The Lockout seems like such a distant memory right now, doesn't it ? We're back in full football frenzy and ready to play the Steelers in this 2nd Week of Pre-Season. Although these games are meaningless, they are still important, so don't sleep on these games.
What are the 5 things you'll be watching for in this game ? Here's my list:
1. King Dunlap and the O-Line in general
I'm sure they'll help him out with the TE and RB chipping on his side. I just hope he doesn't give up too many free shots on Vick. For some reason I have no confidence in his abilities as our right tackle, there's a reason why he's third on the depth chart behind Harris and Justice. This right tackle situation is a mess with both of these guys injured, I hope there is some stability during the season at that spot because Vick can't be taking too many hits from his blind side.
Rule # 1 : Protect Vick at all costs (because he's gonna be taking enough hits as it is with his style of play, and neither Kafka nor Young are ready to step up and take over for an extended time).
Moving on, excited to see Danny Watkins get some more reps, we've heard that he has a nasty streak in him, so would love to see that come out in this game. The rest of the O-line should be able to hold their own against a solid defense. This game should give us a little bit more of a preview of Howard Mudd's scheme and philosophy. I have great hopes for the O-line under Mudd's tutelage and experience, and hopefully this game will be a start to something great (For more optimism about the O-line, check out the fine work done by Wild Eagle).
2. Linebacker Play
It will be a pretty safe bet to say that the Steelers will be running the ball a little bit. Although it is a novel concept on this side of PA, it's a pretty normal happening in Western PA (anyways, I digress).
This should be a good test to see what our LB's are made up of at their new positions. Casey Matthews is an unknown quantity at this point, and hopefully we'll get to see what the coaching staff sees in him. He has great pedigree, there's no doubt about that, but it'll be fun to see him trying to bring down the bigger Rb's the Steelers employ in their run game. There is going to be a learning curve with Casey, but it'll be good to see him get a couple of good hits in this game. Also, the other question mark is Chaney at the SAM, I loved him as the MLB, I hope he's even better at SAM since the Eagles moved him there. This game should show us how far or close they are to getting their positions down. Hopefully, we're set at our LB positions with what we have on the team.
3. Crazy D-Line
Thank you Jim Washburn for being convinced by Andy Reid to join the coaching staff. Your presence also lured your long-time buddy Howard Mudd to our team. You are a blessing to this team and especially to our d-linemen who were starving for some good coaching. Trent Cole, Darryl Tapp, Brandon Graham (in a few games from now) and the rest are going to have a break-out season this year. There are going to be numerous players with double digit sacks. We'll have a dominant d-line after suffering from mediocrity for so many years. I Love You Man, I Love You. If you can wake up Te'o-Nesheim from his stupor, you're worthy of cult status. Just don't ask Te'o what he was doing when he got drafted by the Birds. But all kidding aside, I think even players like Te'o and Hunt are going to have a good to great year under our new Hero, J Dub.
4. Dion Lewis
Just curious to see if he can be something special.
5. Vince Young
He might be the 3rd string quarterback if he can't efficiently run the offense by the end of this pre season. So that leaves us with Kafka as the backup. Let's hope Vince Young can pick this up fast. I don't have anything against Kafka, he might be able to get us a couple of wins against lesser opponents if Vick is hurt, but I would rather have Young ready as the back up when we're playing against the Patriots or Jets. Depth at every position is a great thing, and the health of Vick is the key to our journey deep into the playoffs, if he can't go then I would love to see Young ready to pick up where Vick left off. Young definitely has more upside than Kafka. So let's see how Young does in this second game. I'm looking to see more of a comfort level for Young in this game then last week and hopefully some plays worth remembering.
Side Note: No Injuries !
Feel free to share your list and reasoning, if possible. Go Birds !!!