Steelers Lounge Podcast #87: Mark Bruener

It’s another Steelers Lounge Podcast, y’all…

Another week, another loss for the Steelers, this time in historic fashion. The Patriots hung 55 points on a defenseless Pittsburgh defense and we spend most of the podcast talking about the future.

The conversation starts with which coaches should be sent packing in the offseason, including Dick LeBeau and whether it’s time to see what Keith Butler can do as a defensive coordinator. Then there’s the roster. Which veterans other than Big Ben and LaMarr Woodley (because of his contract) should be back? And what happens if another team wants to trade for Roethlisberger, should the Steelers consider it, especially if they have a top-5 pick in the April draft and can get their next franchise quarterback there?

It’s early November and already so many questions, none of which have to do with the final eight games of the season.

Sad, we know.

Alrighty, talking starts promptly…

Steelers Lounge Podcast #87: Mark Bruener

Steelers Lounge Podcast

As always, thanks to everybody for subscribing to the podcast (do it now if you haven’t) and if you want to send questions, comments, complaints or whatever about the show, email us here.

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  • Cols714

    PTI brought up a good point last night. Is Ben just not quite as good as he used to be because he’s been hit so much? That pass to Brown that got picked from the end zone was a good example. He looked like he was ready to get hit and threw it awkwardly without stepping into the ball.

    I’ve been a big NO on trading Ben because when you have a franchise QB who is not old why would you trade him? But it is interesting that there are a lot of QBs in this draft. I’m still NO on trading him though.

    • Eric

      I’m not too concerned if Roethlisberger is starting to flinch under pressure. That’s how of 99% of QBs react when about to get hit (Brady, Manning, etc). I don’t think it signals the end of him being a top QB.

      What is interesting is that Roethlisberger has always been seemingly immune to all the punishment. If the hits are catching up to him, he’ll have to start beating defenses more mentally than physically, like Elway did when he got older. Ok, maybe I am worried after all.

      • Terribletoweler

        He can do this, I think. It takes time and adjustment. We saw him become more committed to studying film in the past. Will he have another gear in the study room? I think so, with the right OC. The only time we can see Ben try to outsmart the D is when running the no huddle–which happens to be when the offense is able to do, well, anything. He’s no genius, but I think his experience is excellent and his football IQ is good, but not great. That’s enough to beat most defenses, and that’s all you’ll really get.

        Sure, we could have a Peyton Manning, but he doesn’t have the same physical tools, and I don’t think he would do well behind our OL. Might be the same for Brady in this situation, who has also struggled this year (except when playing our defense, then he was superman).

    • Randy Steele

      I keep wondering if Rothlisberger is entering the “Carson Palmer-phase” of his career…

  • Eric

    It’s hard to say what Roethlisberger would be worth. When current players are traded for picks, the return is always lower than I’d have thought. I wouldn’t trade Roethlisberger for less than 2 1sts and a 2nd. Even assuming that the Steelers end up in the top 5 to pick a QB, the bust rate for QBs is very high. Then you’re franchise is locked into 3 years of trying to figure out if your QB is any good. God help you if he isn’t.

    • ROb D

      Yep, Eric, there are zero guarantees you don’t end up with an insta-bust like Ryan Leaf or just a mediocrity who shows hopeful flashes. It’s HARD to find a franchise. So if you give one up. you’d better get an insane return or Andrew Luck. And I don’t think BEn would pull in that much gold. Too many hits (he’s still taking them despite all the offseason talk)..too old..never thought of by the press as in Brady/Manning/Brees class..etc. That’s why I keep him, NOt only because I’m a huge fan but because you won’t get the value back that Indy did for the best QB of his generation.

  • Cols714

    A new OC next year should wipe out a lot of the negativity around the offense. Who is the hot OC for next year?

    I think they need to draft a LT in the first round, then a NT in the 2nd, and a WR in the 3rd.

    • Eric

      Hopefully not someone with a “system”.

      • Cols714

        I don’t mind a system. As long as the system is a good fit. Arians ran a system that fit well here but Haley’s does not.

        • Eric

          I’m leery of any OC that has a “system”. It seems to me that the really good OCs are the ones that are flexible. What’s Whisenhunt’s system? What’s Bellichick’s? What was Mike McCoy’s? He designed his offense to fit Tebow and then re-tooled it for Manning. Then he went and fixed Philip Rivers. He has been very successful with 3 very different QBs. That’s the kind of creative and flexible OC that the Steelers should move mountains to get.

          On the other side you get guys like Gilbride and Haley, who try to fit squares into circles and don’t let their QBs audible.

          • Cols714

            Didn’t we hear the same thing about Haley though? Wasn’t all of Steelerdom excited because he was going to tailor the offense to fit the players, not like that straitjacket of a system that Arians imposed?

            I think it’s all BS. Every OC does things differently of course, but they all have some sort of general system that they run. Some fit teams better (Arians and Ben) and some don’t (Haley and Ben).

  • Eric

    Loved this article from Wexell:

    http://pit.scout.com/2/1343212.html

    • David

      Interesting take. But if we want to draft Mariota, we need to draft higher than JAX, MIN, TB, and maybe HOU–teams that need a QB.

      But I agree with a previous post from the Post-Gazette:

      Rd 1: LT
      Rd 2: NG

      • Cols714

        Wait really? The PPG said that? I just posted that earlier today. I had no idea I was on the same page as the PPG.

  • countertorque

    Why would you switch out the QB if the problem is the offensive line?
    He’s not quite as good as he was. He’s past 30. That happens. That doesn’t make him bad and it doesn’t mean a 2014 rookie will be better.

    • Eric

      I think the argument is that by the time the rest of the team got good, he would be well past his prime.

  • Terribletoweler

    I don’t think they trade Ben because they believe they are only a few players away from being competitive. They restructured and kept people around because they thought that maybe, if the OL held and Worilds or Jones could pressure the QB that they would have a good defense, and they felt like they addressed their largest offensive problem last year at running back. They won’t blow up the team yet because they don’t believe they are that far away from competing–and they may just point to the OC and say “ah, there, that and a couple of draft picks will have us competing again in 2 years, better give Ben an extension.”

  • djanyreason

    Mostly responding to Wex’s article here…

    I think the idea that a team would give up multiple 1sts for Ben is insane. Teams give up big draft pick hauls for the ability to draft players, but almost never for players who have been in the league. And, even then, age plays an enormous factor in what teams are willing to give up.

    Beyond that, what team is going to make this trade? What team is on the cusp of dominance and is just a Ben Roethlisberger away – so much so that trading 2 1st round picks makes sense?

    Trading Ben for even one 1st round pick is probably fantasy – expecting multiple is insane.

    • Eric

      Houston, KC and Arizona all come to mind as teams that would vastly benefit from trading for Roethlisberger. I think you could easily argue that KC and Houston would be serious Superbowl contenders with the addition of Roethlisberger.

      • djanyreason

        Is Houston going to give up 2 1sts to upgrade from Case Keenum to Ben? Is KC (who has desperate needs at WR) going to give up 2 1sts to upgrade from Alex Smith to Ben? Is Arizona, which has less on offense than KC, really going to give up 2 1sts for Ben?

        KC is 9-0 – they’re already a serious Superbowl contender.

        Houston is 2-6, and would realistically need to be 6-2 to be a serious SB conender – are you saying that upgrading Schaub/Keenum to Ben is worth 8 wins over the course of a season? If so, would the Steelers be the Jaguars if we swapped QBs with Houston?

        • Eric

          Would they give up 2 1st? I have no idea. But that Houston team is stacked except at QB. At 2-6 they are unlikely to make the playoffs but if they’re trading for Roethlisberger, it isn’t a one year deal. Are they going to waste all of their talent next year on Case Keenum? Matt Schaub? A draft pick? Look how much better there offense was throwing downfield with Case Keenum. You don’t think Roethlisberger is a significant upgrade over Keenum? Trading for Roethlisberger makes so much sense for them.

          KC isn’t a serious Superbowl contender. They’re the team that dominates in the regular season with defense and then loses early in the playoffs when they fall behind to a good team. KC this year is every 90s era Steelers team that we all watched for years. Can a team like that win the Superbowl? Of course – just ask Trent Dilfer. But a serious Superbowl contender? Nah.

          As for Arizona? I’d be willing to bet that Arians would pay quite a bit for a Roethlisberger reunion.

          And I’m not advocating that they trade him, nor do I think that they will. But we’re 2-6 and it’s more fun to think about than mock drafts.

          • djanyreason

            According to FO’s latest DVOA, Houston is an average defense and a bottom-of-the-league offense. In DVOA, the difference between Houston and KC (who you say aren’t serious contenders) is the difference between Denver and Arizona. If you add Ben to Arizona, are they as good as the Broncos?

            As to KC – again, they are 9-0. Steelers records under Cowher after 9 games between 1992 and 1997 (those 90′s teams you mention) was 6-3 every year but ’95 and ’96 (5-4 and 7-2 respectively). Cowher won 9 games in a row during one season only once, in 2004. Tomlin has never accomplished that feat. Winning 9 out of your first 9 makes you a serious Super Bowl contender in week 10.

          • Eric

            KC is also outperforming it’s estimated wins by 150% and has had the 32nd rated schedule (easiest). They’re a playoff team but hardly a favorite. They also have the 6th rated schedule going forward. Let’s see how they do against teams that aren’t starting their backup QBs (4 of their 9 wins).

            As for Houston, their season is a tire fire. Schaub threw an INT-returned for a TD in six straight games. Their DVOA at this point is not indicative of their talent. Look at the last 3 years and that team has had a great defense, a great offensive line/RBs and a great WR/TE combo (A. Johnson/O. Daniels). They’ve been held back by poor QB play and time is ticking on how long they can keep it all together.

          • countertorque

            ” Their DVOA at this point is not indicative of their talent. Look at the last 3 years and that team has had a great defense, a great offensive line/RBs and a great WR/TE combo…”

            This sounds like a good description of the team I watch on TV every week! Except for the offensive line part…

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      Oakland gave up a 1 and a 2 for Carson Palmer’s corpse. Houston gave up two 2s and moved down in the first round to get Matt Schaub. Chicago gave up two 1s, a 3 and Kyle Orton for Jay Cutler and Cutler’s “leadership.” Ben is obviously better than any of them, has been to 3 Super Bowls and won 2, hasn’t had a serious injury in the last 7 years that currently impacts his play, and he’s only 31.

      I am not in favor of trading Ben even for lots of picks for the reasons above and many more reasons: he’s an elite QB, he’s our best player, I remember our QBs from 1984-2004, and we’d take an enormous cap hit if we traded him. But the idea that we’d entertain getting less of a haul than the Bengals got for Palmer or the Broncos got for Cutler is, well… let’s just say… no way to that.

      • djanyreason

        Matt Schaub and Jay Cutler were both entering their age 26 season at the time of their trades. Ben will be entering his age 32 season.

        As for Carson Palmer – unfortunately Al Davis has passed away.

        • EasyLikeSundayMorning

          Al Davis was already deceased when the Palmer trade was made. Schaub had 2 career starts when he was traded. Cutler had zero postseason starts at the time of the trade and now, at 30, has 1.

          • djanyreason

            Al Davis had been deceased for 10 days. But, sure, perhaps we could find a team that’s being run like a circus by a senile old man who will be willing to make an even more lopsided deal in the immediate aftermath of said man passing away mid-season and their losing their QB for the season. Or, perhaps, the Carson Palmer deal isn’t a reasonable point for comparison for other QB trades.

            I fail to see why Schaub’s lack of starts or Cutler’s lack of post-season starts should have any effect on the fact that they were 6 years younger and on the probable upswing of their careers, while Ben is on the downside of his (and, obviously, has had quite a lot of wear on his tires). Again – not good comparison points. We might have gotten a Culter deal for Ben in 2008, but not in 2014.

          • EasyLikeSundayMorning

            With only 32 teams, trying to estimate the trade value of NFL QBs is a small sample size problem. To do so, I think we need to include any relevant data points and try to make adjustments for circumstances.

            The QBs I mentioned were among the few good ones traded in recent years. You’d give Schaub and Cutler extra value due to age. I’d agree but I’d also discount their value due to risk associated with limited playing time and / or lack of success.

            You’d remove Palmer altogether from the sample due to the Raiders circumstances. I wouldn’t, although I would agree that it was considered a surprisingly high price at the time. I think that the reason that it was a surprise, though, is that Palmer was coming off a second major injury (causing him to miss most of 2008) and the Bengals had limited leverage (because he said he’d retire rather than return), both of which theoretically should have depressed his value. If he had had only one major injury, his trade value might have been considered reasonable or even cheap.

            Other high-profile QBs traded in the last 10-15 years include:
            - Alex Smith: at age 29, traded for what will be 2 second round picks
            - Brett Favre: at age 39, traded for a conditional pick that reportedly could have been worth a first round pick
            - Drew Bledsoe: at age 30, traded for a first round pick
            - Brad Johnson: at age 31, traded for a first, second and third round pick

            I look at these guys and think Ben should be worth 2 first round picks now. You are welcome to come to a different conclusion. In any case, I wouldn’t even want to trade him for that.

          • Randy Steele

            I must admit that reading Easy and DJ debate has been great entertainment, a regular Battle of the Titans. But I think the core issue to this argument is as follows: In today’s NFL market, what is Ben truly worth to other teams?

            During my recent career, I have been sometimes asked to try to roughly (very roughly) figure out the value of a small business that wants to but itself up for sale. One of the most difficult issues I have faced is telling the owner that his or her business might not be worth nearly as much as he or she thinks it is.

            I think Steeler fans face the same predicament trying to estimate Ben’s worth. My advice? Try to compare him as best as possible to the top 5 -10 NFL quarterbacks playing today, and then ask yourself what they would be traded for. Only then can you get close to what his true worth is.

          • EasyLikeSundayMorning

            Glad we can provide some entertainment, especially since the Steelers aren’t providing much. Three more thoughts:
            1. A player’s trade value is whatever the market will bear. It is really hard to estimate with so few comparables. So I can’t really say whether DJ or I am right or wrong with too much confidence.
            2. A point that goes against what I’ve written so far: The change in the rookie salary structure definitely reduces the value of veterans on the trade market. When you had to pay unproven rookies like Bradford (or JaMarcus Russell or whoever) $50mm+ in guaranteed money, it made veteran QBs seem cheap. But when you can give Luck or RG3 or Wilson a fraction of that, it makes the young, cheap guys much more valuable, especially when they are as good as those guys. So DJ may be right in 2013, and my 7 comparables may no longer be as relevant after the new CBA.
            3. In various markets, buyers and seller can’t always agree on a fair price. I suspect that might be the case here. The price to make it worth it to the Steelers to trade Ben may be higher than any team is willing to pay. When this is the case, no transaction happens, as will likely be the situation here.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning
    • David

      Ah, the good ole days. Oh, that was this year.

      • EasyLikeSundayMorning

        I think we sort of take Troy for granted. I certainly have been surprised at how quickly the knives have come out for him after he had a bad game last week.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    It is too bad we are 2-6 and have sucked so badly, as this should have been an easy season to win the division. I’ll be surprised if anyone in the AFC North gets to 10 wins this year.

    Looking at the schedule, there’s a decent chance the entire division will be 8-7 or worse going into the final week, when the Browns play at Heinz and the Ravens are in Cincy.

    The 6-3 Bengals look like the obvious candidate to win the division, but injuries and their schedule are working against them. They may be favored in only 3 of their final 7 games. Their 3 games out of the division are at SD, and home vs. the Colts and Vikings. If they win in Baltimore this week, the division is almost certainly theirs. But if they lose, my guess is that they’ll be 8-7 going into week 17.

    The 4-5 Browns probably won’t be favored in more than 2 of their final 7 games. Their non-divisional games are Jax, at Pats, Bears, at Jets. That might be 1 win. Even if they win 2 of those games, they’ll have to win at Cincy and at home against us to be 8-7 before week 17.

    The 3-5 Ravens have only 3 road games, but even with that, they may only be favored only twice in their final 8 games. Their non-divisional games are at Chicago, Jets, Vikings, at Detroit, Pats. That looks like 1-2 wins to me. They’ll have to win 3 of those and sweep home games against the Bengals and us to be 8-7 going into week 17, which seems pretty unlikely.

    I’m not even going to try to guess how many wins we’ll have, although we may be favored in 4-5 of our remaining 8 games.

    My guess is that the standings will end with the Bengals at 9-7, ahead of the Browns and Ravens at 6-10 or 7-9. The Bengals would likely then host either KC or Denver.

    • David

      I don’t know. This is how I see the AFCN ending:

      Bungles 11-5
      Raisins 9-7
      Clowns 7-9
      Us 5-11

      Sucks. Just a guess, though.