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Old 11-27-2006, 01:56 PM   #1
MACH1
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Default Champs to Chumps

FROM CHAMPS TO CHUMPS




By DJ Gallo
Special to Page 2

Pittsburgh's reign as NFL champion all but ended Sunday thanks to a 27-0 stomping by the Ravens. At 4-7, all that's left is another week or two and some fancy mathematics to make it official.

But what has caused such a quick and dramatic decline? The last two seasons the Steelers were a combined 31-7 (including the playoffs). Now, with virtually the same personnel, they are just two games behind in the race for the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft.

Not surprisingly, there are many reasons.

Coaching. So Bill Cowher decided to retire after the Super Bowl. That's fine. I understand. But the Steelers should have hired a replacement. It's nice they're trying to honor their legendary coach this season by placing a cardboard cutout of Cowher on the sidelines in memoriam, but the team has obviously suffered because of it. And, really, the cardboard-cutout Cowher is not a very good representation of the man who stalked the Steelers' sideline for 14 years. It is expressionless. It has no passion. It is unaffected by what happens on the field. And heck -- the Steelers could have at least hooked up a $10 garden hose to the cardboard Cowher's mouth with some duct tape so they could make it spit sometimes, you know? A little effort would be nice.

Ben Roethlisberger
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Obviously, the cardboard coach hasn't been teaching proper blocking schemes to Pittsburgh's line.

Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger made playing quarterback in the NFL look easy during his first two seasons. This year? Not so much. What's worse is that it is unclear why he's struggling. And while I hate to resort to clich?s and conventional wisdom, you almost wonder if an old, well-known football saying applies here: "It's tough to play well when you've been hit by a car, had abdominal surgery and been the recipient of a concussion all within a few months." Of course, another well-known saying could be at play here, too: "Act like a tool in a Fathead commercial and karma will get you."

Leadership. Jerome Bettis' on-field performance last season was overrated. But the Steelers miss Bettis' presence in the locker room. He led them with his physical style of play. He led them emotionally. And he led them to the postgame spread, often leaving no food for anyone else. That kept his teammates slim, fit and hungry -- all elements Pittsburgh is lacking this season.

Defense. Pittsburgh befuddled opponents last season with its trademark zone blitz defense, regularly overwhelming and confusing opposing quarterbacks with pressure coming from all directions. But apparently the Steelers decided to change things up this season -- the idea being that other teams would prepare all offseason for that sort of pressure and be ready for it. So now when the Steelers blitz they simply run right at the opponent's line and dance around for five seconds or so, never bothering to reach the quarterback. And while this is no doubt confusing to watch, it has been much less effective than last year's scheme.

Offensive line. As much as the Steelers have struggled this year, they have had success throwing screen passes to running back Willie Parker. This is because Pittsburgh's offensive linemen practice blocking for a screen pass on almost every play by regularly allowing opposing defenders to run right past them.

Special teams. Kick returners Ricardo Colclough and Santonio Holmes almost single-handedly lost the Steelers several games this season with their inability to catch or secure the football. The position has been solidified ever since Najeh Davenport was given the kick returning duties, however. But anyone familiar with Davenport's background won't be surprised if he suddenly is exposed and drops one on the carpet.

Motivation. The Steelers organization spent 26 years going after "One for the thumb." So there was bound to be a bit of a letdown after that goal was finally achieved. Plus, where is the next one supposed to go? On the other thumb? Or do you start on the pinkie and finish with the thumb? And if it's the pinkie, how do you get 53 football players motivated by a pinkie ring? And if you are able to get them motivated by a pinkie ring, haven't they all lost already? Until the Steelers can answer these important questions they will continue to flounder.
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Last edited by MACH1; 11-27-2006 at 03:06 PM.
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Old 11-27-2006, 03:10 PM   #2
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Default Re: This about says it all

Amen Brother - The onlympartm he left out was our DBs inability to cover 1on1 and our WRs inability to hang onto passes. Other than that, he nailed it.
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Old 11-27-2006, 03:22 PM   #3
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Default Re: This about says it all

You would think that the first to six would be motivation, and who really needs a slogan for motivation to win a damn superbowl ring! If Cowher hadn't won that ring do really think he would be so calm about the mistakes and losses. He's just riding out this last year and not caring about what happens. That's all right, but he is not taking care of players and letting them play when they are injured!!!! Actually there are just to many reasons, but I don't care what anybody says.......Black and Gold Forever
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Old 11-27-2006, 05:17 PM   #4
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Default Re: This about says it all

Funny. Unfortunately, also true.
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Old 11-27-2006, 05:57 PM   #5
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Default DJ GALLO FROM ESPN HAS ALL THE ANSWERS

Sorry - didn't see somebody already posted this
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Old 11-27-2006, 06:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: DJ GALLO FROM ESPN HAS ALL THE ANSWERS

Merge thread with This Says It All?
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Old 11-27-2006, 06:11 PM   #7
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Default Re: DJ GALLO FROM ESPN HAS ALL THE ANSWERS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlanta Dan View Post
Merge thread with This Says It All?
My bad - didn't see it was already posted..
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Old 11-27-2006, 06:12 PM   #8
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Default Re: This about says it all

I already merged it.
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Old 11-27-2006, 06:13 PM   #9
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Default Re: This about says it all

No problem - at least we are still reading and posting when all hope is lost.
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Old 11-27-2006, 06:28 PM   #10
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Default Re: This about says it all

True,,, I STILL LOVE THEM THOUGH!!!!!!!
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