Morning Links (and Daily Thread)…

A quick daily look at what’s happening around Steelers Nation. And consider this your open thread for discussing the days events and, well, anything else that comes to mind about the Black and Gold.

Most of us (Bouchette included, see the link below) are just assuming that Aaron Smith’s NFL career is over. He’s 34, and has had knee, shoulder and triceps injuries that kept him out for large chunks the last three seasons.

And maybe he is done … but I wonder.

First, defensive linemen can play forever, it seems like nose tackles age better than defensive ends. Second, it’s not like Smith has endured three seasons of wear and tear on his body. The counterargument, of course, is that the injuries are worse for his longevity than a 16-game schedule. Fair enough. Wherever the truth lies I’m not yet willing to concede that Smith won’t be back on the field in 2011, and that he won’t return to being one of the league’s best ends. The only issue is how long we can expect him to stay healthy. History says it’s somewhere in the 5-8 game range.

Clearly, this means that the Steelers should “Big Ben” him, keeping him on the bench until the second half of the season. I just wonder how Charlie Batch will fare as a 3-4 defensive end.

Back on Earth…

– Defending several Mike Tomlin coaching decisions from the Week 7 win over the Dolphins [Behind the Steel Curtain]

– John Harris writes that the Steelers MUST re-sign Ike Taylor. Duly noted. [Tribune-Review]

– Eddie B. on the loss of Aaron Smith: time for Ziggy Hood to step up. Also noted. [Post-Gazette]

Random YouTube magic that only JJ probably remembers: Saints-Steelers from 1978.

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  • Gretz

    The Dallas Cowboys. Everybody talks about how talented they are how they’re one of the most talented teams in the NFL. Am I the only one not seeing this? If this same group of players wasn’t owned by Jerry Jones, and played in, say, Jacksonville, or any other random small-mid market that isn’t Dallas, would anybody give a damn about that team? I have to say no, no they would not.

    • Randy Steele

      If I were a Cowboy’s fan, I’d limit my conversation this morning to next year’s draft.

    • Wildbill99

      Sort of like everyone saying Big Ben is a “good” QB.

      I tend to disagree.

      Can you imagine Romo with our offensive talent? Rogers? Flako? we would be scoring TD after TD getting first downs, managing the game, moving the chains.

      Watching Pittsburgh play with Ben is painful absolutely painful

      • David

        Hope you’re being sarcastic. With our O-line, those guys would be flattened by now.

        I’ve never been sold on Romo.

        Rogers? We’ll see.

        Ol’ Unibrow? Please. He’s had a great D, a great O-line, Ray Rice, Mason, and Heap. The only thing missing was a Mike Wallace. Now he has Boldin. Word is he sucks vs. Cover 2.

        • drinkingclub

          If the Steelers did not have Roethlisberger, I think Rogers would be the best replacement of all other NFL qb’s.

      • http://twitter.com/DonnieDraper Richard Whitman

        Troll somewhere else.

  • http://www.steelerslounge.com/ ryan

    I watched Jerry Jones pregame, pre-taped speech about “how it’s time to step up” or whatever and could only think: Can you imagine Dan Rooney doing that? Hell no, obviously, but at least the Cowboys now have an excuse: Jon Kitna.

  • Cols714

    I’m not worried about resigning Ike Taylor. If he leaves, the Steelers will be OK. But since he doesn’t get too many picks, I don’t imagine there is going to be a huge market for him so they can probably get him back pretty cheap.

    I was pretty much thinking they were going to have to go DB in the 1st or 2nd round of the next draft anyways. Both for Troy protection and for another talented CB.

  • Cols714

    I like this line from Ed’s article
    “The team has had no success drafting defensive ends in the first round. They include Aaron Jones (1988), Daryl Sims (’85), Gabe Rivera (’83) and Keith Gary (’81).”

    It should just read, “The team has had no success drafting in the 1980s.” Except for Rod Woodson of course.

  • yoni

    I think that article glosses over the biggest mistake Tomlin made that nobody is mentioning, and that was kicking the field on fourth and goal from the half yard line. It’s a tough position to take seeing as we won the game, but my guess is that the math works out in favor of going for it.

    A touchdown forces the dolphins to get a touchdown with just over 2 minutes and no timeouts, as opposed to just needing a field goal, and considering how poor our late-in-game defense has been that makes for a big difference. Even if we failed, the dolphins would have been backed up on their own half yard line knowing a safety would tie the game. That means they probably run the ball up the middle 3 times to be safe while the Steelers have 2 timeouts and the 2-minute warning. I’d say there was a good chance we were getting the ball back with really good field position and plenty of time to get in field goal range.

    Basically I see it this way:

    chance of converting on 4th + chance of getting ball back and scoring > chance of keeping the dolphins out of field goal range

    • http://www.google.com/profiles/100857546184516732260 Dr Obvious

      http://www.advancednflstats.com/2010/10/what-about-steelers-should-they-have.html
      The generic numbers disagree, and if you assume our defense is better than our offense, that leads more toward kicking than going for it.

    • http://www.google.com/profiles/100857546184516732260 Dr Obvious

      http://www.advancednflstats.com/2010/10/what-about-steelers-should-they-have.html
      The generic numbers disagree, and if you assume our defense is better than our offense, that leads more toward kicking than going for it.

      • http://www.steelerslounge.com/ ryan

        Good to know. And, as always, this is why nobody consults me when critical decisions need to be made.

        • GlennW

          As the article states, it was a close call and Tomlin would have justified going either way. Initially I thought we should just have Ben sneak it in, but then I remembered what happened against the Ravens when our D only had to protect against a TD (not to mention similar breakdowns last season). So then I said, yeah, let’s just be safe here and take the points, because maybe it’s better that the defense has to play it straight up, and reasonably aggressively. Against a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady I’d probably go the other way though.

        • GlennW

          As the article states, it was a close call and Tomlin would have justified going either way. Initially I thought we should just have Ben sneak it in, but then I remembered what happened against the Ravens when our D only had to protect against a TD (not to mention similar breakdowns last season). So then I said, yeah, let’s just be safe here and take the points, because maybe it’s better that the defense has to play it straight up, and reasonably aggressively. Against a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady I’d probably go the other way though.

      • yoni

        huh…guess it wasnt as bad a decision as I thought. My only question about the analysis there is his assumption for success rate at the one yard line. We were actually at the half-yard line, and I’m wondering how much that increases your chances of scoring. It just doesnt make sense to me that a defense can stop a QB sneak from the half yard line 32% of the time.

    • http://www.steelerslounge.com/ ryan

      After the refs gave the Steelers the ball back at the half-yard line, the thought did cross my mind that Tomlin should go for it for the reasons you cite. But at that point, I figured the Steelers probably shouldn’t keep tempting fate. Still, I take your point and wouldn’t have been mad if they went for it on fourth down.

    • http://www.steelerslounge.com/ ryan

      After the refs gave the Steelers the ball back at the half-yard line, the thought did cross my mind that Tomlin should go for it for the reasons you cite. But at that point, I figured the Steelers probably shouldn’t keep tempting fate. Still, I take your point and wouldn’t have been mad if they went for it on fourth down.

    • GlennW

      Also, I don’t care what BTSC says, the end of the first half was badly mismanaged. First of all, I’m not buying the “let’s not destroy Jeff Reed’s psyche” angle. But moreover, the Steelers still could (and should) have run the clock down and taken a shot at the end zone, or better yet, tried to pick up the first down to set up a shorter FG. If the pass is incomplete or short of a first down, worst-case Miami takes over at their own 39 with a few seconds to play. Why give up your own decent scoring opportunity for fear of Miami’s nearly-impossible one? I understand the “something could go wrong” mentality (I just don’t agree with it), but makeable points are just too damned valuable to pass up on.

      • Cols714

        Yep. It was completely inexcusable to not either let the clock run down and try a FG, throw it in the endzone or call TO, go for a first down, and call another TO to try a FG.

        I know Bill Simmons is always harping on clock management and I think this was the worst example I’ve seen from Tomlin. He’s not been that great at the end of the half and games in this regard.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/100857546184516732260 Dr Obvious

    The thing that worries me about Ziggy is the high ankle sprain. Timmons was bogged down by the same thing last year, and if he could have played last year like he is this year, it probably would have been the difference to make the play offs.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/100857546184516732260 Dr Obvious

    The thing that worries me about Ziggy is the high ankle sprain. Timmons was bogged down by the same thing last year, and if he could have played last year like he is this year, it probably would have been the difference to make the play offs.

    • RoB D

      It pays to pay attention to the high ankle sprain. It sounds so innocuous but a player diagnosed with it is playing at a great reduced level. Timmons is like the poster boy for how badly it holds you back.

  • Anonymous

    Ref specifically said the ball was being placed on the half yard line.

    See this from Peter King:
    Now, the NFL does have a rule interpretation that applies to a play like this, and if you haven’t seen it, here is the case study of a ruled touchdown with a fumble that followed the ruling:

    “If there is a pile-up and you can’t see who recovered the ball or a long delay with players stopping before the ball is recovered, the offense retains possession but the ball will be placed at the 1-yard line.”

    • GlennW

      The ball is spotted where it was last possessed, which theoretically could be the 1-inch line. I think that 1-yard-line citation is just an example case study.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Listened to the postgame podcast. Good stuff. Two things: one, why the constant attacks on ARE? Sure, his PRs haven’t gone far, but he’s been better as a WR than I expected.

    Two, and much more importantly, you really have to change the music. The show-tuney bit and the hillbilly hiphop almost negate the rest of the show.

  • http://www.steelerslounge.com/ ryan

    ELSM,

    Ha, agreed on ARE. At this point the Randle El barbs have almost become a running joke. He has played WR better than most of us expected, but I could do without the fair-catch fumbles.

    As for the music, I’m open to suggestions. (Well, anything but Danzig.)

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Tomlin hasn’t ruled out Aaron Smith returning this year: ttp://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=5729422

    Ryan, I’ll get back to you on music. I have some Pittsburgh-related ideas.