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Insider Only Steelers-Monday: Offense looks for improvements in short-yardage situations & 5 Storylines to Watch

By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin probably had the best comment following his team’s 24-0 drubbing against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.
Tomlin was asked about his team’s shortcomings despite such a dominant win.
“I’m sure that I can find a lot of things to complain about,” Tomlin said to close his post-game press conference. “I’m still chewing on last week. I’m sure we all are. That’s just the nature of this thing.
“It’s not going to take one (winning) performance to take that stench off of us. We respect that, (and) we’re going to prepare to get ready for our next opportunity (Sunday night at Indianapolis).”
Tomlin added that the team was better prepared, which is on him, but they also played much better and that’s on them. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was able to make a statement early, and things got steadily worse for the Seahawks. The Steelers kept drives alive with big third-down conversions, while the defense was able to get off the field more often than not to thwart Seattle.
“We did a very good job of driving the ball down the field and converting third downs early,” Roethlisberger said after the game. “I’m still very disappointed in our short-yardage and goal-line. I don’t know what our percentage was, but I don’t think it was very good with converting touchdowns.
“I know our offensive like takes pride in that, and they will really kick themselves for that. (And) I think we could have scored a lot more points than we did. But we won the game, and that’s the most important thing right now.”
The Steelers scored just three points on two trips inside the 5. They were stopped at the 1 on the opening drive and had to go for three at the end of the half after a first-and-goal from the 2. The Steelers also missed a field goal, so roughly 14 points were left on the field by the Steelers.
“We’re going to need those points in some games later this season, so we have to get that worked out,” Steelers running back Isaac Redman said. “For whatever reason,

we just couldn’t punch it in those couple times. We were close, but we just couldn’t get in there.”
Redman’s touchdown came on a 20-yard run, so the Steelers were barely in the red zone for that score. The other touchdowns came on a one-yard run by Rashard Mendenhall and a two-yard pass from Roethlisberger to wideout Mike Wallace, who tallied eight catches for 126 yards. So, they were 2-for-4 on scoring touchdowns from inside the 5.
The Steelers had two new players on the offensive line with rookie Marcus Gilbert at right tackle and third-year player Ramon Foster at left guard. Gilbert replaced veteran Willie Colon, who is out for the season, while Foster — a starter at right guard the second half of last season — was in there for Chris Kemoeatu who’s knee swelled and had to be drained this past week.
“We definitely left some points out there, but their defense made some good plays,” Foster said Monday. “Their safeties hit the holes the way you’re supposed to whenever they see the back running, but as an O-line we’ve got to make sure that we cover them up front and make a gap for Rashard and the running backs to get that touchdown in those situations.”
Maybe that’s why offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called for a pass in that situation when the Steelers weren’t getting into the end zone via the run?
“We actually thought we were going to run the ball again,” Foster said. “But Ben made a play like he always does. He and Mike, so we had the same mind-set. But Ben just made a play for us.”
With the game basically decided, Tomlin said the Steelers wanted to run the ball a little better in the second half to milk the clock. Instead, they had 16 carries for 30 yards, so Roethlisberger had to return to the air.
“They made some adjustments in the second half and made a lot of plays, but we still have to be better in those aspects when B.A. is making the calls for us to run the ball,” Foster added. “So, we have to be more efficient with that.”
The Steelers get another chance against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday night at 8:30 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

DePaoli’s Five Storylines To Watch in the Coming Weeks

Get Emmanuel Sanders more Involved: By mid-season the Steelers could have one of the most dangerous duo’s at wide receiver in the AFC. Mike Wallace has shown the ability for a big play anytime he touches the ball but I’m most intrigued about Emmanuel Sanders involvement with the offense moving forward.
Sanders had 2 receptions against the Seahawks, including a 30 yard quick slant in the first half and like Wallace, what’s become evident is that he’s a player who can pickup big yardage anytime he touches the ball due to great foot work and elusiveness in the open field.
Sanders though was targeted just 3 times against Seattle and the Steelers have to work up some set plays for him and possibly even gradually start getting Sanders involved in two receivers sets. Sorry Hines….
Intrigue continues to surround Steve McLendon: DT Steve McLendon shined in the preseason and camp, getting constant pressure and penetration in passing situation. That has continued in the regular season. He’s a player who arguably deserves playing time over Chris Hoke and should continue to get more looks from the coaching staff.
Stick with Mendenhall as goal line back for Now: A calling for Isaac Redman to be the team’s primary goal line back has started from NFL observers and pundits. Redman sure has the look of one but it’s way too early to take Medenhall out of that role. Let’s not forget Mendenhall had 13 touchdowns last season, many inside the 10 and grinded out tough touchdowns on the goal line last year in the playoffs. Mendenhall can excel at the role, as it’s not his fault when Doug Legursky misses an assignment on a 4th and 1.
Will Foote continue to take away playing time from Farrior?: Larry Foote getting some playing over James Farrior has more to do than the Steelers wanting to rest Farrior due to his old age or match up against running back like a Ray Rice who’s dynamic in the passing game. Foote getting more than just an occasional series will continue to be a storyline going into week 3.
Should Foster be given more serious consideration to start? It’s a still mystery to some observers what Ramon Foster did so wrong to fall off the depth chart at right guard. Foster made some big blocks at left guard in Sunday’s win and deserves a chance to unseat Doug Legursky when Chris Kemoeatu is ready to return to the lineup. Whether he’s given that chance remains to be seen.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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