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83-Steelers-43
07-23-2006, 08:00 AM
Steelers' vibe not good
By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, July 23, 2006


Steelers stability.

That was the recurring -- and appropriate -- national storyline as Bill Cowher's crew rolled through Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Denver and Detroit on its way to a most improbable Super Bowl title.

It's not the storyline now.

Massive uncertainty is more like it, as the Steelers gear up for the opening of training camp next weekend in Latrobe.

Six months ago, as the playoff momentum built, it felt as if nothing could go wrong. Today, it feels as if anything could -- at any time. The offseason has been a disaster. To describe it any other way would be a lie. The vibe is not good.

The biggest offseason headlines were reserved for the star quarterback who nearly died in a motorcycle accident 41 days ago and the first-round draft pick who rang up arrests at a rate that would make Darryl Strawberry blush.

Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback, must overcome any physical and psychological remnants of his wreck. It might not be as simple as most seem to expect, and Roethlisberger is, without a doubt, the straw that stirs the Steelers' drink. He's the main reason they snapped their 25-year Super Bowl drought.

Santonio Holmes, the first-round draft pick, is scheduled to face trial Aug. 15 for a domestic violence charge in Columbus. At the very least, that will be an unpleasant distraction that could further retard the progress of a rookie who missed most of the team's spring workouts because of a silly NFL rule barring players whose college classes have yet to graduate.

Meanwhile, Cowher's future here looks anything but stable, and the team lost four of its steadiest personalities -- Jerome Bettis, Kimo von Oelhoffen, Chris Hope and Antwaan Randle El -- in a matter of weeks. The remaining leadership core will include more of the free-spirited types such as Roethlisberger and linebacker Joey Porter.

Cowher hasn't exactly squashed rumors that his retirement -- however temporary -- could occur within a year or two.

All of which does not mean the Steelers are doomed. The purpose here isn't to sound a siren call. It's merely to shed light on the fact that Cowher has a monumental challenge ahead of him over the next month or so.

Certainly, the Steelers have enough talent to defend their title. Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, Heath Miller, Willie Parker and a solid line should make for a potent offense, assuming Roethlisberger regains the Elway-like form he displayed in the AFC playoffs. Holmes' speed could make the unit downright scary.

The defense is stocked with players of All-Pro pedigree, such as Troy Polamalu, Casey Hampton, James Farrior, Porter, Aaron Smith, Clark Haggans and Ike Taylor.

On both sides of the ball, it's easy to find solid leadership in the likes of Jeff Hartings, Farrior, Hampton and Ward. The entire coaching staff was retained, and the Rooneys remain the rock upon which five Super Bowl teams were built.

But it's safe to say this team had the most tumultuous offseason of any of them. Something feels very unsettled around here. It's Cowher's job, with the help of his veteran leaders, to restore the positive vibe that enveloped this franchise six months ago.

Steelers stability will be put to the test in Latrobe.

BlackNGold203
07-23-2006, 09:30 AM
This is not an unfair assessment of the current situation....it may be a bit alarmist...but certainly not unfair...

It will be very interesting to see how the squad reacts to being the prey..as compared to being the hunter....

83-Steelers-43
07-23-2006, 09:35 AM
This is not an unfair assessment of the current situation...

I agree with that. Repeating is never an easy task to begin with, but with the offseason we have just been through it's not making it any easier. Is there cause for concern? Sure. Overall though, I think the positives outweigh the negatives.

Jeremy
07-23-2006, 09:38 AM
I guess I missed the part where Ben actually died. What a tool.

This article is another example of Pittsburghers being totally negative about every little thing that happens with their team.

BlackNGold203
07-23-2006, 09:52 AM
I guess I missed the part where Ben actually died. What a tool.

This article is another example of Pittsburghers being totally negative about every little thing that happens with their team.

I couldnt disagree more....

there IS reason for concern...I didnt find this piece as alarmist...or a depiction of people jumping off bridges...

it is responsible journalism to outline potential concerns and lurking problems...as long as its not over the top...which in my humble...Starkeys piece was not...

Jeremy
07-23-2006, 09:59 AM
Six months ago, as the playoff momentum built, it felt as if nothing could go wrong. Today, it feels as if anything could -- at any time. The offseason has been a disaster. To describe it any other way would be a lie. The vibe is not good.

Oh no, that's not even close to over the top.

Atlanta Dan
07-23-2006, 10:11 AM
Starkey's column was not a "sky is falling" take but a fairly objective review of a what has been a tumultuous offseason. However, if you read the Boston or Indy papers it is not as if the Colts (Edge goes to Arizona) and the Patriots (free agent losses including the best pressure kicker in the game) have had clear sailing.

The 2 big long-term issues are Ben's status and whether Cowher is going to hang it up.
My recollection of winning coaches that have left voluntarily (Walsh, Parcells, Gibbs, Lombardi) is that they do not announce prior to the end of the season that they are stepping down. so everyone probably will just need to accept the fact that Cowher will announce his plans when he sees fit.

With regard to Ben, only his doctors have any reasonable medical opinion as to what the impact of getting hit with the violence of a NFL game may have on a face that was badly fractured only 3 months before the start of the regular season.

I obviously am looking forward to how this plays out, but with the first month of the season being against 4 potential playoff teams (Miami. @Jax, Cincy, bye, @San Diego) this year's team will not have the luxury of finding itself against the dregs of the league to start the year.

Given how poorly the offense played last pre-season I will not start to worry until the games count in the standings.

83-Steelers-43
07-23-2006, 10:12 AM
In my opinion, six months ago nothing felt as it could go wrong. Today, who knows what could happen? Our starting QB went down with a bike crash and was close to death and our number one pick was arrested on two different occasions and could be reprimanded by the league. That sounds like a pretty bad offseason to me.

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with this article. He reported the good with the bad. He also reported that this team has "enough talent to defend their title" and gives his reasons on why that is definately possible. But to deny that this offseason has been horrible would be a complete lie. There are legitimate concerns heading into this season that Starkey brought up in this article.

tony hipchest
07-23-2006, 10:49 AM
"The purpose here isn't to sound a siren call. It's merely to shed light on the fact that Cowher has a monumental challenge ahead of him over the next month or so."

as does EVERY coach EVERY season.

i feel better going into this season (despite the negatives) than i have any in a long time.
most teams would be lucky to have 2 of the character players we had in jerome, hope, el, and kimo. we have a surplus.

ben and our running game is in the middle of an evolution. quarterbacks have successfully played after a broken jaw. farve and collins both come to mind. (farve made it to the sb 2 years in a row the year after lloyd clocked him pluss he still hasnt missed a game.) bens jaw will be fine. bones heal to be stronger than they were in the 1st place.

many teams have holdouts that dont kill the team. at this point im just looking at santonio as a holdout. receivers usually dont grasp the game till their 3rd season anyways. 5 tds and 600 yds would have to be looked at as a great year from him.

cowher will not be a distraction to the team. when he does leave im confident the current corps of assistant (who happen to be the leagues best) will be kept together. as i remember, belichick and the other assistants rebounded from the loss of parcells.

the glass is definitely half full and not half empty. the team is growing and maturing, definitely not devolving. it will seem that way if they dont repeat but its just not that easy. the 4 negatives pointed out by starkey will autonatically be labeled as the reasons why.

Mosca
07-23-2006, 10:59 AM
From all that I've seen of Roethlisberger's personality in interviews and read about him in papers, He's not all that emotionally complicated a guy. He doesn't brood. I don't think that this accident is going to affect him one bit. If you discount that, the only off season issues are Bettis' retirement and the loss of some vets. Everyone knew about the Bus last year, that this was coming, so it should be easy to overcome. And the Steelers lose good players and strong leaders every year, but weather it because they are the type of team where leadership is spread around, and they have a lot of players who need very little direction.

Too much is being made of larger themes here, when the reality of most teams is that smaller themes and issues make or break a season. You don't lose games all at once, you lose them one at a time. Injuries, lack of conditioning that shows up late in games and late in the season, lack of depth, lack of preparation, all those things are more important than the "vibe" perceived by an outsider... the "vibe" comes from inside the writer, not from the team.

My vibe is pretty optimistic; I get a GREAT feeling for where this team is going. We have some great players. We've added some strong rookies. We have one of the best coaching staffs in the league. We have great fans who travel all over the country to support the team. There's really no down side to it at all, unless you're streching to try and find one, unless you're trying to get your head in the toilet.

Sure it could fall apart; that's why they play the games, to give the other guys a chance. But from where the Steelers sit, every other team in the league would love to be where we are now.


Tom

OX1947
07-23-2006, 01:37 PM
Instead of wasting time and writting all of this, why didnt he just say, the Steelers might suck this year because a hurricane will come through Pitts burgh and ruin the city.

Tumultuous offseason??? What about the impovements to the loses, we drafted a 1st round reciever to replace ARE, we got Clark to cover Hope and also drafted a FS. We replaced Kimo with Keisel and Big Ben had a scare but he is fine. If you want to go talk about tumultuous, go talk to the Green Bay Packers or Marvin Lewis about tumultuous. Another cincy player got in trouble today.......

That aside, this is perfect. No one thinks we can repeat and I am glad, things are better when no one picks us because when they do, we usually lose.

Black@Gold Forever32
07-23-2006, 01:50 PM
Well I agree this off-season has been a nightmare. But last year taught me one thing. Never count this team out. At 7-5 and coming off that loss to the Bengals at Heinz Field the Steelers didn't have the vibe of a Super Bowl team. The talent was there. We all knew that. But the team sure didn't have that feel. But at the true professionals that they are. They went on the great run to close out the season and in the playoffs. True all the pieces are not there from last year. But the main core is still there and if no major injuries occur. There should be no reason that the Steelers are not one of the top three teams in the AFC this year.

Haiku_Dirtt
07-23-2006, 02:18 PM
THE SKY IS FALLING

THE SKY IS FALLING

THE SKY IS FALLING

THE SKY IS FALLING

Starkey. Chill. I guess my point is that I haven't felt really good going into the season for years and years.

Now at least I can stop wondering if we have a Super Bowl caliber group of people. It got bumpy but if we were concerned that they might lose focus then...

The only real negative I can see today right now is the Holmes Experiment - and this still has a chance to be positive for at least one year.

tony hipchest
07-23-2006, 03:34 PM
The only real negative I can see today right now is the Holmes Experiment - and this still has a chance to be positive for at least one year.

i think the negative of the "experiment" has more to do with the position drafted (wr) and not necessarilly the person drafted to fill it. 1st round wr's just dont contribute much very often. good thing we were drafting him to initially be our #3 wr (1st round is still to high to take a #3 or 4 on the depth chart). i dont expect nothing much out of him till his 3rd year. anything we get from him before that is just gravy.

BlackNGold203
07-23-2006, 03:39 PM
i think the negative of the "experiment" has more to do with the position drafted (wr) and not necessarilly the person drafted to fill it. 1st round wr's just dont contribute much very often. good thing we were drafting him to initially be our #3 wr (1st round is still to high to take a #3 or 4 on the depth chart). i dont expect nothing much out of him till his 3rd year. anything we get from him before that is just gravy.

if he could match El's numbers (35 catches...1 TD)....Id be satisfied....

Haiku_Dirtt
07-23-2006, 08:12 PM
if he could match El's numbers (35 catches...1 TD)....Id be satisfied....

Minus that ridiculous flag-football stunt he pulled in the New England game last year.

"UHHH....HERE HINES YOU TAKE IT!!!"

Black@Gold Forever32
07-23-2006, 08:41 PM
Minus that ridiculous flag-football stunt he pulled in the New England game last year.

"UHHH....HERE HINES YOU TAKE IT!!!"

I remember that when it happened. I looked at my brother in complete shock. I told my brother noway El just did that. That was the bonehead play of the year in my opinion. You look at that play and the two games Tommy dropped and the Steelers really only should have lost two games last year. Oh well we still won the Super Bowl.

Ambridge
07-23-2006, 10:11 PM
As long as Cowher has been in Pittsburgh and as many winning years he's had, who would think coming off a Championship Season is a first for him and he's sailing in uncharted territory??

Man_Of_Steel
07-23-2006, 10:33 PM
Time heals all wounds. Once Ben gets in his groove again, he'll be okay.

SteelCzar76
07-23-2006, 10:58 PM
Honestly the answer is so simple that it's complex. As a player in the League,..you are a professional. A professional understands that last season in it's entirety is,.....the PAST. Antwan, Hope, Kimo and Bussy are GONE. But look at the upside,..(with the exception of Bussy's moral leadership and Charisma),...they will be replaced by players of equal if not more value to the team. (probably moreso in the case of Antwan). This team still has the players to finish the regular season 13-3 or better. It's just a matter of playing with the proper focus. Not too overconfident,....but at the same time,.....not in awe, or "pressured"
by expectations. Every game should be considered a playoff match,..from week one all the way through the postseason. I consider any pessimism on the part of any press,...just need for a "compelling" story or article. LOL


"Hail Caesar,....Hail the Black and Gold"

HometownGal
07-24-2006, 09:05 AM
I don't disagree at all with the writer's opinion. The boat has been rocked a bit by all of the off-season mishaps and drama, as well as losing several key players to FA, but I have no doubt that with the leadership and motivational abilities of Cowher and the coaching staff, this team will come fired up and ready to play every game. Champions rise above adversity and I see the Steelers doing just that. Besides, we have fate on our side - the Steelers have won back to back championships twice before and with the strong nucleus this team possesses, I see no reason why they can't bring that Lombardi back to the Burgh again this season.

Haiku_Dirtt
07-25-2006, 02:00 PM
I remember that when it happened. I looked at my brother in complete shock. I told my brother noway El just did that. That was the bonehead play of the year in my opinion. You look at that play and the two games Tommy dropped and the Steelers really only should have lost two games last year. Oh well we still won the Super Bowl.

And that's what Cincy fan doesn't get. We 'gave' them the division. We should of had the bye.

But like you said oh well. Let's not go changin' anything now.