Steelers Report Card/Week 4: Hey, Look Who's Back—the Champs

Paul LadewskiCorrespondent IIOctober 6, 2009

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 4:  Wide receiver Hines Ward #86 of the Pittsburgh Steelers smiles on the sideline against the San Diego Chargers in the second half at Heinz Field on October 4, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Here’s my take on the Steelers’ 38-28 victory on Sunday night:

1. Boy, is that Bruce Arians a genius or what?

Four hundred and ninety-eight yards of total offense? Aggressive play calls from start to finish? An option pass for a touchdown? Center Doug Legursky in the backfield? Heck, I even saw Stefan Logan at wide receiver, for heaven's sake.

I mean, if Dick LeBeau isn’t careful, Arians may get to the Hall of Fame first.

Sorry, I get carried away sometimes.

2. Speaking of LeBeau, his immediate challenge is to find a way to avoid the defensive meltdowns that took place late in the last three games.

In three and four-wide receiver sets, opponents have been able to take advantage of linebackers James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons and D-backs Keiwan Ratliff and Deshea Townsend in the middle of the field.

A more consistent pass rush would alleviate the problem, but unless LaMarr Woodley returns to form, it may take different schemes to pull it off.

3. If it’s up to LeBeau to solve the biggest problem on the team, then I have to feel good about its chances.

4. Maybe it was the one-game sitdown because of lax practice habits.

Or maybe it was the realization that, with starter Willie Parker out of the lineup, he might not get this chance again. Whatever is was, Rashard Mendenhall resembled the 23rd overall pick in 2008 draft for first time in his career.

It wasn’t only his 191 yards of total offense that were impressive, but also the way he got them. Yeah, the spin moves were nice, but his willingness to take on Chargers defenders was even better. He also threw two hellacious blocks in blitz situations.

Years from now, we may look back at it as the night that Mendenhall became a Pittsburgh Steeler at last.

5. Four-point-nine-yards per carry? The holes were so wide that Snacks Hampton could have fit through them.

My explanation: Halloween arrived early.

Seriously, that couldn’t have been Willie Colon, Trai Essex, Justin Hartwig, Chris Kemoeatu, and Max Starks out there. Had to be Larry Brown, Steve Courson, Sam Davis, Jon Kolb and Mike Webster dressed up in black-and-gold unies.

6. If all it takes is a Monday Night Raw gig for the O-line to play that well, then quarterback Ben Roethlisberger should negotiate a five-month deal for his boys immediately.

7. There should be no doubt that Roethlisberger is the unquestioned leader of this team. So enough of this Big-Ben-is-expected-to-manage-the-game-but-not win-it nonsense already.

Got that, Deion Sanders?

8. It’s nice to know that television analyst Cris Collinsworth has moved Roethlisberger up to No. 4 on his list of quarterbacks in the league. But tell me, C.C., what has Drew Brees done to be one spot ahead of him? Brees has one postseason victory on his resume.

I’m not sure that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are that far ahead of Big Ben, either.

9. The Indianapolis Colts are the only AFC rival that should scare the Steelers at the one-quarter pole. Not because the defending champs can't beat beat them, but because the league and network execs crave an Eli-versus-Peyton Manning matchup in the Super Bowl.

10. I love the throwback jerseys and helmets. Replace those hideous white pants with gold ones, and the unies are keepers for sure.

The grades:

Offense Regulars

WR Hines Ward: B

Weekly grades: B/B/C/B

Season average: B

LT Max Starks: B

Weekly grades: B/F/C/B

Season Average: C 

LG Chris Komoeatu: A 

Weekly grades: D/C/B/A

Season average: C+

C Justin Hartwig: A

Weekly grades: F/C/B/A

Season average: C

RG Trai Essex: B

Weekly grades: C/B/C/B

Season average: C+

RT Willie Colon: A

Weekly grades: D/B/C/A

Season average: C+

TE Heath Miller: A

Weekly grades: A/B/B/A

Season average: B+

WR Santonio Holmes: C

Weekly grades: A/D/F/C

Season average:  D+

WR Mike Wallace: B

Weekly grades: B/C/A/B

Season average: B 

QB Ben Roethlisberger: A

Weekly grades: A/B/A/A                                                                           

Season average: A

RB Rashard Mendenhall: A

Weekly grades: C/B/INC/A                                                                        

Season average: B

RB Mewelde Moore: A

Weekly grades: C/B/B/A                                                                             

Season average: B

Defense regulars


LE Aaron Smith: B

Weekly grades: A/B/C/B                                                                            

Season average: B

NT Casey Hampton: C

Weekly grades: B/B/B/C                                                                              

Season average: B

RE Brett Keisel: B

Weekly grades: A/B/C/B                                                                                

Season average: B

LOLB Lamarr Woodley: D

Weekly grades: D/D/D/D                                                                              

Season average: D

LILB James Farrior: B

Weekly grades: B/A/C/B

Season average: B

RILB Lawrence Timmons: D

Weekly grades: DNP/B/B/D                                                                          

Season average: C+

ROLB James Harrison: A

Weekly grades: A/B/A/A

Season average: A-

LCB William Gay: B

Weekly grades: C/C/B/B                                                                             

Season average: C+

RCB Ike Taylor: A

Weekly grades: C/B/A/A                                                                              

Season average: B+

SS Tyrone Carter: C

Weekly grades: C/D/B/C                                                                              

Season average: C

SS Troy Polamalu: DNP

Weekly grades: A/DNP/DNP/DNP                                                                  

Season average: A

FS Ryan Clark: B

Weekly grades: B/B/A/B                                                                                 

Season average: B+

Special Teams Regulars

PK Jeff Reed: A

Weekly grades: B/F/C/A                                                                             

Season average: C+

P Daniel Sepulveda: A

Weekly grades: A/A/A/A                                                                               

Season average: A

KR Stefan Logan: C

Weekly grades: B/D/A/C                                                                               

Season average: C+

PR Stefan Logan: F

Weekly grades: C/C/C/F

Season average: D+


HC Mike Tomlin: A

Weekly grades: B/C/D/A                                                                                  

Season average: C+

OC Bruce Arians: A

Weekly grades: C/D/C/A

Season average: C+


DC Dick LeBeau: B

Weekly grades: A/B/C/B                                                                                

Season average: B