Latest Steelers Buzz

The Latest Steelers Buzz: Despite mounting concerns, Steelers matchup well with AFC “Field”

Tuesday’s Thoughts
*– The big news of the day was clearly the decision to waive kicker Jeff Reed Reed who was in his ninth year with the team in 2010, made his own bed.
Off the field, he’s been an embarrassment to the organization for several years and his off field actions finally caught up with him, as his performance on the field no longer met the usual standard.
An opportunity finally presented itself to get rid of Reed due to his on field performance in 2010, and his comments Sunday night was finally the last straw.
Ownership was regarded as being “disgusted” with Reed’s antics and I’m under the assumption that a decision to cut Reed was made on Monday even before the Steelers worked out Shaun Suisham.
However, the decision ultimately came from head coach Mike Tomlin and signed off by ownership.
Reed was 15 of 22 on field goal attempts this season and ranks second in team history with 919 career points (307 PATs, 204 FGs). Despite his struggles this year, if Reed was a model citizen and not moving down the road of being a head case, the Steelers would have stuck with him through his struggles and stayed behind him.
“It’s more of an accumulation with where we are,” Tomlin said when discussing the decision as to why Reed was let go. “The kicking position is one that merits a special consideration. It is unlike other positions where you can simply bench someone and go to the backup. There’s only one kicker on a football team, so you don’t take these decisions lightly when you have to make a move. We are very respectful to the work that Jeff has done here, but at this time we thought it was appropriate we make a change.”
In now is Shaun Suisham who scouts say is much better on kickoffs than Reed but has a history of struggling in the clutch.
In stints with Washington and Dallas, Suisham has made 87-of-110 field goal attempts (79.1 percent).
The Steelers are not getting a pro bowl kicker by any means but it’s hard to imagine Suisham giving the Steelers worse production than Reed has this season, who was making only 68.2 percent of his field goals.
“Shaun Suisham was available, we worked him out, we like his resume and how he performed here today,” Tomlin said. “He’s experienced, of course, being here before. He is a veteran guy, no stranger to NFL competition, so we are extremely comfortable with the change and moving forward.”
In the end though, Suisham is going to be remembered this season for how he kicks in the clutch, which is a spot Reed failed at miserably in 2010 but was “clutch” for so many years in the past.
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*– Some coaches call the NFL a week-to-week league. What has been interesting to watch is how the Steelers have fallen from a perception standpoint.
Just a week ago they were regarded by many as the team to beat in the entire NFL. Now after some prime time games, those on the national scene as starting to see the team’s weaknesses a bit later than others.
At 6-3, the Steelers are still in a very good position and it would be wrong to discount them as a title contender just yet.
However, injuries are mounting and flaws are being exposed.
The team has lost their two best offensive linemen in Max Starks and Willie Colon for the season; It will likely be weeks before Brett Keisel makes an impact and Aaron Smith is out indefinitely. It’s hard for any team to overcome the absence of two of their best players on both lines.
From a performance standpoint, concerns moving forward on the offensive side of the ball are clearly at the left tackle position with Jonathan Scott. Just think if the Steelers didn’t luck out and sign Flozell Adams before camp.
Scott’s play was poor against New England and the Steelers entire offensive game plan is going to have to change.
They’re going to have to turn into a short drop quick passing team, which is not something they are very good at.
Scott’s performance against New England wasn’t just a bad game. That’s what we’re going to see most days. The Steelers are going to have to give him some help.
Mike Tomlin though made it known today that Scott is in no danger of losing his starting spot.
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*– The loss of Santonio Holmes is starting to get magnified. The Steelers do not have a true No. 1 receiver on their roster.
Mike Wallace has made great strides and is developing into one of the best deep threats in the league but he isn’t at the point yet where he’s a true No. 1 receiver. Some areas of his game are still evolving.
Hines Ward remains productive but there’s no denying he’s starting to slow down. Antwaan Randle is a marginal No. 3 receiver at this point in his career, and Emmanuel Sanders is still adjusting to learning the offense.
With the Steelers pass protection issues, Heath Millers role in the passing is going to continue to be lessened.
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*– On the defensive side of the ball, here’s the No. 1 concern from scouts: Troy Polamalu. He’s been good but not great this season and the Steelers need him to be a dynamic force to shore up their pass defense
Overall, the safety play from Polamalu and Clark has been average at best. Clark is the weak link of the defense. He’s mediocre against the pass, and that’s been evident for two years now as he struggles with his reads.
The big story though is Polamalu. He just hasn’t looked like himself all season and his days of being that once in a decade unique type of player, quite possibility could be over.
I’m not saying he’s no longer a productive player or not one of the best at his position, but the standard we expect from Polamalu could be in the past.
On his performance this season, Polamalu’s reads have been surprisingly bad at times and he looks a step slow which is where the real concern is. His body has taken a beating over the years and he now has an achilles strain.
On the cornerback situation, no changes will be made in the starting lineup or at the nickle back position, head coach Mike Tomlin said today.
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With all of the concerns surrounding the Steelers such as mounting injuries, their pass defense, kicking game and O-Line, this is still a team that could be a force.
The Steelers success in 2010 is going to come down to favorable matchups if they get into the tournament.
The Steelers are in the middle of a bunched up AFC, and one knock on the Steelers is that they’re 0-3 against the so called “elite teams”, losing to New England, New Orleans and Baltimore.
Of the three teams, New England and New Orleans are bad matchups for Pittsburgh. New England in fact is a nightmare matchup for the Steelers. Tom Brady reads the Steelers defense as well as any defense and Sunday night wasn’t just one occassion where Brady dismantled a Dick LeBeau defense.
At all causes, Pittsburgh has to avoid the Patriots if they get to the tournament.
In the AFC, Pittsburgh is 5th right now, behind No. 1 New York Jets (7-2), No. 2 New England Patriots (7-2), No. 3 Baltimore Ravens (6-3, tiebreaker) and the No. 4 Indianapolis Colts (6-3).
After Pittsburgh, Miami (5-4), Tennessee (5-4), Oakland (5-4), Jacksonville (5-4) and Kansas City are a game behind at 5-4 with San Diego and Houston sitting at 4-5.
Of the top-4, Pittsburgh matches up favorable against the Jets and Ravens. Neither team is going to cause the type of problems that a New England poses to the Steelers. Scheme wise the Steelers are a good matchup with the Jets.
The wildcard in the current top-4 is the Colts. They are dismantled by injuries and despite Pittsburgh having success against Peyton Manning in the past, the Colts offense could pose serious matchup problems for Pittsburgh in a potential one game playoff.
The Patriots and the Colts to some extent, are the only teams in the AFC that jump out where I feel the Steelers could be in big trouble.
Of the team’s behind Pittsburgh, there doesn’t appear to be a serious threat.

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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