Mike Wallace won’t be easy to replace

Mike Wallace, like most members of the Steelers offense in 2012, did not have an impressive season.

This has resulted in most of Pittsburgh (at least from my perspective — maybe you’re seeing and hearing something different) to wish him well in his future endeavors (well, maybe they haven’t been that kind about it) and for him to not let the door hit him on his way out of town.

When it comes to Wallace there are no shortage of theories as to why his production dropped from where it was over the first three years of his career.

Was it — as he himself admitted — a lack of focus? Perhaps a struggle to fit into Todd Haley’s offense that seemed to be geared more to short, quick passes as opposed to the downfield attack that Wallace excels in? Or did he simply mail it in because he was unhappy that he didn’t get the long-term, big-money deal he was looking for over the summer?

I don’t know that anybody knows the answer to those questions — perhaps it was a little of everything — but I do know this: Mike Wallace is still the most talented wide receiver on the roster, as well as the most productive, and they will be a better team in 2013 if he remains on it. The problem of course is that I don’t think he will remain on it. Barring something unforeseen happening over the next few months it seems likely that Wallace is going to hit the open market, and even though it’s a path I wouldn’t mind seeing them take, I don’t think the franchise tag is a very realistic option either.

This is a problem for me. And it should be for the Steelers as well.

As we sit right now the only receivers under contract for next season are Antonio Brown and Jerricho Cotchery. Emmanuel Sanders is a restricted free agent (he will surely be back), while Wallace and Plaxico Burress will be unrestricted. Also keep in mind that team MVP and top pass-catching target Heath Miller, whose knee was blown up in Week 16 against the Cincinnati Bengals, likely won’t be ready for the start of the season, either.

I’m not sold on Brown as a No. 1, and while I liked Sanders for much of the season he’s not exactly going to strike fear into NFL defensive coordinators as a No. 2. The Steelers, as we know, aren’t going to dip into the free agent market to land a Wallace replacement, and even if they wanted to they surely wouldn’t find another player better than Wallace as he is likely to be one of the top two players to hit the open market at the position.

Let’s just look at it this way: Since Mike Wallace entered the NFL in 2009 more than 320 wide receivers have played in the league. Only nine of them have recorded more receiving yards than Wallace over that stretch, only two have scored more touchdowns, and only three have averaged more yards per catch. Only 20 wide receivers in NFL history have had more yards in the first four years of their career. He’s led the Steelers in touchdowns (or at least shared that lead) every year he’s been on the team, including this past season.

That is not easy production to replace, and it doesn’t grow on trees.

Just something to keep in mind if this season was it for Wallace in Pittsburgh.

My fear for the Steelers? He ends up in a place like Cincinnati opposite A.J. Green.

This entry was posted in 2012 steelers, Wide Recievers. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Cols714

    You have it right. I don’t understand the gleefulness with which other comment boards want him gone.

    It reminds me of how many Steelers message boarders couldn’t wait for Arians to be gone.

    • Rob D

      I am not a knee jerk kind of person. ONe of the reasons I like the Steelers is that they seem not to panic under pressure. They have a plan and look long term. But I truly believe we need to make a change at OC..and that it might even help us keep Wallace (who I admit is NOT one of my all time favourite STeelers..to say the very least). i had very high hopes for Haley…he’s dashed most of them. He’s one of those OC’s who overreact to every bad or botched play…”Wow, that almost got intercepted! better not throw over 10yds again this half! No, sir..up the middle you go Mr. Dwyer. ”

      Gross exaggeration of course..and he had to juggle the O-line like crazy with all the injuries AND he was bringing in pups like ADams, Gilbert, DeCastro and others. Not an ideal situation.But in his offense, the fastest man in football became an afterthought. That can’t happen in a league where passing is King (and Queen). I also think there IS a rift between Haley and BEn. Probably not as dramatic as the more hyperventilated blogs would have you believe, but Ben is clearly not happy with the schemes.

      There’s a man by the name of Whisenhunt who was just fired by Steelers West. I think it might be a good time to give him a call. Maybe Haley is fielding a call from them as we speak. It might be a fair exchange from our farm team to us and vice versa.

    • Eric

      I guess I’m a little puzzled why everyone cares what other message boards say. Everyone who comments here does so presumably because they think other message boards are silly and non-nonsensical, right? I mean, that’s why I comment here. So why even bring it up?

      I mean it doesn’t seem any different then the people who read tabloids being shocked, I mean SHOCKED, that celebrity’s aren’t good role models. Or reading youtube comments for enlightened musical commentary.

      So other message boards are crapping on Wallace. So what. Those same message boards also think the NFL is rigged and that the government is hiding all the aliens.

  • Cols714

    Whisenhunt was canned today. I hope Haley stays. Otherwise it would be too tempting to bring back Whiz. We don’t need an OC that Ben already dislikes.

    So even though I think it’s obvious we made a mistake by firing Arians, I now hope Haley stays. Plus it’s good to give an offense more than one season before changing.

  • Canadian Steeler

    Looks like Keenan’s moving on. I’d be surprised if the Steelers offer him the best deal. https://twitter.com/arobinson_Trib/status/286177536143159296

    • David

      Well, in all fairness, he has the right to shop his services for the best price. But don’t count out us, as we have just as good a chance to sign him as others, except, of course, the Deadskins who always overpay.

      OTOH, look for a D happy draft: ILB, CB, OLB

      • Rob D

        If Mendy and Wallace leave…we are going to have to take a WR in the first three rounds, IMO. I hope they can find a servicable back in latter rounds. I still cling to Ryan’s “RB’s are fungible” dictum…lol…but agree that the D needs help. I’d probably rather have a dominant DE (worried about Hood and Keisel is ancient, Heyward needs to break out huge for us)/OLB (unless you think Worilds is the future which I don’t) rather than a corner though. As long as we have Ike, I’m cool with the talent coming up in the secondary.

    • Rob D

      If Ike can play 2 more years, I’m happy with Cortez Allen and Taylor manning our CB starting slots. Keenan is a good corner though. You can’t keep everybody..especially if they seem butt hurt like Lewis about not being offered a contract earlier.

  • MRav

    Some of my random thoughts on a lackluster season:

    1. Looks like you were right about Arians, Cols. Although, I would say that the Steelers handled the Arians situation much in the same way they are handing the Keenan situation. They made the best decision they could with the work sample they had on hand.

    2. Speaking of Keenan, he refuted that report that came out saying Pittsburgh made a mistake. He wants to be a Steeler next year and hinted at negotiations in place.

    3. Mike T…where do we begin? How about his decision to attempt a 53 yard field goal, in a stadium where there has never been a successful kick of more than 52 yards, with a kicker who has never successfully kicked over 52 yards, in a game where aforementioned kicker missed a 24 yard kick. Even coach could use a good rebound season.

    4. Drops and fumbles – loooots of them. More than I remember seeing in any previous season, I’d be interested to see the totals over the last few years. I’ll work on getting those numbers for us. I think without a bunch of those drops and fumbles a few things happen. In the playoffs, nobody is talking negatively about Mike Wallace, Haley looks like a badass, and sentiment over Mendy would be different.

    5. Hello Cortez and Keenan. Has anybody seen Lamar? I’m wondering if the less than stellar line play contributed to Wood’s “step back” this season.

    6. I think we need to work with Adam on getting some reader content put up as posts. I know Cols and Sara have had some pretty good discussion points in the comments sections throughout the year.

    7. Said it before, saying it again. Ryan Clark is probably the most important player on our defense. Look at the number of tackles, the number of solo tackles, how many of those tackles were as the last line of defense, and also how much he helps our corners and to larger extent, covers up Troy P’s deficiencies.

    • David

      Agree with most of your points. I’ll patiently wait for your numbers of the TOs.

      Looking ahead next year (and leapfrogging the draft), our schedule is:

      -Home: BAL, CIN, CLE, TEN, BUF, MIA, CHI, DET

      -Road: BAL, CIN, CLE, NE, OAK, NYJ, GB, MIN (at London)

      The road schedule looks very tough. The Raisins, the Patsies, the Whackers, Adrian Peterson. Improving Bungels (is that a double negative?), and the hospitality of NY fans.
      If we don’t shore up the O-line, hold on to the ball, and get younger on D, well, 8-8 might be a good season.

      • Sarah

        Yup. Sadly this year 8-8 not so great. Apparently we had the Weakest schedule of any of the top 20 teams.
        If we can’t kick the injury bug, I think we could easily be worse than 8-8 next year. A lot worse.

    • Maurice_hill_district

      Excellent, top to bottom u are right on each one of those.

  • Eric

    I guess I have a different view than a lot of you about the state of things. The most important thing to remember is that every fan overvalues their own players. I’m not convinced that the league is going to fall over themselves for Wallace and Lewis. That isn’t to say that they won’t sign elsewhere though because the Steelers neither have the inclination nor the ability to hand out large contracts this offseason.

    I’m actually quite optimistic about our chances of resigning Wallace. Remember that Wallace has had a rough 1.5 seasons production-wise and that will likely hold down other teams offers. More importantly, look at this list of unrestricted free agents at WR:

    - Dwayne Bowe
    - Greg Jennings
    - Wes Welker
    - Mike Wallace
    - Danny Amendola

    Victor Cruz is also a restricted free agent and there are a plethora of mid-tier receivers available. So I don’t think teams will get into a bidding war over Wallace. Even if Wallace does sign elsewhere there are other receivers available to at least ease the loss.

    As for Lewis, I am less optimistic about their chances of signing him. I feel like teams are more likely to overspend on cornerbacks. But with the proliferation of the passing game, I’m wondering how much sense it makes to invest a lot in cornerbacks. Defenses seem to be adjusting to the increased passing by trying to kill the quarterback with a pass rush, not slow him down with dominant secondary play.

    As for Mendenhall, I just don’t understand why people around here are concerned about him leaving. To my eye, and FO’s stats, he is average. Nothing more or less. He will not be difficult to replace (or resign if Colbert thinks he’s worth it).

    • Cols714

      Eric, that’s a really good point about overvaluing your own players. I really don’t care if they re-sign Lewis, we have a lot of money tied up in Taylor and Cortez Allen looks like he’s going to be great so if they have to let Lewis go, then so be it.

      I do hope they re-sign Wallace and Mendenhall. Without those two, there are two huge holes to fill. I’d rather they be able to concentrate on drafting OLB, S, and DL than worry about finding a WR and a RB in the draft.

    • Intropy

      Welker is the only one of those in the same class as Wallace, and he’s 31 and pretty much the opposite type of receiver from Wallace.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Who are you rooting against (or for)? For me, the playoff teams are in tiers:

    1) Ridiculously annoying: Pats, Ravens
    2) Mildly annoying: 49ers, Bengals, Broncos
    3) Not particularly annoying: Packers, Colts, Seahawks, Redskins, Falcons, Texans, Vikings

    • djanyreason

      In rough order:

      Texans
      Patriots
      Falcons
      Broncos
      Packers
      Vikings
      Colts
      Bengals
      49ers
      Redskins
      Seahawks
      Ravens

      A few points of explanation:

      * I generally root for the better teams to do well in the playoffs, so I am anti-Vikings, and especially anti-Colts with their negative point differential. This is not a trivial point – I am having a hard time convincing myself I want the Ravens to lose this weekend.

      * My wife is a Pats fan. We have somewhat of a mutual agreement to root for each other’s teams when it doesn’t affect our own. Also, I’ve got over hating Brady, and now appreciate his ability. So I’m mildly rooting for the Pats.

      * Fuck the 49ers. The Giants won the World Series 2 of the last 3 years, and they’re coached by a Harbaugh.

      * For all their bitching and moaning after Super Bowl XL, Seahawks fans can spend the rest of eternity never winning a Super Bowl.

      * I live in DC. DC sports fans are the *WORST*. I do not want to have continue to listen to people in my office talking about the Redskins and/or any Griffins Robert, regardless of ordinal ranking.

      * Fuck the Ravens, and especially Ray Lewis. This probably didn’t need to be explained, but still – fuck them. I hope they lose to the Colts (got over that quickly enough, didn’t I?).

      • EasyLikeSundayMorning
      • Cols714

        I don’t see how any Steelers fan can root for the Patriots. I like that Noll and Bradshaw are the only QB and coach combo with 4 Super Bowl wins.

        I understand that your wife is a Pats fan and maybe outwardly you are rooting for them, but inside aren’t you actually rooting for whoever they are playing?

        • djanyreason

          I was born in August of ’80, so I don’t have any memories of those ’70s teams. I never saw Bradshaw play. The only Noll game I have any memory of is the very end of the ’89 playoff win against the Oilers. I really only started paying attention in ’92.

          Like I said, I root for the good teams to do well and the bad teams to do poorly in the postseason (its the 10-12 year-old baseball fan in me). I wanted the Pats to go 19-0 because they were a great team and deserved to win.

    • Eric

      One of the problems with being an increasingly older sports fan is that it gets harder and harder to not have a reason to dislike all non-Steeler teams. At this point, I am rooting for the Vikings and Texans. Any of the others I’d have talk myself into, with varying levels of success.

  • Cols714

    Since I live in Colorado, I’m rooting for Denver #1
    1. Broncos
    2. Texans
    3. Vikings
    4. Redskins
    5. Seahawks (I really like Russell Wilson)

    I’m rooting against
    1. Patriots
    2. Ravens

    • David

      Perpetually Tied Bowl: Patsies-Whiners
      Who Can Knock Out the QB First Bowl: Patsies-Whackers
      This Proves There Is No God Bowl: Raisins-Whiners
      Less Chances Than NHL Season Bowl: Bungles-Cryhawks
      Roger Goodell Bowl: Dolts-Deadskins

      Should But Will Not Happen Bowl: Broncos-Whackers
      Every Steeler Fan’s Dream Bowl: Texans or Colts vs. Falcons or Vikings

  • MRav

    Eh, I’m just waiting for the draft at this point. I can honestly say that there is not another team in the NFL that I enjoy watching play.

  • Cols714

    Ugh. Now Haley might leave to go to Arizona. So that means the Steelers gave up on a good OC who had a good relationship with Ben to hire someone who installed a completely new offense and who is now going to leave. So 3 OCs in 3 years for a team that usually likes to have consistency. Yuck.

    And it can be easily argued that having Arians around this year would’ve meant one more win and thus playoffs.

    Someone in the Steelers organization screwed this up.

    I really hope that Haley stays, because losing our OC and then having to learn another new offense is unappealing.

    • djanyreason

      It’d have to be one more win against the Bengals or Ravens – one more win against anyone else and we still miss the playoffs.

  • MRav

    Cols – Norv Turner, your thoughts. Go go go! (if Haley were to leave)

    • Cols714

      I think no. I think if Haley leaves the Steelers will try to promote from within or get a no-name type of guy to come in. I don’t think they will bring in a big name guy after getting burned by Haley. The same goes for Whisenhunt.

      • MRav

        So you’re thinking Kirby or Fichtner? Does that decision rest on Mike T, Kevin, or some combination of both? This makes me think back to who really hired Haley. Mike said it was his call but I always doubted that.

        • Cols714

          I imagine it will be a combination of both doing the hiring. I’m pretty sure it was a combination or Colbert and Tomlin that brought in Haley too.

          And yeah, Fichtner or Kirby would be reasonable.

          • MRav

            Know anything about either? Or just confident about them progressing through the ranks? I know Kirby was close until his accident.

          • Rob D

            Kirby to my knowledge has never been a coordinator at any level. Fichtner I am not sure. I think I’d rather have Haley despite his warts. He probably deserves another shot..and yes..I am off the Whiz for OC bandwagon..I went temporarily crazy after the season was over ..grief and anger! Bad things….All better now..except for this twitch in my eye.

          • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

            I have a hard time believing that Todd Haley would leave the Steelers for the Arizona position as head coach. The Cardinals have no quarterback and a lousy o-line. Anybody who takes that job is being “hired-to-be-fired,” and it would come as no surprise if it lasted only one season.

          • Sarah

            Aren’t they offering him like 9 mil though? And a lot of control. And presumably a non diva QB….

            I wonder if the STeelers FO might not be awfully glad to see him go. A mistake they do not have to own up to….

          • MRav

            Yeah I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that he wouldn’t take the job. Even though he’s not making small money now, think about how hard that is to say no to a couple million dollars and a promotion. Even if it only lasted a year or two at most what’s the worst that could happen? He’d be richer and go back to his old job as an OC. Isn’t that what he’s doing now?

          • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

            Sarah, we’ll never know what the rumored contract would really stipulate. Those salary numbers are always inflated and loaded with qualifiers. And after Haley inevitably fails in Arizona, what does he do next? His career stock will be next to worthless. (Hey, maybe he could start a blog!)

            The smart thing for Haley to do is stay put in Pittsburgh, rebuild his reputation here, and see what happens in a couple years.

          • Canadian Steeler

            The media seems to think Kirby’s the guy, but Steelers Depot goes on about Fitchner’s offense when he coached Memphis. I’d probably go with the latter since he’s bound to be closer to Ben and coached the entire time under Arians. You’ve got to think he would be familiar enough to know how to get the best out of Ben.

            Also, while Arians definitely had the offense figured out enough to win, it did take him time to get there. In the XLIII season (his second as OC) the offense was pretty bad in terms of statistics and the naked eye. He got bailed out by Ben late in games, just like Haley was getting bailed out by Ben on third downs early this season. Ben getting injured that year like he did this, he might not make those fourth quarter comebacks and Arians might not have gotten another season. That’s why I’m not completely against Haley staying if Arizona doesn’t materialize. There’s something to say for voluntarily changing offences three consecutive years when you have a franchise QB.

    • sherm

      How about Mike malarkey

  • MRav

    Sorry it took so long! Fumbles and Fumbles lost the last few years:

    Year – F/FL

    2012 – 20/13
    2011 – 9/8
    2010 – 12/6
    2009 – 10/7
    2008 – 11/4
    2007 – 16/10
    2006 – 13/4

    It’s going to take a bit longer to get the passes dropped this year, and even though it probably won’t be 100 percent complete/accurate. But that sure is a lot of fumbles.

    • David

      Wow. 8 came from the CLE game, right?
      Anyhow, that’s a big part of our story this year.

      • MRav

        Yes, I agree. That’s why I’m not as down on Haley as some of the people on these boards. I think if we hold on to a few of those balls and some of the dropped passes we’re still playing right now.

        • Sarah

          Another reason I’m not wild about Kirby. Who teaches the RBs to hang onto the ball??

          • MRav

            Haha, that’s a pretty good point. It sure was much easier when the Bus was carrying the pigskin around the yard.

      • Eric

        If we assume that game was a freak occurrence (I do), then the # of fumbles this season is right in line with the average.

  • Rob D

    81: Number of games missed by injured starters. Fourteen of the 22 projected starters missed at least one game. The list includes G David DeCastro (12), T Marcus Gilbert (11), SS Troy Polamalu (nine), RB Rashard Mendenhall (seven), T Willie Colon (five), CB Ike Taylor (4), QB Ben Roethlisberger (3), WR Antonio Brown (3), LB LaMarr Woodley (3) and LB James Harrison (3).
    182: Rushing yards by Rashard Mendenhall who only played in five games with four starts. He missed 10 games (three with a knee injury, five with an Achilles injury, two as a game-day inactive and one while on suspension). In his three previous seasons, Mendenhall average 1,103 yards per season.

    Source: Bires at timesonline http://tinyurl.com/a6ormm4

    I wonder how many times in a row we fielded the same set of starters at O-line? It seemed like zero to me.

    • Eric

      I wonder how that compares league-wide?

  • Rob D

    ..and so it came to pass that the Bengals were “one and done.” And there was mild rejoicing in Steeler-Land. Until they realized they had been bested by the GingerMan and his crew in the penultimate game of this misbegotten season of woe.

    And there was great gnashing of teeth and rending of garments.

    The End

    • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

      And as you know, Rob, that was a game during which the Bengals’ offense couldn’t muster a single offensive touchdown. And the Steelers still lost.

      • David

        The story of our season:

        1st half, good O, bad D

        2nd half, bad O, good D
        Thus, my mathematics background says O = mediocre, D = mediocre

        • Cols714

          Yep. It looked like the defense needed half a season to get itself into shape. We should have expected this with Hampton, Harrison, and Troy all starting the year injured.

          • Rob D

            Keisel too…I was overly critical of his play early but some of you mentioned that he was possibly nursing an injury. That seemed to be borne out with his increasingly effective play as the year wore on. Hope he has another year in him at that level.

          • Sarah

            Ankle in pre-season.

            But I still stand by my earlier griping that these guys all need to start in better shape.

          • Rob D

            No question about it. Injuries can happen to anyone at any time in the NFL..but being in shape might be a good way to avoid some of them.

          • Sarah

            Y’know read an interesting article on injuries and the new CBA. WHich apparently allows for fewer days working in full-contact, and interestingly, LESS time supervised working out.

            I start to wonder if it’s as simple as guys not working as hard cos they are not being watched by coaching staff….?

      • Rob D

        I’ve run out of garments to rend,Randy..lol..

        We really need to nail this draft coming up and as an organization…huge need to refocus on the basics. Tackling, not taking penalties, looking the ball into your hands..protecting the football. We seemed to forget about the basics all year long. I’m hopeful for next year though..great opportunity to learn the lessons and bounce back to where we are used to being

  • Adam Banig

    Mike Wallace will be missed for sure but he can also be replaced. He dropped so many big receptions over the past two seasons that I don’t even know where to begin. It all started in last years playoff game vs the broncos. He had a few key drops that could have been game changers for this team in that game and could have had it ending in a steelers w.

    Then this year it continued, it seemed like he dropped a TD pass in nearly every game. That, on top of his poor effort and poor route running is why this team needs to move on from him. If he makes the catches the team should have made this year the team is playing today!

    If I’m the steelers I sign Greg Jennings and I draft a WR in rounds 2-4 to develop behind Brown, Jennings and Sanders.

    • Cols714

      Come off it. His catch percentages over his career have been outstanding. Yes this year was bad for him, but it was also bad for every WR including Antonio Brown. You don’t easily replace a WR who 3 out the last 4 years had been one of the best in the game.

      Poor route running? You have absolutely no evidence of this. Poor effort? No evidence.

      • MRav

        Yeah, anybody who doesn’t really value Wallace needs to look at his body of work in his short career and compare it to every other WR in NFL history (in the same early years) to really appreciate just how good he has been, down year and all.

    • MRav

      lol@Jennings, you’re looking to move on from a young talented WR like Wallace for a system WR who benefits from playing with a great QB in a loaded WR corps?

  • Cols714

    All Mike Wallace did was hold out. He held out like countless other NFL players have done in the past. Like Hines Ward did at some point. That’s all. He didn’t kill or rape anyone or make the Steelers franchise look bad in any way. He held out.

    Why the eph do fans get so mad at him? Yes, he had a bad year, so did every other Steelers player on offense not named Heath Miller. Get over it Pittsburgh. Stop acting like a-hole fans. The dude held out. That’s it.

    • Canadian Steeler

      I think there’s a middle ground here where Wallace is clearly a talented player, but one who has underachieved and who’s (whose?) inconsistencies have been pretty frustrating over the past year and a half. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think he’s the fine line between winning and losing. Neither do the Steelers, clearly. If they did, they would have signed him before any holdout could have materialized, like they do with players they’ve identified as irreplaceable. They usually don’t lose players they are desperate to keep.

      Given the ability of Colbert et al. to identify receiver talent in mid to late rounds of the draft in recent years, I’m not exactly losing sleep over losing Mike Wallace. Our ability to win depends a lot more on Ben than Wallace. If Ben’s playing like he did to start the season, Brown, Sanders and Cotchery should be good enough to keep this offense rolling. I don’t think I can say that Mike Wallace is the type of receiver to make the offense go when Ben isn’t. The Steelers will probably miss Mike Wallace in 2013, but it shouldn’t be enough to be the difference between the playoffs and not.

      • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

        I agree that Mike Wallace isn’t the difference between a winning and losing season for the Steelers, but make no mistake, they will need another good wide receiver/playmaker with Wallace gone.

    • Intropy

      All he did was hold out and he didn’t even actually hold out. He didn’t accept a contract offered to him.

  • David

    Off subject, but now that we’re gonna have a NHL season, Vegas is favoring either the Pens or Rangers winning it all.

    In the meantime, looks for Geno to light it up, as he’s been playing lights out in Russia.

    Oh, and: GO BRONCOS (and TEXANS)!

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      I like him and wish we had him but, “Hey diddle dumbles, Ray Rice had two fumbles.” But yeah, screw the Ravens and the Pats.

      • Rob D

        I was watching something earlier about the Boston press belittling the Texans and exulting in the fact that the Pats ONLY have to play Houston to get to the AFCCG (which they win win merely by showing up apparently) Great bulletin board material…I don’t like the Texans, especially their QB but I think this is going to be a really good game between those two.

        I’m taking Atlanta, SF, Houston and Denver to advance to the big conference dances.

        • David

          As my list of who I want to lose is:
          1. Raisins
          2. Patsies
          3. Whiners
          4. Whackers

          Your predictions would take care of 3. That would be a great weekend.

    • Sarah

      Maybe if the Pens get some other coach in the playoffs who knows how to adjust over 7-game series.

      • Eric

        I didn’t know that “have your goalie stop sucking” was a coaching adjustment…

        • Sarah

          Oh MAF has been awful too, and Vokoun is his message to get his shite together.

          But Bylsma’s had his pants handed to him 3 straight years now (speaking of coaches that should be on the hot seat). The kind of schematic and defensive collapses the Pens pull game in and game out ARE on the coaching staff, and will break goalies no matter how good they are. And MAF is brittle unfortunately.

          If he played for an airtight D like NYR or LAK his only problem would be staying awake for the 14 shots he gets every night.

          • Eric

            I think the jury is still out for me on Bylsma. However, what I strongly disagree with is your characterization of Bylsma having “his pants handed to him” the last three playoff runs.

            09-10: They advanced to the 2nd round, only to lose to the Habs in 7. That was the year Halak was out of his mind. That series MAF let in a lot of soft goals . Hard to see how losing in 7 in the 2nd round against a crazy hot goalie is a coaching problem.

            10-11: Penguins lost in 7 to the Lightening. The played this series without Malkin and Crosby. MAF was shaky again. Let me repeat, they played this series without Malkin and Crosby (i.e. 17% of the Pens total points even though they each only played half a season). Coaching?

            11-12: Lost in 6 to the Flyers. This series was just beyond bizarre. The Pens had leads in the 3rd period in 4 of the 6 games. Maybe you can blame coaching for this one, I don’t have a clue. The PK was amazing in the regular season and then was just amazingly, horrifyingly bad in this series. Could a coaching adjustment have fixed it? I don’t know but I doubt it. I can’t ever recall a series as bonkers as this one so I am hesitant to draw any conclusions from it. Might as well blame the phase of the moon.

            I hate to just blame the goalie but 3 years in a row MAF has been unquestionably shaky. You could blame coaching if you want but MAF is good during the regular season with that system and then seems to wilt in the bright lights. They won the Cup in 08 behind fantastic play by MAF and so I have given him the benefit of the doubt so far but, for me, this is a make-or-break year for MAF.

            (sorry for the Penguins thread-jack on a Steelers blog)

          • Sarah

            Your analysis is overly simple: Bad goalie/Hot goalie.

            Hot goalies steal games, not whole series. MTL was a mediocre 8th seed with a good G, who employed an extremely passive box-system around Halak, which the Pens with their minimal net-front presence and overly fancy perimeter-style could not break, launching 50 low-percentage shots from the outside/long distance. Similar scheme to NYR boxing around Lundqvist now. To see actual coaching,
            note the mid-series adjustments NJ made in the playoffs this year (going for shots through traffic/screens/deflections) which was ultimately successful, again requiring net-front presence PIT lacks.
            TB, another lower seed with a 40 yr old journeyman G, also employed an extremely passive 1-3-1 scheme, again which PIT could not tactically overcome. Perimeter passing on PP went
            1/35. Don’t even need to detail the awful ST stats v PHL, which set NHL records for incompetence. Blame poor discipline
            everywhere. Suffice to say that Bylsma could not construct a PP with the best players in the world, pulling such moves as sitting Crosby altogether (when a PP 1-A with Staal and Dupuis would have been worth a try) and (worse) putting Crosby on the point where he’s never played, further exacerbating D liabilities. PHL did a great job exploiting Pen’s ill-advised east-west passing creating multiple odd-mans the other way. As for PK adjustments, yes, adjust BACK to the hyper-aggressive PK which was successful early on, from the Statue of Liberty PK they employed v PHL.

            Bylsma’s coaching style is effective in regular season, but too rigid in playoffs where long series require adjustments. His teams also lack discipline, esp on D. This began shortly after he inherited an extremely disciplined Therrian group.

            You may recall in 2008/2009 playing behind a defensively responsible corps, MAF did rather well indeed. As did Halak. As does Lundvist, Smith, Quick…

            I won’t even get into personnel choices, other than to say “Paul
            Martin”. Don’t want to hijack the thread further but would be delighted to spar with you on some other Pens blog a la EmptyNetters or Kovajevic.

          • Eric

            Very nice analysis. I have actually been in the market for a new penguins blog. I have been reading the Pensblog for awhile but wasn’t really satisfied with the content. I have never tried Emptynetters or Kovajevic, are they more substantive? I’ll have to take a look.

            I agree that only blaming Fluery (which I don’t) is over-simplistic but so is blaming Bylsma! :)

          • Sarah

            Hey Eric -

            http://blogs.post-gazette.com/index.php/sports/empty-netters

            There will be a game day blog…..hope to see you there! Meantime I’m scratching my head over James Neal on the PP point….how about you???

            I hope the Pens can maintain discipline but I see this one getting ugly early….

          • Sarah
      • David

        OUCH! Can you let us know what you really think? ;-)

  • Cols714

    Where’s Ted? Ted we need you to tell us who we are drafting this year. I’m sick of reading other sites where they think we are going to take an OL in the 1st round. Ain’t happening.

    • MRav

      Times like this where I regret not wasting my time watching amateur football…then I remember how awful college football is and I get over it.

  • MRav

    Ok, this is a stretch but…Has anybody considered that IF we’re able to retain Keenan at a slightly reduced rate (which he’s hinted is a possibility) that he might talk Mike into accepting a similar deal in staying with Pitt? They are childhood friends after all.

    • David

      Not a chance, IMO. Money talks, and someone will offer a lot of $$$ to Wallace.

  • MRav

    Here’s a little idea to kick around: Could Mike Tomlin be on the hot seat next year? I think anybody taking a look at the Steelers will see a team that hasn’t exactly reached it’s potential. They’ve been underachievers. How much of that falls on Mike T? Is he to blame for the increased penalties, seemingly inconsistent tackling, questionable coaching decisions, and turnover in staff? Now while I have some personal feelings about each of those items, I’m well aware that the truth is there is no way he takes the blame for most of this and no way the Rooney’s are even considering him on the hot seat…but you still have to wonder.
    is there any arguement to be made that Mike made his fame off of winning with a team that Bill Cower left behind? What do you guys think?

    • Cols714

      I don’t think so. They’ve been able to add a lot of talent since Cowher left and made it to the Super Bowl in 2010, went 12-4 in 2011, and have only missed the playoffs twice, once in 2009 after winning the Super Bowl.

      Talent wise, they’ve added Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen, Lawrence Timmons, Lamarr Woodley, etc.

      I think that 2012 when we look back on it will seem more like an aberration like 2006 was than the start of a decline.

      Although if Tomlin doesn’t get them back to the playoffs next year then 2014 will be a hot seat year for him.

    • Rob D

      Tomlin is due some criticism. This was possibly his worst year in his short tenure as HC. But I would have no other coach for the long term. He’s only 40..he’ll get better at game management I think. He’s loved by his own players and he’s frequently the winner of OTHER team’s players in the”who would you love to play for if you had the chance” ESPN-type surveys that pop up periodically.

      There was a comparison going around ..he has the same number of wins as Don Shula in his first five years…aha..found it

      Coach Reg. season wins Division titles NFL titles

      Don Shula (1963-68*) 62 2 1

      Mike Tomlin (2007-12) 62 4 1

      * 14-game seasons

      I mean. different era’s and other factors. But some STeeler fans REALLY want to dump that for …what? A shot in the dark presumably.I like our coach.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Five reasons for optimism I haven’t seen mentioned much elsewhere:
    1. The AFC North, especially the QBs: I’m not very impressed with either Flacco or Dalton (or whoever the Browns trot out). Their low ceilings will make winning the division always doable, even when we have a shitstorm of a season like 2012.
    2. The AFC: At 8-8, we actually had the best record of any AFC team that didn’t make the playoffs. And the teams with worse records aren’t very good and mostly seem to be going in the wrong direction (except possibly Miami). So the playoffs should be easily attainable.
    [BTW, if Goodell had his way, the playoffs would be expanded and the 7th seed would be in.]
    3. Draft picks: in addition to drafting relatively high in 2013, we should get much more out of DeCastro and Spence (and possibly Ta’Aamu) this year.
    4. OT: there may have been more noise about our need to draft early at this position than any other over the last several years. But we’ve already gotten more out of Gilbert, Adams and Beachum than I expected. If they stay reasonably healthy, our OTs should be at least average with upside to be better than that. That frees us to focus on other positions in the early rounds.
    5. Carnell Lake’s handling of the DBs: Lewis and Cortez Allen both took significant strides. Ike turned around a weak start. Clark was as good as he’s been. Mundy was quickly demoted in the rotation when it was clear he wasn’t getting it done and Will Allen played well once he was brought in deep off the bench. I’d like to see more from Curtis Brown, and a healing potion for Troy would be nice. But overall, Lake has done about as good a job as I can imagine turning a concern area into a strength. Doing so despite far less of a pass rush was impressive.

    • David

      Agree with everything, but Spence (and Heath) may be out for the first 4-5 games next season and Ta’aamu, well, he needs a great lawyer.

    • Rob D

      Great post, Easy…agree with your takes.
      1. ABsolutely. We still have a significant edge in the division at the most important position.
      2. I think many Steeler fans prone to hysterics (and I’ve thrown a fit over this team a few more times than I’d care to admit) should realize that we aren’t likely to have the injury filled disaster this team endured this past season any time soon.We are getting younger and that doesn’t always mean better over the short term. I like the potential of many of the youngsters in line for jobs. Can’t say that about many other teams who are near the .500 level this year
      3. VEry excited about a full year from DeCastro. Spence is in for a long rehab, but he’s young and thus should be ready early in next year’s season. Ta’Amu? Not sure. HOpe you’re right. He’s got bigger fish to fry at the moment and could be going to jail for some time.
      4. Adams really surprised me.. He was great at run blocking and had the look of a gamer. He needs work but he got the baptism of fire and didn’t look out of place at all before his unfortunate injury. Gilbert is a good talent..word is he is probably our starting LT next year (if Eddie B. is right) so I guess we’ll find out real fast how good he is at that crucial position. Beachum..I expected nothing and got competency. That’s pretty good. They think he can play LG.We are going to have amuch younger and probably much more mobile line …all we need now is an Arian Foster type to run behind it, I guess!
      5. Lake did a wonderful job. I liked when they went to Will Allen after a few disastrous starts from Mundy..in the Cowher era, he’d have been there till the playoffs, IMO.I still really like Curtis Brown.. He got burned just like every young guy does in the league but he was playing better as he went along. Cortez looks like a starter..I’m overjoyed about that cause we really needed that to happen, especially if Keenan Lewis leaves. And yes..if we had an actual pass rush, we could see a lot more big plays/turnovers/INT’s from this group. Amazing turnaround for a unit that was a no. 1 worry in many people’s minds. Need to find a safety in this draft I would hazard a guess but..

  • Eric

    I know that Cols doesn’t think the salary cap is an issue but this excerpt from Bouchette’s column gave me pause:

    Rooney said the team is in as tough a spot with the salary cap as it
    has been in recent years. Asked if estimates that they are $10 million
    over with only 30-some players signed, he said that was a low
    projection.

    “As it stands today,” Rooney said of the team’s salary cap situation, “it doesn’t all fit.”

    Also:

    The Steelers lost 78 starts alone to injuries in 2012 and while Rooney
    noted that he believes they come in cycles, he said they will look into
    their training methods to try to determine if something needs to be
    changed.

    The whole thing article is worth a read:

    http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/steelers/rooney-frustrated-with-steelers-season-not-with-tomlin-or-haley-669655/#ixzz2HWPU9IWJ

    • Cols714

      My point on the salary cap is that we’ve heard for years from salary cap alarmist people at SteelersDepot and Behind the Steel Curtain and espn.com that the Steelers are way over the cap and will have to cut a bunch of people to get under it.

      Yet this never happens. When they do cut someone (perhaps Colon this year?) it’s because they aren’t worth the money. Which in a way is related to the salary cap, but if they wanted to keep him, they would figure out a way to do so.

      That’s all. Yes the salary cap matters, but I’m tired of the alarm bells ringing every off season that OMG the Steelers are above the cap!!!! Must cut all veterans we are doomed!!!

      • Rob D

        Agree completely. The Steelers have if not THE best, then he’s definately one of the top tier capologists, in Omar Khan. It’s one area where I rarely have even a voyeur’s interest in the cap as a result. WE are in very competent hands and have been since he was first hired in ’01.

      • Eric

        The problem is that the way the Steelers have solved that problem recently is by pushing cap charges down the road by renegotiating contracts. There is talk of cutting Colon now but they have already renegotiated once with him. How much dead money will they have to carry? Cutting players doesn’t make their guaranteed salary go away – that’s how the salary cap is designed to punish teams. Otherwise, the NFC East could perpetually buy out their problems.

        I think the Steelers made a conscious decision to try to keep the championship window open while the defense was still excellent and we had the QB but that is a short term strategy, with long term consequences. As you say, we haven’t seen the consequences yet and I hope we never do. But I have a feeling this is all about to catch up with them. Only 30 players under contract, while more than 10 million over the cap and a lot of valuable free agents? I don’t like the sound of that, personally.

        • Cols714

          I’m telling you, don’t worry about. The Steelers will be under the cap no problem. It’s what they do. Don’t give in to the temptation to worry and run all of the numbers.

  • Rob D

    Via Eddie B. tweet:
    Jets will interview Steelers executive Omar Khan for vacant GM job tomorrow,

    OK..now I am worried about all things sal cap…crap

  • MRav

    Let me preface this post with the following: I really like Mike Wallace.

    Ok, with that out of the way, here it goes…

    I’m not going to lose any sleep if Mike leaves. And really the only thing that gives me comfort is how the Steelers have gone about drafting WR recently. Obviously, Mike’s speed is a rare talent and something that is hard to replicate. But in my mind, what says we cant find that speed, or at least something close to that in the draft. Now I’ll also say, I watch zero college football. I can’t stand it. I think it’s awful ameteur sport. So I’m just guessing that there is a plethora of bodies to choose from in the available WR dept. So while I’d like to have Mike back, I really don’t think he has any leverage here. And I’m ok with him not coming back. It’s more so of an acceptance than a desire of him not coming back. I’v seen crazy things with people saying cut him and bring in Jennings or crap like that. I’m just saying, I’m cool if he leaves for the money, I think we’ll be ok with the draft. With that being said, anybody know of any good WR prospects? Also, I have to do this, HI LIMAS.

    • Cols714

      I’m coming around to this view as well. I don’t think Wallace leaving helps the Steelers, but as you say maybe it doesn’t hurt them as badly as I used to think.

      The league doesn’t have a ton of history with WR leaving one organization and then kicking ass with another one, so I guess we’ll see.

      • MRav

        One thing I do fear greatly is, Brady to Wallace or Manning to Wallace…ugh that would really make things difficult/annoying. Dalton to Wallace would also piss me off. Have you seen how much cap room they have? It’s obscene.

        • David

          Agreed regarding the Patsies. They will go after Wallace hard.
          That would add to the build-up to our game there next season.

  • Eric

    Chris Rainey has been cut by the Steelers after being arrested this morning for domestic battery.

    • MRav

      Well, so much for that experiment I guess. I’m guessing we’ll get another speed-type back in the 5th round or so.

    • Cols714

      Bye Rainey. You were kind of fun to watch, but way way way too small. Better RBs please this offseason.

    • Rob D

      I hate to say I don’t care..but I really don’t.
      Just another small, scatback returner you can find just about anywhere.Plus, he sounds like an idiot in his spare time. Buh bye….

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      To quote Will Ferrell in Elf, but with the opposite tone and meaning: oooh, sucky!

  • MRav

    Ok, you guys ready for a really crazy idea? First, a little supporting context:

    Haley likes using flexible pass catching running backs
    Second, Heath will be out for a few weeks early on
    Third, our running back depth is a little depleted, so…

    Bring in Tebow. He could be used as a h-back type that could swing out next to the tackle as a te or block and catch passes out of the backfield. He would also be good for the occasional RB pass.

    Thoughts. Go!

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      I’d be ok with having Tebow on the team, regardless of Heath’s health. But it is hard to see the scenario where that happens. I’d be shocked if he isn’t in Jax, but I guess I was last year, too.

    • Cols714

      No.
      Absolutely not. He’s a huge distractions and doesn’t seemed to be well liked by anyone. NO NO NO NONONONONONONONONO

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    As with every year, in R1, I’m hoping we draft BPA at a long-term need (typically, a position where we’ll need a starter in two years). My order of priority is: OLB, ILB, RB, S, NT, DE, CB, WR, OG, TE. I’m assuming Heath will fully recover within the first few weeks of the season. In r1, wouldn’t draft a QB, C, OT or a kicker. But I’d be happy to have an elite player at any of the other positions, especially on defense.

    • MRav

      Would you really be OK if we selected a RB, G, TE, DE in the first round?

      • Cols714

        OT and G aren’t going to happen. I guess TE or DE could happen but are unlikely, although TE is more likely than DE or G.

        I think OLB is the main goal in round 1, with safety, WR being considered as well assuming that Wallace leaves. Since I’m pretty sure Hampton and McClendon are coming back I don’t think NT is a priority at all in this draft.

        As far as RB, I’m with Ryan on this and I think it’s a waste of a pick unless you are getting Adrian Peterson. But they need one in the top 4 rounds for sure.

        Priority wise how about this

        1. OLB

        2. S
        3. RB
        4. WR

        Does this seem right?

        • MRav

          To me, I think ILB and CB rank somewhere above RB and WR. It’s not set in stone that Keenan is back next year. How comfortable are we with Curtis Brown?

          • Eric

            I would say that the priorities (i.e. first 3 rounds) in the draft are S, CB, WR, ILB and OLB. What position picked should be based on what’s available.

            The significant contributors on offense, outside of Miller and Roethlisberger, are all young. Only RB and WR will likely need new starters. Everywhere else needs depth.

            On the other hand, Taylor, Clark, Polamalu, Foote, Harrison, Hampton and Kiesel are all much closer to the ends of their careers. They have invested a lot of picks in the d-line and LBers but it isn’t clear if those players will be able to get the job done. The standard being the standard and all.

            All things being equal, I’d prefer the Steelers take a safety first. There is essentially no depth at either spot and Polamalu/Clark are getting long in the tooth. Learning the safety position in the Steelers defense also seems to take at least a year. Polamalu was the 13th pick and Ed Reed was ~30th pick in their respective drafts. I’d very happily use the 17th overall pick if a blue chip safety is available.

          • Cols714

            I completely disagree on CB. They have Taylor, Allen, and Brown already on the team. They may bring in a low level FA if they don’t re-sign Lewis or draft a later round guy like they did with William Gay, Lewis, and Allen. I doubt they draft a CB in the first 3 rounds.

            I agree with safety and Lbs being up there though.

          • MRav

            I don’t know. I could see it happening. I personally feel like we could use the CB depth more than RB depth. RBs seem very much interchangeable these days. For every Adrian Peterson you have an Arians Foster. But I don’t know, honestly I’m saying somebody could provide some insight on this, if late round CBs end up being lock down corners like late-round and undrafted free agents ending up being amazing runners.
            I’m not saying i’m clamoring for a DB, but I can see it being prioritzed more than a RB. Maybe not a WR, but more than a RB.

          • Eric

            It depends on if they resign Lewis. If not, you have Taylor and Allen as starters and Brown as your 3rd corner (which sees the field a lot now a days). Your 4th and 5th are street free agents like Victorian and Van Dyke.

            Taylor is going to be 33 by next season. CBs do not age gracefully – at some point they just lose it. The odds are not in our favor of Taylor playing at a high level for very much longer. The reality is that in the near future Taylor is going to need to see fewer snaps.

            Allen looks good but Brown was torched by San Diego et al. Hopefully he will improve but if he doesn’t, he will be targeted by every good QB who has more than 2 functional receivers. If Taylor or Allen gets hurt, now Brown is your starter and street free agents will be your 3rd corner.

            Maybe there are young players ready to fill the void. If so, great! If not, CB is a priority.

          • Canadian Steeler

            I’d agree with that. I’d love a passrusher in the first round, but they do tend to be pushed up on draft day and it’s possible Te’o slides now after Notre Dame’s performance in the BCS championship. Spence has enough question marks (namely size) that shouldn’t preclude us from getting a sure-fire starter like Te’o.

            You could probably put NT somewhere in there too if Ta’amu doesn’t improve. McClendon’s been good in short spurts but I’d like to see some sort of a backup plan.

        • Eric

          I seriously doubt Hampton is coming back.

    • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

      Not that it matters, but I’ve vowed never to use the expression “BPA” anymore. I mean, doesn’t every team think that they are drafting the best player available at a position of need?

  • Eric

    Here’s some potentially good news. The Cowboys have hired M. Kiffin to be their defensive coordinator. Which means they will be switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3. Which means less competition for players in the draft and small chance that some now misfit players will be available.

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      Mentioning Monte Kiffin made me think of meeting him, which I vaguely remembered posting about on HSS. I’m glad I googled it, as there is a lot of detail I’d forgotten. Ryan’s post is also so chock full of awesomeness even 5 years later, I’m not sure where to begin… Sosa, Eric and Cols on Beason, JJ on CBs, Revis, Timmons, Sepulveda… It’s a friggin time capsule of a post. Maybe it will inspire our 4 hosts to resurface… http://heelssoxsteelers.blogspot.com/2007/04/back-from-dead.html?m=1

      • Rob D

        Indeed..that was great and I enjoyed your “encounter with greatness”.
        I hope the boys find their mojo and cover the lead up to the draft. We need this website up and running as the STeelers rise like the Phoenix bird next year.

  • David

    Wow, the Bronc’s just did a Tim McKyer and let the Raisins get behind them and score.
    Then Manning did a Flacco and gave the game to the Raisins. Wow. Sucks.
    I don’t see them losing to either HOU or the Patsies. Sucks.

    • Sarah

      Good Lord, that was simply astonishing incompetence in Denver, in every area. WTH is with Fox and taking a knee?

      • Rob D

        There was that 3rd and 8 where converting would in all likelihood have ended the game. He/the OC runs it meekly up the middle with Peyton Manning at QB. Given the toasted nature of your secondary at that point, I don’t see what he was thinking. I mean, Manning just throws it away if there’s nothing there and you punt. That was a huge “give up” moment by the Broncos there and it cost them.I’d be pisssed for a long time if I was a Denver fan over this game. You never know if this is the last healthy year you get out of an aging Peyton..no gurarntees he’s ever going to have the type of year he had again.

  • Rob D

    49ers…that is a Cowboys 3peat level O-line they are sporting. Good grief..huge and mobile .Massive advantage for them.
    Ravens… how bad did the Broncos secondary play today? Brutal..And Peyton looked old near the end. I think his arm got weaker as the game wore on. That was probably his last best chance to win another title, I think. Huge upset. Now we get to hear Ray RAy spout off for another week.

  • Rob D

    Seattle….did everything in their power to choke away another home playoff game but came up a little short this time.
    So far, I got my Atlanta and SanFran picks correct and choked on my Denver choice. Come on Houston..make me look good.

    • Rob D

      Seattle….did everything in their power..

      Meant ATLANTA, of course…but you knew that

      2-2 over the weekend. I used to run many NFL pools at work and for family. I won it exactly one time over 15+ years of competition. I almost always finished at .500 (or worse) despite devoting hours and hours to research, studying weather patterns and the possibility of snow, who’s out, who’s in…historical records against this team on the road etc. etc…..It proved to me that you could simply flip a coin and be just as accurate. There are no givens in the NFL. That’s why I think its’ entirely possible we bounce back as an organization next year and we forget all this ugliness. STaying healthy would be a great start though…wouldn’t it?

  • David

    Well, it looks like SF at ATL, BAL at NE.
    Comments on potential SB matchups:
    1. SF-NE: either SF matches our 6 or Mr. Gisele gets his 4th.

    2. ATL-NE: Mr. Gisele WILL get his 4th
    3. SF-BAL: I’ll say it again, the There is No God Bowl
    4. ATL-BAL: Lowest rated SB in history? Go Falcons!

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      All four teams that I was rooting for this weekend lost, and there’s no one left for me to root for. Either of the NFC teams would be far-less-bad than the evil duo. I guess I’ll root for Kapernick, but an all-Harbaugh Super Bowl would be insufferable. I also realized this weekend that my hatred of the Ravens has surpassed my hatred of the Pats. Maybe Ray Lewis and Brady can collide, knocking them both out of the game. And I feel literally nothing about the Falcons.

      • Sarah

        I feel nothing for ATL either – but trying hard to muster something LOL!!!! They’re my new BFFs!!

        Good God, Denver sucks.

  • Rob D

    Some good laughs to be had here http://tinyurl.com/apwxk5n (ESPN)

    DJ Gallo on the death of defense in the NFL.

    “Your team is winning by four points with 90 seconds left in the game. What do you do? Try to stop your opponent from scoring a touchdown? AHHHHHHHHHHHahahahahahaha. Stop living in the past, man. Chances are you’re not going to stop them from scoring a touchdown. What you need to do is practice smart defensive failure clock management and let them score a touchdown immediately. That way you get the ball back in the hands of your offense with enough time to win the game with a touchdown of its own.”

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    In August 2012, Steelers Lounge had 6 posts/podcasts (on top of the game and weekly threads), with appearances by all four of our hosts. Since then, in the last 4.5 months, outside of the game threads, there have been 7 posts (and no podcasts), all by Adam. Maybe we can pretend that the season for the Steelers and for SL didn’t exist and start fresh. Podcast #75 in honor of Joe Greene would be a good place to start…

    • Rob D

      Well. if we keep on posting, perhaps the site won’t die. I am sure our hosts are busy with their professional and personal lives. I still enjoy this site more than any other.

      • Eric

        Agreed. I enjoy the content when it is provided but I’m not going to complain when it isn’t. You get what you pay for! Plus I appreciate that there is a good forum to talk Steelers.

    • MRav

      Again, I wonder if the hosts would be willing to post user content, pending their editorial review and approval. It’s my opinion that the majority of the user content posted in these comments sections are more well written and better structured that some of the garbage you get at some other sites…specifically those rhyming with wheelersbeep-o.

  • Eric
    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      One piece of good news, from my perspective, is that the Ravens are going to give Flacco a ton of money and I don’t think he’s worth it. Of course, in his next two games, he might prove that he is.

      • Intropy

        You pay a player based on how you think he will perform. It’s nice when they do their best work when it matters most, but that really doesn’t provide any more data than any other game does. There is years of data on Flacco. In order to justify a franchise-tag-level salary he’d have to play like some sort of post-apotheosis amalgamation of Otto Graham and Jim Brown.

  • David
  • Cols714

    Well the Steelers officially look like idiots. Arians is now a head coach after leading his team to the playoffs. Meanwhile our offense looked like hell and Ben still got injured. Good job whoever decided to fire Arians.

    I think maybe the Colts screwed up by letting him go. All he’s done over the years is coach Peyton Manning, Derek Anderson to his best year, Big Ben to his best years, somehow got that Colts team to the playoffs and now he’s a head coach.

    That’s a pretty great resume.

    • Rob D

      I was never a huge fanboy of BA but also thought he took far too much criticism for his play calling. Looking around, that’s what all OC’s in the league live with. Endless second guessing.

      I liked our offense this year until Ben got hurt. It wasn’t exciting like Washington or SEattle’s was but it kept Ben clean and it ate up clock. The problem was/is that it couldn’t score at the level required in this Arena Ball era of the NFL. We lacked cohesion and proven talent everywhere on offense. O-line, running backs, WR’s…leaking oil for various reasons. I will reserve judgement on our present OC until he has another full year under his belt with hopefully more talent to put out there and fewer injuries to deal with.

      But yes, ARians got a raw deal from the STeelers. They told the media he was retiring for god’s sake…lol…that was a PR nightmare and a very poorly handled situation. I wish BA luck in his new job. He’s a very good coach and helped us win a lot of games and SB’s.

    • Eric

      Certainly the retirement/non-retirement was an embarrassing black eye.

      I think Art Rooney was behind the whole mess.

  • Rob D

    Well…I am taking the 49ers and NE this weekend. I think BAltimore is going to get shellacked…41-17..something like that. I don’t believe they are in this after the 3rd quarter. It’s not that NE is a juggernaut, it’s just that Balt’s offense relies on completing passes against spastic defensive backs who can’t time thier leaps or make plays on the ball. Rice gets shut down and people are tuning out early.

    49ers are simply the best team in football..I think they run all over the Falcons and put it in the air only if necessary. I think they are the odds on favourite to win it all..too much talent and they are well coached. Harbaugh may be a douche (did I say MAY? lol) but he took the ultimate chance by switching away from one QB to another. It’s kinda paid off. There’s hardly a weak spot on that entire roster and they are mostly young just coming into their prime players. BEst O-line. BEst LBers. One of the best D-lines. ST’s are solid if they can get Akers back into the groove. It’s looking to me like the start of dynastic run if they can keep the team together. But right now they look like the shiny new thing in the NFL.

    They are a matchup nightmare for every single team in the league. I don’t think they will have much trouble winning the Lombardi this year. They look like the dynastic TRULY dominant teams of the pre-salcap era.

    OK,,now they can go lay an egg and make me look like an idiot! One thing is for sure, if NE wins another SB, you can kiss this era goodbye in terms of comparing them to any other franchise. We could win the next 2 in a row and still be on Page 5 of the sports section. Think about THAT when some say they don’t care if NE wins.

  • Eric

    Well, if the goal is to have neither the Ravens nor the Patriots win the Superbowl (and it should be), I think we should be rooting for the Ravens this weekend.

    • Rob D

      It’s a dog’s breakfast for a STeeler fan..lol..the hatred runs deep for most of us ro both of those teams. Brady wins and we get 4 hour specials on NFLN comparing him to Jesus Christ. Ray Lewis wins and he IS the Buddha with a helmet.

      In my scenario, the victory is temporary as the winnner goes on to be crushed by the 9ers and their ..ahem..charismatic and much loved coach. That leaves you with the lasting image of Harbaugh’s face looking at its reflection in the Lombardi trophy.

      Serenity now!!

      We must endure the unendurable.

    • David

      We should be rooting for ATL all the way. Screw everyone else.

  • David

    Wow, Matty Ice has a perfect QB rating now it’s 17-0.

    Kaepernick? 1-3, 3 yds, QB rating 42.4. Hell, couldn’t me or you do that?

    • Rob D

      Well. Matty Ice still threw the killer INT and had the fumble but overall, I think the Falcons have cast off the choker label. Great ball game for both teams. Kaepernick is the real deal. Down 17 on the road and he looked like Joe Montana at least as far as the cool part goes…no flinching. took what the D left him. 49ers pass D got shredded because their rush resembled a certain team I could name..lol

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Google “harbaugh is a” and see what the autofills are. FWIW, two of the top four for Tomlin are “great coach” and “god.”

  • Rob D

    So much for my prediction of a NE decisive victory..lol..that team confounds me. Brady loooked like he couldn’t throw the ball accurately anything past 15 yds or so. Perhaps the rumours that he is losing arm strength with age are accurate. Not sure…but Baltimore outplayed them by a significant margin today. AS ESPN would have it ..Flacco outduels St. Brady! REad all about it.
    Kudos to the RAvens…they deserved that win.
    At least the 9ers won but it was far closer than I had imagined. Atlanta played very well but they had trouble in the red zone and turned the ball over at absolutely crucial times.

    Should be a cracker of a SB…the Harbaugh Bowl folks.
    Now we take a 2 week break to let all the excitement wear off and reporters get to probe ever deeeper into the the mystery and the man that IS Ray Lewis.

  • David

    Well, I stand with what I said earlier now that the SB is set.

    Stop going to church, guys and girls, there is no God now that the Raisins and Whiners, aka John and Jim Har-d-bags, are in the big game.

    There are only two good things that can happen now:

    1. Either the Raisins don’t win it or SF doesn’t tie us, and

    2. I can just get plastered without any interest in the game whatsoever at my buddy’s SB party.

  • Eric
    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      Good article. It is also weird / interesting that they won 3 SBs when Brady put up good but not all-time great regular season stats. Since he’s become “Brady” with all the gaudy regular season stats, they’ve won no Super Bowls and have been around .500 in the postseason. Another way of looking at it is that after the third SB, Brady morphed into Peyton, with similar success in both the regular season and in the playoffs.

      • Sarah

        My opinion on the drop-off? MArriage and kids.
        (Doesn’t bode well for BB…)

        • EasyLikeSundayMorning

          The marriage didn’t hurt Ben (at least on third down). But the recuperation from the rib injury didn’t seem to be helped by having a newborn baby at home.

          • Sarah

            Indeed! That injury clearly was a turning point for BB.
            (I think as a whole the offense also turned on the AB ankle injury….but that is another story….)

            Anyway – time will tell! With the little Ben-Bambino! And how BB does next couple years….

  • Sarah

    Well – the Whiner Bowl.
    Dunno who to root for – Boo or Hoo Harbough.

    Ugh.

  • Cols714

    The Steelers beat the last two AFC champions, the Patriots we beat pretty handily in 2011, and this year we beat the Ravens with Charlie Batch.

    • Sarah

      Yes, frustrating.

      As simple as not getting focused for the lesser opponents?….

      I know there were a lot of issues this year….but that one seems to be floating to the top for me….

      • Cols714

        Nah. More like our great defensive players like Woodley, Harrison, and Polamalu were injured and sucking at the beginning of the year. Then once healthy, our offensive players like Brown, Wallace, Ben, and the OL were injured and sucking at the end of the year.

        • EasyLikeSundayMorning

          This is a pretty good and quick summary of the season.

        • Sarah

          Yeah def all true.

          I just think even with Woodley Harrison out and so on, they more lost to dregs like OAK, TE, CLE, because they were not focused and looked past weaker opponents.

          If I had to pick one thing it wouldn’t be injuries. It would be focus. Even injured there’s no way they should have lost 3-4 of the games they did this year.

          • Cols714

            I don’t know what focus has to do with it. I’m sure they were prepared and up for the games, it’s just hard to win when your best players are injured or old or old and injured.

            We’ll bounce back next year, we always do.

          • Sarah

            Well I guess I don’t agree based on comments by likes of Keisel saying the young guys need to stop looking “past” the easy opponents and focus on the current game.

          • Cols714

            That’s dumb though. No one has any evidence of players looking past easy opponents. Keisel should be added to the injured/sucking at the beginning list. He was awful the first few weeks of the season.

          • Rob D

            But Keisel did say that Cols..he’s not a guy who runs his mouth a lot. I think Sarah is right that we had some kids who thought they had arrived (YMC) when they’ve barely begun.

          • Cols714

            Keisel also played pretty badly for a lot of the season. Was it because he wasn’t focused? I highly doubt it.

            I hate the narrative that every NFL fan attributes wins and losses to whether or not their team played hard. My opinion is that both teams usually give good effort and wins and losses are based on things other than emotion/morality.

            Otherwise the NFL would be simple. Focus! Play hard! Then you win.

          • Sarah

            Oh dear. Cols, I love ya man, but it seems like you’re reflexively disagreeing with any opinion not your own.

            No real idea what you mean by the Keisel Sucked remark….I
            didn’t say that if a player sucks it’s always because they lack focus.
            Re your “narrative that every NFL fan has…” ? ( Every NFL fan?) I do not subscribe to that narrative, if it exists, which is your assertion, sans
            the evidence you keep asking for. As for results based on emotion/morality (morality? Is that a typo?) I’m also clueless what you mean there. But I didn’t say that either.

            What I said was : in my opinion, the Steelers often lacked focus
            this year. Lack of focus IMO was more a factor in their losses than injuries.

            I inferred lack of focus due to repeated under-performing vs.
            the worst teams in the league (OAK/TE/CLE…), which often constitutes evidence of same. Many competitors in many sports will tell you it’s harder to get mentally ready for weak opponents, it’s tempting to look past them, and thus be unprepared when they put up resistance. Losing all those games was IMO therefore not coincidence – it was evidence of crappy focus. I believe the astonishing number of fumbles,
            dropped passes, mental errors we witnessed bears that out. I also said this due to reading accounts by numerous other observers that said basically the same thing, i.e : Poor focus vs lesser opponents. Not ready. Lackadaisical. Listless.

            And lastly, I said this due to remarks from ex-Steelers and current Steelers alike, again saying the same thing (Swann, Wallace, Brown, Keisel, Foote….) – poor focus.

            Re evidence -

            http://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/mike_wallace_admits_lack_of_focus_has_contributted_to_drops_poor_production_this_season/12383497

            MW : “If there’s been a play that I haven’t made this year, it’s been in the second or third quarter when I haven’t been getting too many passes … and I’m losing focus. I get a little frustrated, and that’s
            the main thing.”

            http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/12/11/3753978/steelers-lynn-swann-wide-receivers-interview-quotes

            http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/12/18/3778736/steelers-cowboys-week-15-analysis-postgame-recap-summary

            “Many of the key Steelers have been in a lackadaisical mind set in four of their last five games. How else to explain the Steelers “coming out flat” against the Chargers and Browns (and before them the Chiefs)?
            How else to explain more than one player describing a lack of focus, a lack of attention or a lack of determination?”

            Keisel and Foote after SD

            http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/steelers/chargers-strike-down-listless-steelers-34-24-665733/

  • David

    You wanna know what? This may get me banned from SL, but I will root for the Raisins more than the Whiners. And when I say “root”, I mean it’s like telling a Dr. I would settle for passing a kidney stone vs. having a colonoscopy.

    The reasons?
    1. 6 vs. 2: I don’t want anyone to match our 6, even if it means 2 for our arch-enemies.
    2. If the Raisins win, they’ll waste a ton of cap money on Ole Unibrow
    3. It’s Ray Ray’s last game! Win or lose, hooray!

    But what I think will happen? SF 27, BAL 17 (SF’s D just too much, especially the pass rush)

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      There are a large number of painful medical procedures I’d rather go through than watch Ray Ray dance and hug John Harbaugh. I don’t care about 6 Super Bowl wins and 2 and 3 are true regardless of the outcome.

      • David

        True, but also looking forward, I think SF has the potential to win a couple more in the next few years due to their O and D lines, and if Kaepernick is not a one-hit wonder.

        And Ray Ray isn’t the most annoying Raisin anymore. It’s Harbaugh. OK, I changed my mind, I want SF to win…

        • Sarah

          I’m with David. Raisins over WHiners…..Can’t believe I just said that…

          Gotta go throw up….scuse me…

  • Rob D

    No matter who wins the SB (I’m picking the 49ers based on the youthful talent advantage they have alone) it can be a wakeup call for the Steelers as an organization. YOu have a team in SF that looks like a dynasty level conglomeration of scary talent. Seattle isn’t that far behind with a dynamic (and yes, annoying) coach who has everyone on the same page and like Harbaugh, took a chance on a young, unproven QB to lead the squad. Atlanta’s talent is obvious. They took a nice step this year and I wouldn’t bet against them next year.That’s 3 REALLY good to great teams in the NFC. You think the Steelers would beat any of them playing the way the did this year, assuming they somehow stumbled through the AFC and made it to the big dance? Me either.

    Baltimore could/may win the SB. HOw good they will be in the future is a legit question considering they will lose their emotional leader in Lewis and that Ed Reed is nearing the end of his long and successful run. But they definately find talent in the draft and made judicious moves this year to bolster an already good squad. Boldin for one who has been a difference maker. NE looks like they can’t win the big games anymore..they got outtoughed easily by BAltimore.Denver is relying on an old QB in a league where the young QB is ascendent. The AFC can be had if we play our cards right. But we are busy jettisoning Mendy and Wallace and Foster and STarks and if the rumours are correct..maybe even Hampton and Harrison. We could get younger and we need to..but you don’t replace playmakers easily.

    We desparately need to get better. I like the fact that Colbert seemed to indicate big changes are afoot. We may field a very different team next year but for the first time in years, I’m worried about this org. staying with the elite of the league. Great teams fall apart by degrees…a drip drip drip of attrition through injuries, fall off of play from vets “losing half a step”, age and poor personnel decisions as well as hanging on to outdated schemes and organizational changes from father to son

    • Cols714

      I don’t really see them falling off here. We went to the Super Bowl in 2010, in 2011 we were 12-4, and then last year we fell off a bit to 8-8.

      But meanwhile we rebuilt both lines with young talent and overhauled the CBs. Is there still work to do? Yep, but they will be right in it as usual next year.

    • David

      Well, woulda, coulda, shoulda, but we were two picks (CIN, DAL), one punt return (BAL), and a missed 54 yd FG (TEN) from going 12-4. Throw in a jar of stickum, and we’d be 13-3 (CLE).
      Anyhow, this still wouldn’t have cured our injuries and our brain cramps/farts vs. SD, OAK.

      But to me, there is no fear, as I believe in Colbert and Co. We are long removed from our dark days in the 80′s (I wasn’t around in the 50′s and early 60′s). Think Bubby Brister, Mark Malone (who I both like, but just weren’t top caliber QBs), wasted draft picks (Aaron Jones, Tim Worley, etc), and constantly getting throttled by CIN and CLE (one season they beat us 92-10 combined).

      As far as the league, I’m not sold on SEA. They really over-achieved this year. I look for them to fall a bit, say 9-7, next year. Or ATL. They played 1-2 qtrs a game and thought the game was like the World Cup and timed for 90 min.

      Harbaugh, well, if you had Alex Smith as QB, wouldn’t you look for the next best replacement or any excuse to replace him? Kinda harsh, but IMO mostly true.
      Agree on NE, DEN.

      BAL will always be competitive. Look for us and BAL to be good and slugging it out for years to come.

  • MRav

    I know it’s early, but I was looking at ESPN’s top 32 draft prospects and could not believe how many DT/Es were listed in the first round. There were 13 defensive lineman slotted as potential first round picks and only 2 WR.

    There is a lot of talk lately about how the Steelers could easily wind up taking a WR in the first round, If draft rankings were to remain close to what they are now, we would really be reaching. I’m also wondering, with the apparent plethora of DL in this draft if trading back is going to be the Steelers best move with this year’s 17th pick. At least a handful of these DL will somehow fall down the board and will be available in the second round. Also, there should be a good amount of WR available in that round.

    Obviously things will change after the combine, but they really couldn’t change that drastically. I might feel differently after the combine, but right now it just doesn’t seem like there are enough great prospects on the Steelers short list in the first round that would warrant keeping that pick.

    • Cols714

      I could see them taking WR, OLB, or safety in the 1st round. I”m doubtful of DL, RB, and OL. As usual they’ll probably do a good job. I am a bit worried about Heath Miller’s injury though. I hope we don’t have to add TE to the list of needs.

      • Eric

        ILB, too. Just Timmons and a rehabbing Spence on the roster. Foote is a free agent.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    QOTD: if the Steelers could add a top 5 player at any position, which one would have the biggest positive impact on how many games we’d win?

    • Canadian Steeler

      Defensive line/Pass rusher. Okay, I know I’m cheating, but either of these could increase the pass rush significantly. Think about Justin and Aldon Smith in SF. Aldon Smith’s definitely a dynamic pass-rusher, but look how much he fell off when J. Smith got injured? They live off that stunt and loop inside. A player like J. Smith, Ngata (or Aaron Smith 5-6 years ago) would give Woodley/Harrison/Worilds one-on-one matchups with running backs and tight ends more often.

      Obviously adding a pure pass rusher like Von Miller, Ware, Allen, Pierre-Paul, etc. would be another way of attacking this problem, but I think I’d settle on adding the powerful DE who destroys double teams and never gives up an inch.

      I think that’d free up Woodley, giving us (conservatively) 2 more wins. This year alone we would’ve beat the Titans and Raiders if Hasselbeck and Palmer didn’t have all day to throw.

    • Cols714

      Great question. I think I’d go with RB. I think a top 5 RB would have done wonders this past season.

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      FWIW, I agree with the thoughts from both Cols and Canadian Steeler. If our running game or pass rush were better, I think we could have contended for the Super Bowl this year, even with all the other injuries and issues. Same goes for 2013, too.

  • Cols714

    The more I think about it, the more I think they are going to take a safety with one of their top 2 picks.

    • David

      Just a hunch, but I’m more inclined to think we will draft a RB in the 1st.

      A RB you ask? Well, the last RB we drafted in the 1st is leaving, and the one before that we acquired from the LA Rams was a 1st rounder. I think long gone are the days we can get an undrafted FWP or a Foster in the 5th or 7th R.

      Almost as mind-blowing, I think we draft DL in the 2nd, as Hood & Heyward are underachieving & Keisel is getting older. And I’m reading that this draft is heavy in DL, so maybe we can get a 1st R talent in the 2nd at DL.

      Then, in the 3rd we get Wallace’s replacement, as I believe he was drafted in the 3rd.

      But I would bet my ridiculous academic salary that this all won’t happen.

      • Cols714

        I’m unsure about Hood underachieving last year. He was very good in 2010 as Smith’s replacement when Smith went down. He wasn’t all that great in 2011, but last year after the first four games or so he seemed to play much better.

        Heyward I haven’t seen enough of to say either way.

        I would be tremendously surprised if they took a DL in the top 2 rounds. Unless it is a Casey Hampton like NT. I could see that happening, but I think it’s unlikely.

        As for RB, that would certainly make some heads explode. It might be worth it just to read all of the various Steelers’ sites the next day.

        I was rewatching some of the 2010 playoff run for some unknown and stupid reason, and I was very impressed by how hard Mendenhall was running. He was pretty great until that Super Bowl fumble changed everything.

        • MRav

          I really have a hard time seeing both Dwyer and Redman coming back. If you tender both of them at the lowest level, that’s like a 2.5 mil cap hit. IF they were going to bring either of them back, it would have to be on a 2-3 year minimum contract. That would lessen the cap hit and give a serviceable second or third string RB for the next little bit who can share the load while whatever rookie they bring in gets up to speed. Depending on how the draft plays out and how much talent is there, I could see tow RBs getting selected in the mid to late rounds. Say somewhere between 4-7. Unless they trade down with that first pick, then maybe we see one in the third, possibly the second.

        • David

          I’m just frustrated with Hood. EB says he’s the strongest man on the team, yet gets pushed around and can’t bull rush. I just hope he’s not the next Aaron Jones or Daryl Sims.

        • EasyLikeSundayMorning

          My hope was that Hood would fill the Aaron Smith role and Heyward would fill the Keisel role. By that I mean the dominant run blocker (Smith) and the athletic guy who can be used creatively (Keisel).

          Whenever I pay attention to Hood, too often he seems to be lost in traffic or getting pushed around or possibly out of position. He doesn’t seem to be eating up OLs to free up the LBs to focus more on blitzing. He’s had enough starter reps (and enough coaching from Mitchell) that I’m worried he’s never going to get it. So I’d be fine with drafting someone who could be an upgrade to Ziggy, regardless of the round.

          Heyward has had far fewer starter reps; this could be due to opportunity or due to lack of performance in practice (I assume it is a bit of both; if he showed more during the week, he’d get more reps on Sundays). But at least Heyward has shown flashes of athleticism, so I’m hopeful he can still be Keisel’s eventual replacement.

      • Eric

        Why are the days of getting low round RBs long gone? Foster, who you mentioned, is still playing. Parker was playing less than 5 years ago. I don’t understand the basis for your comment. Besides, both Foster and Parker weren’t low round picks, they were no round picks.

        I have a secret. Do you want to know why a fair amount of high round RBs fail and low round RBs succeed? It’s because a successful running game has much less to do with the running back and everything to do with the offensive line. The media and fans just focus on RBs because they are easier to follow than blocking schemes. Given a good offensive line, most drafted running backs will be successful. It’s only once-in-generation guys like Adrian Peterson, Barry Sanders or Jim Brown that can be successful despite the offensive line.

        The Steelers have recently invested heavily in the offensive line. If they can stay healthy and get some cohesion the running game will take care of itself. Viva la low round RB!

        • David

          I’m just not sold on our crop of “low round” RBs. Dwyer is slow, and Redman has heart, but can he be the feature back for 16 games?

          Also, off the top of my hairless head, we’ve also drafted Batch, Frank the Tank, et al.

          I see what you are saying, and mostly agree. Can we find that diamond in the rough? Or should we ID an AP, LT, or other 1st Rounder that we can use, now that our potential SB window with Ben, Troy, etc. is closing, as all are in their 30′s?

          I just would not be surprised if we draft RB in either R1-2. OK, I just backtracked a bit with R2.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    I think the idea than RBs are fungible is overblown (sorry, Ryan). And hoping to get a very good back in the late rounds or as an UDFA is a highly risky plan.

    There’s no perfect way to rank the best RBs, but I think a reasonable approach is to look at the list of top projected fantasy backs. ESPN’s Eric Karabell’s top 15 projected RBs for 2013 were picked in the NFL draft in the following rounds: 1, UDFA, 1, 1, 1, 3, 2, 1, 6, 3, 2, 3, 1, 3, 2.

    That said, there is no RB this year who is a consensus r1 pick. But if the Steelers think one is worth a pick in rounds 1-3, I’m fine with that.

    In case you are curious, Karabell’s top RBs for 2013 are:
    1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
    2. Arian Foster, Houston Texans
    3. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
    4. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    5. Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns
    6. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
    7. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
    8. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
    9. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
    10. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
    11. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
    12. Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
    13. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
    14. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
    15. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears

    • MRav

      That’s a pretty eye opening list.

    • David

      That’s a hell of a list, Easy. It’s so sad Mendy wasn’t able to make it.
      So my QOTD is, looking at this list, there are a lot of bangers & grinders: is (was) Mendy a finesse RB?

      • Cols714

        I don’t think so. If you watch that 2010 playoff run he was running hard and fast. I think the ACL injury last year really killed him this year. Also fumbling too much this year.

        With better coaching and a change of scenery I think there is still hope for him.

  • MRav

    I don’t know why I check steelersdepot.com. The writing is pretty bad, the forum moderator is a communist, and the majority of the commenters who post are probably not what you would call intelligent.

    Take the recent post about Lamar Woodley. All but one f the poor souls are commenting that he should be replaced and that he has no heart or ability. Name a steeler outside of LT, Clark, or Heath who didn’t have a subpar year. These freaking loser alarmists who post their stupid opinions really annoy me.

    /end rant.

    • Cols714

      Yep
      I try to post some sanity in the comment sections sometimes but it sucks. Which is why we need this site.

      • Canadian Steeler

        Absolutely. It’s too bad BTSC seems to have declined too. Is it weird that I find both they and Steelersdepot post too many articles? Discussions can never get going if they’re being pushed down the page and replaced with new topics. I’d take 1-2 detailed, well-researched, or even just funny articles a week over 5-10/day. Just looking for hits.

        • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

          Of course they are in decline. It’s the nature of the internet. Everyone wants everything for free.

          Once the initial enthusiasm at the site fades and the hard work sets in, nobody wants to play anymore.

          Few of these websites started with a business plan and it shows. They can’t afford to pay professional writers and editors to put in the necessary time and energy to keep the sites interesting and newsy.

          There’s only so much you can do with wise cracks, comments, and tip jars. In other words, we get what we pay for.

          • Cols714

            Yep, but Steel City Insider also has awful comment boards (or at least did, I haven’t checked them in a year or two) and they have a business model that apparently works for them.

            I also think, but don’t know, that SB Nation must have some sort of business model or financial backing.

            But yeah, something has to happen to make websites viable, I’m not sure what.

          • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

            Cols, the only person who makes a living from SCI is Jim Wexell, and I truly doubt it’s a living worth bragging about.

            As far as any news/communication media are concerned, the internet has destroyed much more business than it has built, in my opinion.
            It certainly destroyed mine.

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      The comments on many sites are really weak. For example, the anti-Tomlin comments on the PPG are so unhinged that I assume they are mostly driven by racism. Tomlin like every coach is human and makes some mistakes (for example, I was not a fan of his decision to ask Suisham to attempt two kicks this year outside of his range). But saying things he’s a complete failure or a terrible coach are not signs of a firm grasp on reality.

  • Eric
    • Cols714

      23rd huh? Well we suck on the OL, but I think the talent is there and we are set up for the future. The Cardinals with their last ranking is unsurprising. What is surprising is that Steelers fans still pine for Russ Grimm even though his Arizona lines have been awful and their cornerstone pick, Levi Brown, was a complete failure.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    On ESPN Live, Ryan Clark said “there’s no doubt” he’d rather have the Niners tie the Steelers with 6 SBs than “to have to deal with the Ravens for a year” and he added “we’ll go try to win seven next year.” I couldn’t agree more…

    • Cols714

      Me too. I’m rooting hard for the 49ers. I really was rooting for them beat Atlanta because I thought they were going to be able to beat whoever came out of the AFC. I see them winning by 7-10 points. They are the better team.

      For all of Baltimore’s supposed resurgence, they are basically here because a Denver safety made a hugely dumb mistake.

  • Cols714

    The Steelers have spent the last few drafts trying to rebuild their DL and OL. This usually bodes well for a team down the road. And 2013 will be time enough to find out if it worked.

    The thing is that because they’ve invested so heavily in OL and DL the last couple of drafts I could totally see them taking a WR and RB with their top 2 picks.

    I know I’ve been all over the place on this, but a good RB would do wonders for this team.

  • Cols714

    Steelers hired a new OL coach today. Of course we know next to nothing about him and have almost no way of judging the hire. But he has to be better than Kugler was. Right?

    I always love when we hire a new OL or ST coach. No one really knows anything about them but at some point an opinion forms, usually before the Steelers play a game, and that’s the filter that everything that happens gets seen through.

    • Canadian Steeler

      I wrote a post about this but it seems to have disappeared. Essentially both PFF and FO say KC was better at run blocking last year, although the argument could be made the talent discrepancy between Charles and Cassel/Quinn doesn’t help.

      I’d argue this is where the improvement’s needed. We’re (likely) not going to have a really talented running back on the roster next year. KC used some of the stretch zone that I think we could excel at with athletes like Pouncey, DeCastro and Adams. Our pass protection was middle of the road according to FO, and Ben has proved that while he needs the line to keep him from being injured, he can excel under pressure. If nothing else, you have to think this is the most talented set of linemen for a new coach to work with since Grimm.

      • Cols714

        Agreed about the talent. I think that the OL will be much better next year.

        • Eric

          The new offensive line coach the Steelers hired was the Chiefs offensive line coach last year.

          According to the PFF link below, the Chiefs offensive line performed much better than the Steelers line. I don’t know how talented the Chiefs lineman are but their passing game was mud and they still ran the ball effectively. I’m going to allow myself to be optimistic that it was because they were well coached.

          • Cols714

            Me too.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Bill Barnwell wrote that the Niners’ 11 defensive starters collectively lost 4 games to injury this year. The have at least 3 defensive starters over 30 years old and one of their main backups is… wait for it… Clark Haggans. If our defensive starters had lost only 4 total games, I think the odds are decent that we’d be playing on Sunday.

    • Cols714

      Not only the missed games, but Harrison, Keisel, Hampton, and Troy were pretty bad the first few games they played.

  • Cols714

    I see our friends at BTSC are still beating the salary cap stupidity drum with a post titled:Re-Load or Re-Build: What can the Steelers afford to do?

    Anyone who thinks the Steelers are going to cut lots of veterans and rebuild haven’t been paying attention to the team for the last 20 years or so.

    Obviously some guys are going to be gone, Wallace, Foote, maybe Hampton and Colon. But a rebuild is not going to happen.

    I’ve been thinking about the RB problem. Is it just solved by re-signing Mendenhall? Wouldn’t that work?

    • Canadian Steeler

      He’s certainly talented enough, but it does seem like that bridge has been burnt. I doubt he has the trust of the coaching staff and I don’t see why he’d want to return here, unless we gave him more money or were his only suitors.

      Also completely agree with you about the salary cap. We’re definitely gonna see some turnover, but that was probably coming anyway due to the age of the players. If they really wanted to keep Wallace, they would’ve found a way (maybe by not re-signing Brown last offseason, and just giving him a high tender this one). The offense will goes as Ben goes, regardless of receivers. As for the defense, I’m actually a bit excited to see how guys like Spence and McClendon perform. I think our secondary’s in great shape (especially if we can keep Lewis), but getting rid of some veterans in the front seven shouldn’t result in a big drop off in play, since they were mostly average last year anyways.

      • Cols714

        Yep. I really wish Mendenhall hadn’t been such a nit this year. If he had kept a low profile and performed without fumbling he would’ve been an easy re-sign. But now, your right, I don’t know if the staff wants to put up with what seems to be kind of a tough personality with performance questions.

        As for the defense, I think you are right. I forgot about Spence and Sylvestor. If they get those two guys back Foote may be on his way out.

        I hope they find a way to sign Lewis.

        • MRav

          I don’t know that Mendy garners much attention on the open market. How many teams which need a starting back wouldn’t rather draft a back? How many teams out there are looking to spend decent money on an under performing RB who for whatever reason, just didn’t seem to fit in Pittsburgh. I think, knowing what we know about Pitt, it seems like the issue would be with the player and not the organization. With that being said, I also don’t see him coming back, but I’m not ruling it out. I think I’d welcome Mendy back if the price was right. We might be pleasantly be surprised by him in camp to see him trying to prove some people wrong about him.

          • Cols714

            Right, I don’t think he’ll leave because he’s going to get a big offer somewhere else, I think he’ll leave because he’s tired of the Steelers and the Steelers are tired of him.

            But I kind of hope that he comes back. I’m telling you, watch that 2010 playoff run. He was running hard and fast.

          • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

            Because the Steelers hired Bicknell, who is known to prefer zone-blocking schemes, I now think the front office will make Mendenhall an offer, albeit a modest one.

            The consensus on Mendenhall is that he is a better runner behind linemen blocking zones rather than guys using the traditional hat-on-hat technique.

            Bicknell’s schemes might work well not only with Mendenhall but also with the lighter, faster offensive linemen the Steelers have recently drafted.

        • EasyLikeSundayMorning

          When a player’s game is largely based on speed and quickness, it isn’t good when he has a torn ACL, a torn LCL and a dislocated kneecap in an injury described as severe and grotesque. So I wish Spence well, but I’m not expecting much from him.

          • Eric

            Hopefully somebody was thoughtful enough to get Spence some deer antler spray.

  • Eric

    Here’s a fun infograph.

    It’s a fancy way of showing what we already knew – most of the highly paid players are either a veteran defender or Roethlisberger.

    One interesting bit is that the Steelers have the 4th most money tied up in defense (only Den, NYJ and NYG spend more) and 4th least money tied up in offense (only Indy, Oakland, Cinci spend less).

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      The investment in LBs is what jumps out at me. The performance over several years justified it, but the productivity over the last year or two obviously hasn’t been the same as before.

  • Cols714

    Since the term zone blocking scheme seems to have become prevalent, what exactly is the difference between that what the Steelers have been running?

    • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

      As best as I understand, traditional blocking schemes are designed to open a single hole or path for the runner. Running Back “A” hits hole “B”, nothing more, nothing less. If the hole’s not there, too bad. Hit it anyway and hit it hard.

      Zone blocking schemes try to clear out areas through which the runner may pick what he thinks is the best path. Running Back “A” hits spot “B” and runs wherever he thinks he can pick up the most yardage.

      To work properly, zone blocking schemes need linemen who can move quickly and adeptly, and engage defensive players who are behind the line of scrimmage as well as on it.

      Of course, I might be completely wrong about this.

  • David

    Well, it’s over. And the only good thing is that our 6 SBs are safe.

    And I have to admit: this is the 1st SB that I never watched 1 min of. However, I have heard that the game, the bounces, the calls (by SF, not the refs), all went BAL’s way and they were meant to win.
    Oh, and fill in the blank now:
    Joe Flacco is the greatest SB QB since _______.

    And circle your answer below:

    Joe Flacco is an elite QB now, right behind: Manning/Brady

  • David

    Now I’ve seen it all. A Raisin’s fan commented on a 3 yr old anti-Raisins article here.

    Must be part of the celebration to exact a sort of revenge on everyone who said anything derogatory about them. Geez.

    • Canadian Steeler

      Hahahah what a mindset. Your team has just won the superbowl and your reaction isn’t to celebrate or bask in the glory, but to spend all day (I’m assuming, because it’s not like this is an exceedingly popular website and that’s a very old article) scouring the internet for anti-Ravens material.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Bizarrely, despite our worst season in recent years, we were basically one play away from knocking the Ravens out of the playoffs, losing by 3 to them behind an injured Byron Leftwich (without Ben, Troy or Antonio Brown).

  • Intropy

    Dear, Steelers Lounge staff,
    Please put up a ridiculously early draft speculation thread.

    Sincerely,
    Intropy

    • David

      Well, wet your appetite until then, Kiper picked us to take a D-lineman from BYU (to mold into an outside LB), and McShay picked us to take a D-lineman from Ohio St.

      If true, that would be 3 DL 1st R picks in yrs, correct?

      • David

        Damn thread. Should have been “to wet your appetite” and “3 DL 1st R picks in 5 yrs”

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Ahmad Bradshaw was cut by the Giants. Maybe Plax can give him a call.

  • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

    Just checking in to see if anyone is here… hello?… hello, there… anybody home?… hello?
    Hmmm… maybe next week.

  • MRav

    With all of the talk about potential first round picks and positions of need, I want to ask a similar question but from a different perspective.

    What first round pick would would you NOT want to see? Feel free to answer the question with either a position or a player who you believe is overrated. Pretty sure most of us agree that QB definitely can’t, won’t, shouldn’t happen in the first, so try and think of a different answer.

    My answer was a tough choice between OG, OT, and RB. OG and OT because I feel that we’re adequate at those positions, but RB because I don’t feel like there is a true 1st rd grade RB in this draft. So my answer for what I wouldn’t NOT want to see drafted in the 1st rd is…TE!

    Now before you guys begin to lynch me, just hang on one second. First, I’m not concerned about Heath’s injury. I’m not worried about him missing the pre-season or even the first say 2-3 weeks of the regular season to the point where I think we need to have a huge knee-jerk reaction and reach for a TE in the first. If it comes to Heath being out ,I think we get by with what we’ve got. I see the O-line making a big improvement this year to the point where they won’t need TE help as much in pass blocking. If we can agree on that, then we don’t need to worry much about what a poor blocker our recent 7th round pick is.

    Also, if you’re going to argue depth, then answer this? Are you really ok using a first round pick on TE depth when there are so many other needs?

    For me, I’d much rather over-reach for a 2nd round grade RB or WR who will be thrust into the starting lineup for the majority of the season over a 2nd string TE who will probably only be needed for maybe 2-3 weeks.

    • Cols714

      First round. I’m thinking no OG, OT, CB, DL.

    • David

      I’m thinking no WR.

      Quick: What 1st Rd WR have we picked in the last three decades that was fantastic?
      Charles Johnson? Troy Edwards? Plax?

      Two good cases can be made for Santonio or Louuuuuuuuuuu Lipps.
      (Louis was a personal favorite of mine. But he had the dubious distinction of how holding out could kill your career)

    • Intropy

      Center. They don’t need a new center to start except in Pouncey leaves in a couple seasons, and there’s nobody remotely worth a first round pick at the position anyway.

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      I’d pass on QB, C, OT and special teams in R1. And if Keenan signs, CB, too. Other than that, I’d want BPA (yes, including DE and TE). I’m hoping it is a defender.

  • Eric
  • David

    So, the Wex draft goes like this:

    1. S, Kenny Vaccaro
    2. WR, Quinton Patton or Markus Wheaton
    3. RB, Mike Gillislee or Stepfan Taylor or Ray Graham
    4. ILB, Mike Mauti or Sio Moore

    Sounds good to me (positions, as I’m only familiar with 3 of players above)

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    I’ve certainly been wrong before, but I’d be surprised if we pick both an RB and a WR in the top two rounds. I also don’t see the reason Cotchery wouldn’t be on the team.

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      Sorry, meant top 3 rounds.

      • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

        Easy,

        Given the Steelers’ cap problems and their plethora of free agents, it’s possible they could enter training camp with David Gilreath as their No. 3 wide-receiver and their first-string running back could be Baron Batch.

        Would that make it more feasible that the Steelers pick a running back and a wide-receiver early?

        • EasyLikeSundayMorning

          Why won’t Cotchery be on the team? And if they want either or both of Dwyer and Redman, they can.

          • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

            All three of those guys are RFAs, and the Steelers’ cap problems this year are unfortunately very real. I hope you’re right, but we’ll see.

  • Cols714

    I see a lot of doom and gloom around Steelers blogs these day. I’m not buying it though. Sure one 8-8 season sucks, but I’m thinking they make the playoffs next year.

    Over the past couple of years they’ve rebuilt both the OL and the DL. The young CBs look good and Clark and Troy aren’t too old yet. Timmons is awesome, Woodley, when healthy, has been awesome and Harrison, once he got healthy, was good enough last year.

    The biggest question marks are at RB and WR.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    QOTD: if you had a time machine and could kidnap either Troy or Silverback in his peak season and at full health and put him on the 2013 Steelers, which one would you take?

    • David

      Wow, tough QOTD. I’ll pick Silverback, as we could’ve used more sacks and pressures last year.

    • Cols714

      Harrison, but only because I felt like Troy was getting close last year and I expect big things from him this year.

    • Intropy

      Polamalu. I think he would take the time travel in stride, whereas Harrison would either be really excited or really pissed, and that’s not a chance I want to take.

  • http://www.facebook.com/priceperhead1 Jake Richards

    Sounds great. It’s the smart choice. Excellent summary and valuable info.