Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thank You Cleveland

Cleveland played a big part in the Steelers AFC North title and as fans we owe the Browns a big thank you. With the Steelers two wins over the Browns, and the Bungles win this past weekend, the title was wrapped up. Steelers are going to the playoffs.

This was a costly week for the Steelers. Losing Willie Parker could hurt in the playoffs. Davenport looked good though and may actually be a better back right now than the short yardage specialist the Steelers were trying to mold him into. The big problem is that there is a big lack of depth at the running back position. However, this should be the least of our concerns though.

What has me worried is a defense that can’t stop anybody right now. Even the Rams were moving the ball early in last week’s game. With Jacksonville coming back to Pittsburgh in less than two week, the Steelers better figure out a way to stop Fred Taylor. The team must get that swagger back and make teams fear them. If that doesn’t happen, it will be one and done. Get it back and this team could be scary in the playoffs. After this weekend’s meaningless game, we’ll see what happens.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Slowly Recovering

I don’t know what happened in that game against the Patsy’rots. The way the Steelers came out and played in the first half I thought we had the Patsies on the ropes. In the second half, it seemed as though the game plan changed…of course for the worse.

Now, being a Steeler fan in enemy territory has subjected me to a week of relentless beatings from New England football fans. What makes it worse, is that NE barely knows what football even is. There’s only one major college team with a less than 40,000 capacity stadium. High school soccer is more popular than high school football. And, just because the NFL has immensely helped its local franchise because of its TV market, there are now super annoying, pseudo football fans. Well, Patsy’rot fans, the most annoying in the league.

On to facing Jacksonville, we go. While this is not a must win game to make the playoffs, it is for the psyche of this team. The Steelers need to play well and win against a quality opponent to regain some momentum. It would also be nice to all but wrap up the division title and a home playoff game in the first round.

The Jaguars and the Steelers always play a very hard-hitting game. This game will be no different and will be relatively low scoring. My prediction is Steelers 23 Jags 17.

Now, here’s a nice story about a local Steeler fan and some heart warming compassion from a few Patriot fans that ran in our local paper today:

Friday, December 7, 2007

Here We Go!

I’ve had this game circled since the schedule came out and now it’s time to get down to business. The Patsies are going down this weekend. Anthony Smith was right to guarantee a victory. As he stated, if the Steelers execute as they are capable of, they will win this game. The keys are to control the clock, minimize turnovers, and play physical. Simple enough… This is Steeler football.

The Steelers could easily be 10-2, 11-1, or even 12-0 coming into this game, but they did not play at their capable levels in losses to 3 poor teams. While this game will not define Tomlin’s success this year, it could establish him as master game planner. A win on Sunday will also give the Steelers a big boost heading into the playoffs with the potential of a #2 seed.

My prediction is Steelers 27 Patsy’rots 20. The Steelers play a physical game and rattle the Patsies. The Patsies have not faced a team yet like the Steelers, who have balance on both sides of the ball. The Colts (injuries) and Cowboys (defense in flux) both had their issues at the time.

Lets go Steelers!!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Goodbye Bungles, Hello Patsy’rots

So as expected, the Steelers took care of business against the Bungles. After Cincy moved right down the field and scored on its opening drive, it didn’t look good, but the defense stiffened up and played great. Critical Steelers’ turnovers made it a little more interesting too. Yo, Fast Willie, hold onto the ball.

I think this is the last time we see Cincy with Marvin Lewis at the helm. His team looks like it has just quit. The big example was Chad Johnson on the Bungles last play – walking out of bounds 3 yards short of a first down. That’s embarrassing. It’s too bad because Lewis is a good coach with great football smarts. He won’t last long in the unemployment line.

Now on to New England we go. Even though I live in New Hampshire, I HATE the Patriots. I can easily go on and on, but I’ll leave it at that. In their last couple of games, they have shown where the vulnerabilities are and the Steelers are the ideal team to exploit them. Brady and Moss don’t like to be hit. They don’t defend the run well. And, they have no running game of their own.

The Steelers will end the streak of this asterisk-laden, egotistical franchise and gain some retribution for 2001 and 2004.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bogged Down

Ok, so the Steelers wanted to lay down new turf for the rest of the season as Heinz Field is always in tough shape this time of the year. That’s great, but did anybody bother to check the 48 hour forecast. Would it have made sense to wait and do it over the course of this week? I’d have to imagine so. The field was basically unplayable last night. Now the question is, can the field be ready for the game Sunday night against the Bungles?

Despite the horrible conditions, there were two good things to come out of this game. One being a Steelers’ win, of course. The other was that the game was only two and half hours long. This was a direct result of a lot of short passes, running plays, and that nobody could get out of bounds.

Like all Steeler fans, I was looking forward to seeing how this team would bounce back from the terrible loss to the Jets. The weather and field conditions wiped that all away though as it was a struggle for both teams. It probably helped the Dolphins more as things were evened up a bit. In games like this, you play not to make mistakes. The Steelers made one to the Dolphins two. There’s the game right there.

It’s also very tough to analyze this game. I thought the Steelers started to move the ball well on a couple of drives, but costly penalties wiped out crucial third-down conversions that could’ve put points on the board earlier in this game. The Steelers played well enough in the muck where they wouldn’t lose and that happened to be just good enough. We can all be happy that nobody on the Steelers’ side of the ball got seriously hurt and that we should get some critical players back for a Bungles team coming off a good win.

We’re 8-3, a game up in the division, and probably need 2 more wins to make the playoffs.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Steelers Can Beat the Patriots

Let me start this post of by saying that even though I live in New Hampshire (part of New England), I cannot stand the Patriots. This team, its coach, and owner just disgust me with their overblown egos and pompous attitudes. I don’t want to see this team go 16-0 and I surely don’t want them to win another Super Bowl.

Now, can the Steelers beat the Patriots? Yes, I think they can. I was feeling much more confident before the terrible loss to the Jets, but I think that might just be the kick in the butt this team needs. We all remember the run we went on in 2005 when the team was facing elimination every week. That Steelers’ team found that motivation and played at a level that I think this year’s team is also capable of. How they come out on Monday will tell us all how the rest of season may go.

Here’s how I think Steelers can beat the Patsy’rots:
Hit Tom Brady hard and often: Other teams have barely touched Brady this year. The Steelers need to set the tempo by hitting him early. I think they even can afford a roughing penalty or two to just get it done. History has shown that when Brady gets pressured, he has problems. And, if by chance Brady is forced out of the game, this one will quickly swing the Steelers’ way.

Cover Randy Moss: Ike Taylor may be one of the best one-on-one cover guys in the league. Moss has not faced a corner like Taylor this year that can match his speed with physical play. Moss has wilted in the past when he continually gets hit coming of the line. I would put Taylor exclusively on Moss. The Patsies’ biggest weakness is a lack of a running game, which should let the Steelers key on the pass.

Don’t have a special teams’ meltdown: Contain the return game and don’t give up the big play. Sounds simple often. Also, Sepulveda needs to get his leg back and start booming kicks the way he is capable of.

Time of possession: Willie Parker must have a big game. If he can get back to 4-plus yards a carry, the Steelers can control the clock. It will also open things up for Big Ben in the passing game.

Don’t panic: If the Steelers are losing at any point, they must stay calm. This team has the weapons to come back. They proved it against Cleveland. Big Ben can make the clutch plays and the defense is capable of big stops when they need to be made. The team needs to stick to its game plane and execute.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What an Embarrassment!!!

If the first play of the game wasn’t enough of an embarrassment, it just got worse as the day progressed for the Steelers. A 100 yard rusher for the first time since forever, seven sacks given up, only 50 yards from the team’s top rusher, just 13 points against the league’s worst defense, another bad special teams performance -- that’s a bad day. This team is a lot better than this performance, but they need to be consistent. Did they still have a chance to win this game despite playing such a terrible game? Surprisingly, yes. But, they didn’t deserve it and that’s why they lost.

Tomlin needs to become a veteran coach as this season progresses. It was looking like the team would be 10-2 heading into the game against the cheaters (Patriots), but obviously the best we can hope for is 9-3 now. That 10-2 record probably would have been enough to lock up a playoff spot.

This team needs to look at this loss and learn from the many problems they showed they had. If they don’t, they will lose to the Patriots badly. Is this team still good enough to knock the Patriots down? I think they are. When everything is clicking, the Steelers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. They need to focus and get their swagger back.

In these next six weeks, Tomlin will define whom he is as a coach in the fans’ eyes for years to come. If this team wins the division, Tomlin will begin building his legacy. If Cleveland edges the Steelers out, Tomlin will struggle to regain the fans’ trust. I still really like Tomlin and his approach to the game, but he needs to get this team back on track and playing at a high level.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Soft Stretch for the Steelers

Wow, I thought last week’s game was going to be fairly close, but not that close. Besides the initial drive by the Browns and the terrible kick coverage, the Steelers played a very solid game. When you look at the box score, you would have thought the Steelers won that game by multiple touchdowns. All in all, it was a great win for the team as they showed they could come back, which should give them more confidence for the rest of the season.

Now we’re coming into a three-week stretch against teams with a combined 4-23 record. Hopefully, the Steelers can stay sharp in these games, as they’ll next face the hated Patriots. A 10-2 record at that point should pretty much ensure a playoff spot. However, a win against the Patriots would position the Steelers as a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

The Steelers face the 1-8 Jets this week, who just look awful. This was a playoff team last year that has significantly underperformed. Not much has gone right for the Jets this year and I just don’t see the Steelers folding this Sunday. My prediction is Steelers 31 Jets 16.

Some key stat projections:
Roethlisberger: 250 yards, 2 TDs
Parker: 120 rush yards, 3 rec 20 yards, 1 rush TD
Davenport: 40 rush yards, 2 rec 20 yards. 1 rush TD
Ward: 6 rec 70 yards
Holmes: 5 rec 70 yards, 1 TD
Miller: 4 rec 40 yards, 1 TD
Defense: 4 sacks, 1 fumble recoveries, 3 INTs

Friday, November 9, 2007

Week 10: Steelers 31 Browns 23

This is not the same Browns team the Steelers saw in week 1. Their offense is greatly improved and they’re scoring a lot of points. However, the Browns’ defense is still not very good at all and that is why the Steelers will win this game. I think the Browns will find a way to score some points against the Steelers, but the Steelers should be able to score at will against them. Look for a high scoring game that may stay close until the third quarter.

My prediction: Steelers 31 Browns 23

Some key stat projections:
Roethlisberger: 275 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Parker: 130 rush yards, 3 rec 30 yards, 1 rush TD
Davenport: 40 rush yards, 2 rec 25 yards
Ward: 6 rec 80 yards, 1 TD
Holmes: 5 rec 100 yards, 1 TD
Miller: 4 rec 40 yards, 1 TD
Defense: 4 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 INTs

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

James “the Animal” Harrison

Wow!!! What more can you say about James Harrison’s performance against Baltimore. I haven’t seen a more dominating defensive game since Spicoli wrecked Charles Jefferson’s car in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Jefferson's Brother: My brother's gonna kill us! He's gonna kill us! He's gonna kill you and he's gonna kill me, he's gonna kill us!
Jeff Spicoli: Hey man, just be glad I had fast reflexes!
Jefferson's Brother: My brother's gonna s@#$!
Jeff Spicoli: Make up your mind, dude, is he gonna s@#& or is he gonna kill us?
Jefferson's Brother: First he's gonna s@#$, then he's gonna kill us!
Jeff Spicoli: Relax, all right? My old man is a television repairman, he's got this ultimate set of tools. I can fix it.

He’s sure making us all forget that Joey Porter is still in this league. The biggest point of optimism to take from Harrison’s performance is this is the exact level of play the Steelers will need to beat the Patriots on 12/9. Harrison is creating chaos and disruption and that is a good thing.

Friday, November 2, 2007

This Week’s Prediction: Time for Revenge

OK, feel free to criticize me as I’ve picked the Steelers every week so far. When looking at the preseason schedule, I had them at 5-2 at this point with losses to Denver and Cincinnati. But as the season went on, I thought they were the better team going into every game. Yes, they lost to Arizona and a Denver, so my predictions are not perfect. I can’t make any excuses either for those losses as I don’t make any team decisions. As an outsider though, it appears as though the team was not as well prepared for those games. I think that Tomlin does a great job of getting this team ready to play, but those two games were breakdowns for whatever reason.

My final preseason prediction had the Steelers at 10-11 wins and challenging for the division title. They are still on that pace coming into the halfway point. With a win against Baltimore, they will be well positioned to win the division.

There will be no breakdown this week. The Steelers are going to be well prepared for the Ravens. After what happened last season in the two embarrassing games against Baltimore, the Steelers will be ready. In fact, they are the better team on both sides of the ball this year. Will this game be a lopsided Steelers’ win? No way. It will be a typical trash-talking, slugfest between two teams that hate each other. Joey Porter isn’t here to stir the pot, but that won’t matter.

My prediction: Steelers 23 Ravens 13

Some key stat projections:

Roethlisberger: 180 yards, 1 TDs, 1 INT

Parker: 105 rush yards, 2 rec 10 yards

Davenport: 30 rush yards, 2 rec 10 yards, 1 rush TD

Ward: 6 rec 60 yardsHolmes: 4 rec 60 yards

Miller: 4 rec 30 yards, 1 TD

Defense: 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 2 INTs

Friday, October 26, 2007

Week 8: Steelers 31 Bungles 24

This game is going to be a shootout. The Broncos exposed some holes in the Steelers defense that had started the season off so well. I think the Bungles are going to put up some points, but their defense can’t stop anybody. The Steelers will score some points in this game. The game will probably stay close into the fourth quarter, but the Steelers will show that they are the better team.

Look for a 31-24 Steelers victory.

Some key stat projections:
Roethlisberger: 270 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Parker: 130 rush yards, 2 rec 20 yards, 2 rush TD
Davenport: 50 rush yards, 3 rec 20 yards
Ward: 6 rec 70 yards, 1 TDHolmes: 7 rec 90 yards, 1 TD
Miller: 4 rec 40 yards, 1 TD
Defense: 3 sacks, 2 fumble recovery, 1 INTs

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Very Disappointing Loss

Where did the Steelers great defense go? Jay Cutler suddenly became Dan Marino-like and just torched the Steelers D. Cutler never faced much pressure and had way too much time to make things happen. Throughout the season so far, the Steelers have made young QBs look terrible, but not in this game. The Broncos also were down two top receivers. Coming off the bye week, I think we all expected more, especially with Hampton and Polamalu back in the lineup.

Now, with Carson Palmer up next, can the Steelers D get back on track? I think Denver exposed a serious flaw that must be corrected. The Steelers showed they are vulnerable to short, quick passes. This was a problem a few years ago and really doomed our season. With the offensive talent that Cincinnati has, this could be a big problem.

The good news is that Roethlisberger had a very good game. Yes, he was picked off twice and coughed up a fumble for a TD. But, he faced pressure throughout the game and still rallied the team back with a chance to win it in an overtime that the defense failed to get the team to. Tomlin has been criticized for his game plan of throwing first, but it really did work. The offense was successful, despite a terrible performance from the offensive line.

If the Steelers can’t right the defense for the Bungles, Roethlisberger should at least be able to take advantage of a really bad Cincy defense. This game has the potential to be a shootout, which unfortunately can go either way. While I’m worried about the offensive line, I’m much more worried about how the defense responds in this game.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Week 7: Steelers 24 Broncos 13

Thanks goodness for they bye week. Normally, I despise these relatively early bye weeks, especially when the team has some momentum going, but the Steelers needed the time to get healthy. Looks like we’ll see Ward, Holmes, Polamalu, and Hampton back this week, and that will be a huge lift. McFadden remains the only other key player out, but he’s making progress.

When the schedules came out, this looked like it would be a very tough match up for the Steelers. However, the Broncos are having big problems on both sides of the ball. Their defense had the on-paper look as one of the league’s best, but has had no such success. I think Fast Willie will have a big day and that’s just what the Steelers will need to control this game. The Broncos have very solid defensive backs and it could be tough to throw on them at times. If Parker sets the tone, look for Roethlisberger to have success.

The Steelers’ defense should really create some havoc for Jay Cutler. Without his top receiving threat, Javon Walker, it could be a very long day for Cutler. The Steelers’ defense has been confusing quarterbacks all season, whether they are young or seasoned.

My prediction is a Steelers victory 24-13. The Broncos may keep it close for a little while, but the Steelers will take this on.

Some key stat projections:
Roethlisberger: 190 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Parker: 130 rush yards, 2 rec 20 yards, 1 rush TD
Davenport: 50 rush yards, 3 rec 20 yards
Ward: 4 rec 40 yards
Holmes: 3 rec 50 yards, 1 TD
Miller: 4 rec 25 yards, 1 TD
Defense: 5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 3 INTs

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Time Is on Our Side

More than 40 minutes of possession time is a great statistic to achieve. But, when you break it down by each half, the Steelers’ performance against Seattle was simply amazing. With a 7-0 lead going into the half, the Steelers went on to control the ball for almost 25 minutes to close out the second half. It’s pretty tough for any team to come from behind, regardless of the deficit, if you only have the ball for around five minutes.

Now, this wasn’t against the pathetic offenses of the Browns or Bills, it was against the supposedly offensive talented Seattle Seahawks. And, the Steelers were short-handed on defense without two stars (Polamalu and Hampton) and another critical component (McFadden). The Steelers’ defense has just played great so far and is a big reason the team is 4-1. Even in the loss, the defense only gave up 14 points.

The team has so much depth that it can overcome injuries without losing its focus. The bye week gives the team a chance to get healthy and ready for some tougher games. Ben now needs to get Ward and Holmes back as his primary targets so the offense can get rolling again.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Week 5: Steelers 27 Seahawks 17

Steelers are fighting the injury bug for the first time this year. Ward, Polamalu, Hampton, and McFadden all may not play. Fortunately, the Steelers have enough depth to cover these injuries.

After the team’s first loss last week, Tomlin will have the team prepared and ready to go. There seemed to be a breakdown last week and I think that was a direct result of the Whisenhunt/Grimm factor. This week the team has no excuses. Ben and Willie should get back on track and the defense should remain solid despite those injuries. If we can get into the bye week at 4-1, we’ll be in great shape and that’s got to be the team’s motivation for this game.

Some key stat projections:
Roethlisberger: 240 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Parker: 110 rush yards, 4 rec 40 yards, 1 rush TD
Davenport: 35 rush yards, 3 rec 20 yards
Ward: May not play
Holmes: 7 rec 110 yards, 1 TD
Miller: 4 rec 40 yards, 1 TD
Defense: 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 INTs

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Tough Loss, Sour Taste

Well, it proved to be the trap game that probably all of us envisioned in the backs of our heads. The fact was the Steelers just did not elevate their game to compete against an opponent that was more motivated to win. For Whisenhunt and Grimm, this was their Super Bowl and the Cardinals responded for them.

The Steelers were not awful, but just couldn’t get things going when they really needed to. Add two bad mistakes to that and the game was over. The punt return for a TD should never have happened, but a bad penalty by Carey Davis gave the Cardinals another chance. And with the Steelers first and goal at the Cardinals’ 4 yard line, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t have at least scored 3 points. Ben’s interception was a bad play. He tried to force it into Miller and didn’t see the linebacker break on the ball.

This is a bump in the road loss and one that I don’t think really shocks any Steeler fan. Tomlin will have the team ready to go against Seattle. While Seattle will be the best team the Steelers have played to date, the team should get back into the win column before the bye week and some difficult games ahead.

4-1 going into the bye week break will be very nice, especially with what’s going on in the AFC North. Cleveland beating Baltimore was huge, and Cincinnati having all sorts of problems only helps the Steelers cause. There’s still a lot of football to be played, but the Steelers are looking like the team to beat in their division.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Week 4: Steelers 27 Cardinals 20

It is starting to scare me that the Steelers are starting to gain recognition as a top three team in the NFL. I liked the no respect card they were dealt and now they need to remain focused as new expectations are being placed upon them. On ESPN last night, Sean Salisbury called the Steelers the most balanced team to this point and it was time to start talking about them in the same breath as the Patsy’rots and Colts as the top three teams.

There’s no doubting the dominance the Steelers have exhibited in their first three games. Last week was really the team’s first test and they played great. Holding Frank Gore to less than 50 yards was the key to the game. Most of the yards and points scored by the 49ers were late in the game when the Steelers were already in control.

This week should be interesting. Whisenhunt and Grimm want to win badly to show the Rooney’s that they made a mistake by not hiring them, and Tomlin wants to prove he’s was indeed the right choice. The Cardinals shouldn’t have too much of advantage against the Steelers offense as the playbook is brand new since last year. In a normal situation, this should be an easy win for the Steelers, but it’s going to be tougher game because of this dynamic. I still think the Steelers win, but it will be closer than it really should be.

Some key stat projections:
Roethlisberger: 210 yards, 1 TDs, 1 INT
Parker: 125 rush yards, 3rec 25 yards, 1 rush TD
Davenport: 45 rush yards, 3 rec 20 yards, 1 rush TD
Ward: May not play
Holmes: 6 rec 90 yards, 1 TD
Miller: 4 rec 30 yards
Defense: 4 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 2 INTs

Friday, September 21, 2007

Week 3: Steelers 27 49ers 17

This game will be the Steelers first real test. Both teams are 2-0 and that will put a little extra pressure on them. The Steelers are better on both sides of the ball, but they must control Frank Gore to win. If Gore gets off to a good start, Alex Smith may have a chance to make some plays. I think the 49ers will score some points, but will falter when they have to rely on Smith. The Steelers offense should be successful against the 49ers defense, allowing them to improve to 3-0.

Some key stat projections:
Roethlisberger: 260 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Parker: 140 rush yards, 4 rec 25 yards, 1 rush TD
Davenport: 30 rush yards, 3 rec 30 yards
Ward: 8 rec 80 yards
Holmes: 3 rec 60 yards, 1 TD
Miller: 4 rec 30 yards
Defense: 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 3 INTs

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Another Nice Win

You can say that the competition so far has not been that great. However, you also cannot deny the fact that the Steelers have dominated. The Browns rebounded big against the Bungles and the Bills had the game against the Broncos won until there were only two seconds left. So, the competition can’t be that awful. The Steelers defense in both games was just dominating with both teams gaining most of their yard when the game was already out of reach.

The defense will get a little more of a test this week when they face one of the best running backs in the league. If they can contain Frank Gore, the 49ers will have to rely on Alex Smith and the Steelers have been feasting on young quarterbacks. I like our chances.

Besides two great performances by the defense, some of the other positives so far are the play of the new offensive line, Willie Parker doing his thing, and Daniel Sepulveda pinning opponents deep inside their own territory. While the offense has performed well, there is room for improvement. Four times within the red zone in the first half against the Bills and only four field goals to show for it. As well as Roethisberger is playing, he can still improve his play. The biggest positives we’re seeing from Ben are his ability to find multiple receivers and that he’s not making big mistakes.

After last season, we can take a little comfort in this 2-0 start. There’s still a lot of football to be played and the Steelers schedule gets tougher with every week. With the way Tomlin has this team prepared and the way they are performing, there’s a feeling of optimism surrounding this team as they continue to build confidence.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Week 2: Steelers 34 Bills 10

No too bad on the week 1 prediction. I just gave the Browns too many points. In week 2, we’re looking at another Steelers victory. Score will be Steelers 34 Bills 10

Some key stat projections:
Roethlisberger: 240 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Parker: 120 rush yards, 3 rec 30 yards, 2 rush TDs
Davenport: 40 rush yards, 3 rec 30 yards
Ward: 7 rec 70 yards
Holmes: 4 rec 80 yards, 1 TD
Miller: 4 rec 20 yards, 1 TD
Defense: 5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 INTs

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Dirty, Rotten Patriots (Cheaters)

If there were one team in the NFL that I would suspect of being cheaters, it would be the New England Patsy’rots. And, now, the news is out…they are cheaters!!! Let’s hope the NFL throws the book at them and takes away multiple draft picks.

Bill Belichick thinks he’s a football titan, but he is just a bitter, egotistical, over-hyped coach who’s using dirty tactics to win games. After failing miserably in Cleveland, I guess it’s understandable that he needed to be a cheater to advance his career. However, it’s his inflated ego that’s getting him in trouble now, as a team employee blatantly aimed a video camera at the Jets’ coaches from the sideline. Mastermind of the game, I think not, just a cheater.

How long has this been going on? Does it go back to 2001 when the Paty’rots were handed a Super Bowl victory in one of the greatest sports conspiracies in history?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Steelers that Good, Or Browns that Bad?

It was so nice to see a dominating win in Mike Tomlin’s first game, especially against the hated Browns. However, you have to wonder are the Steelers that good, or is Cleveland just that bad. I think it’s a little bit of both.

On offense, the Steelers new offensive line came together quite nicely in this game. Yeah, it was going up against the Browns awful defense, but only one sack, over 200 yards rushing, and four touchdown passes are still quite impressive. Big Ben showed that he was back on track. Although 12 for 23 passing is not great, (there were some drops that could’ve got him close to a 60 percent completion rating) his performance was still very positive. Fast Willie ran for over 100 yards, but two fumbles is troublesome. He needs to take better care of the ball with all the touches he gets.

On defense, there’s not a lot to complain about. Six sacks, five turnovers, 46 rushing yards against, and seven points are some pretty nice statistics. It could’ve even been a shutout too if Farrior makes an easy interception on the Browns touchdown drive. But, is this performance more based on the Steelers execution or the Browns offensive ineptitude. Personally, I think the Steelers defensive will be among the best this year. The Browns were completely overmatched. We may see Brady Quinn when the Steelers next play the Browns.

1-0 is a nice start of course and we need to keep the early wins coming before the schedule gets really tough. Buffalo will present a little more of challenge this upcoming week because they have a better defense than Cleveland. Their offense isn’t much better and the Steelers defense should shine again.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Steelers 31 Browns 13

Here’s my week 1 prediction: Steelers 31 Browns 13

Some key stat projections:
Roethlisberger: 250 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Parker: 125 yards, 4 rec 45 yards, 1TD
Davenport: 35 yards, 1 TD
Ward: 6 rec 80 yards, 1TD
Holmes: 5 rec 90 yards, 1 TD
Miller: 4 rec 45 yards
Defense: 4 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 2 INTs

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Final AFC Predictions

Back in May, I made my early preseason AFC predictions. Since then, I haven’t made too many changes. The two teams that I am making the biggest changes to are the Broncos and Jaguars. I think Denver is going to be stronger than I first thought and the Jaguars are not going to be as good as I predicted. The Broncos are going to have a very good defense and Jay Cutler will be much improved. I think that puts them in competition with the Chargers for the division. However, I don’t think they will have enough to over take the Chargers, but will get a wildcard spot. With the Jaguars making the change at QB, I think there are too many questions for them to make the playoffs. They will still play solid defense, but will struggle to score.

Here are my predictions:
Patsy’rots – 10-6 wins the division. There’s nobody in this weak division to challenge them
Jets – Either of these three remaining teams can finish in second. I'll pick Jets for 2nd
Dolphins – Not this year, but will be competitive next year with a few moves
Bills – Depends upon how Losman performs

Ravens – Their defense wins games. McNair loses them
Steelers – 10-6 gets them the wildcard or 11-5 wins them the division
Bungles – Still can’t get over the hump. Will score plenty, but will give up as many points
Browns – More talent, but not enough yet

Colts – Lost some key talent, especially on defense, but they win the division
Jaguars – Won’t score enough to win more than 8
Texans – Much improved and will be competitive
Titans – Vince Young does not have enough support

Chargers – Best team in the AFC on both sides of the ball
Broncos – Could challenge for the division, but will settle for wildcard
Chiefs – Larry Johnson or bust
Raiders – Will be better. Defense is pretty good, but do they have any offense

Steelers over Patsy’rots – Some revenge
Broncos over Ravens – Better offense wins a defensive game

Colts over Steelers – 2nd round of playoff = Tomlin success in year 1
Chargers over Broncos – This is the Chargers’ year

Chargers over Colts – Home team advantage gets the Chargers to the Super Bowl

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Cuts: Not Many Surprises

The only real surprises with the Steelers final roster moves were the cuts of both backup centers, Chucky Okobi and Marvin Philip, and that neither Cameron Stephenson or Jason Capizzi made the practice squad. Okobi and Haynes were biggest names to get cut, but neither was a big surprise. Since the team signed Sean Mahan, it was pretty easy to figure out that Okobi’s job was in trouble.

The biggest move by the team was the long term signing of Kendall Simmons. Unless new contracts can get done before Sunday, it looks like Alan Faneca, Clark Haggans, Max Starks, and Dan Kreider will play as Steelers for the last time this season. It would be nice if the team could get something done with Faneca and Haggans, but it seems unlikely. For some reason, Starks has fallen from his starter role and is now a backup. Kreider’s position was in doubt as the final cuts were made, but he did make the team. He’s the best fullback in the league and deserves the spot. Now, depending on how the new offense functions this year, a pure fullback may not have a role on the team next year.

Overall, the 2007 Steelers roster is strong. The team has very good depth at all positions. Hopefully, the offensive line can come together as the team’s success will ride on this group’s performance. This is a playoff team.

Monday, August 27, 2007

First Round of Cuts Are Done

Ten players had to go and there was only one mild surprise. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has the list. Kevan Barlow was the interesting cut. It’s now looking like either Carey Davis or Gary Russell is going to make the team. This coming weekend is the big cut-down day as the roster must go from 75 to 53.

Here are the players that I think will get cut (18) and the ones who I think are on the bubble for the last 4 cuts.

Will Get Cut
Dallas Baker (practice squad)
Cody Boyd (practice squad)
Jason Capizzi (practice squad)
Marquis Cooper Travis Kirschke
Jonathan Dekker (practice squad)
Arnold Harrison
Jovon Johnson
John Kuhn
Mike Lorello
Anthony Madison
Grant Mason
Scott Paxson
Bryan Randall
Ronald Stanley
Darnell Stapleton
Cameron Stephenson (practice squad)
Brandon Torrey
Gerran Walker

On the Bubble
Carey Davis
Nick Eason
Trai Essex
Ryan McBean
Shaun Nua
Chukky Okobi
Gary Russell
Brian St. Pierre
Rian Wallace
Walter Young

There could be some very tough decision in this last cut and maybe one or two that involve economics.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Nice Balance in the Defensive Backfield

The Steelers have done an excellent job of building a strong defensive backfield. It was tough to see Chris Hope leave after the Super Bowl season, but the team filled his spot well with Ryan Clark and Anthony Smith. Of all the positions on the team, the Steelers may have the most talent here. The last couple of cuts here may be among the toughest decision the team makes.

Even though Cowher benched him last season, Ike Taylor is very good cornerback, just look at Chad Johnson’s numbers against the Steelers. He will have a very good season this year and wants to move beyond Cowher’s humiliation of him. Deshea Townsend, what can I say… Every year, I write this guy off the team before camp starts and he just keeps getting better. Bryant McFadden was supposed to take over this year, but Townsend looks like he’ll be the starter again. McFadden will be a very good corner when his time comes.

At safety, Troy Polamalu is a freak. This guy makes plays that he has no business making. His combination of speed, football sense, and power is unrivaled. He is the difference maker on the Steelers defense. The other safeties need to be aware of how Polamalu plays and make sure they don’t get caught out of position. Both Clark and Smith compliment Polamalu’s aggressive style very well.

The team will probably keep 8-10 players in the defensive backfield. Here’s my view:
- Tyrone Carter – good vet, special teams contributor
- Clark – either he or Smith will start, both will play
- Ricardo Colclough – putting last season’s injury behind him, looks great so far
- William Gay – if he doesn’t make the team, practice squad
- Chidi Iwuoma – one of the best special teams players, but could get cut
- McFadden – will eventually start
- Polamalu – best in the league
- Smith – could be the starter, but will contribute regardless
- Taylor – back on track to have a great season
- Townsend – not a gifted athlete, but very smart

Friday, August 24, 2007

Getting Older at Linebacker

While the Steelers started to address their aging linebacker situation by dumping Joey Porter and drafting Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley, there are still some issues here. This group may not rival some of the linebacking corps of Steelers past, but they should be solid. The main concern is that two of the four starters are over 30 (James Farrior and Clark Haggans) and the other, James Harrison, will be 30 next May. Only Larry Foote (27) is under 30. How much tread are left on these guys?

But, what concerns me more than the ages of the starters is the lack of depth behind them. Until this season, the Steelers have pretty much ignored the linebacker position in the draft. You’ve got to give the team credit for drafting some gems in the later rounds in the past. However in the last five years, Rian Wallace is the only linebacker drafted by the Steelers that is still on the team, and he was a fifth round choice. Woodley and Timmons have to be the future of this group and the team must draft more linebackers in the next draft.

I think the team keeps seven or eight linebackers. Here are the players I’m picking:
- Farrior – the rock of this defense
- Foote – takes over for Porter as the trash talker
- Haggans – needs to be the pass rushing force he can be
- James Harrison – your time to shine is now
- Clint Kriewaldt – valuable back up and on special teams
- Timmons – needs to get healthy
- Wallace – only if they keep 8
- Woodley – still my pick for defensive rookie of the year

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Very Solid Defensive Line

For the Steelers defense to be successful, the defensive line must be disruptive. The 3-4 defense doesn’t necessarily require a big-time pass rushing defensive end, but the Steelers can get some good pressure with these guys. Lets see how thing start to change as the 4-3 starts to get worked into the defensive plans. You'll probably

Casey Hampton gets everything started as opposing teams often need to put two linemen on him. He opens the holes for the linebackers to get into the backfield. Aaron Smith and Brent Keisel are perhaps the most unheralded players at their positions in the league. Watch for Keisel to really step it up this year.

The only problem with this group is that it is getting older. Hampton will turn 30. His solid backup, Chris Hoke, and Smith are already over 30. Keisel hits 30 next year. And, longtime backup, Travis Kirschke, is soon to be 33. There is a need for some young guys to get some experience here. As a result, I think Kirschke may go. He’s been a solid contributor for this team, including his special teams play, but the team needs to start planning for the future.

The Steelers will probably keep six defensive linemen. Here’s the breakdown:
-Nick Eason: younger option, makes the team
-Casey Hampton: the big guy is the leader of this group
-Chris Hoke: signed a new extension, hopefully his knees hold up
-Derrick Jones: thanks for coming to camp
-Brett Keisel: may be a more impacting player this season
-Travis Kirschke: tough cut
-Ryan McBean: meets youth need, makes the team
-Shaun Nua: practice squad possibility
-Scott Paxon: practice squad possibility-Aaron Smith: one of the best

Friday, August 10, 2007

Do We Really Need a Mascot?

What makes the Steelers so special is that they are a throwback team in era of flash and glitz. The football product is more than good enough to stand on its own. We don’t need cheerleaders or mascot to draw us in. So why would the Rooney’s agree to a mascot now?

Let’s hope that Steely McBeam rides off into the sunset after this season. I have a strong feeling that his name alone can at least land him a few roles in some fetish porn. By this time next year, nobody will even remember the Steelers ever had a mascot.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Sorting Out an Offensive Line

When the offensive line plays well together, the Steelers tend to win games. That’s not an earth-shattering observation, but reality. The team has some good young talent and solid veterans that have won a Super Bowl. With Alan Faneca, Max Starks, and Kendall Simmons playing out their final contract years, the Steelers need to have a plan in place for not only this season, but going forward as well. That challenge is creating the most interesting positional battles in this camp. Players are shifting all over the line and who ends up where is hard to even predict. I think eight players will stick and here’s my best guess at who stays:
-Willie Colon – Steelers are very high on Colon
-Alan Faneca – Best guard in the NFL plays hard for his big upcoming contract
-Chris Kemoeatu – Another young talent with a ferocious attitude
-Sean Mahan – Biggest free agent signing of the year
-Kendall Simmons – Looks strong, overcoming his issues, another free agent to be
-Marvel Smith – Solid performer
-Max Starks – Free agent to be, losing ground to Colon
-Cameron Stephenson – Rookie makes the team

Here’s who gets cut:
-Jason Capizzi – Practice squad possibility
-Trai Essex – Not impressing the Steelers coaches
-Chuckky Okobi – Done when they signed Mahan, cost savings move
-Donovan Raiola – No shot
-Darnell Stephenson – Practice squad possibility
-Brandon Torrey – No shot

I think that the new line won’t be cemented until the last preseason game. Out of those eight that make the team, the line has a chance at being very good. With Faneca and Starks playing out their contracts (and possibly Simmons too), offensive line will be the team’s biggest draft need next year.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Initial Observations

Just got back from Pittsburgh and the city is very excited about Mike Tomlin. First observation from his first game, Tomlin had his team ready to play. In the preseason, it really doesn’t matter if your team wins or loses, but it does matter how they play. And, by the look of things, Tomlin had his team very well prepared. This is the observation that has me most pumped about this season.

As for what I saw from particular players:
Carey Davis: In my previous analysis of the running backs, I left him off the final roster. I know it was only one preseason game, but this guy looked good. He has me starting to think he may have a chance. The Steelers do need a back up fullback and he may just be the guy.

Gary Russell: I was very impressed with his game. He hits the hole hard and bounces off tacklers. Russell and Davis may battle for the last RB/FB slot on the team.

Nate Washington: Hey Nate, do your hands actually work? He dropped a lot of critical catches last year and it looks like he hasn’t solved that problem yet. There’s no questioning that he’s got some talent, but he just can’t catch the ball. Maybe he and Ike Taylor need to go to the same remedial hand school together.

Walter Young: Trying to make the team again, he is out of practice squad options. Young looked pretty good in this game. His size is a nice advantage. If he continues to play well and Washington doesn’t solve his hands issue, then Young has a shot to make the roster over Washington.

LaMarr Woodley: Mark it down now, Woodley will be the rookie defensive player of the year. This guy looked great. As a converted defensive end, I was a little worried about his pass coverage skills, but he made a very nice play. Woodley will be a difference maker on the defense.

Willie Reid: Willie may need to join Washington and Taylor in hands school. This guy has no history of problems like this, but he dropped almost every kick to him. He did have one nice kickoff return, which showed his potential. Needs to show he can handle the return duties or he may be out of a job.

Cedrick Wilson: Just throw Cedrick the damn ball. He made some real nice plays, and if Ben keeps targeting him, he could have a nice season. There’s no questioning the top three receivers on this team.

Offensive Line: There’s a lot of talent on the line and it will be interesting to see how things shake out. I’ll be going into more details here in an upcoming analysis.

Monday, July 30, 2007

How Many Receivers and Tight Ends?

The talk is that there will be three and four receiver sets, as well as three tight end formations. From what I can decipher, that means the Steelers are going to need to keep more players in these positions than they have in the past.

The good news is that the team has some pretty good players and some potential talent at both the WR and TE positions. Starting with the receivers, I see the Steelers keeping at least six and maybe seven. Here are the six that I believe will make the team: Dallas Baker, Santonio Holmes, Willie Reid, Hines Ward, Nate Washington, and Cedrick Wilson. The possible seventh could be Rasheed Marshall. I have to say that I like this group.

The tight end position may have the greatest depth on the team. Heath Miller and Jerame Tuman are the vets. Third round pick Matt Spaeth, Cody Boyd, and Jon Dekker are all monsters. In fact, Tuman is the smallest TE on the team at 6-4 253. I think Tuman brings a lot to the team and this unit, but he could go in a coast saving move. There has to be some intrigue in lining up two 6-7 TEs with Spaeth and Boyd in short yardage and red-zone opportunities. My thoughts are that the Steelers will keep three TEs (Miller, Tuman/Boyd, and Spaeth), and both Boyd (if he doesn’t win a job outright) and Dekker make the practice squad.

Next up, sorting out an offensive line. There are lots of decisions to be made here.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Running Back Competition

There are a few questions here. Who will be the third-down back? Who will be the goal line back? What happens to Dan Kreider after this year and is there another capable FB on the roster?

I’m thinking the Steelers keep five or six RBs. The top four are Willie Parker, Najeh Davenport, Kevan Barlow, and Dan Kreider. Who stays after these guys depends upon the health of Verron Haynes. The news on Haynes sounds like his knee is still a problem. If he’s healthy, he makes the team. My guess is that he’ll go on IR. My dark horse of this group is Gary Russell. Although he flunked out of school and didn’t play last year, he put up some great numbers in his junior year despite not starting. He has size and speed – could be a Willie Parker type steal. He at least makes the practice squad.

That leaves a battle between Larry Croom, Carey Davis, and John Kuhn. One of these guys probably becomes the backup FB. Although, there could still be a free agent signing as other teams adjust rosters here.

The RBs that make it past the first cut:
Haynes (possible IR)
Russell (possible practice squad)

Next up, I’m breaking down the WRs and TEs.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Quarterback Battle

For the Steelers, there is not much of a battle here. This is probably the least competitive positional battle on the team. Roethlisberger and Batch are set as the top two. The only real question here is; now with Ben healthy do they keep a third QB on the roster?

The competition is between Brian St. Pierre and Bryan Randall. St. Pierre probably has a slight advantage because he’s been with the team for a few years now. However, if the team goes with only two, my guess is that Randall sticks with the practice squad. Money will have nothing to do with the battle between these guys, as neither will be looking at a contract above mid six figures. One interesting news note, the team looked at Aaron Brooks recently, deciding not to make a move.

The Steelers plan to use more three and four WR sets and even three TE formations. Roster spots will need to be found to accommodate extra personnel at these positions.

I’ll break down the RB competition next, where it starts to get a little more interesting.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Camp's Open

Camp Tomlin is now officially open for business and it couldn't have started any better. Every rookie is signed and in camp, Polamalu is signed for years to come, Faneca is in camp, and Tomlin took it easy on everbody yesterday. Now, it's time to get this team in shape. In the coming weeks, I'll detail the position battles and try to predict this season's roster.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Polamalu Close to Signing

Some big news is looming as the opening of camp approaches. While the Steelers have not yet come to terms with the top 3 draft picks, it sounds like one very important veteran will be signed soon. Of all the players in the last year of their contracts, Troy Polamalu was the one the team had to sign. Nothing is official yet, but this is great news. Polamalu’s signing should also really help Mike Tomlin as he continues to build player relationships.

Of the other players in their final contract year, it’s pretty clear Alan Faneca will not be back. Two other starters on the offensive line also only have a year left, Kendall Simmons and Max Starks. It will be interesting to see what happens with these two players. Depending upon their performances and those of the younger guys, they may or may not be back. LB Clark Haggans and FB Dan Kreider are in their final year too. The Steelers need Haggans. He’s a solid LB and probably the team’s best pass rusher now that Joey Porter is gone. As a fellow UNH alum, I love the toughness of Kreider, but I have a feeling the Steelers will not bring him back unless the financial terms are in their favor.

Only 5 more days until camp…

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What’s My Second Favorite NFL Team?

This is a question that I’ve been asked many times by people (friends and strangers) throughout New England. Many say to me before I was really a Patsy’rot fan (in other words, before the NFL allowed them to win some games) I used to kinda like the Steelers. Then they ask, do you ever root for the Patsy’rots? You must have a second favorite team, don’t you?

Well after pondering this question a few times when my answer was generally “no, I do not have a second favorite team,” I came to realize I actually do. Although they don’t play any real NFL games, that team is the Steelers practice squad. I don’t care one bit for any other team in the NFL. Cut my veins open and I bleed black and gold.

The Steelers are an institution and a tradition. The Patsy’rots are a make believe team that has bribed its way to winning a few Super Bowls. Ask me how many of the Super Bowls I’ve watched in which the Patsy’rots have participated in and I’ll tell you not one second of any of them.

I’m proud to be a Steeler fan and will never waver in my allegiance.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Early Prediction: Steelers’ Playoff Chances

There’s no doubting the Steelers still have solid talent on both sides of the football. If Big Ben had a slightly better year last season, the Steelers would’ve been in the playoffs. In fact, they only needed one more win (Oakland or Atlanta) to bump Kansas City. Here’s my really early AFC playoff prediction analysis. I’ll revisit this right before training camp and then before the season starts.

AFC East
Patsy’rots – pains me to say they will make the playoffs, but the competition in this division is not great
Jets – made some improvements, success will depend on Pennington, will battle for wildcard
Dolphins – too many questions
Bills – no shot

AFC North
Ravens – have a lot of talent, the question is can McNair win one when he needs to
Steelers – 10-6, wildcard
Bungles – so much promise, so much turmoil, can’t make headway this year
Browns – no shot

AFC South
Colts – lost a lot of talent, could finish in second, but still get wildcard
Jags – will win the division this year
Titans – can’t build on last year and will take a step back
Texans – no shot

AFC West
Chargers – will win the division, team to beat in the AFC
Broncos – will battle for wildcard spot, but doesn’t have enough
Chiefs – won’t make the playoffs this year
Raiders – no shot

Steelers have 10 games they can win, 2 others that will likely go either way, and 4 they will probably lose. I think at 10-6 they can get in and Tomlin will create some excitement.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Don’t Press Send, Don’t Press Send

So you have an inappropriate email that you just have to share with friends, you click forward, start filling in the addresses, and you hit the send button. Next thing you realize and it’s too late, your boss’ name auto-filled in and he/she is now on your distribution. Oh the horror…we all fear this scenario.

For Larry Zierlein, Steelers’ offensive line coach, he’s living this nightmare. His email went to many high ranking NFL officers, including commissioner Roger Goodell. Oh…the embarrassment… This will surely bring some level of discipline from the league office. If it were you or I in the corporate world, we’d be updating or resumes by now.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Impressed with Tomlin

Beside the Faneca drama, the buzz from Steelers mini camp was all about Mike Tomlin. From the flurry of news, he is really impressing people. Now, you draw multiple parallels of his hiring to that of Cowher’s, but will he get the immediate results Cowher did. The good news is that he understands Steeler football and tradition . Even though changes are happening, he’s not going to abandon the run-the-football/defensive philosophy that has been so successful for years. The talk is about a new spread offense, but ultimately it will be the running game that will benefit.

What seems to be impressing people the most, is how Tomlin dealt with Faneca right out of the gate. There are so many things he could have done, but he did the right thing by immediately talking with Faneca. It is still going to be very interesting how this situation plays out. Tomlin also seems to be winning over his players, as he must get them to buy into his plans. Tomlin is definitely bringing some excitement to the team already and it should be fun to see how things progress up until the start of training camp.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Should the Steelers Trade Faneca?

The Steelers missed their chance to trade Alan Faneca before the draft. Now, they have to deal with a potentially disgruntled player. Thanks to the big dollars given to two guards who have never made a Pro Bowl, Eric Steinbach and Derrick Dockery, this off-season, Faneca wants his next contract in that same ballpark. It's hard to blame him. While his agent insists it’s not about the money (heard that from pro athletes before), he just wants respect from the Steelers and insists Faneca has always wanted to end his career with the team. It doesn’t appear either that’s going to happen now.

It’s too late to trade Faneca now. If they don’t negotiate a new deal with him, the best the Steelers can hope for is that Faneca plays out his free agent year with a mission. With tight relationships with Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm, he’s pretty much assured of signing with Arizona next year. At this point, the Steelers will probably get a better compensatory draft pick than what they could get in a trade for Faneca. It’s time to start grooming his replacement and planning for his departure.

It’s too bad that it’s come to this. Faneca has been a great teammate, a true representative of Steeler football, and a model Pittsburgh citizen. However, the economics of the game force teams into tough decisions.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Vote for the 75th Anniversary All-Time Team

You can now vote for the Steelers 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. Here's my team:

QB: Terry Bradshaw - hands down the best Steelers QB
RB: Franco Harris - best Steelers RB of all time
RB: Jerome Bettis - heart and soul of the Cowher era teams
TE: Bennie Cunningham - made every clutch catch
WR: John Stallworth - old reliable
WR: Hines Ward - Mr. versatile
--Hard to omit Lynn Swann here
OL: Alan Faneca - best OL of the 2000's
OL: John Kolb - dominating
OL: Mike Webster - the best center ever
OL: Ray Mansfield - The Ranger
OL: Dermontti Dawson - the 2nd best center ever

DL: Joe Greene - Mean Joe
DL: L.C. Greenwood - always got the big sack
DL: Dwight White - intense
DL: Keith Willis - lookout QB
LB: Jack Ham - made every big play
LB: Jack Lambert - most feared player ever
LB: Greg Lloyd - personal favorite
--hard to choose just 3 here, Greene, Porter, Gildon, Kirland, etc...
DB: Mel Blount - who wants to catch a pass with Mel lurking around
DB: Rod Woodson - one of the NFL's best
DB: Carnell Lake - tough on run and pass
DB: Troy Polamalu - does he make every tackle

K: Gary Anderson - money
K: Roy Gerela - Gerela's Gorillas

Thursday, May 10, 2007

There isn't anybody better than Kevan?

Kevan Barlow? Is he really the answer at RB for the Steelers? If it was TJ Duckett, Ladell Betts, Ron Dayne, or another already now signed, but missed opportunity, big back, I wouldn't even question the move. I don't like busting on Pitt guys because I like to see them do well. But, Barlow has not been good for a while now. He has problems holding onto the ball and he was down right bad with the Jets last year. I know the Steelers need more RB depth, but I'm just very skeptical that this guy is the answer. The only way I can accept him as a Steeler is if his role is third or fourth string -- insurance in case either Parker or Davenport go down with an injury.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Can Big Ben Get It Back This Year?

My personal thoughts are leading me to believe that Ben Roethlisberger is going to have a big year. For those of you who missed it, ESPN last week put out a great article, Roethlisberger still dealing with the road less taken, detailing the motorcycle event and the impact it had on Ben, the woman involved, and the city of Pittsburgh.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Early Positional Battles

Heading into Tomlin's first official mini-camp, I see four key positional battles heating up:

At wide reciever, do the Steelers keep 5 or 6 this year? If it's 5, the battle will be between rookie Dallas Baker and 2nd year player Willie Reid. Reid brings a lot of speed and the added dimension of being a great kick returner. The question with him is health. He rarely saw the field last year and needs to show early that he's ready to go. Baker is a completely different WR. He's got very good size, but lacks great speed. Could become a reliable possession receiver with red-zone capabilities. If the Steelers decide on 6, both may have a spot.

At cornerback, there could be fight for who stays on the roster. This battle is between former 2nd round pick Ricardo Colclough and veteran Deshea Townsend. Steelers would love for Colclough to finally step up and show his abilities to be a solid CB. He has injuries problems of his own after suffering from a serious neck injury last year. At 32, Townsend is aging like a fine wine. He's had two very good seasons in which the young guys were gunning for his job and failed to beat him out. But, is this the end of the line? He's getting paid a lot of money. Do the Steelers make a salary cap move with him now? Each player's early performance may dictate what the Steelers plans are at CB.

At center, Jeff Hartings leaves a big hole. Webster, Dawson, Hartings...3 centers since the 70's. Has there been a more stable position in all of sports? Can the Steelers find the next successor with what they have? The battle begins with free agent signee Sean Mahan against in-waiting Chukky Okobi. There could also be more individuals entering the battle, such as Marvin Philips and Kendall Simmons. With Mahan and Okobi getting the initial crack, one needs to show the staff that they really want this job. This is going to be interesting and could ultimately determine how successful the team is going to be this year and going forward.

At running back, Parker and Davenport are the only sure things here. Do the Steelers bring back Verron Haynes? If his knee is OK, I think he's coming back. What about rookie free agent Gary Russel? This guy sounds like he has some talent, although school wasn't his thing. Who else is out there to mount a challenge? One or both of these guys needs to step up, compete, and contribute. If Fast Willie goes down, the season is over unless somebody can show something here. I have to imagine that the Steelers are not done looking for more talent at RB.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Linebacker or Punter...

And, with their fourth round pick, the Steelers select a 6-2 1/2, 230 pound, 4.43 in the 40...punter...huh!!! About the same size and even faster than first round pick Lawrence Timmons, Daniel Sepulveda is not your prototypical punter. In my previous entry, I mentioned Sepulveda may have been the Steelers' best day 2 selection, and I'm not wavering from that. This guy not only booms the ball, but he hits like a freight train. Imagine being an NFL returner and getting flattened by the punter...a bruised ego may not be the only bruise you'll walk off the field with. This guy has me stoked me up. Can't wait to see him clean some clock.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Yawn of a Draft Builds Depth

Well, there were no RBs or CBs picked, which was a bit of a surprise. I think Timmons and Woodley were solid picks that should both start contributing in some fashion this season. A TE pick in the 3rd was a strange pick with Tuman and Miller already there. However, at 6-7, Spaeth could be a very interesting target for Big Ben. A pre-existing injury may have had him ranked so low, but the Steelers must see something special in him.

Best of the day 2 picks may actual be Daniel Sepulveda the P from Baylor. Steelers offered Andy Lee some big RFA money to come over from SF. Sepulveda is a much more cost-effective option. Also, the move will pare Gardocki's million or so off the cap. Other values in day two look to be Ryan McBean and Cameron Stephenson. Both guys have a lot of potential.

As resident of NH, I'm anxiously hoping the Steelers sign UNH WR David Ball as a free agent. I've seen this guy play live and he's got some talent. Got knocked for his speed, but he ran hurt in all of his time trials. He runs great routes, actually has decent speed, and out jumps everybody. This guy broke records set by Jerry Rice.

As for Faneca, there must have been some conversations that gave the Steelers an idea of his free agent plans. I thought for sure he was going to get traded for picks. We'll wait a few weeks to see what happens in mini-camp.

Steelers, good job as usually. 1st draft under Tomlin is now behind us.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Time to Trade Faneca

It's hard to say good-bye to a pro-bowler and warrior, but Alan Faneca is giving the Steelers a perfect opportunity to do so. With some tough decision looming before the start of the 2008 season, Faneca's contract situation right now should allow the Steelers to trade him for picks and reduce the cap. His loss may be hard to overcome, but there are some pretty good young OL talent on this team. If I were Ben, I'd rather have a hungry young OL blocking for me than a potential disgruntled holdout who's likely to bolt at the end of the season.

There's a lot of round 2-4 talent in this draft. If the Steelers can grab a 2nd and 4th rounder for Faneca, they shouldn't even blink on the trade. Get something for him now, or watch him walk to Arizona next year.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Draft Day Is Coming...

Less than a week to draft day. What are the Steelers going to do? For what the Steelers need, the first round positional talent is rather week. Unfortunately, there are limited options when it comes to impact LBs and offensive linemen at the 15th pick. I think we'd have a better shot addressing these positions in rounds 2-4. Many of the draft experts have pegged Leon Hall as the pick. The last image I had of him was watching the USC receivers continually toast him in the Rose Bowl. Don't like the idea of picking him one bit. Now, I wouldn't be all that opposed if we took hometowner, Darrelle Revis. He at least brings the added dimension of a return specialist.

While the Steelers don't have a lot of holes, can we agree that LB, OL, RB, and WR are the positions we should look to strengthen? Would love to see Michael Bush fall to the Steelers in a mid-round pick. Could really help us out in short yardage situations. Willie Parker is going to continue to be a very good back, but we could use a guy that can get the tough one to two yards.

Let's get some discussion going...who would you have the Steelers take in round 1?