Stillers-Cryboys Post Game Notes (Jul. 30th)
Please note 2 things: 1.) This is the early preseason, so this is not a full-blown "report", but rather notes on some key things. 2.) I do not care about wins/losses in preseason, but rather how players, schemes, and teamwork look.
- 5 players who suffered various degrees of ROT --- rotting the pine under the supreme wisdom of Sir William Cowher --- played superbly tonite: Porter, Amoz, Vrabel, and Townsend.
- Porter raced around the Dallas left tackle on a 3rd down play in the 1st quarter, and blasted Aikman and forced a fumble. This is EXACTLY what Porter did last preseason, as well as in the late-season game vs. Tennessee when he was finally allowed to play. This is the kind of play that turns a game around; that scores easy points for your team; and gives QBs happy feet. Carla Emmons, in 4 seasons worth of preseason and regular season games, NEVER ONCE made a play like this --- and we've now seen Porter do it about 9 times.
- Amos Zeroue took a quick --- not glacially slow, but quick --- screen pass, then ran a couple yards, stopped on a dime and gave back a few pennies in change, and then SPED down the sideline like a thunderbolt, racing UNTOUCHED for a TD past defensive backs who appeared to have decent angles at knocking him OOB. Amoz, as you might recall, spent virtually the ENTIRE '99 season ROTTING on the pine, and instead of using this electric, quick-footed demon for plays like this, Cowhead & Gilbride chose to use the plodding Bettis, the plodding Fu, or the plodding Wittman.
- Malcolm Johnson, who rotted on the pine virtually the entire '99 season, showed some stuff. He dropped a deepish floater from Kordell that was a bit poorly thrown, but catchable. But he caught a nice TD on a long lob by Graham down the s-line, in which he nudged away a DB --- a la Irvin --- and hauled the pass in at the goal line. This was a play that Lil' Courtney or Hines would make, maybe once every 350 years.
- Mike Vrabel, getting some PT at LOLB, had a nice INT. Bear in mind, of course, that this is 1 more than Jason Gildong has in his ENTIRE NFL career. But fans will squawk and yelp, "Vrabel doesn't know the coverage schemes well enough."
- Deshea Townsend had 2 INTs, and returned 1 of 'em for a TD, while also punishing the QB on a blitz. Townsend, of course, would have continued to rot on the bench, were it not for the FA departure of Chris Oldham, who was one of Bill Cowher's favorite players of all time.
Obviously, the 2 keys are Porter and Amoz. Both of these men rotted the bench like some skinny, pimply-faced sophomores at a large high school. These men bring SPEED and QUICKNESS to this team, something that has sorely been lacking the past 2 years. They also bring IMPACT PLAYMAKING to a team that had almost NONE the past 2 years.
- Stewart was spotty in his stint. He was helped by some nice grabs off of mediocre throws. The thing that perturbed me the most, was that nearly all of his throws came while he was throwing off his BACK foot. This has plagued the Western Union Man for years, and it's inexplicable that this staff has failed to rectify this glaring problem.
- Graham was downright miserable. He was tentative, indecisive, clumsy, and looked like a 21-year old rookie. Very disappointing to have a veteran with his experience, come out and look like he had 2 left hands.
- Burress, who wasn't allowed to start --- hey, he's a rookie, fer chrissake --- was The Man. He made some superb haul-in's of medicore Stewart tosses; he ran well after the catch; he drew a PI flag in the EZ, and he easily scored a TD off a poor low-lined lob by Graham on a 3rd & goal from the 2. He should immediately be promoted to starter RIGHT NOW. Period.
- Malcolm Johnson showed some stuff. He dropped a deepish floater from Kordell that was a bit poorly thrown, but catchable. But he caught a nice TD on a long lob by Graham down the s-line, in which he nudged away a DB --- a la Irvin --- and hauled the pass in at the goal line.
- Hank Poteat, due to his rookie status, was not allowed to "start" the game as a kick returner, but he did eventually get in, and showed a decent burst.
- #93, Lucas, the rookie NT, impressed me considerably. He helped stuff the middle. He did miss a sack on 1 play, but kept after the QB and ran quite a ways to haul him down. He also pursued the QB on scrambles out wide. This is in stark contrast to Fat Joel Steed, who usually was content to watch, or at best, lollygag, while the QB rambled around. I am at least 65% convinced that Lucas can effectively start for us. Staat, in the meantime, started at NT and was typically ineffective. He chipped in on 1 tackle, but that's about it. On one play, he got bludgeoned into the turf, and on all plays, he was standing straight UP and offered little plugging. Mark my words --- if Lucas continues to come on, it will be a TRAVESTY if Jeremy Faat starts at NT.
- Kris booted a solid 45-yard FG, but his KOs blew chow. They were either short spinners, or miserably low liners. This was a clear deficiency of his last year, and it's a bit disappointing that, at least thus far, he failed to improve on this.
- The young DB, Battles, battled hard all game (no pun intended). He really played tough on special teams. On some teams, that might warrant a spot on the roster. Unfortunately, with Sir William Cowher at the helm, veteran mediocrity is valued much more so that youthful guts, vim and vigor.
The Still Mill