Monday, August 29, 2011

Steelers Camp 2011 Early Look: Defense/Special Teams

Lamar tries to keep James from raping his prey after he kills it, but nature man....what can you do?

So picking up where we left off last time, we'll take a look at the defensive side of the ball, but first some developments on the offense since the last post:

1. The fanbase fell in love with Baron Batch, who promptly tore his ACL on the carpet at the practice facility.
2. Byron Leftwich again didn't make it out of a preseason unscathed, managing to do the arm equivalent of a Joe Theismann injury against the Falcons. Somewhere I'm sure Charlie Batch has a voodoo doll with #4 on it.

Now on to the defense!

Defensive line: Cameron Heyward seems to be the real deal, and along with Ziggy Hood the future of the d-line seems solid. Brett Keisel and his BEARD OF DOOM are back, as is Aaron Smith (at least until his annual season ending injury). Casey Hampton in the middle is an interesting case, he's not exactly underrated since he makes the Pro Bowl usually every year and most recognize he's one of the best NT's in the game. Yet it's weird at the same time he almost never gets any mention during a game. His role in the scheme is to basically be a big fat guy who takes up blockers to free up space for the linebackers to tee off on people, and Big Snack routinely takes 2-3 blockers at a time and turns them into training sleds. Not to mention he has the best offseason program of not doing a goddamn thing, showing up to camp even fatter than normal, and using the preseason as a conditioning program to get into shape by week one.

Linebacker: They just locked up Timmons and Woodley to long term deals, and James Farrior is still providing solid inside play despite being approximately 75 years old. The story of course in this group is James Harrison. Not the real story of his two offseason back surgeries that he isn't 100% recovered from, that's barely getting any play around here at all. No, all the talk is how he's the poster child for what most of the fanbase perceives as a hard-on the Commish has for the Steelers when it comes to discipline. Let's face it, King Rog is trying to put his stamp on the game using player safety as a club. It's clear from bullshit like trying to force an 18 game schedule he doesn't give the slightest of fucks if guys beat their frontal lobes into mush, only that he his maximizing the profits off said mushing as much as possible. James Harrison is the scariest motherfucker in the game and doesn't give a fuck if he offends anyone by saying he wouldn't piss on the commish if he was on fire. Sure, he had to issue an apology, but that was most likely ordered by the Rooneys so Roger wouldn't spend his entire salary on new pants out of fear James was lurking around every corner to light his ass up then piss it out. It's also pretty funny to see people act like the game has never seen anyone like Harrison before in terms of being scary, when he's more or less the black Jack Lambert. Jack's the reason all these pussy protect the QB rules started in the first place, since he would just piledrive fools left and right.

Secondary: Well I don't think it's much of a secret that this is the Achilles' Heel of the team, is it? Pretty much common knowledge playing the Steelers that if the LBs don't rip your head off, you can take a shot down the field on whatever side Troy isn't on and have a reasonably good chance of making a play. Now that's easier said than done, since a lot of the time the LBs do kill you, and Troy tends to start plays on one side and end them on another. There are some bright spots, Keenan Lewis seems to be figuring out how to play in the NFL and may turn into a decent DB. He jammed a knee in the last preseason game, but as long as it's not anything major he just might push McFadden off the roster. Still, it seems to boil down to the same song and dance for this team: if Troy misses any meaningful time, this team's more or less fucked with a spiked dildo.

Special teams: Not sure how much it will matter with the new retarded kickoff rules, but Antonio Brown is becoming quite the return man. For the first time in nearly a decade, there's a chance we might see something other than fair catches on a punt return. Dan Sepulveda is back punting after his third (!) ACL surgery. This time they realized his knees naturally hyperextend and this time did the operation with his knee extended past the normal end point to account for that. Apparently the last cadaver tendon was put on too tight and that's why it blew again, which just fucks my mind up on many levels. Shaun Suisham is what he is at kicker, Raven can probably tell you stories of him easily making meaningless 40+ yarders but shanking important 25 yarders. With the offense looking like it does, hopefully he won't be needed for much beyond extra points.

So all told, what are we looking at here? Well not to steal the thunder from the eventual Neil/Raven collabo post, I think a 12-13 win season seems more or less a lock. The schedule gods have smiled on the Steelers by giving them a stupid easy schedule for a team that made the Super Bowl last season, and considering the Ravens arguably took a step back on offense there doesn't seem to be any reason they can't run the table on the division schedule. The funny thing is the Steelers are good for serving up a turdburger against a team they have no business losing to at least once a year. However this year they seem to have a little luck on their side, and if they can avoid any trap games a #1 seed in the AFC is theirs for the taking.

Prediction: 13-3 and at least $200,000 in fines.

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