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Tag:Charles Woodson
Posted on: February 2, 2011 6:31 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2011 3:17 pm
 

Matchup breakdown: Steelers O vs. Packers D

R. Mendenhall (US Presswire)

Posted by Andy Benoit

In the AFC Championship, the Steelers surprised everyone by coming out running against the Jets. On paper, Pittsburgh’s banged-up offensive line was overmatched against New York’s third-ranked run defense. But on the field, the opposite proved true.

With Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey possibly out this Sunday (ankle/foot), one might think Pittsburgh would be inclined to come out throwing. After all, backup Doug Legursky has a noticeable lack of power, while Green Bay’s nose tackle B.J. Raji has a noticeable abundance of it.
 
But despite the Legursky-Raji mismatch, don’t be surprised if the Steelers once again rely on Rashard Mendenhall early on. Running the ball shortens the game and keeps Aaron Rodgers off the field. More than that, it decreases the number of times lumbering right tackle Flozell Adams has to fend off lightning pass-rusher Clay Matthews (Adams vs. Matthews is a mismatch that makes every member of the Steeler organization shudder; it’s hard to imagine the Steelers won’t concoct some form of tight end help for Adams.)

Early in the season, the Steeler offensive line and third down back Mewelde Moore struggled mightily with blitz identification. They got the pass-blocking issues in order down the stretch, but with two weeks to prepare, you have to figure Dom Capers will design at least a few new complicated zone exchanges and delayed A-gap blitzes.

What’s more, whether he’s blitzing or feigning a blitz, slot cornerback/rover Charles Woodson is the key to Green Bay’s pressure schemes. If it’s Woodson vs. Ben Roethlisberger in a presnap chess match, Steelers lose.

Super Bowl experience will have a pretty huge impact on this game as well. Here's Hines Ward on that subject:


Running the ball would ameliorate those unfavorable passing game matchups for the Steelers. But more than that, the Steelers may very well feel that they have an advantage against the Packer run defense anyway. Yes, Doug Legursky, left tackle Jonathan Scott and right guard Ramon Foster all lack the power necessary to generate downhill movement as run-blockers. But left guard Chris Kemoeatu doesn’t.

Kemoeatu is one of the most mobile blockers in football. When he gets to the second level and faces linebackers, he’s frighteningly nasty .The Packer defense did an excellent job at keeping inside linebackers Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk clean from blockers this season. (Why do you think the inexperienced Bishop and resoundingly average Hawk were the only two Packers to record 100-plus tackles?)

But the Steelers, who run two-tight end base personnel, could give those inside linebackers problems by shifting to three-receiver personnel (which would involve replacing Matt Spaeth with wideout Emmanuel Sanders). The Packers almost always use a 2-4-5 alignment in nickel defense. With only two downlinemen, Kemoeatu would have a clear path to Bishop or Hawk (and remember, in nickel, one of those inside ‘backers will be off the field). In that case, Mendenhall could run inside, or, if he’s lucky, get isolated on the edges against outside linebacker Erik Walden (an impressive athlete but very callow run-stopper).

Roethlisberger is Pittsburgh’s best playmaker, but the run game could very well be Pittsburgh’s best chance at a seventh Lombardi trophy.

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Posted on: February 2, 2011 2:24 am
Edited on: February 3, 2011 8:45 am
 

Green Bay Packers defensive roster breakdown

Posted by Will Brinson & Andy Benoit

Perhaps the most fascinating thing if you look (at a glance anyway) at Pittsburgh and Green Bay is that they've built their teams "properly." (AKA "the opposite of Dan Snyder.) They draft smart, and they sign smarter. At least that's what we're lead to believe, right?

Andy and I set out to check the roster breakdown for both teams. En route, we* managed to figure out not only where they're coming from, but what they'll do for their respective teams in the Super Bowl.

Name POS Acquired Scouting Report
Ryan Pickett
DE 
Drafted 29th overall 1st Round 2005, STL; 2006 FA
Tough guy to move in the trenches; never gives up on a play.
B.J. Raji
DT
Drafted 9th overall, 1st Round 2009
Did not truly come on until late in the year, but once he did…wow. Haloti Ngata of the NFC.
Cullen Jenkins
DE
UDFA 2003
Incredibly nimble for a 300-pounder. Can rush the passer (eight sacks on the season despite missing time and fighting through a calf injury) and also anchor against the run.
Howard Green
DL
Drafted 190th, 6th Round, 2002, BAL; FA 2010
Ate himself out of New York but offers some power whenever one of the starters needs some oxygen.
Clay Matthews
LOLB
Drafted 26th overall, 1st Round 2009
Skims the edge with astonishing speed. Can change directions and hunt down the ball in the blink of an eye. (OK…in 10 blinks of the eye. But blink 10 times in a row and you’ll realize that’s still incredibly quick.)
A.J. Hawk
LILB
Drafted 5th overall, 1st Round, 2006
Fundamentally sound system player, but not enough of his tackles come near the line of scrimmage. Plus, you don’t draft “fundamentally sound system players” fifth overall.
Desmond Bishop
RILB
Drafted 192nd overall, 6th Round, 2007
Green Bay’s most dynamic inside linebacker. Instincts aren’t dazzling, but very good at reacting to what he sees. Gets downhill with alacrity.
Erik Walden
ROLB
Drafted 167th overall, 6th Round, 2008, KC; FA 2010
Plays because he’s a better athlete than all of the other “non-injured” outside linebackers.
Frank Zombo
LB
UDFA 2010
Can make the play that’s right there in front of him, but that’s about it.
Tramon Williams
CB
UDFA 2006 Hard to believe he went undrafted given that he’s such a natural talent. Ball skills have flourished now that he’s comfortable with one-on-one technique.
Charles Woodson
CB**
Drafted 4th overall, 1st Round 1998, OAK; FA 2006
Matthews is fantastic, but this is still Green Bay’s most valuable defensive player. His versatility is what makes Dom Capers’ defense thrive.
Charlie Peprah
SS
Drafted 158th overall, 5th Round 2006
Not bad, but completions seem to occur most often in his area of the field.
Nick Collins
FS
Drafted 51st overall, 2nd Round 2005
Excellent range. Has a knack for sniffing out the ball when in attack mode. Very good tackler, too.
Sam Shields
CB
UDFA 2010
Undrafted rookie has terrific speed. Less than two years of cornerbacking experience explains why he sometimes struggles to feel-out his safety help.
Atari Bigby
DB
UDFA 2005
Was looking like the next big thing until injuries derailed much of his 2010 season.

*Scouting smarts credited to Benoit. HTML and research credited to Brinson.

*Classification is really unfair for him.
Posted on: January 31, 2011 11:56 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2011 12:05 am
 

Super Bowl Scene Monday night

A. Rodgers (US Presswire)

Posted by Andy Benoit

IRVING, Texas -- The media got a police escort from the Sheraton to the Omni Mandalay at Las Colinas in Irving for the Packers’ Monday evening press conference. The three buses that were scheduled to leave at “4:00 sharp” took off around 4:30. As they raced down the empty streets, Dallas denizens lined the sidewalks, waving and snapping photos (they thoughts members of the Green Bay Packers were behind the tinted bus windows).

Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Charles Woodson, A.J. Hawk and Clay Matthews were the only players made available. With Mike McCarthy’s press conference taking place a few rooms over, hundreds of media members crammed into a basement lobby to score a prime position around the players’ tables. Some tables were less crowded than others (see photos of Rodgers’ table vs. Jennings’ table….both photos were taken some 15 minutes before the players arrived).

Once the players came in and the questions started firing, the entire scene became somewhat of a cluster….the entire scene became chaotic. Going off strict observation, a reporter’s job is to ask a player a loaded, leading question before any other reporter can ask them a loaded, leading question. More entertaining than the players’ response (which is one of three things: canned, clichéd or politely evasive) are the facial expressions of all the reporters whose questions weren’t heard. A lot of people are left feeling like their toes have been stepped on.

And when a player does go outside the lines, he’s playing with fire. Jennings was asked if he told the guarded Rodgers to let his hair down this week. Jennings’ response – “I told him to spike his hair up” – was met with stone silence. Damn him, he wasn’t making the writers’ jobs easy.

Donald Driver made reports’ jobs easy, if a reporter was looking for a quote that involved the phrase “confidence level is high”. Each table has microphone and a speaker so that players can be heard. No joke: Driver’s speaker sounded like it was replaying the same audio clip again and again.

Back on the bus, writers flipped through notebooks of sloppy handwriting and replayed bites of mildly-garbled sound. They compared quotes and discussed amongst themselves the spin they would put on it (you’d be surprised how much spin is involved).
No police escort on the way back, which explains why the people of Dallas no longer acknowledged the bus.

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Posted on: January 26, 2011 10:44 pm
 

President Obama makes nice with Packers

Posted by Andy Benoit

President Barack Obama made news by announcing prior to the NFC Championship that if the Chicago Bears made it to Super Bowl XLV, he’d attend the game. (No president ahs ever attended the Super Bowl while in office.)

After the Packers defeated the Bears, cornerback Charles Woodson cleverly said that if Obama didn’t want to come visit them, then they’d go visit HIM. Appearing at Orion Energy Systems, a technology and clean energy company in Manitowoc, WI (80 miles north of Milwaukee), Obama acknowledged the Packers’ NFC title.



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Posted on: January 24, 2011 12:23 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2011 1:20 pm
 

Pro Bowl replacements for SB players announced

Posted by Andy Benoit

Last season the NFL decided to move the Pro Bowl from the week after the Super Bowl to the week before the Super Bowl. The idea was to take the utterly irrelevant All-Star event and make it just regularly irrelevant. It’s been an alright ploy, though a consequence is players from the competing Super Bowl teams cannot compete.

Thus, the league had to replace all of the Steeler and Packer players on the roster. So who did they tap?
 
For the Packers:

CB Tramon Williams replaced by Antoine Winfield

CB Charles Woodson replaced by Brent Grimes

FS Nick Collins replaced by Roman Harper

OLB Clay Matthews replaced by Brian Orakpo

WR Greg Jennings replaced by Larry Fitzgerald

LT Chad Clifton replaced by Donald Penn


For the Steelers:

OLB James Harrison replaced by Tamba Hali

S Troy Polamalu replaced by Eric Berry

C Maurkice Pouncey replaced by Jeff Saturday

DE Brett Keisel replaced by Randy Starks

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Posted on: January 24, 2011 10:53 am
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Posted on: January 20, 2011 2:44 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2011 2:47 pm
 

Assessing the X-factors: Super Bowl hopefuls

Posted by Andy Benoit

Only four teams are still standing in the 2010 NFL season, and each believes they’re destined to hoist the Lombardi Trophy on Feb 6. The Steelers have hoisted the trophy a record six times. The Jets have hoisted it zero times but only because the stingy NFL does not hand out hardware for self-proclaimed preseason titles.

The Bears have won gobs of titles, but only one of them has been in the Super Bowl era (1985). The Packers have won three times that many Super Bowls (’66, ’67 and ’96). Neither the Packers nor Bears ever had to go through the other during the postseason to claim their title. In fact, they’ve only met in the playoffs once – and that came a week after Pearl Harbor. Yet, many fans have acquiesced to the television executives and marketing gurus telling them to view this as the best rivalry in football. In the spirit of Championship Week hype, we’ll go with it.

It will stoke the Bear-Packer rivalry when one of the teams ruins the other’s Super Bowl chances this Sunday. We’ll assume the same concept will also lay the groundwork for a Jets-Steelers rivalry (so far it’s been a bizarre love fest between those two teams).

So what are all these teams’ chances at actually making it to Arlington and having a shot at the Lombardi Trophy? Well, technically, 50 percent each. But vagueness disguised as mathematics is no fun. And neither is breaking down the same key matchups a million times. So, instead, we’ll drum up some Super Bowl appearance odds based on various X factors.

*taking the opponent’s factors into consideration


Green Bay Packers

Known to Football Fans for:
Offensive weaponry, aggressive 3-4 defense
C. Woodson (US Presswire)
Known to Non-football fans for: Cheeseheads

Most dangerous X factor: Charles Woodson

Most subtle X factor: Mike McCarthy’s occasionally questionable clock management

Injury factor: Nothing new this week (a nice changeup for a team that’s been a mash unit all season)

External conditions factor: Must adapt to the unfamiliar and unstable Soldier Field surface

Favorable karmic factor: Taking a hard line against Brett Favre’s wishy-washiness three years ago by turning to Aaron Rodgers
Unfavorable karmic factor: Stringing Rodgers along for three years before that (though to be fair, that Favre guy was pretty darn good)

Overall factor impact on Super Bowl chances*: +8

Final Super Bowl appearance chances: 58 percent



Chicago Bears

Known to Football Fans for:
Black and blue offense that we’re all still trying to remember is actually more of pass-first Mike Martz offense now. Also, known for classic Cover 2 defenseJ. Cutler (US Presswire)

Known to Non-football fans for: Da Bears

Most dangerous X factor: Devin Hester

Most subtle X factor: The offensive line’s ability (or inability?) to diagnose blitzes before the snap

Injury factor:
Safety Chris Harris missed practice earlier this week with a sore hip

External conditions factor: Haven’t faced an above .500 team in the postseason since losing to the Colts in Super Bowl XLI

Favorable karmic factor: Jay Cutler and Mike Martz have been able to put their big egos aside and get along just fine

Unfavorable karmic factor: Cutler and Martz are only here because so many others got sick of dealing with those big egos
Overall factor impact on Super Bowl chances*: -8

Final title chances: 42 percent



New York Jets

Known to Football Fans for:
Complex defensive scheme, run-first offense led by young quarterback and brashness
Known to Non-football fans for: Hard Knocks, Ines Sainz, foot fetishes and, before those things, being that “Oh that’s right, there are TWO teams from New York” team
R. Ryan (US Presswire)
Most dangerous X factor: Brad Smith

Most subtle X factor: The unheralded defensive line’s ability to get penetration against the run.

Injury factor: WR/KR Brad Smith (groin) practiced this week after sitting out against the Patriots; OLB/DE Jason Taylor did not practice (concussion)

External conditions factor: Attempting field goals in Heinz Field is unsettling. Attempting field goals in Heinz Field with a bewilderingly up-and-down kicker like Nick Folk? Downright nerve-wracking.

Favorable karmic factor: Their confidence

Unfavorable karmic factor: Their arrogance

Overall factor impact on Super Bowl chances*: -13

Final title chances: 37 percent



Pittsburgh Steelers

Known to Football Fans for:
Being the consummate NFL franchise

Known to Non-football fans for: Being the last true remindB. Roethlisberger (US Presswire)er that Pittsburgh once had a burgeoning steel industry

Most dangerous X factor:
Troy Polamalu

Most subtle X factor: Nose tackle Casey Hampton’s immovability against the run

Injury factor:
SS Troy Polamalu once again rested his sore Achilles; CB Bryant McFadden sat out with a strained abdomen; DE Aaron Smith (triceps) practiced for first time since October but will not play Sunday.

External conditions factor: Because they didn’t lose them all in a row like their intrastate neighbors to the east, you don’t hear much about this: the Steelers have lost four AFC title games since 1994. All at home, by the way.

Favorable karmic factor: Management dumping bright star Santonio Holmes after his off-field transgressions

Unfavorable karmic factor: Management not dumping brighter star Ben Roethlisberger after his off-field transgressions

Overall factor impact on Super Bowl chances*: +13

Final title chances: 63 percent


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Posted on: January 17, 2011 1:54 pm
 

Hot Routes 1.17.11 "big name" headed to Carolina?

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit

The Broncos officially named eight coaches to their staff, including holdovers Mike McCoy (offensive coordinator) and Eric Studesville (interim head coach after Josh McDaniels firing; once again the running back coach).

Gruden could be joining the Panthers as an offensive assistant. Jay Gruden, that is.


The Patriots and Falcons staffs will coach the AFC and NFC Pro Bowl squads. “We’ll scout the golfing,” Bill Belichick said of the opportunity.


Dennis Byrd, a former Jets player who was paralyzed in 1992 during a game, addressed Rex Ryan’s squad Saturday night. Not a dry eye in the room, it sounds like.


Bears TE Greg Olsen played decently Sunday.


Darryl Talley is upset that Vince Young disrespected him. But honestly, we don’t quite know why he’d care.

Charlie Weis has left town, but Matt Cassel’s tutor, assistant Nick Sirianni, is still around.


Charles Woodson on the Chicago Bears: “They’re in the way.” Nice.


Remember David Pollack? Cincinnati’s first-round linebacker in 2005 who was sensational in 16 games before neck problems ended his career? He’s a sportscaster now.


Needing a replacement for Rob Ryan, the Cleveland Browns are awaiting an interview with lightning rod (OK...just regular rod) defensive coach Dick Jauron.


Nnamdi Asomugha says it’s not out of the question that he’ll return to the Raiders.


Can you believe Mark Sanchez’s four road playoff wins is an NFL all-time record? (More shocking: one of the players Sanchez shares the record with is Jake Delhomme!)


Special teams coach Danny Smith is returning to the Washington Redskins.

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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