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Sadly – The Standard Is The Standard


NOTE: I don’t normally take outside article submissions, but Michael Reynolds has asked that I post his thoughts on the start of the season. I am sure this will produce some interesting discussion in the comments. ~ DB

By Michael Reynolds

The familiar refrain of “Here We Go Steelers” is most aptly replaced by “Here We Go Again Steelers” as to somewhat channel former NFL Coach Dennis Green, “We are who we thought we are.”

The spin doctors of the Black and Gold public relations department, which now apparently includes all coaches and players, has been hard at work in the offseason trying to quell the fears and concerns of Steelers Nation, but unfortunately, for all of us, the people waving the towels have been right all along.

We were concerned last season by our level of competitiveness and were hoping for an aggressive Steelers offseason. Instead there was nothing but the typical sound of crickets.

We could see the offensive line being manhandled throughout the pre-season. After assembling a collection of four goose eggs we were still being told, “The pre-season is just the pre-season.”

The truth of the matter is that we haven’t had a significant forward push in our offensive line since we shoved Alan Faneca out the door and the great tragedy is we may be squandering the Hall of Fame career of a quarterback in his prime. This kind of talent doesn’t come by often. A brief and painful recollection of who was behind the center for the Steelers during the 80’s and 90’s should provide all of the convincing necessary.

We’ve lost the first three games of the season, all four of the pre-season and four out of the last five of the previous season. The panic button has long been worn out and proven ineffective. It’s time to push another button–the reality button.

The standard may be the standard (as is one of Mike Tomlin’s favorite phrases), but the problem is the standard is that of a sub-par football team. Our 8-8 record of last year proved it to the fans. But letting go of Willie Colon, Mike Wallace and his Bayou buddy Keenan Lewis while making only a Guy Whimper in free agency demonstrates an organization in denial. If we close our eyes, we’ll only get better.

And the newfangled zone blocking scheme? So far it’s only proved capable of cut blocking our Pro Bowl center out for the season. We’re putting all of our eggs in the basket of a rookie running back with a bum wheel that hasn’t played a minute of regular season football. We’re playing teams with two high quality tight ends while our talented one is on the sideline wearing a knee brace.

What we have is an offense that is only effective against a prevent defense.

Trying to keep positive is a quality trait until it rises to delusion and leads to wrongful personnel strategy. A team understanding its offense is going to struggle keeps Reggie Dunn on the team knowing that kickoff returns may be our best offensive weapon. The dog house gets emptied of our most effective young runner, Jonathan Dwyer. And players like Alan Baxter suit up instead of older “higher pedigree” players who have been unimpressive for years and are close to free agency eligibility.

The front office has been shooting too many air balls on its draft picks the past few years which would be bad enough for any team, but especially for an organization convinced it doesn’t need to take free agency seriously. If you’re going to rely on the draft, you need to nail it, and you must retain your young talent.

Instead we continue to shop at garage sales and dollar stores thinking we’re so much smarter than all of the other personnel departments. There is no way to spin this any further. We lose close games to weak teams because we are now one of them.

We love our Steelers which is why many of us have been following them all of our lives. And we know these are young men, who for the most part, are doing the best they can and are laying it all on the field.

But it’s time for ownership, the front office and the coaching staff to take some reality pills and make some adjustments to the “Steelers Way” because it’s due for an overhaul.

Otherwise, “the standard” is nothing more than a blindfold that will have us plummeting toward another 20-year Super Bowl drought.

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About Michael K. Reynolds

Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers fanatic and author of the acclaimed Heirs of Ireland series. MichaelKReynolds.com
  • SteelersDepot

    Obviously I do not share these thoughts, but I thought I would give him a chance to share his. Have at it.

  • Steve

    Steelers have given out way too much money for a team that is at best 8-8. Ben, Troy and others are only as good as the players around them and they surely are not worth what we are getting with the way the team is playing. 12 million to a player that gives turnovers away like last week, we should be asking for a return on our money. Better budgetted teams will go farther in this league.

  • Russ Ruffing

    I think he’s pretty much right on. To his quote that “we have an offense that is only effective against a prevent defense,” I say “AMEN” to that! And that’s because we have a QB who is only effective against a prevent defense. He can’t read defenses and is terrible in finding a hot read against blitz packages. And he doesn’t have to do either against prevent defenses. A top shelf QB needs what I call “processing power” and Big Ben has never demonstrated that he has a lot of it, which is why he is not a technician like a Manning, Brady, Brees, et al.

  • Vic

    I totally agree with your assessment of big ben. This team is in rebuild mode why not trade ben?

  • Steve

    I am not saying Trade Ben, but do think we are paying way too much for the services we are getting.

  • Garrett Hunt

    Because he still has potential to win multiple super bowls during the rest of his career with the Steelers. Our defense is not far off from elite. With the addition of turnovers we have the ability to win any game.

    If we had an obvious QB of the future on our hands ready to take over then it would be one thing, but Landry Jones?

  • Jeff S

    Trade big ben for who and for what? You guys act like we would get 3 first rd picks. Lucky if we got one and if we did get one do you really have faith in this front office to pick a QB that would be better than Ben???

    Truth is we are rebuilding but its much easier to do with an established QB. If we could find an Oline and a #1 WR I am sure Ben would be fine. Maybe a 6-10 yr isn’t all bad. Get a solid LT move pillow soft M Adams to RT, and draft a true #1 WR so Brown can be the solid #2 he really is and things might not look so bleak. Problem is will the front office screw it up. Time will tell.

  • Sabbie

    Mike, you are not taking many factors into consideration and leaving out reasons, I said reasons rather than excuses.

  • Reese Dare

    We’ve got lots of problems. Everyone likes to pin it on our Oline but..
    1. Ben missed a lot of throws I saw at least 2 plays where Sanders was waaaay wide.
    2. Our defense is decent but they let themselves get nickeled and dimed and never get off the field.
    3. Running backs. Just =/

    Our ST look pretty good though.

  • Eric

    Today’s problems can be traced back to the disaterous 2008 draft and the horrible 2009 draft. Had we collected the normal number of decent players in both these drafts, we might not be in the predicament we are now in.

  • Jason

    Well written. Totally agree. Whoever has been responsible for all the draft busts should be let go. Wish we could see some action from the coach by letting some of these guys go now. Redman and Paulson would be the first I would get rid of.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I think you hit on something that is important. We have had some very poor drafts. Since we only draft our teams it is critical to make few mistakes in the draft process. This has caused some trouble since we missed. The first thing is we then had to overpay for vets that we normally let go. This had thus jacked up our salary cap so we couldn’t sign a few good FA’s for depth. The second thing is our depth has become diminished because the talent drafted to take the vets place didn’t pan out and we didn’t have the money to sign good back ups. This draft seems like a good one but we may have to wait a few years to see it come to fruition.

  • Lee

    I have to say I think this talk is ridiculous!

    Do we look good? No. Are we going to be competitive this year… or next? Probably not. But it’s definitely not time to start bashing Ben and the organization! Even the best organizations will have down years. I’d be willing to bet most of you were preaching about the Steelers being the best organization in the league a few years ago and Ben being underrated. While I’m disappointed too, I stand behind those beliefs, look forward to the rest of the year, and remind myself… I could be from Cleveland.

  • Bob Loblaw

    As much as people complain about the team not making waves in free agency, there would be more complaining if we started releasing/trading players to actually give us cap room to make moves.

    Ben, Woodley, Timmons, Troy, Taylor, Miller and Brown. If you want to free up enough cap space to pick people up, chances are some of these guys wouldn’t be on the team. A team that has already been criticized for its lack of veteran leadership. Its lack of playmakers.

    And are we really complaining about other teams fielding two tight ends? People were sharpening knives with Arians in mind because he didn’t use a fullback. Now that we have a good fullback we’re whining that we don’t have enough tight ends on the field?

  • Steve

    Troy, Taylor, Clark and Sanders may not be on the team next year due to Free agency.

  • http://www.michaelkreynolds.com/ Michael K. Reynolds

    Bob,
    I love the Steelers Way…when it’s working. It means you have brilliant drafts, you develop your talent and then you KEEP them. But already back in 2008 the wheels were falling off on the brilliant draft part, and if you allow what few winners you’ve got to slip away in free agency you end up weak on talent. Which is where we are now. There should have been a Plan B in place and an adjustment is necessary now.

  • bgsteelfan

    If I never hear that phrase again, it will be too soon. It is such meaningless drivel and Tomlin uses it as a catch all.

  • http://www.michaelkreynolds.com/ Michael K. Reynolds

    Lee,
    I do think the Steelers have the best organization in the league. But I think even the most fanatical fan would agree they’ve had some rough patches when it’s come to their recent drafts (with possibly this year being the exception). I also believe Ben is underrated and an amazing quarterback, especially considering the offensive lines he’s been behind. But seriously, how long should it take an organization to fix their offensive line? I was disappointed they didn’t use free agency to at shore up at least one spot on the line. And not a single draft pick on the offensive line? That’s delusion. Maybe Adams and Gilbert have a future, but you don’t test that theory out with a Hall of Fame quarterback.

  • Pete

    After last season and the pre-season, what Steeler fan didn’t know it was going to be a rough year? Ignore Colbert’s comment that the team “is not in transition.” All of us know it is. So, we’ll have some down years until we come out of the transition or rebuilding phase. Yes, by the time we come out of it, Ben might be gone but that’s life in the NFL. The Steelers had a good run. They won 2 Super Bowls and lost one over the past 7 years. Not too shabby. You can’t stay at the top forever but you can rebuild AND they will.

  • Tom

    My 2 cents….

    It takes a lot of things to go right for a team to remain competitive, year after year, in the NFL. Fail in a couple areas…and you sink into mediocrity or worse.
    No NFL front office gets it right every time.

    A few random thoughts…

    One of my biggest gripes is that the Steelers have not done a good job getting young players on the field on defense. By the time they are ready to contribute, their first contract is about to expire. While young players like JJ Watt and Aldon Smith wreak havoc on opponents offenses…..our young guys stand on the sideline….”learning the complicated Lebeau system”

    Also, I don’t think that the team has done a good job balancing the $$ spent on both sides of the ball. While I like Clark and Polamalu, and appreciate their long time contributions…spending 16 million a year on a pair of safeties is probably not good cap management.

    Offensive line…..I don’t know if it’s a matter of talent evaluation, scheme, or coaching….but for a unit that has 2 firsts and 2 seconds…the result is abysmal. Maybe some of that is just bad luck…who could have predicted that Willie Colon would get a big contract, then not be able to stay on the field for 3 years?

  • Pete

    So…they should pull pro bowl tackles out of a hat? No team gets all draft picks correct and the Steelers have been up against the cap. But the Steelers have done a pretty good job over the past 15 years. There is no Flozell Adams to bring stability to the OL this year. They have been trying to fix the OL for a while now and have committed high draft picks to that endeavor. Yes, it hasn’t worked so far but eventually the Steelers will have a great (or at least pretty good) OL.

    Relax and enjoy the fact that all good teams have to rebuild at some point and your team won 2 Super Bowls recently.

  • Pete

    I agree with some of what you are saying. Guys like Aldon Smith and JJ Watt were very high 1st round picks and basically ready to go day one, like Pouncey. The Steelers haven’t drafted that high to get guys like that. Being successful makes it hard to draft big time players. The young guys on defense were waiting behind stars like James Harrison, Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith and Farrior. They would play if they were good enough but they weren’t. Some of it has been bad luck too as you mentioned with Colon, and with guys like Spence too. The Steelers will adjust and rebuild like they always have.

  • gene mann

    Well for one i do agree to a point. Colbert has missed some picks especially in the past few years. Tomlin talk is getting old and it time he produces wins

  • http://www.amazon.com/The-Sibyl-Reborn-ebook/dp/B009KNQHSM James P. Kelly

    “We lose to weak teams in close games because we are now one of them.”

    This is so blatantly true it seems superfluous to write it. Nonetheless, the ‘faithful’ refuse to admit their faith is misplaced. I’ve rooted for the Steelers for 49 years, and I’ll root for them the rest of the way. That said, that doesn’t mean I’ll turn off my brain or common sense. For example: preseason games included, this team has lost eleven of the last twelve times it’s played. Duh? The author of this post said what needed said. Denial and delusion are the Symplegades of fools…if that includes Tomlin and front office, so be it.

  • Riz

    What I agree w in the above is the team speak this off season that we were not in a transition or rebuilding year. I’m not cashing in on the season yet or a bandwagon fan who is going to jump off a bridge just yet. However, the past two years n this season we’ve seen alarming trends, a non effective or at best an inconsistent run game and a drastic flip-flop of the defenses ability to generate takeaways to name the two obvious. Whether the reasons are some of the above, poor draft classes or salery cap flexibility or little free agency activity is open to debate. Regardless, though it hasn’t been as obvious to the naked eye it seems more n more like the steelers r in a transition at the least and a rebuilding phase at the most and they haven’t been honest about admitting it. Greatness can slip from ones grasp incrementally over time in such a way that it is not noticed. It’s not that the coaches and players don’t have the willingness or drive, we’ve seen that in the slow and steady improvement we saw thru the first three games. Leadership n confidence are not overrated and we see a glaring hole in those on the team. From analysts to bloggers to fans the hoi poloi doesn’t know how to view the steelers. Why? Because its a team that doesn’t know who it is and is stumbling in the darkness trying to find out. The dark knight pervades all of steeler nation with some crying an end to Gotham and others puffed up w sky in the pie (yeah I said that purposefully) optimism, when I don’t even think the batmen are sure yet who they are and what they will decide. I myself think 8-8 or even 9-7 could be possible if they find their identity but they won’t be blowing out people w the confidence of Peyton’s broncos. The steelers are rebuilding or in transition and do have some bright stars and if Tomlin is who I think he is then the bat mobile will ride again this year. Yet, I don’t like the disingenuous talk of not being in transition though that might be for the public only. Nevertheless, I feel like steeler nation, or at least I didn’t buy the talk from the outset so I’m not phased by it. My first post, sorry I went on. Great work depot, much appreciated!

  • http://www.amazon.com/The-Sibyl-Reborn-ebook/dp/B009KNQHSM James P. Kelly

    +1 [re our totally squandered second pick in the fourth round].After all, this team was SO rock solid it could afford to blow a valuable pick for kicks. There were actually good tight ends still on the board (who can block, catch, and hold on to the ball) as well as centers, guards, and tackles head & shoulders above our back-ups (and maybe a starter or two). Instead, we’ve got Whimper (which is the point Mr. Renolds makes so well).

  • Bell Cow

    I agree with basically everthing he wrote. Poor draft classes, age, and the salary cap have finally caught up to them. They’ve hung on to over priced veterans because many the players drafted to be their replacement couldn’t be relied upon or simply weren’t given a chance to play. The few talented young players we had (Wallace and Lewis) are gone. I’ve come to accept the fact we are in a rebuilding phase and I’m hoping for a complete over haul after this season.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Troy and Taylor still have another year left if I’m remembering right. And it’s not like we’ve got depth at either of those positions so I think we’ll probably see them live out their contracts.

    At this point I just can’t see Sanders being with us next year. With our successes in finding receivers with later draft picks I think he’ll be grabbed by another team.

    I don’t see Clark resigning unless Thomas has a really bad year and Clark is open to giving the team a big discount.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Picking later in the draft has that effect. Many of our signature players we have as a result of drafting earlier (Ben, Timmons, Troy, Pouncey). Also, you look back before 2008 and there’s plenty of drafts where there’s only two or three players who actually went on to make a name for themselves. 2008 and on it isn’t that much different. We still find gems later in the draft, and our record with our first round picks doesn’t have more worried.

    Also, in the NFL it’s extremely hard to draft well, develop talent, and keep them. Saying it’s the Steeler’s way doesn’t make it true. We’ve let plenty of talent sign somewhere else before, it isn’t anything new (Burress, Porter, Vrabel). The league is designed to make it extremely hard to do all three. What team does all three? Sure, teams like Cinci are on the upswing right now, but what happens when they have to resign all these young players?

    Unfortunately, any adjustment means cutting talent from the team. And unless we cut a slew of our middle of the pack players, that means parting with people I originally mentioned. And even if we were to trade/release one of those players, I can’t think of a player who was a free agent during the offseason that I’d trade for one of those I mentioned. And trading one for picks? Well that doesn’t make sense at all if the Steelers’ drafting ability is so questionable.

  • WIINGY

    Brees never threw for 4k yards until he went to New Orleans. All of these quarterbacks need protection which Ben doesn’t have.

  • WIINGY

    I think you need to sit and think, would any quarterback be successful in this offense?

  • WIINGY

    The Steelers need a new approach on offense and defense. They need to be aggressive and play to win.
    Put Ben in the Shotgun! The protection isn’t good enough for him to drop back, set, read, and throw.
    The defense needs to blitz more with its linebackers and keep Troy in coverage. They take him out of the play half the time. There is no point in having a defense that let’s a team drive down the field and pin this offense inside the 20. Our OL isn’t good enough to sustain an 80+ yard drive. Be aggressive, blitz, shotgun, pass on first down, go deep, let Moye play, let Wheaton play, get the fullback off the field, lose the two TE set, use bunch formations, get creative, Go All In. CHANGE what you are doing cause it isn’t working!

  • WIINGY

    They could bring in a free agent tackle. That would mean they would have to cut a player like Ike, then so be it. He doesn’t create turnovers and gets paid 11 million a year. They need to get their priorities in order. Win the line of scrimmage.

  • Luke Shabro

    I agree with some of these points. There have been some big whiffs in the draft. I do believe that Colbert has not drafted a bust in the first round, period. Ziggy and Mendenhall may not have been everything we hoped but they were far from busts. However, when you look at them drafting guys like Sweed, Worilds, Curtis Brown, Urbik (who they released too quickly), and Chris Rainey. However, if you can name me a team that has drafted significantly better I will happily agree with you. Ozzie Newsome is a great GM but he whiffed pretty decently on Terrance Cody and Sergio Kindle. Trent Baalke is considered one of the best in the business and they missed big time on AJ Jenkins and Glen Coffee. John Schneider is also considered a big time GM and he flubbed on John Moffett. No team is perfect in the draft but the biggest problem right now seems to be that we missed where it’s counting the most. On the offensive line. Adams and Gilbert don’t seem to be living up to expectations although it is early on.
    I’m not one to be jumping off the bridge and I won’t look at this season incredibly optimistically but for some suggesting we blow it all up? Come on. Let’s wait until the season plays out before we get that far. We do have to face the reality that we are not a contender this year. Probably not even a wild card contender realistically. There are pieces though. We have Ben still, possibly Pouncey when he’s healthy again, and DeCastro. Antonio Brown looks like at least a #2. We don’t know what we have in Wheaton just yet. Heath will get extended. Woodley, Timmons, Jones and Williams round out the linebacking corps pretty decent. Maybe Sean Spence will even be back for depth. Cortez Allen could be good if he’s every healthy. Shark and Golden are two of the best backup safetys in the league in my opinion and can still be groomed to be starters. I’m not saying we’re not lacking a lot of depth and I’m not saying we’re not devoid of talent in some key spots because we are. But these are not problems that are unsolvable. This is not a talentless roster. But it looks like it’s not talented enough to get past anywhere from 5 to 7 wins max. Just my opinion

  • Luke Shabro

    What are you talking about? Ike signed a 4 year $28 million dollar contract. How does that equal 11 million a year? And on top of that I’m sure we could easily find a corner capable of limiting AJ Green and Brandon Marshall to what Ike did. Get real.

  • Luke Shabro

    Boom! Great points! As DB says on the Terrible Podcast, let’s see how the Ravens do as they have to continue to pay Flacco big money. Let’s see how the Seahawks, 49ers and Dolphins do when they have to pay Wilson, Kap and Tannehill big money.

  • Deuce22

    Ok, enough of the Ben bashing. If you put ANY other qb in this league, they would nowhere near be as successful as Ben has been. He has been known for extending the plays and sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t. Most of the time, he wows us with his Houdini like capabilities and gets a big play for us. Put Brady, Manning, Brees, Rodgers or even your mobile quarterbacks back behind our line… they wouldn’t last a whole game behind our line. Ben is the TOUGHEST qb around and it shows because he has constantly been beaten down by linebackers and d-lineman for way too long. The front office has tried to address the issue by drafting young lineman but have struck out. They brought in Todd Haley with his “dink and dunk” offense so Ben can get the ball out quickly. They have implemented the zone read offense…but have barely used it. Have faith in our organization and just realize that we have been drafting in the mid to late parts of the rounds for many years now and we haven’t had that top pick like the Bengals do year in and year out. They have the talent through the draft. The answer is not free agency. Hell, we can’t afford anything in free agency anyways. Wake up Pittsburgh, its going to be a long couple of years with our stars getting older and leaving. This isn’t Cowher’s Steelers…It’s Tomlin’s. Have faith, keep cheering, and wave your terrible towel regardless. Win, lose, or tie, Steeler Fan til I DIE!

  • Marcela Garza-Meza

    Well, the first thing Tomlin did when he arrived was to “take special teams under his wing” because that unit sucked and finally 7 years later special teams are a special unit, so to correct the oline now that he is looking under the stones for tackles won’t take more than other 7 years so if we do the Math we are in troj le as long as Tomlin is our HC.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Someone wasn’t paying attention to what happened last year when we didn’t have Ike.

  • Slab

    Typical whiny, spoiled Steeler fan. How many other fan bases would kill to have the Steeler fan experience. Give me a break. This article is all complain and no solution. citing 4 preseason losses and a failure to keep Willie Colon, Reggie Dunn, Dwyer and Alan Baxter is beyond weak, it speaks of a major lack of understanding of the NFL. Wallace signed for 5 years, 60 million- please advise where that salary cap room was going to come from. Lewis took 10.5 million guaranteed- again where would you have the Steelers come up with that salary cap room? This isn’t Madden, the money you spend on one player is money you can’t spend on another. If you would prefer your team be the offseason champs, you probably should switch to a different team- maybe the Redskins.

    The reality is that the Steelers are completely rebuilding their Oline. They right now have the least experienced line in the league, there are going to be growing pains, especially when the young center goes down in the first drive of the season.

    You opine that the front office and coaching staff need to make some adjustments to the “Steeler’s Way”, please provide examples. What needs to change? What team would you like the Steelers to emulate? Let me guess- Seattle, right? After all they are 3-0 and signed a bunch of free agents in the offseason, right? Problem is they have a very cheap QB. Wait until Wilson hits his second contract. And last year was their first winning season since 2007. Every single Seahawks fan would take the “Steeler’s Way” in a heartbeat.

  • Slab

    Name the players that would have been such better picks.

  • Slab

    Well said! Personally, I still see the possibility for a 10 win season. Obviously, if they continue to turn the ball over at the current rate that isn’t going to happen, but I have a hard time blaming the “Steeler’s Way” for Ben’s carelessness with the football, Pouncey going down on the opening drive of the season and Bell’s foot injury. Let’s act like fans that have actually watched NFL seasons unfold before and not over react at every loss and poor play.

  • TheBlitz

    Ben isn’t going to be very successful in this offense with his style. Quick short passes is a better approach than backyard football and always looking for the home run. Call it “dink and dunk” whatever you like, but it’s time for Ben to adapt his style because of the weakness and inexperience of his OL

  • Chad H

    Some of his thoughts are not far off.
    Draft classes 08 & 09 were bad. Where is Urbik now? Moves like getting L. Jones this year?
    I understand letting Colon go because of money vs injury, but answer why is Carter still here and Baxter on the PS?
    This coaching staff (not applied to defensive coaches) fails to motivate.
    Not getting a TE in this draft, oh maybe in rd 4 was a mistake. Not ready to replace Miller but he is getting long in the tooth and coming back from a major injury. Tomlin is great with putting words together and used those sentences to sway the Steelers into a job.
    Sorry for going political but Tomlin and Obama are great at delivering their words but both fail to lead.

  • Slab

    Wow. Reactionary much. Trade Ben for what? Another better franchise QB? That’s a great idea because they are just waiting out there. :) See the Jets, Raiders, Vikings, Browns, etc. Ben is the best QB the Steelers have ever had, has won 2 Superbowls, has a career winning percentage of .693 including 10-4 in the playoffs and some fans want to trade him because the team is 0-3? Really? Remember Tommy Maddox, Bubby Brister, Mark Malone? Ben isn’t perfect, but there isn’t a package of picks /players out there worth trading him for.

  • Slab

    Ben is getting paid the going rate for a franchise QB. The Steelers choices are pay him what they are paying him or let him hit free agency where he will make even more money. He may not be Manning or Brees, but neither is Flacco, Romo, or Eli and they all make more than Ben. Ben will likely pass them on his next contract. It’s the way it works in the NFL- if you have a franchise QB you pay him, if you don’t have one you keep losing until you do get one and then you pay him whatever it takes to keep him.

  • Slab

    Fire Colbert and he’ll be hired by another team before the week is out. He’s one of the best in the business and has the track record to prove it. Name a GM that doesn’t have draft busts. The fact that the two players you would cut are an undrafted FA and a late round flyer tells me all I need to know about your actual ability to judge the Steelers front office.

  • Slab

    So on the one hand you liked this year’s draft but on the other hand you are upset that an Olineman wasn’t taken? On the one hand “how long should it take an organization to fix their line”, but on the other hand, they should cut loose recent draft picks and replace with more recent draft picks? Name the Olineman in last year’s draft the Steelers should have taken. Name the Lineman in previous year’s drafts they should have taken. Name the FA lineman they should have paid and tell us where that money was coming from.

  • Slab

    So you love the Steeler’s Way until they lose 3 in a row. You realize that in the 5 seasons since the 2008 draft, the Steelers have made the playoffs 3 times, played in 2 Superbowls and have zero losing seasons. I haven’t looked at every other team, but I would venture to say that stacks up favorably against everyone and is undoubtedly top 5. it’s just silly to think the Steelers aren’t well run and successful. At least wait for the season to play out before claiming adjustments are needed. 2008 wasn’t a great draft, but name 5 better GMs out there and I’ll guarantee we can find bad drafts. The draft is a crap shoot and the Steelers are as good at it as anyone.

  • JB

    I agree – The “trade Ben” talk is just ridiculous. Just go and trade him for a couple of pro bowl tackles, right? Please. O line needs to be fixed – that happens and this is a different team. Not an easy fix, though.

  • http://www.michaelkreynolds.com/ Michael K. Reynolds

    Slab,
    If you had read my comments above you would see that I love “The Steelers Way” and enjoying the Steelers experience. But one important facet of the Steelers experience are Steelers fans. They are the best in the league as well. They fill the stadiums throughout the country, and love their team as no other. This has been a partnership between the team and its fans. So I would disagree with terming those of us with an opinion as “typical whiny, spoiled Steelers fans”. Some of us have been watching every game, pre-season and regular season, for decades and those of us who endured the 80′s and early 90′s Steelers and stuck with them are hardly spoiled.

    What would the Steelers be with Tampa Bay fans? Or San Diego fans. I lived in San Diego and if the Chargers were losing you wouldn’t even know they had a team.

    We are part of the Steelers Way, and I think it’s alright for us to have a voice. We just don’t want to treated like we’re drooling idiots. When we use phrases like “We don’t rebuild in Pittsburgh, we reload,” it’s actually got to be true. It was true five years ago, but after some very poor drafts, we’re thin on talent, which means they have to make smart decisions with that being the reality. Living in denial is never a good thing.

    They’ve been trying to strengthen the offensive line for about eight years now to no avail and Ben’s had to suffer for it. They’ve had the tools of draft, trade and free agency and haven’t used any effectively. I’m sorry, but that’s incompetence in this particular area. But again, that’s just my opinion. As Steelers fans, I feel we’re entitled to have them.

  • Slab

    Come on. You have to know better. If you have to use the phrase “preseason games included” to make your point, it’s just not a valid point.

    How about the Steelers were 1-2 last year including a loss to the Raiders before righting the ship to 6-3. They then lost Roethlisberger and closed out the season 2-5. But one of those 2 wins was on the road with a 3rd string QB against the eventual Superbowl champion Ravens. 5 of the 8 losses were by 3 points or less.

    The margin between winning and losing in the NFL is slim. If the Steelers continue to turn the ball over the way they have in the first 3 games, they will continue to struggle. If they get that fixed, there is no reason to think they can’t still win 9 or 10 games this year.

  • Doni609

    First totally realistic and truthful assessment of this team and our imploding organization that I have read this year, and for those of us that watch Steeler football with a passion this opinion is nothing more than we’ve been saying for the past couple of years as our high quality players were replaced with lesser talent by the Tomlin/Colbert clusterfark. It’s only a matter of time till those in the locker room begin the finger pointing at each other and the remaining wheel will fall from the already crippled bus. Thanks Mike but your standards aren’t welcome or appreciated in Pittsburgh. As for the Rooneys, how’s that Rooney Rule workin’ out for ya’?

  • Slab

    So over the last 8 years you are unhappy the Steelers don’t have a better Oline. OK. Since the Steelers have made the playoffs 5 of the last 8 years, appeared in 2 Superbowls, and won a Superbowl, I think choosing to focus on the Steelers Oline play and calling for a change in the Steeler Way is whiny and spoiled. Again, name 5 teams that you think has done a better job over that time period. If you can’t then you are whining about what even in your mind is a top 5 organization. How can that be anything other than spoiled?

    I take issue with fans that compare the Steelers organization not to other organizations but to some arbitrary perfect standard. No one can live up to that. It’s not realistic. Just saying “they should have drafted better players” is childish and unreasonable. Who should they have drafted? Even with 20/20 hindsight, it’s hard to see where those better players were supposed to come from. The 2008 draft was viewed by fans as a gift- the best RB falls to the Steelers, the WR many projected to them in the first falls to them in the 2nd. The fact that they didn’t become what everyone projected them to be is hardly the Steelers fault. These weren’t Raiders reach picks, they were considered by everybody as no brainers. So name the players the Steelers should have picked because probowl tackles generally go very early. Good teams don’t get to pick them.

  • Slab

    Really. Ready to run Tomlin/Colbert out the door? Who are you going to replace them with? Name all those head coaches with better track records than Tomlin. Name the GM better than Colbert. Not saying I think either of them is actually the best but they are indisputably both top 5. Most rants like this aren’t willing to actually name who they like better, they want to hold the player or person they dislike to some imaginary perfect standard and point out mistakes only. Problem is- no person/player can live up to that standard. These are the same people that claimed Bill Cowher and Jim Boeheim couldn’t win the big game, until they actually did. Let’s bash the current guy because he missed on that draft pick. Get a clue.

  • Slab

    Very well said.

  • Slab

    Timmons, Woodley, Pouncey, and Antonio Brown want to know why you don’t think they are talented?

    Pretty sure Ben will not get a $100 million contract for just next year, would likely be multiple years. Since the last Steeler’s losing season was 10 years ago, don’t you think it’s a little premature to decide they are now going to go years without a winning season?

    The idea of cutting Ben to free up salary space is one of the silliest things I’ve read in a while. You need to spend a few years as a Browns, Jets or Raiders fan so you can get a true appreciation for the difference between having a QB and not having one.

  • Slab

    So your big issue with Colbert is drafting a backup QB in the 4th round instead of a backup TE? Jones was selected with the 115 pick. The only 2 TE’s selected between that pick and the 6th round was someone named Levine Toilolo and Luke Wilson. Maybe Levine or Wilson will turn out to the next great TE, but I think the smart money is on the Steelers personnel folks having a better feel for 4th round value than Joe fan.

    Tomlin’s record speaks for itself. He’s over .600 winning percentage. By the way, if the draft classes are that bad, but the Steeler’s still haven’t had a losing season in Tomlin’s tenure, wouldn’t that make him an amazing coach?

  • Slab

    I’m sorry, but saying you love the Steeler’s way and then saying it isn’t working despite the success the Steeler’s have had right up until the middle of last season when the QB went down comes across to me as whiny and spoiled. How about a little confidence in the Steeler’s way getting things turned around in a timely fashion just as they have for the last 20 years? Decisions about how a team goes about doing business shouldn’t be based on a season let alone 1/2 a season or 3 games. Reacting that way is reactionary and shortsighted. Sit back and be glad you are a Steeler’s fan instead of a Brown’s or Jet’s fan. Be confident that this is just a hiccup because that’s what history should tell you.

    Yes, Steeler’s fans have been calling for the front office to build a better Oline since Faneca left. But they don’t give out Lombardi’s for the best Oline, the give them out to Superbowl winners and last I checked the Steelers are as good at that as anyone. Is there Oline a weak link right now? Yep. But would it make a difference if they had the Skins Oline if they also had the Skins D? They could have the 49ers Oline and D, but they also could have the 49ers stretch of 8 consecutive seasons from 2003 to 2011 without a winning record. Again, let’s trust the Steelers to know how to build a team instead of crying about the sky falling after losing 3 games.

  • Dom

    What the HELL is up with the Ben bashing this man took us to 3 superbowls. 1 Bad game doesn’t change that.

  • Dom

    What the HELL is up with the Ben bashing this man took us to 3 superbowls. 1 Bad game doesn’t change that..

  • Dom

    People we do not realise how lucky we have been over these last few years. Few teams can keep up a constant cycle of success over more than 5 years and we have been able to do that. Now we must realise we are on a decline but we will soon sometime in the future rise from the decline.
    We are NOT fair weather fans and we have to be in it for the good AND bad along with coach Tomlin etc. Look at some of the seasons Cowher had and how he ended. Tomlin and Big Ben have to be allowed a few off seasons as well.

  • Chad H

    I never jumped on the Tomlin bandwagon. When he was hired I said, “We will have to see where he is at in 4 to 5 years.” I didn’t like or dislike the guy but to me he did not seem like a Steelers style head coach. His win percentage is padded by his first 3 years with a great Cowher team. He now owns this team the players and the stats.
    A larger need was TE not QB in any round of the draft and yes any organizations personnel dept is more qualified than Joe fan. What i am giving is constructive criticism.
    So IMO amazing coach? I say no but we will have to see what the future holds. Maybe I will eat crow or maybe you will. Who knows?
    Last thing every team misses in the draft in every rd. Historically the Steelers do better than most. 08 and 09 were really bad and we are now paying the price.

  • Dom

    Bang on!

  • Jason

    The Steeler front office has done an exceptional job in the past but, of late they have missed big time with Adams, Gilbert, Heyward, Hood and Woirlds. Those mistakes along with an 0-3 start and a bad roster are reason for concern.

  • Steve

    Tom – We have 3 rookies playing substantial time on “D” this year. Shark, Williams and Jarvis.

  • Slab

    After 5 years he went to the playoffs 4 times and the Superbowl twice. The last year with Cowher the team was 8-8. So he took Cowher’s 8-8 team and went 55-25 over the next 5 seasons. What’s not to like? He either did as good or better than Cowher did with the same basic people or he added people that did as good or better than Cowher. If you are still unsure about whether Tomlin is a good coach, you wouldn’t recognize crow enough to actually eat it.

  • Slab

    Come on. Adams is in his 2nd year. Gilbert and Heyward their 3rd. Let’s give them a little time before we call them big misses. Again, name a better front office/roster and we can actually compare. Cherry picking guys that have struggled during an 0-3 start and then saying this doesn’t meet the standard isn’t fair unless the standard is don’t lose a game and all draft picks must be pro bowlers.

  • Bell Cow

    Our record reflects who we are. The 8-8 record last year may actually have been a good season for this current roster. The team will be cap strung going into next season as well. If there were 19 player changes after an 8-8 season, can you imagine how many changes there will be if they win less than 8 games this year?

    Kevin Colbert is a very good General Manager, but I’m sure he’d even admit the recent draft classes have been mediocre. Adams, GIlbert, Worlids, Brown, Hood, and Heyward were all 1st-3rd round draft picks and many of them likely won’t be signed again.The veterans we so heavily rely upon such as Clark, Kiesel, and Taylor cannot play forever and the front office can’t justify extending their contracts if the team is losing.

    I’m not a proponent of releasing or trading Big Ben, but it’s something that could potentially happen if they decide to clean house and save cap space. If Peyton Manning can be replaced by a rookie QB, than anybody can.

  • Slab

    where I disagree- last year’s 8-8 could just as easily have been 12-4. They lost 5 games by 3 points or less. They were 6-3 and then lost the starting QB. They still went on the road and beat the eventual Superbowl champs. The margin between good and great in the NFL is slim. Just a few plays here and there is the difference between the Superbowl and 8-8. that’s why you don’t trade or release a franchise QB unless you have another one in the wings. The Peyton situation was an anomaly. His age, injury situation, amount of guaranteed money immediately due and the fact that another franchise QB was sitting in their lap is the only reason the Colt’s let him go. But also notice that he was immediately snatched up for big dollars and the Broncos are now arguably the best team in football…..

  • Dan

    So whenever Jon Gruden made mention of Roethlisberger correctly detecting the blitz, or audibling to a different route for his WR to better exploit the pass coverage, was he lying? Because I swear that Gruden was observing Roethlisberger reading a defense properly.

  • Dan

    At least Ben’s errant passes are simply inaccurate throws, which are easy to correct, and not bigger problems like late or bad decisions.

  • Dan

    I’d have to agree with this, and also include the 2006 draft. The Steelers have a dearth of players in their late 20′s because of this. Players in their late 20′s were more than likely drafted between 2006 and 2009, and the only worthwhile draft in that period of time was 2007, when the Steelers drafted Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley and William Gay (who’s good as a “nickel” back).

    It’s quite fitting that the most prominent players from the 2006, 2008 and 2009 drafts are Santonio Holmes, Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Wallace: skill-position players with great physical talent whom the Steelers cast off because of their piss-poor attitudes. On that note, they could have been the skill-position players the Steelers need right now if only they had personalities that didn’t suck.

    As a result of those three poor drafts, the Steelers are a team with lots of players in their early to mid-20′s and early to mid-30′s. The good news is, the drafts since 2010 have been solid. Maurkice Pouncey, Antonio Brown, Cameron Heyward, Cortez Allen, David DeCastro, Jarvis Jones and Shamarko Thomas either are, or will be, solid starters. LeVeon Bell and Markus Wheaton have potential. Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert could go either way. Kelvin Beachum and Vince Williams provide quality depth, as does Al Woods, who was acquired in free agency.

    I believe the Steelers right now are in the same position the Broncos were in during the early 1990′s. John Elway was still in his prime, but the other star players from the 1980′s were either leaving or declining. It was during this period of time, though, that the Broncos started to quietly stockpile talent, but finished with records of 8-8, 9-7, 7-9 and 8-8 between 1992 and 1995. Then came 1996, when they blew the roof back off the NFL. With one more solid draft, I believe the Steelers will do the same no later than 2015, and Roethlisberger will enjoy a second wind similar to what Elway enjoyed.

  • Dan

    For that matter, Jarvis Jones is starting.

  • Dan

    I think Aaron Rodgers would do pretty well on Steelers teams of recent vintage, but not Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or either of the Mannings.

    I see Rodgers as a more polished Roethlisberger. He was more NFL-ready coming out of college than Roethlisberger was, and he’s learned the game from Mike McCarthy, who has an outstanding mind for offense. He also has a tendency to hold the ball too long and take a lot of sacks. In fact, he’s been sacked at a higher rate than Roethlisberger since 2010, and his average “time to sack” is longer as well.

  • Slab

    Regarding recent draft misses- It’s the same as it always has been and always will be. I’ve heard the same thing from Steeler’s fans for 20 years. Prior to 2008 it was Matt Spaeth, Ryan McBean, Sepulveda, Anthony Smith, Willie Reid, Bryant McFadden, Fred Gibson, Ricardo Colclough, etc. All prime draft picks, not a pro-bowler among them, some outright busts. Every time the Steeler’s look bad for a few games, a certain portion of the fan base predicts the end of the Steeler’s ability to contend and wants a change to the Steeler’s Way.

  • Dan

    Stupid-ass yinzers and their thinly-veiled racism.

  • Dan

    The Steelers don’t rebuild the entire team at once. They’ve simply been reloading different units of the team when it’s been necessary. Here’s the timeline…

    2007-2010: Reloading and development of the LBs
    2009-2012: Reloading and development of the defensive line
    2010-2014?: Reloading and development of the offensive line
    2011-2015?: Reloading and development of the secondary

    The RBs and WRs have been more of a revolving door, though this is partly due to attitude problems at those positions being jettisoned from the team.

    Right now, the defensive line is very stable, and the LBs are in a good spot as well despite having to replace James Harrison. The offensive line is now in its development stage, with the reloading having taken place between 2010 and 2012. Next up is the secondary, as young players are being drafted and developed to replace the aging veterans.

    In the 2014 draft, expect the Steelers to continue to focus on the secondary, and also find a few more pieces at RB and WR. Another T would be a good insurance policy as well, in case one of the current Ts fizzles out. If next draft is as solid as the ones since 2010, then don’t be surprised if the Steelers blow the roof off the NFL in 2015.

  • Bell Cow

    I’ve lived in 9 different cities and every team says the same thing after a bad season. “If this person didnt get hurt or that didn’t happen during this game we would’ve won 3-4 more games”. The fact is that they finished 8-8 and lost 4 of 5 games down the stretch. This team has now lost 11 of 12 games dating back to last season and including the preseason. I trust that Colbert and the front office ca fix this team, but I don’t think its going to happen quickly. They’re going to have to cut some veterans to save money and draft players to replace other high draft picks that didn’t work out.

  • Dan

    I get the sense that he doesn’t care who replaces Mike Tomlin as long as he’s white.

  • Slab

    Yes, but not every team has a history of sustained excellence like the Steelers do. They haven’t missed the playoffs 2 years in a row since 2000. They haven’t had back to back losing seasons since 1999. That stretch may start right now, but seems whiny and spoiled to not at least let a losing season play out before calling for the front office to revise what it’s doing.

    And again, if you need to include preseason stats to make your point, you need to rethink the validity of your point. Washington and Cleveland are 4-3 this year if you count the preseason.

  • Slab

    Ziggy Hood was the last pick in the first round and has started the last 4 years on a very good Steeler’s defense. He’s not Suh, but he most certainly is not a “big time” miss. go back now knowing how every player’s first 4 season’s have turned out and tell me who the Steeler’s should have taken.

  • Chad H

    Appreciate your optimism. I would say Dicks defense went 55-25 in the past 5 years. It’s my opinion. You have yours I have mine. Because they differ doesn’t entitle you to be a condescending a$$hole.

  • Slab

    You- “I said, “We will have to see where he is at in 4 to 5 years.”

    Me- “After 5 years he went to the playoffs 4 times and the Superbowl twice. The last year with Cowher the team was 8-8. So he took Cowher’s 8-8 team and went 55-25 over the next 5 seasons.”

    Using your criteria, Tomlin should already have proven himself, yet you are waiting for something else apparently. Seems pretty obvious Tomlin will never be good enough and it will always be all about winning every game every year or call for change.

    I apologize for coming across as condescending, but I really do have a hard time with the Tomlin bashing. Don’t understand it at all. Seems so painfully obvious that he is a good coach.

  • Chad H

    No problem. Everyone I think will agree that the Steelers were on the upswing with personnel and a weak AFC North at the time. We now have to play with adversity because we are on the downswing. The North is tough now and I believe we have great players. This is level where I believe Tomlin can’t coach. He can’t coach with adversity and in the 3 games so far we have been unprepared and out coach. The only way I become a Tomlin fan is if they turn it around go 10-6 and make it to the playoffs. Then I will gain the optimism you have.
    Retired 21 year Air Force vet. The one thing I know is leadership. Who has it and who doesn’t.

  • Slab

    I guess we’ll disagree because I don’t see that at all.

    Cowher was 8-8 his last year. Was he not a good coach? Tomlin came in and went 55-25 over the next 5 years. What’s not to like?

    I also don’t think it’s accurate to say there was no adversity during the first 5 years in tomlin’s coaching. I distinctly remember the Steelers barely beating the Browns in 2008 folllowed by a game in Philly where they gave up 8 or 9 sacks and Ben left hurt. the fans after that game were just as down on the Steelers chances of competing going forward. They went on to win the Superbowl. 2009 they lost 5 in a row, some to lesser teams, and as a result missed the playoffs. Some fans said the team was done, no Oline, old defense, LeBeau, Arians and Tomlin all needed to be replaced. To compound that, Roethlisberger was suspended for the first 6 games in 2010 and Santonio Holmes was traded for a 6th (that was the first time I remember hearing the “trade Ben” discussions). Steelers went 12-4 and made it to the Superbowl. You can’t convince me that Tomlin hasn’t successfully coached through adversity because I believe I’ve seen evidence to the contrary. I think it’s too easy to say things will get better if we change the coach. Players play, coaches coach. I don’t see how Tomlin can be good enough to coach a team to 2 Superbowls and all of a sudden he’s no longer a good coach. I think it’s silly to discount 5 years of 55-25 with 4 years in the playoffs and 2 superbowl appearances because of an 8-8 season and an 0-3 start. Especially with the amount of injuries at key positions. How can Pouncey going down on the opening drive of the season be Tomlin’s fault? How can Roethlisberger’s 4 turnovers last week be considered a coaching issue? He’s been in the league 9 years, do you think somehow it’s a coaching issue if he loses a ball while moving around in the pocket or fails to differentiate between man to man and zone?

  • Slab

    What world do you live in where Tomlin isn’t a successful head coach? Have you actually been following the NFL?

    Youngest coach to ever win a Superbowl. .636 career winning percentage in the regular season, .625 in the postseason. This isn’t a fluke, it’s his 7th season. For comparison purposes, Belichick is .653 and .692, Mike McCarthy is .660 and .600, Coughlin is .549 and .632.

    Tomlin is in the conversation for top 5 coaches in the NFL. I’m sorry if this comes across as condescending, but to see someone actually try to support the notion that Tomlin is not a good coach is really hard for me to take seriously.

  • Jason

    The mess the Steelers have gotten themselves into is a result of having multiple years of bad drafts. The current roster has very few if any 5th or 6th year veterans. (Drafted) If you are going to rely solely on the draft which the Steelers do, you have to get more out of the draft then what they have been getting. This years class looks fairly solid and downright great when compared with the last five draft classes. (Except for the Pouncey, Brown Sanders class).

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