Archive for category Observations FWIW

Steelers 2017 Free Agents

Posted by on Wednesday, 7 December, 2016

I’ve added some of my own speculation as to whether or not they’ll be back. 

2017-ufas-per-otc-with-speculation

Yes, Copa. I’m Serious.

Posted by on Friday, 4 November, 2016

I really do not think that Ben creates a 6 point swing vs the Ravens this week.

Don’t get me wrong. You want your best players on the field for every game vs. a rival. If he’s healthy enough to play, he should play. Is he better than Landry? Gawd, yes! But is he a six-point-swing better? I doubt it.
Ben doesn’t have the best track record vs the Ravens in particular, especially vs. Dean Pees’ Baltimore defenses. I don’t know why, but Pees seems to have his number, especially when the games are played at Ratland Stadium, where Ben is 0-4 in his last 4 starts, has thrown 3 TDs and 6 INTs and owns a passer rating of 69.76.

Ben’s Career vs. The Ratbirds:

ben-career-vs-ratsIf you would like to see a larger version of this table, just click on the image.

Steelers’ backup QBs are 1-3 vs Harbaugh and 1-4 under Tomlin vs the Rats, respectively. I’ve also included Landry’s career stats here for discussion.
steelers-backup-qbs-vs-ratsIt can be argued that the best game any Steelers QB has ever had, at Baltimore, vs a Dean Pees coordinated Ravens defense was in 2012, under Charlie Batch.
I do not  recognize Mike Vick’s game because it was at home and his yards per attempt was anemic. But, otherwise those backups did “ok” when compared to what Ben has done vs. Baltimore the past 5 seasons.

This week’s game is further complicated by the fact that Ben has not played in three weeks. I should not need to remind you of Ben’s track record in games coming back from injury. But just in case you’d like to read about it: An article from last season.
Granted, Ben seems to play exponentially worse the longer the layoff and this was a short one. That may give you reason for some optimism.

I do believe that Ben is the best option Sunday, even at 80% of normal health. I just don’t think that he’s 6 points better than a healthy backup.

*Interesting point that many may not be aware of: Pees was also the Patriots Defensive Coordinator from 2006 through 2009. He reportedly did not get along well with King Bill.
**Also interesting, Ben has missed a TON of games vs the Rats. Seven games missed in 11 seasons has to be a personal record for games missed vs one opponent.

Raw Data – Steelers on the Road, vs teams that finished .500 or worse, 2007 thru 2016

Posted by on Tuesday, 25 October, 2016

In order to get a result, for how the team has done in the Tomlin Era, on the road, vs teams that were .500 or worse the week that Pittsburgh played them, I would have to go game by game for 9 seasons plus.
However, when reviewing road games versus teams that finished that season with a record of .500 or worse, a pattern does emerge.
From 2007 through 2011, Tomlin’s teams were 18-7 in these circumstances.
From 2012 through a partial 2016, Tomlin’s teams are 9-11 in the same.
In 2012, they were 0-4. 2013: 2-3. 2014: 4-2. 2015: 3-1. 2016: 0-1

Entire Data Table below the break

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The Case For A Unique Solution To The Jarvis Jones Conundrum

Posted by on Monday, 22 February, 2016

Jarvis Mitchell CJ Anderson Div Game 2015 season

Link to Article at Steel City Blitz 

A Tale Of A Wishy Washy Raiders Fan

Posted by on Wednesday, 11 November, 2015

Richie

My buddy Richie S. comes to Portland on a Monday and the only time I can see him is during the Steelers Monday Night game vs. the Chargers. So basically, I told him that was what we were doing. There wasn’t really even a, “Hey, how do you feel about this?” type of suggestion floated out to Richie. I said, “This is going on.” He said, “Sounds like fun!”

Richie shows up, cheers for the Steelers, has a good time. It’s evident from the TV coverage (and subsequent stories that Rivers went to a silent count during a home game) that Qualcomm Stadium has been taken over by Steelers fans. Jonny has been sack tapped the week before as a good luck omen (long story). All seems right with the World. Steelers win. We go home because we all have to work the next day.

Fast forward 24 hours and Richie gets outed by my buddy Matt T. as a Raiders fan. On the one hand, after finding out that Richie was actually a Raiders fan, I thought to myself, “What the hell? I would never put on the shirt of another team and cheer for them, no matter how much I liked one of their fans.
Then, “Oh, what the heck? We won. Why question it? Maybe it was because Richie finally left the Dark Side. The football gods must have rewarded us with our first West Coast road win in a decade due to my intervention in his sporting life.

Fast forward again to this past weekend. Richie texts me about how our two favorite teams are playing.
I respond with, “You only get one team, Richie.
He responds with, “That would be the one.
I knew then that we would win. I was absolutely certain that the football gods would punish Richie’s wishy-washy, flip floppiness with a Raider loss. Then mid 1st quarter, Dan sack taps Jonny with his Terrible Towel and the outcome was all but completely certain.

I felt pretty bad about goading Richie into turning his back on his favorite team and fellow fans for a second….

Well, no I actually didn’t. It just seemed like a polite thing to write. But, you all know me and realize statements like that are BS. So, nevermind.

Fast forward again to the Sunday. Steelers are up 35-28 and cruising toward a victory, I’m teetering between whether I should send a conciliatory text to Richie or just taunt the heck out of him for showing some fair weather fan tendencies, thus sending his team on the path toward defeat at the Steelers’ hands.

And then,…. Aldon Smith stumbles while trying to tackle Roethlisberger and lands on Ben’s left foot. Watching the replay, I was sure that Roethlisberger’s foot was broken. Hoped not, but really thought it was.

It turns out that Big Ben’s injury was only a sprain. He will probably miss a week, but Monday morning on his radio show said that he is not counting himself out this week versus the Browns.

Just the same, I probably should have waited to gloat until it was over. That’s what I get.

Steelers Multiple Restructures Of Timmons’ Deal May Not Impact Him The Way Many Think

Posted by on Tuesday, 20 October, 2015

Timmons return Lions

I have this dream that one day Steelers fans will cease from looking at a players Salary Cap figure, conclude that figure is what he makes that season and then decide if his play meets that figure’s worth.

Alas, it will probably never happen. Most fans do not understand the NFL salary cap and most who have no understanding, also have no desire to gain one. And that’s ok. However, if you are going to take a hard stance on player worth, you should know what goes into a Player’s Cap Charge.

Take for example the most recent target of many Steelers fans’ perceptions of NFL contracts and their cap implications: Lawrence Timmons. Timmons IS NOT scheduled to make $15 million plus in 2016, contrary to what many believe. His total compensation will be $8.75 million. That’s still a lot, but it’s right in line with the other top ILBs in the league as you can see below in a screen shot table from Over The Cap that differentiates Cap Figure from Cash Expenditure for 2016.

ILBs-2016-Cap-vs-Cash

I should first explain that the annual cap figure for a player consists of his base salary, plus any bonuses due, plus any bonus proration scheduled to be accounted for in that given year. It’s understanding how bonus proration works and how it is applied that is key to understanding how teams manipulate their cap each season.

A player is not going to willingly agree to push his earnings into a future year when he can be cut at any time and end up having to forfeit those earnings. In order to create space teams use accounting loopholes put in place by the CBA. Key among them is bonus proration.

If you have no desire to know why $8,381,250 of Timmons’ past (this is the key and operative word) earnings count on the 2015 salary cap, stop reading. But, if you do have a desire to know how NFL contracts are frequently structured and restructured to “kick the can down the road”, read on. It should be pretty simple to understand by the end of this.  Read the rest of this entry »

Fan Comment Examined

Posted by on Sunday, 11 October, 2015

Here is a fan comment following the most recent loss. I thought it would be interesting to dissect.

Who was stunned? Not me. This team is atrocious. The talent on both sides of the ball is mediocre at best, but the defense from Butler to the LBs to the DBs and Safeties are not professional caliber. That we are actually paying that much for those players shows how time has also passed Colbert by. We keep losing good players because our CAP space is so poorly managed every year. This team needs to be dismantled starting with Haley with Tomlin not being too far behind. The stupid penalties show the coaches have lost control of these mediocre players. The D is so easy to rip apart; but the offense is not much better. If money wasn’t wasted on bad contracts extra could have kept the play makers in Pittsburgh instead of contributing to other teams in the NFL.

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Updated Depth Chart

Posted by on Tuesday, 6 October, 2015

Season_Schedule_CP3

Depth Chart updated 11/5.

Pouncey is on IR/dfr. Eligible to practice after week 6, play after week 8, if his health allows him to do so.

This chart is a copy of the one posted by the Steelers.There are inconsistencies in the way that some players are used and their spot on the depth chart.  For instance, you might get the sense that Boykin would play over Cockrell or even Blake. Hubbard is also listed higher than Legursky on the depth chart, but has been a healthy scratch in every game. McCullers was also listed as probable Monday and was inactive at game time.

WR 84 Antonio Brown 10 Martavis Bryant   14  Sammie Coates
LT 78 Alejandro Villanueva   79 Byron Stingily
LG 73 Ramon Foster 74 Chris Hubbard  64 Doug “T-Rex” Legursky
C 72 Cody Wallace  74 Chris Hubbard  64 Doug “T-Rex” Legursky  53  Maurkice Pouncey IR/dfr
RG 66 David DeCastro  74  Chris Hubbard  64 Doug “T-Rex” Legursky
RT 77 Marcus Gilbert 79 Byron Stingily
TE 83 Heath Miller  89 Matt Spaeth  81 Jesse James
RB 34 DeAngelo Williams 30 Jordan Todman  44 Isaiah Pead
FB  46 Will Johnson 45 Roosevelt Nix
QB 7 Ben Roethlisberger 3 Landry Jones  2 Michael Vick 
WR 11 Markus Wheaton 88 Darrius Heyward-Bey 16 Jacoby Jones
LDE 97 Cameron Heyward 93 Cam M-Effin Thomas
NT 90 Steve McLendon 62 Daniel McCullers
RDE 91 Stephon Tuitt 96 L.T. Walton
LOLB  55 Arthur Moats  48 Bud Dupree  56 Anthony Chickillo
LILB 50 Ryan Shazier 51 Sean Spence  57 Terence Garvin
RILB 94 Lawrence Timmons 98 Vince Williams
ROLB  95 Jarvis Jones 92 James Harrison  56 Anthony Chickillo
LCB 22 William Gay  25 Brandon Boykin  24  Doran Grant
FS 23 Mike Mitchell  21 Robert Golden
SS  20 Will Allen 29 Shamarko Thomas
RCB 41 Antwon Blake 31 Ross Cockrell
P  4  Jordan Berry
PK  9

Chris Boswell

LS  60 Greg Warren
H  4  Jordan Berry
KR 15 Jacoby Jones 30 Jordan Todman  11 Markus Wheaton 
PR 84 Antonio Brown 15 Jacoby Jones 11 Markus Wheaton

Lowest tier guys and others eliminated by roster moves, below the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Some Tebow Perspective courtesy of Ricky & TomPaulBillyBubba (blame them)

Posted by on Thursday, 20 August, 2015
TebowJesus
Let me preface this by writing that I am truly grateful that Tim Tebow is not one of our QBs. He is not good and does not fit in a pro offense anywhere outside the Oregon Duck packages that Chip Kelly will roll out sometimes. That said, Timmy is 9-7 as a starter, 8-6 regular (57.1%) season and 1-1 in the playoffs (50%).
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/game_query.cgi?qb=TeboTi00&yr=YEARYEAR 

 

For comparative purposes, the starting records of some other QBs that certain fans believe would make fine replacements and/or accompaniments for Ben within the QB corps:

 

Kirk Cousins: 2-7 (22.2%)
Charlie Batch: 25-30 (45.45%) [although he was 6-3 as a starter in the Burgh]
Jason Campbell: 32-47 (40.5%) [although he was 1-8 in his last 2 years]
Matt Cassel: 33-39 (41.77%) [4-5 in the last 2 years]
Jimmy Clausen 1-10 (9.09%)
Ryan Fitzpatrick 33-55-1 (37.07%)
Mike Glennon: 5-13 (27.78%)
RGIII: 14-21 (40%) in the regular season. 0-1 in the playoffs
Chad Henne: 18-35 (33.96%)

Brian Hoyer: 10-7 (58.82%)

Case Keenum: 2-8 (20%)
Thaddeus Lewis: 2-4 (33.33%)
Ryan Lindley: 1-6 (14.2%)
EJ Manuel: 6-8 (42.86%)
Josh McCown:17-32 (34.69%)
Colt McCoy: 7-18 (28%)
Curtis Painter: 0-8 (0%)
Christian Ponder: 14-21-1 (38.89%)
Terrelle Pryor: 3-7​ (30%)
Brady Quinn:​ 4-16 (20%)

Mark Sanchez: 41-35 (53.94%)

Michael Vick: 61-53-1 (53.04%)

Brandon Weeden: 5-16 (23.81%)
Charlie Whitehurst​:2-7 (22.22%)

 

​The point in all of this is not that Tebow is a good QB. It’s that people remember him as a guy who finds a way to win. Hines Ward was like that. Jerome Bettis was like that. Alan Faneca was like that too, although he had more talent for his position than the previous two.  I hope you understand my point. People would rather have a Winner on their team than a guy who obviously gets rattled. That is doubly true of a guy who touches the ball on every snap like a QB.​ Landry Jones makes people nervous. Tebow may suck, in fact I think he objectively sucks, but at least when a guy like him gets the ball in his hands you know he is going to try to find a way.

 

While we’re on the subject, let’s look at the other QBs on the Steelers’ roster.

 

Bruce Gradkowski: 6-14 (30%) When you tell people from Pittsburgh that Gradkowski sucks, their standard comeback is, “He was good enough to beat us. I like him.”  Gradkowski won once and Steelers fans have never forgotten it. He only has a job in the NFL because he’s from Pittsburgh and the Rooneys like a feel good story

[EDIT: also because Joe Burnett forgot to Unleash Hell and catch a pass that Gradkowski threw right to him].

Make no mistake, if we ever have to depend on him for any length of time, we are sunk. He flat out sucks. He is Andy Dalton-Lite.

 

Ben Roethlisberger: 106-52 (67.08%) in the regular season and 10-5 (66.67%) in the playoffs. His 116-57 (67.05%) overall record translates to 10.72 wins and 5.27 losses over the course of a 16 game season.
Further, he still has this kind of record after going a combined 15-14 over 2012-2013. Ben has 25  4th quarter comebacks and 35 game winning drives over the course of his career, including 3 game winning drives in each of the last three seasons. He has a career passer rating of over 90, whether the team is winning, tied or playing from behind. But, what’s really astounding is that some of his best stats are when he is inside his own 20 and has to convert a set of downs to get away from his own end zone. Without this guy, the Steelers are a 5 or 6 win team.

 

I don’t believe that anyone who posts here regularly falls into this category, but people who think Ben can be easily replaced are incredibly short sighted and/or haven’t learned anything new about football since the 70s. There is also the possibility that they are just fucking idiots.

Beachum Aside, Steelers Entering Their Last Year

Posted by on Sunday, 16 August, 2015

The Steelers have several players entering the last year of their current deal. We’ve heard word that Kelvin Beachum’s representatives, Relativity Sports and the Steelers are in contract negotiations. That would seem to be the only additional extension that may get done before the season starts. Let’s take a few minutes to look at Beachum and the other players as well.

Kelvin Beachum – Started 38 games over the last 3 years. The only viable option at LT. Those of you who know me are aware that having Beachum at LT is not my preference. I believe you should have a star guarding the backside of your $100 million QB and franchise player. However, there are no other candidates for the job on the Steelers roster today that would even be competent replacements. Further, going into next season with so much invested in the offense and the left tackle position unsettled would be foolish. The organization has to make an effort to extend Beachum’s deal. I wrote earlier this offseason that I thought it would take a $10 million per year average to keep Beachum. Even Sam Baker, the Falcons’ very average LT, has a deal that pays him $6.85 million APY. Beachum’s people believe he is significantly better. Some writers have tried to make the case that Beachum is a top 5 LT based on, of all things, PFF “ratings”; which is where the $10 million estimate comes from. If they pay him like Baker, I would be pretty content. If they pay him $10 million per year, like Trent Williams, I will probably have a meltdown.

Ramon Foster – Started 71 games over the last 6 years, including being a full time starter the past 4 seasons. A very average guard with no one behind him on the depth chart to challenge him. Ideally someone will step up and push Foster for his spot this year. The team needs an upgrade at starting LG as badly as any position on the team, aside from the 3rd DE.

Steve McLendon – Starter at NT the past two seasons. Not invaluable, but not expendable either until McCullers proves he can man the position full time.

William Gay – Starter at CB and the Steelers best CB the past two seasons. Some say that Gay’s performance declined last year and it may have slightly. He is miscast as a #1 CB. Should be a #2/#3, but is still the Steelers best CB. If justice is to be done here, Gay should get a big raise next year. However, the market for 31 year old CBs who have already hit their ceiling is not a very strong one. I hope the Steelers bring back Gay and recast his role. If Cortez Allen and Doran Grant turn out to be viable CBs this year, I have my doubts that they will make a strong attempt to keep him.

Sean Spence – Valuable backup with a handful of starts who will likely command more than the Steelers will be willing to pay their #4 ILB. Spence will also have greater opportunities should he leave Pittsburgh. Assuming that Shazier and Williams stay healthy, this is likely Spence’s last year in the B&G.

Brandon Boykin – Recent addition to the team via trade. (Something the Steelers should consider with Spence, IMO. Something in trade is better than nothing when he leaves next year.)  Boykin is playing on a 1 year RFA tender at $1.542 million this year. Not sure how he fits yet.

Bruce Gradkowski – Backup QB who is also not invaluable, but not expendable when considering the talent behind him. Steelers need to bring in someone to challenge for the #2 QB spot and also draft another in 2016.

Antwon Blake – Short, fast, deceptively strong CB, decent ball skills, coverage is not his forte, but very athletic and good in run support. Plays to his strengths. A good depth player on a team that needs CB depth. They should make an effort to bring this guy back.

Greg Warren – The $1 million long snapper. This guy has the best job on the team and keeps it each year because he’s good at it. He’ll sign another 1 year veteran qualifying deal again in 2016. It keeps his cap figure low.

Will Johnson – Steelers FB/TE the last 3 seasons. Another guy who is neither expendable, nor irreplaceable.  Closer to replaceable though.

Robert Golden – Steelers 4th safety and STs captain performance slipped a bit in 2014. Golden is probably very close to his ceiling and is more replaceable than not. Gerod Holliman will likely challenge Golden for his roster spot in 2016 if Golden is brought back.

Will Allen – Steelers 3rd safety and Mike Tomlin’s favorite security blanket. A competent safety who has long past hit his ceiling. Very replaceable player should Shamarko Thomas shine in 2015.

Darrius Heyward-Bey – It really would be nice if some young WR with upside knocked DHB off the roster. Based on early camp reports, 2015 is not the year that is going to happen. Expect him to be brought back on another vet qualifying one year deal in 2016.

Clifton Geathers – Meh. A guy on his eighth team in 6 years. My expectations are low. Not even sure he’s a Steeler come September, but I hope so because it will mean the departure of CFT.

Mike AdamsCraig Wolfley seems to believe that the “Mike Adams Reclamation Project” is coming along just swell. I have thought for the last two years that Adams’ problems are all rooted in not keeping his hips low enough and his confidence, which is obviously lacking. He reaches with his shoulders and arms rather than setting his hips square with the opponent. These traits should be fairly easy to coach him out of, but to date no one has managed to do so. I’m trying to see Wolfley’s point of view, but I don’t yet. I think this is Adams’ last year in the B&G. I guess we’ll see what 2015 brings.

Cam Thomas – Please Go Away

The other free agents are all RFA/ERFA and can’t leave without the Steelers letting them. No point in worrying about them as of yet.