SL Discussion Thread for Week of Feb. 8

In Monday’s heartfelt, after-school-special retrospective on how great we all are, there were suggestions for how to keep the conversation going beyond a single post. With the offseason officially underway, now seems like as good a time as any to give it a go.

So consider this your weekly thread to talk about, well, anything. I have taken the liberty of getting the discussion going by listing the Steelers entering free agency (assuming, of course, the labor situation magically goes away): commence yapping.

“Steelers Lounge: Where customer service is Job No. 1!*”

To the list

  • Dennis Dixon
  • Mewelde Moore
  • Matt Spaeth
  • Willie Colon
  • Trai Essex
  • Tony Hills
  • Chris Hoke
  • LaMarr Woodley
  • Keyaron Fox
  • Ike Taylor
  • William Gay
  • Daniel Sepulveda

(Let me know if this list is missing names and I’ll update it.)

Further reading, via Ted’s previous work on free agency and a possible new CBA:

* clearly not true

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  • Anonymous

    After we see whatever rules the CBA creates, we need a chart showing the whole roster and how long each player is signed, what kind of free agancy awaits etc. (If someone wants to put dollars into the chart, that’s good too.) Some kind of simple Excel-type chart that can be updated easily.

  • Stillerfan

    That’s a tricky group, with a wide range of folks. Frankly, I’d want to keep all of them besides Fox if the numbers are right.
    Dixon – may want to move on to a place without Lefty
    Spaeth – may want to move on to a place offering him a shot at #1
    Colon – he is the best tackle in the league, according to his agent, might be a tough deal
    Essex – he ain’t much, but he has started and can do a lot, his agent is going to try for a lot more than the steelers want to give
    Hills – No leverage, I will be surprised if the steelers keep him given his playing time this year of all years
    Hoke – No one is going to pay him, he may have a few years left in his current role, we need bodies
    Woodley – yikes
    Fox – Here is where the Fox meets the sacrificial Lamb
    Ike – I like ike. He has a history of taking steelers-friendly deals. God do we need corners.
    Gay – This is a tricky one…I like Gay as a nickel, but given that he played as a #2 I’ll bet his agent goes that route with the steelers and other teams. The steelers will be looking to upgrade, but no sure bets…
    Sepulveda – He better be willing to take a great deal, he ain’t no Troy. And even if he is willing to take a deal…being forced to switch punters all the time is obnoxious. Not his fault, but still.

    • Stillerfan

      Of Gay – If we can land a GOOD number two I’d really like a secondary of Ike/#2/McFadden/Gay, wouldn’t you?

      Where the hell does that come from. We _know_ Nnamdi won’t be here. Obviously we can draft a CB at #1, but is there anyone available at that point that can truly come in and be a #2 in this defense? Is there anyone in the early 20s that is worth trading up for?

      Drafting CBs late has not panned out for us, I know that.

    • DC in ATL

      On Colon and Essex, I think we need to keep at least one. Flozell will be 36 next season and Starks had a back injury. Didn’t a back injury end Marvell Smith’s career a little early? I’d hate to get to camp and find out we have to rely on Jon Scott again without another veteran to fall back on.

      What other team would take Hills? With all of our OT problems, he couldn’t get on the field. Maybe he comes back at the lowest possible salary.

      Chris Scott the rookie T we drafted out of Tennessee might have some potential. He was injured and caused him to fall in the draft. Maybe when healthy next year, we’ll find out why we kept him around all season instead of putting him on IR.

      • countertorque

        No one is seriously considering Flozell as a viable option beyond the 2010 season are they? I mean he worked out great and I’m very grateful for his effort, but his presence was a total last minute emergency stop gap.

  • Anonymous

    Off-topic, but what do you think? I have to admit I was thinking the same thing.

    • Steeler Stan

      I’ve been thinking that same thing. That’s Bruce Arians for you though. All Green Bay had to do was bring in the extra DT once and he moved back to passing. Once Mendenhall fumbled the Packers could play the pass exclusively because Arians wasn’t going to run anymore.

      Its amazing that the Packers’ biggest weakness was its run defense and we ran really effectively on them, yet we still only called 20 running plays.


        “Its amazing that the Packers’ biggest weakness was its run defense and we ran really effectively on them, yet we still only called 20 running plays. ”

        That was true just until the Woodson injury, after that, the secondary was clearly the weakness of GB. Several guys have said it here as well and I concurr, the issue was exeution, not playcalling or game planning.

    • GlennW

      Ryan, love the customer responsiveness with regard to this thread!

      I find the “fifthdown” analysis here to be completely simplistic or even flat-out wrong. Specifically, the following statement just isn’t defensible:

      “One of the key plays of the game — and the last Steelers rushing attempt — came when Mendenhall fumbled on the first play of the fourth quarter. But by then, the momentum had already evaporated.”

      Really? The momentum had already evaporated? Hardly. We were down only 4 points and set up nicely on the Green Bay 33. In the second half a mix of the run, the pass and Ben’s scrambling had left us in a very manageable deficit position. We’d just swapped possessions after a marginal 4-yard run, a marginal 4-yard pass and then a failed 3rd-and-2 pass (not some bombs-away strategy) had forced us to punt but left us in good field position (on the previous possession we’d also had Wallace open by a good margin for a potential TD but Ben missed badly on the throw– I do not regret taking that shot). Nonetheless, after all of this had transpired (and hardly disastrously), only an abject failure on a RUNNING PLAY– both the O-line being blown up and Mendenhall fumbling the football– irreversibly changed the flow and the momentum of the game. That fact kind of takes the steam out of the “we should have pounded the ball on almost every down” argument. We were pretty much doing that in a nice play-calling mix but then the opportunity blew up (and away) on us. It happens, and “momentum had evaporated” wasn’t the reason it happened, and in fact is total nonsense.

      I don’t know, I guess this kind of hindsight bugs the hell out of me. I just don’t expect us to run on every 1st-and-10, 2nd-and-9, 2nd-and-6, or 3rd-and-2 (the exact situations we did pass on in the previous two possessions, sometimes successfully), nor do I expect that such an approach would have worked. We do that and it doesn’t work, and then the question is “why did you get so predictable and conservative?”

    • DC in ATL

      I wish we had run the ball on the play that Roethlisberger threw the pick-six. On the other hand, if Kemo keeps his guy back from hitting Ben’s arm, maybe Wallace scores a long TD. It looked like Wallace had a step on the defender.

      Once the Packers went up 28-17, I think running the ball a lot wasn’t going to get us the two scores we needed in the time we had left at that point.

      • GlennW

        I wish we’d run the ball on both plays that resulted in INTs, and I wish we’d passed the ball on the play where Mendy fumbled. ;-) But seriously, I just don’t think play-calling had much to do with this loss– lack of execution on just a few key plays did, because otherwise for the most part we were able to do what we wanted offensively, run and pass (with maybe too few runs total in the abstract, but that’s explained by playing from 10+ points down for most of the game).

        The other aspect to this discussion is that while the Steelers have a decent running game, this has been a big-play passing offense for years now. Live by the sword, die by the sword and all that, but I’m not now going to complain about putting the ball and the game in Ben’s hands, after he’s delivered so many times before. Ben did not have a very good game, and I can live with that reality, or at least bear it.

        • DC in ATL

          Agree Glenn…I was only half-serious about that “run instead of pass” comment. I actually thought the play calling was OK…not perfect, but not the reason we lost.

          Although he made a nice run after he appeared to injure his knee, I wonder if that tweak to his knee affected Ben’s passing as the game went on. Was that the same knee he injured back in 2005 against the Chargers? I’m not sure. I don’t mean to make excuses (afterall I’m not a Seahawks fan) but as someone who has had a bad knee injury, I know how a knee injury can mess up your body mechanics.

          Wouldn’t the Cutler critics have a field day if it turns out Roethlisberger’s knee was more serious than we thought?

  • eyespy

    Can’t wait to see which idiot owner blinded by sack totals backs the Brinks truck up to Big LaMarr’s House.

    He lost outside contain more times than I could count and was easily handled by a rookie who’d been tooled up all season.

    Sign Ike, bring in another top corner and let’s see what Worilds can do.

    Wood’s OK n’at, but he’s not even going to be worth half what a Snyder or Jones will pay.



      • eyespy

        Ok, explain why.

        Explain why we should franchise a guy who has had ZERO impact in a contract year, when he had everything to play for.

        Explain why a defensive end who constantly gives up big running plays off the edge because of his seven-yard-deep loop rush that somehow also fails to generate pressure on passing downs, probably because everyone knows what’s coming should be given that kind of money.

        Explain how that knid of money could not better be spent elsewhere, particularly at CB and OL.

        Without an explanation of these basic problems I’m going to have to assume that it is you who are the dumb one.

        PS–the Caps Lock and Periods called. They’d like you to go easy on them and they’d also like to point out that their overuse only makes you look even dumberer. .

    • David

      Woodley will be tagged, if what I’m reading on PG is true. That means big bucks after next yr for him.

  • Steven Libenson

    Ryan, thanks for creating a weekly thread. That might solve a bunch of things.

    As for our FAs, the only ones that would be hard to replace are Ike, Woodley and Colon, in that order. That assumes Colon can be healthy. I’d like to resign most of the rest, which shouldn’t be too hard.

    • RoB D

      Let me preface this by saying that I hope many of you will continue to contribute through the offseason. It’s a great place to throw out ideas..and sometimes have them thrown right back in your face…hee hee

      * Dennis Dixon

      I don’t think he will want to stick around when he’s never going to be the No. 1. Not sure if he’s ever gonna be good enough to start but he won’t find out here. Nice guy. interesting talent.

      * Mewelde Moore

      He’s a good vet to have around as he proved once again after Sanders went down in the SB. But I am not really thinking he’s going to be part of the roster going forward.Too many young guys chomping on the bit to receive playing time on the Steelers. And I would like them to draft and USE another pass catching TE ..With speed. And size. And hurry up about it….wink

      * Matt Spaeth

      Bye. JJ said he improved his blocking a lot this year but I have never been excited about the total package this guy brings. Just not all that exciting and his hands aren’t as good as advertised especially in the clutch.

      * Willie Colon
      I don’t think he’s all that..but what else do we have that’s better? We need him.

      * Trai Essex
      He’s a good guy to have around but I think we can do better with C.Scott or another draft pick. He’s solid but replaceable. Fungible, if you will..

      * Tony Hills

      The biggest mystery of this year’s camp was what they saw in this guy that earned him a roster spot. He’s a big nothing and always has been a big nothing. They looked past him at every opportunity this year and that’s saying a lot considering the multiple injuries everywhere.Steelers always seem to have these kind of guys who nobody seems to be able to figure out why they are Begone!!

      * Chris Hoke
      I love Hoke. He loves the Steelers and his role. For a fair price, bring him back. He always gets the job done when called upon. One of my fave role players.

      * LaMarr Woodley
      How can we not sign this guy? Cause if we don’t he’ll terrorize us for years afterward in a Pats uniform or something equally awful. He’s not perfect but he’s REALLY good.

      * Keyaron Fox

      Bye. Vets who can’t control their tempers in the biggest game of the year deserve the boot. And its not the first time. Nice player but…we can do better..the standard includes not taking 15 yard penalties all the time.

      * Ike Taylor
      Our best corner, one of the hardest workers on the team ..shame about the hands but he’s an essential part of our weak secondary.
      * William Gay
      McFadden and him don’t thrill me. But can we find better? We havent had much luck in the later rounds with DB’s. I think Gay is probably gone..he’s a very limited talent and lacks size.

      * Daniel Sepulveda

      If his knee is 100%…maybe. But I think he’s shot. I want 2 new kickers next year. I am willing to sacrifice FG accuracy for distance on KO’s. Sick of watching the ball drift down at the 15 and the other team running it back 10-15 yds.

      • DC in ATL

        Even without the dumb penalties, I think Fox would be gone. Foote has taken over the inside line backer back-up role and Sylvester looks like the long term solution to pair with Timmons when Farrior walks away.

        Woodley may be expensive, but only turns 27 in November of 2011. He’s just hitting his prime, and with all the age issues we have on defense, I’d hope we can find a way to keep him (and Taylor). Worilds appears to have some potential but may be targetted to be Harrison’s replacement in 2012 or 2013 (Worilds only turns 23 this year).

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    A question: could Flozell play RG? He seems like an unstoppable mauler when playing in a phone booth but has difficulty in open space. If so, maybe Foster can play the Essex jack-of-all-trades backup role.

    • ryan

      You know, JJ and I talked about something similar on the last podcast: moving Colon to RG and let Flozell play RT for another season. A bunch of problems with this: Flo’s health, re-signing Colon, convincing Colon to re-sign for a lot less because he’s now a RG, etc…

      • RoB D

        Every time someone says “move Colon to RG”.. guys that are close to the Steelers like Tunch shoot it down. I don’t understand it either but for some reason they just don’t see him as a guard.

        I think Flozell is done. He’s hurt every 2nd game and I think he’s just broken down. I appreciate what he did for this team but we need to move on. You can almost be gurarnteed at this point that he won’t finish the season.

  • Grw1960

    The Steelers almost have to resign Taylor or they would have to change some of their coverage schemes for another weakness.
    I do not know where Lewis is in terms of being with the team next season? He has the right physical abilities. If Lewis is not going to be a part of the teamThe Steelers might have to draft a CB or Safety early and another in the mid rounds.

    Maybe a new secondary coach will be a blessing next training camp if he can bring a new philosophy to the secondary like Kugler did for the OL.

    Coming out of training camp Butler was said to be a player that could play several positions and could help the Steelers. So let’s hope that comes true.

    I definitely think the Steelers will draft at least one OT/OG in round 3 , 4 or 5 and one DT/DE in rounds 1 thru 4.
    That would leave room for a WR and CB/FS somewhere in the first 4 rounds.

    Bring in some RBs with UDFA signings.
    Let Fox , Moore go.
    Tender Gay , J. Scott ,Essex , Hills, Spaeth and Dixon so if they go else where we get some future draft picks.

    Sign Colon ,Woodley , Taylor and Hoke.

  • GlennW

    As much as I’ve resisted the impulse in the past, I’m coming around to the notion that we need to draft a CB in the first round if that special player is available. When you look at where we’ve failed against the best of the best (Patriots, Packers, even the Jets to an extent) as opposed to versus our division rivals or the run-of-the-mills from the rest of the league, it’s the total inability to decently defend the pass even with some upfront pressure on the QB. I re-watched the Super Bowl, and McFadden was just awful lined up against the immortal Jordy Nelson, twisted and turned every which way. I think McFadden is hopeless, and that down the stretch our pass defense was actually better (but not by much) when McFadden was injured and totally out of the equation with Gay replacing him outside, even if we lost depth in the nickel/dime.

    I know we still have major depth/age issues on both lines, but we somehow seem to mitigate those weaknesses relative to the secondary’s deficiencies. I’m also inclined to address the most glaring weakness in the short term while we’re still a Super Bowl contender, because the future is so unpredictable in the NFL, and at some point there’s probably going to be a major age-induced overhaul anyway. I also realize that this line of thought bucks the Steelers draft philosophy both regarding secondary talent and quality-versus-need, and might not be wise (how’s that for equivocation?). Just my opinion though.


      Depending on the Best Available Player strategy, I could see the Steelers going on several ways on Round One, including in order of my subjetive point of view, CB, safety or D-Line. Unless a Top Notch O-Line slips toward the end of round one, I can not see going that way, if only for all the healthy bodies that we should have entering an hypothetical 2011 season.

      Rounds 2-4 goes to whatever positions were not addresed with the first pick and on this window we do target some O-Line, guard in particular.

      Round 5-7 special teamers, developmental guys…and no fullacks, please…

    • countertorque

      Ever since Hank Poteat got fitted for a Superbowl ring, I’ve thought that CB’s are not that important overall. I agree that the AFC North doesn’t really test a secondary.

  • David

    On EB’s Slog yesterday, he claimed that Wallace let up on the pass Ben overthrew him.

    Anyone else see this?

    • ryan

      I did not, but no way I’m rewatching the game. JJ and I talked about that throw on the podcast and it looked more like Ben’s fault. Instead of leading Wallace to the back corner of the end zone, Ben threw the ball nearer the goal post. Not sure it matters how fast you’re running when you have to contort your body to make what shoulda been a relatively easy catch much more difficult.

      • GlennW

        Exactly. I did look at the play again, and Wallace only broke stride because the ball was thrown behind him (or behind his ultimate route destination, hence the adjustment). I think Eddie B mischaracterized this one, making Wallace look somewhat bad for quitting on the play. Everyone else who was at the game and whom I heard comment on the play (Aikman, Mike Lombardi, Mike Mayock, my brother) just thought Ben made a poor throw.

        Now what was bad was Wallace running at less than full speed on all three of the final plays of our last set of downs, apparently because he didn’t know the playcall (I also saw this on Mayock’s “NFL Playbook” show yesterday). Even worse, Ben looked and/or threw to Walllace on all three plays– hence, failure. I don’t know how this happened but I suspect that there’s plenty of blame to go around between the QB and WRs. The whole sequence was a mess, and it doesn’t really matter now how/why it happened, does it?

    • New Eric

      I realize that this is water under the bridge, and has probably been said elsewhere (I’ve avoided reading most sites except this one to ease my pain), but I think the Steelers, and particularly Ben, really missed Santonio on that last drive. In fact, I think he’s missed him all season. While he had a decent season statistically, his timing and accuracy seemed worse this year than in past years. Some of that can probably be attributed to his suspension, and getting a late start on the season. His chemistry with his receivers just did not seem to be there this year, and with two rookies and a second year player, that’s pretty understandable, I suppose. Anyway, I think if Holmes were playing in this game, he would have torn that Packers secondary to shreds in the second half. There’s always an ‘if’…….

      • countertorque

        Totally disagree.

        I don’t see how Ben missing a wide open Heath in both of the last 2 games has anything to do with Santonio. The passing game has put up fantastic numbers and Ben was not missing those throws earlier in the season. Something messed up his accuracy later in the year.

        • GlennW

          Not to mention missing an open Wallace in each of the past two games, both which should/could have gone for TDs, as well as several other throws. We could argue that with Holmes there wouldn’t have been the confusion on the last possession of the Super Bowl, but you’re kind of splitting hairs at that point, The fact is that overall our passing offense was improved from 2009 to 2010 (at least according to DVOA), and trying to sort out all of the variables around that improvement is impossible and pointless. The fact is that lots of piece-parts changed between the two seasons, and I’m not losing any sleep over what could have been different, or better. In any case I like our receiving corps moving forward.

  • Cols714

    For all of the talk about how the Packers exploited the Steelers’ DBs, I don’t think they (the DBs) played that poorly. The big 3rd down throws were mostly well covered, it’s just that Rodgers was throwing freaking darts, super accurate darts. The turnovers were huge, but the inability to make a stop in that 4th quarter on a few 3rd and tens was uncharacteristic of the defense.

    The other thing that bugs the shit out of me is the talk of the Packers drops. Yes, they dropped some passes, but many of those were well covered and Rodgers had to put tons of heat on the ball to get it there which makes it kind of difficult to catch.

    Seemingly, all the pieces are together for another run at this next year. I know it’s highly unlikely they can get back to the SB, but we know they will be in the mix.

    And I just wish that these reporters who are fawning over the Packers as an unstoppable force, would mention that the Steelers outscored them 25-24 or essentially tied them without getting any turnovers while turning the ball over 3 times and having shitty field position because our ST players made really dumb mistakes.

    The good news is that the offense should be better next year, assuming they keep Arians around. The WRs will be better, Pouncey will be stronger, and we will have Ben all year long. The bad news is that the defense is going to be slightly worse mostly because we know Troy can’t play a full season and Farrior will be older and there is no way that Taylor and Kiesel can play as well next year as they did this year. On the bright side, Hood will play all year and Timmons will probably be slightly better which is scary. I do think they have Farrior’s replacement on the roster in Stevenson and Harrison’s replacement in Worilds so I don’t think the doom and gloom over an old defense is warranted at all. They won’t be the defense they were in 2008 or 2010, but they will still be really good. The offense will have to pick up the slack and I think that they will, kind of like how the Steelers of the late 1970s started counting on the offense more as the defense aged.

    I think the OL can use two new guards. Even average guards would be upgrades over Kemo and Foster. Are there any FA average guards out there?

    In the first round I want a shiny new safety. They need some Polamalu insurance.

    • GlennW

      I figure let the Packers fans crow if they want– they’ve earned it. By the numbers our passing offense did enjoy a huge performance bump after Woodson and Shields went out. And while I think the number of drops is greatly exaggerated (by including a few very difficult pass/catch combinations), there were two big-play drops on easily catchable balls which kept us in the game (the deep slant to James Jones in the 3rd quarter which probably goes for TD, and the multiple-bobble by Jordy Nelson in the 4th which goes for 20+ and extends the possession). In any case, turnovers included (all forced by the Packers making a play) I do believe that the Packers were the better team on this day and deserved to win. Recognizing that and accepting it makes the loss easier to take, if anything.

  • ryan


    Sorry to hijack this thread, but just a quick note: I have a new post atop the site pointing out some of the changes we made based on your comments. So take a look and let me know what you think, preferably in the comments OF THAT POST.


  • Hoosiersteeler?

    I’d love to see a feature during the offseason that on each podcast you tackle a different personal group, look at age pans contraact status but also projections on if they will change or step up next year and if that is a position to look for an early or late draft pick. Thinking about Ikes contract in the context of Lewiss development or potential for moving to the starting lineup, etc.

  • Jason F

    Hey all. Just wanted to say I am following the site, but will be mostly a ghost for a while. I have a portfolio and dissertation grinding down on me. Keep it going so I have something to read while relaxing ;)