MORNING STEELERS BUZZ
— Ben Roethlisberger, as expected, has been officially ruled out for Sunday’s game vs the Ravens and the early sense right now is that he will probably miss at least a couple more games. The Steelers will arguably be without their three best players in Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu (calf) and Antonio Brown (ankle sprain) in Sunday’s showdown with the Ravens but Sunday’s game still sets up as a closely matched game that the Steelers can steal at home. The Steelers though have to find a way to take one of the two games against Baltimore in the next three weeks. Even without Roethlisberger for what might be over a month, the Steelers are still in good shape to make the playoffs as things are setting up that 9-7 probably gets you the final wildcard spot. However, it’s hard to see any wildcard team making a serious run in the AFC with potential division winners being Houston, New England, Denver and Baltimore.
— An interesting dynamic to watch is whether Tood Haley looks to go away from a quick passing game with Byron Leftwich at the helm. Haley has always been regarded as being excellent at adapting to his personnel but if he tries to fool himself into believing that Leftwich can be a factor in a quick passing game, the Steelers are going to be in trouble. Leftwich is most dangerous at taking chances down the field as his ability suits a Bruce Arians type of offense. It will be interesting to see how Haley decides to attack the Ravens through the air.
— Who is the Steelers defensive MVP through 9 games? The popular choice is Ryan Clark who is having an excellent season but to me it’s Lawrence Timmons and I’ve felt that even before Monday night’s game. Since the Eagles game Timmons has been the Steelers most disruptive player but after Timmons and Clark, I’d go with Larry Foote as the Steelers third best player on defense so far this season and Keenan Lewis a close 4th.
MY TOP-5: 1. Lawrence Timmons (50 Tackles, 1 sack, 2 INT, 1 FF, 4 Tloss), 2. Ryan Clark (62 Tackles, 1 INT, 3 Tloss), 3. Larry Foote (64 Tackles, 3 sacks, 2 FF, 2 Tloss), 4. Keenan Lewis (37 tackles, 16 PD), 5. Brett Keisel (26 Tackles, 2 Sacks, 2 Tloss)
— The tape is out there for teams to attack Ziggy Hood and LaMarr Woodley on running plays (to the right side) and we saw that Monday night from the Chiefs. Woodley’s ability as a run-stopper has always been over-rated but often overlooked because of his dominance as a pass rusher. That dominance hasn’t been there this season and while excuses shouldn’t be made for Ziggy Hood, Woodley has also been an issue.
— If the Steelers were lets say 4-5, it’s hard to imagine that James Harrison and even LaMarr Woodley to a lesser extent would still be getting the free pass they are from the media. Harrison has been such a non factor in providing a pass rush that it’s not a crazy idea that Jason Worilds should be getting a couple series a game in place of Harrison.