Shazier Came To Ball!
It was a great day to be a Steeler fan and the City was rockin’ in Game 2 of the 2014 exhibition season. I keep telling myself not to get too happy, but like everyone else in Steeler Nation, we needed change and it looks like we got it. The first, and most glaring improvement is the offensive line. Of course that should be the case with a couple of first round picks and a Hall Of Fame offensive line coach, it’s finally starting to show. Perfect timing too as the evolution of Big Ben and the new weapons added at the skill positions, are making this offensive gel and function at a high level. Big Ben’s second touchdown pass was a work of art, the pocket was set perfectly, Ben let the play develop, skirted slightly out of the pocket to his left and launched a perfect pass to second year wide out Markus Wheaton. In addition to the pass protection, that was the designed play and Wheaton ran a perfect route, freezing the cornerback with an inside move then turning towards the back of the endzone. Perhaps now Big Ben can be appreciated for his pure Quarterback prowess, but mainly stay healthy without having to play Houdini and passing downs. This offense can be quite good, something to look forward to indeed.
It didn’t take Steeltown long to come up with a catch phrase for their new Linebacker, and if this kid continues to play in the fashion he did in his first NFL start, it will have to be a catch phrase our scheduled opponents will have to adopt from this point on. Shazier was on fire, finishing the first half with 9 defensive tackles, 2 special teams tackles, and an interception. Shazier is displaying the same on field prowess that made him a star at Ohio State, he knows how to play the game and his instincts are spot on. Largely due to the fact he’s playing the same position, but Shazier reminds you of James Farrior in his prime, but even better. On his interception, he covered the tight end stride for stride, the ball should not have been thrown by the Buffalo QB, but the way Shazier broke on the ball then started running south completely in stride, was a thing of beauty.
Back Ups And Rookies
Game #2 of the Exhibition Season should show improvement, albeit it slight, and that was just about what we got last night against the Bills. The back up line play is somewhat concerning, particularly given most of these guys are second year players and being Coach by Mike Munchak just like the first stringers. Back up Center Cody Wallace acquitted himself admirably in last years fill in role, but thus far is drawing several flags per game. Guy Wimper, well he’s simply awful, getting beat consistently and showing very little promise. Big Mike Adams, the guy they took a chance on in the draft, felt strong enough about to let start the 2013 Season at left tackle, is well, still a back up in week two.
Darius Heyward-Bey is hardly showing signs of being a former first round pick, and there’s no one showing much promise in the back field. My boy Martavis Bryant is showing some flashes of what he’s capable of, but much further behind the curve than I expected him to be. The back up Quarterback spot, we’ll keep that discussion under wraps for the time being, there are still two more games on the docket. There is however some highlights on the Defensive side of the ball. Undrafted rookie free agent Lineback Howard Jones again made a fumble recovery which ultimately lead to the winning field goal, his special teams play is solid as well. Defensive Tackle Stephon Tuitt is geting valuable playing time with the first team, and sixth round pick playing Nose Guard Daniel McCullors is making a push towards making the team, a very crucial position.
A very good outing by Game #2 standards, a fantastic showing by one of the most dynamic players the Steelers have drafted in a long time. I’m loving the vibe of this team, the ghosts and loosing ways of the past seem to be long gone and optimism abounds. I’m going to refrain from getting too happy, but I’ll let myself be very pleased with what looks to be a very positive step in the right direction. Certainly there are still some kinks to work out, as well as some question marks hanging over the integrity of the team as a whole. For example, Free Safety Mike Mitchell, calm down and play the game guy, this isn’t the place to be getting flags for jawing, chest pounding, or profiling. We know it’s a prestigious gig to be working alongside Troy Polamalu, but unless you keep your head in the game we can’t use you.
Like most Steelers fans, you’re probably anticipating the week 2 regular season match-up with the Ratbirds, we win that soundly, then it’s time to start getting happy.