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Thread: Steelers young Wide Receivers will be key

          
   
   
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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Steelers young Wide Receivers will be key

    Gone is Santonio Holmes and his Super Bowl MVP performance of 9 catches for 131 yds. and the game winning Touchdown. Enter in a trio of young Wide Receivers to pick up the slack and take on a prominent role in the Steeler offense. Normally it takes a minimum of 2-3 full years before these up and comers really to start to catch on and "get it" as they say. NFL offenses are complex, and the defenders are faster, stronger, more experienced than what they are used to seeing in college. Considering the complexity of the play calls and situations that young players are put in, it's even more amazing when you see rookies and 2nd year players really make an impact so early in their career.

    Such is the story with 2nd year receiver Mike Wallace, and the rookie duo of Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. Speedster Mike Wallace burst onto the scene into 2009, quickly solidifying the 3rd WR spot on the offense and by the end of the year was seeing significant playing time in all situations. Some said that he was just reaping the benefits of veterans Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes, and no one was sure if he could handle a starring role in 2010. Wallace took that rookie year and turned it into a 60 catch, 1,257 yd. and 10 Touchdown campaign in 2010. With Holmes gone and Ward mainly the slot/possession receiver, it was up to Wallace to take on a bigger role, a role in which he excelled to say the least. His 21.0 yd. per catch average was 2nd best in the NFL at the end of the regular season. With so much potential the sky is the limit for this superstar. Not only can Wallace outrun just about anybody or anything on the planet, but his improved route running has made him an even more complete threat.


    Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians runs a lot of multiple receiver sets in his offense, so having players capable of being effective in the 3rd and 4th spots is a must. Brown and Sanders have done just that. Both players combined for 44 catches for 573 yds. and 2 TD's (Brown also had a kick off return for a TD). Not so much the amount of yards but it's the catches that are most significant for these 2. Sanders has been a big play target for Ben Roethlisberger, proving his not afraid to go across the middle and leave himself exposed to the big hit, so he can make the catch. That's the type of attitude and performance you get from a player learning under the veteran tough guy himself, Hines Ward. In a Steeler offense you don't survive the roster cuts in August unless you can go across the middle. Sanders is not only fast, his knack for finding the holes in the defense to make the big catch is becoming more and more regular. Antonio Brown has been a bright spot not only in the return game, but he's been making a name for himself when the game is on the line. Normally a Quarterback will look to his trusty, veteran, players when you need that must have 1st down to keep a drive alive. Brown has proven more than capable of filling that role, especially in the playoffs. An intelligent, tough player, Antonio has given the Steeler offense yet another outlet for defenses to be concerned about. In the 2010 Dvisional and Conference Championship games, Roethlisberger looked to Antonio Brown both times on 3rd down in the final minutes of the game to help seal the win. Against the Ravens he made a circus catch clutched to his helmet as Ben tossed up a prayer on 3rd and 19. Ben may have had full confidence in Brown to make that catch, but to the fans on that play it was a prayer and Tone made sure he answered it. In the Jets game, he again somehow found Brown coming free on 3rd down to make sure the Steelers didn't allow the Jets another offensive possession.


    Both the Ravens and Jets have big names in their secondaries, each one of them capable of handling virtually any NFL wide receiver. The Packers are no different and in many ways are better, so the test will be great. Having gone up against such top notch competition this year and especially here of late will serve these young guys well as they enter the biggest stage of their lives. One thing is clear though, with these 3 pass catchers still getting their feet wet in their NFL careers, they have proven they have what it takes in big game situations. Ben will need solid performances from all of his receivers and a few big plays will certainly be a factor in the final outcome. Clearly all three of guys "get it", and that's good news for the Steelers heading into Super Bowl XLV.

    Are they up for the challenge? We shall see...

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    SteelDad's Avatar
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    Good stuff BRC! I think one thing a defense can never truly account for is speed and we didn't have these 2 rooks last season. They will create match-up problems galore and if Heath is not required to stay in and help with protection, it could be a big day for Big Ben!


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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Indeed, if they can consistently get Heath out running a route, and then you have 3 other guys out there all running patterns and clearing out their parts of the field it's going to leave someone open on a regular basis. The key is for Ben to get time to find his targets. I like our WR's ability to get open no matter what the Packers secondary is like, it all comes down to protection and if Ben gets that even alittle bit we can do some damage through the air.

    You can't coach speed and we've got plenty of it for a change.

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    I am pretty great. Rampage's Avatar
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    Sanders and Brown have looked solid all year. Sanders is good at getting open for Ben and running after the catch and it seems like every time Brown touches the ball that it is a big play (kickoff return TD, the helmet catch versus the Ravens, the game winner versus the Jets). Heck, if Ben played a better game last week I think he would have hit Sanders for a TD instead of giving up a pick. I must say that with Ward, Wallace, and Miller being the primary targets for defenses to cover, that these kids give the black and gold a distinct advantage over opposing secondaries.

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    It's interesting, when you look at their combined stats it doesn't seem like they have done that much. When you realize how big the catches they have made have been to our success, it's clear that they have been a key to our run to Super Bowl XLV.

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    Draft Pick pimplydan's Avatar
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    The key for our young receivers to come up big and have success is to establish the running game . If Mendenhall plays like he did against the Jets , we will get the playaction going and the shots to the wideouts as well .

    The key is to get the Packers defense to play honest . If the packers can stop the run they will be able to pass protect better and make it more difficult for the young receivers to have an impact .

    That's why I chose Mendenhall to be the DARK HORSE in my post . He has to run and get some checkdown passes with success. That will slow down their blitzers and open up the passing game for the young receivers .

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    SA's #1 Pirates Fan Tetris Champion Black@Gold Forever32's Avatar
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    You don't have to sell me on how important both Sanders and Brown are to this offense......I was campaigning them to play early on since with Holmes gone this offense needed more speed and big play ability........With Ward, Miller, and EL there just wasn't enough speed with Wallace as the only speed/big play guy.......With Wallace, Sanders, Brown, to go along with Miller/Ward the offense is more rounded all around.......

    I think the Steelers offense is in good hands with The Young Money Crew and Ben being the ATM.....lol

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    Veteran DanRooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rampage View Post
    Sanders and Brown have looked solid all year. Sanders is good at getting open for Ben and running after the catch and it seems like every time Brown touches the ball that it is a big play (kickoff return TD, the helmet catch versus the Ravens, the game winner versus the Jets). Heck, if Ben played a better game last week I think he would have hit Sanders for a TD instead of giving up a pick. I must say that with Ward, Wallace, and Miller being the primary targets for defenses to cover, that these kids give the black and gold a distinct advantage over opposing secondaries.
    Good hands and good at getting open but every time Sanders catches the ball he's unnecessarily diving for it. Ben even got on him about that.

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    Assistant Coach steelchamp204's Avatar
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    itd be nice to see BA actually spread the field with the 4 wr sets instead of bunching them all the time

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    Quote Originally Posted by steelchamp204 View Post
    itd be nice to see BA actually spread the field with the 4 wr sets instead of bunching them all the time
    Bunching them up at the LOS is a good idea in most situations. It creates confusion on who is going to do what and who on the D is going to cover who. As far as our young WR's goes, I'm impressed with the way they have handled some pretty tough situations they've been thrown into. They show a lot of poise and character for guys so young.


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