What did we learn against the Steelers?

No seriously, that's an honest question...

I must admit, I am a little disappointed with this game.  I came into the Steelers game thinking I would be able to better understand our team.  I came out wondering why I bothered.  Where is our offense?  What is our WR lineup?  Who is getting cut on Saturday?  Honestly, I can't say that we have anymore answers to those question coming out of the game than we did going in...

More after the jump...

Most of our starters sat out this game and several key players didn't even make the trip.  The idea was that we weren't going to risk injury I suppose.  That left much of our second and third stringers on the field for the game.  While our defense held up decently to start, it slowly began to wither away in face of the first and second team Steelers offenses.  Our offense, however, could not get any momentum going.  One thing to note, we didn't commit a single turnover this game, but neither did we cause any.

 All in all, 9 players didn't make the trip to Pittsburgh, so we were a little light on depth (which may have contributed to our 3rd team struggles).

The Offense

Overall, I gotta admit I'm leery of our offensive struggles.  It has been a long 4 weeks and we have not once scored a touchdown of offense yet.  Tonight was another scoreless game with the only points coming from the one Kasay field goal.

Quarterbacks:  With Matt Moore securely in the #1 QB spot and Jimmy Clausen nursing residual pain from his toe surgery, we were left to watch Hunter Cantwell and Tony Pike to play the entire game.  And I gotta say, I am just not impressed, but neither was I really expecting to be.  Pike seemed to play better, but Cantwell was playing against the Steelers starters for part of the first half.  Neither were particularly spectacular as they combined for just a paltry 123 yards in the air.  Cantwell is very inaccurate.  I know he supposedly has a howitzer for an arm, but he still managed to underthrow several receivers.  He also made several very questionable decisions, throwing into traffic and trying to force plays.  No turner overs, which is a good thing, but I had to hold my breath on more than one occasion.

Pike on the other hand didn't appear to have any zip on his passes at all, which caused two problems.  First, the WRs had to stop in their tracks to wait for the ball to reach them and secondly, defenders were able to get to the WRs as soon as the ball did.  Gettis nearly was murdered on such a pass.

Wasn't sure where else to talk about this, but they unveiled Armanti Edwards in the "Mountaineer" formation.  In my opinion, he did better as a passer than a rusher in this situation as both times I saw him trying to run, the plays were quickly stuffed (-4 yards total).  It's a nice gadget play that I know made a lot of people happy, but I really question its practicality.  Armanti did look better than the other QBs though, which is kinda sad really...

Wide Recievers:  Most disappointing though, the WRs didn't show anything new either.  I keep waiting and waiting for someone to step up, but with Cantwell and Pike under center it wasn't exactly ideal situations to evaluate anyone.  Armanti showed some flashes, especially with a nice catch and spin move that I have no idea how he managed to pull off.  This was definitely Gettis's "breakout" preseason game as he showed some flashes, but dropped a catch on a wicked hit.  Jarret was unheard of for most of the game, but managed to break up a pass play on an underthrown ball from Cantwell.  LaFell was also quiet.  I think we can assume this means they are definites to make the team though.

Running Backs:  Again, not much happening here.  I think Mike Goodson showed the most promise, although he only got 4 carries in the whole game and his total yardage came from his lone 16 yard scamper.  Savage managed to actually put up more yards and a better average, but this wasn't until the 2nd half when he was playing against the Steelers backups.  Neither Savage nor Vaughan really made much of an impression on me, which isn't necessarily a surprise.  Sutton, Williams, and Stewart all sat out the game.

Offensive Line:  Someone, please tell them to stop with the false starts already.  Please?  That's all I want..

The Defense

Once again, this was the bright spot.  Our second team defense managed to hold off the first team Steelers offense for much of the game.  If it weren't for our immobile offense, they probably would not have been put into a position where we they could score.

Defensive Line:  Quickly shaping up to be the strength of our team, our front line was in Big Ben's face a lot.  It looked like this waned a little bit in the 2nd half, but I was very impressed with our first half showing.  We added another sack to our total (and Hardy was just barely robbed of a 2nd).  On another play, Tank Tyler managed to find his way into the backfield almost immediately and dropped the Steelers RB the instant he had the ball.  Quite an amazing play.

Linebackers:  To be honest...  They didn't really stand out much to me.  We did finally get a look at Norwood, Witherspoon and Williams, but for the most part it seemed pretty pedestrian compared to what we're used to seeing from our linebackers.  The biggest standout was definitely Jamar Williams.

Defensive Backs:  Stanford got beat, badly, on the lone touchdown score and several times it looked as though Hudson was slow to make contact when the Steelers penetrated into the secondary.  All in all, as I've said before, it was very pedestrian, but that's because many of our starters didn't suit up and I don't even think Munnerlyn made the trip.

Special Teams

HURRAY!  No one coughed up the ball on Special Teams!  Armanti got a look at kick returns, picking up 22 yards on his lone kick off.  Gettis took most of the duties though and I thought was pretty decent myself.  He had one scamper of 34 yards.  Armanti not only didn't drop the lone punt return he made, he had a pretty nice gain (17 yards).  Witherspoon had gains of 9 and 3.  Anything is better than the debacle we've had the last few games though, right?

Kasay missed a field goal from 51 yards out, it bounced off the crossbar.  Can't really blame him, but he is definitely getting a little on the older side.  Something to keep in mind within the next year or so.  Baker was his usual spectacular self; he had one punt in particular that would have been damn near perfect, had a back spin and everything, but it was just inches too long and landed just inside the end zone.

Our coverage units might still need a little work, but I honestly can't recall how impacted they were by our starters not being in the game.  We allowed a kick return of 28 yards and punt returns of 23, 15, and 13.


All in all, our offense was disappointing and our defense showed promise, but the key difference in this game from others was that we didn't turn the ball over, even on specail teams.  So I'll take it.


*Side note:  Byron Leftwich was injured and will likely have to be placed on IR.  That makes the 3rd QB we've taken out.  Culpepper, Simms, and now Leftwich?  I truly hope that his injury is not as bad as it seems and that he recovers well.  Best wishes for him.

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