Tag:James Harrison
Posted on: August 30, 2010 1:38 pm
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Hot Routes 8.30.10 decisions decisions decisions

Posted by Andy Benoit

One ESPN writer thinks Shanahan can’t be serious about McNabb sitting out Week 1.

The Lions plan on doing what most teams do when they get overwhelmingly insecure about their linebacking depth: sign Rocky Boiman.

It’s hard to picture the Bucs keeping Michael Clayton in 2010, though the underachieving veteran wideout is confident he’ll remain with the team. Clayton hasn’t played much this preseason, but Raheem Morris tends to sit his veterans in August more than most head coaches.

The Cardinals will apparently consider intangibles when making their quarterback decision – whatever that means.

The Panthers defense has performed well this preseason...does it matter?

How about the Panthers offense scoring zero touchdowns in 42 possessions so far this preseason...does that matter?

There is still plenty of competition for the kick return duties in Dallas.

Who else found themselves kind of wishing that we’d get at least one look at the gash in James Farrior’s head Sunday night? The Steelers linebacker did a good job covering it up (though it was impossible to hide all the excess blood).

New England’s young defensive backs are getting some help from the veterans.

The Broncos weren’t exactly thrilled with James Harrison’s hit on Kyle Orton.

And, even better, James Harrison doesn’t exactly care. According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, Harrison said of Orton, “"He was running his mouth and getting in the way of the train. And the train wasn't coming off the track. (Orton) was popping off down there the first time they were about to score. So you run your mouth, expect to get something. Everything's between the lines, so he got what he had coming."
 

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Posted on: August 30, 2010 12:08 am
Edited on: August 30, 2010 12:15 am
 

Burning questions revisited

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

D. Dixon didn't do himself any favors Sunday night (US Presswire). Earlier this evening, we presented three burning questions the Steelers and the Broncos would face when they met at Invesco Field. After Denver finished off a 34-17 win, we have a few more answers (which are in bold).

Steelers

1. What the heck is going on with the starting QB spot? This has been one of my favorite questions all preseason, because much of what the Steelers coaching staff has done hasn’t made sense to me. Like tonight, for example. Byron Leftwich most likely will be the starter once the season begins, but he probably won’t play tonight until the second half when the second-team is going, after Ben Roethlisberger – who, of course, won’t be playing the season-opener – and Dennis Dixon, who should be the starter in place of Roethlisberger, takes their reps. A bonus question: why? I still don’t know the answer, but I’ll tell you this: Dixon lost any chance he had to be a starter by tossing two interceptions and showing his inexperience and poor decision-making.

2. How will C Maurkice Pouncey perform against a first-team defensive line? Earlier this week, Pouncey surpassed Justin Hartwig as the starting center, and tonight, he’ll test his wares against a very good nose tackle in Jamal Williams. He had some good moments against Williams and some bad moments where he allowed the Broncos to penetrate the backfield and get pressure on Dixon. But overall, this is a move that should work out well for Pittsburgh.

3. What’s up with RB Rashard Mendenhall? There have been rumors that Mendenhall suffered a broken arm in practice, but those talks have been debunked by reporters who actually are in the know. He is expected to start tonight. Of course, he played. No surprise there. He was workmanlike with 28 yards on five carries before calling it a night. But the breakout RB belonged to Steelers rookie Jonathan Dwyer, who recorded 89 yards and a score on just 13 carries while looking strong on one play and fast on the next.

Broncos

1. Will the run defense stop anybody? Last year, the Broncos ranked 26th in the NFL by allowing 128.7 rushing yards per game. So, after signing a plethora of defensive linemen in the offseason, where has that gotten the Broncos? Dead last in the preseason stats with 171 rushing yards per game. Tonight, Mendenhall will provide the next test for the Broncos defense to pass. Dwyer was awesome tonight, though it came mostly against second and third-stringers. Still, the Broncos allowed 175 rushing yards on the night. Obviously, that’s not what Denver’s coaches wanted.

2. Can RB Knowshon Moreno play tonight? It doesn’t sound like it. As the Denver Post reports, Moreno doesn’t look anywhere close to returning, as he’s taking his cuts rather gingerly. The Broncos need him to return to the starting lineup, but it most likely won’t be tonight’s starting lineup. No, he didn’t play. Instead, we saw the return of LenDale White, who actually looked pretty good. He had 34 yards and a score on 12 yards, and if he didn’t have to sit out a four-game suspension to open the season, he’d have a better chance of making the squad.

3. Will Tim Tebow return? Of course, we have to ask this question, no matter how dirty it makes us feel. Pregame reports are saying he was throwing during warmups, so it sounds like he might dress. And if he dresses, there’s a decent chance he plays. He played, and he threw a god-awful interception. But he also showed a nice touch and good awareness on his 3-yard TD pass to Eric Decker. Either way, he looked more competent than Brady Quinn.

A few more observations:

-There was plenty of talk about how punter Daniel Sepulveda would take Jeff Reed’s job as the kickoff specialist. Well, Sepulveda booted the game-opening kickoff out of bounds for a penalty. One word: ugh.

-James Farrior did his best Eli Manning impression with that cut on his head.

-There was a scary moment for Broncos fans when Kyle Orton tried to deliver a hit on Steelers LB James Harrison after he picked up and ran with an alleged fumble. We’ll say this: it didn’t end well for Orton, who briefly left the game following his tackle. Like I said on Twitter, you don’t want Orton anywhere near Harrison when the latter is returning a possible fumble.

-The Steelers accumulated four personal foul penalties in the first half. That’s pretty ridiculous. Not the sign of a real disciplined team.

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Posted on: July 2, 2010 12:00 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2010 12:53 pm
 

Positional rankings: 3-4 outside linebackers

Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit resume their debate, this time taking a look at the top five outside linebackers (who play in a 3-4 scheme) in the NFL.

Andy Benoit's top five

  J. Harrison (92) and L. Woodley (56) celebrate (Getty) 5. Elvis Dumervil, Broncos

4. LaMarr Woodley, Steelers

3. Terrell Suggs, Ravens

2. James Harrison, Steelers

1. DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys


Sacks have put a bright spotlight on the 3-4 outside linebacker position. Everyone on this list can rush the passer. What differentiates stars and superstars is versatility.

Dumervil, the NFL sack leader in ’09, is too small to be a force against the run, but his frenetic energy often makes up the difference. By the end of this season, Woodley might claim the No. 1 ranking. The fourth-year pro is beastly in traffic – he has some of the thickest thighs and biceps you’ll EVER see – and fluid enough to defend the flats in coverage.

Suggs is on the list not because he’s a handful as a pass-rusher, but because he’s the best playside run-defender in the NFL. James Harrison scares people – even those who are watching at home. He’s very smart, too. Ware had a somewhat quiet season in ’09, but that was due to a fluky slow start as much as anything. He’s still the best all-around 3-4 front seven playmaker in the game.

Josh Katzowitz's top five

5. Manny Lawson, 49ers

4. Elvis Dumervil, Broncos

3. DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys

2. LaMarr Woodley, Steelers

1. James Harrison, Steelers


  Oh, to be a quarterback facing the Steelers when James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley are healthy and gunning for your throat. Oh, to be a running back who must rush into the teeth of the Steelers defense. Oh, to have to fear for your career. Consider the two have combined 51 sacks during the past two seasons, and it’s easy to see why Pittsburgh was ranked No. 1 in the AFC vs. the run last year while finishing with an AFC-high 47 sacks. How do you rank them? I say Harrison is No. 1 because he’s been doing it longer, and because so much of an opponent’s attention is focused on stopping him, Woodley can get away with blitzing. But I agree – Woodley might eventually be the best of the entire bunch.

Ware had an amazing 2008, recording 20 sacks, 84 tackles and six forced fumbles. Fighting through an injury, he wasn’t nearly as good last season, but he rebounded a bit in the second half. Although he had a huge year last season, you wonder if Dumervil can replicate his success. Lawson doesn’t record many sacks, but he’s good in coverage and he tackles consistently.

The one issue I have with Andy’s list is Terrell Suggs. I wonder if he lives off his reputation more than anything else. He came into last season nearly 20 pounds overweight, and it blunted his explosiveness. He lost playing time, and he completed his worst season since his 2003 rookie season. Not good since he signed a contract before the beginning of the season that made him the highest-paid linebacker in history. Unfortunately for Baltimore, he didn’t play like it.

Andy’s Rebuttal

A lot of Suggs’ brilliance doesn’t show up in the stat book. I have some reservations about Dumervil, but not enough to overshadow all the memories I have of him attacking offensive tackles with perfect leverage last season.

But whatever, let’s get to the shocking part of your list: MANNY LAWSON?! If this were Bottom 5, maybe. Lawson is very fluid in coverage. I’ll give you that. But he’s not physical in traffic, and he’s a modest pass-rushing threat at best. If Ahmad Brooks had even a slightly-below-average football IQ, he’d be starting ahead of Lawson in San Francisco.

Josh’s final word

Ha, I thought you might like my addition of Lawson. But bottom five? Man, that’s harsh. That’s like me sarcastically writing about how Suggs is so brilliant. Oh wait, you were serious about that? Fact is, Lawson’s the best OLB at dropping into coverage of anybody on our list, he plays the run very well, and he does, in fact, get to the opposing quarterback. Even without great technique, he was credited with hitting the quarterback 11 times last year; he just doesn’t record many sacks. And considering last year was his first season in the 3-4, he’s only going to get better (it should be noted he had four sacks in the final seven games of the year). Yeah, Lawson isn’t the sexiest OLB out there, but he’s more than solid.

Andy, not knowing when to quit

Josh, Lawson is indeed fantastic at dropping into coverage. I’m surprised he didn’t make your top five cornerbacks list.

Josh’s final, final word

In lieu of making any more arguments about this position, let me point you in the direction of what a wise man said last March. "I wasn't happy about the way I played last season, it was a disappointing year. My focus in the offseason is to make sure that never happens again. … No one was more disappointed about my season than me.” Who said that? Oh right, those were the brilliant words of Suggs. In effect, Suggs thinks your list is pretty weak.

(Other positions: Safety | Cornerback )

--Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit

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