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Thursday, Thursday

I'm not a big fan of the Thursday night game. Besides the fact that I'm one of the millions of fans without access to the NFL Network, it's kind of a monkey wrench in the schedule, convincing the old internal clock that tomorrow's only Tuesday. Ugh, only Tuesday?!? Throw in the whole holiday thing too and it's certifiable circadian meltdown!

Congrats to Torry Holt for his seventh Pro Bowl nomination, a vacation to Hawaii ought to go at least part of the way toward easing the memory of a three win season. The article in the paper touched on it already, but I don't think you can say enough about the amazing season Holt's had. Not only is he coming off of knee surgery that was supposed to limit him this season, he's had three different quarterbacks, who have only milliseconds to make their throws behind a porous group of spare parts in front of them, throwing passes to him. Yet look at his numbers though 14 games: 83 receptions, 1055 yards, 12.7 yards per catch, and 7 TDs. According to Football Outsiders, Holt has 25.8 Defense-adjusted Points Above Replacement (DPAR), 8th best in a league obsessed with Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. Imagine the numbers he might have had in a better season for the team? Amazing this guy!

Holt and Isaac Bruce may not be the best 1/2 receiving combo in the league anymore, but there's no denying they're the classiest.

Following up on yesterday's post, I did a little research on Alex Barron. Someone forwarded me this article that appeared on back in November pointing out that Alex Barron is one of the most penalized players in the league since 2004, which is pretty amazing considering Barron didn't even play in the NFL in 2004. Let's look at Barron's penalty history.

Year Games Penalties Yards False Start Holding
2005 12 16 115 9 4
2006 16 14 75 13 1
2007 14 12 71 9 1

As you can see, Barron’s not getting any better with the counts in three season of play. To me, that’s a red flag, and probably an indicator that he isn’t the second coming of Orlando Pace. Does that mean he’s worthless? Not at all. Big Red made a really good observation in the comments yesterday about Barron’s athleticism and also the fact that he’s playing a different position this season out of necessity. Excellent points, and underscoring the fact that the Rams would probably be unwise to part ways with him. The only issue I’m concerned with, is if the Rams do take a first round tackle who’s ready to contribute right away, how do they handle that? How many seasons does Pace have left is another valid question; he’s 32. Injuries may provide the answer, but I’d hate to see a difference maker keeping the bench warm. On the other hand, I’d also hate to see another injury leave us with street free agents to fill the void, and the understudy role wouldn’t be out of line for a first year player anyway.

After dropping three of their last five, the Steelers are coming to St. Louis in need of a win to keep their playoff hopes alive and right a disappointing season that’s making Pittsburgh talk radio seem like MySpace for angry mobs. While their numbers look good on paper, the defense is struggling. The loss of Aaron Smith after week 14 hurt the team, as he was a stud DE in the 3-4. One of the league’s top teams for sacks, a 7.8% sack rate, the Steelers have recorded just one sack in their last three games. Granted two of those games were against New England and Jacksonville, but against the Bengals the recorded just one. The team’s defensive struggles were highlighted this week with the news that starting free safety Anthony Smith is being benched. Cornerback Ike Taylor has yet to practice this week, and is walking with a noticeable limp. According to SBN’s Steelers blog, Behind the Steel Curtain, the defense’s struggles can’t be isolated so easily to either the pass or the run defense. New England passed at will, while the Jets’ Thomas Jones had a 117 yard day. All told, the Rams offense has a chance to score points tomorrow night, if they just will.

Romberg’s snapping the ball this week. With McCollum still dealing with his balky knee that’s kept him out of midweek practices this season, Romberg’s return offers potential benefits for running up the middle.

Could we see (well, at least via live box scores on the web) an upset this Thursday night? At this point, I’ll settle for a competitive 60 minutes.