Join Date: Oct 2011
Member Number: 19023
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If you want to read something lucid and rational, (albeit slightly long), read this
Hey Steeler Nation, as an aspiring journalist and Steeler diehard I'd like to write down my comprehensive thoughts about the season where we can talk about it as a whole, rather than in bits and pieces on other threads. It's a tad long, but I think that you will enjoy it if you take 10 minutes to read and respond. Thanks, and any feedback is appreciated!
It's always baffled me to read and hear some of the vitriol that fans spew at the players on their favorite team. This season alone, I've heard both Casey Hampton and Lamarr Woodley be referred to as "fat and lazy", Ike Taylor be continually ripped while he continues to be our number one cornerback for the umpteenth season, and calling for the head and incessant criticism of a coach who has led us to the same amount of Super Bowls as Bill Cowher (now fondly remembered as the patron saint of championships, not the man who was hung when he lost 4 AFC championship games at home in 11 seasons, with nary a ring to show for it.)
Dick Lebeau has been dismissed as old and having lost his touch, with no regard for the fact that he is one of the greatest at his craft in the history of football, or that - hello - the defense was ranked FIRST in the league this season AGAIN. Now, in the case of this year's team that was not and indictator of dominance (as it was in the 2008 season, when all 3 players I mentioned were entrenched as starters on a defense on par with some of the best of all time.) It still counts for something, however, because last I checked the limitation of an opponent's offensive yards is a defense's job in its simplest terms.
My respect and fondness for these players and coaches who have done a lot for this franchise in terms of continuing the Steeler tradition of excellence does not mean I don't get pissed off during games. I do. A lot, just like the rest of you. I believe that we need to figure out where Ben's clutch gene has gone, because 3 games lost by way of disasterous interception is not acceptable. Regardless, on the whole he had a fine season and we still possess a top-6 quarterback in generally his prime. I hope that he and Haley will strengthen what looks to be a shaky rapport currently, as they prepare for their second season together.
Our offensive line may be much improved in 2013, with the development of rookies Decastro and Adams, and the return of perennial Pro Bowler Pouncey, plus the promising young Marcus Gilbert. Kelvin Beachum may also be a player to keep an eye on after a fairly effective performance when pressed into duty at several points this season. Max Starks? Will probably be back in some capacity. He always is.
It may be that the Steeler running back of the future is not on this roster. Rashard Mendenhall, it seems, may have worn out his welcome. Issac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer both have had their moments, but also too many inconsistencies, but I suspect one or both will be back next season. Still waiting for a TD on a return from Chris Rainey, and I see it happening eventually.
Mike Wallace is likely out the door, or perhaps back at a discount after a somewhat lackluster season, which wouldn't be the worst thing. He, Brown, and Sanders still make a potentially top young wide receiving corps if kept intact. For the sake of all of us, let's pray that Heath's ravaged knee heals up after a sad end to a season which saw him become the receiver we all knew he was.
Todd Haley's offense was extremely hindered by losing Big Ben for that 2-game stretch during which he almost certainly would have won one or both games, and that is understandable. The highlight of the season, however, was the sadly wasted improbable victory at Baltimore with ol' Chazz Batch still somehow at the helm after all these years, in what was perhaps his Steeler curtain call. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him back in the 'Burgh as a coach soon.
On the defensive side of the ball, Ike Taylor continued to be an underrated and undeservedly scorned player, both for his ability to lock down number-one receivers and his overlooked role as a fiery defensive leader. Our secondary looked fairly lost without him these last few games. Troy Polamalu's season was essentially lost from the start, although it was encouraging to see him coming up with a big sack Sunday.
James Harrison's season was also hampered by injury, and it will be interesting to see if he is back next season. Same goes for the old war horse Casey Hampton, who along with Brett Keisel too often looked their age as they pushed off the ball against good run defenses. We will likely see some sort of turnover at the spots where our defense as aged, and that also includes you Larry Foote.
Lawrence Timmons shines as a bright spot this season; big plays time and time again and flying to the ball, including big interceptions against Kansas City and Cleveland. He and Ryan Clark were the defensive MVP's in my mind at the points where we played well this season, which did happen, vs. Washington, at Cincinnati and New York, and again in Baltimore. Keenan Lewis was one of the most pleasant surprises of the season, opposite Ike, and Cortez Allen certainly put himself into the conversation with 3 turnovers last Sunday.
Our season, in my mind, was derailed by the injury to Big Ben, which basically stopped us in our tracks at a point where we were just beginning to roll. Whose to say that he wasn't fully healed at the point of his return? Perhaps the offense's rhythm was simply broken and never recovered.
There is no doubt that Mike Tomlin, while undeserving of the "deer-in-headlights" reputation attributed to him by some (I think that's just his face, and he does a good job leading his troops emotionally in my mind ), is on somewhat watch for next season, although to fire him would not be the Steeler way. The eggs laid in the fourth quarter against Tennessee and Oakland were inexcusable, as was the one at home against San Diego. Boneheaded decisions such as the fake field goal in New York and the decision to try to get into the FG range this past Sunday instead of sitting on the ball with 35 seconds left at home will follow him for a while. The multitude of special teams penalties were also a constant sticking point. He still has my full support and respect, but he needs to tighten up the hinges on his attention to detail.
In closing, and thank you if you are still reading: each year I will a rush of sadness when the Steelers season ends. I live for the 16-20 Sundays I get each year when I can fully invest myself in my favorite pasttime for 3 hours. One of the highlights of 2012 for me was jumping up and down at Metlife Stadium with the girlfriend I turned into a rabid Steeler fan (now in year 3) while Issac Redman clinched a victory over the Giants for us with a long run.
Alas, it was not to be this season, after two 12-4 campaigns that included a Super Bowl berth in 2010. I would like to remind everyone that we as Steeler fans have been blessed with a lot of victories, and a couple of championships, over the past decade or so. We're not going to make the playoffs every season unfortunately, and it breaks my heart when we fall short. We will be back next season, revamped and ready to go.
And, for now, the long and sad countdown to next season begins. Looking forward to talking offseason shop.