Archive for the ‘Steelers’ Category

The Big Breakdown- Offensive Line
August 12, 2010

In honor of Camp Tomlin 2010, I will be doing a position by position breakdown of the 2010-2011 Pittsburgh Steelers.

I will address three factors: An introduction, the depth chart, and then any battles for spots going on within that position.

Today is part 2, where we will be turning to:

Offensive Line

Ah yes, the O-Line. The ever-criticized, much chastised unit. The Steelers had an interesting offseason in regards to the offensive line.

They lost maybe their best lineman, Willie Colon, while drafting a guy who some referred to as the most sure-thing in the draft. They also signed free agent Flozell Adams to take Colon’s place.

Pouncey, the Center from Florida, will most likely see time at Right Guard, where he will battle Trai Essex.

Since it is a bit difficult to build a true depth chart with this group of linemen due to all of the shifting that is going on, I will just give you what I think will be the starting offensive line for Week 1.

Depth Chart

LT- Max Starks

Starks is a big guy. He does a decent job, but nothing spectacular. There’s not much to say about O-Linemen.

LG- Chris Kemoeatu

He’s on the left……….
Kemoeatu has been around for a while now at Left Guard. However, will his party habits with rappers hinder his abilities? Kidding.
C- Justin Hartwig
Cool looking dude. Got called for holding in the Super Bowl, in the end zone. For a safety.
RG- Maurkice Pouncey
Guy was completely dominant at Florida. He played Center but will have to make a switch to Right Guard most likely to start his career. Eventually he will play Center and hopefully join Mike Webster, Dermontti Dawson and Jeff Hartings as a legendary Center in Steelers history.
RT- Flozell Adams
He has been to five Pro Bowls but was a disappointment last year for the Cowboys. Commits a bunch of pre-snap penalties but is gigantic and hopefully wants to prove something to the Cowgirls.
The backups:
Doug Legursky, Trai Essex, Adrian Jones, Kraig Urbik, Ramon Foster, Tony Hills and Jonathan Scott.
The Battle
Left Tackle, Left Guard, Center (Kind of), and Right Tackle seem set.
Right Guard is a competition between Pouncey and Essex. I believe that Pouncey will win out and then make the move to Center in coming years. Most likely, the Steelers will look at Right Guard in the Draft next season and solidify a decent offensive line going into the future.
But, for now it appears to be Pouncey vs. Essex for Right Guard.
Left Tackle, Right Guard

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The Big Breakdown- WIDE RECEIVER and TIGHT END
August 3, 2010

In honor of the start of Camp Tomlin 2010, I will be doing a position by position breakdown of the 2010-2011 Pittsburgh Steelers.

I will address three factors: An introduction, the depth chart, and then any battles for spots going on within that position.

Today is part 2, where we will be turning to:

Wide Receiver and Tight End

Another position that was hit hard in the offseason. With the departure of Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes and the loss of Limas Sweed to a season-ending injury, the Steelers were left in a bit of a bind. They signed former Steeler Antwaan Randle El, Arnaz Battle and drafted Emmanuel Sanders with their third pick in the NFL Draft.

The Steelers have a problem at receiver. They have no receiver that will get playing time over 6’0″ tall. If the Steelers don’t run the ball well around the goal line, scoring could become a huge problem.

On the plus-side, the Steelers saw the emergence of Mike Wallace last season, who enabled the offense to stretch the field and open up some more options for Ben Roethlisberger.

The Steelers are pretty solid at Tight End with Heath Miller leading the way. Miller has become one of the best all-around tight ends in football and is a great bail-out option for Roethlisberger.

David Johnson, Sean McHugh and Matt Spaeth fill out the rest of the field. A respectable group.

Time for the

Depth Chart- Receivers

1. Hines Ward

Hines Ward has been a consistent performer for years. He’s going to be a Steeler for life and still has a lot left in the tank. He had a very productive season a year ago and will have to perform just as well this year with the absence of Santonio Holmes. If Hines can stay healthy and continue to play through the nagging injuries that have plagued him the last couple of years, he should be able to continue to be the most physical receiver in football.

2. Mike Wallace

Last season, Mike Wallace came out of nowhere to be the Steelers solid third receiver. His unbelievable speed enabled the Steelers to stretch the field and open up the offense. His big-play ability was a perfect replacement for the departed Nate Washington and could be a replacement for Santonio Holmes. He is going to be thrown into the first or second receiver spot and will see his playing time enhanced greatly this year. Some could argue that he is one the most important players this coming season.

3. Antwaan Randle El

Randle El is back and ready to step in as the third receiver. He has been stuck in Washington with a stagnant Redskins offense the last couple of seasons and should provide a nice option for the Steelers to get back to some trickery that was so crucial in the Super Bowl XL run. While El won’t be putting up huge numbers, he still has some game left in him and can be a playmaker. The thought of he and Hines Ward, mixed with the possibility of Dennis Dixon running a Wildcat-esque offense this season could cause some headaches for Steelers opponents.

4. Emmanuel Sanders

Well, he can kind of freestyle. Geeze. He’s a speedy, smaller receiver. He was a bit of an unknown coming in, after being selected with the third pick in the NFL Draft. This rookie from Southern Methodist could see a role similar to what Mike Wallace went through last season. If a receiver goes down with injury or fails to perform, he could have a big part in the Steelers offense.

4. Arnaz Battle

5. Antonio Brown

Battle is mud. I’ve never been to impressed with him. His best season was in 2006 and last year he had five receptions in 15 games. Brown is a rookie from Central Michigan. Honestly, I don’t know much of him because he went to Central Michigan. I do know that he returned kicks in college and could find a spot on special teams if Battle doesn’t show up.

The Battle

Nothing too huge. The depth chart seems about set. Ward is the #1, Wallace is the #2. Randle El is the #3 and Sanders is the #4. Expect those guys to be the four receivers in the lineup Sundays. If Sanders does well, he could push Randle El for the third spot, but El’s experience should win out this season. If the Steelers decide to go with a 5-receiver lineup, I expect them to go with Battle initially. He shouldn’t be much of a factor though in the offense and will compete weekly with Brown for the nod as #5.

……………………

Depth Chart- Tight End

1. Heath Miller

Miller is never going to be a Dallas Clark or Antonio Gates. He isn’t going to lead the team in receptions but could be third in receptions. He isn’t the most dominating run blocker, but he is going to do a solid job. He’s just a nice tight end that has, in my opinion, become one of the most underrated players in the League.

2. Matt Spaeth

3. David Johnson

4. Sean McHugh

Yeah, backup Tight Ends. You want a picture or Youtube video of them? Johnson saw some time at Full Back, so had McHugh. There was a report the other night that McHugh is out for the season on NFL Network, but I haven’t heard anything since. All three of these guys are just as good as the other, with Spaeth probably having the edge in the group. One of these tight ends though will not be dressing on Sundays, that’s for sure.

The Battle

The true battle.

“Dey rapin’ errbody out herrrre.”

The Big Breakdown- RUNNING BACK
August 2, 2010

In honor of the start of Camp Tomlin 2010, I will be doing a position by position breakdown of the 2010-2011 Pittsburgh Steelers.

I will address three factors: An introduction, the depth chart, and then any battles for spots going on within that position.

Today is part 2, where we will be turning to:

Running Back

This past offseason, amongst all the mayhem, an overlooked story was the departure of veteran back Willie Parker.

Parker, who saw his role almost disappear last season with the emergence of Rashard Mendenhall. Now, the running game is in the hands of Mendenhall.

The Steelers can’t afford to have Mendenhall injured. The backup situation isn’t necessarily awful, but it isn’t great either.

Let’s dive in:

Depth Chart

1. Rashard Mendenhall

Mendenhall made nice strides last year. His second season in the NFL was more like his rookie season, considering he missed nearly all of the 2008 season due to a broken shoulder. Mendenhall was a bit inconsistent though, putting up 150 yards in one game and then 30 in the next. He especially needs to run better against teams in the division. He is the clear-cut number one though, that’s a lock.

2. Mewelde Moore

Moore has been a complementary backup and has, at times, been a suitable starter for of games. He can step in and is a decent receiving back as well. However, let’s just hope that Bruce Arians doesn’t decide to pitch the ball to him on a 3rd and 5 in overtime this season… again.

3. Jonathan Dwyer

He’s a rookie. He was a late pick in the draft. He’s physical and comes from a Georgia Tech system that features the Wishbone offense. Many scouts had Dwyer as a top 5 back, but he didn’t have a great combine and tested positive for amphetamines. However, he took the drugs in order to combat his A.D.D. and is still going to have a big role in the Steelers offense this season.

4. Isaac Redman

5. Frank “The Tank” Summers

Redman was solid in the preseason, but was moved to the practice squad for the regular season. He has a much better shot at making the team this time around and, if the Steelers use Summers at FB, he may be able to make the permanent roster as the fourth running back. Summers had a lot of hype coming in and didn’t live up to it last season. He was tested at FB but was just too small. He’ll get another shot this season, but may have to fight for the last back spot with Redman.

The Battle

Not much of one here. The battle for the fourth RB spot seems to be up in the air. Mendenhall and Moore are the 1-2. Moore could get time on 3rd downs when a reception is needed. Dwyer could get a look in short yardage when Mendenhall needs a rest a la Gary Russell two years ago.

The Big Breakdown- QUARTERBACK
August 1, 2010

It’s here. Camp Tomlin 2010.

In honor of the start of Camp Tomlin 2010, I will be doing a position by position breakdown of the 2010-2011 Pittsburgh Steelers.

I will address three factors: An introduction, the depth chart, and then any battles for spots going on within that position.

The most logical place to start is the position that has more questions than the rest:

Quarterback

***Sidetrack***

Everyone knows what happened this offseason. Ben Roethlisberger was suspended 4-6 games for not breaking any law and never being convicted or even charged with a crime. However, players such as Chris Simms (caught driving while under the influence of drugs), Cedric Benson (arrested for punching a bartender in the face), Michael Vick (who is already on the shortest of leashes, hosted a party at which a shooting occurred) and Vince Young (who was caught on tape attacking a man in a night club) were suspended for a total of 0 games this coming season.

But hey, who am I to say that the laws established by the most powerful government in the world and the judicial system of that government are not as important as the power of one man to decide the fate of athletes who have broken some sort of undefined “code of conduct.”

So, being arrested for assault, having video evidence of an assault, driving a car after using narcotics (see: Dante Stallworth killing a human being while under the influence of alcohol… Is that not enough of an incentive to suspend players for driving impaired?) and, after being in jail for admitting to running a dog fighting circle and brutally killing animals, having numerous other violations against your name and then hosting a party in which a shooting occurs are not “violations of conduct” according to this man in charge.

I used to respect this “man,” for taking a larger stance against the behavior of players. However, when you try to make an example of a player by throwing a harsh punishment at him and then, when players actually commit crimes after you hand down that punishment, you do not give them similar disciplines, I lose a lot of respect for you and your organization. It’s a joke.

But back to the breakdown of the Quarterbacks, right?

Obviously the situation at Quarterback is going to be a bit tricky. With Roethlisberger out for the first four to six games, the Steelers need a solid backup plan.. or do they?

According to coaches and players alike, there is really no set plan for who gets what snaps, who runs what string of the offense and who is the, without question, number one Quarterback when the regular season starts.

Let’s take a look at the Depth Chart:

1. Ben Roethlisberger

Despite all of the off-the-field issues, Roethlisberger is a proven Quarterback. He is one of the maybe five or six elite QB’s in the NFL. He knows how to win better than most others. His absence from the team at the start of the season is nothing but a bad thing.

2. Byron Leftwich

Who knows? Byron could be good, he could not… He played well a couple of seasons ago when Roethlisberger went down with injures, but struggled last year in Tampa Bay with the Bucs. If we get the Leftwich that filled in before, we may be ok. If not… it could get ugly. Fast.

3. Dennis Dixon

D-Squared played well at Baltimore last season. However, he made a crucial mistake in Overtime that ended up deciding the game. He is a good athlete and has made a tremendous leap since he came in the League. But, is one game enough to justify giving him the reigns of the Steelers’ offense?

4. Charlie Batch

Unfortunately, Batch will most likely be the guy left out of the Quarterback dilemma. He has played pretty well in relief appearances, but his ability to lead the way through four to six games at this point in his career seems to be a bit of a fairy tale. Batch has meant so much to the community and his hometown here, but his time to compete at least for a backup role has come and gone. Once Roethlisberger is back, it is probably the last we will see of Chuckie.

The Battle

The battle is obvious: who will be the starter for the first four games?

It seems to be a two-man race with Leftwich and Dixon. Batch is well on the outside looking in and, unless there are some injuries, will not be starting.

So, who will fill the role while Roethlisberger is gone?


Coming soon…
July 18, 2010

Big news on the IGS front.

Coming soon… I will be making a weekly podcast.

It’s my goal that the four people that read this blog can now listen to me as well.

My promises: No BS. It’ll be a low budget/no budget podcast. There may be video at some point, but until then, just audio.

Can’t wait.

The open has been completed.. Hoping to get it on Youtube tomorrow.

Good times.

Super Burgh?
July 16, 2010

Reports have been flowing about the possibilities of the Pittsburgh Steelers making a bid to host a Super Bowl at Heinz Field.

(Picture taken by yours truly)

With the awarding of the Super Bowl in 2014 to New York/New Jersey, the NFL has opened up the pandora’s box, if you will, of Super Bowl host cities.

As a Pittsburgher and football fan, I would love to see this happen.

It would be phenomenal for the City and the North Shore and Western Pennsylvania in general.

Plus, who else deserves a Super Bowl more than the franchise that has won more than anyone else?

The Pro’s:

– It can be argued that no team, and more specifically no ownership, deserves this more than the Steelers and then Rooney family. They have been one of the most influential sports families in the history of professional athletics.

– It would be great for the City of Pittsburgh, a city that went through so many good times, then so many bad times and had since built itself into the most livable city in America.

The Con’s:

Weather. Think about the last few years and what the weather has been like here in Pittsburgh on Super Sunday. Last year we had 23 inches of snow. Sure, they are playing the game in New Jersey where the weather is pretty similar to Pittsburgh. However, Giants Stadium will have an artificial field turf. Heinz Field will not.

– Stadium size. Currently, Heinz Field is the sixth-smallest stadium in the NFL. Remarkable, considering the size of the fanbase and waiting list. At 65,050, the Steelers would need to get about 5,000 more seats in there for it to be possible. There is room for some expansion (additional seating in south of stadium), but it would change the feel of the stadium if it was done permanently. It could happen, but are the Steelers willing to alter the stadium for one event?

Personally, I think a bid should be made. That’s just my opinion though. The reasoning for the Steelers to not do it is very valid. There are many difficulties in hosting an event of that magnitude in Pittsburgh.

By then, the new North Side expansion should be completed, allowing fans to park in the South Hills or downtown and ride in for the game on the “T.”

I am pro-bid really based on personal interest alone really. The finances and stuff aren’t my game and I understand that, so I’m not about to go around acting like I do.

Quite simply, the Steelers should do what they feel is best for the Steelers, the fans, the NFL and the City of Pittsburgh.

Until that decision is made, we can only dream…

Watch out internet. I’m back.
June 30, 2010

After a lengthy time off, I have returned to the Blogosphere. And I’m here to take it by storm.

I welcome you to “Ice, Grass and Steel.”

Formerly known as “The City of Champions,” “Ice, Grass and Steel” will bring you news and opinions about all things Pittsburgh sports and more.

About me:

I’m a graduate of Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. I was born in the city limits and lived in the city limits my entire life. I live for Pittsburgh. I hosted a radio show on 670AM WPPJ called “After Further Review” and wrote a column in The Globe Newspaper called “Pucks, Passes and Pierogies” for the last year.

Why Hines Ward belongs in the Hall of Fame.
August 4, 2009

hinessonXL

And on the first ballot, at that.

Let’s take a look at some reasons why.

1. He has more receiving yards than anyone in Steeler history (9780) as well as more receptions (800) and receiving touchdowns (72), which is an accomplishment in an organization that prides itself on it’s ability to run the football and play defense. To give you an idea, the guy in second place in receptions, John Stallworth, had 537 receptions and is in the Hall of Fame.

2. He is in fourth place in games played as an offensive player and (without setbacks) will probably finish his career in second or even first. 

3. He is a two-time Super Bowl Champion and a Super Bowl MVP.

4. He is a four-time Pro Bowl selection, a three-time All-Pro selcection, a two-time team MVP and a team captain year after year.

5. He is (not so) arguably the most physical Wide Receiver to ever play the game of football. Don’t believe me?

Ask Keith Rivers and his wired-shut jaw.

6. He is just a great human being. From everything he has been through in his life, to the man he is today, his life has been remarkable. He always enjoys playing the game, as can be seen by the smile he sports after getting rocked by some Free Safety. He always makes time to be with the fans, whether it is with his own TV show he does, or just signing autographs for an extended period after training camp. His charity, The Helping Hands Foundation, has brought children joy over the years in ways far beyond anything he could achieve on the football field.

I think the crazy thing is, of all of Hines Ward’s accomplishments, the thing I found the most to write about wasn’t what he does on the field, but about who he is as a human being. 

The stats are there.

But what makes Hines Ward a Hall of Famer is the way he has gone about playing the game of football and blended it into his personal life, something that makes him stand alone.

I have never been to Canton, Ohio… home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But the day Hines Ward in inducted, I will drop whatever job it is I have for one day and go. I will sit there and wear my Hines Ward jersey and wave my Terrible Towel, because Hines Ward is the reason I am a Steeler fan.

My Top 5 NFL Teams By Conference (AFC)
July 25, 2009

Now for, what I feel, is the better of the two conferences.

afclogo

1. Pittsburgh Steelers

steelers logo

The Champs are the Champs until proved otherwise. The Steelers will have a much easier schedule than last year, but it will not be easy. They have strong leadership and a defense that is the best in the NFL.

Prediction: 13-3

titans logoThe Titans were the AFC’s best team last season, until the playoffs. They lost a big piece of their team in Albert Haynesworth, but are still very strong across the board. They are poised to have another strong season.

Prediction: 12-4

3. New England Patriots

patslogo2Now, I know that Tom Brady missed a whole season, but this is still a very dangerous team. I think they will probably make it to the AFC Championship. There are questions about their defense and running game, but they can outscore anyone in the league if they need to.

Prediction: 11-5

4. Indianapolis Colts

coltslogo

Any team with Peyton Manning is a threat. The Colts boast a solid defense, a great quarterback and one of the best receivers in the game in Reggie Wayne. Just a solid team, as usual. They also have a very easy looking schedule.

Prediction: 11-5

5. Baltimore Ravens

ravenslogoThe Ravens surprised a lot of people last season by making it to the AFC Championship. They almost beat the Steelers three times last season, but nevertheless lost all three games. The big question is how will Joe Flacco play, especially with the retirement of Derrick Mason. Of course, their defense is always near the top.

Prediction: 10-6

The rest of the standings shake out like this:

6. San Diego Chargers

7. Miami Dolphins

8. Buffalo Bills

9. New York Jets

10. Jacksonville Jaguars

11. Denver Broncos

12. Houston Texans

13. Kansas City Chiefs

14. Cleveland Browns

15. Cincinnati Bengals

16. Oakland Raiders

My Top 5 NFL Teams By Conference (NFC)
July 24, 2009

We’ll go with NFC first… They seem to be the weaker of the Conferences, in my opinion.

nfclogo

 

1. The New York Giants

nygiantslogo

The Giants are a very strong team and are possibly the team to beat in the AFC. They play in possibly the toughest division in football and have a great defense. The only real problem they have is at receiver. With the Plaxico Burress situation, they have lost a lot of talent, which leaves a void for Eli Manning. 

Prediction: 12-4

2. The Philadelphia Eagles

eagleslogoThe Eagles are looking like a very good team this year. They made it to the NFC Championship and are poised to potentially go back. They have a Quarterback who still desires to prove himself and a defense that can play with anyone.

Prediction: 11-5

3. Carolina Panthers

carpantherslogo

The Panthers were poised to make a Super Bowl run last season, but were cut short in a blowout by the Arizona Cardinals. They look to make it further this season, as they bring back a talented group, including Steve Smith, Julius Peppers and DeAngelo Williams.

Prediction: 10-6

4. Minnesota Vikings

vikingslogo

No matter what happens with the this years edition of As the Favre Turns, the Vikings will be a tough team to beat. They sport a phenomenal defense and a running attack that really can’t be matched. I think Favre is good for one or two additional wins.

Prediction: 9-7 (Without Favre)… 10-6 (With Favre)

5. Chicago Bears

bearslogoThe Bears got better since last season with the addition of Jay Cutler. Cutler will not be leading this team to the Super Bowl most likely, but he will play good enough to get them into the playoffs in what (besides the Lions) is a tight division.

Prediction: 10-6

The rest of the Conference plays out like this:

6. Atlanta Falcons

7. Arizona Cardinals

8. Dallas Cowboys

9. New Orleans Saints

10. Green Bay Packers

11. Washington Redskins

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

13. Seattle Seahawks

14. St. Louis Rams

15. San Francisco 49ers

16. USC Trojans

17. Detroit Lions

Too harsh?