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Gospel III...James Toney Edition
The Steelers are 2-0. The sick thing….The offense isn’t close to firing on all cylinders. Ben’s foot work has been off, Backs have missed holes, the Offensive line has missed blocks, Receivers have dropped balls… And the Steelers still rank in the top 7 of virtually every offensive category. Defensively the Steelers have been dominant…Words can not describe the utter domination of opposing teams offenses by the Steelers defense. I expect a street fight type of game when Mike Nolan brings his scrappy young group of 49rs into Pittsburgh; I see two major problems for the 49rs…I don’t believe the 49rs offensive line can handle the Steelers front 7, the 2nd problem…No one comes into Pittsburgh and wins a street fight type of game. (The only way the Steelers lose those types of games is if they give them away). The Steelers can not come out flat against the 49rs…The 49rs have explosive players on both sides of the ball. Running back Frank Gore is a flat out stud, Vernon Davis doesn’t make many plays…There isn’t a more dangerous Tight end with the ball in his hands in the NFL, Alex Smith maybe the most elusive quarterback in the NFl. The Steelers defense must keep there rush lanes; they must gang tackle and punch the 49rs offense in the mouth from the opening whistle on. The 49rs defense is built on speed and pursuit; as I mentioned earlier I don’t believe the 49rs defense has the horses upfront to contend with the Steelers running game and play action off the running game. The key to the Steelers offensive success is simple; No dumb turnovers or penalties and manageable second and 3rd down conversions…In other words the Steelers cant beat themselves.
Did you know?
-The Last time the Steelers started 3-0… Was 1992 in Bill Cowher’s first year as the Steelers head coach!
-The Steelers have won 12 out of the past 13 games against the NFC…Including the last 7 at home
-Last time the Steelers beat the 49rs at home…1987
-The 2007 Pittsburgh Steelers have as many sacks (10) as points allowed
The Steelers with the Ball
The Steelers will look to pound the ball at the 49rs. One matchup scares me in the front 7, Willie Colon and Bryant Young… If Colon can hold his own the Steelers will jam the ball down the 49rs throats. Colon has struggled to get movement in the run game…If that trend continues the Steelers could be forced to throw the ball more then they would like. Kendall Simmons bum shoulder most likely won’t keep him out of the line up; if it does Chris Kemoeatu is a capable replacement. The Steelers offense must control tempo, I would look for a play action pass to Holmes out of a heavy run formation 1st or 2nd play of the game. The 49rs defense has some speed in the front 7…I believe the 49rs have the slowest safety tandem in the NFL.
Marvel Smith and Marques Douglas in the run game. Douglas plays the run with reckless abandon and a non stop motor…I think he is in big trouble this week. Douglas is very undersized for a 34 Def End (6-2 280) and he plays a power game…Marvel Smith should have zero problems getting movement on Douglas…I believe the Steelers Tight ends can down block Douglas allowing Marvel to get to the second level. Douglas is way over rated in my opinion…I have read reports recently that state Douglas is the best run defender in the NFL from the RDE position…I just don’t see it.
Marvel Smith and Tully Banta Cain in Pass Pro. Another matchup I like for the Steelers. Cain is nothing more then a wave player. When the Steelers had Cain in for a visit I prayed a novena he would sign elsewhere. Cain is not big, fast or explosive. I don’t believe he can test Marvel to the edge…I know for a fact he can’t beat Marvel with a straight bull rush…and I doubt he can beat Smith back inside. Smith has looked great in Pass Pro so far this year…Cain has showed nothing to lead me to believe that trend will not continue.
Alan Faneca in the run game. Faneca is not the same player he was 3 years ago. He no longer has the physical ability to overwhelm players at the point of attack. That being said Faneca is still a stud in the run game. He moves very well for a man his size, he understands blocking angles and cut back lanes and positions his body between the ball carrier and the defender better then any guard in the NFL. I expect Mahan to struggle a bit with Franklin inside. On runs left Faneca will need to help Mahan…I believe it will be a quick double team with Faneca flowing to the second level to encounter over rated future rookie Hall of Famer Patrick Willis. On Runs right I believe Faneca punishes Willis every chance he has. If Mahan can handle Franklin without help, I doubt Willis finishes the game. Willis believes he is still in the SEC where he could run through blocks…That’s not happening in the NFL. Willis got his *** lit up a few times last week against the Rams…I expect the same this week.
Faneca in Pass Pro. The Niners slide Franklin inside in nickel and dime formations. He could give Faneca some problems. This matchup does scare me a bit. Franklin is the type of player that gives Faneca fits. Faneca needs to keep his balance (Avoid getting his head over his spikes) and he MUST NOT over extend…You reach the defender must Teach. Faneca has improved in Pass Pro…Not to the point that I Have a ton of confidence in him.
Sean Mahan and Aubrayo Franklin in the run game. Franklin is a short fire plug in the Kelly Gregg mold. He is a poor mans Casey Hampton. His goal is to penetrate and cause havoc in the Steelers back field…This will be a huge test for Mahan. Mahan showed he could handle an enormous Nose tackle with a solid performance against Ted Washington of the Browns…If Mahan handles Franklin in the same way…I am ready to declare him a Free agent steal. Mahan is technically sound with very good feet and ability to move to the second level…If he shows he can absorb and then get movement on a penetrating nose tackle without help he passes the quality NFL center test. Mahan has been far and away the best interior offensive Linemen on the Steelers squad through two games. My expectations are simple…Mahan will hold his own…He may not dominate; he will do just enough to win most matchups in this game.
Kendoll Simmons in the run game. Simmons has a bum shoulder; if he can’t go the Steelers don’t lose much with Chris Kemoeatu (if anything at all). The story is the same for the Right guard as it was for Faneca…He may have to help Mahan with Franklin on runs to the right…He will spend a majority of his day picking off linebackers at the 2nd level. Derek Smith is a hard nosed blue collar backer who will swallow run plays if left unblocked
Kendoll Simmons and Bryant Young in Pass Pro. This matchup screams mismatch…I believe the Steelers could be in trouble here. Young is a 55 year old stud. He is relentless and still an elite interior pass rusher. The Steelers will struggle to block Young…I have a feeling the Right side of the Oline is in for a long day. I believe Kemo would have a better chance of blocking Young then Simmons. Young won’t walk up Kemo’s chest…I have no doubts Young will rag doll Simmons all day long.
Willie Colon and Bryant Young in the Run game. Willie Colon is going to get his welcome to the NFL. Young is going to kick his *** up and down the field. Colon has to hope for some stalemates or that Young gets injured. I see no way Colon can block Young and get movement at the point of attack. Colon will get help from the Tight ends in the run game…I doubt either player (Colon or the tight end) can scrape off Young to block the Niners backers at the second level.
Willie Colon and Brandon Moore in Pass Pro. Colon is a very good pass blocker. Brandon Moore should get the start in place of the injured Manny Lawson(Out for season...ACL)...I expect Colon to neutralize Moore rushing the passer...Moore did show some upside last season rushing the passer... Colon must be on the top of his game
The Steelers Tight Ends could have a field day this week against the Niners. Both Niners interior backers (Willis and Smith) can fly to the ball when moving towards the Line of scrimmage. Both struggle to open there hips and cover…Both look lost in coverage. I expect Heath Miller to be a force in both aspects of the game; I believe Miller will make some key blocks to set the edge allowing Parker to get the corner…I believe Miller exploits the middle of the Niners defense in the passing game. Tuman watched some Mark Bruener video this off season…His run blocking has been exceptional that must continue this week. Matt Spaeth the Touchdown maker is dinged…I expect him to play this week…Not sure if he catches another TD pass.
The Steelers Wide Receivers continue to make plays for there quarterback. Hines Ward does the dirty work…1st down grabs, Knockout blocks…Perfect route running with a touch of anger makes Ward the best possession Wide Receiver in the NFL. Santonio Holmes continues to improve his route running (which is close to elite already) and catching the ball with a focus of protecting it with his body, Holmes is everything the Steelers hoped for when they drafted him in the first round of the 06 draft…Holmes is a viscous run blocker. Nate and Cedric the Receiver continue to make clutch grabs and move the chains.
Nate Clements will draw Ward…Clements is usually stronger and more physical then most wide receivers…I don’t expect Ward to have a huge day catching the ball…I expect Ward’s greatest impact will be in the run game…Clements love to support the run…The Niners count on Clements to support the run…I expect Ward to drop the hammer a few times and take Clements heart.
Walt Harris is a gambling SOB…Holmes is going to get him with a double move early in the game. Holmes has way too much skill and speed to be covered by Harris in man coverage. The Niners are going to have to pick there poison early in the game…They roll the safety up against the run…Holmes beats them deep…They keep the safety back...The Steelers jam Willie Parker and the run game down there throats.
Ben…The messiah…I have 1 complaint…If the Play is not there…Chuck the ball out of bounds...Play the next down. Ben takes some hits he doesn’t need to take. Ben’s footwork has been erratic at times this season; as a result he has thrown some “bad balls”. I believe as the season continues Ben mechanics will come along and he will be the elite quarterback to lead this franchise into the playoffs.
FWP…See the hole...Protect the ball…Finish every run. Do your thing.
The 49rs have skill at 4 positions on this defense…If the Steelers don’t turn the ball over or make stupid mistakes the Niners can’t stop them.
The 49rs safeties are slow and dumb… Both Roman and Lewis are horrible against the pass
49rs with the Ball
The Niners offense looks like the Steelers offense…Circa 1993. The 49rs want Gore to touch the ball 40 times in this game…It’s the only way they can win. Alex Smith still has problems reading a defense….Smith throws an accurate ball…I question his arm strength. The 49rs receivers are bums. I never was a fan of Vernon Davis he has problems with route running and catching the ball…He can really run straight line…He is also a load to tackle.
Jonas Jennings and Brett Kiesel in the run game. Kiesel has done a decent job against the run so far in 07. I have watched Jennings play a long time…He has never impressed me…He’s big and soft. Kiesel will make some plays this week…Jennings will struggle with Kiesel’s motor and length. Kiesel could make some plays against base formations in the passing game…I really like the Kiesel/ Jennings matchup in the passing game.
Jonas Jennings and James Harrison in Pass Pro. Harrison should give Jennings fits early in the game. Harrison is faster and far more explosive then offensive tackles expect…As the game goes on Harrison slows down a little bit and the tackles adjust…Harrison desperately needs a counter rush technique to go along with his bull rush…If he develops one he could register 13-15 sacks in a season.
Larry Allen is still a big mean nasty SOB. Casey Hampton is going to get down blocked by Allen (no way Heitmann can get any movement on Hampton)…I promise you Hampton is moved. The Steelers inside linebackers (Larry Foote) must tackle. Larry
Allen will struggle with Kiesel in pass pro…Allen struggles to stop… once he gets started…The Steelers should force Allen to move his feet in pass pro.
Heitmann and Casey Hampton. Casey will dominate any center in the NFL with out help. I believe Larry Allen is one of the few players in the NFL who can move Hampton with a down block. Hampton needs help from his boys this week…Foote Harrison and Kiesel must make plays against the run.
Justin Smiley in the run game. If the game of football was played in a weight room or on a track Smiley would be all pro every year. Smiley is not a very good football player…He doesn’t run block well and he has his struggles in pass pro. Smiley will be asked to down block Hampton…I doubt he gets movement…Leaving the 49rs to run ball pretty much exclusively to the left side of the formation.
Smiley and Smith in Pass Pro… To quote James Toney “Let the *** whippings commence”. Smith is fresh and Christ does he look good…Aaron Smith week in week out makes plays against the run…What often goes over looked is Aaron Smith collapsing of the pocket…He creates a lot of the sacks for the backers.
Staley and Smith in the run game….Read James Toney quote above. Staley is headed to the woodshed this week.
Staley and Haggans in pass pro…Staley can move those feet and pass protect; Clark Haggans is a veteran pass rusher with quite a few tricks up his sleeve…This is a must see matchup…If Haggans schools Staley the way I expect…Alex Smith is in for a long day…He wont finish with triple digit passing yards.
Frank Gore is a stud…He runs hard…He is the best back the Steelers will face this season. I would not be surprised to see Gore rush for over 100 yards…He may get 35 carries. Gore is also a big time threat catching the ball…Screens, they will split him out…He will run routes out of the back field…Every time he touches the ball he must be punished.
Vernon Davis…See Justin Smiley…Davis struggles in every aspect of football. He is not a very good run blocker…He doesn’t catch the ball well…His route running is a joke…When the ball is in his hands…He’s elite…Problem is getting him the ball.
The 49rs Wrs suck. Jackson can’t catch…Battle can’t run. Taylor Jacobs and Jason Hill wouldn’t make 25 teams rosters in the NFL.
Alex Smith…He is very mobile….A threat to scramble on any down or distance…Smith struggles to read a defense…And his arm strength is very questionable (I say putrid). Smith doesn’t scare me at all throwing the ball.
Points of interest.
-Steelers linebackers must play lights out this game.
-Rally to the ball with bad intentions…Gang tackle.
-Force the 49rs to throw the football.
-Attack the ball…Look for the turnover (Gore is a playing with a caste)
-No dumb penalties
The 49rs coverage units are elite (top 5 in both). The Steelers Kick coverage unit sucks (24th in the NFL)…The Punt coverage unit leads the NFL mostly due to Speds dropping 5 balls inside the 20.
Both teams return units struggle.
I am calling the kicking game even…Maybe a slight advantage to the Steelers.