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mesaSteeler
03-04-2009, 08:53 PM
Cook: Steelers line good enough
Submitted by SHNS on Wed, 03/04/2009 - 15:30.
http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/41453

* By RON COOK, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin have earned the benefit of the doubt. When you win a Super Bowl, that's a given. Colbert and Tomlin are selling that their offensive line will be good enough to compete for another championship next season.

I'm buying. Actually, it's not so hard.

That line already has helped win one title, right?

I know what you're thinking:

The Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII despite their offensive line. There's no way they'll get that lucky again.

I beg to disagree.

The line's struggles last season were well documented, the extenuating circumstances that contributed to those struggles not so much. Because All-Pro guard Alan Faneca left as a free agent, center Sean Mahan was traded and guard Kendall Simmons and tackle Marvel Smith were lost early for the year with injuries, the Steelers had to rebuild the line twice. In the end, they were left with a new center (Justin Hartwig), two first-year starters at guard (Chris Kemoeatu and Darnell Stapleton), a second-year starter at right tackle (Willie Colon) and a tackle that hadn't played on the left side on a full-time basis since college (Max Starks).

Not to make excuses.

Just being real.

"If you look at how those five came together as the season went on, I think it's fair to say their play improved," Colbert said. "That's reflected in the numbers."

The Steelers allowed 29 sacks in the first half of the season, 20 in the second half. OK, so maybe the line didn't "come on fantastically," as offensive coordinator Bruce Arians gushed at the Super Bowl. But it did get better, especially after running back Willie Parker bounced back from injuries.

So the line was good enough to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

"Hopefully, they'll continue to grow and improve," Colbert said.

It's reasonable to expect as much. The added experience -- not just the regular season, but also the run to the Super Bowl -- should help Kemoeatu, Stapleton, Colon and Starks. A second year in the system should be huge for Hartwig. As Colbert noted, "The center is the hub of communication for any offensive line."

The Steelers bet big money that the line will be significantly better. To keep it together, they tagged Starks as their franchise player, which means he's due to make $8,451,000 next season, although both sides hope to do a long-term contract before then. They signed Kemoeatu to a five-year, $20 million deal. And they gave Colon a $2,198,000 tender to all but make sure he'll be back for another season.

The Starks deal makes sense, unlike a year ago when the Steelers made him their transition player and had to pay him $6.9 million even though he opened the season as Colon's backup. That seemed like a ridiculously high-priced insurance policy at the time, but it turned out well when management had to cash it in and start Starks after Smith's back injury. This time around, the Steelers had to pay Starks. He's the starting left tackle on a Super Bowl winner. That's just the cost of doing business.

As for Colon, by offering him the high tender, the Steelers retained the right to match any offer he receives as a restricted free agent. If he does a deal elsewhere and they don't match it, they would receive a No. 1 draft pick as compensation, though that seems unlikely.

Colbert's work with the line isn't finished, with other lesser-known free agents and the draft next month.

"You never want to put your head in the sand and think you don't have to get better at any position," Colbert said. "You always want to look to bring in new faces to build the thing up."

Still, the offensive line last season is the line now and almost certainly will be the line next season.

That's OK.

Really.

"The bottom line is winning," Colbert said. "Those guys helped us win."

Sold me.

(Contact Ron Cook at rcook@post-gazette.com.)

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.)

GBMelBlount
03-04-2009, 09:05 PM
"You never want to put your head in the sand and think you don't have to get better at any position," Colbert said. "You always want to look to bring in new faces to build the thing up."

Cool. I was under the impression we had our heads in the sand the last two years but apparently we didn't . :chuckle:

SunshineMan21
03-04-2009, 09:55 PM
This is a pretty poor article.

I'm also willing to give Colbert and our management the benefit of the doubt, but I'm not sure that Cook makes a particularly convincing argument that our current O-line is in any way adequate.

We resigned Kemo, Colon, and Starks because we didn't have better options, not because they were all good performers.

DACEB
03-05-2009, 05:52 AM
Funny thing is, everyone agrees it takes time for an o-line to gel yet we (the fans) won't even give these guys a full season together to prove it.

Jackal
03-05-2009, 08:57 AM
Funny thing is, everyone agrees it takes time for an o-line to gel yet we (the fans) won't even give these guys a full season together to prove it.

I think you hit the nail on the head. I, for one, was very encouraged by their play as the season went on. It wasn't always pretty, but it was a considerable improvement over the early stages of the season. I think that, after winning the Super Bowl together and having more time during the off-season and pre-season workouts to work together, they will continue to solidify as a unit and we will see drastic improvements next season.


When all else fails, trust in Colbert.

Steely McSmash
03-05-2009, 11:44 AM
Cool. I was under the impression we had our heads in the sand the last two years but apparently we didn't . :chuckle:

Oh sure. For instance you don't want your head so deep in the sand that you don't burn a 4th rounder on a punter ...

Steely McSmash
03-05-2009, 11:52 AM
Cook: Steelers line good enough
Submitted by SHNS on Wed, 03/04/2009 - 15:30.
http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/41453
....

"Hopefully, they'll continue to grow and improve," Colbert said.
....


Hope if for things you have no control over. He should have a plan that involves the draft, coaching etc. Speaking like this makes it sound like the staff has nothign to do with the O-line. I realize they have a plan etc, just my pet peave.

While I concur to some extent that they'll improve somewhat just from Gelling and returning the same starters, what are we expecting for improvement? 46 sacks to 40 maybe? The talent level needs to improve in the long run.

steelreserve
03-05-2009, 12:25 PM
Hope if for things you have no control over. He should have a plan that involves the draft, coaching etc.

Yeah, we don't need Obama making personnel decisions for our team, that's for sure.

In all honesty, I don't think the line is completely terrible. We are going to have inflated sack numbers as long as we have a scrambling quarterback and a one-dimensional running back. The line is so-so. But MAN, is it ever atrocious how much we're paying them for what we're getting.

fansince'76
03-05-2009, 12:42 PM
Oh sure. For instance you don't want your head so deep in the sand that you don't burn a 4th rounder on a punter ...

Would've been nice to have that "waste of a 4th round pick" in there this past season as opposed to 25-yard-punt Berger or Ernster who was even worse.

Funny how a lot of folks trivialize punters and kickers until they're stuck with one that sucks. Of course, they're generally the same folks that operated under the delusion that the next Ray Guy-in-waiting just had to be available somewhere when the aforementioned "waste of a 4th round pick" wound up on IR for the season.

Fire Haley
03-05-2009, 12:47 PM
On a happier note...
At least the amount of "Fire Tomlin!" and "Fire Arians!" threads seem to have dimished this year.

steelreserve
03-05-2009, 01:04 PM
Would've been nice to have that "waste of a 4th round pick" in there this past season as opposed to 25-yard-punt Berger or Ernster who was even worse.

Funny how a lot of folks trivialize punters and kickers until they're stuck with one that sucks. Of course, they're generally the same folks that operated under the delusion that the next Ray Guy-in-waiting just had to be available somewhere when the aforementioned "waste of a 4th round pick" wound up on IR for the season.

I don't understand this either. Is there even such a thing as a "waste of a 4th-round pick?" Half the time, a guy you take in the 4th round isn't even going to make the team anyway. If you can get a good kicker or punter who's probably going to be with the team for a decade, that's definitely worth a low draft pick. And given how infrequently teams actually use picks on the kicking game, if you're taking a P/K in the draft, you're almost guaranteed to be getting a good one.

I just hope other teams don't start doing this too often. If five punters got taken in the draft every year, using a pick on one would be a lot less of a sure thing.

fansince'76
03-05-2009, 01:12 PM
I don't understand this either. Is there even such a thing as a "waste of a 4th-round pick?" Half the time, a guy you take in the 4th round isn't even going to make the team anyway. If you can get a good kicker or punter who's probably going to be with the team for a decade, that's definitely worth a low draft pick. And given how infrequently teams actually use picks on the kicking game, if you're taking a P/K in the draft, you're almost guaranteed to be getting a good one.

I just hope other teams don't start doing this too often. If five punters got taken in the draft every year, using a pick on one would be a lot less of a sure thing.

I wholeheartedly agree. I'm just incredulous to the fact that some people are still complaining about Sep being taken in the 4th round and referring to it as "burning a pick at the expense of the OL" after we all witnessed our punting game completely suck hind tit this past season.

steelreserve
03-05-2009, 01:24 PM
I wholeheartedly agree. I'm just incredulous to the fact that some people are still complaining about Sep being taken in the 4th round and referring to it as "burning a pick at the expense of the OL" after we all witnessed our punting game completely suck hind tit this past season.

Yeah, and what's our 4th-round lineman from last year doing? Not much. I mean, there's always the chance that he turns out to be a decent player, and I hope he does, but there's never any guarantee. Once in a while you get a guy like Ike Taylor or Aaron Smith in the lower rounds, but you're just as likely to get Omar Jacobs or Orien Harris. And you really don't get THAT much better chance of finding one of those unlikely starters in the fourth round than you do in the fifth or sixth. Making a big deal out of nothing, if you ask me.

The_WARDen
03-05-2009, 02:12 PM
What a tool Cook is! Keep burying your head in the sand and when the best Steeler QB in 25 years is out of the league when he's 30, I don't want to hear the whining when they're stuck with Kordell Jr.
:doh:

Preacher
03-05-2009, 05:14 PM
Oh sure. For instance you don't want your head so deep in the sand that you don't burn a 4th rounder on a punter ...


Did you SEE OUR PUNTER this year?

Sorry, 4th round... for Sep... Great choice.

After all, most of our late round choices over the last 4 or 5 years have not made it. Gay is the one glaring difference.

steelerbackr4life
03-05-2009, 05:39 PM
Why not take the known talent 4th round in a spot needed to be filled? As opposed to a question mark in another spot you need to fill?

Preacher
03-05-2009, 06:00 PM
Well if you think about it, having the hardest schedule might have had some effect on us giving up so many sacks. And he does make a good point of us starting many first time starters, and losing Marvel Smith, who was already playing like crap with back problems, and Kendall Simmons. Think about it: We had to face a Rex Ryan defense with Haloti Ngata anchoring it 3 times this year, Jay Ratliff, Fattycake Rogers, Jamal Williams, Vince Wilfork, and quite a few others. Yeah we could have been better, but we had a lot of newbies on this line. Looks like we can only get better! :tt:

Very true. We have been saying it about our RB's last year, but the same holds up with the line. They faced down the best in the league pretty much every game.

Of course, the games against Philly, the Giants, and the Titans still give me sleepless nights when it comes to sacks.

Steely McSmash
03-05-2009, 09:03 PM
...punting game completely suck hind tit this past season.

This would have been the case regardless of whatever #1 punter we went into the season with if the guy get's injured and you scramble for scrubs....

El-Gonzo Jackson
03-05-2009, 11:17 PM
4th round for the best punter in the NCAA was fine. Especially if you look at our punting game from years past.

But, please dont compare 4th round punter to a 4th round WR or OT. Who was the last punter taken in the 1st round????? That position is never valued the same as every down positions. Sad thing is only one of our starting O linemen was selected with a higher pick than our punter.

The Offensive line consists of Starks (3rd round pick), Colon(5th round), Kemo(6th round), Stapleton (UFA), Hartwig(6th round). They gave up nearly 50 sacks, lead the #23 ranked run game and #22 ranked offense while not being able to convert many short yardage situations. If you think you are fine on the O line because you won the super bowl with a bunch of day 2 selections and UFA's ........you are fooling yourself. Ron Cook is just trying to write something to sell some papers.

The Steelers won the super bowl despite having a below average offensive line and hopefully will not continue to accept mediocrity.

revefsreleets
03-06-2009, 08:53 AM
Here's another way to look at this:

If we lose McFadden in FA, doesn't it make sense to maintain the teams far-and-away greatest strength? Draft a top rated CB in rd 1 (maybe even move up for it) and keep that unit at full strength? Even an (gasp!) Arians backer like myself realizes that we won the Super Bowl on the back of our defense, and that the offense was just good enough. Why mess with that formula. Draft to offset FA losses, then address the OL and DL starting Rd 2. Also, a CB can almost certainly come in and contribute heavily in year 1, especially if it isn't imperative that he start.

So he may be on to something here...but the BMac situation definitely should have a huge impact on what direction we go...

fansince'76
03-06-2009, 09:11 AM
Who was the last punter taken in the 1st round????? That position is never valued the same as every down positions.

I would imagine it was Ray Guy back in '73, but that was a different era where players by and large usually retired from the same team they were drafted by, he was going to a team that was already loaded with talent all over the field, and he was actually worth it.

lilyoder6
03-06-2009, 09:30 AM
have we re-signed trai essex yet??

i do beleive that what happens with b-mac will determine what we do in the draft when it comes to the 1st rd

MasterOfPuppets
03-06-2009, 09:41 AM
I would imagine it was Ray Guy back in '73, but that was a different era where players by and large usually retired from the same team they were drafted by, he was going to a team that was already loaded with talent all over the field, and he was actually worth it.


Russell Erxleben was drafted in the first round by the Saints in 1979 (also a kicker) 11th pick overall
Ray Guy was drafted in the first round by the Raiders in 1973
Charlie Gogolak was drafted in the first round by the Redskins in 1966

El-Gonzo Jackson
03-06-2009, 10:17 AM
Russell Erxleben was drafted in the first round by the Saints in 1979 (also a kicker) 11th pick overall
Ray Guy was drafted in the first round by the Raiders in 1973
Charlie Gogolak was drafted in the first round by the Redskins in 1966

Thanks. My point was that you can often get top kicking prospects in the 4th round or later because the value of a kicker is much different than an OT, WR, or other skill players. Mike Nugent in the 2nd round, Nate Kaeding in the 3rd round or Sepulveda in the 4th are pretty high picks for kickers.

Again, I find it unfortunate that the Steelers have not addressed the D-line or O line with any picks higher than Sepulvada's 4th round slot in a long time. Orien Harris, Ryan McBean, Tony Hills, Shaun Nua, Cameron Stevenson, Bo Lacy are not premium picks that show a committment to getting stronger up front. 3rd round picks Trai Essex and Max Starks are the last real investments the Steelers made in the line via the draft.

MasterOfPuppets
03-06-2009, 10:36 AM
Thanks. My point was that you can often get top kicking prospects in the 4th round or later because the value of a kicker is much different than an OT, WR, or other skill players. Mike Nugent in the 2nd round, Nate Kaeding in the 3rd round or Sepulveda in the 4th are pretty high picks for kickers.

Again, I find it unfortunate that the Steelers have not addressed the D-line or O line with any picks higher than Sepulvada's 4th round slot in a long time. Orien Harris, Ryan McBean, Tony Hills, Shaun Nua, Cameron Stevenson, Bo Lacy are not premium picks that show a committment to getting stronger up front. 3rd round picks Trai Essex and Max Starks are the last real investments the Steelers made in the line via the draft.oh i think its absolutely foolish to spend an early pic on a kicker or punter...unless the guy consistently can kick or punt 60 + yarders....heres the difference between a 1 st rd kicker and an undrafted FA...
janikowski...77 %
reed..............82 %
good choice al.....:thumbsup:

revefsreleets
03-06-2009, 10:47 AM
I understand why the Jets took Nugent, though. They reached, but they lost a playoff game to US the year before, all for lack of a kicker. Would someone else have taken him before Rd 4? Absolutely not (since the next kicker taken wasn't until the bottom of Rd 6).

But that's one of the reasons why we contend for Championships almost every year, and bell bottoms have come in and out of style TWICE since the Jets won a meaningful title.