[STEELERS] Week 1 — At Washington Preview

Ed. Note: We are back, for now. As of this moment the plan is to add more content from some other people in addition to myself. Perhaps a podcast or two (one is currently in the works — but at the very early stages of development) as well. This is the first of a series (hopefully) previewing the 2016 Steelers games. As we go through the season I hope to give you my thoughts every week (when time allows) and I hope to publish some guest content for the first time in OTL history. So anyway…read on.

The Steelers open the 2016 season on Monday night, meaning Steelers fans have to watch 28 other loser franchises battle in a race for second place before the Steelers even see the field.

I’d love to keep up the facade of the first paragraph and tell you why the Steelers are a lock for Super Bowl contention, but I’m not going to. It’s not because I don’t think they can get there. It’s because until I see the defense in action, I can’t trust that they can be good enough to win it all.


With either Le’Veon Bell or Martavis Bryant on the field this wouldn’t be a problem. Even though the Steelers love to spend the first month of the season in a conservative shell while the experiment with the offense and learn what they have and what their weaknesses are, I would predict a lot of points if the offense is at full strength.

But it’s not. It’s not even close. Losing Bryant means Markus “One Game” Wheaton becomes the de facto #2 receiver (and he’s out for the opener with a shoulder injury). Losing Bell means the need to rely on an aging DeAngelo Williams once again.

But those aren’t the only two losses for this offense, they’ll be without free agent acquisition Ladarius Green as he is on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list with a concussion of the ankle. So if you’re following along that’s three starters missing, one of which is arguably the best running back in the NFL, one is the straw that stirs the Steelers offensive drink by forcing teams to not sit on routes and respect the deep ball, and the other is a genuine move tight end, a position employed by the Steelers for the first time ever this season.

Without them Ben’s weapons are the always amazing Antonio Brown, two inexperienced first year receivers in Sammie Coates and Eli Rogers, journeyman speedster Darrius Heyward-Bey, white tight end Jesse James, the aforementioned DeAngelo Williams and a cast of misfit backups at RB and TE that won’t threaten anyone, not even the Steelers defense.

To say this game will come down to which quarterback plays better seems simple enough. And that should be Ben, given that his offensive line is *knock wood* completely healthy and finally a team strength. Plus, you know…Ben is great. But with the way the Steelers love to “ease in” to games (and seasons) and the fact that they’re missing two of their most explosive and dynamic offensive weapons, this game should worry every Steelers fan.

Most Important Non-Big Ben Player: Eli Rogers
If the young slot receiver can become a security blanket for Ben, and force Washington to account for him, it should open up the field for Antonio Brown.

Matchup To Watch: Antonio Brown Vs. ????
Will Washington try to match Josh Norman and Antonio Brown one-on-one? I sure hope so. There is no way that Josh Norman can cover AB one-on-one. Very few people can. The last time we saw Brown shutdown in a game was against Richard Sherman who held, interfered with, and illegal chucked Brown all game with minimal, if any, calls going Brown’s way. Norman won’t be able to do that. So I expect Washington to double and maybe even triple team Brown. If this happens, expect Sammie Coates to have a big game, assuming the Sammie Coates of the 2015 playoffs shows up rather than the Sammie Coates of the 2016 preseason.



I told everyone who would listen last year that they weren’t going to be as bad as expected. I was half right. The secondary was better than most believed they could be. The front seven was worse. Sadly I think that trend continues this year.

The defensive line should be much better with the addition of 3rd round draft pick Javon Hargrave (a guy I was touting as one of my favorites in the draft, toot toot) and veteran backup Ricardo Matthews who looked great in the preseason. But the outside linebacker position, the most important position in a 3-4 defense, sucks.

Last year’s first round pick Bud Dupree is on IR after having surgery. Jarvis Jones is terrible, Arthur Moats is Just A Guy, Anthony Chickillo is still developing a pulse, and James Harrison’s football age matches the number he wears on his jersey. Harrison is by far the best of a very mediocre bunch. Maybe I’ll be wrong and Jarvis Jones, one of the worst athletes ever selected in the first round of the NFL draft, will have a monster season. I doubt it, but I guess Stranger Things (Ed. Note: Barb is the worst character) have happened.

Against Washington they will find themselves up against a team whose weaknesses they may struggle to exploit and whose strengths they may struggle to slow down.

Washington’s offensive line is simply alright. They’re not great, but the Steelers don’t have the horses at OLB to take advantage. Maybe Javon Hargrave shows up big under the national spotlight. Maybe Cam Heyward’s ankle is 100%. But maybe neither happen and Kirk Cousins shreds the Steelers defense while assuring them that they do, in fact, like that.

In the run game, I don’t think the Steelers have much to worry about. But against the pass? Desean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and Jordan Reed all provide potential problems for the Steelers secondary. Washington fans have been raving about Jamison Crowder, a midget who will play slot receiver. They expect Crowder to be their secret weapon (probably because he’s practically an ant) and convert first downs for their team at-will.

With the right gameplan (any one that allows Kirk Cousins time to find the receiver who will inevitably be wide open on the play), Washington’s offense can put up big points. The question will be, can the Steelers defense slow them down just enough — or at the exact right time — to allow their offense to carry them to victory?

Most Important Non-Ryan Shazier Defender: Sean Davis
If the rookie cornerback-turned-safety-turned-nickel-back can slow down Washington’s tight end Jordan Reed, the Steelers defense should be able to hold steady just enough to give the Steelers offense some margin-for-error.

Matchup To Watch: James And Jarvis Vs. Trent Williams
James Harrison typically eats the lunch of any big, slow tackle he faces. Williams isn’t slow by any means, but his height gives Harrison the ability to duck under him with minimal effort. James is also one of the strongest pass rushers in the NFL, if he can use his size correctly, he could make Kirk Cousins’ life miserable. As for Jarvis, well, I’ll just be happy if gets within arms reach of Cousins at any point.

FINAL PREDICTION: Steelers either win or lose by a field goal.


Ravens Week — Week 2 Preview

I both love and hate the short week Thursday night Ravens game. I love it because there’s less time between Steelers games but hate it because it’s less time I have to bask in my hatred of all things Ravens. But here we are in Week 2 with a chance for the Steelers to maybe, kinda, sorta put the Ravens out of their misery early with what would essentially amount to a 4-game lead over the Ravens (2 extra games because of division record tiebreakers). Let’s break it down…

The Storylines

The Ray Rice Saga | The saga is still on-going even though the Ravens finally cut ties (good job idiots, it only took 7 months!) with the scumbag. Keep in mind this is a franchise that built a statue to Ray Lewis, said Ray Rice’s suspension was “no big deal”, and tweeted out that Ray’s now-wife Janay “apologized” for “her role” in Rice knocking her out and dragging her unconscious body out of an Atlantic City elevator.

If you’re a Steelers fan this incident is not one to make light of. Domestic violence is not something to joke about and Steelers owner Dan Rooney literally defended James Harrison for slapping his son’s mother during an argument about whether or not to have their son baptized.

“What Jimmy Harrison was doing and how the incident occurred, what he was trying to do was really well worth it,” he said of Mr. Harrison’s initial intent with his son. “He was doing something that was good, wanted to take his son to get baptized where he lived and things like that. She said she didn’t want to do it.”

One thing Steelers fans should and do hope for is that the Ravens experience some football karma bad luck in the coming weeks, especially Thursday night. Also, you have to wonder how much of a distraction this incident is for the Ravens players. I’m hoping it’s a big one because I don’t trust Todd Haley to have the same gameplan on the road against the Ravens that he did at home against the Browns and I fear a slow start Thursday could be the difference in winning and losing.

“We Will Never Forget” | Every year before his team faces the Steelers, Terrell Suggs goes to the mall and has a cute little t-shirt made up to get himself fired up for the game. This year, they were really scraping the bottom of the barrel for material.

BxIwYehCUAAJPmJYes, it’s a shirt depicting Mike Tomlin “interfering” with a kickoff return from last year’s game in Baltimore. Baltimore will never forget apparently. I feel like I should be more insulting here but I do feel a little bad for Terrell Suggs. It can’t be hard to play in Baltimore, in front of those idiots, and with the literacy level in Baltimore being so low…I imagine he has to go around reading his shirt to everyone walks by. That probably gets tiresome quickly.

The Game

Steelers On Offense | It’s hard to image Todd Haley letting Ben run the no-huddle in a hostile environment. I think it’s a mistake not to, but I don’t expect them to. So what that probably means is a whole lot of Haley’s favorite “run, run, hope Ben bails us out on 3rd down” offense that he loves so much. The counter draw with LeGarrette Blount on 3rd and 2 against Cleveland was at end-around-with-Jerricho-Cotchery levels of terrible. If Ben isn’t calling the plays from the no-huddle it’s going to take a great showing by everyone on offense to compensate for poor situational play calling. I’m fairly confident that the Steelers will be able to throw almost at will on Baltimore but we’ll see. I’d love to see the Steelers use Mike Adams like they did at times last season, as a tight end to give them an balanced line to help with the run game.

Steelers On Defense | After the 2nd half of the Browns game I would be shocked if Baltimore didn’t bust out their own no huddle. If they do, I fear the Steelers will be routinely gashed by the run. Until they prove they can stop it, it’ll happen every week. I have zero fear of Joe Flacco or any Ravens receiver. I think this game will  be won on the ground. Ben is light years beyond Joe Flacco but if the Steelers defense can’t stop the run, Flacco will beat them with play action.

Special Teams | The Ravens have the advantage in special teams. Jacoby Jones is terrifying. I’m hoping Harbaugh gets flagged for getting too close to the field on a Steelers return this year.

Summary | The Steelers are the better team but this matchup favors the Ravens for various reasons. I expect the Steelers to come out and play conservative. I also expect this to be their downfall. Ravens 20 – Steelers 17

Previewing the 2014 Steelers

Well, the 2014 preseason is in the books and while there are a few unanswered questions, this year’s Steelers team is much less of an enigma than in previous years. Here’s what we know, what we don’t, and a couple final predictions…


– The offensive line is much improved under Mike Munchak, but still lacks depth. Perhaps the best news to come out of the preseason is no major injuries to any starters. For the Steelers to have a rebound season and return to the playoffs the offensive line has to perform to its potential. That will require the entire line staying healthy as there really isn’t one backup who anyone should be comfortable with starting.

– Tight end is the worst position on this team. Heath Miller has lost a step but might still be able to have a decent season from a production standpoint. But behind him there’s nothing. Matt Spaeth, David Paulson, and Michael Palmer are all JAGs (Just A Guy), and Rob Blanchflower is a rookie who got little chances in the preseason. Perhaps in the 2015 draft the Steelers can dedicate an early pick to the position.

– Antonio Brown is a Top 5 WR in the NFL. This should not be disputed by anyone. This season he will be double teamed by every team the Steelers play until Ben and the offense can prove that AB isn’t the only target. This leaves Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey with the chance to have a big year. Every Steelers fan should trust Ben to distribute the ball and to force teams to have to focus on other players besides Brown though.

– Ben Roethlisberger is arguably the most important offensive player in the franchise’s history. Without Ben, it’s pretty safe to say the Steelers are still stuck at 4 Super Bowls. His ability to make mediocre offenses work well enough to win games is astounding. This season he will finally (we hope) be given the keys to a no huddle offense. Assuming Todd Haley lets the handcuffs come off Ben and he’s actually able to call his own audibles, and his own plays, it’s not out of the question to expect a Top 5 statistical season from Large Benjamin.

– The belief that the Steelers’ defense is “old and slow” is 100% a myth. With only 3 starters over the age of 30 and an influx of young, speedy players like Ryan Shazier, Sean Spence, and Shamarko Thomas, Mike Tomlin and Dick Lebeau have done a good job with reshaping the defense. The problems of the past: lack of playmakers, and lack of speed have been addressed. Locker room cancer and all around awful person Ryan Clark is finally gone too. That has little to do with this point but I just wanted to celebrate it.


– While you can’t call the Steelers defense old and slow anymore, we still don’t know if we can call them good. Lack of experience is going to be the biggest flaw in this year’s defense but even that isn’t guaranteed to impact the team’s play in a negative way. We haven’t seen this defense perform with the lights on in a game that matters yet. Maybe the inexperience of some of the young guys will be a problem, but maybe it won’t.

– What can be expected of the defensive backs? Ike Taylor played most of last season hurt and that obviously affected his performance. He seems to be better this year but until the real games start we can’t be sure. Cortez Allen has looked good at times but he’s been inconsistent. William Gay is underrated by Steelers fans but he’s still not great. Troy Polamalu is obviously great, a future Hall Of Famer, but Mike Mitchell has so far been a Ryan Clark clone which is scary. Outside of the top 3 corners and Polamalu, do we know anything about anyone else in the defensive backfield? Hopefully the team stays healthy and we don’t need to learn much about them this season.

– There should be very few who disagree that the key to this team being successful offensively is letting Ben Roethlisberger open up the offense and throw the ball. But we’ve consistently heard from Art Rooney II, Todd Haley, Mike Tomlin, etc. about how important the running game is. I will never argue that the running game isn’t important, it obviously is. But if the two prior years of Haleyball are any indication of what’s in store for 2014, there will continue to be too much forcefeeding the ball to the running backs and then hoping Ben bails out the offense on third down. If the Steelers go with the no-huddle as much as they seem to be hinting they will, that should allow them to run the ball better and score more points. But I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibilities that we’ll continue to see a slow, plodding, war-of-attrition offense that has not worked since Mike Tomlin took over. We don’t know for sure yet which offense we’ll see. But I’m rooting for the no-huddle.

– Will Jarvis Jones prove to be a bust of will he finally come into his own? Outside linebacker is a hugely important position this and every season for the Steelers defense. But this season is so intriguing because the starters are Jason Worilds who has one productive season under his belt after all but being declared a bust previously, and last year’s #1 draft pick Jarvis Jones who has only shown quick flashes of the ability to play in the NFL so far. The team’s perceived depth at ILB helps because if Worilds or Jones falter or get hurt, Lawrence Timmons could conceivably be moved outside for a game or two, but ideally both Worilds and Jones take another step and become forces to reckon with.


– Ben Roethlisberger’s best statistical season yet sees him elected to the Pro Bowl, but hopefully not playing in it.
– Antonio Brown sets a single season NFL record for YAC.
– Dri Archer returns 2 punts for touchdowns.
– The Steelers take advantage of a suddenly weak AFC North and go 5-1 in the division.
– Ryan Shazier gets consideration for defensive Rookie of the Year.

#2 Seed in the AFC Playoffs

Top 10: Questions About The 2013 Steelers Season — PART ONE

So the Steelers are back at it in Latrobe, PA at Saint Vincent College and for the first time in a long time I am unable to get a feel for this team at all. There are a lot of questions about this team but usually there is enough that is known about the team to be able to accurately predict how well they’ll do.

This year is different.

Today we will take a look at the 10 biggest mysteries of this 2013 Steelers team. The answers to these questions will go a long way toward determining where the Steelers finish in the AFC North and whether or not this is a playoff team.

10. Which LaMarr Woodley Will We See?
In 2011, Woodley was having a Defensive Player of the Year caliber season. He hurt is hamstring against the Patriots in Week 8 and he missed most of the rest of the season. In 2012 Woodley appeared to still be feeling the effects of the hamstring injury as he was criticized for being out of shape and generally unable to be the player he had been in his first few years in the league.

With the team’s biggest question mark being the OLB spot opposite Woodley, you can be sure teams will be doing their best to shut down Woodley until the other OLB, whoever it may be, proves himself capable. But which Woodley will we see this year? The out of shape shell of his former self from 2012, or the pre-injury 2011 version that took over games and generally dominated his opponents?

9. Can The Steelers Replace Mike Wallace?
When Mike Wallace signed with the Miami Dolphins this off-season dumb yinzers everywhere rejoiced. For some reason his reputation for being soft and dropping passes mattered more than actual results. No one outside of Heath Miller scored as many TDs in a season for the Steelers as Wallace did in his time as a Steeler. No one, not Antonio Brown, Manny Sanders, or Jerricho Cotchery has shown the ability to score touchdowns at the rate Mike Wallace did as a Steelers.

Wallace averaged 8 touchdowns a season as a Steeler, Antonio Brown has 7 TD receptions in his entire career. So how can we expect Brown to suddenly become a big-time scoring threat? Well, we can’t.

Instead the Steelers are going to have to hope that the combination of Brown, Sanders, Burress, Cotchery, and rookie Markus Wheaton can combine to equal the explosiveness of Mike Wallace. I’m not so sure they will, but if this Steelers team is going to get back to the playoffs Steelers fans better hope this year’s current crop of receivers play up to the level Mike Wallace had in his four years here.

8. Running Back By Committee?
The Steelers enter 2013 without a star running back. In fact, this team has lacked a true star running back since Willie Parker left in 2009. Sure they had Rashard Mendenhall, who I was always a fan of, but the talented Mendenhall didn’t really work with this offense.

The issue with Mendenhall wasn’t his perceived “softness” as much as it was a combination of a lack of offensive line talent and not at all using Mendenhall to the best of his abilities. But when he departed this off-season many Steelers fans got their wish. Gone was the speed and agility of Mendenhall and in it’s place was a trio of fat, slow backs who are, essentially, a very very poor man’s Jerome Bettis.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like Isaac Redman. He’s a good backup and he’s made some big plays for this team. But if your starting running back is Isaac Redman your team is in deep trouble. Jonathan Dwyer is essentially a slower, fatter Jerome Bettis who doesn’t have nearly the same nimble feet that made Bettis so good. The only option for the Steelers to improve at all at the running back position is rookie Le’Veon Bell. Bell, a big strong bruising back, seems to combine the size of Jerome Bettis with the agility and pass catching ability of Rashard Mendenhall. There’s a chance he could turn out to be a very good player in the NFL. But there’s also a chance that he won’t. For the 2013 Steelers, Bell is going to have to be an emerging star because if the team has to rely on Redman and Dwyer for any significant play, they could be in trouble.

7. Heyward Unchained
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steelers guru Ed Bouchette recently reported that the team does not want Cameron Heyward to compete with Ziggy Hood for the left DE spot this year. SteelCityInsider.com’s Jim Wexell tweeted that Heyward may, in fact, be given a chance to win that job at some point in training camp.

For the sake of the defense, Wexell better be right.

Ziggy Hood has been awful in his time as a Steeler. Unable to avoid looking like he’s on roller skates in the run game, and unable to effectively be used to rush the passer due to scheme, Hood has been rendered completely useless. Cam Heyward would immediately upgrade the position and the defensive line as a whole. He’s big, he’s great against the run, and if he plays with the same passion and desire as his father, Pitt star running back Craig Heyward, he has the potential to anchor the DE spot left vacant when Aaron Smith retired. But will he get the chance, or will Dick Lebeau continue to decide that experience matters more than talent and ability?

6. Will Cortez Allen Live Up To The Hype?
When the Steelers let emerging star cornerback Keenan Lewis leave via free agency this offseason it said more about how the Steelers feel about his replacement, Cortez Allen, than it did how they felt about Lewis himself. Obviously the Steelers like Allen and think he can more than handle the other starting CB spot across from Ike Taylor.

If Allen can prove them right it would not only help to solidify the defensive backfield for the remainder of Ike Taylor’s career but it would improve an already stingy pass defense that has admittedly been very poor at creating turnovers for the past few seasons.

Allen was a potential turnover machine in limited action last season with two interceptions, 10 passes defensed, and three forced fumbles while appearing in 15 games and starting three. An improved Cortez Allen means an improved Steelers defense, and for this team to make the playoffs they are going to need Cortez to prove the Steelers right.


Next up: Part Two with questions 5-1.

Week One: Peyton Manning Loves Dick

…Lebeau. After all, the brand new Denver Broncos quarterback is now 7-1 all-time against the NFL’s youngest looking septuagenarian defensive coordinator.

It was pretty easy to see it coming too. The Denver Broncos, who have a stunning record in home openers in recent memory, now lead by perhaps the greatest regular season quarterback the game of football has ever seen, playing a Steelers team deep in a transition period. Offensively, the Steelers new offensive coordinator Todd Haley would be looking to put his stamp on the Steelers offense. While Dick Lebeau would be commanding a defensive squad that, even though younger now than in past years, is still rapidly aging.

Of course Peyton Manning was going to win. That’s how things work with him.

But the always wonderful mainstream sports media is wrong, as usual, in their assessment of this game. I heard Mike Lombardi on NFL Network talk about Denver’s “dominating” victory over the Steelers as if the game was a one-sided beat down, not the one-score-game-until-late-in-the-fourth-quarter-mostly-dominated-by-the-Steelers-offense kind of game it actually was.

Sunday night’s game was one that, despite the bizarrely run-heavy (I’ll get to that later) offensive game plan from Todd Haley, was the Steelers game to win. Once Todd Haley allowed Ben Roethlisberger to take over calling the plays in the no-huddle offense the Steelers effortlessly marched the ball down the field only to come up short in the red zone twice. If not for a ball Roethlisberger failed to float into the arms of wide-open Heath Miller and some poor execution by the offensive line the Steelers have a 21-7 lead on the Broncos before Peyton Manning can hit Demaryius Thomas for a 70+ yard touchdown.

But all that will be remembered by fans and media alike is the dominating fashion in which Peyton Manning controlled the entire game (despite spending the majority of it on the sideline). Years from now NFL Films will dedicate entire shows to Manning’s legendary performance. Manning will be given all the credit for Thomas’ long run on the touchdown pass, as well as credit for Tracy Porter’s game sealing interception return of a bad Ben Roethlisberger pass that was made worse by the awful route ran by wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders that allowed Porter to jump the pass and seal the win for the Broncos.

Rejoice NFL fans, for your king has returned!


— Though it will take weeks, and likely an entire season, to really get a feel for Todd Haley as an offensive coordinator, he certainly got his Steelers career off to a questionable start with an offensive gameplan that was surprisingly run heavy, especially on first down.

Running the ball is fine when it’s done right. But what happened Sunday night was not a properly executed running game. The Steelers offensive line was beat all game and outside of Jonathan Dwyer the Steelers running backs could gain no traction and if not for epic third down performances from Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers offense likely goes three-and-out on numerous drives.

What is especially funny is the run-run-pass-punt nature of Haley’s offense. Something Bruce Arians was consistently (and quite inaccurately) accused of has actually shown up for once with Haley’s play calling. It’s easy to pass judgment after one game, but it’s going to take multiple games to really be able to even begin forming an opinion of Haley’s offense.

— We here at OffTheLakes have never been Ryan Clark fans, for numerous reasons. One of those reasons is the way he’s always slow to arrive to the ballcarrier and the fact that his only real defensive play is to launch himself at the opposing player and hope to jar the ball loose. But even we must admit when Clark’s presence was missed, and Sunday night was one of those nights.

While Clark may not be the best free safety in football, his presence is what makes Troy Polamalu able to do what he does best: play an instinctive and high impact style that drives opposing offensive coordinators crazy.

The lack of Ryan Clark was never more evident than when the Broncos entered the red zone in the second half and Troy was finally able to stop playing 20 yards off the line of scrimmage. Troy and Peyton began to try and outdo one another before the play. When Troy would move in, Peyton would audible to a pass play. Troy would move back, and Peyton would call a run. But without Ryan Clark, Polamalu could not freelance and force Peyton to make a mistake.

— It appears that despite having another year of experience as an NFL head coach, Mike Tomlin is still the worst head coach in the NFL at knowing when to challenge a call on the field. Whoever feeds Tomlin his information about challenging plays should have been fired at least two seasons ago.

— I think it’s safe to say that Lawrence Timmons has been a bust isn’t it? Timmons had one outstanding year but has yet to consistently show he was worthy of the first first-round pick of Mike Tomlin’s career. In fact, Timmons seems to be getting worse with each season.

— Speaking of linebackers, the sporadic early season play of LaMarr Woodley is becoming increasingly frustrating. Though it is hard to criticize a guy who absolutely dominates the competition in big games, seeing him take a month of the season to just begin to start getting hot is growing tiresome. Big plays from Woodley early in the season could decide the Steelers fate. Hopefully he turns it on soon.



Five Not-So-Bold, Not-So-Predictions…

5.) Due to a sudden rash of injuries caused by the clumpy Heinz Field turf, Tim Tebow plays six positions in one game and somehow beats Ike Taylor for a touchdown at each one.

4.) Rex Ryan loves Larry Foote.

3.) Shaun Suisham misses a field goal.

2.) At least one idiot Steelers fan will cheer Tim Tebow because of his religious views. Said fan will then be punched in the face by a much bigger, must drunker Steelers fan sitting near them.

1.) Steelers win 24-13.

Around The NFL: What We Learned From Week One

Every week, we’ll try and recap the week that was in the NFL and highlight some key points in the week, and give you the undeniable truth as we see it.

Here’s what we know for certain after one week of the 2012 NFL season:





































Steelers Get Their Man!

Wow! In a turn of events that NO ONE expected Stanford guard David Decastro, widely seen as Top 10 overall pick and the best guard in the NFL Draft, fell all the way to #24 and the Steelers quickly made him their pick.

Decastro will help to solidify a beleaguered offensive line and has a chance to start in the NFL for years and make numerous Pro Bowl appearances. In a post-game press conference Mike Tomlin said that the Steelers would start Decastro out at right guard, but may eventually move him to the left side

This is an unreal development for the Steelers who had not assumed Decastro would fall to them. In a draft that featured trade after trade after trade after trade it is the Steelers who stayed put at #24 who ended up with the best pick in the entire first round.


Born: January 11, 1990
6 feet 5 inches — 316 lbs.
From Bellevue, Washington


Happy Draft Day Everyone!

It’s finally here, the greatest day on the entire sports calendar each and every year: the NFL Draft. Sure we can no longer spend a lazy weekend on the couch watching and dissecting every pick but the Draft is still great no matter what.

And tonight it happens again. So what is going to happen for the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight and over the next few days? Who knows, really? But here are some thoughts heading into tonight’s festivities.

– Kevin Colbert’s press conference comments seem to say that Dontari Poe will not be the Steelers’ pick in Round One if he’s there. The talk of not being able to miss with the pick in Round One and the fact that Poe, despite an amazing Combine performance, is largely unknown tells me the Steelers will shy away from the big nose tackle should he be available.

– Please don’t take Mike Adams. The tackle from Ohio State has been mocked to the Steelers on some mock drafts. But Adams doesn’t stand out as a safe, surefire pick to me. In fact I can easily see Adams being a bust if he is taken in the first round.

– The Steelers reportedly love DE Melvin Ingram of South Carolina but there’s little chance he’s there at #24 so the question becomes what’s the best option for the Steelers there? Should they take Dont’a Hightower if he’s on the board? Guard Kevin Zeitler? What about another pass rusher? I’m not going to sit here and claim that I have the answer but I’m sure Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin do. And history says they make the right pick.

– Players to watch for the Steelers in later rounds: Alabama DT Josh Chapman, Arkansas WR Jarius Wright, Cincinnati DE Derek Wolfe, Northwestern State Guard Amini Silatolu, TE Ladarius Green (Louisiana-Lafayette) and WR T.Y. Hilton of Florida International.

– I’m really starting to come around to Wisconsin Guard Kevin Zeitler in the first round. But if the Steelers can trade down and pick up extra picks while still getting Zeitler it would be even better so if I had my say that’s what I’d advocate.

– Dont’a Hightower also seems to be a safe pick at a position of need so I wouldn’t hate that pick either but if the Steelers really want to make waves they’d take Stanford TE Coby Fleener and give Ben Roethlisberger a big redzone target and dual tight ends to go along with the terrific stable of WRs they’ve assembled.

My University Is Dying

The Pennsylvania State University is sick and getting sicker by the minute.

First Jerry Sandusky is indicted on numerous counts of child molestation. Then came the perjury charges for Athletic Director Tim Curley and Senior VP of Business Gary Schultz.

Now, there’s “rioting.” Or as it goes at Penn State thousands of students standing around acting like jackasses with no real purpose. Penn State students will use any excuse to “riot.” State College is the Montreal of the USA.

But the supposed reasons for tonight’s riot make me sick to my stomach and make me want to punch everyone involved in the face.

@OnwardState on Twitter has been tweeting responses from various “rioters” regarding their reasons for partaking in the 2011 Annual Penn State Act Like A Jackass-a-thon.

The two most infuriating responses: “Because it’s fun!” and “Because Joe’s in a rough patch and he needs us.”

Really? You’re doing this in DEFENSE of Joe?

I could sort of understand if this was a protest calling for the ouster of President Graham Spanier AND Joe Paterno. But no, JoePa’s untouchable.

And that’s sad. Because Joe, although not guilty of doing anything illegal (supposedly) is guilty of a horrific moral mistake. As are numerous members of the Penn State administration, likely more than we’ll ever realize.

But to the average (idiotic) Penn State student that doesn’t matter. The true moral issue is irrelevant as long as Joe Paterno is on the sideline (or in the press box) on Saturday. And that is beyond sad.

When Paterno spoke to a group of students standing outside his home this evening he said something that to me, is beyond insulting.

“The kids that were victims or whatever they say, I think we ought to say a prayer for them. Tough life, when people do certain things to you. Anyway, you’ve been great. Everything’s great, all right.”

The “victims or whatever they say?” If you think for even a second Joe, that those poor kids weren’t victims then you deserve to stand alongside your friend Jerry Sandusky in the pits of hell.

I’ll give Joe the benefit of the doubt on that one though, after all he’s going through a rough patch and needs our support. How sickening.

And then to just blow right past the atrocities committed in the football locker rooms with a quick “Anyway?” I cannot shake my head hard enough.

But the worst part of what Joe said? “Everything’s great.”

No it isn’t. It hasn’t been great since the day Jerry Sandusky molested his first victim (who knows when that was) we just didn’t know it yet.

It hasn’t been great since Mike McQueary went to you instead of the police. Or since you went to Tim Curley instead of the police.

It hasn’t been great for a long time, Joe. And it’s not going to be great for a long time to come.

But he could help the process by stepping down, you know, doing the right thing? But he’s too arrogant for that. After all Penn State Football is everything, right? Who cares about molested kids?

Certainly not the Penn State students who are defending Paterno and “rioting” tonight. And certainly not every single member of the Penn State Administration who looked the other way while a pervert stole the innocence of countless children on campus.

It’s a shame that I even had to feel the need to write this. The focus should be on the failure of everyone who knew about this to stop it. The focus should be on Sandusky and the horrible things he did. It should not be about football. We should all wake up tomorrow and know that Graham Spanier, Joe Paterno, and Mike McQueary are no longer welcomed on campus.

That would not end this nightmare, but it would go a long way to pulling us, the Penn State community, out of it.

Joe Paterno does not deserve our support. He does not deserve praise for failing to do the right thing. He deserves scorn and ridicule. But unfortunately at Penn State people really do think the man walks on water.

Maybe it’s the naiveté of youth driving this emotional outpouring of support for Joe Paterno. But what ever it is, it is wrong and those involved should feel ashamed of themselves.

The rational members of the Penn State community do.

And we’re sick over it.

Just like our beloved alma mater we’ve been stricken with a pervasive sickness and the only way to heal is to purge ourselves of the carcinogens.

Joe Paterno, whether you’re willing to admit it or not, is one of them.

Ravens Week 2: Electric Boogaloo | Part One — Dumb Ravens Fans

DISCLAIMER: Look, we here at OffTheLakes will readily admit that there are dumb fans of every NFL team. But this week the Steelers aren’t playing every NFL team. They’re playing Baltimore, and that means lots of whining and crying from purple and black supporters before the game even starts. If you have a problem with us calling you out, don’t say dumb things. Capiche?

Who are we kidding? If you’re from Baltimore, you can’t read this.


Ah Ravens fans. So vocal, so passionate, so…dumb.

But don’t just take our word for it, take a look at some of the whoppers being told on Ravens message boards this week if you don’t believe us…

Yes, let’s not forget that Baltimore handed the Steelers that game. It’s not like the Ravens benefited from a Steelers mistake in the first half where they thought the play was dead and literally let Baltimore walk into the endzone with TD or anything. And it’s not like the Steelers forced those second half turnovers. No way. That would never happen.

1. Houston’s defense is only above average? I didn’t realize the #5 defense in the NFL (points) is merely above average.

2. Don’t most offensive lines look “shoddy” against big time defenses?

3. This is clearly a guy who hasn’t watched a Steelers game since Week One. Or he’s in denial.

4. Is he comparing Baltimore to Green Bay? Hahahahahahaha!

Are you seriously whining about a WIDE RECEIVER delivering “cheap shots?” If you’re a defensive player and you let a wide receiver out hit you, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Wow. So many things I could say about this one. Let’s see…

– What a sad, delusional person.

– He’s from the “Eastern Shore” but goes to restaurants in “The Burgh” must be nice to get around like that.

– Does anyone believe Hines Ward really calls the Ravens the “Ratbirds”? Didn’t think so.

– Think this post is bad? Just wait…

Ok after this post, I actually feel bad for making fun of this guy. Poor fellow.

Yeah man, even the brobroadcasters be disagreeing! I’ve heard of players taking on the personality of their head coach, but fans?

So your counter-argument against a Steelers fan saying that Ike Taylor shut down Larry Fitzgerald and Wes Welker in consecutive weeks is to completely dismiss the talent of Fitzgerald and bash the QB of the Cardinals, who almost beat your team last week? Good move.

To be honest, I’m impressed that a Ravens fan knows something about Greek mythology.

He is trying to say Achilles right?

Also, he thinks the Ravens will win handily. Because the Steelers beat New England on Sunday. No joke. You can read it for yourself. That is the entire argument he makes.

What analysis!


I’d post more, but my head hurts. If you stumble upon an dumb Ravens fans this week send them along to OffTheLakes@gmail.com and we’ll post them later in the week.