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23 Jan 2006

Audibles at the Line: Conference Championships

Each weekend, the FO staff sends around e-mails to each other, both during and after the games. It lets us share ideas for columns and comments, and get an idea of how teams that we can't watch are playing. Be aware that the material in this roundtable might seem a bit disjointed and un-edited. It also might still show up later in the week in other columns, or in comments in PFP 2006.

Pittsburgh Steelers 34 at Denver Broncos 17

Aaron Schatz: It must be unpleasant in the Denver locker room after the game, what with the gigantic monkey on Jake Plummer's back flinging crap at everyone.

Bill Moore: Although his rank in DVOA was the same as last year (#3), I've always thought of Roethlisberger as a situational passer behind a good running program. However, I have to admit Big Ben has much improved from last year. Prior to last week's performance against the Colts and today against Denver, I remained confident that if Pittsburgh needed his arm to win, they were doomed. Not only was I wrong, but Cowher game planned to use his arm. Some credit needs to be given to Pittsburgh's offensive line, which gave him good protection, but he greatly impressed me over the past two weeks.

Mike Tanier: The Steelers have a wide receiver named Washington who went to Tiffin University. Had to look that up:

Location: Tiffin, Ohio
Conference: Independent Football Alliance (Division II)
Record in 2005: 6-5.
Nickname: Dragons
Fast Fact: The Dragons averaged 246.7 rushing yards per game in 2005.

Michael David Smith: I really liked how the Steelers came out with six offensive linemen on Bettis's short touchdown run. And I loved how they pulled Faneca to the right and had Roethlisberger run to the left on Roethlisberger's touchdown run. The offensive game plan was great all day. Ken Whisenhunt played for two years for Joe Gibbs in Washington, and you can see some of the Gibbs influence in the way he uses a lot of motion and counters to keep the defense guessing. How come I haven't heard Whisenhunt named as a head-coaching candidate?

Mike Tanier: Whisenhunt. Beat me to him, Mike. I plan to talk this guy up in Rundown. What a gameplan. Every time they threw to Ward, he was working in a zone against a linebacker and a safety. On that first touchdown, when Champ Bailey was peeking in and ignoring his receiver, that was excellent design. I bet Bailey was peeking because a back (Kreider?) motioned to the far side on that play. Bailey was expecting a run or a throw to that slot receiver.

Roethlisberger was really prepared. The third-down throws in the first half were impressive, but the check downs were even more impressive. More than once, he dumped to a back for six yards or ran up the gut for a few yards. He did throw one or two bad balls in the first half (the Ward tip drill, the fade to Washington in the end zone) but he was hitting wide open receivers constantly in the first half.

The Steelers defense, of course, played a great game, and they did it without blitzing constantly.

Bill Moore: I thought the same thing about Whisenhunt. There's a number of Coordinators who I'm surprised aren't getting consideration, especially considering the number of vacancies. Yet Eric Mangini basically gets a job due to association. No matter how smart he is, and I agree he is very smart, he doesn't get that Jets job without working under Belichick. Part of his intelligence is turning down a job with Nick Saban last year to stay with NE. If he's the Def Coordinator of Miami in '05, he is not the HC of the NYJ in '06.

Aaron Schatz: Pittsburgh had real trouble on third downs this year, not just when Big Ben was injured, but all year. Now they're making all kinds of plays on third-and-long to sustain drives. Is this just Wisenhunt doing new things? If the Steelers from the regular season all of a sudden can convert third downs with that kind of regularity, they are clearly the Super Bowl favorite.

Russell Levine: Whisenhunt has certainly been impressive during this postseason, but he might be one of those guys who wasn't on the short list going into the postseason. He'll certainly be a "hot" coordinator next year.

Ryan Wilson: Ken Whisenhunt had a phone interview with the Rams early in the proceedings (after the wild card round, I think) and apparently he's very big on Oakland's radar right now. I'm all for Steelers guys getting shots at head coaching jobs, but Oakland just doesn't seem like the place to have a successful career.

Bill Moore: RYAN! You're sober enough to type? As the resident Steelers fan, you deserve a congrats.

Ryan Wilson: Actually, my wife is typing this while I'm dictating. And I'm supine. With one of those double-action beer helmets on. Need nap ... more later.

Aaron Schatz: In my preview, I said that Denver had to learn from the Colts' failures, and leave back extra blockers to get the Pittsburgh linebackers. And they did that most of the time and Porter and Farrior kept running over the blockers anyway. Is George Foster always this bad? I don't remember ever noticing him as a weak link before, but he was beaten a lot today. The sack that led to the Plummer fumble saw both Foster and TE Stephen Alexander blow blocks. Alexander is supposed to be a receiving TE, for crying out loud, and he's not even good at that anymore, but was he ever supposed to be a good blocker?

Sometimes, Denver didn't leave back extra blockers, instead they did play action thinking they could get Joey Porter to bite on the run and then throw a pass. Porter never bit on it. They did it on two straight downs at one point and Porter just headed straight for the quarterback.

My biggest question now is this: where was this Pittsburgh defense at midseason? When they were playing close games with Green Bay and Baltimore and Cleveland, and those teams were picking up Pittsburgh blitzers and finding guys open? When the Steelers lost to the Colts and Bengals? What has changed between now and then? What is Pittsburgh doing differently -- and can Seattle find a way to neutralize it?

The PIT running game really got nothing on the Denver front seven until late in the first half when the Denver defense was just exhausted from being on the field so much. It's strange to say this, but that's the Steelers weakness, and I don't think they will be able to run on Seattle at all.

Someone has to explain to me why Denver would throw screen passes in the end zone, risking a safety, and why Denver constantly had its cornerbacks playing like 10 yards off of Cedrick Wilson and Antwaan Randle El. On one third-and-2, Big Ben just flipped it over to Randle El for the easy first, because the cornerback was so far from the line of scrimmage. He may have been in Utah.

Finally, watching the game with friends, Ian (ex-Scramble writer) brought this up: what is the screen that they use for instant replay? Is it HDTV? Because you can see so much more detail on HDTV, when a fast replay gets slowed down to see whether a guy's knee has touched the ground or something, it would be stupid to not have a little high-def screen in there.

Ned Macey: Is it possible that we are witnessing greatness with Roethlisberger? He had the consensus best rookie season since Marino. This year, he's playing with Randle El as his second receiver and Willie Parker as his running back. Sure he still has the great defense, but he is the offense. I still think odds are good that if they fall behind against Seattle, he'll throw some costly picks, but he is the real deal.

Was it my imagination, or did Cedrick Wilson play a lot more than usual? It seemed Randle El was more effective playing back out of the slot where he is more comfortable.

The question about Roethlisberger is whether or not he is just capitalizing on teams playing run against him. I bet the Seahawks will be expecting it. Of course, if they worry about the pass, then the ground game may actually be productive in the first half.

Dick LeBeau was just a bad head coach, I guess. He certainly is a great defensive coordinator. Guess it proves that great coordinators don't always make great coaches. Green Bay certainly hopes the converse is true.

Joey Porter was disruptive as seemingly always. It will be interesting to see how he does going against Jones. Do we know how the Seahawks do against the 3-4?

Russell Levine: I'm also very impressed with the development of Roethlisberger, especially given how bad he looked in the postseason last year. By the end of last season, he was a liability, but he really was their main weapon these last two weeks. Looks calm, never rattled, avoids the big mistakes, finds the open man. And he clearly doesn't mind having the game on his shoulders.

Ryan Wilson: I certainly didn't expect the Steelers to jump out to a 24-3 lead, but it was certainly a lot less stressful than last week's game. I really have no explanation for why the defense is playing so much better than it did during the middle of the year. I think part of it has to do with injuries -- Porter and
Farrior were both less than 100% around the time of the first Indy game (and Farrior missed the Packers
game), and neither got really healthy until the last few regular season games. Also, it looks like the secondary has tightened up it's coverage, forcing QBs to make near perfect throws.

What's interesting is that the Steelers' running game is average right now, but the passing game is clicking. Whisenhunt is basically having his "Larry Brown moment" (the Dallas DB not the NBA head coach) during this post season and he'll probably parlay that into a head coaching gig either this year or next. And even though Pittsburgh isn't running all over opponents -- at least in the fashion they're used to -- Whisenhunt calls pass plays that are basically so low-risk, they're just like running plays. Little dump-offs to the RBs or WRs, and screens have all become staples of this new fangled offense.

Am I the only person who thought Plummer wasn't dreadful? He made one BIG mistake on the pick at the end of the first half (the other pick in the second half was a great play by Larry Foote), but he had a lot of dropped passes, and I give the guy credit for not going down easily. He should've been sacked at least three other times, but he found a way to get out of it and try to make something happen with his feet. Of course he had two fumbles (although not much he could do about the first one), so that didn't help things. But nobody showed up on Denver's offense, so I don't think you can place all the blame on Plummer. The guy got knocked around, but kept playing. I give the guy credit for taking a beating and still getting back up.

Concerning Cedrick Wilson, he plays a lot every game, they just usually don't throw him the ball. I think it's some combination of the Steelers finally getting comfortable with what Wilson can do and the Broncos stopping Hines Ward. I mean, Nate "I'm from Tiffin!" Washington caught a pass today.

Aaron Schatz: I went and checked the Pittsburgh DVOA on third downs, comparing the playoffs to the regular season, split between Big Ben games and Maddox/Batch games:

Pittsburgh DVOA and Conversion Rate on 3rd/4th Down DVOA Conv. Rate TO
Regular season (Week 6, 9, 10, 11) -72.2% 24% 3
Regular season (not including Week 6 and 9-11) 3.7% 40% 5
Postseason 107.7% 59% 0

Carolina Panthers 14 at Seattle Seahawks 34

Michael David Smith: Lofa Tatupu is looking great today. Are we sure Goings didn't fumble on that huge collision he had with Tatupu? It sure looked like he fumbled to me, but I didn't see a replay that confirmed it.

Bill Moore: Delhomme needs to watch out doing the Michael Jordan thing with his tongue. One blindside hit, and there's going to a gang search for the missing appendage.

Mike Tanier: Is Ray Rhodes calling plays for the Seahawks defense? They are really doing a good job. On that Tatupu interception, one linebacker plays Steve Smith on the line with a defensive back deep. Delhomme, I reckon, thinks double coverage, but it is a zone for everybody but that linebacker. When Smith breaks in, he looks like he beat the coverage, but two zone defenders are actually on him. The Seahawks keep mixing things up like that.

Rocky Bernard would look great in Eagles Green.

Michael David Smith: Since Rhodes' stroke it's been linebackers coach John Marshall doing almost all of the Seahawks' defensive playcalling. He's another one who I think should be considered a potential head coach.

Russell Levine: You know, I don't know if Ed Hochuli got that call correct or not, but how bad does it look when he starts to announce the penalty, stops, then announces no flag on the play? I can't recall seeing that before.

Tim Gerheim: As one of the guys I was watching the game with said, it took that long for Tagliabue's call to get down to him, telling him to call it for Carolina to keep the game at least kind of interesting.

Russell Levine: The more I watch Hasselbeck in the playoffs, the more similarities to Favre I notice. The exaggerated pump-fakes, the carrying out of pass fakes after the handoffs, even little things like unbuttoning his chin strap after every play just like #4. It's clear he studied Favre pretty closely when they played together in Green Bay.

Bill Moore: I'm sure Holmgren has a little to do with that too.

As an aside, I think FOX has done an excellent job at camera angles from the camera in the sky. Much better than the CBS AFC broadcast (if they had one, I can't recall). I especially liked the Delhomme sack where he had Smith open on a crossing route. The angle of the camera was perfect to show how Delhomme couldn't get to Smith. Plus, I like the in-huddle shot. I know they are a little goofy, but I'm sucked in by them anyway.

Mike Tanier: Russ, when you talk about similarities to Favre, I am noticing similarities to the way that Holmgren used to call games in Green Bay. Up 27-7, the Seahawks were still executing a lot of their offense, and they drew a late hit against the Panthers after a pass completion.

Aaron Schatz: This is exactly what I said, Carolina has no offense whatsoever without Smith and Seattle ended up putting tons of guys on him. I was going to mention the Tatupu INT also, it looked like it was not just a zone but almost a "follow Smith zone" that would move around wherever he moved. When Tatupu caught the pass, there were five Seattle defenders on the screen. And the Seattle defense just destroyed the Carolina running game, pre- and post-Goings hit.

Seattle is getting great blocking on offense, which will be important when we talk about whether they can somehow control Farrior and Porter. On Jackson's first catch, Alexander was going forward then cut over to pick up a corner blitz that would have slammed Hasselbeck before he got the pass off. Nice. Another play about 12:00 of Q3, Mack Strong actually took out two Carolina defenders at once during a right side sweep. I think Ryan Hannam, the Seattle blocking TE, will be important during the Super Bowl.

At this point anything else I have to say is a random joke. SEA RG Chris Gray either has the pinkest skin in the NFL or has a sunburn. Ken Lucas has the thinnest head in the NFL. Who had Seneca Wallace on their fantasy "best of the rest" team? And what's with the Bud ad that says Bud has no fat? What beer has fat in it

Michael David Smith: Safeties are hard to judge by watching on TV, but Carolina safety Thomas Davis had a pretty bad game. Jerramy Stevens got past him for a key first down on third-and-three, and he just seemed like he was never involved in plays, even when they were right in the middle of the field where presumably he should be.

Russell Levine: Looks like the Panthers didn't bring their sea legs to Seattle. Something about the six-hour flight to Seattle seems to take an awful lot out of East Coast teams. I'd love to be in that crowd -- it looks insane, and the Seattle defense is just feeding off the noise.

Ned Macey: I thought it was interesting on an early third-and-1 when Carolina blitzed multiple people all at the left side just knowing that the Seahawks were going to run that way. It worked, but I doubt they are the first ones to do this, and it was the first time Alexander had been stopped in that situation.

It just seems so easy to beat Carolina, and yet they just went 13-6. I don't know if that is an indictment of the organization or a credit to their coaches. They have one good offensive player. That's it. Take him away, and Delhomme is suddenly a terrible QB. Sure his secondary receivers are bad, but when his first read isn't open, he is a turnover machine.

While Skip Bayless may think DeShaun Foster's injury was a factor, the line just got dominated. Is the Seattle defense good? Our stats say they are very average. I saw them play St. Louis a couple times and the Eagles game, and they dominated the bad team but got beat up by a Bulger-led Rams team. I can't believe the secondary will hold against the Steelers.

Maybe I was swayed by Aikman gushing about him, but it is hard to watch a Seahawks game and not think Hasselbeck is their best player. When you just look at the stats, even after today, you say Alexander is amazing, but watching the game, it is clearly Hasselbeck's team.

I am shocked, shocked that there is gambling going on in this establishment!

Russell Levine: I was asked in a radio interview what the spread might be if the sixth-seeded Steelers played #1 seed Seattle in the Super Bowl. Back in the 80s-90s, that would have been about an eight-pointer. After Seattle won today, I'm guessing they'll be favored by no more than three.

Al Bogdan: Nope. Opening line has Pittsburgh favored by 3.5 to 4.

Russell Levine: Wow, I'm really surprised by that coming off that performance by Seattle. They looked as good as they have all year yesterday.

Al Bogdan: If it was Denver, I think the line would be much smaller, but Pittsburgh has such a big following across the country that the average fan that decides to put a few dollars on the game is going to naturally lean towards them instead of Seattle. I'd expect the line to move towards the Seahawks by a point or so as the week goes on.

Michael David Smith: As Russ indicated, if you've been a football fan for more than 10 years or so, you remember a time when the No. 1 NFC team would be favored by anywhere from 14 to 20 points over the number six AFC team. I remember the 49ers being favored by something like 17 over the Chargers and Vegas took a beating because everyone was betting on the 49ers anyway, and they won by 23. (I remember hearing that year that Vegas just got killed because all season people parlayed the 49ers against the spread and took the over, and nearly every game was a big 49ers win and a high-scoring game.)

Vivek Ramgopal: Vegas doesn't usually lose money. Seattle plus the points seems like the surprising/popular bet right now, so people might load up on Seattle now before the line shrinks. Then we'll see the heavier action on Pittsburgh.

Russell Levine: What's the over/under on percentage of the XL crowd that will be Steelers fans? 90 percent? Give me the over.

Vivek Ramgopal: How about the over/under on how many times we see Plummer nicknamed as Jake "The Mistake" Plummer in Monday's articles? I'll take the over with 10.

Aaron Schatz: Here's my prop bet for the Super Bowl: Will there be more commercials with penguins in them, or camera shots of the Bettis family?

Conference Championships DVOA
SEA 131.8% 57.3% -84.8% -10.2%
CAR -79.6% -79.4% 13.6% 13.4%
PIT 99.9% 52.6% -49.4% -2.1%
DEN -40.8% -14.8% 29.4% 3.5%

Posted by: admin on 23 Jan 2006

185 comments, Last at 30 Jan 2006, 6:56pm by Larry R.


by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 11:42am

Although his rank in DVOA was the same as last year (#3), I’ve always thought of Roethlisberger as a situational passer behind a good running program. However, I have to admit Big Ben has much improved from last year.

One thing that's caught me off guard when I was playing around with numbers this weekend - looking at sack rate and quarterback DVOA - is how freaking good Roethlisberger is even though he still gets sacked often considering the number of times they pass. For the past two years, Pittsburgh has had adjusted sack rates of 8.9% (last year) and 7.7% (this year). Average passer DVOA for teams with a sack rate of 7.5-8.0%: -2.0% (Roethlisberger's: 33.5%). Average passer DVOA for teams with a sack rate of 8.5-9.0%: -12.4% (Roethlisberger's: 40.3%).

If you consider "value over the average of other QBs facing equivalent sack rates", Roethlisberger's season last year is the absolute best performance from 2002 to now. Manning's obscene 2004 is close, but the average DVOA of QBs on a team with a sack rate of 3-4% is 17.04%

The idea of doing that is that while sacks are definitely somewhat a QBs responsibility, in some sense, they're not, as well. So the original DVOA is if the QB takes full credit for the sack, and the corrected DVOA is if the offensive line takes full credit.

by Paul (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 11:49am

In the post game conference, Ben said that nobody gave the Steelers a chance. Ahem. They were favored at Cincinnati and Denver had the basic HFA 3 points. He has to do a better job of explaining why he feels disrespected.

by Nog (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 11:49am

Hey Ned as I have-been saying all year your system is very flawed. Maybee Seattles is better than the stats because we are finally at full strength in the defensive back field less Ken Hamlin and the 2 rookie linebackers are getting better (Which are also injury replacments as well. Try to take off your rose colored glasses and start trying to be objective

by Dan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 11:54am

You're not the only person that thought Plummer was dreadful.

Why didn't Cowher try to put the game away by going for that 4th and 2 on the Denver 33 in the third quarter? He called for the punt again on 4th and 4 in Denver territory on the Steelers' next drive.

by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 11:58am

Does a fumble on fourth down count as badly for DVOA as does a fumble on another down? While everyone's saying "Plummer fumbled twice", one of those was on a sack on 4-10, and even if he hadn't fumbled, the ball would have gone over to the Steelers.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:01pm

Hilarious things about comment #3:

1) Getting Ned and Aaron mixed up.

2) The fact that the DVOA ratings for Seattle were higher than Pittsburgh's, and the fact that Seattle was the #1 ranked NFC team in both weighted and normal DVOA.

3) The fact that there is an entire article on how good Seattle's rookie linebacker has been all year.

by Clod (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:02pm

I hearby surrender my prognostication permit indefinately.

by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:02pm

#4: I actually agree with the punts in those situations. Up three touchdowns, with your defense playing well, it's reasonable to try to pin the other guys back and make them go 90 yards for a score. If someone knows the conversion rate for 3-3/4-3, we could run the numbers.

I have to say, though, I expected a shotgun formation Roethlisberger pooch punt.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:04pm


Yah, I wondered that too. I was wondering why the Steelers were even bothering scrambling for the ball. The announcers were like "and the Steelers have it!" - as if they wouldn't've anyway.

And if your answer is "well, one of the Broncos could've picked it up and advanced it" - no, no they couldn't've. The only person who could've advanced that ball is Jake Plummer, and he was under 3 Steelers.

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:06pm

What’s the over/under on percentage of the XL crowd that will be Steelers fans? 90 percent? Give me the over.

Does that make it a home championship game for Pittsburgh?

Reason for hope!

by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:07pm

Pat - he also forgot to use the zlionsfan template:

Seattle is clearly ranked too low because we are finally at full strength in the defensive back field less Ken Hamlin and the 2 rookie linebackers are getting better (Which are also injury replacments as well.. Picking teams based on annual rainfall in their city is way better than this. Try to take off your rose colored glasses and start trying to be objective

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:08pm

What needs to be factored when evaluating Roethlisberger's playoff performance vs. regular season performance is that in some of the regular season games Roethlisberger was not 100% healthy, and if the Steelers had a quality backy up he may have been rested. In particular, I saw Vikings/Steelers in detail, a game that the Steelers largely won on special teams, and it was not the same Roethlisberger we have seen in the playoffs. I think the same can be said about the Colts game on Monday night. Pittsburgh's playoff performance really suggests the importance of seeing many, many, many, games, with an eye on who is healthy, if one is going to see the stats through the proper prism, when trying to project future performance.

The Pittsburgh team playing now is not the 1990 Giants, but rather more like the 1990 Bills. Their defense has the benefit of playing with big early leads, or with the opposing number 1 QB getting hurt early, which really distorts matters. I still say that a good offensive line can run on Pittsburgh, but to adopt that game plan, the Seahawks better not be giving up an early multi-touchdown lead. Unfortunately for Seattle, I don't think their defense, although perhaps underrated, is the egual of the 1990 Giants. On the other hand, their offense is better than that squad's. I do think Holmgren better plan on needing at least 27 points to win.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:09pm

and if the Steelers had a quality backy up he may have been rested.

Will -

He was rested last year. Maddox started the last game.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:16pm

What I meant, Pat, was that Maddox was so horrible this year that Roethlisberger was forced to play when he was really having physical problems, which inhibited the things he could do. That hasn't been the case in the playoffs.

by Toby (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:18pm

#2 - There was a pro-bowl quarterback in yesterday's Broncos-Steelers game. Wasn't it obvious which quarterback it was? No disrespect there.

And here is some excellent analysis by MDS about how Pittsburgh doesn't have a chance -

Whether Kansas City or Pittsburgh nabs that sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC, the Steelers and Chiefs aren’t battling for a chance to play in the Super Bowl — they’re battling for a chance to lose in the playoffs. The Steelers or the Chiefs would have to win three consecutive games, all on the road, to reach the Super Bowl. A likely scenario would be games at Cincinnati in the first round, at a well-rested Indianapolis in the second round, and at Denver in the AFC Championship. The Steelers and Chiefs are good enough to beat any of those teams on any given Sunday, but they’re not good enough to beat all three of them on three straight Sundays.

by JasonC23 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:26pm

Good rip on MDS, Toby. I mean, every other prognosticator picked Pittsburgh to beat Cincinnati, Indy, and Denver on the road.

Why is "disrespect" suddenly so popular? At this point, is any team respected enough by anyone??

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:27pm


But, uh, his performance in the regular season was really, really good. Like "a little worse than last year, but not much" good. I guess you could say that "yah, he was awesome, but injured too - he should've been awesome-tastic!" but I think just saying "holy crap, he's good" is probably enough.

by Jim in Pgh (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:27pm

#8: Some credit should go to Gardocki, who is having a heck of a year and is very consistently helping the Steelers pin opponents inside the 5 lately. While the call on Chidi's second "save" was correct (his foot did touch the goal line), Gardocki was one of the Steelers' best pickups this year.

by Mike (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:31pm

Was it my imagination, or did the Broncos entirely give up on their last possession? Sure, they were in longshot territory, but they weren't throwing downfield, or playing as though they only needed a couple big plays, and an onsides kick recovery. It wasn't 41-3 or anything at that point, it was a two-TD comeback. It's been done.

Look at this:

1st-10, DEN36 2:59 J. Plummer rushed up the middle for 8 yard gain

2nd-2, DEN44 2:53 J. Plummer incomplete pass to the right
3rd-2, DEN44 2:29 T. Bell rushed to the right for 6 yard gain
1st-10, 50 2:22 J. Plummer passed to T. Bell to the right for 1 yard gain
2nd-9, PIT49 1:54 J. Plummer passed to J. Putzier to the right for 9 yard gain
1st-10, PIT40 1:54 J. Plummer rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain. DEN committed 5 yard penalty
1st-14, PIT44 1:34 T. Bell rushed up the middle for 11 yard gain
3rd-3, PIT33 1:24 J. Plummer incomplete pass to the right
4th-3, PIT33 1:02 T. Bell rushed up the middle for 10 yard gain
1st-10, PIT23 1:01 J. Plummer passed to T. Bell to the right for 2 yard gain
2nd-8, PIT21 0:42 J. Plummer rushed up the middle for 5 yard gain

They burned up three minutes on a drive that only got to the twenty, and ended the game on a stupid running play.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:32pm

Pat, while his perfomance in the regular season was very good, it was not the equal of what we have seen in the playoffs, and viewing the Vikings or Colts games (the two I saw in detail) will establish this. He is attempting, and making, plays now that he wasn't in some of his regular season games.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:33pm


It wasn't 2 TDs. It was a 3-score game. 34-17.

by pawnking (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:34pm

I was shocked that Pitt won that game so completely. The most shocking thing was pointed out in this article, Pitt converted third down after third down in the first half. If they needed 10, they got 11. If they needed 8, they got 9. It was amazing to see their offense so incredible effective on third. It got so where when they were stopped on third down, I was suprised.

Seattle, however, seemed never to be in a third and long situation. Can we get an article on the randomness of third down DVOA from game to game as opposed to downs 1-2? I would guess that most of Seattle's offensive value came from 1-2 downs while most of Pitt's came from third down (as the article hinted).

If this is true, can we speculate that Seattle's win may be more predictive of a good game in XL than Pitt's? If Pitt comes down to earth on third down, how well will they play?

by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:34pm

Will says, I still say that a good offensive line can run on Pittsburgh, but to adopt that game plan, the Seahawks better not be giving up an early multi-touchdown lead.

Even as a Steelers homer, I'm not so sure I disagree with Will. I recall thinking early in the game that the Broncos were having success running on the Steelers, and getting worried about it. Checking over the Gamebook, on the Broncos' first three drives they had 8 designed running plays (excluding QB scrambles that go as runs), and using the rules of thumb for "successful runs" Aaron's cited in the past, 5 of them were successful (5 yards on 2-8, 4 yards and a FD on 3-3, 6 yards on 1-10, 1 yard and a FD on 4-1, 7 yards on 2-10) and two were at least "half successful (2 yards on 1-10, 4 yards on 2-9). Even down 10-0, they were still running the ball and, except for Bell getting stuffed on 1-10, having success.

I think the key sequence of the game is when Denver got to 1-10 on the PIT 12 on their third drive, and they went, in GE's words, pass-wacky:

1-10-PIT 12 Pass incomplete to 85-A.Lelie.

Timeout #1 by DEN at 10:09.

2-10-PIT 12 Pass incomplete to 38-M.Anderson.

Then they get conservative, run Anderson off tackle for 7 yards, and kick the FG.

The Steelers respond with an 80-yard drive that chews up almost seven and a half minutes, scores a TD, and leaves the Broncos down 17-3 with 1:55 left. Plummer promptly tries to do too much too soon (perhaps partly because he has only one TO left?) and throws a pick.

From that point until the last garbage-time drive (down 34-17 with 3 minutes left), the Broncos ran exactly two designed rushes (out of 22 total plays).

So I think Will may be right that teams can have success running against the Steelers -- but I have to credit Whizzer for putting in a game plan that takes opponents out of the running game by scoring early, and credit the Steelers' O for executing that game plan.

by Mike (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:34pm

Right...sorry, but still, I think, how can you just give up?

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:37pm

DGL: I do in fact think that most offensive game plans involve scoring early. :)

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:39pm

My hope is that the performance by Roethlisberger will lead to that stupid "manages the game" phrase being abandoned. Quarterbacks have a job to do, no matter how good their running game, defense and special teams are. R-berger does his job extremely well, and has managed to complete 65% of his passes for 8.9 yds/ whilst "managing the game". (8.9 yds/completion would be the best mark in the history of the game by a full-time QB if it stands up as his career mark)
So that there is no confusion, this is grudging praise from a very bitter Cincinnati fan.

by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:40pm

I'll echo another thing Aaron pointed out -- what the heck were the Broncos thinking running play action in the second half? Even in the first half when the running game was still an option for the Broncos, Porter showed he was running the Indy Colts approach to run defense -- head for the quarterback, and if you happen to spot a RB with the ball on your way there, tackle him. Down 24-3, no one believed the Broncos were actually going to run the ball -- let the RB actually try to block someone or go into the pattern, and give Jake more time to actually look at the field instead of trying to run a PA fake.

by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:42pm


You obviously never watched the Texans or the 49ers this year.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:43pm

Yeah, DGL, I think Pittsburgh is a little vulnerable to outside running in particular, which usuallly isn't the case with a good 3-4 defense. As long as Pittsburgh's offense keeps dominating the first half in the manner they have, however, it may not make any difference.

Can Seattle apply pressure with four rushers? That will be a critical issue. Right now, I'm inclined to say no, but I saw fewer Seahawks games than I did Steeler games.

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:47pm

It's a good thing for the Steelers that Denver waited this long to have their annual playoff meltdown game. If they'd had it last week, the Steelers would have been playing in Foxboro, and we all know how much they love playing the Patriots in AFC championship games. Even though I'm guessing the Steelers could have beat the Pats this year, those two teams always beat each other up so much that whoever won would be in no shape to face Seattle!

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:49pm

It's looking like more and more like I was right for Big Ben to be drafted #1 over that Eli kid. Time will tell, but it might be the first good call on the draft that I've ever made ;o)

by Israel (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:51pm

Ryan writes "Whisenhunt calls ... [l]ittle dump-offs to the RBs or WRs, and screens have all become staples of this new fangled offense."

Ben's 8.9 yards per pass attempt was one of the best in the league during the season and in the playoffs it is 9.4. These may be little dump-offs, but they are getting yardage and are mixed in with longish completions.

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:52pm

From Aaron's comments on Den/Pitt: "Someone has to explain to me why Denver would throw screen passes in the end zone, risking a safety"
Not that this does much to excuse the play selection, but they looked to me like dumpoff passes with nobody covering the back, not designed screens. So I guess the reason is because the WRs were covered and Plummer was concernend about throwing a pick and didn't want to force a bad throw.

by Israel (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:57pm

Ryan Mc (26) writes "8.9 yds/completion would be the best mark in the history of the game"

Ben is 8.9/attempt. That is better than 8.9/completion.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:58pm

MJK, the only thing I would be more than normally critical of regarding the Broncos' performace is that their dbs didn't make a couple plays when they had the opportunity to do so, and that Plummer made a bad throw at the end of of the first half, which doesn't exactly constitute a melt-down. The other guys are getting paid also.

I think the Pats may have been able to pressure Roethlisberger better without bringing five or more, but I don't know how well the Pats secondary would have performed. I also think that the Pats having a non-credible running game would have hurt them a lot. It woulda' been an intriguing match-up though, much as yesterday's was, in the first half, at least.

by Spike (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 12:59pm

RE: Seahawks defense against CAR

"I'm shocked, shocked that defense is being played in this establishment!"

Many of the early decisions made by Delhomme weren't actually bad, but his team certainly didn't pick up the slack for Smith. The perception from watching the first twenty minutes was no running game, and the Delhomme desperately WANTED to involve his other receivers, but they couldn't get open or hang on to the ball.

Maybe Smith ranting away on the sideline before his punt return TD had to do with the game plan? My guess is that Fox came out wanting to hit other targets early and try to convince the Seahawks he could attack them anywhere. They used Mangum on a middle route, threw to Colbert and Carter, and Delhomme had some time in the pocket early, even when he was picked by Tatupu.

Didn't seem that Carolina could get catches with any room to run, either. In the second half, I cringed with every pass that floated even a little--you just knew someone was going to whack whoever caught (or dropped) the ball. Dropping seven and eight into coverage is a great game plan / luxury.

Good to see the Hawks receivers didn't take many big hits yesterday. That'll probably change against Pittsburgh, after watching the Steelers smack the Broncos around.

by Queequeg (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 1:02pm

The Broncos calling play action had me screaming at the TV and i'm not even a Denver fan, as I mentioned in the game thread I was just staggered by the utter stupidity of it.
"Get up, get, get get down
Gary Kubiak is a joke in yo town"

by JonL (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 1:02pm

#11 - Don't tell anyone, but DC actually gets more annual rainfall than Seattle. So your fake system fails, and DVOA wins again.

I do seem to remember Whisenhunt being named in an article about potential HCs, but it was the briefest of mentions.

by Kevo (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 1:14pm


I don't think they were giving up. If you look at that drive, they had 11 plays, only 3 of which were called running plays. The Plummer runs were all likely scrambles, and the short passes were probably check downs. I think the Steelers did a really good job of covering downfield. If you look, the only really successful plays were the Tatum Bell runs.

by Nog (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 1:15pm

Hey #6 here is the quote I was refering to " Is the Seattle defense good? Our stats say they are very average" And if you look at all the power ranking that happpened all year you see that this system is VERY flawed. and when you have to fake numbers to try to match wins and losses what should that tell you about the system that you are using. take some time and look back over the season and you will see that I am right

by pawnking (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 1:15pm

Is anyone else here familiar with Bill Simmons' "Kitchen Sink Game" theory? Given how unlike the rest of their year (including the Indy game) the Pitt offense looked like yesterday, did anyone else think "Wow! Pitt is really throwing the kitchen sink at them here."

Pittsburgh did a lot of thing yesterday I didn't see all year, and Denver didn't know what to make of it. I wonder, if that is true, what that will mean against Seattle.

I also wonder if the fact Denver was probably more prepared for Indy than Pitt had anyhting to do with their performance, and if so what that might mean for the big game.

I keep turning this over in my head, and I just don't see Pitt being a 3 1/2 point favorite. I just can't see them catching Seattle unprepared with 2 weeks to game plan, and I don't see Pitt converting 3rd and long after 3rd and long against the Hawks.

Ah, well. I have another week and a half to wonder about this one.

by Paul (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 1:19pm

Re #31 Eli is going to be OK, perhaps not great, but the real disaster was for the Bolts to draft Rivers ahead of him.Close your eyes and picture the Steelers in the SB with him ...could'nt do it, could you...

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 1:28pm

I gained all the insight I needed on what Mike Shanahan thinks of his QB when Denver had 3rd and 10 around the 12 yard line down 10-0 and they ran the ball.

That tells me MS doesn't trust Jake to make a play in that situation. Which is not flattering.

I have read all the other Jake pro and con comments throughout this season (and seasons past). But that one play was as good a summary as one can imagine.

We need a TD. But I don't trust you to not screw it up.


by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 1:28pm

I dunno. It's a bit early to judge Rivers, as he hasn't had a chance to play. If Roethlisberger didn't have a chance to play, we wouldn't be talking about him. If Pittsburgh had Drew Brees instead of Tommy Maddox, I think Roethlisberger might've been benched when Brees became healthy again.

by ernie cohen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 1:30pm

re: #15

I think it's time to give some respect to the guys who are ignored when they succeed week after week, but are pilloried when they fail.

I'm talking about the disrespectors.

MDS gave a perfectly reasonable evaluation; nobody expected PIT to start doing Q1 impersonations of the Montana 49ers. If PIT had lost, would you be writing to say "You know, I really thought PIT had a chance to run the table, but MDS (and all those gamblers) had it right."? Did you hear anyone in the CAR postgame press saying "You know, nobody believed in us, and damn, they were right!"

by michael (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 1:38pm

No. No one respects anyone. Jerry Rice? No one respected him. Emmitt Smith? No respect. The Patriots? Three Super Bowls in four years? No one respects them. All of sport is just a big pile of disrespect and the NFL can only restore the balance at the beginning of Super Bowl Extra Large. Cowher and Holmgren must be called out to the middle of the field, their left wrists taped together, and a knife dropped to the turf between them. The man who walks away shall be worthy of respect!

Seriously, I'm so sick of this middle school tactic of growling "we get no respect." Shut up.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 1:40pm

On another note, how do ya' think Ron Rivera and Lovie Smith felt watching the Seahawks defend the Panthers yesterday?

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 1:44pm

Post 44:

One thing to consider is that when a guy is legitimately and OBVIOUSLY good the vet gets dumped.

I won't bore you with the examples as a long-time football you can recall them faster than I can write them.

But I am stating that if Rivers were any d*mn good he would be playing by now, Brees or no.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 1:48pm

Do ya' think Bart Starr, Ray Nitchke, Terry Bradshaw or Joe Greene whined about being "disrespected"? Hell, Bradshaw got more ridicule, even after he won a Super Bowl, than Roethlisberger or Hasselbeck could imagine. Then he'd go out and beat your brains in, and still not whine about it afterwords. I wish more media types would ridicule these guys to their faces when they start yammering about respect.

by Vash (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 1:50pm

46: Cowher would win, he'd just punch Holmgren in the face, quickly pick up the knife, chuck it across the field, and beat him to death.

by Toby (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 1:50pm

It's not that MDS just didn't pick the Steelers to win all three games, he wrote an article about how it was impossible for the Steelers to win all three games. This site regularly disabuses people's reliance on meaningless statistics, but MDS focused a whole article on one? Why is the history of other teams relevant to how a hot Steelers squad, with a rejuvenated special teams and a rapidly maturing secondary was playing? Why didn't he write an article about how the team with the worst regular-season record in their conference has no chance of winning the Super Bowl?

My post is simply in response to the person putting down Ben for talking about disrespect after the game. Imagine playing a game like Ben did, watching the other qb play horribly, and knowing the other guy will be going to Hawaii, not you. Of course, he'd much rather go to Detroit, but I think that is a valid basis for an after-game comment.

And the disrespect thing is a great motivator. Only better motivator - getting shot.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 2:02pm

Wow, so much to respond to here. A couple quick ones:

"On that first touchdown, when Champ Bailey was peeking in and ignoring his receiver, that was excellent design."

That was possibly the best drawn-up play of the day (the other was the quick give to Bettis for an untouched TD that was negated by the Ward penalty). If you watch the Steelers regularly, you have seen Ward score at least 3 TDs this year running quick posts from the slot off play action in the red zone. In fact, that is exactly the play I expected when they lined up on that down. If you're Bailey and you see Ward break to the post and Ben cocks his arm, you absolutely have to respond to that. You can't blame Bailey there. Just brilliant design and an excellent throw.

by Larry R. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 2:10pm

47:Will Allen...... They probably thought WOW, they do have a great Defense...... When are they going to fix this web sight so you can send something through.....

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 2:12pm

But I am stating that if Rivers were any d*mn good he would be playing by now, Brees or no.

Yah, I can't agree with you there - Brees looked phenomenal last year, and really freaking good this year. But we'll see, as I can't imagine Rivers stays Brees's backup for next year.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 2:16pm

"Am I the only person who thought Plummer wasn’t dreadful?"

Yes and No. The interception by Ike was an awful, awful throw. As soon as the ball came out of his hand I was thinking six the other way.

But on the other turnovers, as you said, Foote made a marvelous play on the second pick. The first fumble was a great play by Porter. The second fumble didn't matter because they were about to turn it over on downs anyway.

7.4 YPA is a number that you can win with, and on several plays where he had every reson to be sacked Jake kept the play alive and turned it into a big gain.

I think it's a case of the storylines being decided in advance. Everybody had their minds made up that if Denver lost the story would be "Plummer implosion" unless he threw for 400 yards and 5 TDs.

As I see it, each QB made one truly abhorrent throw. Bailey didn't come up with Ben's; Ike caught Plummer's. Reverse those two plays and who knows what happens?

by pawnking (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 2:18pm

#50, I'd say that Holmgren would have Cowher poisoned the night before the death match, in a way totally untracable to Holmgren, but everybody would know who was responsible.

by JC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 2:21pm

I think I'm starting to get a grasp on what is happening in the Steelers playoff run. All of you Steeler fans must admit the team had looked awfully shaky during weeks 5 through 12. Blame Maddox for a few, but in general the D wasn't extremely effective stopping the pass.

Then something changed......

Ike Taylor and Brian McFadden have performed so very well in the past 6 games. Troy has become the scariest player on a D for opposing teams. Ben is unflappable. The Whiz is changing things around constantly. LeBeau's schemes and the D line has put the pressure on - like we haven't seen all year.

This leaves coaches reviewing a limited amount of game film to accurately figure us out. Furthermore, each team that we have played has not made ANY adjustments before or during the game. Neither LeBeau or Whiz have had to change their gameplans for any of the three playoff games.

For those of us who have been bent out of shape over DVOA power rankings (me included) let me offer this up; DVOA has picked up on the mismatches between the Steelers and their opponents for the most part. What became the "annoying" part was that outside of Steeler Nation noone thought they could exploit those weaknesses. As for the staff at FO; can you show the new set of mismatches ASAP. I'm curious how effective Hasselbeck is under pressure. He looks like he has a very good throwing game - but does this hold true when flushed or rushed? Does FO think Alexander can get yards on the Steelers? I've thought he was awesome all year but does he do things differently then what we've seen from other RB's? And lastly, do the Seahawks have a reasonable way to stop Heath Miller (do they have 3 solid defenders in the secondary?) Tatupu is very impressive - but are there others? Hawks fans, don't take my comments the wrong way - I haven't seen many Seattle games since they didn't get much primetime this year.

Steeler fans: long time coming and I'm sure you're all as thrilled as I am.

Seattle fans: great run to the big game - congratulations!

Last thought of day: is there such a thing as "Home field advantage"?

by Mikey (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 2:21pm

"My biggest question now is this: where was this Pittsburgh defense at midseason?"

The huge difference, I believe, is that Ike and Troy have improved so much during this season.

The secondary is now good enough that Joey Porter isn't spending all of his time dropping back into coverage. Lebeau can trust Taylor enough to unleash Porter and let him do what he does best: use his terrific speed to scare the sh*t out of QBs. It would be interesting to check Porter's blitzes game-by-game. I have to believe he's been sent a lot more in the last month than in any other month.

Ike Taylor is the unsung star of this team. So many of the good things that the D is doing right now flow from having confidence in him.

by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 2:22pm

#39 and #19: No, they were giving up. It's not the running plays that gives it away, it's the clock management right before the two minute warning.

First play: Scramble by Jake for 8 yards. Don't call a TO because you called two plays in the huddle, so you get right back to the line and run the second. Incomplete pass stops the clock with 2:22, 3d and 2. First rule of the two minute drill is move the chains, so you run Bell, get six yards and the first. The play ends (I'm not looking at my TiVo so I'm estimating) at about 2:16.

If you use your third timeout there, you get can probably run two plays before the two-minute warning -- a pattern to the sideline where you can stop the clock, and a pattern where you can use the whole field because you'll get the two-minute warning. Instead, 21 seconds run off, they at least get the play off before the two minute-warning -- and everyone's covered downfield, so it ends up as a 1-yard dumpoff to Bell.

Two minute warning at the PIT 49, and even if they weren't giving up before, they are now - a run on 2-14 with 1:24 left, and not calling their third timeout at all.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 2:22pm

#53, perhaps, "Wow, adjusting one's defensive gameplan for the fact that the opponent is extraordinarily reliant on one wide receiver is quite a concept!" would have have been more appropriate.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 2:26pm

The matchup of the Super Bowl for FO readers and football geeks everywhere has got to be Walter Jones on Joey Porter.

No they won't face off on every play, but when they do, oh man. What a battle.

What I hope Lebeau does is blitz both Troy and Porter to Jones's side and make him commit to one or the other.

by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 2:29pm

I think the problem is, and this is from a physicist's perspective, that there has been a large vacuum fluctuation of anti-respect. These levels of anti-respect haven't been seen since the Huns were scourging Europe, and obviously more studies need to be done to figure out how to return to regular respect/anti-respect levels.

I didn't think Jake "the Mistake" played that badly, with the worst play being the INT just after the 2 minute warning in the first half. That was the point when I said "game over", and it didn't matter if the Steelers got a FG or TD. In the second half the Steelers played great defense, especially up front to get pressure, but the Broncos did generate two scoring drives so not all was lost. With another year, will Jake make another huge improvement? We'll see...

Compare that to Jake Delhomme, who I thought played much worse. Almost half their offense and half their points came from two plays by one wide receiver, oddly not named Steve Smith. Seattle had a great plan on defense: stop Steve Smith (check) and stop the run (check). I'm just curious what Jake's DVOA rating is through the first 3 quarters, before his garbage time dumpoffs to Robertson. I know his "QB rating" at one point was 1.6, which I thought was pretty sweet. But I think this game cemented for me why Steve Smith should have been MVP, and also why wide receivers shouldn't be MVPs.

by Carlos (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 2:30pm

Echoing DGL and NFCCF...

When Denver handed off to Mike Anderson on 3&10 from the Pitt 12... I turned to my imaginary friend GE and told him to write "Game Over" in his notebook.

I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that I watched pretty much ever playoff game (but on my DVR, so I haven't wasted my ENTIRE life away)... and that was the WORST play call I saw all post season.

What was Shanahan thinking, if it wasn't "no one Jake doesn't throw a pick here"?

by JC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 2:32pm

Just another thought - I'd rather be an underdog team coming in the backdoor than an elite team that is expected to win. The pressure of the playoffs weighs so heavy on teams that are expected to win.

by Larry R. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 2:33pm

REF: Playoff Power Rankings II comments: Björn, putnamp, Paytonrules, thad, and especially Ron Mexico look who’s getting the last laugh now….. My butts getting smaller as I laugh

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 2:35pm

Post 54:

Drew has been good. And as a Big Ten follower AND a fan of Brees, I am delighted that he is succeeding.

BUT, the point is whether Rivers is worth a darn. And my point is that good QBs almost always get their shot no matter the circumstances.

The Vikings drafted Dante Culpepper in 1999. Jeff George started 14 games in 1999, had one of his best seasons (23 TD/12 Int, 2816 yards in 14 games), and the Vikings let him walk with nary a thought.

Don Majkowski was just a few years removed from the Pro Bowl, got hurt against the Bengals, and never got his job back as some guy names Favre took over for good.

David Woodley was one year removed from having taken his team to the Super Bowl and lost his job to some kid from the University of Pittsburgh mid-way through the season.

Ken Anderson and Ron Jaworski were on the downside and guys like Boomer Esiason and Randall Cunningham expedited the process.

I just believe if a guy can REALLY play even the most obtuse of coaches will see it.

And Marty has his flaws but the man can coach a little.

by Larry R. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 2:47pm

60 :: Will Allen, from what I saw in yesterdays game was Seattle set their game plan to “ A Super Hero Wide Receiver� and a third string running back. What was Smiths yardage??? What happened to Goings????? The box Score tells the story! Seattle adjusted to the team being played.

by admin :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 3:00pm

Re: 58. Ike Taylor was playing so well early on, that if you look at the mock-up of the PFP 2006 cover on Amazon.com, you'll notice a certain PIT cornerback is on the cover listed as "the best defensive player you don't know." Then I thought that he started to have trouble covering people when other teams started to max protect. So if he's improved recently, I think it is the same issue as the rest of the defense -- great early, dip at midseason, improvement again. But I don't know if Ike and Troy are that much better now than they were in the first few weeks, are they? Other people obviously watch more Steelers games than I do...

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 3:02pm

Uh, Larry, that was my point.

I swear, football fans are nearly as bad as football players, in terms of carrying chips the size of telephone poles on their shoulders.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 3:03pm


I have a feeling he's "taken (more) time" than you have looking back on this season. Where do you get the impression that the numbers are faked? The Seahawks defense has performed very average on the whole. They've had some great performances, including both games in the playoffs, and Philadelphia, and the drives against Indianapolis' starting offense (the defense got most of the rest). They've also had some poor ones, such as the narrow win against San Francisco.

When you take a bunch of stellar performances and a bunch of dismal performances, and add them together, you get average. Nothing fake there. The strength of the Seahawks is having the best offense in the NFC, and if you consider Indianapolis' performance last week, possibly the best one Pittsburgh will face this post-season.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 3:12pm

Did anyone notice the great camera angle Fox had for the field goals in the NFCC? You always hear some drunk guy saying "He has one job, and that's to kick field goals. How hard can it be?" Then you see how tiny those uprights look from 45 yards away and holy jesus I gotta kick this thing that far? Through those? Do I get a do-over?

by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 3:12pm

One thing that the Steelers have done recently that they hadn't been able to do in the year was get a lead. Pitt is a great team defensively when you can take away an offensive aspect of the game. When you don't, they don't do as well.

I'm still astounded by Seattle's absolute shutdown of Steve Smith. I know, they did adjust their D and who knows if they're "That good" but they certainly showed they know how to do a good gameplan. Also, while Seattle's only mediocre against the pass, they're quite good against the run; shutting down Carolina's totally decrepid running game should not surprise anyone.

To answer one question: Seattle does great rushing the ball, specifically up the middle. Pitt is good against the rush in the middle but is only mediocre on runs to the ends. Seattle is best at running over the right end (left tackle, shockingly) so I'd expect that to be a mismatch that Seattle could (and likely will) exploit.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 3:13pm

To reiterate somewhat, if Seattle can pressure Roethlisberger with 4 players, they can win the game convincingly. If they can't, they'll have to really light it up, and win in a shootout, which I think is a doubtful prospect. Seattle can run on Pittsburgh, but if that is to be a factor, they can't fall behind by more than ten points very quickly.

I have no idea whether Seattle can get pressure with four rushers.

by Carlos (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 3:15pm

re: #71

I really enjoyed those camera shots too. Man, those uprights look really far away!

by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 3:17pm

JC makes a good point about DVOA being more valuable in the microanalysis than the macroanalysis. While it's interesting to have Power Rankings based on something other than what team looked good to a writer last week, and it's nice that Aaron is getting some green from Fox so he can devote time to this stuff that we all love, it seems to me that the major value in DVOA comes in exposing things that wouldn't otherwise be visible without intensive film study. So Jaws and Hoge can spend 60 hours with game film and conclude that the Steelers could have success running left -- and you or I could do the same thing spending fifteen minutes with the DVOA breakdowns (Willie Parker: 6 runs left for 29 yards, 8 runs middle or right for 6 yards).

by Paul (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 3:23pm

May the team, city, and fans with the bigger collective chip on their shoulder win. At this point it is too close to call.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 3:25pm


I guess you forgot that I'm a Seattle fan. Somehow, I don't feel like you got one over on me.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 3:26pm

Just one fan's observation, I do think Ike was very good early in the season. Mid-season he seemed to be giving way too much cushion. Is he giving less of a cushion now because he's improved, or does he only appear to have improved because Lebeau is letting him play guys closer to the line? Impossible for me to know. Without numbers to back it up, I can only say that I'm personally skeptical that Ike could have matched up against Chad Johnson, Marvin Harrison, and Rod Smith consecutively at the start of this season and played them this well.

With Troy, I think he's getting smarter all the time. As Simms said yesterday, he's basically had to learn four positions and it's understandably taken some time. I guess if you really wanted to take a hard-line position you'd say that Troy should have had the help on the Lelie TD yesterday, but I think many veterans would have made the same read. I pin that one on Hope just getting beat.

by Steve Z (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 3:32pm

Re: #73

...if Seattle can pressure Roethlisberger with 4 players, they can win the game convincingly.
Pressure means what? Sacking Roethlisberger 50% of the times he attempts a pass? Forcing him from the pocket on most pass attempts? Forcing him to rush his passes?

The problem with your argument is that Roethlisberger handles pressure good enough that the Steelers’ offensive line would need to collapse before the effect would be disastrous. How likely is that?

I believe Roethlisberger’s few remaining critics give far too much weight to the 2005 playoffs. They seem to believe Roethlisberger is mistake prone when he really is not at all. They need to explain how they are managing the sample size problems focusing on the 2005 playoffs poses for them.

by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 3:48pm

I don't think it's a matter of 'putting pressure on Ben makes him fold', #79. It's more of a simple truth - if you can pressure a QB with 4 people, you don't have to blitz as much and you can have more people in coverage, which makes it harder to throw accurately. And while Ben might handle pressure okay, he handles having no pressure even better.

Putting pressure on any QB is an essential part of winning a game, and it will be so for Seattle too. The question is, will they have to do it with 4 or more than 4?

Seattle's front four is playing fairly well though. They might be able to do it. Their secondary is playing great, and their defensive schemes are working well. One thing to note about Seattle is that all year long, they've not had to put 8 men in the box. They've been able to stop the run without selling out to stop it. That alone makes them an interesting matchup compared to Indy; it means that Seattle can play pass first and run second and still likely do okay.

by Shannon (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 3:53pm

Post 66:

Yes, *Jeff George* was let walk.


by Larry R. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 4:02pm

77:putnamp....Actually you were included because of your comment to (my observation of the power rankings last week) I believe everyone should have an opinion without be criticized.

by calig23 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 4:14pm

Without numbers to back it up, I can only say that I’m personally skeptical that Ike could have matched up against Chad Johnson, Marvin Harrison, and Rod Smith consecutively at the start of this season and played them this well.

Bear in mind, however, that Ike Taylor was matched up against Chad Johnson every time this year... and shut him down every single time.

by Steve Z (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 4:22pm

Re: #80

I don’t think it’s a matter of ‘putting pressure on Ben makes him fold’, #79. It’s more of a simple truth — if you can pressure a QB with 4 people, you don’t have to blitz as much and you can have more people in coverage, which makes it harder to throw accurately.
While your claim might be true, namely, that pressure degrades a quarterback’s performance, it’s also true that Roethlisberger does a fine job running from pressure and turning a broken play into positive yards gained. So, Roethlisberger’s ability to manage pressure becomes an asset for the Steelers much of the time it is an issue and save for those instances when the offensive line collapses altogether. If there is a problem with the Steelers’ offense, Roethlisberger won’t be it.

The Steelers’ offensive line has played much better during the recent winning streak. That might have a lot to do with Marvel Smith’s health, Kendall Simmons slowly returning to form after his ACL injury last season and Max Starks getting through and beyond his first year as a starter. Ironically, the Steelers’ running game has taken a hit during the playoffs and was less than dominant during the season. This is an offensive line problem, I would say. I believe the Steelers’ running game is a greater problem for the Steelers than pass protection against the Seattle front four.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 4:22pm

Exactly, kal. I was actually complimenting Roethlisberger. I think he is cool enough to carve up the Seahawks if they have less than seven guys in coverage, and almost any quarterback plays well if there is no pressure at all.

The Seahawks' front four must make Roethlisberger throw more quickly than he normally desires, without help from blitzers. I haven't watched nearly enough Seahawks games to know whether this is likely, so I'll have to go with a hunch based upon DVOA, and having watched the Steelers offensive line a little more than I have watched the Seahawks defensive line. In other words, I'll be guessing.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 4:31pm

Yes, SteveZ, Roethlisberger manages pressure very well. The point is to make him manage pressure with seven men in coverage as opposed to six to fewer. No quarterback handles the former task as well as the latter.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 4:53pm

#82, I guess you don't see the double standard when you come in and rail on DVOA, which many of us obviously think a lot of. A better approach on your behalf would be to ask questions about why it doesn't say what you think it should.

You clearly came here with certain pretenses. Of course, you aren't the first, you won't be the last, so it's not exactly throwing anyone for a loop. However, if you really want to be a productive member of the FO community, then that sort of thing is exactly what will get you ignored, and get most of the FO regulars on your case when you start trying to participate.

Personally speaking, I may have inadvertently held you to a higher standard than the others who come here because we're fans of the same team, and I'm trying to distance myself and my team's fan presence here from the sort of infamy that non-FO-regular Atlanta fans earned.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 4:55pm

Roethlisberger doesn't just handle pressure "okay". He handles pressure better than any quarterback in the past 4 years, by far. He's gotten sacked a lot in the past two years, and it hasn't bothered him at all. There's no quarterback in the NFL over the past 4 years that has been sacked as much as him and yet passed as well as he has. Quarterbacks that see as much pressure as he did last year typically look Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, or Anthony Wright, not like Carson Palmer or Peyton Manning.

by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 4:55pm

Re: Seahawks pressure with front 4: The Seahawks Adjusted Sack Rate was 7.8, sixth in the league. Of their 50 sacks, 32.5 came from the defensive front four, 11.5 from linebackers, and 3 from the defensive secondary. (Apparently 3 came from quarterbacks tripping over their feet, because they're not credited to anyone.)

I don't know if Seattle runs any kind of exotic zone blitzes with DLs dropping into coverage, so I don't know if any of the LB sacks happened with 7 in coverage. Assuming they didn't, does anyone know how 65% of sacks coming from the defensive line compares to league averages?

by JMM (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 5:03pm

"It’s strange to say this, but that’s the Steelers weakness, and I don’t think they will be able to run on Seattle at all."

It will be Seattle's choice. Stop the run (as Indy and Denver chose - because they thought that Pitt was a running team) and let Bib Ben and the receivers steal the show; or stop the pass and we will see Willie Parker get 80-120 and the Bus to get 20-60 +2TD's' This is a balanced offense that can move the ball and score a number of ways.

by Toby (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 5:07pm

I think the observations that pressure is bad for a qb are fascinating in that not-at-all-fascinating kind of way. What actually is interesting is that the tired cliche might not be true when you're talking about Roethlisberger and the Steelers.

I saw some stat earlier in the year that showed that Ben's passer rating was actually higher on plays where he was hit. Does anyone know about this stat, or know if it is true about his DVOA?

by Steve Z (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 5:07pm

Re: #86

No quarterback handles the former task [facing pressure with seven men in coverage] as well as the latter [facing pressure with six men in coverage].
What you claim is true enough most of the time. But, you haven’t addressed the key question: ‘Whether the pressure the Seahawks mount on Roethlisberger will actually make a crucial difference in the game?’ That is, is Roethlisberger good enough to neutralize the effects produced by the Seattle pass rush?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 5:08pm

Exactly, pat, which means that it is critical that the Seahawks have as many guys in coverage as possible, while still applying pressure. Trying to get to Roethlisberger with fewer than seven in coverage is going to get a team killed.

Now, if the Seahawks can keep the Steelers down in the first quarter, and get the lead, then I think the Seahawks will be able to continue to run the ball with effectiveness, and with some efficient play by Hasselbeck, win the game convincingly, by which I mean the Steelers will be trying to claw their way back into it in the fourth quarter instead of the other way around.

On the other hand, if the pattern holds with the Steelers getting out to very fast start, the Seahawks will be tempted to pass more than is optimal, which I think greatly helps the Steeler's defense.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 5:16pm

Exactly, pat, which means that it is critical that the Seahawks have as many guys in coverage as possible, while still applying pressure. Trying to get to Roethlisberger with fewer than seven in coverage is going to get a team killed.

But the problem with this, of course, is that this is when a smart QB will audible to a running play, and Roethlisberger does that well - if Hines Ward had heard right, and shifted back a yard, that one recalled Bettis TD would've been the sweetest audible ever.

That being said, I think this game is going to be a lot closer than people think. The Steelers have been keeping their cards very close to their chest when it comes to their passing game, which is the big reason I think it's so successful. But I'm not sure how much is actually in it. We'll have to see if Seattle's corners will bite just like Champ Bailey, but now they've seen that play.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 5:40pm

Toby, the question here is how many were in coverage when Roethlisberger was hit, and how long Roethlisberger held the ball before being hit. I don't know if those stats are kept. Roethlisberger hangs in the pocket, and moves around in the pocket, very well, and also runs from the pocket effectively. I don't know how many teams have pressured him well with four rushers, however. Of course, if few teams have managed that task, it may indicate that the Seahawks are unlikely to do so.

SteveZ, it certainly is possible that Roethlisberger is, at this stage of his career, the single greatest football player to ever don a jersey, therefore making it irrelevant as to how many men are in coverage when Roethlisberger is pressured, but I hope not, because that will make the game a little boring.

I hope that isn't too disrespectful to Big Ben.

by Falco (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 5:40pm

NFC Central Freak wrote: I gained all the insight I needed on what Mike Shanahan thinks of his QB when Denver had 3rd and 10 around the 12 yard line down 10-0 and they ran the ball.

That tells me MS doesn’t trust Jake to make a play in that situation. Which is not flattering.

In the Denver at Kansas City game, Denver scored to tie it right before halftime, and then Dante Hall fumbled it on the kickoff return at midfield. Denver had the ball with some time left and a timeout, so they could have thrown a pass or two and tried to get in field goal range. In a foreshadowing of this play call, Shanahan ran a draw and then let the clock run out and went to the half tied, which is only explained by having no faith in your QB in an obvious passing situation.

Plummer was not the primary reason they lost though, Denver could not stop Pittsburgh on 3rd down until Pittsburgh was more interested in running clock than continuing to pass.

Finally, the Roethlisberger bootleg TD was especially sweet considering it is a play Plummer runs more than any QB in the league.

by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 5:41pm

Inre: #88 This observation warms my heart and troubles me deeply. I think Phil Simms said it yesterday, that Roethlisberger needs to work on not taking that hit for next year. He's great under pressure, but getting hit at such a high frequency is something that he needs to correct for the long term. After watching his starts, it's mostly that he does hang in there longer than he should, not pass blocking issues with the O-Line. I don't have any trend data to substantiate this (maybe you do) but my hypothesis is that as Roethlisberger is more comfortable reading defenses, he'll be better able to alter routes to neutralize the blitz and avoid being hit in the process.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 5:44pm

I think the observations that pressure is bad for a qb are fascinating in that not-at-all-fascinating kind of way. What actually is interesting is that the tired cliche might not be true when you’re talking about Roethlisberger and the Steelers.

It's not just the Steelers. There are definitely other QBs that are able to deal with pressure.

Interestingly, one of the QBs that seems to be relatively insensitive to sacks? Matt Hasselbeck. In 2003, he also faced a sack rate of 7.7% - yet his DVOA was 23.5%. What does this mean? Heck if I know.

by Michael David Smith :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 5:45pm

Pat, I don't understand why you don't hold it against Roethlisberger that he gets sacked frequently. Doesn't that indicate that he holds the ball too long?

by Steve Z (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 5:56pm

Re: #95
SteveZ, it certainly is possible that Roethlisberger is, at this stage of his career, the single greatest football player to ever don a jersey, therefore making it irrelevant as to how many men are in coverage when Roethlisberger is pressured, but I hope not, because that will make the game a little boring.
I hope that isn’t too disrespectful to Big Ben.
Heh, that doesn’t settle the matter at all!!! Fortunately, we have the makings of your answer with this claim you made earlier in the thread (#73):
if Seattle can pressure Roethlisberger with 4 players, they can win the game convincingly.
So, you’re claiming, for instance, that Seattle will win by 20 points or more (a convincing victory?) if they can harass Roethlisberger every once in a while (once per drive?) with their four down linemen.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 5:56pm

Pat, I think the Seahawks would be willing to let the Steelers try to run repeatedly when they don't bring a safety down, and if the Steelers can dominate the game in that fashion, so be it. Given that the Seahawks have a better running back than the Steelers do, a game of dueling running attacks should not be something that the Seahawks duck from.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 6:02pm

Pat, I don’t understand why you don’t hold it against Roethlisberger that he gets sacked frequently.

The 33.5% and 40.3% DVOA he puts up in spite of it.

Doesn’t that indicate that he holds the ball too long?

Well, it means he probably holds the ball a little longer than he should some times. But it also means that when he does get rid of it (which is still most of the time) he's so much more valuable than a normal QB that it's worth the risk.

It's a lot like Michael Vick, in a sense. Atlanta's sack rate with Vick is obscene - 12.1% at one point! - but really, the chance of Vick breaking one is high enough that there's net value in letting him do that.

by Zach (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 6:03pm

#94: Actually, the sweetest audible ever was Matt Hasselbeck audibling to a run to fullback Mack Strong on 3rd-and-6 late in the game against the Redskins for a game-clinching 32-yard run against a six-man blitz.

I think the question about the Seahawks ability to generate pressure can be turned around towards the Steelers. They, too, will need to get pressure with four rushers or else they will be picked apart by Hasselbeck. Besides, the Seahawks run game is much stronger than that of Pittsburgh. I'm still a bit baffled as to why the Steelers are favored.

by michael (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 6:05pm


How dare you disrespect Holmgren's physical prowess? He is doughy, but doughty and strong!


I guess you just can't respect Cowher's mind! How do you know he couldn't hatch an ingenious plan, huh? Huh?

The disrespect angle is the lamest motivator around. If millionaire athletes who have been catered to since junior high need "disrespect" to make them play their best, then that doesn't say much for them as human beings.

Shut up and do yer job!

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 6:09pm

Pat, I think the Seahawks would be willing to let the Steelers try to run repeatedly when they don’t bring a safety down, and if the Steelers can dominate the game in that fashion, so be it.

I think you're starting to see the reason why I think the game will be close. It's because we lucked out, and MDS was very, very right. These two teams are very good, and more importantly, they're not really flawed.

Seattle has to beat Pittsburgh by stopping the run and getting pressure on Roethlisberger without leaving options open downfield for him.

Pittsburgh has to beat Seattle by doing everything I said above, replacing Roethlisberger with Hasselbeck.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 6:23pm

Apparently, steve, you think the word "can" is synonymous with the word "will", and you did not see my definition of a "convincing" victory, which I defined as the Steelers trying to claw their way back into it in the fourth quarter, instead of the other way around. To be more precise, I define a convincing victory as one in which the losing team would have been forced to score 10 points or more on their last two possessions, while holding the other team to a three and out, in order to tie the game, not counting anything including a hail mary into the end zone.

In other words, if a team is down by 14, scores a touchdown with ten seconds left, gets an onside kick, and then tosses a forty yard incompletion into the end zone, I'd still call it a convincing victory. Also, there are other strange games I'd consider convincing victories, despite a close margin, such as Pittsburgh's win over the Colts.

I plead guilty to being imprecise regarding pressuring Roethlisberger with four. I should have said "pressure consistently with four" meaning they have to probably get a combination of at least 10 hurries and sacks.

In any case, I'll concede: Roethlisberger is The Son Of Brady, who must be worshipped and adored, and to whom all others are mere dust motes, compared to The Magnificent One.

(leaving the room backward while in a pose of supplication)

by Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 6:30pm

First, while Roethlisberger
had a very good game, I think there is exaggeration in how good he was: he made at least 4 terrible decisions, each of which could have been picked and would have been game changing: (1) Bailey on the first drive, (2) the ball in the end zone on the first drive, both stupid passes. (3) End of the first half TD was also a bad decision. (4) Ball thrown right to Lynch with a 10 point lead late.

Really, this was not at all a dissimilar game to the game against the Bengals (nearly 10 yards per attempt, many good passes, but 3 INTs) that the Steelers lost and BR was roundly criticized about.

by Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 6:33pm

Re: Dick Lebeau...to call
him a "great" defensive coordinator is similar to calling the Patriots "great" after they won their last 4 games (ignoring the Chiefs blowout). Lebeau coordinated horrible defenses for a good bit of his career with the Bengals. True, the players make the defense, but he never got more out of the defense than you would expect (and some would argue less). Isn't that the hallmark of a great coach, coaching players to a level above their collective abilities?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 6:35pm

Pat, I just have the hunch that the Seahawks are going to run the ball better than the Steelers, assuming the Steelers don't jump out to a early big lead.

by Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 6:38pm


Cowher would reach for the knife. Holmgren would eat him before he got to it.

by Steve Z (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 6:41pm

Re: #106

I plead guilty to being imprecise....

Thank you.

you think the word “can� is synonymous with the word “will�

Not really. They are different. Yet, I did interpret your analysis as considering the following statement false: ‘It’s not the case that Seattle can win the game convincingly if they can pressure Roethlisberger with four players.’ Was I wrong? Do you believe Seattle can lose the Superbowl even if they pressure Roethlisberger with four players while keeping seven in coverage?

by Luz (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 6:44pm


as a steelers fan i disagree. remember that this is lebeau's 2nd stint with the steelers. let me assure you that the defense regressed when he left and improved when he came back. he's a very good D coordinator.

his time in cincy is more complicated than just how well their defense played. there were complications with the ownership not being very helpful by drafting/signing players that are, you know, good. i can't say that i recall those bengal teams very well, nor can i say that he did a fantastic job coaching there but there were certainly a lot of other factors that contributed to those losing teams.

remember, bellichick wasn't a "genius" when he was in cleveland and he was dealing with similar negatives with his team.

that being said, i'm very happy to have lebeau back with the steelers.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 6:51pm

I think that lost in the hubbub about leaving options downfield is the purpose of a blitz. The idea is that you get to the QB or at least distract or close his lanes enough that the fact that he has someone open downfield doesn't matter. There's a lot of talk about getting 4 or 3 men in on a rush, but against a good team, that is nearly never an effective rush. That is why you blitz. You blitz at odd angles and disguise your coverages so that the QB can't get a read on the D before the snap, so he has to figure out where your guys are while getting chased around. It's important, because it makes the offence take some long options off the table if you do it successfully, and it takes pressure off your CBs. If you're only going in with 4 every play, they're going to have to play well against a team that has multiple options or your game is going to fall apart.

I'm looking for a lot of 5-man bliztes, with an occasional 6 thrown in on both sides. I expect the Steelers to bring overloaded blitzes on the left side, where Alexander likes to run, and then trust Polamalu to close in if he cuts it back. I expect Seattle to use their talented LBs to do short zones on WRs so they can blitz from the sides. If done effectively, as I said, long plays don't have enough time to develop, and short plays are either broken up by people in the backfield, or the QB has to take a dumpoff, or is forced into a bad throw or throwaway.

I guess it's kind of like the "don't blitz Indy" meme. People are so afraid of QBs that they forget what the blitz is designed to do.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 6:51pm

Roethlisberger doesn’t just handle pressure “okay�. He handles pressure better than any quarterback in the past 4 years, by far.

Other than Tom Brady (genuflect).

by cjfarls (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 6:52pm

Re: 90

I don't think Denver set out to "stop the run". I didn't see a lot of over stacked boxes, etc. I think Denver stopped the run, because they have good backers, etc. and that it isn't one of Pitt's strengths.

Ken Wisenhunt called an amazing game, which is what I was most impressed with... on the 8 of 9 3rd downs in the first half, I saw Denver rush everywhere between 3 and 6 players... nothing worked. They seemed to be in Denver's huddle, knowing when it was a fake blitz, and when they were really coming (and from where). Absolutely great play by the line, Ben, etc.

Of course, I think the bounces were just all going Pitts way early too... I have a nice imagination of how different the whole game would've been had Bailey taken the first 3rd-down almost pick for a TD (instead of bouncing into the air into Ward's hands), or had Foxworth held on to his pick before the FG. Swing the first half score by 10 points, and Denver doesn't go pass-wacky, we have a whole new ballgame. Even in the 2nd half, Pitt's fumbles rolled out of bounds, etc... wasn't meant to be.

Also, while I don't think Plummer was awful, he was put into the one position he doesn't do well with... having to force it when down big. On the 2nd pick, he had Mike Anderson open in the right flat with no one in front for 20 yards... instead he forced it deep and Foote yanked it. I didn't think Foote made that great a play, and there were 2 other Pitt guys right around Smith.

In Denver we were spoiled by having Elway... Plummer is decent, but he's not Peytom Branning, Carson Palmer, McNabb, or now, Big Ben... I think those 5 are the creme in todays NFL. Plummer, Brees, Hasselbeck, etc. are good, but not HoFers... we'll see if Palmer can come back from surgery, as I thought he looked amazing this year.

My 2cents...

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 6:56pm

So do we have to start genuflecting on sevens now? Cause I can't do the math that well.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 6:58pm

Hoo boy, this is like being in a negotiating session with a divorce lawyer who charges $300/hour, which I have had the misfortune of doing, the only alleviating factor being it wasn't my divorce. Steve, I wrote....

"if Seattle can pressure Roethlisberger with 4 players, they can win the game convincingly."

You wrote...

"So, you’re claiming, for instance, that Seattle will win by 20 points or more (a convincing victory?) if they can harass Roethlisberger every once in a while (once per drive?) with their four down linemen."

I made no such claim, for I did not say what can happen will happen. Sure, the Seahawks could still lose if they pressure consistently with four. Hasselbeck could be intercepted several times, the Seahawks might fumble several times, or Roethlisberger the Omnipotent may go 35 for 36, despite being under constant pressure from 4 lineman, the only incompletion coming when he deliberately throws the ball into a luxury box, hitting Stevie Wonder on the head, and thereby restoring his sight.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 7:03pm

McNabb and Palmer aren't Hall of Famers yet, either. The only absolute lock Hall of Fame quarterbacks out there are Brady and Manning right now (assuming Favre retires, that is). And probably the best QB slighted by just listing those two is Trent Green.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 7:07pm

Well, Fnor, while I don't think Seattle needs to completely abandon the blitz to be successful, if they are unable to get any pressure when they only rush four, they will likely have a very hard time of it.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 7:08pm

Pat, I just have the hunch that the Seahawks are going to run the ball better than the Steelers, assuming the Steelers don’t jump out to a early big lead.

Yah, I'm not sure. I think the Steelers' defense can sacrifice a man in coverage to strengthen their run defense, whereas I think the Seahawks probably can't. Their secondary never really got tested in either of the two playoff games, but I'm not sure they'll be able to cover for them as well as they were before.

I agree that the Seahawks have a better rushing offense, but the Steelers have a better defense. I wouldn't bet on this game in a hundred years.

by Luz (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 7:09pm


will you admit His greatness once ben has cured stevie wonder? or will he have kill chuck norris with a roundhouse kick too?

by Luz (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 7:12pm

also, like i mentioned in another post, i think FO should just go ahead and start a Benson PalmBerger thread right now.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 7:16pm

Y'know, Pat, if Manning were to go off and become a yoga instructor this spring, never to play again, I don't think he is a lock for the HOF, given how the selectors put such an emphasis on Super Bowls for qbs.

by Steve Z (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 7:17pm

Re: #117

I made no such claim, for I did not say what can happen will happen.

Of course, you didn’t make that claim. If you had, I would have addressed it directly. I merely made the statement you cited because I was trying to force you to make explicit and clear the point you were trying to defend.

by pawnking (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 7:19pm

Personally, I believe Ben R. is a great QB. I've examined his stats, and I find nothing there you can take away from him. I believe that at this point, if I were to start a new team and could take my pick of QBs, he'd be one of the first three.

The only reason I wouldn't take him first is he does seem to have a problem staying healthy. Hopefully, it's only a one time thing, but a QB losing time to injury is not a good sign for long term effectiveness. Let's not forget Chad Pennington lead the league in QB rating a few years ago. Ah, what might have been.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 7:24pm

O.K., counselor.

by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 7:52pm

The image of Peyton Manning being a yoga instructor in 123...priceless.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 7:56pm

Y’know, Pat, if Manning were to go off and become a yoga instructor this spring, never to play again, I don’t think he is a lock for the HOF, given how the selectors put such an emphasis on Super Bowls for qbs.

Nah, I'm sure he's set. The 2004 season was enough to guarantee it, in my opinion. Now, he might have to wait a while (more than normal, that is) if he left this year, given the gigantic monkey on his back left after this year, but I think they'd still vote him in.

The one guy that probably deserves to be considered but won't be (barring a Super Bowl) is Trent Green. His only bad season came after switching teams, and he's been a quality quarterback for three teams, and a top-tier QB for two. How many other players can say that?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 8:03pm

Yeah, I think Green is the great unsung quarterback of his era. It'll be interesting to see what they do with Warren Moon.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 8:11pm

There is something in this article I just need to address. Ryan (resident Steelers fan), discussing one of Plummer's interceptions, wrote: "the other pick in the second half was a great play by Larry Foote".

I find this to be absolutely impossible, and passing along such disinformation is absolutely reprehensible. Ryan, you should be ashamed of yourself for not knowing what every true Steeler fan knows, namely, the Larry Foote is terrible and completely incapable of making even one great play.

I quote someone extremely wise, probably a Hall-worthy coach, who's forgotten more about football than all of us combined will ever know:

"Your idiotic assessment that Foote" is a good player "clearly illustrates your utter ineptitude at your profession."

He's clearly so bad, "Fred Taylor broke 4 of Foote’s tackles" in one Sunday night game!

Watching him play should make you "embarrassed to be a Steeler fan."

"He is nowhere NEAR Kendrell Bell and to even THINK he is in the same league as Farrior is asinine."

I think you owe us all an apology, Ryan, for pretending to be a Steeler fan for all this time. How dare you insist Foote could do anything well? He sucks! He's so bad, you could even say he's underrated.

by Champfan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 8:24pm

Yesterday's game by the Broncos truly was not a good one but I agree that Plummer wasn't dreadful, he wasn't good but it was the Denver D that lost this game, just as they did in our KC and Giants losses earlier in the season. Also, this seems to have been the worst showing by Denver since the Miami opener. It's been interesting to watch the Broncos season and notice that their losses came about 5 games after one another...the Miami fiasco, 5 wins, then the Giants loss, 4 games and the bye week, then, a loss to KC, and then 5 wins and the loss to the Steelers in the AFC championship game. It's like we were due for a loss. Maybe we should've tanked that game in San Diego.

by ian (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 8:26pm

I think that the best templates to beat either team comes from their hardest fought victories in the regular season - Dallas at Seattle and Pittsburg at San Diego. Both could have easily been defeats, and though they won, both teams took beatings from teams that were, on the season, their lessors, but on that day were only defeated because of superlative performances in the face of intense pressure by some member of the winning team at the critical juncture.

They were both pretty early in the season, so I don't remember the details, but I remember that Seattle didn't have anything for offense until the final drive to tie the game, and that it was the game Roethlisberger busted up his knee and that he was trashed in the pocket all day long.

If I were game planning how to beat these two teams, these would be the games the I would use to prime the pump.

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 8:37pm

I'm a little late on this, but in my studying of the Pitt-Indy game to see what went wrong, I saw that the Indy D-linemen beat the Pitt O-linemen with regularity. Not every play, but regularly. The all-mighty Big Ben, man of Steel, was still able to do a hell of a lot passing the football in that game.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 8:58pm

How many pressures did Indy get in the first two series, turbo?

by TomC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 9:13pm

re: #130 - Deal with it a-hole.

by Sid (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 9:17pm

Am I the only person who thought Plummer wasn’t dreadful?

I've been defending him non-stop from Sunday afternoon until now.

by Luz (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 9:31pm


leave poor troglodyte alone. he's a browns fan so the possibility of denver or pittsburgh winning more super bowls has probably sent him over the edge.

by Sid (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 9:39pm

Alexander is supposed to be a receiving TE, for crying out loud, and he’s not even good at that anymore, but was he ever supposed to be a good blocker?

He isn't a good blocker? He's a horrible receiver. Not sure why he's still in the NFL, then.

BTW, Plummer's 2nd fumble wasn't a turnover. It was a turnover on downs anyway. Plummer had no chance to do anything, and dropping the ball made no difference.

by TomC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 9:39pm

Luz - As I'm sure Trog knows already, I wasn't insulting him but merely continuing the mental thread he'd started (click my name and look for post #72).

by thad (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 9:40pm

Will Allen,
I have a question, what if the Seahawks rush three?
As I recall from last year in both the Jets and Pats game, the more time Ben had(in general), the worse he looked.
The Pats hardly ever blitzed, and when the Jets blitzed, Ben did quite well.

by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 9:58pm

Seattle rushed 3 quite a few times against Delhomme, and even got a sack out of it once, I believe. It's an interesting idea - that Ben could do worse when having time and gets trapped into bad throws or whatever.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 9:59pm

thad, I think the Seahawks might do well to mix in some three rusher schemes, particularly if they have the personnel to disguise it, which I am unsure of.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 10:06pm

Post 128:

I like to paraphrase Jack Nicholson's line from Prizzi's Honor:

If he's so friggin' good how come he's moved around so friggin' much?

Circumstances? Sure. That's the most likely explanation.

But moving around the league by any athlete in any sport is not typically associated with "greatness".

I know some might say (or write) that it's not "his" fault that San Diego and Washington let him rot on the bench.

And I will refer back to what I wrote earlier. If a guy is REALLY good somebody will notice.

How do we know it didn't take Green that long to figure things out so folks DID get impressed? And if folks don't know about Green's career he was with the Chargers for two years and Washington for three before he ever entered a regular season GAME.

And Green also suffers by the fact that his teams bounce from bad to mediocre to really good while has BEEN the starter. You look at "great" players, particularly QBs, and they tend to play for good teams rather consistently.

By the way, he's already 35 and has all of 150 career TDs.

This ain't the Sandy Koufax of football.

Methinks you are being a nice guy again.

by Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 10:36pm

#115, the Bailey non-pick was actually a great--and absolutely typical--play by Ward. (Not the catch, but the breakup of the possible Int.)

by calig23 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 10:59pm

Actually, it's been speculated by Pittsburgh sports radio guy Ellis Cannon, that Bailey had the sun in his eyes on that non-INT and may not have even seen the ball.

Don't know how true that is.

by Stevie (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 11:34pm

The winner would be Holmgren via his patented "knife in the back" routine

by Björn (not verified) :: Mon, 01/23/2006 - 11:42pm

Ricky. You sure are a special guy. If Denver won, I certainly wouldn't be talking smack to you. I'd let you mourn in peace.

Bailey not picking off that pass is OK. I can deal with that. What I can not deal with is Ward catching the first down. That just made me mad.

by JC (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 12:20am

#140 - Last year didn't offer the threat of Willie Parker.

#115 - couldn't agree more - and how 'bout the lick he took for it!

by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 12:29am

Bjorn, that play really was the kind that lets one know how the ball is going to bounce that day. Mourn in peace and know that my thoughts are with you...I've been on the losing end of the AFC championship enough to know how much it stings.

As TomC linked to, remember the spirit of Anthony Ragano...polite, intelligent discussion is why people come here in the first place.

by Vash (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 12:29am

78: He did match up against Chad Johnson early in the season, and he completely shut him down. Only two catches for under 50 yards before a 40-yarder in garbage time against the prevent.

by Catfish (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 1:01am

Re: 135

Ah, I'd almost forgotten that thread. Probably the most bizarre thing I've seen on this website, even more so than the Atlanta debacle. MDS writes an article about some Steelers that are playing very well but aren't getting a lot of hype, and somehow a couple people think he's saying the Steelers suck. The world is a strange place.

by Jason-H (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 1:37am

Re: 73 Will Allen - "To reiterate somewhat, if Seattle can pressure Roethlisberger with 4 players, they can win the game convincingly. If they can’t, they’ll have to really light it up, and win in a shootout, which I think is a doubtful prospect."

There is a whole lot of discussion predicated on this statement made however many posts ago, and nobody seems to question the part that concerns me: Seattle must pressure Roethlisberger to avoid getting into an offensive shootout... because it's doubtful Seattle would win one?

I may be working outside my mind here and totally missing something obvious, but wouldn't an offensive shootout favor the better offense?

And I can't think of any reason to consider the Steelers' offense better than Seattle's.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 1:47am


I was wondering the same thing...

by Theo (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 2:45am

Like my coach said:
"All around, Sunday was a bad day for QBs called Jake."

by J (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 3:08am

I'm a Steelers fan, and am happy to see them headed to Detroit.

However, I was kinda disappointed by championship weekend. Normally, the championship games are the best of the year. This year, to blow outs.

The SB is so hyped, players just don't seem to play aggresive...afraid to make mistake.

Anyways, I haven't seen Seattle much this year. What are their strenths/weaknesses? Does Jones have the speed to block Porter? The stats here fill in some of the blanks, but not all...

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 3:20am

And I can’t think of any reason to consider the Steelers’ offense better than Seattle’s.

They're not. But the Steelers' defense is better than Seattle's.

by tim (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 4:08am

i've seen prognostication on the part of FO stating that with the steelers' increase in 3rd down performance there would be a significant increase next year, as used in the predictions for the san diego offensive explosion, so why is it so confusing that it would happen in the playoffs? it's not like there's an actual line of demarcation between football seasons.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 5:05am

The Steeler's defense is better, and particularly so when they are playing with a lead which discourages the opponent from running. I probably should have stated that the Seahawks would be hard pressed to win a game in which the Steelers score rapidly at the beginning, because it really helps the Steelers defense to play to it's strength, more than thet typical NFL defense, or even more than the typical good NFL defense, which is creating chaos. Chaos is harder to create when the other team doesn't feel pressure to respond rapidly, believes it has the time to serve up a big steaming platter of smash-mouth, and has the talent on offensive line to do it.

The Steelers do have a good defense, but they ain't the '85 Bears or the 2000 Ravens; a superior offensive line can physically impose it's will on the Steelers defense, if the playcaller doesn't feel compelled to score on every possession. It's up to the Seattle defense to to allow the Seattle offense to use it's offensive line to the utmost efficiency, which optimally includes a lot more running than what the Colts and Broncos tried.

What frustrated me about Steelers/Broncos, as someone who really enjoys a well-executed running attack, is how Denver showed significant success running the ball initially, but had to abandon running when Denver's secondary didn't take advantage of any of the chances they had to make plays in the first half, and Plummer made an awful throw. I'd really enjoy seeing the Seattle offensive line attack the Pittsburgh defense with the ground game; it would make for some interesting trench-work. In order to maximize the chance of this happening, however, it'd be best if Roethlisberger and Co. didn't score 24 points in the first half.

by Israel (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 6:16am

#145 - Do we have to introduce Ellis Cannon's name here? I don't recall in all my years, such a grating radio guy.

by budman (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 9:33am

Troy is now Ronnie Lott for pete's sake (click name for link)?

Surely this kid has great potential in hopefully a long nfl career if he continues on same path but his past few standout games on national television are not enough to be comparing him to a great. Hell, I can name three other active SS's I would take over him (Reed, Harrison, Williams). Experience and intelligence overwhelm speed and talent at SS (although later two can make up for lack of first two). Troy to me just doesn't seem intimidating enough (yet?) nor a good tackler and his seemingly "being all over the field" hype I am hearing a lot of lately I think is just selective memory by the viewer because he plays more like a blitzer/fake blitzer and being closer to line of scrimmage is in the TV field of view more than normal safeties.

Can't wait to see PFP 2006 stats.

by Steve Z (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 11:46am

Re: #160

Heh. Kirwan’s argument wasn’t that Polamalu was like and as good as Ronnie Lott. His argument had Polamalu being better than Lott because he can do what Lott did while, additionally doing things that Lott never did and presumably couldn’t do.

by calig23 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 11:59am


Hah. Can't argue with that. I especially hate his habit of referring to players by the short forms of their names, i.e. Jim Farrior, Bill Parker, etc.

On the other hand, I'd rather listen to Cannon than that drooling fat-ass who shares a last name with a prominent former NFL coach who announces on Monday Nights and has a highly successful line of video games named after him...

by P. Ryan Wilson :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 12:10pm


Too funny. That Larry Foote Sux thread might be one of my all-time favorite things to read.

by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 12:16pm

Ummmm...budman, not to put to fine a point on it, but Rodney Harrison isn't active...he's on the IR, he's 33 and coming off of a terrible triad injury. If that's how you make your personnel decisions, there may be a job for you in Detroit. That said the 3rd year is a bit early to annoint anyone the next Ronnie Lott. I agree that Ed Reed is probably better now, but he's also 2 1/2 years older than Polamalu.

by MRH (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 12:37pm

Re #143- As a Chiefs fan, I'm not about to nominate Green for the HoF. I do think he's not mentioned enough as one of the better qbs in the league.

Here's his DPAR/DVOA ranks for the years available:
2000 - 9/1 (DPAR lowered because he shared time w/Warner)
2001- 27/28
2002 - 6/6
2003 - 2/5
2004 - 3/9
2005 - 3/7

I don't think those stats make him an elite qb but they do make him a very good one.

He's been helped by having great rbs and o-lines to work with. His wrs in KC have been okay at best but he has had a future HoF candidate TE.

His rbs DPAR/DVOA:
2000 - 1/1
2001 - 1/3
2002 - 1/2
2003 - 1/4
2004 - 8/10 (Holmes); 9/4 (Johnson); 10/5 (Blaylock)
2005 - 1/2

As for the "moving around" argument though, I don't by that. He left WAS to go to STL because his QB coach moved from WAS to be the OC in STL (Martz) and convinced Vermeil to sign him. He left STL to go to KC because Vermeil wanted him there. If the architects of the best offenses in the league from 99-03 (STL or KC were #1 in offensive DVOA those 5 years) want you, I'd say you're pretty friggin' good.

If Rodney Cheap Shot Harrison (and here I am intending disrespect) doesn't roll up on Green's leg in pre-season in '99, we have never heard of Kurt Warner and Green could legitimately be in the HoF conversation.

BTW, Green was bad in 2001. There's lots of reasons given for this, but it's an interesting coincidence that his LTs read:
2000 - Pace
2001 - Tate
2002 - Roaf
2003 - Roaf
2004 - Roaf
2005 - mostly Roaf and it wasn't pretty when it was someone else

by Israel (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 12:44pm

162 (Calig23) - Your explanation is exactly what I had in mind.

As for the other guy, I know who you mean of course, but have never heard him myself. I listen to T&W when I can and Savran on occasion.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 1:11pm

Note that I never said Green is a Hall of Fame quarterback. I said based on pure quarterbacking alone he probably deserves to be. He is absolutely one of the best QBs in the league - top 5 at the absolute least. Top 3 in my mind. And given that he's done it with two different teams, and done it for as long as he has? If he sticks around for 2, 3 more years and continuing to produce like he has - that's unprecedented.

I don’t think those stats make him an elite qb

I don't think you're realizing exactly what those stats mean. If you add up his DPAR from 2002 to now, he's averaging 91.1 DPAR/year. Peyton Manning is the only player higher (122 DPAR/year). This might seem a bit like cherry picking, since Green's 2001 season is lower, but 1) I'm only saying that Green's been the second-best QB according to DPAR over the past 4 years, and 2) including 2001 actually doesn't change his rank anyway.

Green's really underappreciated, and I have no idea why. Yah, he's got great RBs, and a great offensive line - so what? So do a ton of teams, but their quarterbacks don't perform like Green does.

BTW, Green was bad in 2001.

Green was mediocre in 2001, not "bad." His 2001 season would still be an upgrade for about half the quarterbacks in the league.

The "150 TDs" argument is silly - most of KCs' touchdowns go to the RB. For the past 4 years, KC has virtually led the league every year in touchdowns scored by running backs (this year, they fell just short to Seattle). That's why it's nice to have an evaluation that doesn't give a RB all the credit for an 80 yard drive of all passes that ends in a 1-yard TD run.

by Oldcat (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 1:38pm

Re #150 and others:

McFadden's success against Chad Johnson wasn't an individual accomplishment but a team one. Pitt put a second man, and often a LB in the area to shut him down. As a result, in the Bengals win TJ Housh on the other side ran wild, getting 145 yards or so and 2 TDs.

In the playoffs the Bengals planned to exploit this with Chris Henry (as in the 60 yard bomb) and TJ. The 2 injuries on the play made that impossible, as Kitna doesnt have the deep arm and Kevin Walter is not a burner.

And as to what turned Pittsburg's year around its obvious to me that it was that loss to the Bengals at home. They went from 'division champs' to virtually out of the playoffs in a day. It knocked some of the complacency out of them and made them have to fight to make the playoffs at all.

by cjfarls (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 3:19pm

Sorry I didn't mention Green in my assessment of 2nd tier QBs... he would definitely fall in the "etc." of my previous post.

While I think Green is a very good QB (and has been for a very long time), I still put him in the 2nd tier with Plummer, Brees, Hasselbeck, Culpepper, Bulger, and maybe Delhomme (probably yes with playoffs).

I think Warren Moon is a great comparison for Green, so his HoF status will show how the voters look at the "good over a long period of time". Art Monk would be the WR equivelent.

In regards to my listing of Peytom Branning, Palmer, McNabb & Big Ben as my HoF calibur players, I'm not saying that they are HoF worthy (although if they play at this level for a few years, yes)... I'm saying right now, in this (or in McNabb's case pre-injury) year, they are the tier 1, HoF consideration QBs. The guys who can single-handedly make their teams winners.

Farve is obviously an HoFer for past performance as a tier 1 (but isn't there anymore), and Green could be considered for having many years at tier 2. But I just don't put them in that franchise changing status of my tier 1's anymore. Warner was a tier 1 for awhile, but obviously hasn't sustained it.

Anyway, the tier 2 guys come around fairly often (see Randall Cunningham, Chris Chandler, etc.)... teams are really lucky to get a tier 1 Elway, Marino, Montana, Peytom Branning, etc.

Think tier 1 as All-Pro worthy, and tier-2 as Pro-Bowl worthy.

Anyway, I stick by my "tier 1, HoF calibur" top 5. I would've put Ben in tier 2 but he's earned his way up in these playoffs.

BTW: An interesting conundrum for me is Ron Mexico... he can totally take over and change games/teams like the tier 1's, but his passing shortcomings just kill him and put him somewhere probably below the tier 2's...

BTW2: Rod Smith is another conundrum for me... while I'm a Bronco homer, he kinda fits the same mold as Green... at the same time, he's obviously the best non-lineman Bronco on the field offensively, and has been the captain and leader of the team ever since Elway left. But would I vote him into the HoF? Probably yes, but like I said, I'm a Donkey homer.

by Israel (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 3:32pm

168 writes "McFadden’s success against Chad Johnson wasn’t an individual accomplishment"

You mean Ike Taylor, not McFadden. But by this time next year you will know both their names well enough.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 3:37pm

and Green could be considered for having many years at tier 2

See, this is where FO's stats help. The only reason - only reason I think people discount Green is because his fantasy stats - namely, touchdowns - aren't gaudy - because, well, Priest Holmes/Larry Johnson's are. If you look at it in terms of DPAR - which gives a QB credit for a drive that a RB finally scores on, the best two quarterbacks in the league over the past 4 years are Manning and Green.

Brady's now up in that same level, and the Super Bowls kinda push you there, too. But the remaining guys you mention (Palmer, McNabb, Plummer, etc.) are simply less consistent at this point. Palmer might be there, but never judge a guy on one season. Culpepper looked amazing last year, but really bad this year. Who knows - Palmer might lose Chad Johnson this year, and suddenly look like a rookie.

Roethlisberger's a weird case, though, simply because he's so good, but used so little. It's tough to say if he'd continue to be that good if he was used almost twice as much. If he would be, he'd easily be in Manning, Green, and Brady's class.

by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 4:28pm

RE: 9

Exactly. That wasn't a turnover. It was a turnover on downs.

RE: 38

NYC also gets more annual rainfall than Seattle.

by MRH (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 4:47pm

Re 167, 169, 171: I guess I’m closer to cjfarls than I am to Pat on this one – and I’m a Chiefs homer. Maybe I’m overcompensating. Pat and I are really disagreeing on whether Green is “very good� (me) or “elite� (Pat).

I think Green 2002-2005 DPARs are slightly inflated by: 1) having a very good offense around him (kept from being elite by his WRs) particularly by having elite RBs that kept drives alive and forced the defense to respect the run; and 2) having generally poor defenses that have caused the Chiefs to throw to keep up. So I think his DVOA gives a truer picture of his ability than DPAR, like it does for Roethlisberger (for different reasons of course). Green’s DVOAs for this period are slightly lower than his DPARs in terms of rank. They are still “very good� IMO. Note that Green was #1 in DVOA in 2000, which is why I think if he’d been healthy in 1999 he’d have matched or bettered Warner’s performance that year – and then would have been the 2001 QB in STL as well.

I think rank is important in comparing QBs across seasons. Summing DPARs across years, although it is revealing in some ways, does mix the different offensive contexts of those seasons together. So I’m not sure its truly valid.

I’d also like to correct a typo for Green’s DPAR/DVOA in 2005 in my earlier post; it should read 4/7.

As for “very good� vs. “elite�:

If I say consistently finishing in the top 10 in DPAR or DVOA is “elite� performance, then Green is the BEST QBs over the last 4 years. He has done it a total of 8 times, 4 times in each category. He’s the only QBS to do that 4 seasons running. Manning has been in the top 10 (DVOA or DPAR) seven times. Hasselbeck 6; Brady 5; Roethlisberger 4 in only two seasons; and a bunch of guys 4 times in 4 seasons.

If I say top 10 is very good, but top 5 is elite, Manning moves to the top with 7 times – all his top 10 finishes were also top 5. Green is tied for second with Brady at 4 times. Culpepper is next with 3. There’s a slew of QBs that have done it twice.

If I tighten the criteria to top 3, Manning remains the best with 6 instances. Brady is next with 3. Roethlisberger, Gannon, Palmer, and Pennington each did it twice, but only Ben’s two came in different seasons so I think he stands out from the others. Green and several others have one top 3 appearance in DVOA and DPAR over the last 4 years.

Green does a lot better than I would have thought. I lean towards the top 3 criteria for “elite�, but that’s totally arbitrary – as is using the last 4 years and only passer stats instead of pass and run. You can certainly make a case for Green though.

I maintain that Green was bad in 2001. I know some of those 30 INTs were not his fault but many were – I saw almost every game. But his DPAR/DVOA are way below the 15-20 rank that I’d call mediocre. He wasn’t Kyle Orton bad or Alex Smith bad, but his 2001 numbers and ranks compare to Boller and Harrington this year. Those and Green in 2001 include DPARs at just barely above replacement level. For a starting QB, that’s bad.

by cjfarls (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 4:53pm

Re: 171
Actually, I don't really look at stats at all in my judgements... I would've guessed that Green's fantasy stats would be tier 1 level... I just don't get the sense from him in watching him play the Broncos that he's a "game changer". Very competant yes, game changing no.

Perhaps that is because he has such "game changers" in his O-line and RB, he is over shadowed... but I still think when it comes down to game-planning KC, you focus on stopping the run, and force Green to beat you. KC's success over the years says he can, but there are also a lot of KC losses when the run game gets shut down.

Basically, when my Donkeys play KC, I don't worry about Green going nuts and single handedly kickin butt... when we play the top 5 QBs I mentioned, I do.

Your complaints about Plummer, Culpepper etc. are spot on (hence, why I say they're tier 2). And once again I agree that Palmer, etc. need to keep it up for a few more years to be HoF worthy... but that doesn't mean they weren't the best of the best THIS year.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 5:07pm

30 turnovers, not 30 INTs. Green only had 24 ints, and 6 fumbles. And I think it's just a bit of terminology to call Green "bad" or "mediocre" - replacement level is "mediocre", below replacement level is "bad", Kyle Orton is "terrible", Alex Smith is "turn off the TV."

As for DVOA/DPAR, the only reason I tend to prefer DPAR is because DVOA tends to be high in small sample sizes, probably because defenses haven't had a chance to understand the player. The prime example is Tim Rattay, who dominated DVOA in 2003, but barely played. But it does bias things against players like Roethlisberger, whose teams run so much.

by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 5:08pm

Alexander is supposed to be a receiving TE, for crying out loud, and he’s not even good at that anymore, but was he ever supposed to be a good blocker?

He isn't a good blocker? He's a horrible receiver. Not sure why he's still in the NFL, then.

BTW, Plummer's 2nd fumble wasn't a turnover. It was a turnover on downs anyway. Plummer had no chance to do anything, and dropping the ball made no difference.

RE: 51

Roethlisberger played a great game and Plummer was horrible? Big Ben threw several passes that should have been picked off. If Lynch or Bailey could catch, we'd be talking about Ben's "horrible game."

I'm not convinced Big Ben outplayed Jake by much.

by MRH (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 5:30pm

Man, it seemed like 30. My bad. Thanks for the correction.

by Larry R. (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 10:15pm

169:: cjfarls ......I am curious why you put Roethlisberger in a tier 1 category and Hassebeck in a tier 2 in the QB category. What are you reasoning and stats? I know Manning and Brady are put in a tier 1 but I have always heard that Roethlisberger and Hassebeck was second tier.

by Larry R. (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 10:26pm

pardon my spelling.... "Hasselbeck"

by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 11:18pm


I think people are still floating on his victories lately. He has a high yards/pass rating, but a low amount of passes, which seems pretty substantially mitigating. I'm not sold on Roethlisberger as Tier 1, either. Not if you're going to subsequently exclude Hasselbeck.

by Gusher (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 11:30pm

I am surprised that Ned Macey could be persuaded by Troy Aikman "gushing" over Matt Hasselback! I mean, didn't Ned invent the technique of "gushing" with his biased drivel about Colts this and Manning that. I mean, it is funny to hear Bandwagon Ned busting on someone else for "gushing", but oh well!

by jeff t (not verified) :: Tue, 01/24/2006 - 11:52pm

Ben is getting close to entering that Tier 1 range if he's not already there. He now has 563 attempts and 2 seasons of playing at pretty high level (#3 in DVOA both seasons). Combine that with his known physical attributes (size, arm and mobility) and observed mental skills (solid improvement in decision making this year) there is no reason to believe that he will not become (or has already become) an elite QB. OK, that was a bad sentence but I am too lazy to improve it.

by cjfarls (not verified) :: Wed, 01/25/2006 - 7:17pm

I have put Ben as tier 1 only after watching him carry his team this year. As FO's stats show, Pitt really hasn't been doing much rushing the ball this year... the "gamechanger" has been Ben. Like I said, I had Ben tier 2 before the playoffs.

Hasselbeck probably has a similar problem for me as Green... he's overshadowed by the other dominant players on his team, even though he is a very competant player in his own right. However, like Green, when you play Seattle you scheme to stop the run, and dare Hasselbeck to beat you. This year, no one has stopped the run, and the one non-playoff game I know of that someone did (Dallas), Seattle looked awful.

I must say I was very impressed with Hasselbeck's game against the 'Skins. With more performances like that, I think you could make a very legitimate claim that he deserves to be tier 1. He just hasn't had the opportunity to prove he can do it consistently yet (hell, Plummer did it a couple times this year, but he's not consistent).

If Pitt shuts down Alexander, and Hasselbeck makes 'em pay, I may have to reconsider where I have him.

by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 3:48am

RE: 66

The backup needs to get a chance, though. With Majik-man, he got injured. That gave Favre the shot.

RE: 91

It is true when it comes to the Steelers and Roethlisberger.

by Larry R. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 6:56pm

Per Aaron Schatz (FO Mailbag) he stated: By the way, after the conference championships, Seattle now has the top weighted DVOA (43.1%) followed by Pittsburgh (39.2%). The top non-Super Bowl team is still Indianapolis (37.6%). .........Ok why are all you DVOA experts now jumping on the band wagon and saying the Steelers are the better team?????? I have been trying to understand the system all year long and now that we are at the Superbowl this does not count anymore?