PRESEASON GAME 3 FALLOUT
Saturday night vs Kansas City I believe we saw the type of offense Todd Haley really wants to run. One that is built around quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers group of playmaking wide receivers. When Art Rooney II isn’t in Haley’s head to play old fashioned Steelers football, the sense inside the organization is that Haley would like to shape this offense around the type of aggressive one he installed as coordinator with the Arizona Cardinals in 2008.
Being built through the air is the Steelers only hope this season. Adrian Peterson is not walking through that door and the offensive line isn’t all of a sudden going to turn into a dominant one.
The Steelers WR group is a much better one than it appears on paper, especially when you consider the likely immediate impact third round pick Markus Wheaton is going to give this group. Some evaluators believe Wheaton could surpass Emmanuel Sanders as the No. 2 receiver by late in the season and possibly surpass Antonio Brown as the Steelers best receiver in 2014.
Against Kansas City, we saw the type of game plan that was a positive where Roethlisberger was getting everyone involved, the Steelers showed some aggressiveness taking chances deep, which is a must this season, and Haley gave some creative looks such as throwing the ball out of a run-look formation with tackle Kelvin Beachum lined up as a tight end.
BALL HAWKING DEFENSE?
One intriguing aspect about the Steelers defense is that it has the makings of being a more ball hawking defense. Troy Polamalu looks healthy for now and is showing the type of closing speed we haven’t seen since the 2010 season from him, that just maybe if he stays healthy, the Steelers could get one last season out of him where he’s a true difference maker in producing game changing plays.
Polamalu has just 3 interceptions and no forced fumbles in his last 23 regular season games. Not a good trend for a 32 year old aging player but don’t be surprised if Polamalu surprises a lot of people who are writing him off and has a pro-bowl year. He’s moving around great right now.
Elsewhere in the secondary, Cortez Allen in a starters role also gives Steelers the potential for a more ball hawking defense but like Polamalu, it remains to be seen if he can healthy, something he has to prove moving forward.
What fans should be excited about is the potential for a big year from the linebacking group and it’s a group that could carry this defense. I’m not yet sold on LaMarr Woodley returning to being a dominant pass rusher but Lawrence Timmons looks primed for another pro-bowl type season and the true difference maker could be No. 1 pick Jarvis Jones. Jones is one of those players that just seems to be in the right place at the right time. Jones will add more game changing plays that the Steelers didn’t get last season from James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.
A likely rotation of LaMarr Woodley, Jarvis Jones and Jason Worilds at LOLB and ROLB should have the Steelers more productive at the critical outside linebacker spots.
*Is Ziggy Hood finally ready to breakout? Entering his 5th year and last season of his contract, expectations are not high on Hood who has yet to make a significant jump in the level of his play, that the Steelers have hoped for from the former first round pick. Against Kansas City, Hood might have played his best game as a Steeler.
Hood had four tackles, a sack, tackle for a loss, quarterback hurry and was in on a 4th and 1 stop. That type of production from Hood has rarely been seen but if the Steelers can get that type of impact in a handful of games this season, it would be a huge bonus.
*Scouts are buzzing about David DeCastro with one telling me he’s going to be the Steelers best offensive lineman by seasons end.