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Old 12-24-2012, 03:03 PM   #1
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Default How to Reload - Not Rebuild - This Team

We're treading in unfamiliar waters, here. We're not in the playoffs - we're not competing in the tournament. We're out. It's unacceptable, it's ridiculous and it's just disheartening that we're not going to have the opportunity to play for our 7th title this year. There's been talk around these boards about the possibility of "starting over" and "rebuilding" this team - that's nonsense. We, as Steelers fans, have to realize that we don't rebuild - we reload. We're going to do the same thing this offseason, all we need to do is take the correct steps and we'll have that 7th title next year, but we can't keep going backward. This is how we have to do it.

We Need a New Gameplan

We have all the receiving talent in the world, but we're not using them effectively or in a way that gives us the best chance to win. They're fast, quick and can make a play on the ball - an opportunity they weren't given this year. I understand the need to keep Ben safe and healthy to extend his career, but he's not made of glass - he can take a hit. With the amount of high picks we've spent on this offensive line and their production and improvement, we can afford to have Ben sit in the pocket and find an open receiver somewhere.

Haley's critical error this offseason was making the team - more importantly, the receivers - adjust to his gameplan instead of gameplanning around the talent he already had at his disposal. This team could have easily had three receivers go for over 1000 yards (Manny, Mikey and AB) and Ben could have thrashed and torn up opposing secondaries. Those three, combined with Heath on the underneath and acting as a safety blanket for Roethlisberger, could have been the best receiving core in the NFL. This passing attack could have been top 5 in the league, but instead, we opted to rely heavily on the "Steelers football" mantra and use Dwyer and Redman - often times ineffectively and not efficiently. This was, ultimately, what went wrong with the offense this year. You can pin it on injuries and the lack of a rushing attack - both are valid arguments - but to not use the speed and talent of our receivers was a huge, huge mistake.

We Don't Have a Legitimate Running Back on This Roster - Period.

Here's a riddle: what do Mendenhall, Dwyer and Redman all have in common? No, don't think about it, here's the answer - they're not franchise running backs. The closest one we have has a bad attitude and was benched because of his lack of ball control. Redman and Dwyer are both out of shape and aren't capable or worthy of being a number one back in this league. Ultimately, when it comes right down to it, they're both short-yardage backs that are being used as number one's, which is a mistake. It's time to stop the mantra of "run it up the middle like Bettis!". The amount of frustration and anger that brings me when people say that can't typed into words - we don't need another Jerome Bettis. This isn't 2005, we need a running back like LeSean McCoy or Adrian Peterson. Someone that has the ability to play 'smashmouth' (for lack of a better word) but has the speed, talent and ability to bounce it outside and make a big play when we need it most. Jonathan Dwyer, or Captain 3 yards, isn't capable of bouncing it outside. He's out of shape and inconsistent at best and lacks the ability to make any big plays. Sure, he had a couple of 100 yard games but hadn't done anything before or after these games.

We need to acquire one via trade, free agency or the draft. I'm not talking about trading for a Shonn Greene, either. Someone like Ben Tate from the Texans or Knile Davis through the draft would at least give us someone that can make a play - something we're lacking desperately right now. Ben didn't have a running back all year that he could confidently say 'this guy will make it 2nd-and-6' on first down. How many times early on in the year did Ben have to make magic happen on third down to extend a drive? How many times did Ben have to scramble, pump fake (usually three times) and then scramble again to find someone 15 yards down field on 3rd-and-8 to extend a drive? A legitimate running back wouldn't force Ben to make magic and have to pull a David Copperfield in order to extend a drive three times.

Get Rid of Dead Weight ...

We have guys on this defense that are one of three things: a) underachieving, b) are too old to contribute or c) playing beyond their level and overachieving.

All 11 guys, and most second-stringers too, can be lumped into that category. Guys like Troy, Harrison, Hampton and Keisel can be lumped into multiple categories - neither of them are good. The lack of leadership with those guys on the roster is inexcusable. What are they on the roster for if they aren't providing that voice in the locker room to help the younger guys develop and spark the team? What, exactly, are they doing on this roster? Their play this year didn't earn them a roster spot - their name did. They were outplayed, and often quite obviously, by the younger guys on the roster. Troy didn't get a pick or forced fumble all year long and often times, wasn't affecting the play or forcing the quarterback to look another way just by his presence. They weren't scared of him like they were a few years back and it's showing. Harrison, Hampton and Keisel generated very little pressure all year long and their ages are showing through as well. It's been so disappointing to see Harrison fall so far in just a single year after the decade of solid, ass-kicking play he's had. It's time for these guys to set off for greener pastures.

These guys have been excellent for a decade, but their play has fallen off enough for younger guys to get their shot. It's been fun, guys. You'll always be respected around Steeler Nation, but it's time to watch the younger guys play from the comfort of your own home.

... and Let the Younger Guys Play

It's time for the younger guys to play. Heyward, McLendon and Allen have played like their ready for primetime this year. Every time McLendon was on the field he was disrupting the offensive line. He was driving them back and forcing double coverage on almost every play. He has two sacks on the year despite playing 1/10th of the snaps that Hampton did which is telling. He needs to be the starting defensive tackle on the line this year.

Cameron Heyward has been steadily improving as well. He hasn't lived up to his billing as a first round pick, but he hasn't been given the opportunity to do so. He's generated decent pressure on the field, more-so than Keisel did on a consistent basis. He needs to be plugged into the defensive line next year to have our line look something like ..

Heyward - McLendon - Hood

... which can generate pressure, command double-teams and free up guys like LaMarr Woodley on the outside. If this is indeed our defensive line, it'll be solid for many years to come.

We Need to Have the Best Draft in a Decade

This one is perhaps the most important. Not only can we not miss a single pick in the first five rounds, we need those guys to start. Immediately. OLB, FS, SS, ILB and RB - in that order. The defensive talent in this class is un-freaking-believable and it's time to take advantage of that. If we draft correctly and let our younger guys play, we can reload this defense in a single draft. We won't have to worry about positions such as CB until the 2014 draft and could ultimately ease us into the idea that Taylor isn't going to be around forever. However, if we draft younger guys and let them develop this year, we could be looking at a defense that mirrored the 1970's dynasty. Dion Jordan, TJ McDonald, Robert Lester and Nico Johnson would instantly improve this defense and allow the guys we already have (Woodley and Timmons, I'm looking right at you) to play up to their potential. These guys are being used ineffectively in a scheme that doesn't work anymore for this team. Nico Johnson allows Timmons to blitz on almost every down while McDonald and Lester are fast and agile enough to take on TE's and WRs. Dion Jordan would command double-teams in his rookie year, which frees up Woodley to be in a one-on-one situation. I'll take LaMarr in a one-on-one every game, please.

I'm not asking too much, here. I'm asking for us to throw out the book on our "best player available" mantra and decisively pick positions to fix. The infusion of youth on this team will bring us back to a championship. That, I have no doubt.

Change the Defensive Scheme

No more playing 10 yards off the receiver and giving up 8 yard throws on every play. No more Cover 2 on every single down. Let our CBs play press and 'backers get to the quarterback - something they're best at. Implement an aggressive and attacking defense that uses Lawrence Timmons effectively. That has to be the biggest part and change of this defense - let's use our best linebacker effectively. Timmons this year showed why we took him in the first round and played like he did at Florida State. Using him to cover receivers instead of blowing up the offensive line and disrupting the play is a mistake. I can't pin this on LeBeau, though - Foote is just too old and slow to cover anyone in the middle. Drafting Nico Johnson or using Spence fixes this problem.

This is how we have to let our defense play. Stop masking the problems of our defense and settling for the players we have, let's go out and get the correct player and have an attacking defense - one the league is afraid to play against again. It'd be nice to have a defense that knows how to generate turnovers and get sacks.

Be Aggressive With Our Own Signings

We have to resign some of our own free agents. The ones that jump to my mind immediately are Keenan Lewis, Emmanuel Sanders and Mike Wallace. Before the hissy fits start, Mike Wallace is our best wide receiver right now. While he had a down year, he was trying to fit into a system that wasn't correct for him. It was a square peg, round hole type of situation and that was the problem. Mike Wallace is capable of being a great wide receiver who, because of a few drops, is getting demonized and crucified on these boards. If we offer him a 5 year / 52.5 million dollar deal, he should accept it. He might get more elsewhere, but I don't think the total contract money was the problem - it was the guaranteed money which they'll negotiate and eventually come to an agreement on. Mike Wallace should come back to Pittsburgh.

That's all I could think of for the moment. I know it's long and I know it's quite the read, but I hope you guys read it and we can have a logical discussion about it - whether you agree or not. Let's hope the Steelers address these issues and build a dynasty again for us to cheer on next year.

Merry Christmas Eve, Guys.
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Old 12-24-2012, 03:42 PM   #2
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Default Re: How to Reload - Not Rebuild - This Team

21 Players That Might Be Playing Their Last Game As Steelers Next Week

Monday, December 24th, 2012 by Dave Bryan

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 season will officially come to an end next Sunday and with that comes the reality that several players might be playing their final game in the black and gold. We will dive into free agency deeper once the season is officially over but here is a quick synopsis of those players.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

QB Charlie Batch - Batch is 38 years old now and will be wrapping up his 10th year with the Steelers next Sunday. His win over the Baltimore Ravens back in Week 13 was the last win the Steelers have on the books right now and it would be a hell of a way to go out. The only way Batch does return would be on another one-year qualifying contract for the veteran minimum but that decision is a long, long ways off from now. They need to get younger at the backup position.

NT Casey Hampton - The Steelers 2001 first-round draft pick took a pay cut to stay this season and the only way he returns for one more year is if the Steelers deem Alameda Ta'amu a bust. Steve McLendon will be back as a restricted free agent and it is time to get younger. If Hampton is back it will be on a one-year qualifying contract for the veteran minimum. Don't rule that out as a possibility.

WR Plaxico Burress - We hardly got to reacquaint ourselves with Burress, who has been inactive for the last two games. He is as good as gone and not expected to be back next season.

LB Larry Foote - Foote is 32.5 years old and Sean Spence is waiting in the wings. If Foote is asked back it would be on a one-year qualifying contract like the others above. He might just decide to call it a career just the same.

QB Byron Leftwich - Leftwich just can't stay healthy and the Steelers need more dependability in their backups. If Batch is not back again as the No. 3 quarterback then Leftwich has a shot to fill that role at a minimum price once again. It will likely be an either or with those two or quite possibly neither. Like Batch, that decision likely wont be made until June.

S Will Allen - Allen plugged the hole at safety for a little while with Troy Polamalu sidelined, but his long relationship with head coach Mike Tomlin might finally have to come to an end.

T Max Starks - Starks was the Steelers iron man this year on offense as he heads into the final week of the season with the distinction of being the only player on offense to play every snap this year. If Starks is brought back next year it would be on another one-year deal similar to the one he got this past season. That's not totally out of the question to happen, but he is on the wrong side of 30, however. He deserves a tip of the hat this season.

LS Greg Warren - Is this finally it for Warren? The front office certainly will not be pleased with that bad snap that led to the missed field goal on Sunday. They can pay two rookies for what his minimum will be so it might very well be time for a younger and cheaper long snapper.

TE Leonard Pope - Goodbye big boy. Man, he really is tall.

LB Brandon Johnson - I bet you thought he was already gone. Those were two expensive special team penalties.

RB Rashard Mendenhall - He wants out of Pittsburgh and there is a team out there willing to pay him and put up with his state of mind. No conspiracy theories here. He is gone. At least they will get a 2014 compensatory pick for him.

G Ramon Foster - Foster really had a good season and is very versatile. He is so versatile that Bruce Arians might persuade the Indianapolis Colts to sign him. He is certain to get some offers in free agency and thus likely might be gone.

C/G Doug Legursky - He is a backup center with game experience so he might get an offer or two very late in free agency. The Colts maybe? The Arizona Cardinals? It is hard to see him returning right now unless it is for the minimum and for one year.

CB Keenan Lewis - It is too bad he bloomed so late. This one will be a tough one to lose but you have to think Lewis will get plenty attention on the free agent market. I will keep my fingers crossed, but I won't hold my breath that he will be back.

S Ryan Mundy - The only way he is back is to compete at training camp on a one-year minimum. He will not garner interest n the free agent market so there is a slight chance he might make it back to Latrobe for camp. Longshot, but not out of the question.

WR Mike Wallace - The only way Wallace is back is if he is franchised but the Steelers would be strapped cap wise if they did that. Never say never, but it is looking like they will let the screen door hit him in the backside and collect a 2014 compensatory pick.

CB Justin King - We never really knew you. Maybe he gets some snaps against the Browns to show he is worth another one-year deal for the minimum. Ah, who am I kidding? He's gone.

UNDER CONTRACT NEXT SEASON

DE Brett Keisel - Keisel is still under contract for 2013, but the Steelers need to find out what they have in Cameron Heyward, who will be entering his third season. Should "The Beard" be released he will clear $2.825 million in cap space. Being as 2013 will be his final season there is always a chance that they ask him to take a pay cut like Hampton did this past offseason, but that would only save around $1.8 million or so at the most.

LB James Harrison - Harrison has two years left on his contract but his bad knees and $10.035 million cap hit will make him hard to keep. Pay cut you say? Don't bet on it as it would have to be a huge one and a restructure is most definitely out of the question. I called this one prior to the start of this season. Wear your No. 92 jersey on Sunday as a sign of respect. He was one hell of a player.

G Willie Colon - Colon has been on injured reserve the last three seasons after being a picture of health prior to that. They Steelers only save $1.2 million by cutting him prior to June 1st but they have the option of cutting him loose early with a post June 1st designation that will save them $5.5 million in 2013, but cost them $4.3 million in 2014 as a dead money hit.

WR Jerricho Cotchery - How big of turnover is coming at this position? There is a cool $1 million to be saved by cutting Cotchery.

NOT GOING ANYWHERE

S Troy Polamau -Unless Polamalu decides to retire you can bank on him giving it a go one more season.

CB Ike Taylor - If indeed they lose Lewis via free agency they need Taylor to play across from Cortez Allen. Like Polamalu, he will be here one more season.

S Ryan Clark - Like Polamalu and Taylor, the Steelers need some stability in the secondary for one more season.

http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/12...ers-next-week/
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Old 12-24-2012, 04:17 PM   #3
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Default Re: How to Reload - Not Rebuild - This Team

Thanks for the post, Hawaii. I hope that gives everyone a very accurate and up-to-date list on everyone we could potentially keep and let go.
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Old 12-24-2012, 04:23 PM   #4
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Default Re: How to Reload - Not Rebuild - This Team

My hope is be able to keep K Lewis and Wallace.
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Old 12-24-2012, 04:31 PM   #5
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Default Re: How to Reload - Not Rebuild - This Team

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Haley's critical error this offseason was making the team - more importantly, the receivers - adjust to his gameplan instead of gameplanning around the talent he already had at his disposal.
Have to disagree here. For 2 reasons.

1. Haley continually said he gameplans to his players strengths and I believe him when he says it. None of us are on the inside seeing it but I really liked what Haley did with the offense. Take away very poor execution and we probably have the offense you are talking about. Ben had one of the best TD/INT ratios in the league this year and I believe took less sacks than usual.

2. There was likely pressure from above for Haley to skew his plays, if he did at all. Keep in mind Rooney initially said Ben has to play different or whatever. You can't really tell Rooney know.

So IF it were on Haley (which I totally disagree with anyway), some of that has to be put on Rooney. Or likely does.

Quote:
We Don't Have a Legitimate Running Back on This Roster - Period.
Disagree here as well. This is one that can be placed on the coaching decisions and one of the worst run blocking lines in football.

I think the number 1 issue was the coaching decisions. We had the running back by committee shit that just doesn't work. You need RB's to get into rythm. After that was a very bad run blocking line. Without improving those 2 things, it wouldn't matter if we had AP or AF. I guess you could also point out how Tomlin treated our RB's. Which was pretty shitty and not consistent with how he treated players at other positions.

As for not having a legit back, you are way wrong on that as I have proven to you in other threads already. But I will repeat why you are wrong here. Redman is the guy.

Quote:
He has 3 career games with 17 or more carries. The results are as follows:

19 carries for 92 yards with a 4.8 avg and a long of 22.
17 carries for 121 yards with a 7.1 avg and a long of 32 (playoff game).
26 carries for 146 yards with a 5.6 avg and a long of 28.

So he is 3 for 3 with good games as a "feature" back. Including being able to get a splash play in each. He is our best blocking black, can catch out of the backfield and is a menace in short yardage situations which also makes him a menace at the goalline. He wears down defenses and never goes down on the first tackle. I am not sure I remember a back with more fight than this guy has. And looking at the numbers above his best game was a playoff game, so we know he can do it on the big stage.

So answer me this. What isn't to like? Inconsistent running behind an inconsistent line with an inconsistent amount of carries? I agree. I don't like that either but that is on the coaches.

Everyone here is calling for a feature back when we have a guy right under our noses.

So what arguments are going to be made.

1. He gets injured. He had 1 injury this year that kept him out of one game. Compared to Mendenall who we all know the results of his injury.

2. He is too slow. Really? Is that why he consistently has gains of 20 plus and just 2 games ago broke a 22 yarder to the outside? Yes, he is slow. But so was Hines Ward. So was Jerome Bettis. Being fast doesn't mean being good. It certainly helps but it is far from necessary.

3. He hasn't done it consistently. Well, you can't make that argument until we have seen it. If he is 3 for 3 why is he not getting a shot to be the feature guy? Especially given that he is playoff proven and does it when it counts.


Look, it isn't like I am arguing this because I know the guy and like him. I am arguing facts and stats here. I want any back we have to be successful regardless of who starts. I am just curious why everyone seems to be ignoring what is right in front of them.

Some may wonder why I say 17 carries. Earlier in the season some analyst pointed out how when Ray Rice had 17 or more carries the Ravens won and when less they lost. So I looked at one of the best backs in the league and one from our division which is who we have to compete with most to come up with that number. Keeping that in mind, we won 2 of the 3 games when Redman had 17 or more carries as well. And lets be honest, the one loss was on the defense in OT vs the Broncos.

And if you look around the league the top 8 backs in the league average 17 or more carries per game
So if you are going to keep talking about us not having a back you need to be able to actually provide counters to the above information.

Quote:
Troy didn't get a pick or forced fumble all year long and often times, wasn't affecting the play or forcing the quarterback to look another way just by his presence. They weren't scared of him like they were a few years back and it's showing.
I think you are way off the mark on Troy. His results were just fine given how much he played. What the concern is with him, is staying injury free. So yeah, include him on the list but do it with the more important reasoning. Hell, we just saw him vs the Bengals making critical plays.

Quote:
Harrison, Hampton and Keisel generated very little pressure all year long and their ages are showing through as well. It's been so disappointing to see Harrison fall so far in just a single year after the decade of solid, ass-kicking play he's had. It's time for these guys to set off for greener pastures.
I mostly agree here. Again, Harrison though, is more about injury.

This is one spot I thought we needed to get some depth in the off season and get younger at. D-line and LB.

Quote:
He has two sacks on the year despite playing 1/10th of the snaps that Hampton did which is telling. He needs to be the starting defensive tackle on the line this year.
I don't think you can really compare them like that. Hamptons thing has always been blowing up or stuffing the run which he still did well this year. He comes out on third down (sack down) and always has.

I am not against younger guys getting their shot but again, I think you are taking bad angles to try and prove your points.

Quote:
This one is perhaps the most important. Not only can we not miss a single pick in the first five rounds, we need those guys to start. Immediately. OLB, FS, SS, ILB and RB - in that order.
While I don't think it is as crucial as you make it sound, I think I mostly agree with your list here. We absolutely need new guys at the first 3 spots. The latter 2.....Well, I guess we are strong in enough places that those 2 work. Troy and Clark definitely need some replacements for the future. Mundy sucks.

Change the Defensive Scheme

Quote:
No more playing 10 yards off the receiver and giving up 8 yard throws on every play. No more Cover 2 on every single down. Let our CBs play press and 'backers get to the quarterback - something they're best at.
Can't fully agree here since our pass coverage was pretty effective this year. Number 1 in yards given up IIRC. I think a good mix works just fine. Now if they need 8 yards we certainly shouldn't be playing 10 yards off. In any case I am excited about the improvement from our CB's.

Quote:
Mike Wallace is our best wide receiver right now. While he had a down year, he was trying to fit into a system that wasn't correct for him.
I am starting to think you don't even watch the games buddy. Our best receiver is easily Antonio Brown. It really isn't even close. I am not saying that because Wallace had an off year or anything and I am still happy with him as our WR, but Brown is our best. That isn't even including his PR capability as well as far as overall value is concerned.

Quote:
Merry Christmas Eve, Guys.
Same to you.

And I know I get a bit rough in the debates but I feel it makes for better discussion. Let me know if you have a problem with a way I am saying certain things and I will try and moderate my tone. I know you and I have had some debates already so I don't want you to think I am targeting you or anything.
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Old 12-24-2012, 04:38 PM   #6
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Default Re: How to Reload - Not Rebuild - This Team

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Same to you. And I know I get a bit rough in the debates but I feel it makes for better discussion. Let me know if you have a problem with a way I am saying certain things and I will try and moderate my tone. I know you and I have had some debates already so I don't want you to think I am targeting you or anything.
Absolutely not. We debate in a very similar manner which is a good thing, I suppose. I never once thought you were singling me out or anything, we just have different points of view on a lot of things regarding the team, but that's what makes this discussion interesting.

Have no fear, I'll be back with all my will to try and disprove your points!

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Old 12-24-2012, 05:22 PM   #7
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This team could have easily had three receivers go for over 1000 yards (Manny, Mikey and AB) and Ben could have thrashed and torn up opposing secondaries.
Disagree COMPLETELY.


There is a reason Heath was the #2 receiver on this squad.

The Steelers have a bunch of slot receivers and a straight line speed guy (Wallace) with average hands.

The idea that the Steelers don't need a first or a second round level receiver as their #1 receiving option is a joke.
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Old 12-24-2012, 05:28 PM   #8
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With the 14th pick in the NFL draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select...
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Old 12-24-2012, 05:38 PM   #9
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With the 14th pick in the NFL draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select...
Manti Te'o from Punahou HS and the University of Notre Dame...
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Old 12-24-2012, 06:06 PM   #10
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Manti Te'o from Punahou HS and the University of Notre Dame...
The football gods dropped DeCastro to us - there's no way they let Te'o fall to us too.
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