- Matt Williamson, ESPN.com
After watching the Week 5 matchups, Scouts Inc. shares its 10 key observations:
1. Steelers LB James Harrison is locked in: Last year's defensive player of the year, LB James Harrison, might even be better in 2009 than when he won the award. Detroit LT Jeff Backus was completely overmatched against Harrison, who is unbelievably powerful in both his upper and lower body and plays with as much passion for the game as anyone in the league today. He can stun his blocker with excellent hand usage and has developed into a very well-rounded pass-rusher with technique, moves and speed. Harrison also has a great ability to cause turnovers by attacking the football and has amazing closing speed. He never stops. Whether it is called or not, I still contend that no player in the NFL gets held as often as Harrison does. While Harrison might be playing even better than last season, the same surely cannot be said for the entire Steelers defense. Adding S Troy Polamalu when he recovers from a knee injury will help a great deal, but the Steelers need more than just him to reach their dominance from a year ago.
2. The Detroit Lions are playing with intensity: Even against a strong Steelers defense, QB Daunte Culpepper looked quite good. He is clearly much more nimble and agile than he was in recent memory. Culpepper wasn't asked to do a whole lot in the first half, but he didn't turn the ball over and kept Detroit very competitive against a superior foe. He did have an inexcusable interception after he fumbled the snap later in the game. WR Calvin Johnson was not 100 percent for this contest and had to leave the game early, but TE Brandon Pettigrew is continuing to improve on a week-to-week basis. It also was encouraging to see WR Dennis Northcutt finally getting involved. Despite still being light on talent and having too many miscues against the reigning Super Bowl champs, the Lions deserve all the credit in the world for the intensity with which they play the game.
Scouts Inc. examines the domination of pass-rushers James Harrison and Jared Allen, the Cowboys' identity issues and more.