Eagles 31, Steelers 21: Even Snoop Dogg Is Mad

Let’s call the Steelers a work in progress at this point because, well, that could have gone better.

The only way to really sum up this game is to point out that the first team offense and defense played well into the third quarter and were still getting beat by Philadelphia’s starters. The defense looked bad. The offense looked bad (Ben Roethlisberger looked particularly rusty). Shaun Suisham missed another field goal. The Steelers starters didn’t do anything until late in the third quarter when Ben Roethlisberger found Heath Miller for a 27-yard touchdown against the Eagles’ backup defense.

The first team defense never stopped anybody.

It was around this time that Snoop Dogg started getting fired up, posting a video rant on Instagram where he just shredded Todd Haley.

But that’s not what stunk about this game. What stunk was the fact the Steelers violated rule No. 1 of preseason football and suffered two injuries when starting outsider linebacker Jason Worilds had to leave (after recording a sack after Mark Sanchez fell down that was nullified by another Ike Taylor penalty) with a knee injury.

Sean Spence, the feel good story of camp, also went down with a knee injury, though it’s not the one he injured two years ago.

So, yeah. The less said about this game, the better.

But one more thing: If the NFL is going to keep enforcing the defensive holding and illegal contact penalties the way they have in the preseason the league is going to be completely unwatchable this season. There were 27 accepted penalties in this game, which comes out to roughly 20 percent of the offensive snaps. And this wasn’t teams shaking off some early preseason rust. This was Ed Hochuli and crew inserting themselves into the game.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Rob D

    Awful game, obviously. Tomlin is making a habit of fieldig teams with all the emotion of Clint Eastwood iin a spaghetti Western. I’m not a big fan of his over the last year or so.This game is played on emotion and for whatever reason they look listless and unprepared.Disheartening..but at least the 49ers know how we feel

    • Randy Steele

      Wexell wrote a pretty damning editorial about Tomlin’s (not LeBeau’s) choices of defensive schemes and the players he drafted who can man them. Fast, but not stout. In fact, the defensive front is scary small when they play the nickel. They will get steamrolled by the most mediocre o-lines.

      • EasyLikeSundayMorning

        Randy, I haven’t seem that piece. Could you post the link? Not sure how Wex knows which defensive choices Tomlin makes vs. LeBeau.

        • Randy Steele

          Easy, the story in on the pay site, so a link won’t get you through. Forgive me for not cutting and pasting the story here anyway, but it’s hard enough for writers to make a living these days without having their work given away for free. And I have a lot of respect for the reporting that Wexell does.

          That said, here are a couple graphs from the piece:

          “So this year’s running preseason performance fits somewhere in between two of last year’s worst performances.

          “And this is your new speed defense.

          “This, actually, is Mike Tomlin’s vision of run-and-hit football, the kind he began to reveal to Pittsburgh when he targeted run-and-hit linebacker Lawrence Timmonsin his first draft, and not shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis.

          “Tomlin’s defense — formerly called a nickel, or just “sub-packages” — has become the team’s new base defense. In three games, the Steelers’ starting defense has been in a so-called sub-package for exactly 70 percent of the snaps. In those 76 snaps, the Steelers are allowing 6.7 yards per play, well up from last year’s average of 5.2 ypp.

          “Against the run, the Steelers, in their new base defense, are allowing 7.3 yards per carry this preseason. That’s 3.0 yards more per carry than last year’s awful overall number of 4.3.”

          The story isn’t all doom-and-gloom, but it’s the most pessimistic piece that Wexell has written not only this season, but for a long time.

          He’s usually somewhat of a champion of Tomlin, in my opinion, and this is the first time I’ve noticed that he’s opening questioning Tomlin’s defensive philosophy.

          • EasyLikeSundayMorning

            Randy, I appreciate your posting that. Interesting stats about the subpackages from 2013 (the 2014 preseason stats don’t tell us much, though, I think). Seems like the issue is a more about Big Snack, Aaron Smith and Silverback departing than a huge scheme shift for us; it is hard to keep the same level of success when 3 elite players are gone.

            I also still don’t see why this is “Tomlin’s” D and not LeBeau’s, too; it’s not like we moved to a 4-3 or Cover 2 (which Tomlin was known for in Tampa and Minnesota).

            A nitpick: I’m also not sure why Wex viewed Timmons as Tomlin’s target over Revis, even if Tomlin made all the picks; rumor (and Tomlin’s own words at the time) suggested he wanted Revis, but the Jets traded up one slot ahead of us and took him. Even though I was confused by the Timmons pick at the time (because it wasn’t clear if he was a OLB or ILB, which seemed odd for a 1.15 pick), he’s been a good or very good player and hardly the main culprit in our defensive decline. We also took Woodley in r2; to paraphrase what you once said, if we pretend that Woodley was the r1 pick and Juan was r2, that’s pretty good set of picks.

          • Randy Steele

            I’m surprised, almost flattered, that you remember that note I made years ago about Timmons and Woodley; although, today it doesn’t sound particularly clever, does it?

            I agree with some of your points, too, but I was–again–very surprised at the tone Wexell took not only with this story, but also with his comments about the story in SCI’s forum (pay side) in his responses to his readers. Without question, he lays the new nickel defensive scheme in Tomlin’s lap, not LeBeau’s. When questioned directly about this in the forum, he noted, “LeBeau works for Tomlin.”

            Make no mistake: Wexell politely but firmly put Tomlin in the cross-hairs.

            A few weeks ago, also on the pay-forum site, Wexell dropped an aside that he and Tomlin had a bit of a dust up. It seems Tomlin objected heatedly to something Wexell had written (I think it was about well Tuitt was playing and how he might soon be starting), which I truly think hurt Wexell’s feelings. Maybe it was worse than that. Wex had always been a staunch supporter and defender of Tomlin, and he might have felt somewhat betrayed. (I confess that I may well be reading too much into this.)

            I responded to his admission by telling him that during my former career I had been in this situation many times and you must keep smiling and remind your adversary that you’re only doing your job, and that you do what you do because your readers demand it, and that’s why you’re successful. Be nice, but you can’t back down. He then wrote me to say that he had talked with Dejan Kovacevic afterward, and Kovacevic had told him the same thing.

            I thought that was interesting. Kovacevic, as you may know, left the Trib this summer and set up his own pay-site, “DK on Pittsburgh Sports,” which, so far, is excellent. Kovacevic has long been my favorite writer of sports in Pittsburgh, and I purchased a 3-year subscription to his site immediately.

            I bring this up because Kovacevic has now positioned himself as one of Wexell’s competitors, perhaps the primary one on the internet, and Kovacevic doesn’t hold much back. I won’t go so far to say that he won’t have to compromise someday (wait until some disgruntled GM threatens to limit his access to the players or locker room), but right not at least he has come out swinging, and swinging hard.

            I have begun to wonder if the tougher stance in Wexell’s copy is a reaction to Kovacevic’s challenge. Hmm…

          • Randy Steele

            One last quick comment, and then I’ll shut up, Easy.

            This morning I read that in the SCI forum that Wexell had written a piece that was axed by his editor(s) at Scout.

            He writes: “I wrote my notes column for Steelers Digest with heavy concern on this topic. It was spiked. Or killed. Or pasted over with an ad. First time in my 33-year career that has happened. ‘Too fatalistic.’ ”

            The ‘too fatalistic’ topic he refers to his the Steeler’s nickel defense, about which he has serious concerns, as previously noted. He felt so strongly about it that it wrote an apparently stinging second article on the same subject, which was killed.

            First, I was surprised that Wexell has an editor at all, and that he has an editor with real authority. The Scout sites had been sold within the past year, and apparently the new owners have installed a layer of management with teeth.

            That’s not necessarily a good thing for someone such as Wexell. If they are trying to turn him into yet another rah-rah cheerleader/sports writer, it will ruin the site. He’s not that guy.

          • Randy Steele

            Duh. That was Steelers Digest that canned Wex’s article, not SCI. Ignore previous post. My bad.

  • Cols714

    Eh. preseason football is so meaningless that reading anything into these games is dumb.

  • Rob D

    Randy, thanks for the posts..very interesting..Also I plan to sub to DK’s blog. I had not realized he was on his own now. Pre-season is over..I have my complaints about the disposition of the team..but I will save my angst for the real thing..Game 1…I hope they plan to hit the waiver wire HARD though..this team is paper thin at many positions. And you know how they stay 100% healthy and never lose key players early. ahem