Tuesday News from the P-G

Hooray, Fast Willie Parker is going to get on the field this weekend. This can't happen soon enough for me, its already tough enough to justify taking him #1 overall on my Fantasy Football team. It will be interesting to see how long Tomlin keeps the starters in this next game. Usually the third preseason game is the one where the starters get most of the work. However he treated last game just like the first so this one will probably be played like their second game, which means maybe the starters will see a quarter.

However this article about Faneca seemed like nothing more than a stir up the shit with the disgruntled player.The article, titled Faneca debates versatility question, basically asks Faneca if he was asked to move to left tackle because of injury would he. He says yes, because he would do anything to help the players on the field. But first he expresses some doubt about it. Is it really necessary to fan this flame? It really does seem like asking a disgruntled player a question hoping to escalate an already tenuous situation. When the player doesn't take the bait you go ahead and try and escalate the situation anyway. Maybe Bouchette is making his move to try and get with the New York Post? Or maybe I'm crazy, and people actually care about this.

Reaction to 2nd Pre-Season Game and Email Exchange

Mario and I have watched most Steelers games together for the past 3 years, with the notable exception of the postseason of the Super Bowl Year when we both found separate lucky spots. (Don't believe in that kind of thing? Read Super Bowl Year). This year we are far apart so we will be watching the games separately which will inevitably lead to some email exchanges about the games. If there is anything good or semi-interesting we will put them up. Just a warning, we are prolific emailers so this could get long.

From: David

Nate Washington dropped like a 40 yard bomb, although it looked like he might have caught it, there wasn't a good replay.

Max Starks played HORRIBLY. It was great to have the Steelers announcers for the first half. When something happened they specifically talked about how it affected the Steelers, such as the sacks, they weren't giving Green Bay credit they were crushing Max.

From: Mario

Yeah, from what I heard on the radio and read in the articles, that
wouldn't even be classified as a drop by the coaching staff because he
made a great effort and possibly even did make the catch.

From: David

It’s still factually incorrect.

From: David

Also, I think you underestimate how solid both the first and second team defense looked, the CBs were breaking up plays, getting to the receiver at the same time as the ball and knocking it loose. Closing down holes. Green Bay didn't get a first against our first or second team defense.

From: Mario

I think you overestimate the Packers offense. They were awful last
year and don't appear to have gotten any better at all. But yeah, I
was pleased with the D.

From: David

Like I said, what I was most impressed with was how the Cornerbacks were Ball Hawking, just being in the exactly the right spot all the time

From: Mario

That is good to hear, since they were basically awful all of last
year. You think McFadden beats out Deshea for a starting spot?

From: David

I don't know, he played well, DeShea had the penalty on Cedric’s punt return. Neither one seemed to get burned or anything

From: Mario

Here's another question - if Cedric does indeed get the job as punt
returner (or if Santonio does, for that matter), does Willie Reid make
the team? He hasn't really proven enough to earn a spot solely as a
receiver/special teams guy, especially without the return aspect, has

From: David

No, Willie Reid does not make the team.


Would It Have Been Too Much to Ask Them to Settle It On the Field?

Anytime the Steelers struggle, at least we as fans have this to remember - at least we don't root for Cleveland. Tortured Cleveland fans now get to cheer for a team where coach Romeo Crennel decided yesterday's starting quarterback via a coin flip! Crennel couldn't decide between Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson (Where was Brady Quinn? Getting a manicure or something?) so he went to a coin toss. I wonder if he went with the same rules as the NFL game coin toss, where the call has to be made before the toss (after the 1997 Thanksgiving Day debacle with Jerome Bettis against the Lions). Did Frye get to call it since he's technically the incumbent? And if this had happened in Pittsburgh, would the coin toss have been carried live on all of the local networks? Frye did win the toss, for what that's worth. That may be his only victory of the year.

Preseason Game No. 2 - Steelers vs. Packers Recap

The Black and Gold made their first appearance of the 2007 season at Heinz Field on Saturday night for a game against the Green Bay Packers. Both teams' starters struggled a bit, though the Steelers second team got out to a 9-0 lead before the Packers rallied in the second half for a 13-9 victory.

The game was blacked out in my area but replays are being shown multiple times this week on the NFL Network (see previous post). However, I was able to listen to Bill Hillgrove and Tunch Ilkin's radio broadcast for most of the game, and here are my thoughts:

The no-huddle offense that Bruce Arians had Ben Roethlisberger and the first team offense come out with is tough to exhibit in a preseason game. First of all, Arians is obviously going to want to hide a lot of the wrinkles the team has been working on in order to save them for the regular season. Secondly, the no-huddle is very dependent on a quarterback being in rhythm, and that's tough to ask that of Ben on the very first series of the game. And thirdly, and most importantly in my mind, the no-huddle is much more effective to use against a defense that is worn down at a later point in the game. Its not as if the Packers were gasping for air after three plays. I'm excited to see how the Steelers utilize the new package this year, but for this game, it didn't work.

Charlie Batch looked very good again. He's proving (if he hasn't already proved it) that he is one of the most dependable and serviceable backup signal callers in the league. Batch was 3 of 5 for 97 yards and a touchdown, with the score being on a 41-yard pass to Walter Young. Brian St. Pierre came in for the second half and was 10 of 23 for 99 yards in mostly ineffective play.

The offensive line is definitely a concern. For as good as the line looked last week in roughing up the Saints' defensive front, the opposite happened this weekend. The Disgruntled Alan Faneca was out, and that obviously hurt, but the Steelers gave up three sacks from the left tackle position, where Max Starks got some playing time in a tryout role as opposed to his normal right tackle spot.

The guy who was the darling of Steeler Nation last week, RB Carey Davis, didn't get the ball this week, though he did make some nice special teams plays. However, undrafted rookie Gary Russell looked good once again. After rushing for 41 yards on eight carries against New Orleans, Russell led the Steelers with 56 yards on nine attempts against the Packers. Najeh Davenport started once again in place of Willie Parker and had 34 yards on seven carries, though 21 of those yards came on one run. Kevan Barlow had 25 yards on six carries, including a 17-yard burst.

As for the receivers, Walter Young is trying his best to stay off of the practice squad this year. Young had two catches for 50 yards including that touchdown. Santonio Holmes continued to look like he's in for a big year, with a 49-yard catch and run. Nate Washington didn't even drop a pass!

The special teams play had its ups and downs. Daniel Sepulveda boomed five punts for an average of 49.8 yards, including a 59-yarder in the second quarter that went out of bounds inside the 20-yard line. Cedric Wilson staked his claim to be the punt returner with two runbacks for an average of 19 yards. However, Jeff Reed had a PAT blocked.

Defensively there were no individual standout performances, though rookie William Gay had another solid game, including recording the Steelers' only sack. Pittsburgh held Brett Favre to 2 of 7 passing for 7 yards. So for those keeping track at home, Favre and Drew Brees have combined to go 3 of 13 for 13 yards against the first-team D. Not too shabby. Up next for the Steelers is the third game of the preseason, Saturday at 8 p.m. at Washington.