Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dan Kreider Out for Season, Steelers Career Over?

Dan Kreider has been a fan favorite since his arrival in Pittsburgh; but by all accounts his position on the team was tenuous in the extreme as final cut downs were being considered this past summer. Now comes word from WTAE that, as the result of a knee injury sustained on an unplayable field, Mr. Kreider has been placed on injured reserve, thus ending his season.

If this is the end we wish one of the toughest, most effective, fullbacks in the National Football League great success once he is signed by Arizona.

To fill the now open spot on the roster Bill Cowher favorite Jon Dekker has been signed.

Additionally, Jeremy Parquet -- an offensive lineman -- who has been in the league for two years (most recently with the St. Louis Rams, after having been drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs) was signed to the Steelers' practice squad.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cincinnati v. Steelers: The Matchups

Over the course of the last three games Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 16 times and Willie Parker has averaged 3.4 yards per carry (238 yards on 70 carries).

Wonder if offensive line coach Larry Zierlein is feeling any pressure?

Here's a look at the team matchups for the upcoming game Sunday evening:

Bengals Offense v. Steelers Defense
Avg. total yards per game: Bengals Offense, 5th (361.2) v. Steelers Defense, 1st (229.18)

Avg. net rushing yards per game: Bengals Offense, 24th (90.6) v. Steelers Defense, 3rd (77.1)

Avg. net passing yards per game: Bengals Offense, 3rd (270.5) v. Steelers Defense, 1st (154.1)

Third down conversions: Bengals Offense, 6th (47.6%) v. Steelers Defense, 12th (38.0%)

Avg. points per game: Bengals Offense, 6th (25.55) v. Steelers Defense, 1st (13.18)

Steelers Offense v. Bengals Defense
Avg. total yards per game: Steelers Offense, 10th (336.27) v. Bengals Defense, 28th (363.7)

Avg. net rushing yds per game: Steelers Offense, 2nd (141.73) v. Bengals Defense, 25th (120.5)

Avg. net passing yds per game: Steelers Offense, 18th (194.55) v. Bengals Defense, 26th (243.2)

Third down conversions: Steelers Offense, 2nd (48.4%) v. Bengals Defense, 17th (40.9%)

Avg. points per game: Steelers Offense, 7th (24.73) v. Bengals Defense, 29th (26.55)

Special Teams
Avg. yards per punt return: Cincinnati 31st (6.1); Steelers 29th (6.3)

Avg. yards allowed per punt return: Cincinnati 21st (10.2); Steelers 26th (11.4)

Avg. yards per kick return: Cincinnati 11th (24.2); Steelers 16th (23.4)

Avg. yards allowed per kick return: Cincinnati 19th (23.5); Steelers 20th (23.6)

Net yardage punting average: Cincinnati 28th (34.5); Steelers 10th (38.0)

Opponent net yardage punting average: Cincinnati 6th (36.3); Steelers 31st (40.3)

Turnover differential: Cincinnati 15th (+1); Steelers tied for 6th (+6)

Time of Possession: Cincinnati 16th (30:10); Steelers 1st (34:47)

Red Zone touchdown efficiency: Cincinnati 17th (50%); Steelers 6th (57.9%)

Red Zone defense (touchdowns): Cincinnati 6th (45%); Steelers 17th (52.4%)
Note: It isn't clear how important this statistic is -- New England is last in the percentage of touchdowns allowed relative to their opponents' red zone possessions at 70.8%.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Future of Heinz Field?

Following the Monday night Mud Bowl there's been nearly non-stop discussion regarding what the Steelers should do. The early favorite seems to be FieldTurf, and an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette specifically mentions a version of that turf known as Duraspine which has been installed at West Virginia University's Milan Puskar Stadium.

The miracle that is the internet allowed us to find a website for the product; and we were shocked to discover that Sea World in San Diego -- a favorite weekend destination -- makes extensive use of Duraspine. Until seeing that on the web we had no idea that there was anything fake about their grass.

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Worse Than I Could Have Imagined

When, in light of the newly laid turf, a "disaster" was predicted for the Miami game one could never have imagined just how terrible the conditions would become.

Of course the prediction made by Pittsburgh Steelers Fanatic was that Willie Parker would have difficulty running -- ironically enough that was not really the case. While his per carry average (3.4 yards) was paltry, he did carry the ball 24 times for 81 yards; and given the miserable condition of the field that's like a 200-yard game.

But, of course, looking at game statistics really misses the big story of the game: the field itself; and more importantly just how in the world can a professional sports organization as well run as the Steelers allow such a debacle to occur.

The general perception is that Dan Rooney has a strong preference for playing on a natural surface, and there is little doubt that the resulting slow field that emerges as winter sets-in (i.e. frozen and muddy) serves to assist the Steelers, especially the (shaky) defensive secondary. But what happened Monday evening was, in a word, embarrassing, and I can honestly say that that isn't something that I've ever felt before as a fan of the Steelers.

The hope here is that the National Football League will impose a hefty fine on the Rooneys thereby sending a message that the amateurish attempts of the Steelers organization to create a playable field are unacceptable, and in so doing perhaps
nudge the Rooney family towards creating a more permanent, and effective, solution to what has consistently been one of the league's poorest playing surfaces.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Sean Taylor Shot

It isn't Pittsburgh Steelers news (thank goodness for small favors), but for those wanting to keep apace of the developments in South Florida the Washington Post is providing "breaking" updates at their "Redskins Insider" blog.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

The Price That's Paid

"Although the house is cool, he is sweating profusely and can't find a position, seated or prone, that doesn't cause him grotesque pain. Every so often his huge body jerks in spasms of head-to-toe agony. The fits, when they come, turn him as white as the walls and send unself-conscious tears down his cheeks. It's [Brian] DeMarco at 35: dirt-poor, broken, and in a headfirst spiral, taking his wife and children down with him."

Men's Journal isn't exactly known as a bastion of hard-hitting journalism, but in their online edition there is one of the most compelling articles -- this one about former NFL player Brian DeMarco -- about the physical toll that playing in the National Football League exacts on its players. The article mentions Cy Smith, the attorney who successfully battled the NFL on behalf of Mike Webster's children, indicating that he is now assisting Mr. DeMarco.

So, during this Thanksgiving weekend let's give thanks to the men who are willing to wreck their bodies for our entertainment; and hope that the National Football League (and the owners who make up the league -- Mr. Rooney) can find it in their corporate hearts to do the right thing for those who have given so much

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I Predict a Disaster

The woeful condition of the turf at Heinz Field is something that occurs with the regularity of the swallows returning to Capistrano -- every single year. Now, with Pittsburgh high school football championship games to be played at the stadium Friday, Pitt playing on Saturday, and a little NFL game on Monday night, comes word from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of a unique "solution":

"Heinz Field will have a new look to it when the Steelers play the Dolphins Monday night.

It will have a whole new field.

The Post-Gazette has learned that the Steelers this weekend will cover their entire field with new sod, placing it over the DD GrassMaster field that is mostly composed of grass. However, that grass has deteriorated as usual into November and it won't be any better after the four WPIAL high school championship games are played at Heinz Field Friday, followed by Pitt vs. South Florida Saturday afternoon.

The current turf won't be replaced but covered up by the new sod, which is heavy enough that it won't have to be tied down. The work will begin after Pitt's game ends.

It's the first time sod will cover the DD GrassMaster that was installed four years ago . . .

The sod will stay in place through the rest of the 2007 NFL season

And the prediction here is that Willie Parker will have the look of someone running on ice -- traction will be an issue, and a running game that has struggled the past couple of weeks will have something else about which to be concerned.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

You Stay Classy New Jersey

As if losing to the 1-8 Jets wasn't bad enough, now there's this item from the New York Times about what a great group the Jets' fans are:

"At halftime of the Jets’ home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, several hundred men lined one of Giants Stadium’s two pedestrian ramps at Gate D. Three deep in some areas, they whistled and jumped up and down. Then they began an obscenity-laced chant, demanding that the few women in the gathering expose their breasts.

When one woman appeared to be on the verge of obliging, the hooting and hollering intensified. But then she walked away, and plastic beer bottles and spit went flying. Boos swept through the crowd of unsatisfied men

To read the rest, click here.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Just What Took So Long? -- Update

November 1, 2007: One man's trash, a another man's treasure
Published reports indicate that Ricardo Colclough has been picked up by . . . the Cleveland Browns.

And their season was going so well.

Original Posting
Word out of Pittsburgh is that Ricardo Colclough -- he of the muffed punts and blown coverages -- has finally been cut loose by the team. According to a press release from the Steelers, Mr. Colclough had thirty-three career tackles and one career interception.

While Kevin Colbert generally gets high marks for his work in putting together it's hard to imagine what he, and his scouts, saw in Mr. Colclough that warranted utilizing a second round pick in 2004!

For more insights as to the timing of this particular move, read this piece from Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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