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Old 07-23-2007, 02:21 PM   #1
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Default Media is starting to wake up a bit: Prediction: 2nd

Ron Borges needs to keep an eye on this guy at MSNBC!

Quote:
STEELERS SEASON PREVIEW
By Don Pierson
MSNBC contributor


This is Mike Tomlin's training camp. The Pittsburgh Steelers change head coaches so infrequently that no other storyline will carry as much weight as Tomlin following Bill Cowher.

Most Steelers believe change is good. Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca is an exception, unhappy that former assistants Ken Whisenhunt or Russ Grimm didn't get the job and dissatisfied with his contract. But Tomlin already has made a good impression on the majority of Steelers, starting with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

New offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, last year's receivers coach, is streamlining the playbook. Old defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is creatively working with Tomlin as the two mesh their different 3-4 and 4-3 philosophies.

So much was made of Cowher's exit that the Steelers' slide from Super Bowl champs to a pedestrian 8-8 season got lost in the shuffle. Tomlin is left with a bit of rebuilding job in an AFC North division with only one patsy, the Cleveland Browns.

Tomlin must tweak most position groups except quarterback, where Roethlisberger must re-invent himself after a poor third-year showing in the wake of his motorcycle accident and appendectomy.

To start, Tomlin must replace veteran center Jeff Hartings with either Chukky Okobi or newcomer Sean Mahan. He must decide whether second-year offensive tackle Willie Colon is ready to challenge for a starting job somewhere on the line and he must make sure Faneca is ready.

Second-year receiver Santonio Holmes is ready to join Hines Ward and give Roethlisberger the best 1-2 threats the Steelers have had since Plaxico Burress left. Arians likes tight ends and drafted Matt Spaeth to join Heath Miller.

After failing to adequately replace Jerome Bettis at running back, the Steelers are giving journeyman Kevan Barlow a chance to complement Willie Parker, unless holdover Najeh Davenport can finally develop into a more reliable option.

Letting Joey Porter go to Miami followed a Steeler tradition of cutting ties with linebackers close to their prime. Porter led the team in sacks with seven and is only 30, but the Steelers always seem to find replacements. Top draft choice Lawrence Timmons will get plenty of action if he can stay healthier than he did in mini-camps.

The Steelers are hoping to deploy Brett Keisel in new ways because he has the versatility to rush the passer and drop into coverage. The Steelers once had a player like that in Mike Vrabel, but let him get away to New England.

Special teams will be emphasized by Tomlin and new special teams coach Bob Ligashesky after the team finished among the worst in the league. The team made punter Daniel Sepvuleda a fourth-round draft pick, but getting rid of Chris Gardocki is a gamble. In a 16-year career, Gardocki never had a punt blocked. [I'll pretend he didn't make that last comment. *tic*]

Hotseat
Roethlisberger won a Super Bowl in his second season, but the Steelers won that game more in spite of him than because of him, so he has some work ahead. Tomlin has been impressed by Roethlisberger's work so far and Roethlisberger appears prepared to re-dedicate himself after the death of his college coach, Terry Hoeppner, from brain cancer. "He's kind of a ball junkie. I didn't know that about him, but he is talking about football on a day-to-day basis. He is really into it and I was very pleased with him," Tomlin said after spring practices. Arians will allow Roethlisberger to use more no-huddle formations, which should keep his attention.

Overheard
LeBeau always has been an innovator, so anything he and Tomlin cook up together on defense is likely to turn heads. Both want to become more unpredictable, so look for more players than just safety Troy Polamalu to be jumping around pre-snap to confuse offenses. Tomlin likes versatility as well as unpredictability, so cornerback Deshea Townsend has worked at safety and others have switched positions. Second-round draft pick LaMarr Woodley is a linebacker/pass rusher "tweener" who will help replace Porter. Cornerback Ike Taylor appears to have won his job back after losing it under Cowher. The free safety job should be decided in camp between Anthony Smith and Ryan Clark. Smith replaced Clark for the last four games after Clark got hurt.

Outlook
With games against Cleveland, Buffalo, San Francisco and Arizona in September, Tomlin has a chance for a fast start to what promises to be a long career. The Rooney family is patient anyway, but their decision to pick Tomlin over in-house candidates Whisenhunt and Grimm provides Tomlin with extra security. Players who don't buy into his program will be replaced.

Prediction
Second.
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Old 07-23-2007, 02:42 PM   #2
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Default Re: Media is starting to wake up a bit: Prediction: 2nd

See predictions and power rankings are great idea after all!
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They've been great for a while now, three Super Bowls' worth of great. But only this season have the New England Patriots become The Show, the must-see team of stars, pretty boys and reformed bad boys. Suddenly, the Patriots are not simply great; they're compelling, fascinating, appearing to be almighty and a touch lawless.
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 07-23-2007, 03:02 PM   #3
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Default Re: Media is starting to wake up a bit: Prediction: 2nd

:D

It's nice to see one writer who hasn't written the Steelers off because of the changing of the guard. Au contraire, he seems to recognize what we in Pittsburgh are really excited about, namely the long overdue changes to the approach on the offensive side of the ball. It's fun to think about.

I tentatively foresee the same in the division, but I'll be honest.... I think the Ravens will have a hard time being as good as they were last season. They are one missed blocking assignment from mediocrity.
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Old 07-23-2007, 03:11 PM   #4
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Default Re: Media is starting to wake up a bit: Prediction: 2nd

He should have chosen us to win the division
But really, this seems like a nice prediction.
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Old 07-23-2007, 03:19 PM   #5
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Default Re: Media is starting to wake up a bit: Prediction: 2nd

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Originally Posted by Livinginthe past View Post
See predictions and power rankings are great idea after all!


He was just pointing out a decently written article
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Old 07-23-2007, 03:37 PM   #6
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Default Re: Media is starting to wake up a bit: Prediction: 2nd

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Originally Posted by Preacher View Post


He was just pointing out a decently written article
Hope you aint charging too much to be his spokesman
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They've been great for a while now, three Super Bowls' worth of great. But only this season have the New England Patriots become The Show, the must-see team of stars, pretty boys and reformed bad boys. Suddenly, the Patriots are not simply great; they're compelling, fascinating, appearing to be almighty and a touch lawless.
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 07-23-2007, 03:49 PM   #7
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Default Re: Media is starting to wake up a bit: Prediction: 2nd

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Originally Posted by Livinginthe past View Post
See predictions and power rankings are great idea after all!
They're great for when you get to bust on the people who doubt you.
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Old 07-23-2007, 03:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: Media is starting to wake up a bit: Prediction: 2nd

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Originally Posted by Livinginthe past View Post
Hope you aint charging too much to be his spokesman
*Waits for the comment* "I always thought Don Pierson was a great sportswriter."
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Old 07-23-2007, 05:24 PM   #9
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Default Re: Media is starting to wake up a bit: Prediction: 2nd

Players who don't buy into his program will be replaced.

Not mentioning any names.........
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"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 07-23-2007, 06:28 PM   #10
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Default Re: Media is starting to wake up a bit: Prediction: 2nd

Praise or Hate, I do not take the predictions too seriously.

The Steelers will compete this year, and so will the Bengals. The Browns mortgaged their future on two rookies, Romeo is on the hot seat, and they're in the AFC North. Not good odds. They did improve however. Do not sleep on them.

The Ravens, what can I say? They're sketchy underachievers who have a nasty habit in getting overconfident, falling for their own hype, and failing under Billick. They won the North last year, so they're still the team to beat. Hopefully the Steelers will wake up after the embarrassments last year and stick it to them.
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