Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Steelers Look To Discover First Victory In London


1968.

That was the last time the Pittsburgh Steelers started a season 0-4. The coach at the time was Bill Austin, and their final record that year (2-11-1) was Austin's final record as he is a historical footnote as being the last head coach fired by the Rooneys. He paved the way for a certain Hall of Fame head coach you may remember.

The 2013 version of the Steelers looks to avoid any such record starting Sunday in London as Big Ben look to meet Big Ben. As they do so, they will do something different this week as they prepare for the game - the cable television network The Discovery Channel will follow them around and film them this week.

Appropriate considering their looking to discover their first victory.

The franchise that hasn’t had a player to run for more than 56 yards in the last nine games hopes that new surroundings will help get them untracked. 

“Maybe it’s just the change we need,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said on 93.7 The Fan. “There are genuine football and Steelers fans over there. To me, it was a great experience to go over there and bring that back to the guys and say, ‘It’s more than just a money thing for the NFL. We actually have a lot of fans over there.’ Which is crazy. It is neat that we’re going to go over there and show these fans what Steeler football is all about.”

Let's hope he is right and that the team can build on what the offense accomplished against the Bears. While still not rushing for 100 yards, Felix Jones found several holes early en route to a 4.9 yards per carry average. Then Jonathan Dwyer incurred the wrath of PETA when he finished of a 25-yard run by bulldozing one of the Bears.

More impressive was the play of wide receiver Antonio Brown who had career highs of nine receptions (tie) and 196 yards with two touchdowns. His one-hand catch-and-score topped ESPN's Top Ten plays for week three. 

AB has really taken the leader's role among the wide receivers. He is the unquestioned No. 1 guy in the Steel City and says he is ready to handle the extra attention from opposing defenses.

He's walking the talk: 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. The kind of production even his current rivals expected.

In the offseason, Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh told CBS that the Ravens "thought the world" of Brown in the 2010 NFL Draft and were "going through the process of getting to know him."

While AB is a legitimate threat, he needs help to bring the offense up. Not just from Emmanuel Sanders and the rest of the receiving corps, but from Heath Miller and the running game as well. 

Per ESPN Stats and Information, no player had more targets (14) and touchdowns (7) inside the 10-yard line in 2012 than Heath Miller. To say that Miller's presence has been missed is an understatement. 

But just as important may be the running game and the debut of Le'Veon Bell. 

“I won’t dress him to stand on the sideline next to me,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said during his weekly appearance on Sirius/XM.

The question, though, concerns how effective Bell will be. If It Ain't Steel has said from jump that he wouldn't be ready until after the bye, now ESPN's Merril Hoge has eschewed the notion that Bell will be overly effective right away. 

“It’s very tough to do that,” Hoge said. “I’ve seen very few players who can come in and not miss too much after being out a long time....That’s very hard for a lot of athletes. In training camp, you get into a groove and a certain role and certain rhythm, it’s very difficult to quit all that and then try to play (later) at the same speed everyone else is playing." 

Considering the running game and the success of the offense in general requires a working offensive line, Tomlin stated in his weekly press conference that he will continue to look at the three-man combination at offensive tackle. More importantly, he met with guard Ramon Foster about leading the OLine. - http://tinyurl.com/k2xuy9q

Tomlin said that there was "confusion" from an assignment standpoint against Chicago. There was also a confusion from tackling, or lack thereof, standpoint. That can't happen against the Vikings considering they will bring a similar team to London. 

But, there is one thing in particular that can alleviate confusion.

"Frustration doesn't solve the issues, work does....We're going to roll our sleeves up and keep our mouths shut."

Good. Because no one wants history to repeat itself.

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TIDBITS: The Steelers requested waivers on guard Justin Cheadle from the Reserve/Injured list. Cheadle was waived injured in August.

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 NFL fines Steelers' Brown after Bears game - http://t.co/q2MxM8Qy88 

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DNP: Keisel (hamstring)
FULL: Allen (ankle), Bell (foot) and McLendon (hamstring)