Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Steelers Elemental Wide Receivers Needed Against Ravens

Before the season ever began, If It Ain't Steel stated that Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin's  reestablishing control, an iron fist when dealing with the team if you will, would be welcomed if not essential.

He must have been paying attention.

Last week, Tomlin banned games in the locker room, now he has banned somersaults into the end zone. We always want to bring you the most accurate and up-to-date information, and this is no different. In doing so, we were able to be privy to what Tomlin told the team.

'Put that ping-pong down! Ping-pong's for winners only....Oh, have I got your attention now? Good. 'Cause we're changing a little something with end zone celebrations, too - no more flipping.' -- http://youtu.be/8kZg_ALxEz0

Ok, that wasn't actually Tomlin, but the sentiment is the same - no more games. It's nothing personal, it's strictly business. And two of the most important matters of business are the maturation of Le'Veon Bell and the continued development of the mercurial corps of wide receivers.

As far as Bell is concerned, Tomlin had high praise for him in his weekly press conference on Tuesday, saying that he Bell "ran well."

"I thought he did a great job of picking vision and putting the ball where it was supposed to be and running with the type of demeanor that we desire," Tomlin said. - http://tinyurl.com/k3dwvr6

Bell only ran for 34 yards on 16 rushes, but he set up brilliantly the team's lone touchdown of the day.

After running for seven yards on first down and two on second down, he helped quarterback Ben Roethlisberger pull off a textbook play action pass which resulted in a 55-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders.

That said, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Mark Kaboly made some salient points about his game when he tweeted that "Bell needs to make decision quicker and hit it; needs to realize he's not going outrun (for the most part) defenders to the outside."

"Bell just 2 games into career. He'll get better real quick....Le'Veon Bell," he continued, "has all the talent in world, but has to make better decisions and has to get accustomed to NFL game. It will come."

That it will.

Nonetheless, the Steelers will be facing their arch rivals the Baltimore Ravens who, despite the Packers' Eddie Lacy’s 120-yard performance last week, are still stopping the run. They currently rank seventh in the NFL in fewest yards per game and sixth in yards per carry.

So, if the Steelers continue to abandon the outside zone, at which Bell could very well excel, the short-passing game could help set up the run and the deep game.

Whether in the short game or via the long ball, the Steelers wide receivers were key again Sunday in the Jets victory and will continue to be Sunday afternoon.

This is nothing new as the offense, good or bad, has gone through them. Each of the main four wide receivers brings a little something different to the table that adds to the whole. Think of them as the four needed elements - Earth, Wind, Water and Fire - that contribute to our daily life.

Earth - Jerricho Cotchery:
Grounded, mature, seasoned and dependable. Over half of his career NFL touchdowns have come in the red zone. The elder statesman of the corps, and a rock steady contributor: he has the highest yards-per-catch average of the four.

Wind - Markus Wheaton:
This analogy is appropriate in more ways than one. Yes, he's very fast and can blow(ITALICS) past defenders, as we saw in the preseason. Also, though, he has barely been seen on the field - invisible, as it were, like the wind. Hopefully, as soon as his finger heals, only the former analogy will apply.

Water - Emmanuel Sanders:
The most polished of the corps. We have even referred to him in the past as "the future Hines Ward" because of his skill set, including his very good blocking ability. He can play both outside and in the slot and is a very fluid receiver...like water.

Fire - Antonio Brown:
Brown is becoming one of the hottest receivers in the league. He is second rated receiver in the NFL and also ranks second in receptions for first downs (27). His mercurial nature and sudden nature make him hard to catch, and also has the breakaway ability to burn defenders downfield.

The Ravens pass defense is ranked 16th in the NFL and their secondary has been susceptible to the big play at times.

If the Steelers receivers can get separation, it opens the door for them to be able to control the game in their favor. Add a seething quarterback who has lost his previous two games to them and it could be a recipe for victory.

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TIDBITS: Steelers Injury Report: LB Jarvis Jones (head) did not practice Wednesday; Marcus Gilbert, Brett Keisel, Heath Miller and LaMarr Woodley were limited. Sean Spence has begun to practice again, albeit on a limited basis. The Steelers have 3 weeks to IR him again or to add him to the 53-man roster.

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"Mike Tomlin is absolutely correct. It's dangerous, but it is something I have been doing since I was young ... I felt at that moment ... at that time, it was something I needed to do." -- Emmanuel Sanders

When asked what he has in store for his next TD celebration, Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders said: "Not a flip." - Mark Kaboly