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83-Steelers-43
01-04-2007, 06:26 AM
Wholesale change not likely in '07
Thursday, January 04, 2007

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



The Steelers might get a new coach in 2007, but there won't be many changes in his roster and no drastic ones at that.

If the Steelers are to improve next season over their disappointing reign as Super Bowl champions, it will come from better play, not necessarily different players. President Art Rooney II believes his team had the talent this past season to win a second Super Bowl, and there's no need to make sweeping alterations for next season.

"Certainly it was probably as disappointing a season that I've ever been around simply from the standpoint that we felt like we had a team that could compete for a back-to-back championship," Rooney said. "It's very disappointing and I think in some ways hard to put a finger on."

The Steelers will follow the same path they've been on the past several years. They might sign a lower-tiered free agent or so, they will work to lock up the veterans they want to keep around, and they will concentrate on the draft.

"It's certainly not a tear-down and start over kind of situation," Rooney said.

No starter is an unrestricted free agent, and only right tackle Max Starks is a restricted free agent among the top 22. A player such as center Jeff Hartings might retire, but for the most part the team that stepped off the field New Year's Eve in Cincinnati will be the one that takes it to open the 2007 season.

"We have the core group that I think you need to be competitive," Rooney said. "Obviously we'll go through the offseason evaluations and get a look at what we think we can do and what we need. As always, the draft will be the primary focus. But we will evaluate everything and try to come back stronger than ever."

There's one way for the Steelers to do that next season, Rooney said.

"You know, maybe more than anything, we need the players to play better, the players who are here to play better, not make mistakes. I think that's the key to it. We believe the players who are here can play better and can have a better year than that."

The most obvious player in that category would be quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He followed the most successful first two seasons by an NFL quarterback with one that had no resemblance to them.

He went from an unmatched 13-0 rookie record as a starter to a Super Bowl victory in his second season -- an overall 27-4 starting record in regular and postseason games -- to a 7-8 record as a starter this season. He had passer ratings of 98.1 as a rookie and 98.6 in 2005 to 75.4 in '06. His 23 interceptions were the most by a Steelers quarterback in 27 years and two more than his combined total from his first two seasons. He also was sacked 46 times, more than any of the team's quarterbacks in 23 seasons.

As it stands, the Steelers now hope that June 12 motorcycle accident and Sept. 3 appendectomy are what prompted Roethlisberger's down cycles.

"It could have," Rooney said. "Looking back on it, certainly the various things that have happened to him would have an impact on most people. It's hard to say but that probably impacted him somewhat."

Roethlisberger threw only four interceptions in his final five games, and his team went 4-1 in that span.

"I think overall he played better as the year went on, so I think he started to get over those things, which makes you feel like without all those things next season, hopefully, he gets off to a better start," Rooney said.

Including his two lost fumbles, Roethlisberger accounted for 67.6 percent of the team's 37 turnovers. Of the other 12, all fumbles, halfback Willie Parker lost two. The Steelers were fourth from the bottom of the league in turnovers. The other three were near the bottom of the league standings -- Oakland (46), Cleveland (42) and Detroit (39).

"How do you explain turnovers?" Rooney wondered. "It's hard to explain. But, hey, it happens. We just have to learn from it and try to get better and come back next year and go after it again."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07004/751179-66.stm

Justin Otstott
01-04-2007, 08:45 AM
I like the way he is taking things!

OneForTheToe
01-04-2007, 11:36 AM
Sounds like ART wants as little change as possible. Better to be discussed in the other thread, but that does make me ponder the options for a new coach (if necc.).

This is also why the Rooneys almost always give us competative teams.

Atlanta Dan
01-04-2007, 11:55 AM
"Certainly it was probably as disappointing a season that I've ever been around simply from the standpoint that we felt like we had a team that could compete for a back-to-back championship," Rooney said. "It's very disappointing and I think in some ways hard to put a finger on."

Sounds like some of us on this board were not alone in being disappointed with this year's coaching - but if coaching was an issue for AJR II, hiring from within might not appear to be the way to go.

SteelerFanInCA
01-04-2007, 12:05 PM
I think he hits the nail right on the head. Our guys need to play better next year and eliminate all those dreaded turnovers. Bringing in new talent doesn't necessarily mean we will play better. We might have a stronger roster but it all comes down to executing on the field.