This is only the first game.
Okay, this is the first of many post-game diatribes to come, as I'm sure Tim will have a post-game breakdown that will shed more light on what went wrong today.
I have a couple of things that I need to get off of my chest.
First - we couldn't stop the pass rush. I understand that Pittsburgh is a monster because of the exotic blitz packages they throw at you, but it looked like no one on our line could stop the onslaught.
As expected, the rookie looked like a rookie, but the rest of the guys have no real excuse. For example, when we were threatening in the red zone after Mario's and DeMeco's outstanding defensive play, Myers got knocked off the block so quickly, that Myers himself should have been credited with the tackle on Slaton.
The play calling was also suspect as we never opened up the passing game. Sure, you could say that Schaub never had the time, but still, most of the pass plays were to the flat or on a west coast slant route.
Schaub himself looked nervous in the pocket. I never saw the devil-may-care attitude that a quarterback needs in the face of pressure. I understand that that is easier said than done, but again, I never got the sense that he rallied the offense to respond.
The running game was hard to judge at times because the team didn't stick to it. While Ahman Green showed that he still has some burst left in those legs, he only had five carries. BRB favorite Steve Slaton carried the majority of the load with 13 carries for 43 yards. That's not going to cut it. And even though I'm slightly inebriated and haven't replayed the game on my DVR, I can't remember Slaton running the ball once to the outside ala Fast Willie Parker.
Where was Owen Daniels in the first half, never mind the game? When the blitz came, he should have been there to pick up an easy six or seven yards. For him to only haul in one pass in the first half (late in the 2nd qtr) and a couple in garbage time in the 4th is not acceptable. He's a Pro Bowler waiting to blossom. Use the M'er F'er.
Why can't we stop the sweep in the red zone? I understand that the field gets shortened, but really, that should be to the defense's advantage. Our team got beat each and every time in the red zone. Nothing was sacred.
Jacques Reeves actually looked decent in coverage. He had a couple of balls caught on him, but they were of the nearly indefensible varitety (quick in routes).
The Fred on the other hand has some work to do. He got taken to school by Hines Ward, who again proved that you don't have to be the fleetest of foot to win the race. Hines used his veteran savvy to keep Bennett off balance all game.
Other than Mario, no one on the D-line stepped up to the plate. That pretty much falls in line with what we all knew: Mario is a beast, six tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble. He was phenomenally fantastic.
Our safeties looked slow. I know we brought Eugene Wilson in to play corner... but can we please look at him at safety? That would mean moving Demps to strong safety, but I think I like that combo better than Demps and Brown.
The team needs to do some serious soul searching as they begin preparing for the home opener next week. They should have a much easier time with the Ravens, and I fully expect to see us at an even .500 this time next week.
Until then, I'll be eating my vitamins and saying my prayers in hopes of a better tomorrow. For Kubiak and Co., it's back to the drawing board.