View Full Version : Inability to stop the run...Tomlin may go more basic on Sunday.

12-30-2007, 08:27 PM
What in God's name has happened to this defense that we cannot stop the run. Hoke was on the locker room show with Wolf tonight and he said they are unaccustomed to being run on and they need to get back to film room and figure out what's going on, etc.

They better do more than that, they need to get back to playing gap sound defense and tackling. Pure and simple, this team just hasn't done those things well at all since the midway point of the season really and it's starting to show at the worst time. If you can't stop the run in the playoffs you might as well forget about making any noise in the postseason.

It's not the scheme, the 34 is built to stop the run and we have the players to do it. We've been doing it for how long now, but this year the team just has not played the way they have before and that falls squarely on them. Teams will scheme to be able to run the ball on us with different blocking and such but we need to be able to adapt and this year we haven't. When the players get blown off the line and holes open up, then they miss tackles that is not the scheme that is execution and that falls squarley on the players.

Black@Gold Forever32
12-30-2007, 08:32 PM
You're right this defense is just getting ran over anymore........I just hope the offense is prepared for a shoot out style game against the Jags....Steelers must throw the football to keep up with the Jags running game....lol I don't expect the Steelers to stop the Jags running game at all Sat. night...lol

12-30-2007, 08:39 PM
For a team that prides itself on being run stoppers they just haven't showed up at all in that dept. That puts extra pressure on the DB's and if you can't stop the run that means the pass rush isn't getting there consistently either.

They better prepare to be run on like never before next sunday because they know it's coming. If they don't come out and punch Taylor and Drew in the mouth early and often it will be a long day.

12-30-2007, 09:08 PM
Aaron Smith was a HUGE loss in stopping the run and Casey Hampton has had a "Fat Attack" this season and isn't close to being the same player he has been.

12-30-2007, 09:10 PM
Kind of look at it like this:

The Steelers are rested as far as most starters. Maybe so are the Jaguars.

The Jaguars beat us in a game that we were already kind of in reserve players mode, since we had to play the Rams on that following Thursday on only three days rest.

They come to our homefield, which is where they happened to beat us the last time. Don't think we will be just a little fired up for this game?

It's hard for any team to beat a team for a second time, none-the-less when the two games have been for you on the road.

Our team is hungry after having all this talk about them being done after a miserable season having been one season removed of a Super Bowl.

New coach, who just simply hasn't seemed to show even an inklink of his total strategy yet.

I did notice that the Ravens moved more towards teh center of the line to compensate for Davenport running up the middle, which is what I predicted. Our dump passes did move the normal blitzers away from the Tackles to play prevent for such dump passes, which I predicted.

When you look at those replays from the top view of that very last drive...when we were in teh EZ...........the best stand as for our OL that I have seen in a long time. Batch had like 7-8 seconds on that first play int he EZ. Both Tackles stood up and drove their respective defensive player tot he outside. I haven't seen a more perfect pocket for a Steeler's QB on that play in a long...long time!

12-30-2007, 09:25 PM
It takes a consistent effort though man, that's the bad thing about this team. You can't just show up and turn it on whenever you feel like it. That's what separates us from the elite teams in the league. You have to be up for every game, every week, regardless and we cannot do that right now. Looking back at this season you can see that we just decide to not show up until the 4th quarter and then try and turn it on at the last minute whenever there isn't something that would appear to be on the line and even when there is we still can't close the deal.

We should have had this division locked up 2 or 3 weeks ago and then this game wouldn't have meant anything but the fact is we decided to not show up and take care of business when we had the chance and now we are the 4th seed when we could have potentially been the 2nd had we done what we are capable of.

Iron City South
12-30-2007, 09:37 PM
What in God's name has happened to this defense that we cannot stop the run.

It's not the scheme, the 34 is built to stop the run and we have the players to do it. We've been doing it for how long now, but this year the team just has not played the way they have before and that falls squarely on them.

At first I was of the opinion that we no longer have the talent to execute the 3-4 effectively. I still hold that belief. However, I'm not totally convinced it isn't partially the scheme.

After watching the last 3-4 games, I definitely think there is a problem with our scheme.. That being we claim to be a physical defense. We want guys that run and hit.. We supposedly are a "confusing" defense. Yet we asked our DBs to play a completely passive and soft coverage scheme. We will blitz on 3rd and 8 yet give WRs a 12 yard cushions and a free release off the line.. A simple 3 step drop and pass gives competant teams easy conversions...

Why is it that these QBs with extremely little NFL game experience are coming in and completing key third down passes against us.. That to me means our coverage is far too soft.

Mix in a pussy pass rush and it becomes very clear that our defense has been a pretender all year. Feasting on ****** teams with limited offense.

12-30-2007, 09:44 PM
I still don't think it's the scheme it's the execution of it. It didn't just suddenly stop working after all these decades of it working so well for us. The players are getting blown off the line at the point of attack and the LB's and Secondary are missing tackles. That's all execution and it's up to the players to make it happen.

I do agree though that this soft coverage we seem to play just doesn't work and I cannot figure out why in the hell we don't press these WR's more and jam them at the point of attack. Sitting back 5-10 yds off the line on 3rd and 8 just makes no sense to me whatsoever. If the DBs play their guys and the safeties cover the back end for support it should work in theory and it has for us in the past but for whatever reason everybody is missing tackle's, not getting off blocks and just generally getting blown up.

No matter how you look at it, it's not Steelers defensive football like we are used to seeing and it just sucks !

Iron City South
12-30-2007, 10:25 PM
Well, regardless if it's scheme or personnel, there is nothing they are going to do to change things this season.. All of this speculation about changing this and changing that is not happening.

We are what we are at this point. Either the players we have step up and EXECUTE better or our season ends next week.

Changing things around at this point is not the fix. All it does is take a mediocre lineman or linebacker off the field on some downs and replace him with another mediocre player.

It is a zero sum gain.

12-30-2007, 10:30 PM
Oddly enough you and I agree :lol:

Really though you are exactly right, we are what we are at this point in the season and wholesale changes would do more damage than good. That stuff is saved for the offseason and training camp so it's up to the 11 guys on the field at any given time to show up and play like their season is on the line...because it is.

12-30-2007, 11:40 PM
I agree with ICS. We have to live with it now. But gotta disagree with Ambridge. We do miss Aaron Smith no doubt, but the only consistent play that we are getting from the D is Casey Hampton.

12-31-2007, 05:26 AM
I have to agree there has been a lack of execution. They need to step up and get that chip back on their shoulders. I want to see that fire on defense!

12-31-2007, 10:41 AM
Aaron Smith is such a big loss for this team. He's an unsung hero on this defense and you can see how much worse we really are without him in the game. He's so strong, tough, and just holds his blockers better than most guys in the league. He may not get the sacks but the guy is so key to stopping the run for us. You can't lay all the blame on him of course because the other 10 guys are responsible too.

12-31-2007, 11:34 AM
Hampton needs some serious help on the line with Smith out. Our DE's are not big or strong enough to fill gaps or quick enough to pass rush. (We sure miss the days of Smith and Kemo at DE) If we continue to play the 3-4 the offseason needs to address the DE position.
I believe Lebeau is limited with his exotic blitz packages because of the players on the field now. Losing Ryan Clark at the beginning of the season is a loss that was big to the defense but never brought up. Clark played discplined coverage and was a great tackler. Ty. Carter is an above average safety when Troy is on the field but he is hampered when an undisciplined Smith is on the field.
It's gonna be a long frustrating Saturday night against Taylor and Jones-Drew,IMO.

Iron City South
12-31-2007, 11:44 AM
Couple things come to mind reading this thread:

- We have aging and average LB's with the exception of a very productive James Harrison.

- The loss of Aaron Smith is HUGE. He is without question what makes our run stopping ability work, not fat Casey as some of you assert.

- Keisel is a "tweener" and get's totally manhandled by OT's. He's got a great moter, but he needs to go back to his old role of being a ST's maniac and a situational pass rusher. His position needs an upgraded starter.

- You all know how I feel about "twig" (a 195 lb Polamalu) He's not playing at the level he is being paid or expected to play.

12-31-2007, 11:52 AM
- We have aging and average LB's with the exception of a very productive James Harrison.

IMO, Farrior peaked 2 seasons ago and is now on the decline.

Foote and Haggans are average at best.

Harrison is playing at a high level, but he is not young (28yrs old I believe) and he is injury prone as the past has proven.

Woodley and Timmons better prove next sesaon that they are the future or we will be in some serious trouble at a position that is traditionally our strength on defense.

01-01-2008, 03:05 AM
and yet somehow we finish with the #1 defense in the league... :scratch:


The final numbers have been tallied and a new champion has been crowned -- the Steelers defense finished atop the National Football League for 2007.

Now that defense has a more difficult job -- go out and prove they're not mere paper champions Saturday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Because anyone who saw the Jaguars shred that defense on the ground Dec. 16 would not dare declare it the best in the NFL.

The Jaguars ran for 224 yards with Fred Taylor piling up 147, both Heinz Field records for an opponent, in a 29-22 Jacksonville victory.

"They got us pretty good," linebacker James Farrior said. "But we're going to be ready this time. Hopefully, it won't go the same way. They should be coming here with a lot of confidence. They beat us and they beat us convincingly."

That's happened a lot lately. The Steelers have lost three of their past four games and surrendered an average of 28.5 points in those final four.
NFL playoffs Wild-card round:
Jaguars (11-5) vs. Steelers (10-6)

* When: 8 p.m. Saturday.
* Where: Heinz Field.
* Line: Jaguars by 1 1/2.

The No. 1 defense in the NFL has been leaking yards and points lately, and making people wonder if their stats weren't built against early creampuffs and before defensive end Aaron Smith was knocked out for the season Dec. 9 during a 34-13 thumping in New England.

"We need to get back to smashing the run," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "That's what we do best. We haven't shut down an opponent's running game in the past few weeks, but we have to start again on Saturday."

The Steelers defense ranked third against the run in the NFL by allowing an average of 89.9 yards per game and was third in pass defense, allowing 176.5 per game.

That shows balance and domination ... on paper.

"That's what we do, stop the run, and we haven't been doing that the last couple of weeks," safety Tyrone Carter said Sunday in the Steelers locker room after a couple of no-name Baltimore backs ran over them again. "Right now, it's over, it's new.

"If you ain't ready to play in the playoffs, you don't belong in here. We have great character on this team. I know we're going to be ready for Jacksonville."

The Jaguars are an early 2-point favorite to win. One thing the Steelers do have going for them is history. No opponent has beaten the Steelers twice in Pittsburgh in the same year in the club's 74 previous seasons.

NFL total defense

Final regular season statistics


Yards per game

1. Steelers


2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers


3. Indianapolis Colts


4. New England Patriots


5. Tennessee Titans


Jacksonville will try to become the first, and no Steelers player thought the Jaguars would try anything different than they did Dec. 16 in Heinz Field.

"No, no, why would they do that?" linebacker Larry Foote responded, confused at the question. "They ran successfully on us -- why change?"

Some teams have been known to do it as a surprise tactic. The Steelers, for example, went into Indianapolis two years ago for a playoff game with virtually everyone, including the Colts, expecting them to run and keep the ball away from Peyton Manning. Instead, Ben Roethlisberger threw often in the first half, they jumped out to a lead and went on to an upset victory.

So what if Taylor ran for 147 and Maurice Jones-Drew tossed in another 69. No?

"What's the saying?" Carter asked. "If it works, keep going. They don't have anything to fix. They killed us with it.

"It's a copycat league. They're going to go back and see the things they had success with and see if we correct them. If we don't correct them, they're going to kill us and that's the bottom line."

The Steelers have lost two starting defensive players since they were stuffing running backs -- Smith and free safety Ryan Clark. Strong safety Troy Polamalu has missed a handful of games and also played through rib and knee injuries. Otherwise, the starters on defense have remained relatively healthy.

"I have a lot of confidence in this defense," said Farrior, its captain. "I know these guys, we know how to play and we know how to play well."

Saturday, they get another chance to show they can do it, particularly against the run.

"That's the key to victory," Foote said. "That's what they do and as a linebacker, I'm geeked up for that -- a playoff game, Saturday night in Heinz Field.

"Knowing they're going to come here and run it, what more could you wish for?"

01-03-2008, 01:18 AM

Steelers try to shore up defense
By John Harris
Thursday, January 3, 2008

Given time and enough game tape, NFL teams can break down the best defenses.

Exhibit A: Coach Mike Tomlin's Steelers.

Finishing with the league's top-rated defense doesn't mean opponents haven't figured out ways to attack it.

In recent weeks, the Steelers have been vulnerable against both the run and pass.

First, teams such as the Jets and Patriots hit the Steelers for big plays in the passing game while keying on the aggressive tendencies of the secondary against the run.

Then, with the Steelers looking to limit big plays in the passing game, the Jaguars and Ravens switched things up and rushed for 224 and 180 yards, respectively.

With Jacksonville returning to Heinz Field for Saturday night's rematch in an AFC playoff game, the Steelers don't have much time to find a solution for stopping the Jaguars' potent ground attack led by Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew.

"That ain't our makeup -- giving up big runs," nose tackle Casey Hampton said. "The whole past month we haven't been playing defense the way we're capable of playing. It's a whole lot of frustration when people run the ball on you like that.

"We ain't tackling -- point blank. Guys trying to do too much. We're starting off slow and then guys trying to do other guys' jobs. We just ain't playing together."

Teams have adjusted to the Steelers' early success against the run. Defensive end Brett Keisel said after the season-ending loss at Baltimore that opposing backs have been more patient and are waiting for plays to develop.

That game plan has succeeded against a Steelers defense that features blitzing linebackers who have been caught out of position against cutback runs and draw plays.

Tomlin went so far as to say the Steelers might be forced to play a more basic defense against Jacksonville if the players can't perform their assignments and fill the proper gaps.

The Jaguars burned the Steelers for long runs on third down, extending drives and controlling the all-important time of possession by a scandalous 37:39-22:21 margin.

"We had opportunities on several of those plays to bring guys down, and when you get in those situations, when people are running the football, there are chances for people to get 4 or 5 yards because of the posture you are in," Tomlin said. "We missed a few tackles."

Linebacker James Harrison agreed that players need to stick to their assignments.

"We've got to get back to playing the type of football we're used to playing," Harrison said. "Nobody going off and freelancing or panicking if a guy gets a 6- or 7-yard run. I think there was a lot more of that going on the last few weeks."

Taylor, who rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown in Jacksonville's 29-22 win over the Steelers on Dec. 16, has historically created big matchup problems. He has more rushing and receiving touchdowns against the Steelers than any other team.

"A guy his size (6-foot-1, 228 pounds), you don't usually see being as fast as he is," Harrison said.

Still, the Steelers defenders believe in their system, and in each other.

"All I see is we're No. 1 in the league (in defense) and we're in the playoffs," linebacker Larry Foote said.

They need to stop pressing so much and stop trying to do everything all at once. Just do your jobs and let the system work the way it's supposed to. If the players hold their ground and stay in position they'll be right in the path of Taylor or Jones-Drew and in position to make the play.

01-03-2008, 05:48 AM
You're right this defense is just getting ran over anymore........I just hope the offense is prepared for a shoot out style game against the Jags....Steelers must throw the football to keep up with the Jags running game....lol I don't expect the Steelers to stop the Jags running game at all Sat. night...lol

I agree! This week we have to come out shooting, guns blazing! Ben must outscore the Jags! We need to pass, pass , pass! We will run to keep them honest, but lets let our All-Pro QB win this game! Mr.Tomlin Please do not take the ball out of Bens hands!

01-03-2008, 11:13 AM
I agree! This week we have to come out shooting, guns blazing! Ben must outscore the Jags! We need to pass, pass , pass! We will run to keep them honest, but lets let our All-Pro QB win this game! Mr.Tomlin Please do not take the ball out of Bens hands!
Ben needs an offensive line to protect him if we want him to carry this team... I have all the confidence i the world with Big Ben but if he doesn't have the protection and the time to deliver the ball then it could be along day. I really like Bens ability to get out of the pocket and keeping a play alive to try and make things happen...

As for the defense... it's time to **** or get off the pot! They have been very lack luster the last month and a half and their time is now... going back to the basics is probably just what this team needs to bring that fun aspect back into the game!

01-03-2008, 01:52 PM
It takes a consistent effort though man, that's the bad thing about this team. ...you can see that we just decide to not show up until the 4th quarter and then try and turn it on at the last minute ... and even when there is we still can't close the deal....

Dr Jeckyl, Mr Hyde syndrome. And exactly--we turn it on in the 4th Q, but it's way too little, way too late.

And it's seeing that level of play that they CAN deliver in about 10 minutes of the last Q that makes us salivate for the next game thinkin' they're gonna "bring it" again, and we just keep getting let down.

K Train
01-03-2008, 02:19 PM
i kinda like seeing the jags be the overwhelming favorites....i think it gives us a chance as ****ed up as that sounds lol

01-03-2008, 03:11 PM
I'm with ya Ktrain, this may be just what the doctor ordered. Earlier in the year nobody looked to us to do anything in the division but finish 3rd or even dead last and we came out firing and won a bunch of games. Then everybody started singing our praises and we started sucking. Now we're definitely flying below the radar when the media is talking about the wildcards more than a division winner like us.

I say bring it on now, let's hope a sleeping giant has finally awakened and ready to do some damage in the playoffs. At this point it's anybody's guess as to how far we will go or even if we make it out of the first round but I do know the pressure is clearly not on us in this playoff series so let's just go out, have fun, and kick the ****ing Jags into next week ! :cope:

01-03-2008, 03:31 PM
I look for Fred Taylor to get knocked out of the game early from a hard hit. Mark my words it'll happen....

01-03-2008, 03:46 PM
Our inability to stop the run comes from a lack of effort. Trying to arm tackle and dragdown big backs. It doesnt work like that. You want a big back stopped take his legs out. We'll know how the game is gonna turn out when we see the defense make its first tackle.

01-04-2008, 06:01 AM

By Mike Prisuta
Friday, January 4, 2008

What's happened to the Steelers' run defense of late is as unprecedented as it is inexplicable.
"We don't even know what's going on," nose tackle Casey Hampton said.

Actually, theories abound as to what's caused the NFL's third-toughest run defense to become as soft as the Heinz Field playing surface over the past three weeks.

But coming up with reasons as to why those cracks and creases have suddenly appeared in what had previously been a seemingly impenetrable unit on the ground have proven as difficult as shutting down Steven Jackson, Cory Ross and Fred Taylor.

The Steelers surrendered 494 rushing yards over their final three regular-season games, a stretch that began by allowing a Heinz Field opponent-record 224 on Dec. 16 against Jacksonville.
That's the highest three-game total in the four years Dick LeBeau has coordinated the defense in his second stint with the Steelers.

"The last four or five games we haven't been up to par," safety Tyrone Carter said.

That's a problem the Steelers aren't used to confronting, especially against the run.

"I've never been around anything like this," Hampton said, "not in the seven years I've been here."

Poor tackling and a lack of "gap integrity" -- players failing to show up where they're supposed to in a given defense in relation to the alignment of their teammates -- are the most often-cited contributing factors.

The Jaguars' return to the scene of the crime at Heinz Field for a postseason opener Saturday night will demand better from the Steelers on both accounts or run them into the offseason.

Jacksonville is second in the NFL in rushing, averaging 149.4 yards per game.

"We had a few games where we didn't play up to our potential, and teams played better than we did," linebacker James Harrison said. "We're fine."

Their body of work this season suggests the Steelers are still as stingy as they've always been since LeBeau returned in 2004.

The No. 1 ranking achieved in total defense this season is the Steelers' second in the past four years.

And they were No. 3 against the run for the third consecutive season in 2007 after finishing first in that category in 2004.

But, lately, they've allowed 224 rushing yards to the Jaguars, 90 and 6.0 yards a carry to the Rams and 180 on the ground to the Ravens, whose running back tandem of Ross and Musa Smith isn't as intimidating or as decorated as the dynamic Jacksonville duo of Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew.

"When we watch film, we're like, 'Man, they couldn't have gotten that if a guy would have stayed in his gap,' " Carter said.

Fitting into the proper gaps in the first place also has been an issue, LeBeau said.

"It can happen in any series, any group of games," LeBeau said. "The gaps move. They have to understand where they go, and then it's a physical effort to get in that gap. They must get to that position and maintain it.

"The gaps are never gonna be stationary. It would be pretty easy if they were."

Trust issues also have surfaced, compelling some players to attempt to do too much within the defense.

"Definitely," LeBeau said. "Unquestionably. You go to help somebody else before you take care of what you have to get done.

"Really and truthfully, that's the biggest thing we have to correct. They just have to trust like they always do, trust their teammate, trust the defense and play hard."

Other than what Hampton said it sounds like these guys understand that even having just 1 guy out of position can completely destroy a run defense and allow a big play. These guys know how to play run defense, they've proven that year in and year out but right now they are in a funk and this weekend is the perfect time to get out of it.