After reading Graham’s press conference yesterday I felt that if we put the recurring storyline to rhyme it would be easier for us to recall after each game and will save us the time of having to actually listen to him talk.
“O” is for offense, believe it or not
“F” is for FUBAR and that’s what we got
“F” is forget to get rid of the ball
“E’ means elusive like winning at all
You get the picture.
Zeise of the P-G has an article and a blog on Graham’s public display of disaffection yesterday and both detail what is a very candid and, hopefully, honest assessment from Graham about what the ills of the offense are at this time.
It’s becoming a recurring theme that the players aren’t able to fully grasp what this offense requires of them and, in turn, they lose any chance at being consistent in any form. This is what he states and this is what we have seen when we watch the games.
“We’re just not executing the offense. [Against Notre Dame], we had guys not run the right routes, we had more mental mistakes then we had in the games before so we have to eliminate those things and get better. We haven’t been consistent, [Sunseri] hasn’t been able to get the ball out on time to be able to execute what we need to do. We have at times, but nothing close to what we need“
It’s no secret that Sunseri has been holding the ball too long. Every PITT fan has said exactly the same thing over the course of the first four weeks.
“He must have used the phrase (or some version of) “not getting the ball out quick enough” no less than seven or eight times (including when someone asked him about the sacks the line gave up) in this news conference and he is clearly irritated by it. But he also knows this – looking at the quarterback position right now, there really isn’t another option yet. Trey Anderson may be the guy soon, but Graham said he needs experience and until he gets it, Sunseri will continue to be the man”.
Then, to give us a glimmer of hope we read this about a possible change:
“Pay particular attention to the underlined part in this quote – he is saying that Anderson isn’t playing yet because he is still learning.
“Tino Sunseri still gives us the best opportunity to win a championship,” Graham said. “For every person it’s a process and for some players it happens faster than others.. I like getting [Anderson] some experience because he has a different skill set. He also walked here in August so he is still learning. He is a talent and I am thankful for him. We will give him some series from time to time like last week. He will play but our starting quarterback is Tino. We have to get some things corrected but he has the most experience. We have to put the person out there who gives us the best opportunity to win and that is Tino.”
That is unless Graham is blowing smoke of course. Its one thing to talk about getting Anderson some experience and it is a whole other thing when he puts the kid in for a total of three series out of 16 quarters of play. You have to wonder if: 1) Graham is serious about having this option of a different QB at all and 2) even if he is serious is he ever going to have the guts to do it?
It isn’t like we are going to be producing any blowout wins where the second string guy can come in for an extended period of time. No, Graham has to insist in his own mind that sitting Sunseri down and trying the alternative is important enough to face any risk in doing it. As many of us have said before, where is the downside at this point in doing so?
Fans take note. This is week five now and there has been no mention from Todd Graham about Myers at QB. That might not mean anything if we were seeing even decent production out of the QB and the offense but we know it is in shambles. The fact that week after week we hear Graham talk about Anderson as the only alternative to Sunseri defines what the reality of the QB situation is.
But it isn’t only the woes at the QB position that is holding the offense back. When asked about what was wrong with the offense Graham said: “Someone asked me today, what do you think is wrong with the offense?,” Graham said. “We’re not running it. That’s what’s wrong with it.”
Well, short, sweet and to the point I guess. As our commenter wbb mentioned yesterday, a lot of the problem is just wrong execution of the plays themselves.
“The biggest thing that happens is that our offense is one that is very technical and very specific about what you’re supposed to do,” Graham said.” If the route calls for you to release outside, you have to release outside. It’s not optional. So we get a lot of that, because before it was just ‘best release;’ well, you can’t do that. You know they know that, but what happens is that players with all the right intentions operate outside the system. It’s just little silly things…
“Two times in the game, Devin took the wrong release,” Graham said. “Okay, there’s two things that messed up a play. Then we didn’t read the right cover-down guy on the pass concept, or we misread the read-zone, and then all of a sudden you get done and you have 17 plays where you didn’t have a chance to have any positive yardage. And that goes back to just being sold on what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. I think the kids want to.”
Fix some of that and you take a little pressure off the QB and allow him to complete the play as designed. It’s really a breakdown in both the player’s following the script and the coaching staff being overconfident about what this offense could actually accomplish coming out of training camp. The fact that we were lining up, getting the playcall in and snapping the ball in 15 seconds means nothing if you perform a Chinese fire drill right afterward.
Contrary to the article I put up yesterday (and Chris Dokish’s blog the day before) Graham said ‘he also doesn’t want to see too much “quick game” passing even if the Panthers can’t protect Sunseri. He said he wants to see the ball “get out on time” and get down the field because that’s the only way the offense will work.
Now, I’m not sure what he actually means by ‘quick game’ passing when he’s been singing the mantra of “One, two, go!” every time he opens his mouth. But he states he needs to see us stretch the field vertically… which if you have a QB who can’t pass accurately over 20 yards isn’t an easy thing to do.
We’ll always have Shanahan, Street and H. Graham getting intermediate passes and I can’t imagine that Graham wants to start flinging deep balls every chance he gets so, my assumption is that we’ll see the quicker receivers working seam routes and crossing patterns where the shorter passes can be effective in getting yardage after the catch. In other words, less passing horizontally, thank God – get rid of those silly quick passes along the LOS, and more short-intermediate routes to get the ball to the players who can motor and move vertically.
One last thing. The HC wants to see Ray Graham carry the ball 30 times per game. No mention of Zach Brown or Cory Davis getting some plays at RB. Well, OK. How about doing something different then running Graham into the teeth of the DL every play then? What exactly was the pitch out to Graham when you have a 3rd & 1 at the two yard line supposed to accomplish when we never run that play at any other point in the season? It looked like he was shocked when that play was called. Use Graham’s speed to effect around the end. Then when you try something different at the goal line at least everyone will be familiar with the play.