Friday, October 25, 2013

Steelers Gameplan vs. Raiders: Run; Roethlisberger Gives Statement On 'Most Hated' List


Last Sunday against the rival Baltimore Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to finally run the ball like, well, the Pittsburgh Steelers. They banged forward for a total of 141 yards on 29 rushes, mostly on the legs of rookie running back Le'Veon Bell.

We believe the Steelers should endeavor to pick up where they left off when they head into the "Black Hole" Sunday afternoon against the 10th-ranked defense of Oakland Raiders.

Make no mistake, though, it wouldn't be possible without the play of the offensive line. Jack Bicknell, jr. said upon arriving that he wanted quicker guys "who can move" and we saw that come to fruition last Sunday. The offensive line was smaller and more athletic and able operate in space much better. As offensive coordinator Todd Haley said, "you could go right down the line and probably say all played their best game."

That will allow Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Heath Miller to test a secondary giving up exactly 241 yards per game. The Steelers have been very good at working the deep safeties as Big Ben's pump fake can be deadly.

Add to that, they now have an actual and viable play-action based on the emergence of the run game. The patience, vision and cutback ability of Bell is a threat the Raiders will have to respect. As we have said before, Bell may be a bigger back, but he has the lateral agility to make quick cutbacks and get outside.

If the Raiders are in their usual vanilla two-deep safeties with man defense in front of them, expect the Steelers to test the their cornerbacks, Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins, with short, quick passes and with the over-the-top game.

All things being equal, a top-level quarterback like Big Ben should be able to shred the Raiders secondary, even with veteran and multiple All-Pro Charles Woodson. But all things haven't been equal in the Twilight Zone known as Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

Defensively, the Raiders have ways of making things difficult for the Steelers. Terrelle Pryor is a force to be reckoned with as he is developing as a passer and is also their leading rusher. Pryor can call his own number in the read-option or he can feed running back Darren McFadden or air it out to wide receivers Denarius Moore and Rod Streater. - http://tinyurl.com/l54gsvr

Another option that can't be overlooked is H-back Marcel Reese. The 6'3", 240-pound Reese doesn't carry the ball much, but averages 5.2 yards per carry, making him a load in short-yardage and goal line situations, and is a good receiver out of the backfield.

Linebackers Lawrence Timmons and Vince Williams will have their hands full, especially when the Raiders go to a formation they've used several times this season.

The look is the pistol with a 'full house' or "bear backfield" where two players flank Pryor as well as having a running back behind him. It's difficult to defend and requires defenders to stay in their lanes and not get lost in the shuffle and flow. Keeping the play in front of them will be paramount.

Regardless, the key is containing Pryor. In fact, think of it as the "3 C's":

Contain him - Timmons or Shamarko Thomas could be used as a spy to stay with him the entire game. Confuse him - he's still young and learning; lots of talent, but can be lulled into mistakes. Finally, Clobber him - bring back the ghosts of Steelers-Raiders games of the past and make him think Jack Lambert came out of retirement just make him pay whenever he leaves the pocket.  

Make Pryor be a quarterback first. He still primarily wants to use his athletic ability - make him go through his progressions. The more he does, the greater the chance the likes of LaMarr Woodley, Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones have of making his day very long.

Do that and the Steelers may just be able to escape the Black Hole alive this time.

~

FORBES recently put out an article regarding a survey taken that listed the NFL's most disliked (read: "hated") players. The Steelers' Big Ben came in 4th with 40%. 

The maligned QB decided not to take this lightly and released a statement firing back at his haters:

"I got a letter from the haters
The other day. I opened and read it
It said they were suckers. They had me on their list or whatever.
Picture me giving a damn - I said never
Posing as friends, but never gave a damn about a brother like me and myself. Because they never did
I wasn't with it,
but just that very minute
It began to make sense -
The haters had influence.
Cold sweating as I looked at my rank - How long has it been?
Even if they're hiding behind an ink pen,
I gotta get 'em, but that was thought before
I made a plan on the locker room floor.
They don't understand that I'm a Steeler, man
And I've never turned and ran.
Like Coach says, I "obviously" got a raw deal, 
So I'm gonna lay the steel!

I'll just venture onto the yard followed by 52 brothers
Bruised, battered, and scarred but hard
We'll go out with a bang, ready to win out,
Do a Fast & Furious kinda spin out.
Get a number of vict's and try to host,
Against an anti-Steeler machine designed so I don't come out alive, but I'll come out clean.
Because the steel is Black and Gold, so the chase is on.
We're 53 brothers on the run, and we are gone!"

Wow...I didn't know Big Ben could flow like that.

-- Obvious parody. Lyrics paraphrased from Public Enemy's "Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos." --

~

TIDBITS: Steelers very healthy as they head to Oakland. Only WR Markus Wheaton and TE Richard Gordon are out; all others full participation in practice, no one questionable or doubtful.

Oakland starting SS Tyvon Branch out (ankle)

~

Steelers restructure Ike Taylor's contract freeing up around $3 million under the salary cap this year. The Steelers and Taylor agreed to turn his base salary this year into a signing bonus that can be spread over the remaining two years on his contract. - http://es.pn/1dpjeHV 

~

Steelers had interest in Terrelle Pryor, but he said no. - http://es.pn/1h9KCd4