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mesaSteeler
09-20-2009, 10:56 AM
Steelers: They win, fans fuss
Sunday, September 20, 2009
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In the Steelers' most recent four games, going back to last season, they beat a Tennessee team that went 13-3 a year ago, beat the Arizona Cardinals to win Super Bowl XLIII, beat Baltimore -- great defense and all -- in the AFC championship game and beat the same San Diego team in the playoffs that is a trendy pick to win it all this season.

Yet, this was the talk around town the past 10 days:

"The offensive line stinks! The team won in spite of 'em last season. They're going to get Ben killed."

"The line coach stinks! He doesn't have a clue. Why does Mike Tomlin keep him around?"

"The running backs stink! Willie Parker has lost it, and Rashard Mendenhall is a bust. They need to play Isaac Redman."

"The offensive coordinator stinks! He's too pass-happy and doesn't use a fullback. Tomlin needs to bring in someone who understands offense."

Good thing the Steelers have another game today against the Chicago Bears.

It gives them a chance to redeem themselves.

Is that ridiculous or what?

Seriously, do you realize how lucky you are to be living here during football season?

You could be living in Cleveland where a last-minute score in a loss to the Minnesota Vikings last weekend is all that kept the Browns from a seventh consecutive game without an offensive touchdown. You could be living in Cincinnati where the Bengals are off and winging toward their 18th losing season in the past 19 years. You could be living in Detroit where the Lions have lost 18 games in a row. You could be living in Oakland where the Raiders haven't been a consistent winner since Al Davis was a young man. You could be living in St. Louis ...

You get the idea.

I know you get the idea because you live here and have such a hard time stomaching the Pirates.

Of course, that won't stop a lot of you from picking nits.

The criticism of the offensive linemen is understandable if not completely fair. It's always easy to go after the nameless, faceless blobs in a collective unit. Still, I have a hard time arguing with tackle Max Starks, who said last week, "There's no question we have a championship-caliber line. We've proved that." It's not so much because Starks is 6-foot-8, 345 pounds. It's because those gaudy Super Bowl rings he and the linemen wear are blinding.

It's also easy to beat up the line coach. If the run game struggles or quarterback Ben Roethlisberger gets hit, it must because the coach is an idiot. Most people wouldn't know Larry Zierlein if he knocked on their door. He's a big, tough man who served with the Marines in Vietnam and clearly can defend himself, but it still was nice to see offensive coordinator Bruce Arians (yeah, him!) come to his defense at the Super Bowl, where no one should have had to defend anyone. Talking about how Zierlein had to rebuild the line twice after losing guard Alan Faneca and center Sean Mahan before the season and tackle Marvel Smith and guard Kendall Simmons early in the season, Arians said, "The guy should be coach of the year for the work he's done with those guys."

The running backs probably are the most fair game, at least Mendenhall, a No. 1 pick who's in his second year and still hasn't shown much. He and Parker are big-money guys at a glamorous position. But Parker was a Super Bowl XL hero and made a couple of Pro Bowls. He had a tough season with injuries last year and a tough opening game against the Titans, but I'm not quite ready to say he's done.

Then, there's Arians.

"I'm the most-hated man in town," he said, grinning. "It'll always be that way because I call the plays."

Arians was under first last season right up until Roethlisberger -- running Arians' offense, by the way -- finished off the eight-play, 78-yard drive that beat the Cardinals in the Super Bowl. The critics are going after him hard again because the Steelers' offense couldn't run against the Titans' tough front seven and scored just 13 points. In a win, it should be pointed out.

"Funny, isn't it?" Arians said. "You go into a bar and you don't hear anyone calling the defensive signals. You don't hear anyone say we should blitz on this play or drop back on that play. But everyone calls the offensive plays. Everyone always thinks they can call the plays ...

"Your job as a coordinator is to put your players in position to be successful. It's not like we abandoned the run [against the Titans]. We ran it 20-some times. We just decided to change the tempo a little bit and put the game in 7's hands."

Roethlisberger's hands.

Smart man, Arians.

Here's more proof of that:

"I tell the players all the time they need oil on their skin," he said. " 'Let the [criticism] slide off and do your job.' "

The Steelers figure to do just that. They are not a perfect team by any measure. They have flaws, and I promise you I'll harp loud and long about them if they ever lose a game or two.

But every NFL team has flaws. Not just the Browns, Bengals, Lions, Raiders and Rams. Every team.

For now, at least, it looks to me as if the Steelers' flaws are fewer and less severe than just about every other club's.

Too bad you wouldn't know it listening to the talk of this town.


Ron Cook can be reached at rcook@post-gazette.com. More articles by this author
First published on September 20, 2009 at 12:00 am

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09263/999358-87.stm#ixzz0Rf8qEyAW

AllD
09-20-2009, 11:50 AM
Steeler fans want blood from their opponents. Slash and burn, take no prisoners. It's a matter of pride.

Preacher
09-20-2009, 12:02 PM
From the 70's, when Bradshaw was hung in effigy before AND AFTER his SB's, there has always been a decent contingent of Steelers fans who will run down the team no matter what.

Don't throw enough
Throw too much
Don't run enough
Run isn't effective
Running too much
Running to the center too much
Running around the tackle too much.
Doesn't throw the ball away.
Gets picked too much throwing the ball away.
Isn't a pocket Passer,
Doesn't stay in the pocket enough.
blah
blah
blah.

Honestly, all those years I lived in Washington state.... not even the cryhawk fans whined about their team as much... and yes, they were as knowledgeable about football.

Steelerfreak58
09-20-2009, 12:18 PM
Pittsburgh is a tough town with tough fans they expect excellence and hard work from their teams. No other fan base shows more loyalty (go to an away game its flooded with Steeler fans no matter where you go) to their team even with the flaws. Its Steeler Nation love'em or hate'em.

Hapa
09-20-2009, 12:23 PM
The Steelers just won the Superbowl.
They just beat the Titans, as much as I hate them, they are one of the best teams in the NFL.

Stop whining! We can't have the best players in EVERY position. Salary cap makes sure of that.