Thoughts On The Giants Loss

October 27, 2008

 

Many are saying that the Steelers loss to the Giants is just a stutter step, a bump in the road if you will. They will tell you the Steelers are still undefeated in the AFC and they appear to be in no real danger of being dethroned in the AFC North division. I’m not so sure. The Steelers offensive line continues to be a cause for major concern. The Giants came in to Heinz Field content on putting pressure on Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers knew it, and it didn’t matter. Did you honestly think the Steelers offense would be able to drive down the field and score after New York took the lead late in the fourth? Big Ben needed time for his receivers to get down field to make a big play, that starts with pass protection. Perhaps once Willie Parker comes back, and the Steelers are able to establish more of a consistent running threat (with all apologies to Mewelde Moore who has been outstanding) they can run some more play action and there by hit more big plays in the passing game. But, make no mistake about it, after watching film of what the Giants did, and the Eagles before them, when teams know the Steelers have to pass, they are coming after number seven. I just hope he survives.

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It sure looks like for the second straight year, the Steelers will have an outside linebacker heading to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. But, I’m not talking about “Mr. Monday Night” James Harrison. I’m speaking of second year man LaMarr Woodley. Woodley has stepped in nicely as a starter on the opposite side of Harrison. Heading into the Steelers bye week, Woodley has collected 5.5 sacks, good enough for third in the NFL. Which begs the question: How did this guy last until the second round last year? There were a few questions about his size; most felt he was too big to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme and too small to be a defensive end in a 4-3. But, I think the scouts underestimated Woodley’s ability to play football. He has natural instincts for a linebacker. He can stuff the run and he’s done remarkably well in pass coverage. What’s more: He looks the part. When you talk to LaMarr Woodley, you tend to forget that he’s in just his second NFL season; he has the poise and confidence of a ten year veteran. The Steelers got a good one in LaMarr Woodley. Look for him in Hawaii next February. (And James Harrison, too.)

The Steelers are a team full of proud veterans and to a man, no one thinks their recent stretch of bad luck with injuries is a major concern. But, I happen to think differently.

The Steelers have lost their valuable backup running back and their veteran right guard for the season. They also have several other key players injured and missing significant time.

The one player they can’t afford to lose, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, has an injured shoulder that may be getting worse as time goes on. And trust me, opposing teams know Big Ben is not 100 percent!

In the NFL, injuries are the one thing you can’t prepare for. Sure, you have backup players, and coaches are always telling them to be ready because they are one snap away from being a starter. But, with the NFL being the “ultimate parity league” and a tough schedule ahead, I’m afraid these injuries may be too much for the Steelers to handle.

Thankfully, they have several veteran leaders who can help the younger players along. But, if this season winds up with the Steelers making a long playoff run, I think many folks would be pleasantly surprised.