View From 522: Steelers vs. Redskins

Hi. For the six of you that still check in on this site hoping to see an update, thanks for that! But today we actually have something for you, and we hope you enjoy it. Since Adam is a Steelers season ticket holder, he will share his thoughts and observations from each home game. We call it The View From 522 (because that’s where he sits).

When you really stop and think about it Sunday’s 27-12 win for the Steelers was a pretty bizarre game. And that’s even when you get past the fact the Steelers were dressed like the kid from the Blind Melon video.

Let’s just for a second consider some of what happened against the Washington Redskins…

1) Guys named Will Johnson and Leonard Pope caught touchdowns for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the same game. If the Steelers played 100 games a year for the next 100 years with the same roster this would probably never happen again.

2) A quarterback was flagged for offensive pass interference 40 yards down field on a play call that was so stupid, so completely insane, that Redskins coach Mike Shanahan called himself a real dumbshit for calling it during his press conference the next day. The Washington Redskins, a team that traded a slew of draft picks and invested a No. 2 overall pick in the draft in Robert Griffin III, sent him 40 yards down field to get blown up by a free safety less than a month after he suffered a concussion and already takes far more hits than the average quarterback due to their offense. He is their best player and the future of their franchise. And they did that to him. That is insane.

3) Antonio Brown can cover a lot of ground in a short period of time while running backwards.

Let’s talk about this for a minute. Did you have a problem with it? Do you think it tarnishes the mythical (and let’s face it, non-existent) Steeler image? Is this another example of a generation gap between old school fans and media and the Xbox generation? Are you tired of my questions yet?

When it comes to celebration I’ve always been of the belief that two things are equally true. First, sports are fun, athletes are entertainers, and people are paying a lot of money to see them in action so you better damn well entertain me. Crossing the goal line and handing the ball to the referee might be the respectable thing to do, but it sure is boring. And second: If you don’t want a player to run into the end zone backwards against you, you shouldn’t allow him to score.

What I’m trying to say is I don’t think it was that big of a deal.

Sadly, my biggest problem with that play was yet another big special teams play for the Steelers was called back because of a hold or an illegal block in the back. This happens entirely too often.

4) DeAngelo Hall completely lost his mind, appeared as if he wanted to knock out a couple of referees, had to be physically restrained by his teammates, and ended up getting himself ejected from the game for reasons that still remain unclear. Even more confusing than his meltdown was his attempt to explain it after the game, an attempt that featured the following exchange with a couple of reporters, via the DC Sports Bog:

Hall: “I’ve got a meeting set up with Commissioner Goodell on Monday. Me and him will talk about it, watch the film, figure out what went down, hopefully get to the bottom of this.”

Reporter tells Hall the NFL offices will be closed on Monday because of Hurricane Sandy

Hall: “Well, we’re gonna figure something out. I’ve got my agent calling them, trying to set something up.

Reporter asks Hall what they’re trying to figure out?

Hall: “Like I said, I’m not gonna discuss that. Any questions about the actual football part of the game?

Strange dude.

It seems that nobody likes Mike Wallace anymore

Mike Wallace may not be long for the Pittsburgh Steelers and that’s a shame because he’s one of their best players and one of their most valuable. Has been for three years, still is today, and should be for a few more years into the future. But he’s an unrestricted free agent after this season and unless the Steelers slap the franchise tag on him he’ll be eligible to hit the open market where there will be no shortage of teams lining up to sign him. And I don’t think this will bother too many people in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers introduced their starting offensive lineup before Sunday’s game and Wallace seemed to draw the quietest round of cheers and even had a few boos sprinkled in. In fairness, he was coming off the worst game of his career the week before in Cincinnati and feelings still seem to be sour after he held out in training camp because he couldn’t get the long-term contract he wanted. But even more than that there just seemed to be a constant grumbling about him, even when he failed to haul in that pass in the end zone, a pass that would have been a nearly impossible one-handed grab on a pass thrown on his wrong shoulder.

If you view Wallace’s season to this point as a disappointment it’s probably not an unfair assessment. The big plays aren’t there (though, I think that has more to do with the offense, which is now geared toward quick passes than Wallace not playing well) and he’s obviously had some drops. But I don’t understand why Brown is viewed as such a better, more complete receiver at this point.

Their production to this point is identical. Absolutely identical.

The numbers through seven games:

Wallace: Targets (58), Receptions (36), Yards (459), TD’s (4), Yards per catch (12.8), Yards per target: (7.9)
Brown: Targets (63), Receptions (40), Yards (480), TD’s (1), Yards per catch (12.0), Yards per target: (7.6)

And it’s not like Brown hasn’t left a few plays on the field this season in the form of drops (like the Eagles game) or fumbles (the Raiders game).

Yet nobody seems to have much negative to say about Brown outside of his over-the-top celebrations. Mike Wallace needs to hire Antonio Brown’s PR department.

And speaking of guys that need better PR departments, if you want to make an argument for the player that’s been the Steelers most consistent and efficient wide receiver this season it might just be Emmanuel Sanders. Seriously. He has the same 60-percent catch rate as Wallace and Brown, has converted a higher percentage of his catches into first downs than any other player on the team, is averaging over 12 yards a grab, and has been huge on third downs (10 of his 22 catches have come on third down). Based on the advanced metrics at Football Outsiders he’s been the Steelers best receiver this year.

Running backs still grow on trees

Jonathan Dwyer had his second straight 100-yard game and became the first Steelers running back to accomplish that feat since Willie Parker in 2008. He was running through some huge holes, but he was also running over people, bouncing off tackles, and once again picking up yards after contact. He was, of course, a sixth-round draft pick that many of us gave up on multiple times over the years after dismal training camp and preseason performances. And there he is now, a productive NFL running back. If you’ve read this site for any length of time you’ll know that Ryan and I strongly believe running backs are largely interchangeable (there are exceptions, of course, but we’re talking about the difference from Rashard Mendenhall to Isaac Redman to Jonathan Dwyer here) and the Steelers are once again showing us that it is, for the most part, very true. IF there is one position on this team I will never worry about it’s running back.

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  • Cols714

    I agree with everything written here. And no I don’t understand at all the amount of Wallace hate there is now. I think it’s because of that stupid completely unconfirmed rumour that he said he wanted to be paid Fitzgerald money. No one even knows if he actually said that, and even if he did, of course he wants to be paid Fitzgerald money.

    I wish Steelers fans would stop being the types that always root for #2 on their depth chart. The #2 RB is always super popular, now you even have people saying that Dwyer is better than Mendenhall, just like they used to say that Redman was better just like they used to think that Richard Huntley was better.

    Now people think that Brown is a better receiver than Wallace. That one at least is closer, but Wallace has had quite a few more great seasons than Browns has had.

    Look fans, players want to get paid, we should not begrudge them that at all. Wallace has been a key part of this team over the last few years, we should probably cheer the heck out of him not boo him because he wants money.

    • MRav

      Something I don’t think people are factoring into their love for Dwyer is the play of the o-line these past games. Willie Colon has been a man possessed and Mike Adams has shown some real athleticism in getting upfield. Dwyer has obviously benefitted from these developments.

      I will admit though that I think AB is the better receiver. He’s a better route runner than Wallace and seems to be a little more physical. To me, the one thing that holds Mike back is that he seems to rather be Randy Moss instead of Larry Fitz.

    • Rob D

      There’s a lot of irrationality around Steeler Nation about the team and there always has been. Wallace’s ugly game seemed to confirm every mumbled bad opinion of him out there (bad hands, lack of compete level on jump balls, not being Hines Ward level “gamer”) I had no problem with his holdout as I believe he was protecting himself and his future much like LaDanian Tomlinson did in an earlier era. But a lot of Steeler fans saw it as a rejection of Steeler values..loyalty to the team, team before self..etc etc…YOu can’t argue with religious values ..and the STeelers are a religion to some people. I’ve been in the pews myself for years at a time..lol..

      That being said, we still don’t know what kind of money he wants or expects. With all the problems of age (Keisel) and crappiness (Mundy) popping up everywhere on this year’s edition of the team, I think people are weighing out where the precious resources should be spread out to…and Wallace isn’t playing lights out (and to be fair, he’s not getting the deep ball throws that are his bread and butter at the moment which could change as we go along here) That one game might have cost him dearly in the minds of the most rabid (and perhaps slightly irrational) Steeler fans. It’s not fair but this is a high stakes game of what have you done for me lately.

      Re: Running backwards for TD…I had no problem with it and I am definately in the old school camp of “hand the ball to the official like Walter Payton did” Agree with your entertainment analogy..that’s what sports are. It’s also a risk for the player..he stumbles and suddenly he goes from Chad Cool to a bumbling idiot. That’s a reservation I have about it; that you haven’t yet taken care of business and you are tempting fate.

      Re: Special Teams If they don’t get it straightened out..all the penalties, allowing teams to start at the 40 with numbing regularity..missed tackles…they will lose a few games they would otherwise win. And that may be the difference between winning the division and being home for the playoffs. Semi disaster area right now.

      Re: Sanders..he’s not really an integral part of the offense yet…38 catches or something? I want to see him targeted more because he’s a precise route runner. Hope he sees more action down the line…Wallace too..but right now I am pretty happy with the TOP nature of this offense and feel the TD’s will come.

      RE: running backs…we have a nice collection of talent there. I know Mendy is the No. 1 and surely is the most talented overall but I hope we see the carries spread out to whomever is active for the game. Much like the Giants throw D-lineman at you every down with their constant rotations..it keeps everybody fresh and energized and keeps the other team guessing. What a test the Oline has this week as well..big games!! gotta love em..

    • David

      Cols, didn’t EB report that he wanted 10 mil a yr? I mean, damn, if I want to sell my house, list it for 500K, and someone bites, I’ll move out that same day. But in actuality, I’d be lucky to sell it for half that, b/c people now the market, the area, etc. etc. It ain’t Bill Gate’s house. So I guess my point is, if he did want 10 mil/yr, he is closer, IMO, to a 5-7 mil/yr player.

  • roethlisbergh

    well, i’m definitely one of the six the still check in on this site!

    running backwards: i mean wtf? deion regular features anyone who high steps into the end zone – he even featured it when a baseball player this year… if you can high step for 10 yards without a penalty, i have ZERO problem with this. czar goodell sucks.

    as far as running the ball, dwyer is nice, but the oline has been unreal this year. and by unreal, i mean average (man, we have had a crappy oline for a looong time). if you go back to the end of the titans game, on baron batch’s 2nd down run at the end of the game, there was a HUGE hole on the right side for him to go through. even ben saw the hole (as soon as baron went left, you see ben throw up his arm to the right side). hearing kirby say, “do what i’m asking you to do!”, i think dwyer’s success may be simply from doing what kirby is asking him to do, because kugler has the oline doing their jobs all year!

  • Cols714

    Man the Pats just never learn. They’ve now traded for Talib, the CB from the Buccaneers who has been arrested a couple of times. When are they going to learn that guys with huge character issues almost never work out?

    Of course the pundits will tell us that Belichick will have him in shape but they said the same thing about Merriweather, Haynesworth, Ocho, etc.

    He’ll be cut soon enough. What a dumb trade.

    • MRav

      When I saw that today I was pretty surprised. They were able to get a fourth rounder and a seventh rounder for a guy who spends most of the season on the sideline or getting torched. Good move by the bucs.

    • David

      Wait a minute. You mean the Great Tom Brady and the Best Coach Ever can’t win games without a defense? But seriously, this move doesn’t seem too much of reach, as they only gave up a 4th rounder. I mean, one year they were so desperate that they signed our Chad Scott. Remember that?

  • des

    I’ve enjoyed this site for several years. Best discussion of all the Steeler blogs and I’d love to see it come back

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    I don’t remember a lot of comments about RBs being interchangeable when the running game was ineffective for most of the season.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    I think part of the reason for Brown love is that he’s also an excellent return guy.

    • David

      True. But I also think a lot has to do with Wallace’s holdout. He’s been perceived as a crybaby (which is untrue) and a moron for wanting Fitzgerald-type money (true). Also, his drops aren’t helping him. And I’m not just talking about last game, as last year he had a huge drop in our playoff game where he dropped a 50 yarder. And most believe that he’s gone after this year (99% true).

    • David

      Also, I re-watched the game, and kept asking myself, would Wallace have caught that 20 yd high bullet from Ben that Brown caught? I keep thinking no.

      • Cols714

        This is nuts. Go look at one of Wallace’s worst games. He comes up with a pretty nice catch on a bullet vs Cincinnati. Look Wallace has been among the leaders in catch percentage his whole career. There is zero evidence, besides one bad game, that he has bad hands.

        None, zero.

        Get a grip Steeler nation. The guy held out. So what? So did Hines Ward. Who cares. He’s still every bit the great receiver that we were raving about last year at this time.

        • MRav

          I’m with Cols on this. While I think AB is the better receiver, in no way do I think anybody could argue that MW isn’t a great receiver. It was one tough game, people need to relax. Manny and AB have both had some drops in the past and even the amazing Heath Miller suffered from some key drops late last year. Drops happen

        • David

          I was thinking, no, but didn’t say it. In other words, I voted for it before I voted against it. (Just to get everyone ready for Tuesday)

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    I’ve gone from pessimistic to cautiously optimistic in a few weeks. I’m really looking forward to what this offense can do when Haley has figured out how to use all of the pieces, as he seems really creative. I expect both more deep balls to Wallace and interesting uses of Rainey as the season unfolds. I’m also (perhaps irrationally) hopeful that the D will get healthy at some point. It has been almost two full seasons since a healthy Silverback, Woodley and Troy have been on the field together. Not coincidentally, our sacks and TOs forced have fallen of a cliff since then. If we can get even two of the healthy, this could be a dangerous team.

  • David

    In my honest, biased, and novice opinion, I see an O that will improve as the season goes along, an improved O-line mostly due to Haley’s “D & D” system, and a D that will continue to be average as the season goes along.

    • MRav

      I’m happy to trade the explosive deep balls we enjoyed last year for the large gain in TOP we’ve enjoyed this year, especially with the state of our D this year.

  • David

    BTW, does anyone else agree with Freeman over at CBS Sportsline that the game shouldn’t be played this Sunday?

    • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

      I agree. There has been too much damage to the area–too many people and resources are strained. It’s one of those times for sports to take a back seat.

  • Eric

    I meant to comment on this awhile ago but am just getting around to it.

    Re: Brown’s celebration

    I personally didn’t like it. When it comes to celebrations, I like when players celebrate together, especially if it is spontaneous.

    What I don’t like is when players celebrations are of the “Hey look at me!” variety or are just showing up their opponent. I think Brown running backwards like that was both showing up the other team and showboating.

    Maybe I’m old fashioned but it just strikes me as crass or petty to do things like that. Players don’t need to signal first down after every conversion, that was obvious to everyone watching the game. I get the entertainment angle but I don’t find professional wrestling entertaining either.

    Re: Wallace hate

    I think the timing of things makes it fairly easy to see why some segments of the internet have turned on Wallace.

    1. Wallace had a pretty drastic decline over the last half of the season.
    2. Steelers fans were stressed about resigning him leading into the off-season
    3. No deal is signed/reports of Wallace wanting “Fitzgerald” money
    4. A fairly mediocre season-to-date combined with Wallace missing some plays during games the Steelers lost to bad teams

    None of that is to say that I agree with the sentiment but the simple fact is that some segment of any fan base will ALWAYS resent a player who doesn’t accept their teams offer (“He should be happy with any contract/they make too much money to play a kids game!!1″ rationale). It happened with Ward, every LBer that ever left, etc. If the internet existed, it would have happened with Franco Harris.

    Personally, I think people that react this way are people that can’t handle rejection and who can’t separate their personal identity from their team. “You don’t want us, fine we don’t want you! And we never even liked you to begin with! All those times I cheered when you scored TDs, I was just pretending because deep down I knew you were a bum!!1″

    (end cheap pyschoanalysis)