You know what’s better then 2-0…That’s right 3-0. The Steelers performances to date have been close to perfect; unfortunately for Mike Tomlin and his Pittsburgh Steelers team that’s not the big story this week. I believe the former Steeler coaches will have little effect on this game. Bruce Arians spent the entire spring changing offensive terminology and verbiage with Ben. Larry Zierlein changed the scheme of the line calls and quite a few of the blocking principles. Basically the point I am trying to convey is simple. Unless Whisenhut is going to catch a pass, Grimm is going to lead the counter trey, or Kevin Spencer is going to cover a kick…They will have the same affect on the game as any NFL coach.
Did you know?
The Steelers with the Ball
- The Steelers look to start 4-0 for the first time since 1979.
- QB Ben Roethlisberger is 11-1 with 16 touchdowns and a 101.9 passer rating against NFC teams in his career
- The Pittsburgh Steelers offense leads the NFL in 3rd down efficiency on offense and points per game allowed on defense!!
The Steelers will look to pound the run at the Cards (I know I start most gospels with that exact phrase…Its what the Steelers do)…The Cards show multiple base fronts on defense where they transition between the 43 defense and a 34 defense…The one thing that stands out on film watching the Cards defense…This maybe the slowest defense I have seen this year. If the Steelers get a hat on hat in the running game and give Parker a crease…No player on the Cards defense can stay with Parker even with an angle. No Hines Ward could be big this week; I believe the Steelers will miss Ward’s blocking far more then his receiving. The Cardinals have two very good players on defense that must be accounted for at all times. Safety Adrian Wilson is a Troy Polamula type of player, he lines up all over the field and causes havoc; the second player is Karlos Dansby the best linebacker in the NFL no one has heard of. I believe the Cards will come out with 9 in the box and pressure the line of scrimmage…If I know that... Arians knows that…I expect a few new wrinkles from the Steelers offense, Perhaps a max protect wheel route to Parker… A 3 Step drop quick slant to Holmes…The Steelers will look to exploit the lack of speed and over aggressiveness of the Cards defense.
Skilled positions matchups.
- Marvel Smith and Antonio Smith. Antonio Smith is not a very good football player. He likes to guess and jump around blocks…He runs himself out of position at least 5 times a game. He offers little to nothing rushing the passer. Marvel Smith has been very solid for the Steelers this year….I believe Smith will have his best game of the year to date…Smith turned the corner late last year…He decided he was going to be the hammer every chance he had…Over the past 10 games no Steelers offensive linemen has finished off blocks with a greater frequency then Marvel Smith. I love this matchup for the Steelers.
- Alan Faneca and Darnell Dockett. For some reason this matchup scares the s@!t out of me…The main reason is Dockett has been a force rushing the passer for the Cards defense this year…He has registered 2.5 sacks and he could easily have 6 sacks. Faneca still sucks in Pass Pro. Dockett doesn’t like the physical aspect of interior line play...In other words he doesn’t like to play the run. The Steelers should pound the ball right at him…If Faneca wants to get paid this off season he needs to prove he can still take the heart of a “under” defensive tackle in the run game. This will be a key matchup…Faneca must dominate Dockett in the run game…I believe Faneca can beat Dockett down to the point of quitting.
- Sean Mahan will be covered at times…His health is my only concern. Mahan cheats like an all Pro…He holds every play and never gets caught. Mahan just plugs away and figures out a way to block his man. The Cards will attempt to confuse the Steelers offensive line with movement…Good luck with that…I question some of the talent across the Steelers offensive line…I no longer question the preparation. The Steelers must find a way to block Karlos Dansby when the Cards show some 3-4. Mahan will never be a Dawson Webster Mansfield or Hartings…He is a key cog the team can depend on to get his job done…By whatever means it takes
- Kendoll Simmons and Gabe Watson….This is another intriguing matchup; Watson is a big boy with little technique…Watson stands straight up on the snap of the ball and eats up space (Similar to Ted Washington)…Kendoll Simmons with the help of a baseball bat couldn’t move Watson. The Steelers hope is Simmons can position himself between Watson and the ball carrier, here comes the big surprise…I believe he will do so without a problem…I expect Simmons to have a very good effort in the run game. Pass Pro is where it gets tricky…Simmons needs to keep his head on a swivel…He can not over commit to the initial interior pass rusher. He must be prepared to pass off the initial interior rusher to pick up Karlos Dansby who is a game changer rushing the passer…The Cards will show some exotic blitz packages to the Steelers offensive line…The Steelers Oline MUST pick them up.
- Willie Colon and Bert Berry. Thankfully for the Steelers Bert Berry is nowhere near the player he once was. Willie Colon needs to play far better this week then he did last week in the run game. No matter how anyone wants to cut it (The inflated 5.3 yards per rush to the Right side of the LOS)…The Right side of the offensive line has not pulled there weight. Colon is taking small steps…Those steps need to get a lot bigger…Quickly. Colon should dominate this matchup in the run game…I doubt he does; Colon doesn’t have a mean streak with front 7 players…His mean streak is reserved for 210 pound defensive backs. Colon is fantastic in Pass Pro…He did allow the initial sack last week…From that point on his “man” didn’t sniff Ben. So I have mixed emotions about Colon. Berry is the most complete pass rusher Colon will have faced to date.
This is the area where the Steelers have an overwhelming advantage. The Cards will be forced to blitz the Steelers to stop the run and pressure Ben…The Cards don’t have the players in the back end to cover the Steelers skilled position players. Gerald Hayes is a run stopping machine…There is no way he can cover a Miller Parker or Tuman in the passing game. Calvin Pace is a converted 43 end who attempts to play 43 Strong side linebacker…Unlike Hayes he doesn’t play the run well and he is awful in coverage. Karlos Dansby is a just a fantastic football player…He plays the run, He can cover…He sells beer at halftime….He is all over the field. Roderick Hood and Eric Green the Cards starting corners wouldn’t make the Steelers roster…They can’t cover and both struggle to support the run…I really hope Hines Ward plays…The reason I believe he doesn’t…Steelers wont need him this week…The Cards corners are that bad. Adrian Wilson is a bad man…He is a lot like Troy Polamula… he is used all over the field…Wilson is more physical than Troy but nowhere near the athlete. The Cards free safety is Terrance Holt and boy does he suck…Thankfully for the Steelers Torry Holt Terrance’s older brother got all the talent in that family. 1st round bust Antrelle Rolle and Ralph Brown play nickel and dime back for the Cards…Both have failed miserably in the past. The only way the Cards can stop the Steelers offense…The Steelers make big time mistakes and fail to protect the ball.
- Ben…Protect the ball no dumb mistakes…If the play is not there…Chuck the ball out of bounds play the next down… no need to take foolish hits
- Willie…Do your thing…For those who haven’t noticed his thing leads the NFL in rushing.
- Steelers Wrs and Te’s…Make plays for your quarterback…The heartbeat of the offense may miss this game (Ward) that means Miller Wilson Washington Spaeth Tuman must make the plays to move the chains…Santonio must continue to challenge defenses vertically down the field
Cards with the Ball
- Newspapers in Arizona are blasting the Cardinals fans for selling there tickets to Steelers fans…One report expects half the stadium to be Steelers fans…Steelers fans are everywhere.
- No dumb penalties or turnovers.
- I expect the Steelers staff to send a message…If the Steelers have the chance to stick it to the Cards…They will.
- I would not be surprised if Ben has 14+ passing attempts in the first half of this game.
Everyone talks about the Cards advantage with coaching…Dick LeBeau watched Whisenhut’s offense everyday for 2 years…You think the Steelers defense will be ready...I sure do? The Cards offense is a carbon copy of the Steelers offense from 2005. The Cards offensive Line improvement is due to max protect and 3 man routes…If Whisenhut believes he can move the ball in that manner against the Steelers he is mistaken…Lebeau will force either Kurt Warner or Matt Lienart out of there comfort zones make them move there feet and make plays on the move…In my opinion neither Quarterback will be able to do so. The Cardinals have talent at the skills positions. Larry Fitzgerald and Bolden are a top receiving duo in the NFL; Edge James is running with more authority this year and Leonard Pope is a difficult cover since he stands almost 6 foot 8 inches. All that being said…The Quarterback needs time in the pocket to make reads...3 man routes by the Cards most likely means 7 Blitzer’s from the Steelers defense…I believe the Steelers defense continues its domination of opposing teams…I see no way the Cards offense can put more then 14 points on the board.
Cards skill position players.
- Mike Gandy and Brett Kiesel in the run game. This should be a pretty even matchup on paper…Kiesel has been MIA rushing the passer; his play against the run has been excellent. I still believe Gandy’s best position is inside at guard…Gandy is a shade over 6 foot 3 inches with fairly short arms…Kiesel should be able to lock out Gandy and flow to the ball without many problems. The Cards look to seal the edge in the same manner the Steelers do…Block down with the Te allowing the tackle to flow to the second level… There is No way Pope Can down block and control Kiesel or Smith. I love this matchup for the Steelers.
- Gandy on Harrison in Pass Pro. I really like this matchup for the Steelers. I believe Harrison will walk Gandy all game long. Gandy struggled mightily with speed and power off the edge when he played for the Bills…Harrison’s game is speed and power off the edge. The Steelers must force the Cards Quarterbacks to move there feet…Pressure off the edge is one of the keys to getting the quarterback moving
- Reggie Wells in the run game. Wells like most guards facing the Steelers will spend a majority of his day attempting to help his center with Casey Hampton on any run left. Wells is a decent player…He is actually a lot like Kendall Simmons with more strength and a fierce disposition…Casey Hampton is a beast…The Cards interior Olinemen should strap on those roller skates early….They could be headed for a ride backwards. I see no way Wells or Deuce get to the second level to block the Steelers inside linebackers.
- Reggie Wells and Brett Kiesel in the passing game. Kiesel should work Wells…Kiesel is tailored made to give Wells fits…Kiesel is long fast and explosive with a nice bag of tricks rushing the quarterback…Wells struggles with athletic interior pass rushers; Marques Douglas of the 49rs gave Wells fits rushing the passer…I expect the same from Kiesel.
- Poor Lyle Sendlein on Casey Hampton. I will make this very quick…See Casey explode…See Sendlein fly…See Casey Eat some ball carrier. Let the ass kicking begin.
- Deuce Lutui in the run game. Lutui like most guards facing the Steelers will spend a majority of his day attempting to help his center with Casey Hampton. Same deal on the Right side as the left. Lutui is a very good right guard though…I don’t believe he will move Hampton….He has a chance of sealing Hampton to the inside. Lutui was quoted this week saying” Mike Patterson is the best Nose guard he ever faced”…Well Deuce I have a feeling that will change this week.
- Deuce and Aaron Smith in Pass Pro. This is an even matchup; and the best matchup across the Front 7. Both players are warriors. I believe Deuce will win most matchups…Smith will be more concerned with the run game…That being said…Deuce has a habit of running his mouth at his opponents…Aaron Smith is one player on the Steelers roster you don’t want to piss off...His motor is non stop…This could get really interesting.
- Levi Brown and Aaron Smith in the run game. Brown has played very well…Aaron Smith usually dominates young starters…Smith is a beast for many reasons…I spoke about his motor, what tends to go unnoticed is Smith strength and athleticism. Smith made Joe Staley look a high school player last week…I expect more of the same this week from Smith.
The way the Steelers limit the production of Fitzgerald and Boldin is 2 fold. First the Steelers must pressure the Cards quarterbacks…Neither Warner or Lienart can throw the ball on the run…Make them move there feet to complete a pass. Punish both receivers when they touch the ball…Fitzgerald wants to sky for that 18 yard in…That’s fine…Clark or Smith need to drive the crown of there helmets into his ribs. I promise you Fitzgerald will think twice before he skies for another ball. Boldin wants to take the slant across the middle…That’s fine…James Farrior needs to drop the hammer and remind him that he is a cake eating wide receiver. 3rd Wr Bryant Johnston is the epitome of inconsistent…He will make a dazzling catch one play…Drop an easy catch the next play.
Edge James will find holes if there…James is still an elite back. I believe James will have a long day…He will take the physical beating of carrying the ball that’s obvious…What goes unnoticed by most is the physical beating Steelers Blitzer’s put on the running backs. Frank Gore wanted no part of the Steelers Blitzer’s by the mid point of the 3rd qtr last week.
Leonard Pope is a big dork…He will make some plays in the passing game if left uncovered…He runs awful routes and has problems holding on to the ball.
The Steelers have looked fantastic this year (knock on wood). I would say the kicking game is even…Both teams kickers and punters have been very solid. What we must take into account is the Cards signed Super Special teams player Sean Morey…I believe Morey will be the big difference in special teams…(You can now stop laughing)
The Steelers Kick return game has been excellent…Punt return…Well it hasn’t had any mistakes and that’s just fine with me.