position, leading to their win. The pick six against the Cincinnati Bengals that cost them a trip to the playoffs. He had one against the Browns as well, though that one ended up not mattering. In total, he alone has committed more than 10 turnovers in his last seven games, including eight interceptions.

The sloppy play has spilled over into this season. Big Ben has had at least one INT in every game they have played so far, all of which changed the momentum of the game. Clean that up and they very well could be at 3-0 vs. 0-3. 

I know I'm not the only one who realizes this. But, hey, let’s ignore the facts and just blame Haley. 
The running backs couldn’t help with blocks and Jones coughed the ball up. They need to protect the ball better, and, along with that, help protect Big Ben by picking up the blitzes. 

Emmanuel Sanders has missed some key catches, though he has been overthrown also. The Ben-to-Manny deep-pass project needs to be shelved for right now. They have yet to connect as, again, Ben has often overthrown him. But even if Ben had hit him, Manny can’t seem to get separation. 

Keep in mind also that if Manny catches that first long pass against the Titans, the injury to Maurkice Pouncey may have been averted, because the chain of events that followed it would've changed.  

Uglier still, Markus Wheaton saw approximately 10 snaps the entire game. 

Heath Miller clearly isn't 100% yet.

The Boobs weren't very perky overall. There were lineup changes and on-the-fly experiments that didn't settle matters. They just looked bad as an entire unit at times, as well as individually. Only the Cleveland Browns (11-44) have a worse third-down conversion rate than the Steelers (10-36).  

Mike Adams in particular was bad, really bad. Overpowered at times, clueless at others. So clueless that if he went bobbin' in a barrel of boobs, he'd still come out suckin' his thumb.

The defense can't tackle well right now. That's basic fundamentals and can be rectified. But Ryan Clark isn't playing like a team captain and Jarvis Jones can't seem to get to the quarterback. 

But, I'm sure that's Haley's fault too. 

The ugliest, though, was Isaac Redman. He missed key blocks Sunday night, one of which caused a turnover. 

Redman needs to go. His time is up in the Steel City. Dwyer proved that they cut the wrong guy in the first place. He is a waste of roster space and, with the return of second-round draft pick Le'Veon Bell set for the trip to London, Redman is expendable. 

But, all this having been considered, determining what's wrong with Big Ben and eliminating the turnovers is paramount. So much hinges on his ability to weather the storm in front of him. But, his and the team's turnovers simply must stop.  

Not one of which, by the way, being committed by Haley.