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    What have we learned so far?

    The NFL just finished week 8. That’s the halfway point in the season (although the Steelers have only played 7 games). With the Steelers coming off of a bye week, it seemed like a good time to reflect back on the season so far to see what we’ve learned so far about the 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers.

    These are in no particular order. But as I think back to what has occurred so far this season, these are some thoughts that come to mind.

    1. The Steelers could easily be 7-0.
    The Steelersfind themselves with a 5-2 record. However, the two losses could have just as easily been wins. In the loss to the Bengals, the Steelers dominated just about every statistical category. From yards of offense to time of possession, the Steelers were dominant. Yet, a dropped touchdown by Limas Sweed, a missed field goal by Jeff Reed, and poor 4th quarter defense somehow led to a loss.

    Similarly, in the 17-14 loss to the Chicago Bears, the Steelers led in most statistical categories. Most viewers would probably have thought that the game was a blowout in the Steelers favor. But untimely turnovers, and two missed field goals by Jeff Reed led to yet another unexpected Steelers loss

    If not for two poorly played 4th quarters, the Steelers would be right there with the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts as the last remaining undefeated teams in the NFL.

    2. The Steelers are a passing offense
    I know that that is anathema to some Steelers fans. After all, the Steelers have ALWAYS been a power running team. In some fans’ minds, the Steelers SHOULD always be a power running team. But the reality is that this offense is a passing offense. Just ask Big Ben.

    The Steelers’ passing attack is ranked #5 in the NFL, and they actually average more yards per game than the potent New Orleans Saints offense led by Drew Brees. Chew on that for a moment.

    The Steelers have 3 receivers among the NFL’s top 30 in total number of receptions. They have 4 receivers among the top 40 in the NFL in receiving yards. Are these the Steelers that we’re talking about?

    While the Steelers have the #5 passing attack in the NFL, their rushing attack is ranked #18. The Steelers don’t have a running back in the top 15 in the NFL in rushing yards.

    3. Big Ben still takes too many sacks
    This is becoming a broken record. I am not even going to try to ascertain whether the fault lies with the offensive line, or with Big Ben himself. But suffice it to say that Ben spends far too much time on his back.

    Roethlisberger has already been sacked 20 times. He’s well on his way to another 40+ sacks season. I’m no doctor, but that can’t be good for his health and longevity.

    4. The Steelers pass defense has still not played to their full potential
    While the Steelers’ run defense is ranked #1 in the NFL, their pass defense is ranked #17. That’s a big departure from last year’s defense that was ranked #1 against the pass.
    The biggest contributor to the decline has been the absence of Troy Polamalu. Now that Polamalu is back, I expect to see the Steelers pass defense show a marked improvement.

    5. Limas Sweed is not the answer to the Steelers’ #3 receiver need
    Drop. Drop. Drop. ‘Nuff said.

    6. Mike Wallace IS the answer to the Steelers’ #3 receiver need
    I’m starting to feel like a broken record, but I’ll say it again; I love Mike Wallace. The kid doesn’t play like a rookie. He’s got dependable hands, and he’s got speed to burn. That’s a deadly combination for a #3 receiver. Because Wallace is the #3 receiver, he’s usually matched up against the opponent’s #3 cornerback, or against a safety. Wallace’s speed would pose a challenge to a #1 cornerback. A #3 cornerback or the average safety has absolutely no chance against the kid.

    7. It’s still too early to assess Rashard Mendenhall
    I know that some fans want to anoint Rashard Mendenhall as the next great Steelers running back. And Mendenhall’s 5.4 yards per carry average is compelling evidence of his potential. But Mendenhall has to do a better job of protecting the ball before he can truly be trusted to carry the load for the Steelers.

    8. Jeff Reed’s antics may have insured his exit from Pittsburgh
    I have always been a supporter of Jeff Reed. When he missed those field goals that cost us games against the Bears and Bengals earlier this year, I stood up for Reed. When he had his little incident at Sheetz, I also stood up for Reed. However, Reed’s antics are growing tiresome.

    Reed has been one of the most dependable kickers in the NFL during his time with the Steelers. However, Reed is also the player who is most likely to embarrass the organization off the field. He doesn’t seem to understand that Steeler Nation takes great pride in the fact that the Steelers are excellent off the field, as well as on the field. We know that guys like Terrell Owens, De’Angelo Hall, Jeremy Shockey, Tank Johnson, or Randy Moss could never play for the Steelers, despite their considerable talent. So if we wouldn’t bring in guys with that type of all-world talent, why do we continue to tolerate Reed’s misdeeds?

    So there you have it, Steeler Nation. Those are some of the things that we’ve learned so far this season. Are there any other observations that we’ve forgotten? Do you disagree with any of the observations that we’ve made? What have YOU learned about the Steelers so far? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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    Starter cmerrifield's Avatar
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    This was a good read, not sure I agree with all of it but overall pretty good. Not sure I think its time to give up on Sweed, Sweed still will come around, and we need him to so that we dont overpay Holmes. If Sweed doesnt come along, we might have to pay Holmes more so that we have three good recievers. I also am not sure that Big Ben will continue to spend time on his back. I think everyone came in thinking Oline was a weakness and so they went after them, however, as they continue to hold their own, they will be the main focus less. Ben will always take more sacks than the average QB, but I think the number of sacks will continue to drop.

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    Starter igor0190's Avatar
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    How many years does Holmes have left on his contract?

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    Quote Originally Posted by igor0190 View Post
    How many years does Holmes have left on his contract?
    I believe Holmes has two years left on his contract. He signed a five-year deal in July of 2006.

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    3. Big Ben still takes too many sacks
    This is becoming a broken record. I am not even going to try to ascertain whether the fault lies with the offensive line, or with Big Ben himself. But suffice it to say that Ben spends far too much time on his back.
    How many more times is the media going to continue to harp on this; it's Ben here, he's going to get sacked no matter what you do. The OL could be brilliant in all phases but Ben playing the way he does, he's going to get sacked now and then, it's inevitable. Move on, deal with it, each year he's going to be sacked more than most top ranked QB's. Better play by the OL is helping matters yes, but he's never going to be one of those guys that only gets sacked every now and then.

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    More than half of Ben's sacks are on him for holding onto the ball too long. Having said that though I still think the line is a big weakness. They are massive but not exactly mobile.

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    Starter cmerrifield's Avatar
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    Holmes has this season and one more on his contract, so my guess is they will sign him this coming offseason. The good news is there arent very my FA's with Holmes, I think its Hoke, Essex, and Fox and Woodley will be RFA.

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    Top 30 Troyisabeast_43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ohio steeler View Post
    Link to story
    This read makes a lot of good points and I definitely agree that the Steelers could easily be 7-0 had they played to their potential and not shot themselves in the foot in both the Bears and Bengals games. Would I like the Steelers to be 7-0? Definitely, but Im actually glad in a way the Steelers have a few losses and a couple bad games out of the way because as we saw with the Pats two years ago it's damn near impossible to go 19-0 up until the Super Bowl and win every single game you play. With that being said, the Steelers I feel are still in good shape and are in control of their own destiny to still win the division and get at the very worst a number 2 seed in the playoffs in the AFC. Ben Roethlisberger and this offense has been nothing short of spectacular so far this season and with a lot of winnable games still left on this schedule for the Steelers there is no reason to believe that Ben and the offense wont continue to play great and win a lot of games for the Steelers for the remainder of this season. Mike Wallace has been great and is a gamebreaker and a difference maker is I believe is a huge reason for the Steelers having a 5-2 record I believe seeing that he has made some huge plays and great catches in a lot of the Steelers wins at key points during the game. The defense has gradually gotten better every week continuing to get more sacks and put more pressure on the QB. I think a healthier Troy the rest of the way will make this defense in that much stronger. I still believe when all is said and done this Steelers team will be right there come January in the final 4 in the AFC and have an excellent chance of defending their Super Bowl Championship and bringing a 7th Lombardi Trophy back to the Burgh...

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