Yes, you read that right, the Steelers will beat the 49ers this weekend. Here it is folks, the Steelers are banged up, but so are the niners. The 49ers are down all world tackle Joe Staley, Dee Ford and Bosa are both banged up, so that should mean that Mason Rudolph gets time in the pocket to throw, and a lesser tackle means the Steelers rush can get home. So Steeler sacks and remember that oblong ball bounces funny, a couple of strip sacks might be the difference in this game.
Mason Rudolph is NOT Ben Roethlisberger make no mistake about that, but that may actually help this offense. With Ben’s ability Fichtner doesn’t have to scheme as well, he can depend on Ben’s ability and experience and try and get receivers to win one-on-one. Unfortunately, this team’s receiving core isn’t there yet and they haven’t been winning those match ups. This means two things that could be incredibly positive for the Steelers’ offense.
First, Fichtner will have to coach better, the offense will actually have to get a little more complex and depend more on timing routes and scheme. Secondly, with less faith in the quarterback, the team will have to be more patient with the running attack and I think that’s a good thing. Giving Rudolph a week to prepare, I think this will be the best offensive game of the season so far. And in a game where the other team is expecting to easily stop the offense and underestimating the Steelers ability.
Defensively, this is a young and inexperienced defense. I think they’ll get better every week, Fitzpatrick is a nice upgrade on the back end, and has something to prove after leaving Miami. If the front seven can exploit Staley’s absence and play the way they can, this is a Steeler win.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have made a bold move tonight. They have traded their 2020 first round draft pick to the Miami Dolphins for Defensive Back, Minkah Fitzpatrick. The Steelers gave up their 2020 first and fifth round picks and their 2021 6th round pick. The Steelers get Minkah Fitzpatrick and Miami’s 4th round pick in 2020 and 7th round in 2021.
Who is Minkah Fitzpatrick
Let’s go in reverse order, he was until tonight, a safety for the Miami Dolphins. Given that the Dolphins are quite obviously tanking their season to get a franchise quarterback in the next draft, likely Tua Tagovailoa, Patrick asked for a trade. He was the first round pick of the Miami Dolphins in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft and was the overall number eleven pick in that draft out of Alabama.
Fitzpatrick turns up the intensity level as high as it will go and and rips off the knob until the game is over. Fitzpatrick has experience as a slot cornerback, but will likely be targeted as a “do-everything” safety who can be deployed as a sub-package linebacker, a blitzer or in the slot against big receivers and move tight ends. Fitzpatrick has consistently shined since his freshman season on Alabama defenses that have been loaded with NFL talent. His versatility, football character and desire to succeed should make him an early starter.
Oh, he also runs a 4.46 in the forty. The Pittsburgh Steeler defense, that has looked the fastest it has looked in years, JUST – GOT – FASTER!
Without a doubt this is a risk, if he doesn’t play well, if the Steelers go 6-10 it was a bad trade. But if this defense gets better, if Rudolph plays well, if the Steelers get back to Steeler football, tough defense and running the ball more consistently, the season might not be a disaster. And dare I even say it, maybe the playoffs are still on the table. Here we go!
Ben Roethlisberger, Steeler Quarterback is out for the season.
Well the news broke today, Ben Roethlisberger is out for the season. His wrist injury will require season ending surgery. This is terrible news for the Steelers, anytime you lose a future hall of fame quarterback it’s a bad day.
Roethlisberger is NOT retiring
Steeler fans got a bit carried away during the day though and started talking about Ben retiring. So much so, that Ben had to release a statement saying he’s not retiring and planning on playing out his three year contract.
It’s Mason Rudolph’s time to shine
Throughout the preseason there was a heck of a camp battle going on between Josh Dobbs and Mason Rudolph. Rudolph won the battle and Dobbs was traded for a fifth round pick. I made no secret that I was pulling for Dobbs and he played a good game in the loss to the Seahawks. This week he’ll have a full week to prepare, he’ll have a week of not only knowing he’s starting this week, but suddenly, he’s the guy in Pittsburgh. The Steelers drafted him in the third round and reported that they had a first round grade on him. The silver lining in all of this for me is that we get to see what Mason Rudolph is made of, if he can perform on the big stage and take charge of the offense. This season we find out if Mason Rudolph is the heir to Ben Roethlisberger’s job.
Champions are champions not because they do anything extraordinary but because they do the ordinary things better than anyone else. ~ Chuck Noll
It was a bad day in Steeler Country! Why? Take your pick. The Steelers lost, they are 0-2 to start the season, they didn’t defend their home turf, Ben Roethlisberger went out injured and needs an MRI on his elbow, James Connor left the game with a knee injury, Sean Davis has a shoulder injury, Anthony Chickillo is dealing with plantar fascitis, Vince Williams is going to be out for some time with a hamstring injury, Donte Moncrief the big offseason wide-receiver free agent can’t catch and Devin Bush looked like a rookie.
Worse than all of that, the Steeler’s starting offense didn’t look great This may have more to do with Big Ben’s elbow than we previously knew. The offensive line remains the only shinning spot in the entire offense. At least until Mason Rudolph entered the game. First off, the backup quarterback didn’t look like it was too big for him. He played well, had good command of the offense, threw two touchdown passes and had only one moment of bad judgement. He threw a ball to Donte “no hands” Moncrief, which at best means a drop and at worst, which it was, it means a tipped ball for an interception.
So let’s just lay all of the bad out there. Why the hell is Ryan Switzer on this team? He’s value as a returner is dubious at best, as a receiver he’s ok, but what does he bring that Donte Johnson doesn’t? Mr. Glass, Vance MacDonald scared the hell out of me by going into the concussion protocol, luckily he cleared it and came back to score a couple of touchdowns. But this game really confirmed some fears from the offseason.
Our secondary is still not there. We still give up too many big plays, Devin Bush (who will be great) really is a rooking and got beat a couple of times in coverage, the very issue we need him to fix. Unlike Moncrief, it does however look like Steve Nelson is solid. But the Steelers defense absolutely cannot cover a crossing pattern. Although our front seven looked godlike in the first half, where were they the second half? This likely means Seattle adjusted and Pittsburgh did not respond. As much as I’m a fan of Tomlin, he’s got an amazing winning record, he’s led the team to a superbowl, he and his staff do not make good enough in game adjustments.
Addition through subtraction was a theory, unfortunately for our offense it doesn’t look like reality. Moncrief was not an addition, Fichtner is bloody afraid of running the ball and it’s taking Ben too much time to build the right kind of chemistry with his receivers. How do you do that with no preseason reps and not a ton of practice reps with him?
So here we are, our defense is faster and young, but it’s weak on the back end, our safeties have to play better, our young guys need experience and that only comes through reps and time. We have no tight end depth and our offense is struggling. The big question now becomes, is it another season like the one where we won Super Bowl XL? Will early injured players return mid-season after the fill-ins have gained experience and help a team get on a late season roll into the playoffs as an unstoppable wild-card team that wins the super bowl? Or is this another 2003 season where the Steelers end up 6-10 and get to draft another Roethlisberger level player? I hope it’s one of those and not the third alternative, a shitty 8-8, middle of the pack year without either the hopes of the playoffs, or that ability to draft high and get better.
Bad day in Steeler Country and things don’t look hopeful in San Francisco.
Ok, most of my optimism for an early season run by the Steelers has faded. And so my prediction of victory for the Steelers this weekend is based far more on optimism than confidence. There is, as I talked about after the New England game, not a lot of things to look back on positively from the first game of the season.
So what could I possibly use to even half-heartedly predict a Steeler victory? History, faith and Heinz Field. First, the Steelers really are a different team at home, Roethlisberger is a better quarterback at home, and the Heinz field crowd is an advantage. The Steelers have not lost to the Seawhawks in Pittsburgh since before 2003. Also, another week of practice for the both sides of the ball to start work better together and the return of Sean Spence, of course we may be without Pouncy and Haden, so here’s hoping Artie Burns is 2017 Artie Burns, not 2018 Artie Burns.
Finally my only other reason for any confidence is that Russell Wilson, is a good quarterback but he’s not Tom Brady, Pete Carroll isn’t Belichick and the Steelers haven’t been snakebit against the Seahawks. So my friends, here we go!
Ok, let me start by eating crow, I really thought the Patriots would be in rougher shape to start the season. I was wrong, their defense was tight, Brady was sharp as hell and they quickly did a number on the Steelers defense.
Even though the defense looked better in man coverage than in years past, they were still getting killed on the pick play crossing routes and a couple of blown coverages led to big plays. Brady releases the ball so fast, it’s hard for the pass rush to accomplish all that much. All though I was happy to see Bud Dupree get a sack continuing what was an really good pre-season. Edmunds was everywhere and except for the one blown coverage big play he played well, Bush led the defense in tackles. He was beaten up a few times on pick plays in coverage but it was a great start for his first game. I’m not sold on Nelson yet, and was underwhelmed by Mark Baron who was supposed to have been brought in because of his coverage skills which were definitely not on display tonight.
The offense was too full of mistakes. James Connor looked good running early but with an early and big lead by the Patriots he was relegated to pass receiving. James Washington caught a nice deep ball for a big play again encouraging as it seems to carry over from a good preseason, but him and Ben also missed on a couple of other deep ball connections. Montcrief can’t hold onto the ball and that was depressing, he had at least three drops that I counted. One that should have been a touchdown. And where the hell was Vance McDonald, he was completely absent in the passing game until garbage time in the fourth quarter. Add in potential injuries to Pouncey and Juju and this was a total offensive disaster.
The picture above really summarized the night, the play after Pouncey went out BJ Finney subbed in and apparently was the only person who didn’t know the snap count. The only laugh I had all night was the referee calling offsides on, “everyone on the offensive line except the center.” it was that kind of night.
The first Monday is the biggest over reaction day of the year, tomorrow you’ll hear how the Steelers are doomed. But, only the Ravens won in the AFC North and they were playing a high school team in Miami. Seattle next week at home is a winnable game. It’s a long season and most of us didn’t expect a win in Foxboro in week 1. So back home to Pittsburgh and hopefully a better result next week. Here we go!
I wrote earlier today about Antonio Brown being released by the Raiders. After I published the post I went to some of the other Steeler blogs and in the comments sections about Brown being released there was a really popular theme among my fellow Steeler fans, please don’t let AB end up with the Patriots. Steeler Nation saw it coming folks and there it is, the only consolation is that the Steelers won’t see AB on the field against them in week 1 as he won’t be eligible to play until week 2. Looks like ESPN is reporting that the deal is a $9 million dollar signing bonus with the potential to earn another $6 million in incentives.