December 10, 2009

Steelers Substitutions Against the Browns

Failure in the fourth quarter has become the norm for the Pittsburgh Steelers Defense in 2009.  Against the Browns tonight, Mike Tomlin has chosen to spot substitute or replace Ike Taylor and William Gay with Joe Burnett and Keenan Lewis, rookies.  Who could blame him for replacing a pair of Cornerbacks who have a combined ZERO interceptions in 2009? 

What's worse is the situational breakdowns at critical moments.  The Raiders game would have been over before the Raiders had the chance to score at the end when Joe Burnett displayed the same pass catching skills as Taylor and Gay; he dropped the pass.  This week, he starts.  Some think it's suicide.

First, if there is a game ideal to start the Rookie tandem it's against the Browns.  1-11 and 1-18 over their last 19 games is the Cleveland reality. 

Secondly, however, I think however that replacing the corners is more risky than spot substituting the line, linebackers and safeties.  We know more about the skills of those men.  We know what Keyaron Fox and Nick Eason and the like can do. 

The trend seems to be that the Steelers Defense will hold up for three quarters and break down in the fourth.  It seems clear to me if the men who started were fresher in the fourth quarter there would be less breakdowns.  I think the substitutions should largely come in the first three quarters and the starters should play the entire fourth quarter.

Now, certainly there is the danger, when substitutions are in those first three quarters of breakdowns but those are what we are trying to eliminate and if necessary, finally overcome, in the fourth quarter.  I think the starters, if fresher in the fourth quarter, would have a better chance of overcoming those early game breakdowns.  As it is, when they all occur in the fourth quarter the game is practically over and there is no way to save it.  





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