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An important history lesson for you TRUE Steelers fans!

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Old 11-10-2006, 04:09 PM   #1
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Default It's time for Cowher, Steelers to part ways

It's time for Cowher, Steelers to part ways
Michael David Smith / FootballOutsiders.com


This is not one of those "fire the coach" columns, the kind you see every year in cities where the football team starts 2-6.

This is not a vitriol-fueled screed against a coach who has failed miserably. This is simply an argument that the relationship between Bill Cowher and the Pittsburgh Steelers has run its course.

The Steelers are 2-6, and just as he succeeded brilliantly in leading his team to the championship last season, Cowher has come up short this season. His mistakes this year have included:

# In the Week 2 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cowher put Ben Roethlisberger back under center even though he was still ailing from a preseason appendectomy and even though backup Charlie Batch had played well in Week 1. Roethlisberger threw the game away with two interceptions and just 142 passing yards, and the Steelers lost 9-0.

# In the Week 3 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Cowher kept Ricardo Colclough on the field as his punt returner despite Colclough's well-known butterfingers. Colclough's muffed punt set up the touchdown that gave the Bengals a lead they never relinquished.

# In the Week 7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Cowher wasted Pittsburgh's second-half timeouts, first by throwing his red flag to challenge a play that was clearly ruled correctly on the field, then by trying to ice Atlanta's kicker before a late field goal attempt. At the end of regulation, Pittsburgh had the ball in field goal range but couldn't stop the clock to get the kicking unit on the field. Pittsburgh lost in overtime.

# In the Week 8 loss to the Oakland Raiders, Cowher again put Roethlisberger in the lineup when he shouldn't have, this time only a week after Roethlisberger suffered a concussion in Atlanta. A dazed-looking Big Ben threw four interceptions while the healthy Batch (who, just as he had in Week 1, played brilliantly in relief of Roethlisberger in Atlanta) stood on the sidelines.

With better decision-making in those four instances, the Steelers could be 6-2 instead of 2-6. Even if things had gone their way in just half of those games, the Steelers would be 4-4 and right in the wild-card mix. At 2-6 they're playing out the string. Cowher was the toast of the NFL just nine months ago, and these mistakes don't indicate that Cowher has somehow forgotten how to coach. In fact, in-game tactical decisions have never been Cowher's strength. The genius of Cowher has always been the way players respond to him. Joey Porter, for instance, has the type of personality that on another team could turn into a Terrell Owens-type distraction. But that hasn't happened in Pittsburgh because Cowher knows how to get players with personalities that might otherwise clash to work together toward a shared goal.

This year's mistakes do indicate that he could use some time off to recharge his batteries, though. Cowher has looked less passionate and less engaged at times this season, and when he has shown emotion, it has often been misplaced. After the Steelers ran out of time in the fourth quarter in Atlanta, Cowher spent much of the period before overtime chewing out an official who had correctly called a penalty on his team. That contrasts sharply with how he acted in last year's playoff game against Indianapolis. On that day, the referee really did screw up by negating a crucial Troy Polamalu interception, but instead of complaining about the bad call, Cowher gathered his players on the sideline and told them to focus only on what they could control. Pittsburgh won, and that became Cowher's defining moment. If he can't coach the team this year the way he did in Indianapolis, Cowher ought to walk away from Pittsburgh. If he chooses not to, Steelers owner Dan Rooney should fire him.


Rooney, however, won't do that. Loyalty is important to Rooney, just as it was to his father, Art Rooney, who founded the franchise. It's no accident that Cowher, who became the Steelers' head coach in 1992, is the league's longest-tenured coach. Rooney gave Cowher a three-year contract extension in 2000, at a time that many thought he should have been fired because the Steelers were enduring a three-year stretch without making the playoffs. The Rooney family wouldn't have it any other way. Before Cowher came along, Chuck Noll coached the team for 23 seasons. When the Rooneys find a coach they like, they don't get rid of him. (Continuity has also been the hallmark of the college team 150 miles away in State College -- Penn State hired Joe Paterno three years before the Steelers hired Noll.)

But while Rooney will almost certainly not end the relationship, Cowher could. Cowher grew up less than five miles from the site where Heinz Field now stands, which would seem to make Pittsburgh the perfect place for him. But he left Pittsburgh to play football at North Carolina State, and he met his wife there. The Cowhers recently bought a home in North Carolina, and his wife and youngest daughter have already left Pittsburgh to live there.

Cowher's contract expires after the 2007 season. Speculation mounted that Cowher was thinking about leaving back in August when he and the Steelers said they had halted negotiations to extend his contract. This is the first time since Pittsburgh hired him that Cowher has coached with less than two full seasons remaining on his deal. One of his favorite former players, Jerome Bettis, said during the preseason that he thought Cowher was entering his final campaign as Pittsburgh's coach, and while Cowher said he was upset that Bettis made that statement publicly, he didn't entirely rule out the idea that he would leave after the season.

If Cowher quits, he'll leave the Steelers in good hands. An often-overlooked aspect of Cowher's career is how many high-quality assistants he has groomed. Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis is a former Cowher assistant, as are former NFL head coaches Jim Haslett, Dom Capers, Chan Gailey and Dick LeBeau. Two of his current assistants, offensive line coach Russ Grimm and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, are often mentioned as possible head-coaching candidates, and either one would make sense if the Steelers need a new coach in 2007. And although their record doesn't reflect it, this is a talented team. There's no reason they couldn't be Super Bowl contenders again next year.

And there's no reason the 49-year-old Cowher couldn't get another Super Bowl ring with another team. Fifteen years is a long time to work the kinds of hours that NFL coaches work, and he'll be a better coach in the long run if he takes some time off now. If he had known then what he knows now, is there any doubt that Cowher would have walked away in February, fresh off his Super Bowl title? There's no shame in doing it a year too late.

On an NFL Network commercial that aired last summer, Cowher joked that he wanted to start his own television show, "The Bill Cowher Power Hour," which would feature, he said, "A little comedy and a little weightlifting." Cowher would be great on TV, and that's where he should go next. After a year or two in the studio, he'll be recharged and ready to lead another team to the Super Bowl.

http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/6150854?FSO1&ATT=HMA

Last edited by holmes; 11-10-2006 at 04:12 PM.
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Old 11-10-2006, 11:56 PM   #2
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Default Re: It's time for Cowher, Steelers to part ways

mr. m. smith seems pretty ignorant
Quote:
Originally Posted by holmes View Post
# In the Week 2 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cowher put Ben Roethlisberger back under center even though he was still ailing from a preseason appendectomy and even though backup Charlie Batch had played well in Week 1. Roethlisberger threw the game away with two interceptions and just 142 passing yards, and the Steelers lost 9-0.
perhaps cowher shouldve just sat ben the whole year for his bike accident and appendectomy. theres always next year

# In the Week 3 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Cowher kept Ricardo Colclough on the field as his punt returner despite Colclough's well-known butterfingers. Colclough's muffed punt set up the touchdown that gave the Bengals a lead they never relinquished.
perhaps cowher shouldve inserted santonio "ive fumbled 5 times" holmes or another rookie with less skill. anyone remember haynes fumble or bens int's?

# In the Week 7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Cowher wasted Pittsburgh's second-half timeouts, first by throwing his red flag to challenge a play that was clearly ruled correctly on the field, then by trying to ice Atlanta's kicker before a late field goal attempt. At the end of regulation, Pittsburgh had the ball in field goal range but couldn't stop the clock to get the kicking unit on the field. Pittsburgh lost in overtime.
icing the kicker actually worked right? throwing the flag on dunns td was the wrong call but what put the falcons that close to scoring position? not bill.

# In the Week 8 loss to the Oakland Raiders, Cowher again put Roethlisberger in the lineup when he shouldn't have, this time only a week after Roethlisberger suffered a concussion in Atlanta. A dazed-looking Big Ben threw four interceptions while the healthy Batch (who, just as he had in Week 1, played brilliantly in relief of Roethlisberger in Atlanta) stood on the sidelines.
so sitting the franchise player and starting the back up the whole season is the answer? what coach does that? what if batch had preformed just as poorly?
ahhhh. the life of an armchair qb.
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Old 11-11-2006, 12:13 AM   #3
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Default Re: It's time for Cowher, Steelers to part ways

Quote:
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mr. m. smith seems pretty ignorant

ahhhh. the life of an armchair qb.
Indeed. It's pretty easy to pick on a 2-6 team. There has been speculation about Cowher all year, and now this guy comes out with this article?

-Mike
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Old 11-11-2006, 12:17 AM   #4
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Default Re: It's time for Cowher, Steelers to part ways

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Indeed. It's pretty easy to pick on a 2-6 team. There has been speculation about Cowher all year, and now this guy comes out with this article?

-Mike
this article was some long winded bs that helped the author keep his job by fulfilling his weekly quota of letter count for a published piece.

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Old 11-11-2006, 01:23 AM   #5
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Default Re: It's time for Cowher, Steelers to part ways

Personally I think he took too much Robitusin cough syrup the morning that he sat down and wrote this drivel. Arm Chair Quaterback is right.
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Old 11-11-2006, 04:22 AM   #6
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Default Re: It's time for Cowher, Steelers to part ways

Honestly, there is only one place where he really got it right...

Quote:
Cowher has looked less passionate and less engaged at times this season, and when he has shown emotion, it has often been misplaced.
Outside of that line... well, my dogs could have written the article.
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Old 11-11-2006, 07:01 AM   #7
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Default Re: It's time for Cowher, Steelers to part ways

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this article was some long winded bs that helped the author keep his job by fulfilling his weekly quota of letter count for a published piece.

Exactly, Tony. Cowher is one of the most successful coaches in the NFL, his team has a couple of errant bad seasons including 2006, and this chowderhead has nothing better to do than smear his diarrhea using a keyboard? Cowher is going to retire when Cowher is READY to retire and not a minute before.
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Old 11-11-2006, 07:30 AM   #8
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Default Re: It's time for Cowher, Steelers to part ways

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Exactly, Tony. Cowher is one of the most successful coaches in the NFL, his team has a couple of errant bad seasons including 2006, and this chowderhead has nothing better to do than smear his diarrhea using a keyboard? Cowher is going to retire when Cowher is READY to retire and not a minute before.
Unfortunately, I think that minute arrived on a podium in Detroit last February
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Old 11-11-2006, 07:38 AM   #9
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Default Re: It's time for Cowher, Steelers to part ways

I have to admit that I thought this was a pretty well written, concise article.

The main thrust behind the article seemed to be that Cowher and the Steelers have an excellent working relationship down the years - Rooney has shown faith and Cowher has repayed that faith by making the Steelers one of the consistent elite in the NFL - as well as the all important ring.

The points he breaks down where Cowher has gone wrong this year I mostly agree with - playing Ben in week 2 was not a bad idea but starting him again against Oakland after a concussion was a poor decision.

The risk/reward of getting Ben game-fit was acceptable in week2 - but against Oakland it clearly wasn't - the Steelers really didnt need Ben to play that game - Batch (or just about any other back-up QB) would have led the Steelers to victory in that game - the result of that game was alot more important that getting Ben back on the saddle.

A week later the effects of the concussion would have been greatly diminished and the Steelers would have been a game better off.

I have drawn attention to the fact that Cowher has never been good at coaching on-the-fly, his strength lies in getting the best out of players who have been meticulously scouted by his team.

I think the author makes a good point with regards the longevity of the previous two coaches - none have been 'fired' by the management - which makes that scenario very unlikely - however 'behind closed doors' Rooney could let Cowher know its time for a new face.

As far as judgement calls like the throwing of challenge flags and calling timeouts - attention is only drawn to those decisions because of Cowhers failings in other areas.

Does anyone really see this team rebounding back to the SB next year after all the bad habits they have picked up this year with Cowher still in charge?

I think it needs a new guy to re-establish authority over this team - who follow his orders when he says there are going to be no more penalties for celebration.

There are still plenty of excellent elements to this this Steelers squad - a new guy with a fresh perspective would be the one to get the most out of them.

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The Patriots didn't bother with swagger to start this NFL season; they went straight to defiant. Either you're one of them or you're about to get crushed.
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Old 11-11-2006, 07:55 AM   #10
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Default Re: It's time for Cowher, Steelers to part ways

LITP - in terms of rebounding, I believe Cowher can do it if he has the fire to do so.

When Cowher did come close to being fired after the 1999 season, that season ended with a horrible game at Three Rivers against the Titans in which the Steelers not only lost but a Steelers receiver (it certainly was not Ward and I do not believe it was Edwards) who scored a TD late in a blowout loss took off his jersey in the end zone to show off a Superman T- shirt he was wearing. In terms of Cowher's most undisciplined/underperfoming team, the 1999 team is still the champ. However, in 2000, after a slow start and a screwed up experiment with Kent Graham at QB for several games the Steelers ended up with a winning record and then built on that season for their success this decade as Cowher's teams went to the playoffs 4 out of teh next 5 years after a 3 year absence.

Again, in 2003, the Steelers got away from ball control on offense and pressure defense to finish 6-10. We all know how the next 2 seasons turned out.

The question is whether Cowher is at a stage where he is commited to coaching for several more years. If he only comes back for 2007, that indicates to me he is playing out the string and should leave after this year. If he signs up for a new multi-year contract, that probably will not have a positive impact on his off the field life, which in turn could impact his focus on the field.

It is tough to speculate, but unless Cowher is in the process of making a big change in his life away from football I think he should bring his life with the Steelers to a close after this season.
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