Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Blame enough to go around

The "Chalk Talk" feature on Steelers.com is one of our favorites, and this week's edition examines the Broncos success at throwing the ball deep against Pittsburgh.

Did Ike Taylor have a bad game?  Sure, but there's more to it than just one player's poor performance.

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Monday, January 09, 2012

Post mortems: Struggling on the road

Consider this the first in several postseason wrap-ups.

For all the glowing numbers produced by the 2011 Pittsburgh Steelers ~ e.g. 12-4 record, #1 defense, top 10 passing offense ~ there is one number that did not get a lot of examination here: Point differential.

Overall, the Steelers were a +98 for the regular season; however if one was to breakdown that number further, i.e. compare home game point differential to road game differential, a much less flattering image of the team begins to emerge.

In their eight home games the Steelers were +120, two home shutouts and a dominating performance versus Cincinnati went a long way towards that total. Conversely, on the road, the Steelers were a paltry -22 during the regular season.  This got us to wondering about whether or not the 12-4 regular season record was truly a mirage, and so we applied a mathematical formula and, after checking our calculations, determined that based upon point differential alone the Steelers could have reasonable expected seven wins this season.  Even more troubling is the notion, as expressed in the article, that there is a predictive quality to this formula for the following season.  If that is true the Steeler nation will not have to worry about heart-wrenching playoff losses a year from now.

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Sunday, January 08, 2012

Wild Card Postgame: A brief comment

The Steelers just were not good enough. Despite catching a few important breaks (e.g. the lateral to Mike Wallace), and having an opportunity to win the game in regulation, Pittsburgh made far too few plays (while allowing far too many) to deserve the victory.

And, the guess here is that Ike Taylor is going to remember this game for a very long time.

Wild Card Halftime

At this point it looks as though it will take a Tebow-esque miracle for the Steelers to advance any further in this playoff season.

The view from here is that a lack of physical play by the Steelers' corners allowed Denver's receivers ~ including a tight end ~ get off the line of scrimmage with relative ease, and (to his credit) Tim Tebow threw some of his best passes of the season.

As if things weren't bad enough, injuries to Brett Keisel, Casey Hampton, and Max Starks leave Pittsburgh with no depth, ensuring that both dies of the Steelers' line (i.e. the offense and defense) are going to fad badly as the game wears on; and with the score being what it is one can surely expect a lot of running from Denver's offense.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Steelers @ Denver: Wild Card Weekend

The Steelers limp into Denver a bruised and battered team; so while some (i.e. fans) may be taking the game for granted, right now the view here is that Pittsburgh is ripe for a first round upset, despite being early eight point favorites (for those inclined to place a wager, the safer bet would appear to be taking the under 39.5 combined points).

But pessimism is as natural to Steelers fans as snow is to Denver, so perhaps we should just look at the final numbers ~ which never lie.

Denver Offense v. Steelers Defense
Average total yards per game: Denver offense 23rd (316.6) v. Steelers defense 1st (271.8)

Average net rushing yards per game: Denver offense 1st (164.5) v. Steelers defense 8th (99.8)

Average net passing yards per game: Denver offense 31st (152.1) v. Steelers defense 1st (171.9)

Average points per game: Denver offense 25th (19.3) v. Steelers defense 1st (14.2)

Steelers Offense v. Denver Defense
Average total yards per game: Steelers offense 12th (372.3) v. Denver defense 20th (357.8)

Average net rushing yards per game: Steelers offense 14th (118.9) v. Denver defense 22nd (126.3)

Average net passing yards per game: Steelers offense 10th (253.4) v. Denver defense 18th (231.5)

Average points per game: Steelers offense: 21st (20.3) v. Denver defense 24th (24.4)

Special Teams
Average yards per punt return: Denver 3rd (12.7) v. Steelers 13th (10.5)

Average yards allowed per punt return: Denver 19th (11.5) v. Steelers 12th (8.4)

Average yards per kick return: Denver 15th (23.9) v. Steelers 10th (24.4)

Average yards allowed per kick return: Denver 20th (24.6) v. Steelers 17th (23.7)

Net yardage punting average: Denver 8th (40.2) v. Steelers 22nd (38.6)

Opponent net yardage punting average: Denver 12th (38.2) v. Steelers 17th (38.9)

Turnover differential: Denver 26th (-12) v. Steelers 29th (-13)

Time of possession: Denver 25th (29:37) v. Steelers 2nd (32:46)

Red Zone touchdown efficiency (touchdowns): Denver 24th (47.2%) v. Steelers 17th (50.9%)

Red Zone defense (touchdowns): Denver 14th (51.9%) v. Steelers 17th (54.8%)

Sacks allowed: Denver 23rd (42) v. Steelers 23rd (42)

Some Individual Numbers
AFC Passer rating: Tim Tebow, 15th (72.9) v. Ben Roethlisberger, 3rd (90.1)

AFC Leading rushers: Willis McGahee, 4th (1,199 yards, 4.8 yards per carry, 4 touchdowns) v. Isaac Redman, 24th (479 yards, 4.4 yards per carry, 3 touchdowns)

NOTE: Tim Tebow is the 15th leading rusher in the AFC with 660 yards, 5.4 yards per carry, and 6 rushing touchdowns.

AFC Leading receiver: Eric Decker, 42nd (44 catches, 612 yards, 13.9 per catch, 8 touchdowns) v. Mike Wallace 10th (72 catches, 1,193 yards, 16.6 yards per catch, 8 touchdowns)

NOTE: The Steelers have four receivers amongst the top 50 in the AFC (Mike Wallace #10, Antonio Brown #12, Heath Miller #31, and Hines Ward #38) while the Broncos have only one.

AFC Sack Leaders: Von Miller, 4th (11.5) v. LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison 9th (9.0)

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Monday, January 02, 2012

One quick comment

Given everything that transpired between Santonio Holmes and his New York Jets teammates and coaches yesterday, and throughout the 2011 season, that April 2010 trade that the Steelers pulled-off is looking better than ever.

In return for their troubled star the Steelers received a fifth round draft pick in that year's NFL draft, a pick that was eventually traded to the Arizona Cardinals (who selected John Skelton).  In return the Pittsburgh re-obtained Bryant McFadden and a sixth round pick from the Cardinals.  The Steelers used that pick to choose Antonio Brown, this year's Steelers MVP.

Yeah, it's a funny game.

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