A Steelers blogger answers Total Titans’ questions

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Many thanks to Don Spagnolo, who founded and operates Mondesi’s House, one of the most popular Pittsburgh sports blogs, for participating with Total Titans in this question and answer exchange.
 
Thanks also to our readers Markus and Dave for suggesting two of the questions we asked. Part One of this exchange consists of our questions and Spagnolo’s answers.
 
Total Titans: Markus wants to know, “Last year, Mendenhall was injured and Fast Willie couldn’t get anything going against the D. Will the Steelers still test the d-line or come out passing? Can Mendenhall and Parker be a lot like White and Johnson?”
Mondesi’s House: I think the Steelers will come out passing, but it will be more quick routes. Look for the newly-paid Heath Miller (who had a career high 8 catches for 69 yards in the last meeting) to be the recipient of a few of those. If that loosens up the D, I’d expect to see a lot of Parker based on Mike Tomlin’s comments on his workload this year. He’s in the last year of his contract and I think they’re going to run him until his wheels come off this season.


Mendenhall hasn’t quite excited Steeler fans yet but he’s a work in progress. Given our past record of plus-sized RBs, a lot of Steeler fans assume every big back will step in and immediately become Jerome Bettis II, but it hasn’t quite worked that way yet with Mendenhall. Ultimately, I think he’ll be fine, but patience is not exactly a virtue among NFL fans these days.

TT:  Pittsburgh’s o-line was suspect last year. Heading into this season, it appears to be even worse. Four starters return, so there’s no upgrade there, and the fifth starter is on IR, replaced by a backup lineman. How concerned are you about the o-line and what are you hearing? How much do you think this dropoff will effect the play calling?

MH: Well, with the extension they just gave Justin Hartwig, they’ve now committed over $56 million to 3/5 of that line over the past offseason. So they must have more hope in it than the general public. I think they actually got better as the season progressed and they jelled as a unit, and I do think they get a bit of a bad rap. Big Ben’s style of play lends itself to the occasional sack that isn’t the line’s fault; of course, it also lends itself to extending plays that have no business being extended, which is a good thing. I don’t think they’ll dominate the Titans’ line by any means, but I don’t think they’ll be embarrassed, either. 
 
TT:  There will be several outstanding individual matchups with All-Pros and Pro Bowlers going head to head against each other. Roos vs Harrison. Mawae vs Hampton. Ward vs Finnegan. The Titans o-line vs the Steelers front seven should be another great matchup. Which matchups (among those or others) do you like for the Steelers? Which matchups concern you?

MH: This game should be a football fan’s dream, because it’s power on power. All of the matchups will be close. Going on the past game’s results, the Steelers did not run the ball well against a unit that was playing without Albert Haynesworth, so that’s somewhat of a concern. But it’s hard for me to pick against Harrison, Hampton, Ward, etc., in any individual situation. I know Ward lives for games like this. He had 7 catches for 109 yards and a TD in the last meeting, and I fully expect another strong game on Thursday from #86. Of all the players you mentioned, I’m betting on Hines to come through the most.
 
TT:  Prediction time. What’s Mike Tomlin’s strategy? Who wins the game, and why? And the final score will be…. 

MH: I’m thinking somewhere in the ballpark of 24-17, as the Steelers avenge one of last season’s most disappointing losses. It really was one of the Steelers’ most frustrating games: Roethlisberger had six turnovers, the Steelers could not run the ball, they managed only one sack of Collins, and they allowed 300 yards of offense for the first time all season – which is saying something when you consider that they faced the Colts, Giants, Eagles, Patriots, and Cowboys during that streak. The Steelers have actually never beaten Kerry Collins, as he’s 3-0 in his career against them. So that’s a weird stat to overcome as well. But I think a mix of passing to set up the run and a more focused defensive effort with the backdrop of an emotional night will carry this team to victory.
TT:  Although it doesn’t have anything to do with the game, fans of both teams want to talk about LenDale White and the Terrible Towel. Dave asks, “Do Steelers fans really think the towel stomping is some huge disrespect? Or do you think they realize that they shouldn’t have brought it into our house (and that those fans who did bring them, waved them and then left them for trash after taking a beating, was far more disrespectful and they got what they deserved)?”

MH: Yes, Steeler fans truly believe stomping the Terrible Towel is incredibly disrespectful. First of all, it’s much more important to the fans than to any player, Steeler or otherwise. It’s more symbolic of the fanbase, since they’re the ones who wave the towels, so obviously they’re going to be upset if a guy stomps on it. And there’s also the fact that the proceeds from the sale of the Towel go to the Allegheny Valley School, which provides care to 900 people with mental retardation and physical disabilities, including late Towel creator/former Steeler announcer Myron Cope’s autistic son. But I’m guessing LenDale White probably doesn’t know that (or doesn’t care).
 
Thanks again to Don for joining us in this Q&A exchange. Stay tuned for Don’s questions and my answers. 
 
Reminder: We’ll be liveblogging the Titans-Steelers game here on Total Titans Thursday night. As usual, Tom will be doing most of the work but Drexel and I will probably chime in from time to time. Please join us and take part as we enjoy a great game!
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10 Responses to “A Steelers blogger answers Total Titans’ questions”

  1. BurheadTitans Says:

    Don’t get me wrong I admire all charity work but if you come into our house and wave those towels and your team get’s manhandled then by all means expect it to get stomped on.

  2. Dave Says:

    Andrew, thanks for including my question. I am not surprised by the ” it means so much and it helps so many people” garbage. Wave it loud and proud in Pittsburgh. DO NOT bring it in to OUR house and then throw it away after you loss. If it means so much why didn’t the fair weather Steelers fans keep them/ it? Lendale White doesn’t car about the towel, he doesn’t (nor does he need to) know the “history” of it. He was angry ( as were Bulluck, Kearse, etc) that they were in the Titans’ building.
    Titans 24, steelers 9… Ben, injured. Towels, stomped.

  3. Andrew Strickert Says:

    Not a problem, Dave. Soliciting reader questions was the intent of the article the other day and your contribution was appreciated. We’ve been doing these Q&A exchanges for several years and we’ll continue to do it this year. Please feel free to continue suggesting questions for us to ask every week.

  4. wesc Says:

    I just watched last years Pitt-Tenn game again and the issues that jumped out at me were:
    Titans Defensive line was MUCH better that Pittsburgh’s. That was likely the difference in the game in that they caused turnovers, sacks, interceptions, the works.
    Titan’s Run game was pretty solid, Pittsburgh’s was not. The Titans ate up clock, gained ground and turned the field with the run game.
    Pittsburgh’s Linebackers and Secondary are outstanding, but everyone knows that.
    I would say it is going to come down to the DL vs. the OL again. Titans won on both sides last year with a solid run game and good pass protection with Pittsburgh having little luck on the ground and very weak pass protection. With KVB back and Kearse playing better, it could be the deicing factor.

  5. Steeler fan 1 Says:

    You guys defending Lendale White for a generally classless act is hilarious. If a Steeler stomped on a Titan’s jersey after a game, I’d be embarrassed by the lack of sportsmanship.
    One note on comparing last year’s game: it meant nothing to the Steelers. That isn’t a knock on the Titans at all. The Steelers had just won 5 in a row including the previous three against the Patriots, Cowboys, and Ravens (locking up the division). This game meant home field advantage so it had some value, but a letdown was half expected by Steeler fans after the run of emotional games before this.
    Regardless, should be a good game.

  6. Markus Says:

    Andrew: Thanks for getting my Q’s in there…
    Don/Mondesi’s House: Thanks for the insight!
    Looking forward to an awesome game and enjoying it from the house around friends in lovely Saratoga Springs, NY!!! man I missed football! Cheer st all and good luck Steelers, but GO TITANS!
    P.S.-Can we please drop the towel stuff already? I feel like I’m going through the Brett Farve retirement/non-retirement TV drama the last 2 off-seasons. It means something to some and nothing to others…besides, it was the players…Lendale won’t even be a Titan next year so what!?! Maybe he’ll be a Jet barbecuing a Dolphin on the 50 yard line….I think its time to move on and enjoy this game!!!

  7. Huh? Says:

    I’m a Pittsburgh fan that doesn’t really care about the towel issue, but what I find funny is the ‘don’t bring them in our house’ talk.
    The Titans were mad that the Steelers fans took over ‘your house’. My question is, why aren’t the Titans fans willing to keep them out by purchasing and/or keeping their tickets? To sell out your seats is a pretty lame thought to me.
    I love the rivalry though, wish they could have found a way to keep them in the same division.

  8. Andrew Strickert Says:

    Guys, thanks to all of you for your comments.
    Huh?, I’ll be happy to answer your question here because it’s a sore spot with me. Most of those Steeler fans at that game purchased their tickets through ticket brokers, who are the season ticket holders for those seats. When LP Field opened in 1999, brokers were able to purchase season tickets in large numbers and they’ve renewed those season tickets every year. It really ticks me off that there’s a long waiting list of fans wanting to buy season tickets while those brokers hold on to theirs for the purpose of reselling them as individual game tickets.
    If real fans, not brokers, owned those tickets, we wouldn’t have seen nearly as many Steeler fans at that game.

  9. Dave Says:

    Great answer, Andrew, but enlightening a steelers fan is damn near impossible. Good try, though.

  10. enlighten this Says:

    13-10

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