Morning Links (and Daily Thread)…

A quick daily look at what’s happening around Steelers Nation. And consider this your open thread for discussing the days events and, well, anything else that comes to mind about the Black and Gold.

– Good news: Aaron Smith (sorta) practiced Tuesday. Bad news: he’s not expected to play on January 15 in the AFC Divisional game. Upside: Ziggy has shown in Aaron’s absence — especially in recent months — so it’s not as huge a loss as, say, having Flozell go down. Pretty sure nobody would have thought that in August. [Post-Gazette]

– More impressive individual stats from the 2010 regular season. (Just scroll down to “Quick Hits”) [Post-Gazette]

– Because it’s never too early for draft talk, Wex answers a couple tweets about guys he likes in April: “Right now my top choice is Mike Pouncey.” And “Carimi looked great to me vs. Clayborn, Heyward, Daniels. I doubt he lasts, but others criticize his lower-body strength.” [Tweet Machine]

– This is truly random — not even sure what made me think about it — but here’s Bussey treading Urlacher during the 2005 season:

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  • John S.

    It’s amazing to me that Ben finished the year with a 97 QB rating and that’s his 5th best season.

    For comparison, Ben’s 5th best statistical season is 15 points higher than Kordell’s best ever, and 10 points higher than Terry’s best ever.

  • David

    I agree John S. He’s an elite QB. As long as he stays out of trouble, he’ll be remembered as such.

    But to me, there are two reasons why QB ratings are up from 20, even 5 years ago:
    1. NFL protecting the QBs (the Brady rule)
    2. PI rules that favor the receiver (the Manning rule)

    • John S.

      I totally agree it’s a different era. But, it’s also interesting to note, Ben’s 5th best qb rating season (at 97) would be Tom Brady’s 3rd best season ever (based solely on qb rating) and Peyton’s 7th…Ok Peyton is just amazing. There’s no way to twist that even with cherry-picked stats.

      • kyle

        I tried to comment but it disappeared so I’ll try again. I’ve been shouting from the mountaintop since the patriots game that Tom “first ballot” Brady will most likely not retire with top tier hall of fame statistics. He trails Drew Brees in every significant stat except touchdowns and Brees was drafted two years later. Brady is having an ungodly efficient passing year but nobody likes to mention that he trailed several active QBs in the things at which he’s supposedly “the best ever.” Man, I seem bitter.

        • Anonymous

          Brady is performing at an elite level now, but people seem to forget that he was not performing at that same level at the beginning of the decade. Early in the decade, while his team was winning superbowls every other week, Brady was credited for “just finding a way to win” and being “clutch,” because his individual stats were not that great.

          • GlennW

            Put Tom Brady indoors for half his games and give him Peyton Manning’s receivers, and he’d have Manning’s statistics. Actually, I’ll amend that a bit– Brady might fall a bit short of Peyton Manning in yardage and/or TDs, but he’d more than make up for it by making less mistakes, less critical INTs. I’m convinced of that having seen plenty of both QBs.

            Sometimes you have to give credit where it’s due, boys. How many times do we have to see Brady chew up superior Steelers’ defenses before you’ll say that you’ve seen it with your own eyes, one too many times?

          • kyle

            Really? Randy Moss and Wes Welker aren’t as good as Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie? Peyton has spent his career with possession guys and a very good receiving tight end. Tom Brady was a caretaker until the patriots introduced their gaudy, throw only offense. If you’ve seen plenty of both and honestly think Brady is better than Manning than I’d get your prescription checked.

          • GlennW

            Um, Tom Brady threw for almost 5000 yards and a record 50 TD passes when Randy Moss was added to the equation (before Brady was injured the next season). Before that, he was working with Deion Branch, Troy Brown, David Givens, et al. That quality of crew simply doesn’t compare to Harrison/Wayne, so it’s no coincidence that Brady’s raw statistics from earlier in his career weren’t as good as in recent seasons.

            But I’ll repeat– the single biggest differentiator between Brady and Manning is the minimalization of critical mistakes by Brady while still delivering excellent production. Brady can’t make all the throws that Manning can, but he rarely pisses a big game away trying to do too much (like Manning did with that Pick-6 in last year’s Super Bowl). That factor is underrated, apparently. Given this distinction and the difference in offensive weapons over an entire career, I’ll take Brady.

          • kyle

            Peyton Manning and Rivers both had monster years passing after everybody on their entire teams got hurt or held out. Brady threw 70,000 6 yard outs. You’re right he doesn’t make big mistakes very often but you neglect to mention that he’s never won a game on his own. He has plenty of late comback drives but i’ve never seen one where I’d say “wow. tom put them on his shoulders.” He’s Joe Montana. ..which isn’t faint praise. Joe Montana was a great quarterback, it just so happens he wasn’t half as good as Dan Marino. Manning, Roethlisberger, Marino, Elway, and this year excepted Favre could win a game almost single-handedly; Brady has never done that and has shown nothing leading me to believe he could. Also, I like what it says about us as Steeler fans that nobody has mentioned cheating yet. We’re classier than Boston fans. We can agree on that.

  • http://www.steelerslounge.com/ ryan

    I do find it funny that Steelers fans are now debating Manning-Brady. I’ll just say this (and it’s an empirical take, clearly): I hate Brady way more than I hate Manning. In fact, Manning doesn’t bother me at all. Maybe that’s because he hasn’t beaten the Steelers in a big game.

    • GlennW

      Ryan, I despise Brady too– I’m just not blind, or immune to pain. If we look at Brady’s career performances against Steeler/LeBeau defenses, there are only a couple possible conclusions that can be reached: 1) Brady is damned good at decision-making and precision passing against complex/confusing defenses, or 2) LeBeau’s defenses are overrated. I reject the second possibility, for the most part.

      • Anonymous

        Much or Brady’s success is due to his system. He is a good quarterback, but not a great one. He gets an A in execution, but only a C in degree of difficulty. You could argue that he is successful , “look at the Super Bowls” and I’d agree with you. He is successful. And his team is doing what it should be doing because it works very well for them. But success is not the same as greatness or talent.

        I think Brady may be one of the most overrated players in the history of the game. I often hear discussions about whether he is the best QB of all time. I don’t think he’s even one of the best playing the game right now (for some definition of now, anyway; this season he’s playing the best he ever has an is a top five guy).

        • GlennW

          I equate what Brady does in more of a small-ball offense to the high-OBP hitter in baseball. It’s not sexy, but it’s very productive without blowing your socks off aesthetically. Keep moving forward, don’t make mistakes, and you end up winning more games than the other guy.

          As for the Patriots’ system being simpler and “relatively easy” to operate, well, why isn’t anybody else’s offense so effective? Brady’s passer rating this season is 111.0– Rivers is second at 101.8, which is a huge gap. The Patriots also lead the league in points by a large margin (518-439) with a very ordinary running game. What the hell else is there for an offense to do but to put points on the board? This is simply a case of giving credit where it is due for executing in the fundamental elements: scoring, and winning.

    • David

      I don’t mind Manning either. Cases in point:

      When Brady QB sneaked their last TD vs. us, he taunted our crowd. Would Peyton ever do that?

      Also, do you ever see Manning yelling and screaming on the sidelines to his O like Mr. Gisele does, even when they’re up by 21?

      Would Peyton knock up his girlfriend then leave her for a Victoria Secret model while she’s pregnant?

      Sorry for the last one, but this media frenzy about the pristine Tom Brady, who can do no wrong, even when screaming at Thuggs, I mean Suggs, for a clean hit, makes me want to puke.

      Oh, Lord, I just defended Terrell Suggs.

      • GlennW

        I wasn’t even considering this more personal stuff in my disdain for Brady but if I had felt inclined to, well, I’d have bitten my tongue after contemplating our own QB’s history of behavior. Non-factor for me in this discussion…

  • SteelerBill

    First….I’m heading to Pittsburgh for the game next weekend…..(Adam I’ll wave)….

    Also, my biggest concern, and I love QB’s is that the rules have changed so much that it’s almost like Arena Football now. Passing has almost become ‘too easy’ (relatively speaking of course)…..that’s not to take anything away from Brady or Manning or Ben or Brees or whomever but we should consider that when talking about the all-time greats……

    • RoB D

      I know..but I was saying the same thing when Dan Fouts was destroying teams with that quick release and then Dan Marino and his twin Marks were running rampant. JOe Greene grumped that “they’d never get off the line” in his NFL era. Very true.

      Now I hear Marino saying its too easy to pass..lol! The nerve.

      Truthfully, I don’t like the amount of passing but the rules have changed the NFL into a completely different version of football. I still can’t get used to some of the scores in games. But since we have a franchize QB, I’ll have to adapt.

  • TVsCHACHI

    Steelers 2010 Run Defense was the best in franchise history, I am digging this stat immensely.

  • TVsCHACHI

    Great work fellas, I love the podcast. I just started listening a few months ago and look forward each week to your insight and commentary. I live in the great city of Pittsburgh, born in Mercy Hospital, raised in McDonald (went to Fort Cherry like Marvin Lewis and Marty Schottenheimer), and now live in Stanton Heights with my wife of 10 years.

    Keep up the good work and I hope to be back here posting real soon.

    Go Steelers!!!

    • http://www.steelerslounge.com/ ryan

      TVsCHACHI,

      Thanks much for listening (and liking) the podcasts. Really appreciate it. And for those of you wondering, I lived in Squirrel Hill and Regent Square during my three-year stint in Pittsburgh during those heady Tommy Maddox days.

  • http://www.steelerslounge.com/ ryan

    Intropy,

    I was all set to point out that Matt Cassel had less success than Brady in that very same system (especially against the Steelers), but I checked FO and Cassel still ranked 17th and 20th in DYAR and DVOA (standard FO caveats apply about not knowing how teammates affect a particular player’s “value”). And I think the Pats won 11 games that year, and Cassel threw for more than 3,000 yards, had 21 TDs and only 11 picks.

    That said, as much as I hate Brady, I think he’s currently the best QB in the league. And in my mind that distinction rotates among Dreamboat, Peyton and Brees, at least the last 2-3 seasons.

    • Anonymous

      Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Brady is bad or even average. He’s good. Quite good. Maybe I wasn’t emphatic enough on execution. Let’s say A+++. My general point was that Brady runs an offense that is relatively easy to run. Also, Cassel is bad. So there’s a real drop off there.

      As much as I like the stats wizardry over at FO, the way they handle each play in isolation (say as opposed to drives, games, seasons, etc) favors the Patriots’ system. The Patriots play a low risk, low reward game on offense. DVOA is a predictive measurement mean to indicate how likely a play is succeed with a little bit for “and by how much.” And on any given play, the low-risk style of the Patriots’ game is very likely to give a success, hence the high DVOA.

      It also kind of depends on what you mean by currently. If currently means had the best season, then maybe Brady is currently the best. But I think you could make just a string a case for Rivers or Rodgers. I usually like to think of best current player as the question “who would I want to play for my team for next season?” ignoring off the field stuff and contracts issues. On that question, I don’t think Brady even makes the top five: Brees, Manning, Rivers, Rogers, Roethlisberger in that order would be my choices. Brady is probably next.

      Finally, “best” is very difficult because they are all asked to do different things and they are all good at different things. I think Manning is definitely a better QB than Brady, but I don’t think he could run that Patriots offense as well as Brady. Conversely, I think if you put Brady on the Colts tomorrow and kept their offense as-is they would play significantly worse. (as a matter of Degree I think Manning replaces Brady significantly better than Brady replaces Manning in this scenario).

      • Anonymous

        “Also Cassel is bad.”

        Is that “bad” as in “bad” or “bad” as in “good.” I have trouble following you youg people sometimes.

        • Anonymous

          That’s “bad” as in “below average in quality or performance.”