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Tag:Brett Keisel
Posted on: January 31, 2012 5:13 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 5:16 pm
 

Keisel 'grateful' Butler returning to Steelers

Follow all of CBSSports.com's Full Super Bowl Coverage (Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com)

By Ryan Wilson

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Colts hired Chuck Pagano as head coach last week and Pagano, who spent the 2011 season as the Ravens defensive coordinator, promptly began filling out his staff. He added the recently "retired" Bruce Arians as offensive coordinator, and it appeared that Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler would be his defensive coordinator only to announce a day later that he was staying in Pittsburgh.

On Tuesday, we asked Steelers defensive Brett Keisel about what Butler means to the organization.

"He's a legendary coach," Keisel told CBSSports.com before stopping himself. "Well, he might not be legendary -- he's a great coach … someone who really takes care of the linebackers. Not a lot of people could control James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley but he finds a way to get those guys coached up and I'm very grateful he's coming back."

Keisel was laughing when he called Butler great but not legendary (he's in Indy pimping Head & Shoulders' "Be Legendary" campaign so he's used the word a lot this week), but it's clear that Butler, who joined the Steelers in 2003, is an integral part of the defense's success.

"I was devastated yesterday when I heard (that he might be headed to Indianapolis)," Keisel said. "I was surprised that the Steelers were going to let him go (to the Colts). I knew that when Arizona wanted him to come down last year, (Pittsburgh) didn't even let him take the interview. But everything worked out, he's staying with us, and I'm very happy about it."

Conventional wisdom is that Butler will succeed defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau who, at 74, says he has no intentions of retiring anytime soon. Either way, it's good news for the Steelers, who let Arians walk earlier this month and are still in the market for his replacement.

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Posted on: November 23, 2011 11:07 pm
 

Film Room: Steelers vs. Chiefs preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Let’s be honest: Chiefs-Steelers is not a great matchup. It’s the Sunday night game because this week’s great matchups all fall on Turkey Day. A straight-up breakdown of this game would yield predictable analysis, with a “take your pick” list of reasons why the Steelers can be expected to cruise to victory (the most obvious being, Tyler Palko’s tendency to pat the ball and re-hitch in the pocket; if the Patriots D generated sacks and interceptions off that weakness, what will the Steelers D do?).

But this matchup is certainly not worthless. Analyzing its contrasts and comparisons gives us a chance to examine some of the broader pictures of today’s NFL. Here are five of them.


1. Valuing an offensive line
As passing games have evolved rapidly in recent years, we’ve started to change our outlook on offensive lines. These days every lineman weighs north of 300, and a lot of them move pretty well. What separates good and bad lines is the mental approach. The aggressiveness and versatility of blitzing defenses has put a premium on blockers’ intelligence.

It doesn’t matter how well a lineman moves his feet if those feet are taking him to the wrong assignment. With the league-wide increase in Byzantine defenses and quick, timing-based passes, for an offensive lineman, recognizing an assignment is often more challenging and important than executing an assignment.

The Steelers offensive line, battling countless injuries and personnel changeability the past few seasons, has struggled mightily at times in recognizing pass-blocking assignments. This is a window into another revelation. The idea that you need a great offensive line to protect your quarterback is becoming less and less valid. The reality is you need a great quarterback to protect your offensive line.

Now, don’t take this too far. Of course you need to protect your quarterback. But in today’s pass-oriented league, one superstar quarterback can compensate for five “not-so-superstar” offensive linemen. Most superstar quarterbacks do it through presnap reads (see Brees, Drew or Manning, Peyton -- two guys who have played behind arguably the worst offensive tackle combinations of their respective conferences the past few years). Ben Roethlisberger does it through incredible postsnap improvisational abilities.

No one can argue that the Steelers have had anything more than an average offensive line the past five seasons. But no one can argue that the Steelers offense has not been still been successful. It’s when your quarterback is, say a 28-year-old left-handed fringe backup, that your offensive line woes become problematic.

2. 3-4 defensive ends
A leading ingredient to the Steelers’ defensive success has been the outstanding play of their ends. This ingredient was secret until just recently, when Brett Keisel finally went to the Pro Bowl and casual observers finally appreciated Aaron Smith after injuries took him out of the lineup. The value of great 3-4 ends is that they can attract forms of double teams.

(We say forms of double-teams because there’s a misguided belief that a double-team is one player needing to be blocked by two blockers for an entire play; in reality, for an end, attracting a double-team simply means forcing a guard or tight end to make some sort of contact with you in a manner that prevents them from being able to get out in front and block an inside linebacker. Making that contact last the first 1.5 to 2 seconds of a play is all it takes. For many intents and purposes, a 3-4 end is actually more of a blocker than a pulling guard.)

The Steelers scheme calls for the ends to disrupt through motion more than power. Lateral mobility is a key trait. If both ends are destructive along the line of scrimmage, Pittsburgh’s three defensive linemen will stalemate the opposing team’s five offensive linemen, leaving room for the four linebackers to make plays. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert recognizes the value of this; he invested his ‘09 first-round pick on Ziggy Hood and his ’11 first-rounder on Cameron Heyward.

Scott Pioli also recognized this value when he became the Chiefs general manager in 2009. He converted defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, the No. 5 overall pick in ’08, to end and spent his No. 3 overall pick in ’09 on LSU’s Tyson Jackson. The results, however, have been disappointing. Dorsey and Jackson are both movement-oriented players. Problem is, Kansas City’s scheme is more like New England’s old 3-4, where the ends cause disruption not through motion but through sheer power.

Consequently, neither Dorsey nor Jackson have been worthy of consistent double teams. That was painfully apparent watching the Broncos-Chiefs film from Week 10. The Broncos didn’t win that game because Tim Tebow mastered the read option -- they won because their tackles manhandled the Chiefs ends one-on-one, allowing the guards to easily get a body on inside linebackers Derrick Johnson and Javon Belcher.

3. Chiefs Injuries impact -- tight end versatility
You could argue that Kansas City’s season ended when tight end Tony Moeaki tore his ACL in August. Moeaki was not just a flexible receiver who could work off the line of scrimmage or out of the slot -- he was also a versatile run-blocker. His ability to operate out of shifts and motions brought potency to the play-action game and allowed the Chiefs to disguise a lot of their run concepts.

In this sense, Moeaki was very similar to Heath Miller, Pittsburgh’s steady, soft-handed, fundamentally fine-tuned X-factor. In today’s NFL, where every play is preceded by a chess match at the line of scrimmage, a tight end who is versatile in the run AND pass game is invaluable.

4. Chiefs injury impact -- safety versatility
Same concept as tight end, just different side of the ball. The loss of Eric Berry (ACL Week 1) not only took away Kansas City’s rangiest pass defender, it also took away Romeo Crennel’s third-level blitzes, which previously had given opponents fits. Berry’s speed and open-field hitting made him an easily disguisable weapon. With him out, the Chiefs don’t just lose his big plays, they also lose the indecisiveness that his presence naturally instills in opponents.

As far as a parallel to this in the Steelers defense ... you can probably figure it out on your own

5. Understanding the value of a playmaker
On a similar note, let’s take this opportunity to grasp the full value of a playmaker like Jamaal Charles (lost for the season with an ACL in Week 2). As with Berry, when a weapon like Charles goes out, you don’t just lose explosive plays, you lose the threat of explosive plays. Charles was Kansas City’s only true playmaker (that is, a guy who can regularly create his own opportunities with the ball in his hands; the Steelers have two players like this: Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace).

It would take 10,000 words to explain, but in short, in watching film, it’s apparent that the difference between the way defenses attack an offense that has a truly explosive weapon versus the way a defense attacks an offense that don’t have one is staggering.

That likely stems from the difference in preparation during the week. Think about it. How much practice time does a defense devote specifically to “not getting killed” by Charles? With him gone, that’s how much practice time the defense now has to devote towards creating unique ways to attack.

A business analogy: as a defense, prepping for Charles is like sitting around the boardroom talking about covering your bases so you don’t get sued; prepping for “no Charles” is like sitting around the boardroom brainstorming the next big idea. Which meeting will ultimately lead to more sales?

What’s more, for an offense, when it becomes apparent that your gameplan is not working, a true playmaker still offers the hope and possibility of success. (And all the players know this.) Without a true playmaker, a staggering offense often hopes to simply control the damage by waiting for a lucky break. When that’s reflected in the play-calling, the entire team becomes reactionary.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 12 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 1, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 1:02 pm
 

Polamalu punch vs. Patriots was illegal

Polamalu slapped a loose ball into the Patriots' end zone. Turns out: you can't do that. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Steelers may have dominated the Patriots for 59 minutes and 41 seconds Sunday, but Tom Brady has a knack of pulling out improbable victories, and his history in Pittsburgh has been impressive. So when he took the field with 19 seconds left and the Pats trailing by six, the game wasn't over.

That became official some six seconds later, after defensive end Brett Keisel stripped Brady and Troy Polamalu knocked the loose ball into the end zone for a New England safety.

But here's the thing: when Polamalu sprinted from his centerfield position to make a play on Brady's fumble, he punched the ball a good 20 yards into the Pats' end zone. That's illegal. 


Polamalu's heads-up play was also against the rules.

Via the Associated Press: The rule states that a player may not bat or punch a loose ball in the field of play toward the opponent's goal line; a loose ball that has touched the ground in any direction, if it is in either end zone; or a backward pass in flight, which can't be batted forward by an offensive player."

The call is not reviewable by video replay, though neither Tom Brady nor the Patriots sideline complained at the time. And even if the penalty had been assessed, it would've been 10 yards from the spot of the infraction. Which means New England would've had the ball on their own 25-yard line with about 12 seconds on the clock and no timeouts.  

Given that the Pats don't have a deep threat on the roster, and Brady's longest pass to that point went for 23 yards to tight end Rob Gronkowski, we feel confident in writing that the outcome was unaffected. Plus, it afforded us the opportunity to see kicker Stephen Gostkowski drop-kick the ensuing onside kick clear out of bounds.

Polamalu was asked about the play after the game, and he channelled Costanza before answering.

"Whatever is going to get me in trouble, he said. "I'm saying the opposite."

Nothing to worry about, Troy. The NFL doesn't believe in frivolous fines.

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Posted on: October 21, 2011 10:03 pm
 

VIDEO: Ward can't get enough of his dancing

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

We all know Hines Ward can dance, and we all know that, when the time calls for it, he can deliver a bad-ass power bomb to his dance partner.

But what we didn’t know was that Ward can lead his dance partner with the best of them. Even if he happens to be dancing with another man.

Which is why we present to you an outtake of one of Troy Polamalu’s recent shampoo commercials. If you want to see Ward and Polamalu get down and if you want to see defensive end Brett Keisel (with an enormous, “not nearly as cool as the real thing” beard) show a little awkwardness, I’d advise you to click on the below video.

It’ll make you feel, um, groovy?



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Posted on: September 16, 2011 2:58 pm
 

Ward doesn't see how Steelers are old

WardPosted by Josh Katzowitz

While many have wondered how the Steelers will deal with some older players not performing well, especially in the wake of their four-touchdown loss to the Ravens last week, Warren Sapp had no problem giving his honest opinion.

And now that Steelers receiver Hines Ward has had a chance to respond, Ward decided he wouldn’t respond to Sapp in such harsh tones.

On Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” this week, Sapp said, “The Pittsburgh Steelers. I have three things: old, slow and it’s over. It’s just that simple. James Harrison told us that he was 70-to-75 percent. It looked more like 40 percent to me if you are looking at the ballgame I was looking at. And Hines Ward, Mercedes Sapp can cover Hines Ward right now. You have to be kidding me ... Mercedes is my 13-year-old daughter. She will cover Hines Ward in a heartbeat.

"And Troy Polamalu, Ed Dixon runs this crossing route. Troy Polamalu is trying to grab him to have a pass interference and he can’t even get close enough to grab him. [It] looked like he was dragging a wagon behind him. Touchdown Baltimore. Pittsburgh Steelers done."

Mr. Ward, your retort, please?

Ward's Getting Old?
“I don’t have a reaction to that,” Ward told 93.7 The Fan in Pittsbrugh, via sportsradiointerviews.com. "He can bring his 13-year old daughter out there and see if she can cover me if she wants to. I don’t have a reaction to that. People are always going to say something. As far as the team being old? I don’t see how the team is old. I think I am the oldest guy on the offensive side. Ben Roethlisberger is the second oldest guy on the offensive side. Defensively? You got Aaron Smith, James Farrior and Brett Keisel. We just re-signed some of our youngest guys. If you look at our team, we are not as old as people want to portray us. What does that matter anyway?

“I love Warren. He was my ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ guy before me. It’s his opinion. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and it is not going to change. There are guys older than me like Brian Dawkins. Donald Driver is older than me. Age doesn’t matter. Age is something for somebody to put out there just to make an excuse.”

Ward also realizes that he's open to criticism, and at this point in his career, he has to be used to it. Even if a former star player is the one making it.

“That’s your job,” Ward said. “That’s what makes news. Your job is to criticize and make stuff. As players we hear it, but it doesn’t validate anything. The Steelers are not going to keep me around if they do not think I am productive. We don’t just keep guys around to just keep guys around. That’s just an excuse when people start looking at the age and that stuff. If you look at our young guys…look at our wide receivers? I’m out there with second and third year guys all the time. Our whole offensive line…we are really not old up front. Rashard Mendenhall is still young and in his prime. When people say stuff like that I just laugh because when they were old one day, somebody said that about them. But now they are in a position to say that. I don’t get caught up in it.”

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Posted on: August 8, 2011 10:30 pm
 

VIDEO: Steelers on set of next Batman movie

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Taking a break from sweating in the hot sun in western Pennsylvania while at training camp, about 12 Steelers spent last Saturday morning at Heinz Field spending time under the hot lights of Hollywood and pretending to play football.

As the Pittsburgh Tribune Review writes, Ben Roethlisberger, S Troy Polamalu, WR Hines Ward, LB James Farrior, C Maurkice Pouncey, TE Heath Miller, DE Brett Keisel* and S Ryan Clark all participated in the shooting for “The Dark Knight Rises,” the new Batman movie scheduled to drop next summer.

*Yes, but what about Keisel’s beard?

“You put the uniform on, you sit around a long time, guys with the cameras come and get you and you go on the field and do our little part," said defensive end Aaron Smith, who, with his teammates, played for a club called the Gotham Rogues. "Batman was not on site when I was there. Saw a bunch of football guys."

It’s unfortunate that Batman was not at Heinz Field that day (perhaps, Christian Bale was indulging in some Primanti Bros.?), but to ease that pain, there is video of part of the day’s events (though if you can tell what’s going on in the shot, you’re a better person than me).

So, why did producers set up Pittsburgh for the shot and, specifically, use the Steelers as the Rogues? According to the AP, the executive producer, Thomas Tull, is a member of the team’s ownership group. See? It's always about who you know.


H/T to Yahoo! Sports’ Shutdown Corner.

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Posted on: July 27, 2011 12:05 am
 

Ike Taylor to return to Steelers

Taylor

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

For those teams looking for a CB who was a talent level below Nnamdi Asomugha but also would be much less expensive, the multiple reports that have surfaced about free agent Ike Taylor re-signing with the Steelers for a four-year deal is not welcome news.

All along, we thought a team could get much better values in CBs like Taylor and Cincinnati’s Johnathan Joseph, rather than pay $18 million a year for Asomugha (who likely will have to take less than that anyway).

Instead, Taylor is now off the board and returns to a top-notch defense that includes LB James Harrison, LB LaMarr Woodley, DE Brett Keisel, S Troy Polamalu, etc.

He’s always been a good fit for the Steelers, and it’s no surprise that he returned (even if he is, by chance, making less money than he could get on the open market).

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Posted on: March 20, 2011 2:59 pm
Edited on: March 20, 2011 3:32 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Pittsburgh Steelers

Posted by Andy Benoit

 

Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups. Also, check out our checkup podcast:





If you’d told the Steelers at some point during last fall that Ben Roethlisberger would get the ball with 2:07 remaining down six in Super Bowl XLV, they probably would have taken it. That final drive was about the only thing that did not go Roethlisberger’s way in 2010 (suspension aside, of course).

The Steelers, despite a depleted offensive line, got within arms’ reach of a Lombardi Trophy thanks to the emergence of young playmakers Rashard Mendenhall, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown.

And, of course, thanks to their perennially staunch defense. Troy Polamalu took home Defensive Player of the Year honors (no matter what the humble safety says, the award was well-deserved) while the star-studded linebacking corps welcomed a new sensation: inside ‘backer Lawrence Timmons.



NFL Offseason

Don’t be shocked if Emmanuel Sanders supplants Hines Ward in the starting lineup sooner than later. This is more about Sanders than Ward. The second-year wideout is already Ben Roethlisberger’s go-to target in spread formations (granted, in part because Roethlisberger prefers to work the slot from four-and five-wide sets). Sanders has the quickness and tempo change to beat man coverage, and he showed marked improvements in understanding the offense as his rookie season wore on.

These days, Ward, 35, runs like he’s playing in sand. But he can still produce. His 59 catches for 755 yards last season were a drop below the back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons he had coming into the year, but his famous (notorious?) blocking remains sharp.



1. Offensive Tackle 1
After watching him lumber through last season, it seems like RT Flozell Adams is nearing that age where Tuesday afternoons and Saturday nights start feeling the same and relatives start dropping subtle hints about the dangers of driving after dark. No way the Steelers pay Adams the $5 million he’s due in 2011. The Steelers can go for the best OT available overall given that LT Max Starks is coming back from injury and could move over to the more-fitting right side.

2. Right Guard
Ramon Foster is not the answer. A simple review of last year’s front line personnel changes reveals that coaches will do just about anything to keep the undrafted utility man out of the starting lineup. Backup G/C Doug Legursky has better mobility than people think, but it’s not enough to make up for his lack of phone booth power.

3. Defensive End
Aaron Smith turns 35 in April and has missed all but 11 games over the past two years. Ziggy Hood was supposed to be primed to start by now, but the ’09 first-round pick does not have the power to be a true anchor outside. Hood must develop the type of agility that’s made Brett Keisel a force; it’s a tossup whether he will. Keisel will be 33 in September but shows no sign of decline. However, the Steelers like to draft players two years out, so finding at least one understudy still makes sense.



A run at a record seventh Lombardi Trophy is clearly not out of the question, though the Steelers won just 17 games combined in the seasons following their last two Super Bowl appearances. The defense is aging but not aged. The offense should only be better.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com