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View Full Version : 11 games into 06....here is what we have learned


coachspeak33
12-05-2006, 10:38 AM
Well here we are sitting at an uncomfortable 4-7. Most fans have turned their attentions to one of the following:
-2007 draft
-2007 season
-Cowher and a potential head coaching vacancy

To focus your attention on any or all of those is perfectly fine. Come to think of it, preparing a 3-part research project on those subjects might have been as mentally stimulating as watching the two underachieving teams performing in Heinz Field last Sunday. After the game, I found myself breathing a sigh of relief more than enything else.... there was definitely less joy in that win than any other Steelers win in a long time. But hey beggars cant be choosers!

So is that the biggest lesson of the 2006 season? To take wins when you can get them and shut up? Have we Steelers fans become too picky? Too spoiled?

Well here are my thoughts on what we Steeler fans should have learned already as a result of this mistake-filled 06 season.
QB
We now know that Big Ben isnt perfect. In spite of his 27-4 record entering this season, in spite of the display he put on against Indy and Denver in the playoffs, he still is a young professional learning how to play the hardest position in pro sports.

There are alot of good teams in the NFL, who dont have a real shot at a title, simply because they dont believe that their QB can win them a Super Bowl. Carolina, Denver, Chicago are all teams that most people feel have everything it takes to win a SB, except for consistent play from the QB. Hell there are even people that call Peyton-freakin-Manning, a guy who cant win the big one. Peyton hasnt even won the next to biggest big one (AFC championship game).

Ben, however, has. Does he need to get better? Yes. Is he a better, more efficient QB with an effective running game? Yes, what QB isnt? It is a helluva lot easier to get a running game going than it is to just demand that the QB goes out there and plays like an all-pro. So while he isnt perfect, we should probably go ahead and cross QB off of our off-season to-do list and begin looking for ways to compliment Ben's assets offensively.

RB
I know there are alot of Willie-bashers out there. But IMO he has been one of the brighest spots of this..... well..... spotty season. He proved that he has the ability to carry the load if needed and his home run ability warrants consistent offensive touches. The rest of the RB core is a mess.

We dont know anything more about Verron today (other than his knee is a little less healthy) than we did at the start of the season. He is an effective blitz-pick-up-blocker. A good special teamer who can run a draw or screen pass on 3rd and 8 decently. But thats about it. He isnt exactly a rookie anymore and he has never proven to be a guy to carry the load without fumbling. That should tell us that he may not be the answer to fill the role of #2RB... which is where Bill had him to start the season.

Najeh filled in for Duce and Verron admirably. He started his Steelers career without knowing half of the plays... so he gets an A for effort and a very average C- for actual productivity.

IMO, we cant begin next season with these three as our stable of backs and feel good about re-establishing the run. Either Verron or Najeh needs to be replaced with someone with a bit better pedigree (Najeh is probably the odd man out causee Verron can play ST). I dont think it has to be a Rd 1 pick but definitely a day 1 selection.

WR
Other than Hines, we are young, young, and younger. Heres the good:
Santonio - has gotten better and better as the season wore on.
Wilson - fairly reliable, slot/midget receiver
Washington - showed flashes of becoming new Willie Parker....undrafted free agent success story.
Reid - wasnt drafted for his WR ability (even though he played more WR than PR)

If we draft a WR on day 1, I think Wilson is a guy who definitely is expendable. The problem is that I dont think Colbert/Cowher will do that. That would be just too much of a proactive move for them.... I mean, shit, it only took them 3 months to cut a guy (Duce) who played as much pro football this season as I did and they actually NEEDED RB's!!!

Unfortuantely, I feel that we will begin 07 with the same 4 WR who were at the top of the depth chart to start the 06 season....Cowher/Colbert knows that guys like Lee mays and Walter Young are only a phone call away. Their constant availability should tell you somethin right there, Cowher!!

TE
This drives me nuts they have Miller and Tuman locked up for a combined 7.76 million over the next 3 seasons.... and they are utilized about the same amount as tits on a bull.

Then the all-knowing Steelers Front Office goes out and drafts some stiff TE from Purdue in round 4 last year.... only to cut him two months later.... awesome.... way to think shit through.

OL
Probably one of the two biggest disappointments this year. Faneca was not his usual dominant self this year, but shouldnt go anywhere. And i expect him to play better in 07... as he is about three more pro bowl seasons and a couple more play off runs from a gold jacket in Canton. Marvel isnt going anywhere either.... he is locked up for a while and his consistencies over the last 3 seasons should allow for a free pass in a lost season.

Hartings still has a contract for next season, but i dont know if his robo cop like knees can take any more. That means Okobi gets his shot. Uggh. Jury is still out on Chucky. The Center position is a big question mark for next season in my opinion.

The right side of the line is exhibit A for me when providing evidence that Russ Grimm should not have been promoted to HC if Billy C left. Starks and Simmons have underachieved and regressed in fully healthy seasons. Its not like these guys are battling through injuries. They are healthy and they are getting their franchise QB killed on a weekly basis.

There seems to be some decent depth on the Oline. Kemo, Essex, Okobi, have shown promise and potential but they have yet to play consistently enough to capture and hold a starting job.

This position needs to be addressed in the off season via draft or free agency. The quickest way to ruin a franchise is ignore the offensive line.... for proof see Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, and the Miami Dolphins. Here is a simple evaluation....protect Ben and he makes plays....provide Willie a seam and he hurts the opposition.... run the pill, rest our D, and they will choke teams out... and most importantly we keep our god awful special teams off the field.

There are three legitimate Rd 1 draft options, Jake Long, Michigan...Thomas, Wisconsin.... and the big kid from USC. IMO, i dont thnk colbert goes Oline in Rd1 cause of all our o lineman... RG and C are our big holes and they aint gonna draft a G or C with a top 15 pick. So again prepare for much of the same in 07 when it comes the personel of our Oline.

Dline
This unit played better and more consistent than any other position on the team this year. No changes necessary. Good starters with good backups.

LB
Supposed to be the strength of our team. They played above average most of the time in the first eleven games. Joey will finish out his contract in 07 and then leave via FA. After the way he and his team played this year, there is no way he holds out. Haggans isnt getting any younger. Foote has played well. Farrior keeps on trucking after more than a decade in the league.

Our depth at this position is disgusting. Harrison is a good utility man, but far from the answer at either ILB or OLB (I would rather see him at ILB and see an OLB drafted). Brown is close to being done for good. Kriewaldt, Wallace, and the rest are special teamers for life. Doesnt make them useless.... but they are what they are.

This position must be addressed in the offseason. When a little too much age meets injury problems.... bad things happen. The Steelers would be wise to remember this when preparing for the 07 draft.

DB
Alotta talent....trying to regain confidence after being exposed with the red zone fade routes and they get hurt a ton by Lebeau's big big big cushions (sometimes almost 10 yds!!!!) on WR's. They locked up Deshea for 4 more yrs to play NB, extended Ike to be a lockdown on opposition #1, Cowher starting the season with Coclough ahead of Mcfadden was vintage Bill Cowher "veteran loyalty" and quite stupid.

Those four DB's arent bad, IMO. Coclough wasnt worth a damn as a DB after he spent the whole preseason and first three games embarassing himself as a PR. Even still, McFadden had to sit behind him cause old Bill only plays old guys.

Obviously Troy is going nowhere. Clark has been solid for most of the season. The backups situation is typical Cowher.... trade picks to draft Tony Smith only to keep his ass glued to the bench when injuries occur becuase Bill would rather run Logan and Carter out there. You know, Logan and Carter.....the guys Smith was drafted to replace!!!!!!!!!

So I look at RB, WR, OL, LB as the only possible positions for the steelers to really make a major effort to improve their teeam through draft or FA.

Unfortunately, those are positions that the steelers typically like to address through day 2 picks or undrafted FA!!!!

tony hipchest
12-05-2006, 11:16 AM
i think wilsons $2 mil salary and our need to pick up atleast 1 or 2 starting free agents makes him expendable.

There seems to be some decent depth on the Oline. Kemo, Essex, Okobi, have shown promise and potential but they have yet to play consistently enough to capture and hold a starting job.i dont know if its their consistancy, or like you said with cowher playing colclough and logan, while smith and mcfadden ride the bench. you see alot of teams plug in rookie offensive linemen who do fine. chargers and pats are perfect examples.

very good read coachspeak.

BigDuke6
12-05-2006, 01:04 PM
Hold on to the ****ing football.

And if your last name is Starks, learn how to block.

Agreed. Starks, Simmons or Hartings.

DACEB
12-05-2006, 01:40 PM
[QUOTE=coachspeak33;185371]Dline
This unit played better and more consistent than any other position on the team this year. No changes necessary. Good starters with good backups.

I disagree with the play of the D-line, they have played well but IMO Keisel has been a slight dropoff from Kimo. Stats will show that Keisel has pressured the QB and such, but we have'nt been sacking the QB's as much this year. IMO our run defense has suffered and our LB's have suffered because of our lack of size up front. I like Keisel, but I like him better in his 3rd down role.
Just like I love Fast Willie, and he has proven himself this year, but he is a change of pace back. We need a bigger back to play every down and make holes where there are'nt any on occasion.
Draft day RB,LB,DL,OL,WR

BigDuke6
12-05-2006, 05:10 PM
[QUOTE=coachspeak33;185371]Dline
This unit played better and more consistent than any other position on the team this year. No changes necessary. Good starters with good backups.

I disagree with the play of the D-line, they have played well but IMO Keisel has been a slight dropoff from Kimo. Stats will show that Keisel has pressured the QB and such, but we have'nt been sacking the QB's as much this year. IMO our run defense has suffered and our LB's have suffered because of our lack of size up front. I like Keisel, but I like him better in his 3rd down role.
Just like I love Fast Willie, and he has proven himself this year, but he is a change of pace back. We need a bigger back to play every down and make holes where there are'nt any on occasion.
Draft day RB,LB,DL,OL,WR

I know the point is moot now but I always thought we should have taken a look at either Ron Dayne or Mike Anderson as a BIG back that could have perhaps come in and provided a change of pace to Willie.

slashsteel
12-05-2006, 05:13 PM
Not agreeing on Hartings although his time is coming to retire. I think Simmons and Starks are more to blame. Especially when it comes to passblocking.

Livinginthe past
12-05-2006, 07:00 PM
QB
We now know that Big Ben isnt perfect. In spite of his 27-4 record entering this season, in spite of the display he put on against Indy and Denver in the playoffs, he still is a young professional learning how to play the hardest position in pro sports.

There are alot of good teams in the NFL, who dont have a real shot at a title, simply because they dont believe that their QB can win them a Super Bowl. Carolina, Denver, Chicago are all teams that most people feel have everything it takes to win a SB, except for consistent play from the QB. Hell there are even people that call Peyton-freakin-Manning, a guy who cant win the big one. Peyton hasnt even won the next to biggest big one (AFC championship game).

Ben, however, has. Does he need to get better? Yes. Is he a better, more efficient QB with an effective running game? Yes, what QB isnt? It is a helluva lot easier to get a running game going than it is to just demand that the QB goes out there and plays like an all-pro. So while he isnt perfect, we should probably go ahead and cross QB off of our off-season to-do list and begin looking for ways to compliment Ben's assets offensively.

Ben certainly isn't the finished product, but he hasn't had a chance this year to really expand his repetoire.
Too much expected this year, after all of the injury trauma to expect him to be mentally straight enough to lead double digit comebacks with not much help from other areas of the team.
As you say, QB is the bottom of the list of priorities.

RB
I know there are alot of Willie-bashers out there. But IMO he has been one of the brighest spots of this..... well..... spotty season. He proved that he has the ability to carry the load if needed and his home run ability warrants consistent offensive touches. The rest of the RB core is a mess.


Najeh filled in for Duce and Verron admirably. He started his Steelers career without knowing half of the plays... so he gets an A for effort and a very average C- for actual productivity.

IMO, we cant begin next season with these three as our stable of backs and feel good about re-establishing the run. Either Verron or Najeh needs to be replaced with someone with a bit better pedigree (Najeh is probably the odd man out causee Verron can play ST). I dont think it has to be a Rd 1 pick but definitely a day 1 selection.

Willie is another nailed on starter for next year, and it should be the O-Line that comes under scrutiny - the same O-Line that isnt opening any creases for Parker is the same one that also lets Ben get sacked 9 times in a game.

I dont really rate Davenport that highly - he's a 'big back' for sure but what has he ever really done?

Not much.

My guess would be another day 2 RB draft pick (rounds 4/5) as they have other priorities that need attention ahead of a complementary RB.

WR
Other than Hines, we are young, young, and younger. Heres the good:
Santonio - has gotten better and better as the season wore on.
Wilson - fairly reliable, slot/midget receiver
Washington - showed flashes of becoming new Willie Parker....undrafted free agent success story.
Reid - wasnt drafted for his WR ability (even though he played more WR than PR)

If we draft a WR on day 1, I think Wilson is a guy who definitely is expendable. The problem is that I dont think Colbert/Cowher will do that. That would be just too much of a proactive move for them.... I mean, shit, it only took them 3 months to cut a guy (Duce) who played as much pro football this season as I did and they actually NEEDED RB's!!!

Unfortuantely, I feel that we will begin 07 with the same 4 WR who were at the top of the depth chart to start the 06 season....Cowher/Colbert knows that guys like Lee mays and Walter Young are only a phone call away. Their constant availability should tell you somethin right there, Cowher!!

I dont think the Pittsburgh WR corps has any real quality to it outside Hines Ward - Ben simply hasn't been capable of raising his own game and theirs to make them look half way decent like he did last year.

TE
This drives me nuts they have Miller and Tuman locked up for a combined 7.76 million over the next 3 seasons.... and they are utilized about the same amount as tits on a bull.

Then the all-knowing Steelers Front Office goes out and drafts some stiff TE from Purdue in round 4 last year.... only to cut him two months later.... awesome.... way to think shit through.

I think Cowher envisioned some 3 TE sets - power running, screens mixed with the odd bomb, but the rest of the team (ST's, O-Line and D) have been so awful for large parts of the season they havent had a chance to implement it - instead they find themselves with Ben in the shotgun chasing the game.

OL
Probably one of the two biggest disappointments this year. Faneca was not his usual dominant self this year, but shouldnt go anywhere. And i expect him to play better in 07... as he is about three more pro bowl seasons and a couple more play off runs from a gold jacket in Canton. Marvel isnt going anywhere either.... he is locked up for a while and his consistencies over the last 3 seasons should allow for a free pass in a lost season.

There seems to be some decent depth on the Oline. Kemo, Essex, Okobi, have shown promise and potential but they have yet to play consistently enough to capture and hold a starting job.

This position needs to be addressed in the off season via draft or free agency. The quickest way to ruin a franchise is ignore the offensive line.... for proof see Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, and the Miami Dolphins. Here is a simple evaluation....protect Ben and he makes plays....provide Willie a seam and he hurts the opposition.... run the pill, rest our D, and they will choke teams out... and most importantly we keep our god awful special teams off the field.

There are three legitimate Rd 1 draft options, Jake Long, Michigan...Thomas, Wisconsin.... and the big kid from USC. IMO, i dont thnk colbert goes Oline in Rd1 cause of all our o lineman... RG and C are our big holes and they aint gonna draft a G or C with a top 15 pick. So again prepare for much of the same in 07 when it comes the personel of our Oline.

O-line is absolutely key.

You have wonder why they have been so poor this year - have they all got old/unmotivated at once or is the coaching lacking?

Dline
This unit played better and more consistent than any other position on the team this year. No changes necessary. Good starters with good backups.

Have they played well enough to help the LBers make an impact?

These are the guys who make Joey 'Motormouth' Porter look good - they haven't, so im wondering how good a job the 3 in front have done.

LB
Supposed to be the strength of our team. They played above average most of the time in the first eleven games. Joey will finish out his contract in 07 and then leave via FA. After the way he and his team played this year, there is no way he holds out. Haggans isnt getting any younger. Foote has played well. Farrior keeps on trucking after more than a decade in the league.

Our depth at this position is disgusting. Harrison is a good utility man, but far from the answer at either ILB or OLB (I would rather see him at ILB and see an OLB drafted). Brown is close to being done for good. Kriewaldt, Wallace, and the rest are special teamers for life. Doesnt make them useless.... but they are what they are.

This position must be addressed in the offseason. When a little too much age meets injury problems.... bad things happen. The Steelers would be wise to remember this when preparing for the 07 draft.

The lack of depth is disappointing..where the hell are the Patriots supposed to pick up LBers now?

DB
Alotta talent....trying to regain confidence after being exposed with the red zone fade routes and they get hurt a ton by Lebeau's big big big cushions (sometimes almost 10 yds!!!!) on WR's. They locked up Deshea for 4 more yrs to play NB, extended Ike to be a lockdown on opposition #1, Cowher starting the season with Coclough ahead of Mcfadden was vintage Bill Cowher "veteran loyalty" and quite stupid.

Those four DB's arent bad, IMO. Coclough wasnt worth a damn as a DB after he spent the whole preseason and first three games embarassing himself as a PR. Even still, McFadden had to sit behind him cause old Bill only plays old guys.

Obviously Troy is going nowhere. Clark has been solid for most of the season. The backups situation is typical Cowher.... trade picks to draft Tony Smith only to keep his ass glued to the bench when injuries occur becuase Bill would rather run Logan and Carter out there. You know, Logan and Carter.....the guys Smith was drafted to replace!!!!!!!!!

So I look at RB, WR, OL, LB as the only possible positions for the steelers to really make a major effort to improve their teeam through draft or FA.

Unfortunately, those are positions that the steelers typically like to address through day 2 picks or undrafted FA!!!!

One of the biggest complaints i've noticed from fans of alot teams is that their DB's play too soft - this goes for the Patriots, the Bengals, the Colts and the Steelers this year and last.

There is nothing (or not many things) more frustrating than seeing your your DB's give up an uncontested 8 yard catch on 3rd and 7.

The bend-dont-break method is great against teams that turn the ball over or can't run the ball inside the 20, but its a recipe for a frustrating day against those who can.

NM

tony hipchest
12-05-2006, 07:10 PM
I think Cowher envisioned some 3 TE sets - power running, screens mixed with the odd bomb, but the rest of the team (ST's, O-Line and D) have been so awful for large parts of the season they havent had a chance to implement it - instead they find themselves with Ben in the shotgun chasing the game.
hold your britches, i totally agree. we only wound up with 2 te's and trying to turn willie into jerome. no plays were designed for willies talents. hes been pretty much running the same plays jerome always ran. not to say he cant do it, but mix in a little something more. steelers offense has been super vanilla, especially playing catch up.

jaysta
12-05-2006, 07:32 PM
hold your britches, i totally agree. we only wound up with 2 te's and trying to turn willie into jerome. no plays were designed for willies talents. hes been pretty much running the same plays jerome always ran. not to say he cant do it, but mix in a little something more. steelers offense has been super vanilla, especially playing catch up.

Right on Tony! Earlier this year I was inolved in this same sort of discussion and I was really worried that the front office didn't secure a solid big back to coninue with the "ground and pound" scheme that has always worked in Pittsburgh. Post after post informed me of how the Steelers were changing with the NFL and going with more speed. That's great and all, but it's only worked in this offensive scheme as long as the Steelers could control the game and chew up the clock with a big back and strong O Line. Willie surprised the heck out of me with a solid season and great red zone work even with the sketchy O line, but I honestly think he would have been even better with a big back standing next to him to keep the opposing LB's guessing. Let's hope they address this situation in the off season. :helmet:

Dook
12-06-2006, 07:50 AM
I checked some of our stats at NFL.com and suprisingly our offensive numbers are mostly better than last years statistics except for one big area, turnovers.

Everyone blames the OL because it was plainly evident against the Ravens that Ben is not getting protection but this OL is the same as last years Super Bowl winning OL. Maybe Hartings is getting too old and maybe Simmons diabetes is taking it's toll.

I would like to see Okobi and Kemo get a few starts and maybe even Colon. Then I think we take an OG on the first day of the draft and maybe also go after a free agent: Davis, Gandy, or Steinbach.

But it's not entirely the OL. Our WR corp is at fault as well. Ward has about twice the catch's as any other receiver and he is hurt. In Sunday's game against the Buccaneers Ben threw an interception early because Washington went out too far on the comeback pattern. Wilson is a veteran but he hides for most of the game. Santonio Holmes has talent but he still has a lot to learn.

Next year Ward should be healthy and Holmes and Washington will be more experienced, and Willie Reid will get a chance to play WR a bit. I see Wilson as our #4 WR until Reid passes him late in the season.

As for running back, I'm still impressed with Willie P. although I'd like to see him cut back more when there isn't a hole up the middle and maybe show some foot action instead of always trying to out run the defense. I think Najeh has proven himself as a #2 RB and a valuable special teams player. Haynes I think I've seen enough of. Last year he came in and did well on 3rd down, this year he dropped the rock. I think we draft an RB first day, maybe RB Marshawn Lynch if he's available at our 1st pick, if not then RB Michael Bush or RB Tony Hunt in the 2nd or 3rd round.

coachspeak33
12-06-2006, 08:44 AM
I would love a FA OL, especially Steinbach... we get better.... Bungles get worse... I would love that.

coachspeak33
12-07-2006, 08:44 AM
only dook will sit there and try to tell us all that our OL has played better!!!! and his evidence for this, besides the sand in his eyes and the sheep cottom in his ears.... are stats!!!!!

How bout this stat........ WE LOST TO THE RAIDERS!!!!!

When that happens it is safe to start questioning the decision makers.... oh wait a minute i forgot who i was talking to.... here ya go dook..... baaaaaaa, baaaaaaa, baaaaaaaa.

BigDuke6
12-07-2006, 09:01 AM
Not agreeing on Hartings although his time is coming to retire. I think Simmons and Starks are more to blame. Especially when it comes to passblocking.

The San Diego game (as it has turned out) was not an abberation. Hartings was tossed around like a rag-doll.