PDA

View Full Version : Signs of trouble: Four '05 playoff teams that have reasons to worry


SteelersMongol
06-21-2006, 11:40 AM
New S.I. article on the Steelers and others (including Plax) :smile: in case you missed.

================================================
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/jeffri_chadiha/06/21/playoffs/index.html
================================================

All the drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers the last couple weeks has me questioning their chances at defending their Super Bowl title. I wouldn't have said that three months ago, but it's easy to change your mind when their starting quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) smashes his face in a motorcycle accident, their first-round pick (Santonio Holmes) gets arrested twice in a two-month span and their most beloved player (Jerome Bettis) is settling into retirement and preparing for a television career. It's not that the Steelers don't have any less talent. I just wonder where their heads will be at once this season begins.

This isn't to say the Steelers are alone in that regard, either. Within the last few weeks, a handful of playoff teams have dealt with their own issues. Some face contract complaints. Others are contending with continual bickering. A couple teams are hoping unproven players can ease the loss of long-time stars. What they all have in common, however, is this: They don't look as strong as they did at the end of last season and they better hope these problems fade away during training camp.

That said, here is my list of problematic playoff teams:

1. Pittsburgh Steelers: Though Roethlisberger should be ready for the season, that doesn't mean Steelers fans can start thinking about defending their title. Losing wide receiver Antwaan Randle El in free agency is a big blow because of the versatility he brought to the offense and his explosiveness as a return man. It's even more of a big deal now because Holmes, despite all his speed and potential, already looks like he has to overcome maturity issues. If he can't grow up, that passing game that looked so impressive during most of the postseason won't be half as scary. Add in the free-agent departures of two solid role players on defense (free safety Chris Hope and defensive tackle Kimo Von Oelhoffen) and the leadership void created by Bettis's retirement (which means outspoken outside linebacker Joey Porter has to become a more tempered voice in the locker room) and you can see where this is going. When you play in a division that could be as competitive as the AFC North -- with the Bengals and the improved Ravens gunning for playoff spots -- the road back to the postseason won't be easy.

2. Chicago Bears: It's never a good sign when you have three key players from last year's team griping about their individual situations. One of the underlying factors in Chicago winning the NFC North last season was their locker-room. Now we know that Pro Bowl cornerback Nathan Vasher is upset about being paid back-up money, even though he recently ended a holdout and reported back to offseason workouts. We also know that Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs is just as disgruntled with his own deal and that running back Thomas Jones doesn't like the idea of splitting carries after a 1,300-yard season. What this all means is that the Bears are on the verge of having major chemistry issues. Players notice the team isn't taking care of young stars like Vasher and Briggs. That kind of controversy can undermine the foundation of a team and it destroy confidence in an organization. Remember, the Bears followed a magical playoff season in 2001 with a three-year slide into irrelevance. If they're not careful, they may be looking at a repeat of that fall from grace.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: One man is going to factor heavily into the Jags' hopes of returning to the postseason -- Matt Jones. If the second-year receiver can become a steady target for quarterback Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville will be fine. If he can't, then I don't know who's going to be leading a receiving corps that looks awfully thin now that Jimmy Smith has retired. Smith may have been well past his prime, but he kept defenses honest with his smarts and savvy. He also provided plenty of confidence for Leftwich and eased the pressure on the running game. Without Smith, Leftwich has to carry a greater offensive burden and I've several scouts have told me they still don't know whether Leftwich is ready to do just that. He needs help. The Jags better find some for him in training camp.

4. New York Giants: I have a feeling wide receiver Plaxico Burress' frustration isn't an isolated incident. He started fast last season but then cooled off late in the year. The offseason was filled with speculation of a rift between he and quarterback Eli Manning. Burress recently shot down that rumor, but I wouldn't be surprised if this issue resurfaces. The main reason Burress went south is that Manning isn't as good as his press clippings suggest -- at least not yet. Manning's 52.8 completion percentage and 75.9 quarterback rating are evidence of that. If he doesn't improve those numbers, Burress won't be the only unhappy person in the Tri-State area. There will be plenty of Giants fans joining him because their team will be home for the postseason.

Big D
06-21-2006, 12:14 PM
this guy must not have seen hope's ass get handed to him constantly last year

SteelerFanInCA
06-21-2006, 02:00 PM
I am still having trouble understanding how losing Randall El is a "big blow" to the team. It's only natural to speculate on Ben. Ben will be ready but to what extent? Who knows how the accident will affect his ability on the playing field. Only time will tell. I think we have found solid replacements for Kimo and Hope.

Big D
06-21-2006, 02:01 PM
right just like losing burress a couple years ago was a major blow 2.. haha

SteelCityMan786
06-21-2006, 02:18 PM
The Steelers got no problems. They have deep depth a wr. and i don't think the writer has heard of the saying there is no "I" in team.

Ohio Steeler
06-21-2006, 02:47 PM
I am not worried one bite about this years team in fact I expect them to be better

SteelCityMan786
06-21-2006, 02:48 PM
I am not worried one bite about this years team in fact I expect them to be better

Like 12-4 to unbeaten and Unveiling a new banner opening night 2007 season?

section514
06-21-2006, 03:26 PM
Only good thing Kimo did this year was to take out Carson...(he didn't do it on purposed)
Randel el had shit for recieving yards, and his returns were good, but not great (see fumbled punt return at Pats). His bark was defiently worse than his bite most of the time. Joey Porter was the voice of the locker room last season. The Bus was like a father figure, Joey was the "senior you looked up to during your freshman year of football" type of guy. Ben will be fine, he my be rusty in the first 2 games, but last time i checked, losing 2 games still gets you into the playoffs. Stupid article written by a stupid writer who never played an organized sport in his life.

CantStop85
06-21-2006, 03:31 PM
The Steelers didn't lose any star players in the off-season, but it's not necessarily those star players who win championships, it's also those role players who step up and make big plays (i.e. Randle El's trick plays, Kimo's "big hits," etc.). No one knows how big of an impact some of these players make until they're gone.

Big D
06-21-2006, 03:47 PM
The Steelers didn't lose any star players in the off-season, but it's not necessarily those star players who win championships, it's also those role players who step up and make big plays (i.e. Randle El's trick plays, Kimo's "big hits," etc.). No one knows how big of an impact some of these players make until they're gone.
we have been losing players in free agency for years and we have always bounced back

redst3
06-21-2006, 03:48 PM
I do think we will miss ARE especially on punt returns. You should watch those last playoff games- I did today- dont kid yourself ARE was important....

BTW, which Steeler OL was arrested down there in Florida shortly after SB40? Was it Max or Trai Essex? I cant remember.....

Steel12
06-21-2006, 03:55 PM
I am still having trouble understanding how losing Randall El is a "big blow" to the team.

That's what I keep tryin to tell all of the Steeler hater friends I have...

Black@Gold Forever32
06-21-2006, 03:56 PM
I do think we will miss ARE especially on punt returns. You should watch those last playoff games- I did today- dont kid yourself ARE was important....

BTW, which Steeler OL was arrested down there in Florida shortly after SB40? Was it Max or Trai Essex? I cant remember.....

Yes, I think we could miss El as a punt returner. He was very good. But the Steelers did draft Willie Reid to return punts. Reid only broke Deion Sanders punt return records at Florida State. Sure, Reid has that potential label. Just saying Reid, might be able to replace El just fine.

Trai Essex was the Olineman arrested.

Big D
06-21-2006, 03:58 PM
I think the loss of el is the least of our concerns.

tony hipchest
06-21-2006, 04:22 PM
Yes, I think we could miss El as a punt returner. He was very good. But the Steelers did draft Willie Reid to return punts. Reid only broke Deion Sanders punt return records at Florida State. Sure, Reid has that potential label. Just saying Reid, might be able to replace El just fine.

Trai Essex was the Olineman arrested.el was a qb who was groomed to be a return man. reid is a bonafide return man.

Big D
06-21-2006, 04:25 PM
el was a qb who was groomed to be a return man. reid is a bonafide return man.
steelers history will let us know that we have always had good return men

j-dawg
06-21-2006, 04:39 PM
When you play in a division that could be as competitive as the AFC North -- with the Bengals and the improved Ravens gunning for playoff spots -- the road back to the postseason won't be easy.



improved ravens?... "gunning" for a playoff spot... :sofunny:

Black@Gold Forever32
06-21-2006, 04:47 PM
el was a qb who was groomed to be a return man. reid is a bonafide return man.

I know Tony, I like Willie Reid alot. Just saying we don't know if Reid will succeed in the NFL as of yet. Thats why I won't go and say he will be better then El right now. But I'm more then confident in Willie Reid and I think he runs a punt back for a TD in his rookie year. Reid broke Deion Sander's records at Florida State for punt returning. So right there shows that Reid has the talent. All Willie needs is NFL experience.

The Steelers special teams has the chance to be very dangerous this year.

redst3
06-21-2006, 04:58 PM
Hope you are right about Reid. I dont imagine they want to use coughligh or Ike either back there. I am pretty pessimistic about Santonio Holmes at wideout but believe Quincy may be a darkhorse or maybe Ced or Washington at Wideout.

tony hipchest
06-21-2006, 05:07 PM
I know Tony, I like Willie Reid alot. Just saying we don't know if Reid will succeed in the NFL as of yet. Thats why I won't go and say he will be better then El right now. But I'm more then confident in Willie Reid and I think he runs a punt back for a TD in his rookie year. Reid broke Deion Sander's records at Florida State for punt returning. So right there shows that Reid has the talent. All Willie needs is NFL experience.

The Steelers special teams has the chance to be very dangerous this year. i was agreeing and expanding your point. and i agree even more with this post. el will be missed cause he was a good player and a great guy, but i think our special teams could be one of the strongest in the nfl this year.

st was my greatest concern going into the draft.

Black@Gold Forever32
06-21-2006, 05:12 PM
i was agreeing and expanding your point. and i agree even more with this post. el will be missed cause he was a good player and a great guy, but i think our special teams could be one of the strongest in the nfl this year.

st was my greatest concern going into the draft.

Yea, I was concerned about our special teams as well. But drafting Reid and even Holmes for that matter boosts our return game and I really have no worries about our special teams. I think even our coverage units will be among the top in the NFL. Plus, with the drafting of Anthony Smith I think we might have a player that will block a kick or two during the year. Smith did have 6 block kicks in his college career.

tony hipchest
06-21-2006, 05:25 PM
Yea, I was concerned about our special teams as well. But drafting Reid and even Holmes for that matter boosts our return game and I really have no worries about our special teams. I think even our coverage units will be among the top in the NFL. Plus, with the drafting of Anthony Smith I think we might have a player that will block a kick or two during the year. Smith did have 6 block kicks in his college career.the coverage units concerned me as well, especially if keisel is no longer on them, but bailey and harris could fill that role nicely. smith could be a special teams demon, before asked to take a more predominant role.

Black@Gold Forever32
06-21-2006, 05:34 PM
the coverage units concerned me as well, especially if keisel is no longer on them, but bailey and harris could fill that role nicely. smith could be a special teams demon, before asked to take a more predominant role.

Here is name to throw out there for the coverage units Shuan Nua. This kid reminds me of Keisel. I think he could be a good special teams player.

tony hipchest
06-21-2006, 05:40 PM
Here is name to throw out there for the coverage units Shuan Nua. This kid reminds me of Keisel. I think he could be a good special teams player.i was wondering if he makes the team? we seem to have a few really good players (well they have potential) 52-57 or so. cut day will probably be a tough one for the coaching staff this year. special team ace s. morey is probably wondering.

BlitzburghRockCity
06-21-2006, 06:55 PM
People start writing this crap every year.. oh whoa is the Steelers..we lost some players, we have some injuries, how are we gonna do well again this year..

:blah: :blah: these so called experts just piss me off half the time, actually most of the time. Nobody believes anything these people write about and anybody who actually follows the team knows better than to think we're in trouble. The season hasnt even started yet, hell training camp is still over a month away !

These are the same people that picked us to finish 3rd in the division last year !

SteelCityMan786
06-21-2006, 07:12 PM
Some last year we're at least smart enough to pick us to win the division last year. maybe the next title up would do the trick.

Steel Pit
06-22-2006, 02:45 AM
I agree with most of you. I don't see the Steelers missing any of the departed players. I certainly don't miss any of them. I'm a fan of the team not individuals. I was never a fan of Kimo, he did very little during his entire tenure with the Steelers. I know, I know, his job was simply to occupy blockers so the linebackers could make plays, HOGWASH!
Randle El was a good return guy but his receiving skills were average at best. He sure as H E L L isn't worth the big contract that he signed. I'm glad that the Steelers didn't invest that kind of money into him. That would have killed our salary cap for many years.
As long as Ben returns fully healthy, the Steelers will be a better team next season.

As for the Ravens and their so-called improvements, I don't see it. They picked up Steve McNair. So, who's he supposed to be? It took 4 to 5 years of grooming before McNair ever caught on to the Titans playbook. He's not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I imagine that it will take him a few years to figure out the Ravens playbook.

MattsMe
06-22-2006, 02:52 AM
It took 4 to 5 years of grooming before McNair ever caught on to the Titans playbook. He's not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I imagine that it will take him a few years to figure out the Ravens playbook.

I agree. He'll figure out the playbook just in time to retire.

steelerdude
06-22-2006, 07:13 AM
improved ravens?... "gunning" for a playoff spot... :sofunny:

They seem to think that the addition of Steve McNair is the key to their success. But in the last five years, has McNair been able to make it through a whole season injury-free? I don't think so. So yeah, that's a humorous statement.

section514
06-22-2006, 07:40 AM
They seem to think that the addition of Steve McNair is the key to their success. But in the last five years, has McNair been able to make it through a whole season injury-free? I don't think so. So yeah, that's a humorous statement.
what makes that statement even more humorous is that it came from a browns fan....

....they only way they make the playoffs is that if they gun-down the AFC North with an AK47:m16:

Big D
06-22-2006, 07:48 AM
what makes that statement even more humorous is that it came from a browns fan....

....they only way they make the playoffs is that if they gun-down the AFC North with an AK47:m16:
exactly. I've heard people call charlie batch the candle. How about mcnair i would give him this nickname before batch. He hasnt been healthy in the past two years. He will be hurt by week 2

SteelerFanInCA
06-22-2006, 11:33 AM
If McNair finishes the season in one piece that will be a victory in itself. :nurse:

nicesteel4life
06-22-2006, 12:04 PM
Truthfully, :old: McNair will be :injured: by the 5th game of the season. Boil will come in and continue to be the :poop: that he has been. Remeber also :crying01: Lewis will be injury prone as well and become the #1 :sign02: Chearleader on the Squad by the end of the season.

section514
06-22-2006, 12:20 PM
Truthfully, :old: McNair will be :injured: by the 5th game of the season. Boil will come in and continue to be the :poop: that he has been. Remeber also :crying01: Lewis will be injury prone as well and become the #1 :sign02: Chearleader on the Squad by the end of the season.

that desereves a :cheers:

burgsville
06-22-2006, 02:50 PM
I am still having trouble understanding how losing Randall El is a "big blow" to the team. It's only natural to speculate on Ben. Ben will be ready but to what extent? Who knows how the accident will affect his ability on the playing field. Only time will tell. I think we have found solid replacements for Kimo and Hope.





I agree totally !!!!

burgsville
06-22-2006, 02:52 PM
what makes that statement even more humorous is that it came from a browns fan....

....they only way they make the playoffs is that if they gun-down the AFC North with an AK47:m16:



God I how love the use of those terrible towels in your pictures.

section514
06-22-2006, 03:01 PM
God I how love the use of those terrible towels in your pictures.
easy :crazy01: