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lamberts-lost-tooth
06-09-2008, 03:49 AM
Starks hopes to make big impact
Monday, June 09, 2008
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

After signing record contract, tackle must fight for starting spot in lineup

Normally when a team bestows the kind of money the Steelers did on Max Starks, it comes with much fanfare, usually a news conference.

The Steelers made Starks their second-highest paid player without even a photo op, then told him to go win a job.

Starks has been doing that all spring, trying to win back his old job of starting right tackle. He lost it to Willie Colon last summer, which set off an unusual set of circumstances that culminated when Starks signed a one-year contract for nearly $7 million in April.

Six weeks later, he's taking snaps at right and left tackle but remains the No. 3 tackle on the team behind starters Colon and Marvel Smith. The real competition, if there is one, will occur in training camp at Saint Vincent College.

"He's establishing his role," coach Mike Tomlin said. "It's the same thing I've said, and I mean what I say -- he's a starter-capable offensive lineman. We're able to keep him in the fold. He's working like others are working and they'll establish their roles in Latrobe."

It's normally not difficult to determine who the favored players are in competitions -- look at their contracts. The Steelers did not give Sean Mahan a $4 million signing bonus as part of his five-year, $17 million contract last season to back up Chukky Okobi at center.

Starks' case is different. It would come as little surprise, even to him, if he filled the same role he did last season, when he earned $1.85 million on a one-year contract.

"It doesn't surprise me," Starks said. "It's not like, 'OK, we give you this money, guess what? We're giving you a golden ticket to Willie Wonka's factory, you know, a starting job.' It's going to be something that has to be earned."

Starks earned the job for two seasons -- one of them ending with a Super Bowl victory -- before a new coaching staff removed him in favor of Colon last season. Yet now he will make more than any offensive lineman, second on the team only to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and the coaches' opinions have not seemed to change on Colon being their right tackle.

Yet, Steelers management, knowing it would lose Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca, did not want to let Starks walk away as an unrestricted free agent this year, especially after he showed late last season that he could capably fill in at left tackle. There were only two ways to keep him in Pittsburgh: sign him to a long-term deal or make him a transition player.

They did the latter, which required them to pay him precisely $6.89 million, the amount stipulated for an offensive tackle designated a transition player. It's the average of the 10 highest-paid tackles in the NFL.

Had another team signed him, the Steelers could have matched, but he received no offers. They have said they'd like to sign him to a long-term deal but there have been no discussions. It will be difficult to do that anyway because he's guaranteed $7 million over one season and can become a free agent again next year.

So, the player with the biggest one-year contract in the Steelers' history may not even start. He reports to work every day, just as he did a year ago for what were then his new bosses.

"That's all I can do," Starks said. "Every day, you're one snap away from being a starter, that's what you learn in the NFL. It could be like last year; I didn't start the whole season and ended up starting four games at left tackle. You never know what twists fate has for you. I just stay optimistic and wait for whatever opportunities are presented."

Starks played left tackle the previous two weeks in practice as Smith missed time to be with his wife while she gave birth. But he knows if he's going to start it would have to come at right tackle, barring injuries.

"We're not having a real opportunity to see where I fit in because we've had guys missing," Starks said. "Marvel was gone for two weeks. The time we could have started to see where I fit in has been delayed."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08161/888463-66.stm

Aussie_steeler
06-09-2008, 04:30 AM
IMO Starks is a natural LT. Marvels career could be extended IMO by moving to RT and thus giving Hills time to develop.

But in reality I can see Max riding the pine at seasons start with Marvel at left and Colon at right.

That only leads me to believe that our O line is still going through a transition period where all Grimms boys will be slowly phased out with new lineman that suit the current O line coaching philosophy. The emphasis I think is on the slowly.

Galax Steeler
06-09-2008, 06:12 AM
With the kind of money they give him he needs to be a starter and not sit on the bench.

El-Gonzo Jackson
06-09-2008, 08:57 AM
IMO Starks is a natural LT. Marvels career could be extended IMO by moving to RT and thus giving Hills time to develop.

But in reality I can see Max riding the pine at seasons start with Marvel at left and Colon at right.

.

I agree that Starks is a natural LT, as that is where he played before coming to the NFL, but so did Smith. The problem is that Starks is not a better LT now than a healthy Marvel Smith....so really Starks is a 3rd round talent that hasnt developed into a starter.

Also, I dont understand the logic that moving Smith to RT will somehow extend his career....can you please explain??? I've never seen old guys like Wayne Gandy, Tarik Glenn, Jon Ogden, Jakie Slater moved over to RT later in their careers to somehow save a couple years....its still a collision position.

I too can see Max riding the pine and would rather have seen him allowed to go in FA so we could spend that $6.89mil on signing a 3-4DE instead of Bobby Boucher.

Aussie_steeler
06-10-2008, 04:12 AM
Also, I dont understand the logic that moving Smith to RT will somehow extend his career....can you please explain??? I've never seen old guys like Wayne Gandy, Tarik Glenn, Jon Ogden, Jakie Slater moved over to RT later in their careers to somehow save a couple years....its still a collision position.


Let me try to explain my logic (even if it seems flawed)

1. Right handed, right side dominant individuals naturally work better to their right hand side as opposed to their left. as you get older you reactions slow. Therefore you can buy a little (a fraction) time by sticking to your preferred side. eg. reacting and stepping to the outside to push the opponent away from the quarterback. I thought Marvel was a RT coming out of college? Max is a natural left handed individual.

2. Opposing sides try to concentrate on a QB's blindside so that the QB has less chance of escaping. So you want a LT with agility of the feet, hands and mind.

3. OK I am only crapping on and you have caught me out. my flawed logic doesnt even stand up to my own analysis.


Seriously, I think the team is weak at both LT and RT and Marvel might lengthen his career with the steelers by moving to the right because of the level of competition at that spot.( I am taking a gamble in that Hills is viewed as a possible LT candidate as is Max Starks. The existing competition at right is non existent meaning he could make it his position for as long as he wants.)

Thats the best defence I can mount El-gonzo. :drink:

19ward86
06-10-2008, 11:26 AM
I dont know what to think of him and his contract, i think he would be a better guard with his power and his massive frame. I guess we will see what his future position will be with us this season.

Steel Buckeye
06-10-2008, 06:14 PM
Starks really surprised me last year, he played well at LT. I think Smith should be moved to the right side and Max made the starting LT. I don't understand why they are keeping Colon at RT, his pass protection is some of the worst I've ever seen. He's built to play inside, not outside. I think they'll realize that once he's allowed 10 sacks halfway through the season.

Rhee Rhee
06-10-2008, 07:26 PM
i have a question.

how is starks a better LT than RT?

i think he was one of those cases where the size was perfect for a LT but the athletic ability was just not there...

he may have played LT when he came out but the talent level in the NFL is very different from college (even if he did play in the SEC) many players have switched from LT to RT jordan gross is one who just got franchised by the panthers... levi brown of the cards and jamal brown an all-pro for the saints..

RoethlisBURGHer
06-10-2008, 07:39 PM
All I know is that he better win a starting position at LT or RT for what he's gonna be paid this year.

El-Gonzo Jackson
06-11-2008, 12:18 AM
Let me try to explain my logic (even if it seems flawed)

1. Right handed, right side dominant individuals naturally work better to their right hand side as opposed to their left. as you get older you reactions slow. Therefore you can buy a little (a fraction) time by sticking to your preferred side. eg. reacting and stepping to the outside to push the opponent away from the quarterback. I thought Marvel was a RT coming out of college? Max is a natural left handed individual.

2. Opposing sides try to concentrate on a QB's blindside so that the QB has less chance of escaping. So you want a LT with agility of the feet, hands and mind.

3. OK I am only crapping on and you have caught me out. my flawed logic doesnt even stand up to my own analysis.


Seriously, I think the team is weak at both LT and RT and Marvel might lengthen his career with the steelers by moving to the right because of the level of competition at that spot.( I am taking a gamble in that Hills is viewed as a possible LT candidate as is Max Starks. The existing competition at right is non existent meaning he could make it his position for as long as he wants.)

Thats the best defence I can mount El-gonzo. :drink:

Nice post Aussie!! I thought the Fosters was impairing your judgement a bit.

I'm just a doubter that sees Starks as being a bit heavy footed with not great hand placement....that is why he played RT, but you expect a guy to progress from RT to LT,......not lose his job to a 2nd year guy from Hofstra with short arms (Colon).

Smith is a technician, a veteran LT and a pro bowler for 1 season at LT. Starks is just a big guy that moves well for his size and played decently in 3 games at LT last season....but Trai Essex actually played well in relief of him for a game too.

Max Starks will not play LT in this league with much success. Thats my projection.

Hills does project as a LT and is a better athlete than Starks. I say the best plan will be to extend Smith for 4 years, expect Hills to compete at RT next season and maybe play there for 2 years then move over to LT. Smith is then released and a new RT is groomed....kind of like Smith was.

tony hipchest
06-11-2008, 12:24 AM
aussie, el-gonzo- i havent checked it out but you may find this site from a recent kirwan article on nfl.com interresting unfortunately when i try to access it, it seems to be a busted link, but it may be worth looking in to.

Question: Offensive line play has always interested me, can you explain the intricacies of blocking? -- Captain Kenneth Alderman, United States Air Force

Captain Alderman, no matter where you are stationed, you can go to TheCoolClinic.com, a Web site dedicated to offensive line play. It was built by former NFL offensive line coach Bob Wylie and is supported by many of the NFL offensive line coaches in the game today. There are instructional videos and manuals about all the latest techniques and schemes as well as drills. Each year, this group runs a clinic in Cincinnati, Ohio which is attended by upwards of 500 offensive line coaches and you would be welcomed by coach Wylie to attend.

El-Gonzo Jackson
06-11-2008, 12:29 AM
. I don't understand why they are keeping Colon at RT, his pass protection is some of the worst I've ever seen. .

Colon is there because his pass protection is better than that of Starks. Watch some games from 2005 when Starks was in his 2nd year. He was so heavy footed that a lot of times he looked like a matador on the right side vs speed rushers.

I honestly thought Colon had better footwork last season than Starks did in 2005/06. Starks makes up for his bad footwork with his long arms, but doesnt deliver a strong punch vs the rush.

Really just boggles my mind that they want Starks to play LT. Protect your franchise QB with a reserve OT......sounds like something the Bengals would do.

El-Gonzo Jackson
06-11-2008, 12:40 AM
aussie, el-gonzo- i havent checked it out but you may find this site from a recent kirwan article on nfl.com interresting unfortunately when i try to access it, it seems to be a busted link, but it may be worth looking in to.

Thanks Tony, but actually I am an accredited football coach who attends clinics, coached highschool O-line, played highschool OG, long snapper and am now an old guy that plays O line in 7man flag on weekends.

I've got tons of tape and clinic material and could try to explain some if you want, but honestly....the 8 tapes of "Anthony Munoz offensive blocking techniques" that I have are insomnia cures unless you really like O line play.

Pass protection involves technique, great footwork and keeping a strong base to react to moves and counter moves. Letting rushers get around and having to over extend to reach them because of poor footwork will kill you..... see Sean Locklear in SB XL. Smith is almost always in good position and has a quick kick slide.....Starks lumbers and overextends too much on his kick slide.

tony hipchest
06-11-2008, 12:54 AM
Smith is almost always in good position and has a quick kick slide.....Starks lumbers and overextends too much on his kick slide.personally, i think a healthy smith at 30+ is way more valuable than a max starks at 26. and im almost sure smith as the starting lt this season will prove that.

Aussie_steeler
06-11-2008, 06:26 AM
Hills does project as a LT and is a better athlete than Starks. I say the best plan will be to extend Smith for 4 years, expect Hills to compete at RT next season and maybe play there for 2 years then move over to LT. Smith is then released and a new RT is groomed....kind of like Smith was.


Probably the most realistic scenario that exists. Just hope the new RT can be drafted in the next draft. When Max goes the stocks will be a bit light on.

Now that I also know your coaching credentials I look forward to picking your brains a bit more on the topic.

Cheers

El-Gonzo Jackson
06-11-2008, 10:24 AM
Probably the most realistic scenario that exists. Just hope the new RT can be drafted in the next draft. When Max goes the stocks will be a bit light on.

Now that I also know your coaching credentials I look forward to picking your brains a bit more on the topic.

Cheers

The real scary thing about Hills is from the youtube video on him pre draft, it looks like he doesnt use his arms when blocking....he just dips his head and collides with the defender(we like to insult the O linemen by calling it "Titty-bumping"). If you let an NFL defender get his hands in you, he will get by you. He needs to extend his arms and drive the defenders away.

If Hills is a bust, that leaves the line very thin. If he is productive, it allows an OT to be chosen next season to become another future Steeler starter.

Feel free to ask all you want, but just remember that I'm just as full of dung as the next guy....I just look at the O line more closely. My big projection this year is that Kemo will really work out at LG......could be wrong again.

missedgehead
06-14-2008, 08:16 AM
I honestly think that Starks is not all that good and they should not have tendered him. They are paying a whole lot of money for a guy who is not that good. I mean, he was benched last year, no? He might be ok at LT, but he is not one of my favorite players.

slashsteel
06-14-2008, 08:38 AM
I thought Max played well when Smith went down. I know that was in a limited role. But who knows maybe he is better suited for the left side.............

tsmartnick
06-16-2008, 02:35 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

i have a question.

how is starks a better LT than RT?

i think he was one of those cases where the size was perfect for a LT but the athletic ability was just not there...

he may have played LT when he came out but the talent level in the NFL is very different from college (even if he did play in the SEC) many players have switched from LT to RT jordan gross is one who just got franchised by the panthers... levi brown of the cards and jamal brown an all-pro for the saints..
levi brown was a left tackle that switched to rt because his qb lienhart is left handed, so he is still protecting the blind side, he has the duties of a lt

El-Gonzo Jackson
06-16-2008, 03:54 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

i have a question.

how is starks a better LT than RT?

i think he was one of those cases where the size was perfect for a LT but the athletic ability was just not there...

he may have played LT when he came out but the talent level in the NFL is very different from college (even if he did play in the SEC) many players have switched from LT to RT jordan gross is one who just got franchised by the panthers... levi brown of the cards and jamal brown an all-pro for the saints..
levi brown was a left tackle that switched to rt because his qb lienhart is left handed, so he is still protecting the blind side, he has the duties of a lt

I personally think that Starks is a better RT than LT.

The RT is less demanding and most young OT's start there before shifting to LT. Levi Brown was the backup at RT until an injury forced him into the lineup. Even Joe Thomas started the first game agains the Steelers at RT.

Most defenses have their ROLB or RDE as their best pass rushers, so the LT needs to be more agile. The RT is a predominant side to run to and the better inline blockers normally play RT and are coincidentally sheltered from the better pass rushers.