For the Steelers’ offense to reach full potential

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    [url=]Ben Roethlisberger Jersey[/url] , the fragile Vance McDonald must stay healthy There were two impressive tight ends on display during Monday night’s game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Buccaneers trotted out rookie stud O.J. Howard, a first round draft pick out of football factory Alabama. The young man oozes talent and appears well on his way to being one of the best at his position. In some ways he resembles Rob Gronkowski, in other ways Travis Kelce, but he may actually be faster than both. Like those two great players, Howard is a total mismatch whenever he steps on the field. Anybody fast enough to cover him will never be able to handle his incredible size, likewise any player with the strength to neutralize him will most assuredly struggle to run with him. Howard already looks like a wise investment as a first round selection, and hopefully for him he receives the type of quarterback play necessary for him to reach that elite level.That may be the only thing that could halt his assent to stardom. Oh, and of course, injuries. This got me thinking about the other impressive tight end competing on the field Monday night, Pittsburgh Steelers’ own Vance McDonald. His athleticism and vast potential is almost on par with the aforementioned Mr. Howard, but Vance knows all too well that injuries can derail the most promising careers.If you goggle the word fragile the definition reads as such ‘easily broken or damaged’. You might very well see a picture of Vance McDonald there if one was to be provided. I can’t help but think about the famous scene from the classic movie A Christmas Story whenever I see the word fragile. When the dad opened the crate marked fragile (it must be Italian) to reveal his award, which just so happened to be a lamp that resembled a lady’s leg wearing fishnet stockings and high heels, Young Ralphie and his dad were mesmerized by the unmistakable beauty of it. That lamp and Vance McDonald have a lot in common.First, McDonald’s physical prowess and athletic abilities are a sight to behold. They have had a mesmerizing effect on every GM and coaching staff that have witnessed them first hand since he entered the league as a second round draft pick in 2013 out of Rice University by the San Francisco 49ers. I had a work colleague who was a huge Niners fan and he was convinced McDonald was an absolute steal in the second round, and who was I to question his assertion. He definitely looked the part. Then the games started, and soon after so did the injuries. McDonald was a raw prospect coming out of college [url=]Jack Butler Jersey[/url] , hence his second round selection in the draft, and the injuries greatly hindered his development into a polished NFL caliber tight end, not to mention making him extremely unreliable as a player. Moments before the start of last season the Niners had seen enough and dealt him to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers were instantly impressed by their shiny new lamp, I mean player, and proudly displayed him on the field for everyone to see.Just like the mom in the movie was less than thrilled with the lamp and thought it was tacky and in poor taste, you can be sure “the Outlaw” Jesse James could have done without the trade for Vance McDonald. James had to be thinking “What am I, chopped liver?” His best ability was availability. He may not be spectacular, but he was most definitely a reliable, solid pro. So what did he do? Did he turn to social media to voice his displeasure, or pout around like a locker room cancer? No, he showed up everyday, worked hard, and competed for playing time. This was an impressive example of being a good teammate on a team which really needed one.As we know, in the movie tragedy struck. The mom was innocently cleaning the lamp when she accidentally knocked it to the floor where it broke into multiple pieces. Despite the best efforts of Ralphie’s dad to glue the lamp back together, the lamp was beyond repair and had to be thrown away. This is precisely the situation the Steelers are trying to avoid with McDonald. Monday night was in many ways a confirmation of what the Steelers already knew. While McDonald did have a strong performance in last season’s playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, which was on the heels of another injury plagued regular season. The Steelers realize they have the talent to be an amazing offensive force if they can somehow keep McDonald on the field. If healthy [url=]T. J. Watt Jersey[/url] , McDonald and James provide the Steelers with a strong one-two punch at the tight end position. But that is a pretty big if.McDonald the player is akin to a heavy weight boxer who possess a powerful knockout punch, but also happens to be saddled with a glass jaw. The Steelers organization holds their collective breath every time he climbs off the trainer’s table. So here’s hoping Vance can keep his chin tucked, his gloves up, and he doesn’t hang his jab. Maybe it will help him do something which has eluded him thus far in his young career. Stay on the field and finally live up to his vast potential.The Steelers really could use the help, but I wouldn’t bet on it.Steelers Film Room: Joe Haden might not be what he once was, but he is worth every penny Let me be brutally honest about Joe Haden. He’s an above-average cornerback, but he’s nowhere near elite and is much better off being a No. 2 cornerback on a team. Thus, I don’t find it particularly comforting he is, by far, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ best cornerback. He has his lapses, and they happened more often on Sunday night than they usually do versus the Ravens. But while not having a great game, Haden also showcased why he’s so valuable to the team. He has by far the best ball skills of all the cornerbacks, and he continues to show how you can justify paying him 27 million dollars. If you want to see why he deserves every penny he gets to play for Pittsburgh, look no further than this:Haden is not as fast as he once was — injuries having no doubt taken their toll on him — but you just don’t see plays like this by an average corner. He lets Brown get the inside track and then tracks the ball so well. This is what we call a trail technique and it takes ball skills more than anything. Haden was playing this deep-route all game and didn’t only make one play like it. The dive here and then the hand usage to knock it out are textbook on trail technique. This is a great play no doubt, but he made an even better play on one earlier. Mike Tomlin has repeatedly talked about not giving up inside or outside leverage in the secondary. Joe Haden gives him a prime example to show everyone in the film session. He is physical up front with his hands and bumps Brown before he goes inside and thus takes him off his route. He keeps his hips square and tracks Brown the whole way, even out of the break. The best part of this is how he tracks the ball and easily bats it down as it approaches. This speaks volumes about his ability to track the ball in general. He gets a bit grabby [url=]Joshua Dobbs Jersey[/url] , but still a great play by Joe Haden. Unfortunately, Haden then fell victim to the scheming of Keith Butler. Butler has some of the weirdest scheming assignments in the NFL. Why Haden is playing so far off and playing the out route so hard is odd. It does allow him to run his trail technique on a post, but he still gives up any inside route. Jon Bostic deserves some blame here because he blatantly bites on the fake, but even then, the scheming of this play is giving up an easy slant every time. In makes no sense to make this play call. I have no idea what Vince Williams is doing, but it is possible he had a zone and this is why Brown gets so wide open, but no doubt about it, this is a schematic mess. As for Haden himself, he did have a few rough plays. For one, he and Cameron Sutton had a terrible miscommunication you have to blame on Keith Butler. This has been a rampant issue and all parties involved endure the blame for this folly. If the correct assignment is followed by either Sutton or Haden, then this likely does not become an easy touchdown. However, even if you are Joe Haden or Cam Sutton, you simply cannot watch the receiver run right by you. You can at least mirror him and follow. Regardless, though, that is a horrible miscommunication. As for the one truly terrible play by Haden, here it is courtesy of Michael Crabtree.Oh yeah [url=]Derwin Gray Pittsburgh Steelers Jersey[/url] , Haden fell straight for the stop n’ go route. He clearly thought it was going to be a hitch and just fell asleep. The double move by Crabtree was pretty swift, but Haden has to be more disciplined and read the play, because if Flacco hits the throw on the money Crabtree is going to walk into the endzone for a touchdown. Haden is easily the best cornerback on the team right now, and maybe the best member of the secondary depending on how you view Sean Davis. As for what we get instead of him, we get this mess.It might not be in coverage, but what an absolutely terrible tackling attempt by Cameron Sutton. I have no words for how bad that is. He just simply slides in with no regard for actually tackling Buck Allen. Before this, Bud Dupree simply whiffs and Vince Williams does as well. This team simply cannot tackle at all. So, no matter how you view Haden, you better believe there is no cornerback even close to him right now on the roster. He has his lapses, but largely, he is worth every penny he is getting paid right now.

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