Saturday, December 08, 2007

Now for the Steelers Expert

The prolific Bob Labriola, a writer for Steelers Digest and, has come up with his matchups to watch for this week's game versus New England. Here's a brief look:
  1. "STEELERS OFFENSE VS. PATRIOTS QB TOM BRADY . . . If a team does enough things right to have a lead in the fourth quarter against the Patriots, it then becomes incumbent upon that team’s offense to convert third downs to hold onto the ball – and keep the king of comebacks on the sideline."

  2. STEELERS SECONDARY VS. PATRIOTS WR RANDY MOSS . . . The Steelers have allowed only seven completions of 25-plus yards, and the only one longer than 40 was the 56-yard flea flicker from Kellen Clemens to Laveranues Coles on the second play of the game against the Jets. Conversely, Moss alone has eight catches longer than 25 yards, and six of those eight are longer than 40."

  3. "STEELERS ROLB JAMES HARRISON VS. PATRIOTS LT MATT LIGHT . . . Light is going to have to adjust quickly to Harrison’s speed and explosion, or he’s going to lose the battle of leverage every time. The Steelers have to get pressure on Brady, or they’ll have no chance to win."

  4. "STEELERS QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER VS. PATRIOTS OLB MIKE VRABEL . . . One of the most glaring errors of the Bill Cowher era here was the coaching staff’s inability to figure out a place to play Mike Vrabel . . . Roethlisberger is going to have to deal with a lot of things in this game at New England, and figuring out where Vrabel is . . . on any particular play could be one of the more difficult ones."

  5. "STEELERS PK JEFF REED VS. PATRIOTS KOR ELLIS HOBBS . . . Hobbs is averaging 27 yards per kickoff return, and he has brought one back this season 108 yards for a touchdown."

The comments about Mike Vrabel, vis-a-vis the mistakes of the previous coaching regime, are very interesting. However, was he better than any of the players who were ahead of him at the time he was with the Steelers? Mr. Vrabel played with the Steelers from 1997-2000, and during that time he was a backup to Jason Gildon, Greg Lloyd, and Joey Porter. So, which one of those players would have been benched in place of Mike Vrabel? Despite not being a starter Mr. Vrabel did play rather extensively. There's no arguing that Mr. Vrabel has been a terrific player (maybe even a Hall-of-Famer), and it hurts any time the Steelers lose a good player to another team, but it isn't clear to us who Mr. Vrabel should have, or could have, replaced.

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