Steelers Versus Titans – Second Half Notes And Observations

By Matthew Marczi

  • In order to discipline Isaac Redman for his two first half fumbles, the Steelers came out in the second half with LaRod Stephens-Howling as the running back. On first down, he caught a pass out of the backfield and slipped for a four-yard gain. On second down, he wriggled his way for four yards to set up third and two, on which he dropped a pass that would have gone for a first down.
  • Credit William Gay where it is due. He was targeted five times and allowed one 10-yard completion on a second and 11 play. More importantly, he registered two pass defenses on which he had to come back upfield, and was able to pop the ball up in the air both times in order to give his teammates a chance to come down with the ball. Troy Polamalu nearly did on the first one. Both also happened to be on third down.
  • The Steelers’ next possession was three more exhibitions of the LASH show. First and second down were ineffective runs, and on third down, he allowed Zach Brown to sack Ben Roethlisberger.
  • I believe the second drive of the second half was the first time that Jason Worilds replaced LaMarr Woodley at left outside linebacker, allowing Worilds and Jarvis Jones to share the field.
  • Lawrence Timmons certainly did not have his best game. He is credited with one missed tackle, but he had other opportunities to make tackles that he missed by taking a poor angle. Then he was beaten down the seam by Delanie Walker for a 20+ yard completion.
  • The play immediately following that was vintage Polamalu, as he perfectly timed the snap and blitzed the A gap before the offensive linemen had a chance to come out of their sets to tackle Jake Locker. The play happened so quickly that Locker did not have time to hand the ball off. Thus, it counts as a run stop rather than a sack. The defense is going to need more plays like this out of him based on the first game of the season.
  • Steve McLendon held up well against the run, in my opinion. A lot of the success that the Titans had on the ground seemed to come in the nickel or with Al Woods in the game.
  • Jake Locker did not do much, but he did enough, and he did it when he had to, and that was all it took this game with the offense scrambling for answers and failing to adapt on the fly.
  • It was interesting to see Shamarko Thomas get time in on defense, but this was of course necessitated by the ankle injury suffered by Cortez Allen. In my final 53-man roster recap, I noted that I would not be surprised to see Thomas come in ahead of Curtis Brown as the fifth defensive back in the event of an injury. Personally, I am glad to see it. He was only in for 10 snaps, six of which were in coverage, but the one time he was targeted, he stopped the receiver after just four yards on third and long.
  • Only one more snap, unfortunately, remained in the holster for the LASH show, as the first play of the Steelers’ next offensive possession saw him leave the field after what was later confirmed to be a torn ACL. He could have been an integral part of this offense, but it still made no sense to feed him the ball or have him in pass protection on the first seven plays of the second half over a three-series span.
  • On second down, Emmanuel Sanders failed to hang on to a pass that would have gone for a first down, and a low snap on third down resulted in a rushed throw that was low and away for Jerricho Cotchery, Roethlisberger’s intended target.
  • Titans guards Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack continued to be the bane of Larry Foote’s existence in the second half, as they consistently forced him out of plays at the line, resulting in him having a high number of tackles of a chase-down variety.
  • To be fair, Locker had a chance to convert on third and 15 with Damian Williams in front of William Gay. However, the pass was not ideal, and it would have been a somewhat awkward catch.
  • Isaac Redman was re-installed into the game after LASH’s injury to start the fourth quarter. On his first carry since the fumble, he had a hole up the middle provided by Kelvin Beachum and David DeCastro on which he gained eight yards—or nearly his total for the day.
  • On Redman’s second carry since his fumble, he broke one tackle and dragged another defender two yards for a five-yard gain. He finished with nine total yards, so his 13 second half yards on two carries means that he had -4 yards on six first half carries. Perhaps the more promising flashes in the second half are partly why Tomlin said that he was still comfortable with Redman as the starter for next week.
  • Robert Golden had himself a nice day on special teams with two strong tackles on punt returns. Thomas and Brown also registered a tackle each, as did Chris Carter.
  • Jarvis Jones still appears a bit lost in his coverage responsibilities at times, yet at other times during the preseason he seemed a natural. Seems to me he just needs more repetitions at it.
  • Larry Foote really did not have a very good game at all overall, even when he did not have a guard in his face. He was slow to the edge on Chris Johnson’s longest run of the day, an 11-yarder on which LaMarr Woodley was double teamed, leaving Foote with edge responsibility.
  • The pass interference penalty on Ryan Clark appeared to be an awfully soft call to me based on the available replays. Tomlin and Keith Butler were visibly outraged from the sidelines. It also turned what would have been a second and 10 from the 42 into a first and 10 from the 18.
  • Markus Wheaton must have been having flashbacks of his first preseason game on that first kick return. He hesitated before finally bringing it out of the end zone and ran horizontal before being tackled on just the seven-yard line.
  • Emmanuel Sanders had another opportunity at a deep ball down the field, but could not bring it in despite it bouncing off his chest. It would have been a very good catch, but if he wants to get paid after this season, he is going to have to catch a couple of those.
  • Roethlisberger got plastered pretty good on the throw as Beachum was beaten of the snap and DeCastro was slow to pick up the defender. On the next play, a simple stunt got the better of Mike Adams and Ramon Foster on the left side, and Jurrell Casey was able to squeeze in between the two and get in for the sack. Foster was worried about picking up the stunting defensive end coming inside and Adams was in an outward stance and unable to get around in time.
  • On the ensuing punt, Shamarko Thomas was handled well by the Titans’ jammers, and Jones and Kion Wilson were beaten by the returner, which spoiled the unit’s lane discipline and created an avenue that allowed the returner to get all the way down to the 17.
  • The defense did its part to stop them and hold them to a field goal, but the Titans were really just running out the clock at this point up 13-2 with four minutes to go.
  • Wheaton’s second return was good for about 25 yards, but Felix Jones is still listed as the primary kick returner on the depth chart.
  • It was nice of the offense to finally start clicking again on the game’s last meaningful possession, but, again, the Titans were just winding down the game.
  • No matter what Tomlin thinks, it is not a prudent strategy to use your last timeout with two seconds left before the two-minute warning. Contrary to what he claimed, it does not buy you an extra play. It buys you two seconds. The ensuing play was an incomplete pass to Cotchery at the two-yard line.
  • I also fail to see the logic in throwing three passes shy of the end zone past the two-minute warning with no timeouts left. At least the fourth-down play was designed well and finally resulted in offensive points.
  • Shaun Suisham deserves credit for a well-placed onside kick, and Chris Carter deserves admonishment for short-arming what had a good chance to be a successful play had he just gone up in the air not just with his body, but also his, you know, hands and arms.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Christopher Wilkes

    So, I guess our high draft picks on the offensive line are turning out to be busts? There’s hardly ever anything positive said about them.

  • steeltown

    Well, Sanders isn’t going to get his “very good deal” playing like he did last Sunday, there were a couple passes that went right through his hands that could’ve completely changed the outcome of the game. I’m not blaming the loss on Sanders, as it was a collective effort, but it sure didn’t help.

    Also another blunder by Carter.. I sure wish we could get Baxter on roster sooner than later

  • Steeler Wheeler

    I know it often takes time for individual O-lineman to figure it out, and it always takes time for a unit to figure it out. All the injuries can’t help their development. I’m thinking a 32 game schedule might be necessary for these guys. So hope they are not all busts, but they sure do look bad.

  • Chad H

    I have said this many times on other posts.
    I believe Tomlin is buddy buddy with his players and not a coach. Explain why Carter is still on this roster along with Cromartie-Smith and C. Brown. He must have a friendship with these players who can’t play. Yes, C. Brown is good on special teams but that is it. Carter should have left the team 3 years ago. Please someone tell me what he does. Baxter proved he can play and has much better pass rush ability.
    Please Coach Tomlin bring him up and cut Carter. Give Baxter some experience!

  • Mike Carroll

    Clark gives it his all every play, but I’m not sure how much longer his body is going to hold up. He looked shaken up a couple times on Sunday. Of course, he’s looked like that before and stayed on the field, but at age 34 the end has to be near. Not sure if he’s got one more year left.

    Agree on Sanders. Very disappointing to see that perfect long bomb from Ben go right through his hands. Good coverage, but he still needs to make the play. I’m glad the Steelers did not extend him this year because he still has much to prove. To me, that play last year at the Ravens when he turned his back and walked off the field as Ed Reed was returning an interception out the end zone says a whole lot about Sanders as a player.

  • steeltown

    I think Ryan was getting dinged up because he was in on every tackle! Haha not really but he is definitely on pace to lead the Team in tackles this season

  • steeltown

    I see why keeping Cromartie-Smith this year makes sense, he’s good on special teams yes, but it sure looks as if Shark Thomas will come in and play Nickel before C.Brown will, so an extra Safety on roster is important for depth purposes

  • cencalsteeler

    I don’t agree with the approach Tomlin is taking on disciplining his running backs. If you bench Redman for a fumble, more than likely, he will be down on himself. He will lose confidence, and if he gets back in there, he will concentrate on the ball more than what he is supposed to do. Running backs need to be quick decision makers based on the flow of the line and the development of the play. I’m sure now, he just gets the ball, says to himself “hold the ball, hit the 4 hole, hold the ball, hit the 4 hole.” He (Tomlin) is taking the fluidity out of the back field. Pat the guy on the back, tell him to redeem himself, and send a confident man back out there, not a deflated one.

  • Mike Carroll

    Good point.

  • schlong

    The drop by Sanders on the deep ball was especially bad. That thing was right in his arms

  • CrazyTerry

    It didnt take Zeitler much time to figure it out last year for Cinci and he received only a fraction of the hype DeCastro got. And I am talking about their development prior to DeCastro’s injury. Decastro is far from the best guard prospect in years. He doesn’t even seem to be the best guard from last year’s draft. He is not a bust, but it looks like he fell to #24 spot for a very good reason. He is just above average at best.

  • Matthew Marczi

    You know, I agree with you entirely, but unfortunately this is a pretty widespread method around the league, particularly among ‘old school’ coaches (for example, Tom Coughlin’s handling of David Wilson–he fumbled twice, so Coughlin put Da’Rel Scott in the game, who later had a pass bounce off his hands because he didn’t turn around quick enough and it was returned for a pick six on a drive that certainly seemed like the Giants were destined to come back and score). Redman had some rust to knock off, and he was unable to establish any type of rhythm throughout the game. I don’t believe he received consecutive carries at any point throughout the entire game. I’m not sure he even had two carries within three plays of each other. I do really hope Tomlin gives Redman a chance to establish himself next week. There were a lot of extenuating circumstances to deal with, not the least of which was Pouncey going down, of course, and that affected the entire team, both on the field, and in their heads.

  • cencalsteeler

    Yes, I totally agree Matt. But, your statement including your example, reflects that method is a broken one. If you jump off the bridge, I sure as hell am not, so the “old school” way is archaic and not the way to handle things in todays football, IMO. When a receiver drops a pass, Ben says he is confident in that guy and usually goes right back to him. It’s an emotional booster for that player and shows that he has confidence in that guy. Tomlin, I feel, should take that same approach. Rather than putting your players in time out, he might want to try some positive reinforcement.

  • Mike.H

    Newbie Q: What’s the best way to play the run when an OL guy out weighs ya by 100 lbs? Shiftiness and quickness combo?

  • Steve

    I would say quickness out does Big. Look at when Troy breaks trough the line and gets to the QB. He was so fast there was no way they could block Troy.