The Pittsburgh Steelers gear up for another season, but are they poised to make a run for the title this season? Lets check out the NFL odds and break down this team, as we decide if fans will be waving their "Terrible Towels" in February.
By: Joe Catalano
All I can say is "Oh baby!" as the best defense in the league in the Pittsburgh Steelers goes up against one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history in Peyton Manning. This time, however, Manning will be wearing a Denver Broncos jersey.
I believe in sibling rivalry: the fact that Peyton watched little brother pick up Super Bowl number two while he still has just one is a little bit of a weight on his legacy. Moreover, he's in a very small, elite group of best all-time quarterbacks and wants to solidify his standing with a 2nd Super Bowl title.
You're going to see a fired-up Peyton Manning as he didn't leave Indianapolis on his own terms. Looking at the Broncos' offense apart from Manning, one realizes that he has his work cut out for him. This isn't a loaded passing attack, and Willis McGahee isn't as good as he used to be. Manning will have to do what he did at Indy and that's make guys like Eric Decker better players. Can he do it?
Pittsburgh wants revenge for the loss that they suffered at the hands of the Broncos last season, but Tim Tebow isn't there.
This is one of those late Sunday Night games, where the situation gives the newly formed Broncos some extra adrenaline. Look for Manning to come out gunning. Denver gets the nod in this battle.
Pick: Denver Broncos PK
The Wallace Situation
By: Joe Catalano
Recovery time is the major theme for this week's Pittsburgh Steelers blogs as some player either have to sit on the sidelines or coach other players while they're healing from injuries.
On top of veteran nose tackle Casey Hampton's locker is a sheet of paper that say's "Coach Hamp". Look's like Hampton has a future job in coaching as he's currently rehabbing his surgically repaired right knee. WIth the spare time, Hampton has been helping the backups by pulling them to the sideline and giving them tips on coordinator Dick LeBeau's 3-4 defensive.
Players like 4th round draft pick Alameda Ta'amu are soaking in the information as Ta'amu will eventually take over for Hampton. It's somewhat "hero worship" but players like Casey Hampton make the Pittsburgh Steelers the best defensive team in the NFL.
It's unfortunate for the Steelers that Hampton is out and he along with bruising running back Rashard Mendenhall, will likely begin the season on the "physically unable to perform list".
Timing is everything and Mendenhall suffered a torn ACL in the AFC Wildcard loss to Denver last season. Both Mendenhall and Hampton are in the last year of their contracts and if placed on the "Pup list", they won't be able to play until after week 6 of the regular season. Both players are key to this team's success and we'll have to keep on eye out for the official word.
Keeping a star happy
Without Hines Ward, the Pittsburgh Steelers know the importance of making wide receiver Mike Wallace happy. Currently, Wallace is seeking a deal that's worth $12 million dollars per season. Wallace hasn't signed his contract tender offer of $2.7742 million dollars. He's a restricted free-agent and hasn't worked out with the team and there's a possibility that he won't report to training camp. Steelers management need's to work this out as Mike Wallace is a main target for Ben Rothlisberger and his absence would be a crushing blow to the Pittsburgh offense.
That's it from Steelers camp. This is a strong team but they need to be at full strength to be effective. Stay tuned for more updated on contract dealings and injury progress.
By: Joe Catalano
This week's Pittsburgh Steelers blog involves the process of adapting. In society, some people adjust better than others to a new situation. How do the men in the black and gold handle it?
As we have noticed over the last couple of days, the sports page headlines have read "Roethlisberger’s wife has a baby". I find that somewhat comical as the title could've been labeled Ben Roethlisberger is a father. Do people think that this is the old Ben Roethlisberger that was suspended for 4 games in the previous season due to his conduct off of the field in regards to women and the way that he represents the NFL?
Big Ben has supposedly made great strides lately in the way that he's conducted himself. We all know that he can bring it on the field. Now Roethlisberger will have to adapt to being a father. Player’s performances have been affected by marriages, so how will Ben Roethlisberger’s performance on the field be affected by his new child? Stay tuned for Week 1 of the NFL season to get the answer.
Tight end Leonard Pope has been one of those players that the public deems as "likeable". As many rmember, he saved a child from drowning in a swimming pool last summer, and he has been labled a class act ever since. One person that's taken notice and has appreciated this 6 foot 8 gentle giant has been Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
Haley has had his moments of conflict and dissatisfaction from players; Thomas Jones is a good example of this from when Haley was the Kansas City Chiefs head coach last season in an unsuccessful year. Leonard Pope has managed to be one of "Haley's guys" over the past 6 years in both Arizona to KC, and now he hopes to do so in Pittsburgh.
Certain coaches have their favorites. I remember Bill Parcells and Keyshawn Johnson being joined at the hip, and you wouldn't expect that from the Big Tuna.
With Heath Miller also holding in the tight end position, Pope will fit more as a blocker.
Learning the playbook
One part of the game that fans take for granted is the learning of the playbook and how the offense works. The perfect example of this was the release of Chad Ochocinco from the Pats. He just couldn't learn the New England offense and Brady never gave him the chance. It wasn't a matter of number 85's talent.
The Steelers offense has to get adjusted to the style of Todd Haley, as he's this the first time that the Steelers have had a new offensive coordinator in 5 years. Players are scrambling to learn the offense and naturally they look for advice from Leonard Pope who should know the Todd Haley scheme like the back of his hand. Pope's answer is that he has to learn the playbook just like everyone else. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen, but Pope definitely has an idea of what's going on.
This week has been relatively quiet but stay tuned for more Pittsburgh Steelers news as we get it.
Let's get motivated!
By: Joe Catalano
Not much happening on the Steeler's front except for the word motivation. Linebacker LaMarr Woodley expressed his thoughts by saying that the loss to Denver and Tebow in the Wildcard last season still stings.
The Better team didn't win
Obviously you put up Ben Rothlisberger, who is a two time World Champion and the Pittsburgh Steelers top defense in the NFL, against the 8-8 Denver Broncos that are backed into a playoff spot with an "illegitimate" quarterback in Tim Tebow and you expect Pittsburgh to clobber the Broncos.
That wasn't the case and the Steelers know that they let an opportunity go to waste. Woodley was disturbed as he watched the New England Patriots crush the Broncos the week after, 45-10.
I think this will carry the Steelers a long way, especially with the roster that they have. This defense is punishing.
David DeCastro, the last of the unsigned
Pittsburgh announced on Tuesday that third round pick linebacker Sean Spence was finally signed. This is great news for the Steelers but the only thing that's distressing to them is that their number one pick, offensive guard David DeCastro is the only pick left unsigned. After all, Big Ben needs the extra protection after the beating that he has taken over the last few years.
Spence will likely backup linebacker Lawrence Timmons. He's a little undersized at a mere 5 foot 11 but Pittsburgh is satisfied with the pick. Ultimately, look for DeCastro to sign. Offensive guard Kevin Zeitler finally signed with the Bengals and expect DeCastro to follow suit.
Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith look's to comeback
Heisman Trophy winners have not had much luck in the pros and quarterback Troy Smith has also followed that path. At barely 6 foot tall, Smith already has one strike against him. A Drew Brees type of QB is very rare. Smith was drafted in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens and is gunning for the backup spot on the Steelers. With players like Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch, the position is up for grabs.
The highlight of Smith's professional career was a 27-21 victory over the Steelers in 2007. He started 2 games that season. Smith developed an infection which made him lose 45 pounds. His last season was with the San Francisco 49'ers in 2009 where he went 3-3 and passed for 1176 yards with 5 TD and 4 INT. There is a possibility that Smith has something left in the tank, however his size might affect his success.
Stay tuned for the progress of Troy Smith and the Pittsburgh Steelers as they try to get back to the Super Bowl and put last season behind them.
By: Joe Catalano
As more and more accusations and admittances are coming out of bounties following the New Orleans Saints suspensions, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a revelation of his own and we're going to talk about that in this week's Steelers blog.
The word 'bounty' is becoming a common term in the NFL ever since the New Orleans Saints' scandal first broke into the media. Even hall of fame receiver Chris Carter, who is a respected member of the NFL fraternity, has claimed to put out bounties on the defense.
We come to the Steelers and if you watch Ben Roethlisberger play football, you know that he's a warrior. Roethlisberger take's major physical abuse and keep's on playing hurt and doesn't complain, until now.....
Roethlisberger now claims that the San Francisco 49'ers were purposely, and repeatedly going for his ankles in a week 15 game. He doesn't claim foul but he did bring this to the public's attention. Expect the NFL to review the game and monitor future situations in where a player is targeted.
As of May 9th, the Steelers have recently signed 2nd round draft pick Mike Adams and 7th round draft pick David Paulson. As I had predicted in my draft blog, the Steelers were looking to protect Ben Roethlisberger, and that they would likely look to beef up the O-Line. Each of these players were good selections, as Adams was an All Big-Ten Offensive tackle in 2010 and 2nd team Big-Ten selection in 2011.
In my opinion, the Steelers got a keeper in the late rounds in Paulson, who played primarily in a run offense in Oregon that was led by LaMichael James. Look for Paulson to exceed expectations and become a great asset to this team.
On May 10th, the Steelers signed 7th round pick, offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum out of SMU. Beachum was a 2-time first team All Conference USA.
Hopefully Roethlisberger won't have to worry about his ankles as much this season with these signings.
Pittsburgh's roster currently list 53 players, and they have sent out invitations to free agents kicker Dave Raymer, inside linebacker Brandon Johnson, and outside linebacker Matt Roth to join training camp. The linebacker position is of more interest as Raymer is there to just push kicker Shaun Suisham.
Steelers Strengthen the Steel Wall
By: Joseph Catalano
The Pittsburgh Steelers headed into the NFL draft with offensive line on their mind, and at the end of the day the must have went home happy.
Protection for Big Ben
With their first two picks in the draft, the Steelers went for 2- 300 plus ponders in All American guard David DeCastro out of Stanford in the 1st round and monstrous 6 foot 8, 320 pound tackle Mike Adams in round 2.
Ben Roethlisberger has taken a beating over the years, and having a solid line could possibly lengthen his career.
Defensive tackle Casey Hampton is recovering from an off season knee surgery, and the Steelers traded away their 6th round pick to pickup Pac-12 honorable mention defensive tackle Alamedu Ta'amu in the 4th round. Ta'mau adds more size and skill at 6 foot 3, 337 pounds.
Overall Pittsburgh got what they wanted in protection for Big Ben and protection on the defensive side of the ball
Filling offensive voids
Pittsburgh also picked up running back Chris Rainey out of Florida who is a multi-talented player. The Steelers might not see a lot of running back Rashard Mendenhall due to a torn ACL of the knee at the end of last season, and this where Rainey can fill in for both positions. Last season, Rainey ran for 861 yards and also caught 31 passes out of the backfield for 381 yards and 2 TD. This is a very good pick for Pittsburgh, as they seem to have coverd every position.
The Steelers hope that it will be as they draft wide receiver Toney Clemons of Colorado in the 7th round along with tight end David Paulson of Oregon. On a team with the running of LaMichael James, Paulson held his own as a blocker and receiver for the Ducks. Look for Paulson to play much better than you'd expect from a 7th rounder.
Stay tuned for more Steelers updates as the year progresses.
Intense Season Ahead for the Steelers
By: Joseph Catalano
We hit the city of Pittsburgh and check out Ben Roethlisberger and arguably the best defense in the NFL in the Pittsburgh Steelers. How does the schedule look for Pitt now that they're without the services of all-time great Hines Ward who retired after last season?
1 @ Denver
3 @ Oakland
6 @ Tennessee
7 @ Cincinnati
9 @ Giants
10 Kansas City
12 @ Cleveland
14 San Diego
15 @ Dallas
On Sunday, September 9th, at 8:20pm ET, NBC will be totally ready for some football, considering the ratings bonanza that awaits, when Peyton Manning plays his first game as a Denver Bronco at Denver against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This game can go either way. Pittsburgh has the better team, but Manning has the supporters of Denver and - let's face it - he's Peyton Manning, one of them most prolific passers in NFL history. Manning wants ring number 2 to match brother Eli, and it starts with Pittsburgh.
The schedule makers made it fairly difficult on a football team the caliber of the Pittsburgh Steelers. In week 2, Pittsburgh is immediately tested again as they face the Jets on the road; that should be another game that will garner a lot of attention.
The Steelers get an early season bye after a trip to Oakland, a game that they should win. So, basically, in the first 3 weeks, the schedule makers threw Pitt into the fire.
It doesn't get much easier as the Steelers play at the Giants in week 9, get a break at home against K.C. in week 10, and then will see Baltimore in 2 out of the next 3 weeks (expect a split).
A slight calming
Pittsburgh needs to go 4-0 or 3-1 during the last 4 games as the schedule lets up a bit at that point. They get 3 home games against San Diego, Cincinnati and Cleveland and one road game against the Cowboys. This schedule is very tough, but if Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers can elude DeMarcus Ware and the Cowboys and come out of BIG D with a W, their season would be greatly helped.
This is a top notch defensive team that has a difficult schedule to navigate. But, if anyone can do it, it's Pittsburgh.
Stay tuned for more Steelers updates as this has the makings of a very intense season.
Steelers Prepare For The Draft
By: Joe Catalano
The Pittsburgh Steelers had to make
the difficult decision of releasing all-time great Hines Ward. Instead of opting to go to
another team, Ward retired as a Steeler for life. That's what this franchise is
about, as talent and dedication are the two ingredients that make the Steelers
a perennial winner.
In the Roethlisberger
era, the Steelers have won 2 Super Bowls and will be looking to make it a trifecta. This team
is based on the talent of Ben Roethlisberger, reliable running, young talented
receivers, and one of the best defenses in the NFL. Let's take a closer look at this team and decide if they have what it takes to contend this year.
Blood, sweat, and tears
There is no doubt that quarterback Ben
Roethlisberger is one of the toughest players in the NFL. I've seen this guy get
battered and cracked, yet he always returns to the field. Roethlisberger hasn't always used
the best judgment as a motorcycle accident without a helmet and his off the
field behavior have proved to us, but the Steelers reprimanded him for it and he
seem's to have learned his lesson. This is a two time Super Bowl champ that with
the proper defense, can win a Super Bowl in any given year.
Big Ben is a mountain of a man, at 6 foot 6, that possesses a rifle of an arm and the ability to adjust to a play to make it
work. On the season, Roethlisberger threw for 4077 yards with 21 TD and 14 INT.
He's not a number's guy, he's a winning player, as the Steelers 12-4 record of
2011 will tell you.
Pittsburgh will have extra motivation this
season as they lost in the post-season to a Denver Broncos team quarterbacked
by Tim Tebow that backed into the playoffs. Now, the Steelers have something
bigger to worry about as Peyton Manning has decided to become a member of the
Without Hines Ward, Roethlisberger
will have to rely on his guttiness and the gifted ability of his young
When you watch Rashard
Mendenhall, you think of a bruising type of running back that uses bruit strength
to gain every yard while occasionally breaking off for a big run. Last season
wasn't one of Mendenhall's best, but he still managed to rush for 928 yards and
9 TD's. If he can regain his old form, this team will be dangerous.
Mendenhall is backed up by Isaac Redman, who
is a very capable runner as well. This duo help to solidify the Steelers as a true running threat in the NFL.
I know that Pittsburgh has two 1000 yard
receivers in Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown, but Mike Wallace is a true
superstar and go to guy when the big play is needed. Both players put up similar numbers, as Wallace caught for 1193 yards and 8 TD while Antonio Brown had
1108 yards and 2 TD. Expect this duo to have even bigger seasons without future
hall of famer Hines Ward on the field.
The Steelers also have one of the best year
in, year out tight ends in Heath Miller. Miller is definitely one of the top 5
tight ends in the game, all based off of his consistency and his ability to
make a big catch on crucial 3rd down plays.
To sum is up, this is a deep offensive team,
not even counting the draft moves that the Steelers will make and they'll
remain as one of the top teams of the league.
NFL's best defense
Although the Baltimore Ravens would like to
believe that they have the best defense in the league, many feel that the title belongs to Pittsburgh.
This is a team that ranked number 1 in points
allowed, allowing a mere 14.2 points per game. The Steelers were also stingy
against the pass, ranking number 1, allowing just 171.9 yards passing per game
and they ranked 8th in rushing yards allowing 99.8 yards per game. Overall,
they ranked first in total yards allowed at 271.8 yards per game and this
was without top tackler linebacker James Harrison for most of the season.
Defense play's such a pivotal role in the NFL, and teams
like New Orleans, Green Bay, and New England get all of the accolades of being
the top teams in the league while ranking near the bottom in
passing defense. The Pittsburgh Steelers are the most balanced team in football.
The defensive line features a lot of beef in
the form of Ziggy Hood, Caey Hampton, and Brett Keisel. Keisel was a 7th round
draft pick at one time, which is proof that a team can find gems in the late
rounds. Just ask New England in the form of Tom Brady.
Outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr
Woodley were rocked by injuries but still each managed to accrue 9 sacks or
more each in a limited amount of games. Right inside linebacker Lawrence
Timmons had a decrease in production from 135 tackles in 2010 to 93 tackles in
2011 but still remains a major threat to opposing teams.
A fan favorite
Everyone loves the man with the hair, safety
Troy Polamalu and Polamalu never disapoints as he plays with wreckless abandon
and is one of the best defensive players in the league. Polamalu comes up
with the most pivotal pass breakups during crunchtime than mostly any
other safety that you'll see. He's getting a bit older but if he can stay
healthy, Pittsburgh's defense will be tough to crack. Look out Peyton Manning!
I mentioned 1000 yard wide receiver Antonio
Brown and how valuable he is to the Steelers offense. He's also valuable to the
special teams game as he's the primary kickoff and punt return man. He's not
just average, he's good. There's not so many receivers or players in general
that can wear so many hats.
Against all odds?
It's still somewhat early in the year and
some of the NFL betting odds aren't out yet but we can speculate. Don't forget, the NFL Draft is
just a month away, therefore the season has actually begun in a sense.
Sportsbook odds makers only release future Super Bowl
Champion odds, and if you don't like the Green Bay Packers (13/2) or the New
England Patriots (15/2), you're going to get a good price as the next 3 teams
are all 12/1!
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 18/1 to win the
Super Bowl and the Baltimore Ravens are 15/1. This tells me that the odds for
the division will have the Steelers and Ravens split as the favorites. I think
that Pittsburgh is the better overall team.
If you want to have a little fun, the NFL odds
have been released for the cover of Madden 2013. Cam Newton leads the way at
5/2, and for Pittsburgh, Troy Polamalu is the favorite at 80/1! This is actually
a good thing for Pittsburgh as the "Madden Curse" is inflicted on
whomever is on the cover.
The draft will only improve this team, and the loss
of Hines Ward shouldn't hurt them too much. Pittsburgh is a complete, well rounded team that
will be looking to make up for a poor showing against Denver in the post
season. I look for the Steelers to get out to a quick start and have a huge
season. With the defense that this team has, they can beat any team. It's all a
matter of protecting the quarterback, and this O-Line might be something they look to build on in the NFL Draft.