Thoughts On Steelers Second Preseason Game

Pittsburgh Steelers Byron Leftwich scarmbles for positive yards in the first half against the New York Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium in week 2 of the NFL Preseason in East Rutherford, New Jersey on August 21, 2010. UPI /John Angelillo Photo via Newscom

Ah, sweet sweet TIVO.  Allowing me to maintain some semblance of a social life and still blog about our fifth string wide receiver’s route running ability.

Some random thoughts from the Pittsburgh Steelers Meaningless Game #2:

QUARTERBACKS - Ben Roethlisberger saw his first action of the season.  He looked to be in mid-season form.  And by “mid-season form,” I mean he ran around in the pocket like a kid with ADD and then showed his typical bad decision making by throwing a poor ball that resulted in a pick.  He also held the ball too long on a 2nd and goal resulting in a sack and five yard loss.   These blunders helped contribute to his being the only quarterback who failed to lead a touchdown drive on Saturday.  To be fair, he appeared to be in good physical shape and showed some nice ability to roll out while making crisp throws on the run.

Byron Leftwich looked pretty good in his brief appearance, highlighted by a 68 yard bomb to Mike Wallace which he dropped in perfectly to the speedy wideout.  Of course, the ignorant bloggers and columnists are using this as proof positive that the Great QB Controversy of 2010 is over.  To them I say this:  the Giants were clearly playing vanilla schemes and generating ZERO PASS RUSH.  On one play, Lord Byron actually SCRAMBLED away from two defenders and lumbered forward for 5 yards.  The chances of him doing that in a real game are about as likely as the Pirates winning the World Series.

Mark my words, as soon as the season starts and he faces a real honest to goodness pass rush, his statue-like pocket presence will doom our offense.

Dennis Dixon looked fantastic as usual but it was strictly in mop-up time.  At this point, there’s no use in my singing his praises until we start the season 0-2 under the immobile Leftwich.

DEFENSE - The Giants held Eli Manning out after suffering a gaping head wound in their first preseason game while backup Jim Sorgi is hurt.  So they went the entire game with third stringer Rhett Bomar.   I’m not trying to sound any alarm bells based on meaningless games but you don’t exactly want to see practice squad fodder like Bomar lead a TD drive against your FIRST TEAM defense.  Which is exactly what happened in the second quarter.

Bomar bomar’d a deep pass to Other Steve Smith for a 45 yard play on coverage by Bryant McFadden.  Granted B-Mac was playing looser than a sorority girl down in Milledgeville but I’d like to see better from a secondary that was torched last year.

Then again, that secondary may have been a bit confused due to Ike Taylor getting tossed from the game four plays into the game.  I always figured players treated these contests like a joke but there was Face Me Ike swinging punches at Hakeem Nicks for some inexplicable reason.  Maybe he had dinner reservations at Tavern on the Green or something.

Slightly more encouraging was the play of second year corner Joe Burnett.  He made a fantastic reaching INT of a tipped Bomar pass.  Considering nobody in our secondary could hold on to a pass last year, I think Burnett may merit a move up in the depth chart past Willie Gay if he continues to show good hands.

Second rounder Jason Worilds saw his first action of the season and showed very little.  He got stood up at the line of scrimmage on almost every play which was the knock on him coming out of college (good rusher, bad run stuffer).  Speaking of which, Keyaron Fox showed very good sideline-to-sideline movement when in with the second team.  Meanwhile, speedy RB Ahmed Bradshaw beat beat both James Harrison and Lawrence Timmons to the outside on a 9 yard TD.

SPECIAL TEAMS - Daniel Sepulveda handled the kickoffs and may have taken the job away from Skippy.   His kicks traveled about 5 yards farther than Reed’s and more importantly, he’d get enough loft on the kicks that the coverage could get into place.

On returns, rookie Antonio Brown saw time as a kick and punt returner.  He didn’t set the world on fire but handled the job capably enough.  I wouldn’t say he’s an upgrade over Stefan Logan but I don’t think he’d be any worse either.   Which is my long-winded way of saying Joystick may be in danger of not making this team.

RUNNING BACK – The Steelers’ commitment to the run is admirable.  And necessary because they aren’t going to win without a good run game.  The problem is, we’re two games in and I’m not convinced they can run effectively.  Mendenhall ran 8 times for a measly 11 yards.

Which isn’t all his fault because anything up the middle is doomed due to massive penetration allowed by a leaky offensive line.  Runs around the corners aren’t much better.  Flozell Adams, in particular, seems to be struggling with the move to RT.  I’ll chalk some of it up to just not knowing the schemes (yet) but he needs to get up to speed soon.

Mewelde Moore had a couple nice runs which should solidify him as the #2 back.  Although Issac Redman continued to impress.  They used him as a fullback on some first team formations giving them the option of handing off to either FB/RB.  And he scored another red zone TD although this one was from 12 yards out.  At this point, I’d be shocked if he doesn’t make it as the 3rd back.

All in all, a good night for the Steelers against a depleted and half-assing Giants team.  With cut downs looming, there should be a couple hard decisions to make in the near future.

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