Coach Killers, Week 12: Steelers RBs should've waved white flags
By Ryan Wilson | Blogger
November 28, 2012 9:30 am ET
Every Steelers RB on the roster
Coach Killers is your weekly look around the league at those performances, decisions and "Wait, what did he just do?!" moments that put the guy in charge squarely on the ol' hot seat. (US Presswire)
Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and Chris Rainey all lost fumbles in Sunday's no-show performance against the Browns. It was as shoddy a display of football as you'll ever see -- at any level -- and it got to the point that we expected referee Ron Winter to stop the game and announce that Tiki Barber would hold a brief sideline session on the importance of ball security (he had a break in his kickball schedule).
It didn't happen and the Steelers kept committing turnovers. By the time it was over, they had eight in 15 possessions, half courtesy of the four guys who were supposed to take the pressure of third-string, 37-year-old quarterback Charlie Batch.
It's easy to dismiss Batch as an over-the-hill has-been but there aren't many quarterbacks that can overcome the spectacle that was on display last Sunday.
On Tuesday, Tomlin reiterated that the fumbles were “unacceptable."
"We talked all week about being ‘backup quarterback friendly,' he continued (via SteelCityInsider.net). "Turning the ball over is not that. We made that very clear prior to kickoff. That's why we did what it is we did last week (pulling runners after they fumbled). It has no bearing on how we might conduct ourselves this week.”
And now, with Ben Roethlisberger's status in doubt for this week's rematch with the Ravens, Tomlin has decided to streamline his offense in the hopes of finding some consistency. For the running backs that means an actual depth chart. The biggest surprise: Mendenhall has been demoted to third team behind Dwyer and Redman. Put another way: the team's 2008 first-round pick will now back up a former sixth-rounder who almost ate his way out of training camp a few years ago and an undrafted free agent and one-time practice squad member.
“(Dwyer's) been the most consistently productive guy,” Tomlin said. “I think we have a large enough body of work to be able to identify that at this point. The other guys will supplement him in some form or fashion.”
Whether it'll be enough to beat the division-leading Ravens and, more importantly, keep the Steelers afloat in the wild-card chase is another issue. But as Tomlin likes to say, "The standard is the standard." Which is why Mendenhall currently finds himself buried on the depth chart.
Chargers' 4th-and-29 defense
There are no words for what the Chargers have become. We've spent more time than we care to admit pointing out the flaws of this team, but that has mostly been confined to the quarterback and offensive line. Philip Rivers is supposed to be a franchise quarterback, after all. But there is no amount of arm-waving that can make what happened in San Diego Sunday afternoon Rivers' fault. That falls squarely on a defense incapable of stopping the Ravens on 4th and 29.
We break down the breakdowns frame-by-frame below:
Here's the pre-snap look. The only time this play works is with Bo Jeackson in Tecmo, right? RIGHT?! (CBS)
The Ravens run four receivers deep, the Chargers drop six into coverage, and after surveying the field, Joe Flacco dumps the ball off to Rice, who catches it at the line of scrimmage, some 29 yards away from a first down. (CBS)
There's Rice at midfield, surrounded by six Chargers defenders. (CBS)
Former Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson explains where it all went wrong: “I know as media you want something more dramatic than the old technique and fundamentals and all of that,” he said via the San Diego Union-Tribune “but that is what it was. We took bad angles. We didn't get him boxed in when we had the opportunity to. He got out and did what great players do. He made a great play. He had a huge block, and they got him over the line.” (CBS)
After the midfield debacle, Rice is still seven yards from pay dirt. Anquan Boldin's block on Eric Weddle creates a 2-on-1 situation for two Chargers defenders and Rice... (CBS)Johnson's comments shortly after the game encapsulate nicely the 2012 Chargers: “We've shown we're a talented team, offensively and defensively," he said. "And at the same time, we've turned around and proven time and again that we just don't know how to win.”
...and Rice, of course, wins. You can argue that the officials gave the Ravens a fantastic spot but you know what? It never, ever, EVER should've gotten to that point. (CBS)
Truer words, Jarret, truer words...
Eagles defense, post-Juan Castillo
We were all set to highlight the Cowboys' secondary in this space after speedy Redskins wideout Aldrick Robinson ran through the secondary on Thanksgiving to haul in a touchdown pass. It was pretty much what happened the week before when Robinson victimized the Eagles. But leave it to Philly to make sure they get their weekly Coach Kilelrs name-check.
The offense has been the story for much of the season; underachievement and injuries have ravaged the unit and it's one of thousands of reasons Andy Reid will lose his job. But at least there's an excuse: no Michael Vick, no LeSean McCoy and now no DeSean Jackson. And the offensive line has one starter remaining from the opening day lineup, guard Evan Mathis. The defense, meanwhile is a relatively healthy, veteran bunch, which makes their implosion all the harder to explain.
Coordinator Juan Castillo got the bye-week ax and the defense actually got worse. Castillo's replacement, Todd Bowles, said Friday that miscommunication had been a big issue in the Redskins blowout loss but they had since been resolved.
You wouldn't have known it to watch the first two Panthers' drives Monday night. The Eagles' D gave up two inexplicable touchdowns in the first quarter, easy Cam Newton throws that we joked at the time Jimmy Clausen could've made left-handed.
The first, an easy 24-yard pitch-and-catch to tight end Gary Barnidge. The second, a 43-yarder to Brandon LaFell. The explanation?
"Two broken coverages," Reid said after the game. When asked how that happens at this stage of the proceedings, he offered this: "It shouldn't happen. It shouldn't happen at all."
And yet here we are.
A day later, Reid offered some details into all that went wrong.
When asked if only one player (instead of two) was supposed to blitz off the edge on the first touchdown, Reid said, "Yeah, that's what happened. From the slot we've got people coming off both edges and it was only supposed to be off one edge. That allowed the guy to be free." As for whether the issue is scheme or personnel: "I think it's a combination," Reid said. "As coaches you take full responsibility of getting your players to play and not have mental mistakes."
Not that it matters in terms of what happens over the final five weeks, but the Eagles released underperforming defensive end Jason Babin Tuesday. The only surprise is that cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha didn't join Babin.
But that's only a matter of time. Not just for Asomugha but for Reid and countless others.
Sayonara, Kansas City
Technically, Romeo Crennel still has a job but the Chiefs are officially done, and like Reid, Crennel's going to be looking for work soon. It's not entirely his fault (these things seldom are) but that won't change his fate.
In memory of Crennel's brief stint as Kansas City's coach, we offer up a memorial of sorts: The Many Faces of Romeo (and by "many" we obviously mean "one face for many occasions"):
Crennel comes from the Parcells coaching tree but he's got the Art Shell Million-Mile Stare down cold. Not sure if that's worth putting on the resume but it can't hurt, right?
(US Presswire/Getty Images/AP)