From the Steelers’ Locker Room: Who Gets the Blame?


As any football fan now knows, we are officially in a ‘lockout’ as the players and owners could not come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement this past Friday. While there is still a chance the lockout could be lifted due to a temporary injuction appeal filed by the players, it is likely that this will be settled in the courts and that’s not good. Unless you’ve been living on Mars, the United States legal system is not exactly a smooth-running machine. With appeals, hearings, disclosures, etc. this thing could easily stretch into the season costing us games. Bottom line is that by the time appeals are decided on just the injunction, it could already be May or June and THEN they’ll start actually working through the courts on a new CBA.

So where does the blame fall here? Both sides are guilty. The owners have pledged honesty and transparency but were reluctant to provide it. The players almost seemed more interested in taking this through the courts than actually striking a deal. My initial thoughts at the proposal was that it was a fairly genuine offer by the League, which would have required the players to take a paycut in the neighborhood of 15%. That cut would have been used to help fund benefits for retired players and also help set up lifetime benefits for current players. I can understand the players scoffing at any form of paycut especially as it looks like the owners ‘get richer,’ but players also need to understand the world we live in right now. Make no mistake that the vast majority of fans who buy the tickets, buy the apparel, and go to the training camps are struggling financially too. Everyone is seemingly being asked to sacrifice more and more, just ask Wisconsin. With that said, I get what the players are fighting for. Their occupation is unlike any other and has a shelf-life unlike any other and I can appreciate that so it really can be comparing apples and oranges, but that doesn’t mean they’ll get any sympathy just yet. So now we’re stuck with Tom Brady v. NFL in what could be a sweeping anti-trust type of ejudication. Let’s just hope Brady gets a haircut and for the love of God, pray that he doesn’t dance on the witness stand.

One other thought… Looks like the NFLPA is urging those young men that expect to be drafted in the first round of next month’s draft to stay away from New York City and perhaps not even do interviews with either ESPN or NFLN. Frankly, a lot of the interviews suck anyway so I wouldn’t miss them that much, but it’s the point being made here by the players. They seem certain in willing to play hardball.

THE FINAL SPEW: Words don’t do the events in Japan justice. Thoughts definitely with the people of the Pacific area today…. Did Donald Trump violate federal election laws before even deciding to run? A Ron Paul supporter thinks so…. These satellite photos from high above Japan are amazing. The devastation is overwhelming…. Mike Tyson for your iPhone anyone?…. The T-Wolves’ Kevin Love saw his double-double streak end last night at 53. When you really think about it, this was not as easy as you’d think… You know all those clips of excited teams getting their tourney invite? Ya, ummm, here’s Colorado. Who didn’t….. Today’s video is from “Cheers.” Classic Cliff and his ‘squeaky shoes.’

LGMD.

Out.

Posted in NFL, Steelers, The Final Spew, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

From the Steelers’ Locker Room: Lake Returns and CBA Thoughts


News from the Front Office came down today that former Steelers’ Defensive Back Carnell Lake has been hired as the secondary coach replacing Ray Horton who left to coach the defense in Arizona. Lake, who starred for UCLA in college, played for the Steelers from 1989 thru 2001. He was a 5-time Pro Bowler who excelled at corner but also made the switch to safety later in his career. Most recently, he had been the secondary coach at UCLA.

Carnell Lake returns to the Steelers to coach the defensive backs.

 

Lake was one fo the great blitzing corners of the NFL during his time with the Steelers as he recorded 25 career sacks and was the 1997 AFC Defensive Player of the Year. So what is the impact of his signing in terms of the defense? Hard to tell just yet, but any Steeler fan will tell you that anything that can help our secondary is a welcome addition. Lake will no doubt bring some of the traditional trademark aggressiveness he was known for at corner and should help our DB’s learn more effective ways to blitz and to attack running backs on the outside. Perhaps his most important contribution could come with dealing with the younger guys like Crezdon Butler and Keenan Lewis who could certainly benefit from Lake’s vast experience at the corner position. Don’t fall into the trap though Steeler fans. A fan favorite returning home to coach does not always mean success in the that capacity. Look no further than Lake’s alma mater where Head Coach Ric Neuheisel has struggled to recapture the glory of past seasons at UCLA. Give Lake some time to adapt and work with Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau who will certainly preach specifics in terms of what he wants his DBs to do. Either way, I love the hire and wish Carnell great success coaching the Steelers’ DBs.

CBA THOUGHTS

Here is the portion of this post where if you are suffering from insomnia you will be quickly cured because I’m going to ‘briefly’ discuss the current negotiations between the NFLPA and the league owners. You’ve been warned….

As we all know by now, the players and owners agreed to extend the CBA deadline until 5pm this Friday, March 11th. Most believe this is a good sign that there is at the very least some progress being made and I would concur with those sentiments. Union President DeMaurice Smith has already established himself from former Union head, the late Gene Upshaw, by being very honest and upfront with all of the players and pushing for total transparency. Upshaw seemed more reserved and more concerned with keeping things closer to the vest as is often common during labor negotiations for fear of the ‘other side’ getting information it probably shouldn’t have. Smith really doesn’t seem to care what anyone knows in general. He has a bulldog mentality and wants to see this thing through for the betterment of the players, past and present, but he also seems to get that the fans have a crucial role too and isn’t forgetting that.

Smith has been a welcome change as Players’ Head according to many in the know.

The other guy figuring prominently is special federal mediator George Cohen who is already being credited with getting the talks extended into this week. Cohen is known as a mild-mannered, calm individual who is very capable of getting both sides to relax and move towards compromise. Last year, it was the MLS that was in the midst of labor strife and according to some players, it was Cohen that was clearly the difference. So what exactly will the outcomes of this week’s negotiations be? Hard to tell, but I really think that Cohen has been able to stress to both sides that prolonging this thing into the summer is not good for anyone. There was talk that the owners are better suited to sit this thing out for the long run and make the players have to move to their side, but let’s not forget that they will lose money too. Substantial money. No training camp, no pre-season games, no games, means no money and while most owners have other income from a vast array of business enterprises outside of their NFL franchises, they recognize they cannot sit on the sidelines too long. My gut feeling is that while the money that is to be shared is a sticking point, the 18-game schedule and need for additional health care may be the bigger issue. With all the talk of concussions and head injuries this past season, the players have every right to question the owners motives to an increased game schedule, but I think it’s coming. Even Dan Rooney said the move from a 16 to 18 game schedule was not a good idea and his words carry weight, but I still see it coming. For now though, let’s hope this CBA is done this week.

STEELERS’ NOTE:  I’ll be doing another podcast tomorrow night which you can hear over at www.steeleraddicts.com. It should be posted sometime on Wednesday…. Also, I was very grateful to be in on the interview with Steelers LB Jason Worilds last week as well. Worilds is a great, young guy and really understands the NFL and I may sound overly optimistic, but I think Jason going to be a starter in the not to distant future for the Steelers or at the very least seeing some time spelling LaMarr Woodley or James Harrison. Worilds showed some tremendous speed coming off the edge in games against Miami and Oakland this past season. Count me as a fan.

THE FINAL SPEW: Sympathies to the family of Wes Leonard, the Fennville, (MI.) HS basketball player who passed away on Thursday night just minutes after scoring the winning basket to give his team a 20-0 season. By all accounts, he was a fine young man. Just a damn shame…. In what comes as no surprise whatsoever, Warner Bros. has fired Charlie Sheen. He may be crazy, but he’s hilarious and would have made more money for CBS than they could have imagined. Please just end the show though. Don’t bring in a ‘replacement’…. Teacher tenure is under fire across the nation. I agree that it needs a major overhaul, but don’t destroy those teaching now. Finding good teachers gets tougher every year…. Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan is the one who needs to “deal with it” now….. Today’s video is flat-out juvenile but I don’t care because it makes me laugh every time. Peter Griffin and Michael Moore…. let the farting begin.

LGMD.

Out

Posted in Dick LeBeau, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Mike Tomlin, Steelers, The Final Spew, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

From The Steelers’ Locker Room:At #31, Options Are Plenty


When you’re a young kid and you really start following your favorite professional football team, you begin to realize your team gets some of its’ players through this thing called ‘the draft.’ We learn that teams choose from among the best college players available, but that your team might not always choose the most ‘name’ player either. Guys that we recognized from their prowess on the collegiate gridiron do not always fit in the best laid plans of our team. One other thing we learn about the draft as kids is that our team picks closer to the end of the draft, the better we do in the previous season. For me personally, I always thought that if you are successful, you should pick higher. At 8 or 9 years old, this made sense to me, but obviously I get why the worst team always picks first and then the Browns and then the next worst team and so on…. So here we are in 2011 coming off of a somewhat surprising run to the Super Bowl and as the draft dictates, we are next to last picking #31. The needs of the Pittsburgh Steelers are many. No, not like some teams who will be picking in the top 10, but we still have areas that need to be addressed.

That takes us to the NFL Combine which has now become ‘must-see TV.’ The combine is to the NFL Draft what an adult film festival must be to Charlie Sheen. It’s a meat market. Players getting interviewed, being put through medical tests, and of course, being put through skills tests like the 40 yard dash and the bench press. Every year there are guys who break speed records and strength records or guys that bomb the famous ‘Wunderlich Test’ and even guys who lose big bucks simply because they say something dumb in an interview. Say what you will, but the Steelers and all NFL teams take this stuff very seriously because you are investing a ton of money into someone that you don’t want to fail and someone that you don’t want to embarrass you.

Head Coach Mike Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert will no doubt be paying close attention to the young men at the defensive backs and offensive line positions, but don’t be surprised if we go somewhere else with that first pick. Another defensive lineman or even running back would not shock me in the least. In fact, picking anywhere in the bottom half of the first round will usually solicit one of many ‘best player available’ lines from the crews at ESPN or NFL Network. If a team isn’t in love with a player at a need position, then you go after that position later. In my opinion, I think this is what we did when we drafted Rashard Mendenhall who has turned out to be a great first round pick for us. The argument could be made that we really didn’t need another back with Willie Parker being the starter at the time, but it was a good pick based not so much on need, but on the ‘best player available’ basis.

I’ll get into who I think the Steelers will draft as the draft draws nearer, but I think we can count out Maurkice’s twin brother Mike Pouncey who is now believed to go in the top 20. I wouldn’t expect defensive backs Patrick Peterson of LSU or Prince Amukamara from Nebraska to still be available either as each are expected to go in the top 10. This is the downside, if you can call it that, of being a successful football team. Make no mistake about it though, we will find top-notch talent at 31 and in the first round, you need that player to be a starter or impact player immediately.  A couple of guys that I’ve been watching as possible picks for us somewhere in the draft are Nevada DE Dontay Moch and Virginia DB Ras-I Dowling. Moch is just a shade under 6-2 and around 250lbs and ran a blistering 4.44 in the 40 while Dowling ran a 4.40 but came up a little lame at the end of his final run. Moch would definitely be an OLB at the pro level and could be had in the 3rd round. Dowling is someone the Steelers are watching, but his durability is a question mark. Colorado CB Jimmy Smith seems to be a popular pick for us by many ‘mock draft experts.’ He has good size and speed has some of the confidence you like to see in a DB. Very possible he could be available.

On the O-line front, Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi displayed some solid athleticism winning the vertical and broad jump events. As of right now, he will probably be gone by the time we draft, but you never know. Nate Solder of Colorado, another tall offensive tackle looked great too and probably solidified his position in the top 20. One guy I like in the later rounds is Penn State Guard Stefan Wisniewski who projects as a solid NFL back-up at just about any position on the line.

The bottomline is that the percentages show that the guys mentioned might not be drafted by us at all and that’s why this is such an inexact science.

OTHER STEELERS’ ITEMS

  • Steelers’ All-Time Leading receiver Hines Ward will be on the newest edition of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” this month. Coming off of some off-season knee surgery, some might see this as a surprise, but I can’t believe he would do it if he wasn’t physically able. Personally, I think it’s great. If he were in the prime of his career I might have some issues, but this guy has earned the right to do such things and I’ll be watching.
  • As expected, the Steelers did not place the transition Tag on DB Ike Taylor which means that he will be a free agent whenever the labor dispute is settled. I have a hard time seeing Taylor getting away and I honestly don’t think he wants to go anywhere either. Yes, he has hands of stone, but he can cover and that’s what we need to have.
  • Well, it’s official, Ben Roethlisberger is getting married to Pennsylvania native Ashley Harlan in July of this year. Thank God we have TMZ out there to inform us of such things…. Good for Ben I say. I really believe this is another sign of his maturity and willingness to make positive changes in his life.
  • Saw via Twitter the other day that James Harrison was at Cabela’s getting hunting and fishing equipment. Harrison is flat-out intimidating WITHOUT a gun and now he’s going hunter? I fear for the animals….

 

THE FINAL SPEW

According to CNNMoney.com, the NFL could survive a lockout of up to 2 years. I speak for all NFL fans when I say “Nooooooooooooooooooooo!”…. The draft is 2 months out and I’m already sick of the Cam Newton stories. Can’t deny the athleticism, but I wouldn’t draft him if my life depended on it…. Christina Aguilera was arrested ‘for her safety’ following her boyfriend’s arrest on suspicion of DUI. SHe should have been ticketed for botching the National Anthem…. Teacher fired for “Have you drugged your kids today?” bumper sticker. I got nothin’….. CBS reportedly talking to John Stamos about replacing Charlie Sheen on”Two and a Half Men.” Please CBS, just let the show die. It was made for and made by Sheen so let it go…. And today’s video comes from one of the great, under-rated shows of the 1980′s, “Night Court.” You may remember ‘The Wheeler’s’ many appearances. This is their first.

LGMD.

Out

Posted in Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, James Harrison, Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin, NFL, Steelers, Tecmo Bowl, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

from the Steelers’ Locker Room: Maybe Silence IS Golden


The last 4 days, NFL owners and representatives from the NFL Players Association have met behind closed doors with a federal mediator in hopes of getting a labor deal done by the March 3rd deadline. Unlike before and after previous meetings, there has been very little if any comment from either side. In my journalistic opinion, this is good. Someone inside these meetings, whether it be the mediator George Cohen, who is quite well respected from what I understand, or someone else, has gotten the message across that saying too much can have a negative effect on the proceedings. Keeping in mind of course that these sessions are ‘non-binding’ which means whatever the 2 sides agree to really doesn’t mean shit until guys start signing on dotted lines. With that said, the fact that they are meeting is good and the fact they are staying quiet about it is even better. There is no need to wrangle the fans any more than necessary. We know what’s at stake and we have no stake in either camp, we just want our football to go on as normal and as soon as possible. As New York Jets Fullback Tony Richardson put it today, “Conversation….. is a good thing.” Those were essentially the only spoken words from the players today. And the lesser the dialogue outside these meetings the better.

ON THE STEELERS

  • Mike Tomlin said today he expects all Steelers who have had or will have surgery this off-season to be ready to go in time for training camp. Those players include Emmanuel Sanders, Hines Ward and James Harrison among others.
  • Speaking of Harrison, did it shock anyone to know that Harrison played with a herniated disc in his back this season? I realize we throw terms like ‘warrior’ out there too much especially when compared to our armed services, but Harrison truly defines the term. Didn’t say one thing about it all season. No excuses from a professional athlete, how refreshing and how welcome. Thanks James!
  • Nice article on the Steelers and their recent history with running backs.
  • Great to see Charlie Batch as one of the player reps inside the meetings going on in Washington, D.C. right now. He’s a smart guy and will bring plenty to the table. Now only if we could make him our offensive coordinator.

 

TEH FINAL SPEW: As an educator, I obviously support the teachers in Wisconsin, but the whole thing is just a microcosm of the problems between the far left and the far right…. Check out the 19 most well-read presidents…. Athletes are giving up Gatorade in favor of beer. Mickey and the Babe knew this for how many years?….. Is Carrie Underwood the new ‘Yoko Ono?…. Rallies are now planned in Michigan both against and in support of the Governor’s budget proposal. It’s going to be a re-occuring theme folks…. And today’s video is from ‘Caddyshack.’ Did you know Bill Murray and Chevy Chase ad-libbed this entire thing?

LGMD.

Out

Posted in Charlie Batch, Hines Ward, James Harrison, Mike Tomlin, New York Jets, NFL, Steelers, The Final Spew, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

From the Steelers Locker Room: Remembering the Stoppages of ’82 and ’87


Let’s get something perfectly fricking clear right now. As was the case in 1982 and 1987, the Washington Redskins went onto win the Super Bowl following each of the seasons. I don’t care if 2011 ends up being a one-game season, there is no way in hell the Redskins will win Super Bowl XLVI. OK, got that off my chest…..

In 1982, the players went on strike on September 21st and would end up having only a nine-game season. NBC, which carried the AFC at that time wound up carrying MLB games and Monday Night Football would become nothing but ‘movie night.’ Essentially, the players were striking over almost the same type of thing that is causing the labor strife now. So what did the Steelers’ look like in 1982?

  • First of all, as a team, the Steelers were composed of a decent amount of talent left-over from the dynasty of the 1970′s. Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Mike Webster and John Stallworth were still big parts of the offense. Webster and Stallworth both went to the Pro Bowl in ’82. On defense, Jack Ham and Jack Lambert were still at linebacker while Donnie Shell, Mel Blount and Dewayne Wooodruff were in the secondary. Woodruff and Lambert would ultimately go to the Pro Bowl.
  • 1982 was the first year of the defense’s shift to the 3-4 which they have been ever since.
  • Kicker Gary Anderson was in his rookie season.
  • The Steelers would finish 6-3 and were a game behind the Cincinnati Bengals.
  • Pittsburgh hosted the San Diego Chargers in the playoffs and built a 28-17 4th quarter lead but gave up 2 Dan Fouts TD passes and lost to the ‘Bolts 31-28.

The Steelers celebrated their 50th year in 1982 and wore this patch during the strike-shortened season.

 

  • Also in 1982, the Raiders became the ‘Los Angeles Raiders.
  • The Minnesota Vikings moved indoors to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
  • Detroit and Cleveland both made the modified playoffs with 4-5 records.

In 1987, the NFL again lost time due to a work-stoppage, but this time it was only one game. Technically that is…. It was in this season that owners decided to go with what were called ‘replacement players’ who were brought in by each team to take the place of the regular players, or ‘unionized players.’ Most around the country referred to these new players as ‘scabs’ which was a term going back to replacement workers on unionized assembly lines. For the Steelers, it was a far different outcome than in ’82.

  • Mark Malone started at quarterback and had only Mike Webster (again a Pro Bowler) left over from the Super Bowl era. Malone would throw 6 TD passes and 19 interceptions. On D, the Steelers were in massive transition. Donnie Shell was in his 13th season and the team struggled both offensively and defensively and would finish 8-7, one game out of the playoffs.
  • Merrill Hoge and Rod Woodson were rookies.
  • They went 2-6 in the Central Division losing twice to Houston and Cleveland and beating Cincy twice.
  • Within the next two years, legendary coach Chuck Noll would retire, handing the reins to 34-year old Bill Cowher.

Given the daunting challenge of replacing the legendary Bradshaw, Malone struggled mightily in 1987.

 

  • Also in the 1987 season, the defending champion New York Giants lost all 3 of the ‘replacement games’ and those losses cost them a chance to defend their title as they missed the playoffs.
  • ESPN began carrying live NFL games for the first time as they broadcast Sunday Night Football every week during the second half of the season.
  • The Keanu Reaves-Gene Hackman movie “The Replacements” was based largely on the Redskins 3-game series of scab players.
  • John Elway was the League MVP and New Orleans’ Coach Jim Mora was the Coach of the Year.

Let’s hope that the players and owners will find some common ground before their labor/monetary issues claim any games because the NFL is the hottest professional brand going right now and I would hate to see them lose that grip.

THE FINAL SPEW: The Cal Golden Bears, in an effort to fill out their 12 game football schedule have agreed to play FCS “powerhouse” Presbyterian College. They went 2-9 last season. Gimme a freaking break….. Iowa HS basketball team tries 103 3-pointers and LOSES 109-25. Did I mention they made 8?….. Riots, errrrrr, protests in the Middle East continue. So is this a truly democratic movement or a possible move towards one big caliphate….. And here’s today’s video selection from ‘Step-Brothers.’ **Language WARNING***

LGMD.

Out.

Posted in Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints, NFL, Oakland Raiders, Steelers, Terry Bradshaw, The Final Spew, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

From the Steelers’ Locker Room: Analyzing Arians


Most of Steelers’ Nation knows by now that Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians will be back in 2011, should there be football in the calendar year of course…. Like many of you, I would love to show Arians the door for numerous reasons that I’ll get into momentarily, but in the true interest of unbiased journalism (does this exist anymore?) I’ll offer a few reasons as to why he should maybe stay too.

Let’s take a look at the numbers of our offense under Bruce Arians as Offensive Coordinator during his 4 year stint. Keep in mind, that while some positions have changed, one constant for sure has been the starting QB where Ben Roethlisberger started all four of these seasons.

  • 2010: 14th Pass/11th Run/14th Overall*
  • 2009: 9th Pass/19th Run/7th Overall**
  • 2008: 17th Pass/23rd Run/22nd Overall***
  • 2007: 22nd Pass/3rd Run/17th Overall****

* = Lost in SB XLV, ** = No Playoffs, *** =Won SB XLIII, **** = Lost in Div. Rd.

WHY HE SHOULD STAY

  1. Anytime you head into a season filled with the potential for labor unrest, it is always best to stay as ‘routine’ as possible. Changing OC’s right now might be a mistake because the players will be locked out on March 3rd meaning they can have no contact with the team and can’t even enter the facility to work on their games. While Ben has certainly shown a more mature side to himself this season, I don’t know how much of a ‘studier’ he is and a new offense to learn in what could be a really short amount of time, could be asking for more than he can handle.
  2. There is no question the relationship between Ben and Arians is very close. Arians recently referred to him as a ‘member of the family.’ When you have a relationship like this it of course can be bad or good when it comes to working in the trenches together. At this point in their respective careers, each should have a pretty good idea of what the other is thinking and in ‘pressure situations’ that relationship can be good. (i.e. SB XLIII)

WHY HE SHOULD GO

  1. To piggy-back on point #2 from above, the downside of having to work with someone so close to you personally is that you may not always be willing to tell that person exactly what they need to hear. If you take anything from listening to Ben talk about his relationship with the late Terry Hoeppner, his college coach, then you know how close he can be with his coaches. Hoeppner was by most accounts not exactly a ‘lovie-dovie’ guy and could get on guys for not performing. Now maybe behind the scenes Arians is like this, but from everything I see, he seems pretty laid back and not real intense. Perhaps Ben could use some fire and have someone who gets after him for poor reads or poor checks at the line. Just a thought.
  2. Following Super Bowl XLIII, most would have thought that Arians would be a hot commodity for those looking for a head coach much like Ken Whisenhunt was following Super Bowl XL. Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t recall him getting a single interview. Fast-forward a couple of years and here we are in another Super Bowl. Even with a loss you’d expect someone to be looking in Arians’ direction right? Wrong. No sniffs whatsoever. So what does the rest of the league know that we certainly seem to assume? Now look, not every coordinator gets interviews for head jobs following Super Bowls, but the vast majority do so something is obviously afoot.
  3. One of the biggest complaints I have with Arians as an OC is lack of creativity in the offense. Perhaps we got spoiled going back to the days of Ron Erhard, Mike Mularkey, and Whis, but Arians rarely dials up any type of ‘trickeration’ and when he does, it almost never works. His timing when calling it is poor as well. We saw some called in the first or second quarter this season in really strange situations. I’m not saying you can’t use a trick play early in the game, but it helps sometimes if you establish something the play works off of first.
  4. The other issue I have with Arians’ is his unwillingness to use what works. Earlier this past season we saw the ‘truck’ formation with Rashard Mendenhall at tailback flanked by Heath Miller and David Johnson. Not every play went for huge yardage, but there were some successful plays out of that formation and then it disappeared. We also saw the ‘Pistol’ formation against the Ravens in Baltimore and while it didn’t set the world on fire, it was something other teams needed to pay attention to yet we never saw it again. What happened to the slant patterns that Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders had big plays with? A good coordinator finds what works and then sticks to it by using different formations and personnel to mask it. I see none of this with Arians.
  5. Arians, as he proved in SB XLV, does not make adjustments on the fly very well and doesn’t do a great job at halftime either. How many times do you throw the wide receiver screen before you figure out that the defense is not going to get burned by it? Where was the play off if the screen? The final drive which we all know ended before it seemingly got started was a complete abomination. For two guys who presumably are on the same page with each other, what the hell was going on there? Even I wasn’t 100% sure we’d get the game-winning score there but I sure as hell didn’t see four and out either. If anyone was ready for that pressure it was Arians and Roethlisberger and they failed like a couple of rookies.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON ARIANS

Last off-season, with us licking our wounds from not making the playoffs following a Super Bowl title, Steelers’ president Art Rooney II was very clear about making the running game a priority again. Looking at the numbers, we improved the running game by going from 19th to 11th in the league, but examine the numbers closer because you have to account for Roethlisberger being out the first 4 games which meant more runs. Add to that Arians continued lack of a true fullback in the offense and I just don’t ever see us cracking the top 10 in rushing under him. If Arians’ goal is to throw the ball more like an Indy, New Orleans or New England the he needs to come out and say it. The bottom line here is that our window as a team is closing rapidly in terms of getting back to the Super Bowl, especially with the age on defense, so it’s now or never for Bruce Arians and Mike Tomlin. My feeling is that regardless of what happens in 2011, this Arians’ last season with Pittsburgh.

THE FINAL SPEW: While the people of Egypt deserve congratulations for ridding themselves of a brutal leader, I don’t know that having the military in charge would make me feel all that great either…. Nice week for the people of Wisconsin. Win the Super Bowl and the Badgers knock off #1 Ohio State…. What a great commercial during the Su[er Bowl by Chrysler celebrating the re-birth in Detroit. And then they ruin it by wanting a 'RoboCop' statue erected..... Also from thebiglead.com is this awesome Top 5 moments from 'Saved By the Bell. Where's Zack's 'brick-looking cell phone?"..... Texas Congressman Ron Paul won a straw poll at the Conservatives' Convention today. The mostly Libertarian politician is better than Romney who finished 2nd in my book..... Albert Haynesworth had a lousy 2010 and now 2011 isn't starting out any better.... Today's Video is from 'Ace Ventura: Pet Detective' and in honor of my cousin Jon who re-he-ealllllllllly likes this movie.

LGMD.

Out

Posted in Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Arians, Mike Tomlin, Mike Wallace, NFL, Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers, The Final Spew, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Changes Are A-Comin’ to 2011 Steelers


Back in the 1980′s one of my favorite hard rock bands was Tesla (who never seemingly got the credit they deserved for ushering in the ‘unplugged’ craze that started with Nirvana) and they had a song called “Changes.” The song came to mind as I started to think about the Steelers in 2011 who will and must, look different than they did this year. Here are my thoughts on the 13 players whose contracts are now up.

OFFENSE

  • Willie Colon (OT)- Colon suffered a torn achilles in off-season workouts and there were reports late this past season that the team may have goofed in placing Colon on IR because he may have been able to help out. Not sure how accurate those reports are, but nevertheless, this is a guy that the Steelers need to re-sign.
  • Trai Essex(G)- He’s proven that he is a quality back-up and if the price is right, should be re-signed unless the team is ready to go in a completely different direction.
  • Dennis Dixon (QB)- Dixon proved prior to his injury that he is a serviceable quarterback in this league. The team was certainly conservative with him and I get that, but I didn’t think Bruce Arians  used him nearly as well as he could have. With Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich long in the tooth, re-signing DD is a good move.
  • Mewelde Moore (RB)- MeMo was a great signing a few years back and more than proved his worth on many occasions for the Steelers. Entering his 8th year next season, I’m not sure about his playing time simply due to injury and the numbers game that NFL teams face in the running back position. With only Mendenhall and Redman seeing minutes ahead of him, he might be worth a short-term deal, but I think we’ve seen the last of him in Pittsburgh.
  • Matt Spaeth (TE)- If you had to choose between David Johnson and Spaeth, you’d probably stick with #89, but Johnson is still under contract. Neither guy is a tremendous blocker or great receiver so I can see a new guy coming in here. A lot depends upon Bruce Arians status as OC, but I can see Spaeth being shown the door.
  • Tony Hills (OT)- This is a toss-up. Hills has youth and size, but did not play all that well when he had the chance. Not sure I see him coming back.
  • Daniel Sepulveda (P)- The guy does well for the most part when he isn’t injured so I think the front office can pretty much name its’ own price here considering the injury history. I definitely think he’ll be back at a lower price.

DEFENSE

  • Keyaron Fox (ILB)- The Special Teams captain this year is most fondly remembered for his personal foul on the kick off prior to our futile last drive of Super Bowl XLV. He’s a good guy to have on special teams, but entering his 8th year and with the number of stupid penalties he takes, I don’t see him being offered a new deal.
  • Chris Hoke (NT)- Hoke is entering his 10th year and seemed to get less playing time this season. He’s a solid vet, great locker room guy, but not sure what he has left. Between he and Casey Hampton, they have 20+ years at nose tackle. I believe the FO will try to get younger and look elsewhere, but his coming back would not be a surprise.
  • Ike Taylor (CB)- If Ike could catch, he would have been in the Pro Bowl perhaps 2 or 3 times, but this doesn’t mean he isn’t a good corner. He still covers well and tackles as well as most corners in the League. Rumors persist that he may try the market and more power to him if he does, but with our pathetic secondary, his re-signing is paramount.
  • LaMarr Woodley (OLB)- With James Harrison already having a huge contract, what can the Steelers afford to pay Woodley? He has been solid in his 4 years and steps his game up during crunch-time as well. I wonder if the team will tinker with him moving down to defensive end, a position he thrived at in college at Michigan. This would make the D-line younger and open a spot for Jason Worilds to show what he can do. Either way, Wood is a Steeler and I see him being re-signed.
  • Shaun Suisham (PK)- Sushi did well in his ‘rent-a-kicker’ role for the Steelers following the release of Jeff Reed, but I am confident the team will go in a different direction here, possibly even the draft. Suisham’s failed 53-yarder in the Super Bowl is an image Steelers’ fan won’t soon forget.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

The Steelers have to get younger, especially on defense. With the possible departure of James Farrior due to retirement and the predictable release of cornerback William Gay, the Steelers have to start giving guys like Stevenson Sylvester and Crezdon Butler a shot. Offensively, skill positions are set except for maybe a different 3rd down back. Some changes along the O-line are necessary and again, will personnel be dictated by a possible change of coordinators?

THE FINAL SPEW: Former Michigan QB Tate Forcier is transfering to Miami, FL. He saw the writing on the wall with the emergence of Denard Robinson and besides, transferring is in the family DNA…. Even in death, Tupac Shakur is causing problems. This time for the ‘Pac12.’…. Apparently the Super Bowl almost broke Twitter…. John Avalon asks if ‘Right-Wing Radio’ is dying. I ask, can’t they all die and let the independent thinkers run the damn show? Video of the day is UConn QB who also happens to be a trick-throw artist. Cool.

LGMD.

Out

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