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Old 02-05-2014, 04:05 AM   #1
Galax Steeler
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Default Starkey: Steelers must rebuild 'Stained Curtain'

By Joe Starkey

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, 10:33 p.m.
Updated 6 hours ago

If you think of it Thursday, take a moment to reflect on the three-year anniversary of a most lamentable passing: the death of the Steelers defense.

Nothing has been the same since Feb. 6, 2011, when Aaron Rodgers tore apart a once-feared unit on his way to Super Bowl XLV MVP.

A lot of us — notably the Steelers themselves — lived in denial the next few years. We should have listened to Warren Sapp, who identified the body after the first game of the following season.

Sapp analyzed the Steelers as such, focusing mainly on their defense: “Old, slow, and it's over.”

The Steelers haven't won a playoff game since. Their defense has faded and frayed like an aging tapestry. By this past season, it had decayed to the point where a new nickname seemed appropriate: The Stained Curtain.

This team has participated in one playoff game since 2010. It didn't go so well. Tim Tebow passed for 316 yards in what surely will go down as the most prolific performance of his brief and sorry NFL career.

The Steelers and many of their fans spent the two post-Super Bowl XLV years hiding behind the NFL's bogus yardage standard for “total defense.”

“We're still No. 1!”

Thing is, they weren't flipping fields or quarterbacks anymore. They weren't scaring anyone. Not even Matt Flynn.

The truth no longer can be denied. The numbers are painfully revealing:

• After leading the NFL with 48 sacks in 2010, the Steelers slipped to 17th, 15th and finally 25th.

• After finishing fifth in interceptions with 21, they have totaled 31 in three seasons.

• After finishing tied for fifth with 14 fumble recoveries in 2010, they have not finished above 15th.

• Their once-impenetrable rush defense plummetedto 21st in the league in 2013. It couldn't even keep up with Ryan Tannehill.

Other than yardage-based figures, the only thing the Steelers have led the league in lately is complaints about the rules changes. The implication being, how are we supposed to play our intimidating brand of football if the league keeps cracking down on head shots?

Here's how: Watch the Seattle Seahawks. That defense is now the one by which all are measured, and it is so far ahead of the Steelers' that you'd need the Hubble Telescope to see it.

The Seahawks are fast, deep and violent. They have role players who'd start for most teams, including the Steelers.

So what happened? What or whom killed the Steelers defense?

The ill-informed want to indict coordinator Dick LeBeau. But you can't blame the chef when the food's gone stale.

The culprits are poor drafts, poor talent evaluation, age and injury.

Start with the drafts. General manager Kevin Colbert, coach Mike Tomlin and their scouts have failed. It's that simple. Their charge was to rebuild an aging defense through the draft, and once you sift through all the Thaddeus Gibsons, Alameda Ta'amus and Crezdon Butlers, you find precious few real players.

The Steelers have no defensive players left from their 2012 draft, save for injured linebacker Sean Spence. The jury remains very much out on last year's first pick, Jarvis Jones, who was brought in to harass quarterbacks but finished with one sack. Twenty-nine rookies had more.

The minute I saw Jones in a jersey, I had one thought: Where's the rest of him?

Another first-round pick, Ziggy Hood (2009), could safely be designated a bust. Depth everywhere is scarce. Things have gotten so bad that the Steelers routinely recycle below-average Arizona Cardinals cornerbacks.

Now look at some of the personnel decisions. Colbert and Tomlin allowed cornerback Keenan Lewis to walk without an offer while retaining Ike Taylor and his exorbitant cap hits. Nose tackle Steve McLendon was signed to a three-year deal before anybody realized that Lloyd McClendon probably has a better body type for the position.

The list goes on.

Is the worst behind them? Nobody can say, though the Steelers could begin to reverse the trend by making the right decisions with the likes of Jason Worilds (keep him), LaMarr Woodley (cut him), Ryan Clark (bye-bye) and Taylor (take less or leave) and by finding some immediate impact players in the draft.

Has anybody told them that rookies are allowed to contribute to NFL defenses?

No, really, it's legal and everything. New England Patriots rookies accounted for 11.5 of their sacks and seven of their interceptions.

The Steelers' cupboard isn't bare by any means. Lawrence Timmons is great. Cam Heyward is on his way. Troy Polamalu can still play.

Jones showed flashes. Worilds showed more than that, although he could become another Lewis-type casualty, which would leave the Steelers stuck with Woodley, who only plays about calf — I mean half — the time.

Best case, they're a long ways from Seattle.

What a sad anniversary.

Read more: http://triblive.com/sports/joestarke...#ixzz2sRNkKDUv
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Old 02-05-2014, 08:19 AM   #2
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Default Re: Starkey: Steelers must rebuild 'Stained Curtain'

This dude is right on the money!!!
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Old 02-05-2014, 08:26 AM   #3
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Default Re: Starkey: Steelers must rebuild 'Stained Curtain'

For the first time in six years, Ben Roethlisberger has adequate help on offense. Sadly, it all came together in time for the defense to fall apart. Hopefully it won't take six years for the defense to get its shit together. Rebuild the secondary and get better in the middle. Jarvis Jones will get better, as will Shamarko Thomas.

It's cliche to blame Bruce Arians for everything, but he's the one who drafted Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Wallace, and thought that Max Starks, Chris Kemoeatu and Willie Colon were anything more than average. He should have been gone after that debacle in Cleveland in 2009. I was a critic before, but he was dead to me then. He wasted five years of Roethlisberger's prime.

The reason the team couldn't get it done without the defense was because the defense was virtually all the help that Roethlisberger had -- and they were never on the field with him. If the defense had an off day, all the Steelers had left were a QB, C and TE. That ain't enough, regardless of how good the QB is.

Three months from now, all but one draft pick should be used on defense. Six months from now, the only defensive starter in his 30's should be Troy Polamalu. I thank Brett Keisel, Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark for all the good memories and the championship runs, but this defense MUST. GET. YOUNGER. NOW.
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Old 02-05-2014, 08:28 AM   #4
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Default Re: Starkey: Steelers must rebuild 'Stained Curtain'

I had exactly the same thought when I saw Jarvis Jones out jogging. Like I've posted before, he has the build of a Safety. If he weighs the 242lbs they claim, he get's weighed with lead in his pockets.

Finally, an article that explains in detail where the issue is, and it isn't Dick LeBeau. You can have the worlds greatest symphony composed, but if your violin section sucks, it's not going to sound real good.
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Old 02-05-2014, 08:51 AM   #5
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Default Re: Starkey: Steelers must rebuild 'Stained Curtain'

I think the success or failure of the Steelers Defense in 2014 depends on several players:

Jarvis Jones
Vince Williams
Shamarko Thomas
Steve McClendon

....and whether or not Worilds is signed before FA begins. Sean Spence could add quality depth to our middle linebacking corps if he is fully recovered.

If these players step up... it will take some pressure off the eventual "inexperienced" Steelers secondary that may have some rookies playing in nickel and dime situations.
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Old 02-05-2014, 09:41 AM   #6
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Default Re: Starkey: Steelers must rebuild 'Stained Curtain'

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galax Steeler View Post

The Steelers and many of their fans spent the two post-Super Bowl XLV years hiding behind the NFL's bogus yardage standard for “total defense.”

“We're still No. 1!”...

Other than yardage-based figures, the only thing the Steelers have led the league in lately is complaints about the rules changes.
Good column, although IMO the rot really set in during 2012

I still think that 2011 team would have made a deep playoff run if they would not have lost a late lead in the home Ravens game, which would have resulted in a #1 seed, or Ben had not injured his ankle on one of his run around until he got hit scrambles against Cleveland.

Either event would have avoided a trip to Denver and allowed Ryan Clark, who had an excellent 2011 season, to play.

My guess is Arians trying to run out the clock by passing in the Ravens game and Ben getting his annual serious injury in the Cleveland game were what led AJRII to tell Tomlin that Arians needed to "retire."

FWIW the 2011 defense was #1 in points allowed, contrary to Starkey's recollection (2010 defense was #2)

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/pit/
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Old 02-05-2014, 09:53 AM   #7
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Default Re: Starkey: Steelers must rebuild 'Stained Curtain'

We'll start generating pressure again if we let Jarvis pass rush instead of dropping him back and blitzing Polamalu. Until then, nothing is going to change. The idea that "complex" in synonymous with "successful" is laughable.
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Old 02-05-2014, 11:10 AM   #8
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Default Re: Starkey: Steelers must rebuild 'Stained Curtain'

Quote:
The ill-informed want to indict coordinator Dick LeBeau. But you can't blame the chef when the food's gone stale.
yep yep yep...

father time has supposedly caught up with him and he has forgotten everything he knows.

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Old 02-05-2014, 11:43 AM   #9
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Default Re: Starkey: Steelers must rebuild 'Stained Curtain'

Lebeau is tied to players like Ike. Ike should be jettisoned so that Lebeau is forced to play the younger players. He's stuck on playing the older "adequate" players. Ike, Clark and Keisel thank you for your service.
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Old 02-05-2014, 11:55 AM   #10
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Default Re: Starkey: Steelers must rebuild 'Stained Curtain'

Quote:
Originally Posted by fer522 View Post
This dude is right on the money!!!
THIS!
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