Editor’s Note: Coltzilla’s Travis Tango had the opportunity to catch up with Shane Hallam of Draftcountdown.com to get an inside look at the Pittsburgh Steelers. Take some time to browse Travis’ questions and Shane’s answers after the jump.
We would like to thank Shane for taking the time out of his busy schedule to provide Colts fans with some useful answers that provide some insight into what Indianapolis could see at Lucas Oil stadium on Sunday.
Travis Tango – Exactly what are the Steelers this year? First, they are blown out vs. Baltimore — which never happens. Then they kill there next opponent. What is expected of the Steelers this week?
Shane Hallam - I think the Steelers are a team that lost the Super Bowl last year and just weren’t ready for this season. They thought their natural talent could push them through and got a rude awakening against the Ravens. Hopefully this is a team that took the loss in stride and will be up for every game. My fear is that the Steelers are going to perform against the mediocre teams and not fare so well against the tough ones.
TT - One thing that has always been a key for the Steelers is the run game, which has historically been considered a weakness of the Colts. Given that some top RB’s (Chris Johnson) don’t do well against the Colts, what do you think we see from Mendenhall in this game?
SH - Ben Tate got over 100 yards against the Colts and Peyton Hillis also neared the century mark, Mendenhall should have a good game. My guess is that he has 80-90 yards and a touchdown against the Colts. The Steelers are on the move to becoming more of a passing team with Mike Wallace leading the league in receptions, and that will be the focus of the offense against the Colts.
TT - Colts fans are very down coming into this game knowing where the team stands and that the Steelers are good. Going into this week what do you think is the biggest weakness for the Steelers that the Colts could take advantage of?
SH - There are two weaknesses that if the Colts take advantage of, they can win. 1. The stud rush defensive ends in Freeney and Mathis can take huge advantage of rookie right tackle Marcus Gilbert and journeyman left tackle Jonathan Scott. With pressure on Roethlisberger, they can force turnovers and win the game. 2. The Steelers don’t have the secondary talent to keep up with the Colts offensive talents. Utilizing Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon, and Austin Collie against the weak depth of the Pittsburgh secondary could turn into big points for Indy. Obviously, Collins still has to get the ball to them, but if he does, the Steelers can be beat.
TT – Who is a guy that Steelers fans know that the rest of the league doesn’t but should? Whether its a rookie, second year guy, whatever?
SH - Right Tackle Marcus Gilbert is that guy. Rookie selected in the second round who is being forced in as the starter at right tackle with the season ending injury to Willie Colon. He has the strong base and strength to dominate slower and weaker opponents. He took it to a tough Seahawks defensive line and will have his hands full this week. If he keeps it up, Gilbert could be a franchise right tackle for the Steelers and start to revitalize an offensive line that has been historically bad.
TT - I would normally ask what your team needed to do in order to win the game and for your score prediction but given circumstances I’m not. Instead, based on the first couple games I don’t know how much you have paid attention to Colts from a draft perspective but in your opinion what are the top 3 positions that we are likely going to look at in the draft?
SH - Quarterback has to be first. If the Colts keep being this bad, they may be in contention for Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley. Pulling an “Aaron Rodgers” to get the heir apparent of Peyton Manning. This will keep that offensive cog running and allow a cerebral quarterback to learn from the best when Peyton’s time is done.
I still contend the Colts should go after a stud defensive tackle. Drake Nevis and Fili Moala are nice, but getting a stud nose to start over Antonio Johnson or an even better all around player could make a gigantic difference in this defense.
Linebacker depth is needed. Pat Angerer looks like a great fit. But, Gary Brackett has had some injury issues and Kavell Conner can be upgraded. Definitely a place the Colts should look in the 2nd or 3rd round next year.