@Steelers 2012 Regular Season Opener Makes Back-to-Back Losses To Denver: Still… Not All Bad #steelers

So the Steelers regular season opener has come and gone and by now, most of us have embraced the loss.  This one probably stings a little more than most losses, considering the first game we play results in a loss to the team that ended our season last year.  It’s hard to make the argument that we were beat by the SAME team as last year, because quarterbacks manage the game in such a big way.  This year Denver upgraded to Peyton Manning instead of the internet sensational, Tim Tebow from last year.  Semantics aside… we have back-to-back losses to the Denver Broncos.  It surely wasn’t all bad, though.

Via my Facebook timeline and Twitter feed, I saw a vast array of optimism, pessimism, and plain old complacency to everything that happened last night.  I know everyone has their reasons, some more educated than others, but there’s a level of truth somewhere mixed in between it all.  The first thing I have to say is that you could absolutely see the gaps of productivity left on the field with the absence of Ryan Clark and James Harrison.  Two massive hitters, one from each end of the defense, whose mere presence on the field, effects the plays being called.  Our secondary and line defense just didn’t seem like much of a threat all game long, especially from what we’re used to with them on the field.  In addition to that, being sold on Ike Taylor with how he plays and has played is letting him off the hook.  Knocking balls down is good, but we need to see him pulling in picks and not letting such massive plays happen, especially when we’re winning or losing by less than a touchdown.  Lastly, the O line is more of the same now that both of our recruits are out with injuries.  Be prepared to be plenty frustrated by that this season until we regain some healthy players.

Here are the positives I took away from yesterday’s game.  Let the bullet points begin:

– Back to my first point above, Clark will be back next game and Harrison wont be out much longer either.  That will bring back a lot of strength to our defense, all around.

– Antonio Brown is awesome.  We’re all expecting big things from him this year and I’m positive we wont be let down.  He is such a talent and by far the most impressive pick up I’ve seen from the Steelers since Miller and Troy.

– Bringing me to my next point, Miller is probably the most consistent player the Steelers could ever ask for.  Of all the bad things you’ve ever heard about a player or the Steelers in general, have you ever heard anyone trash on Heath Miller?  I know I haven’t.

– Troy doesn’t get a whole lot of action anymore because of what a massive threat he is to any team he faces.  He still tries to make huge impact plays and does more often than not, given the opportunity.  He missed a few tackles last night, which was disappointing, but that’s not something to assume we’ll have to get used to seeing from him.

– Big Ben seems to have some serious confidence with his arm this year.  Aside from his one interception throw (which put the nail in the coffin against ourselves, I know), Ben was firing some passes down field, on a rope, threading the needle into double coverage, and completing passes for big yardage.  One that sticks out most was a pass he completed to Emanuel Sanders on a 3rd and 13, for a first down with a little less than a minute to go in the first half.  Small side note here: Ben’s ability to extend plays is both a blessing and a curse.  Obviously it gives our offense more opportunities in single plays to be effective, but that’s also why it is bad.  It either says that the O line’s protection collapses too quickly to execute the play the way its designed OR the receivers aren’t getting open until their 2nd or 3rd attempts.  Either way, it would be nice to see plays where Ben doesn’t always have to abandon the pocket so he can make something happen.

– Emanuel Sanders is a great compliment to our receiving core.  When he’s on the field, he does his job and does it well.  We can all look forward to him having some huge plays this year.  I would bet money on it.

– Wallace hasn’t played since playoffs last season, has a touchdown right away in our first regular season game back, and I’m not really noticing any slack in his performance.  It’s probably pretty obvious to him at this point, if he wants big money, he has to give a big money performance for 16 plus games.  We have very little to worry about when it comes to our receivers being able to pull in passes.

– Dwyer was an interesting pickup and made some plays last night that peaked my interest in him.  I’m excited to see his progress. At a Steelers lunch, Bill Hillgrove said that Dwyer the sleeper and we may see him starting over Redman as soon as week 3 or 4.  That’s a big statement and one that I’m very interested in seeing play out.

– Butler made a solid debut as well.  First real deal NFL game and he’s already put a ball on the 1 yard line.  I think we’ve got ourselves an impressive boot, again.  Hopefully we don’t run into any weird hamstring injuries with him, like we’ve seen in the past with our punters.

– Haley doesn’t pretend that run, run, pass fools anyone.  It’s nice to see a much less predictable offense as far as our play calling is concerned from drive to drive.  We marched down the field on a really good defensive team, multiple times, to create scoring opportunities.  That is definitely something to be optimistic about.

So there’s a list of 10 solid, positive things we can and should take away from yesterday’s loss.  If you agree or disagree, I’d love to hear why.  Make some comments below or find me on Facebook or Twitter.  Lets chat.