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Old 08-19-2007, 11:05 PM   #1
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Default Steelers need to settle on starting line

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Cookie!!!

Ron Cook: Steelers need to settle on starting line
Monday, August 20, 2007

By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Saying the Steelers need to stop the juggling act and settle on five offensive linemen is a little like saying the Pirates need to get new ownership. It's a lot easier said than done.

The Pirates' situation is pretty hopeless, actually. Why should the Nuttings have any interest in selling the team when crowds averaging almost 36,000 showed up for the past four games at PNC Park to see a last-place team that's 18 games under .500 and headed toward a 15th consecutive losing season? The Nuttings might be the worst owners in all of sports, but they are shrewd businessmen, very shrewd.

The Steelers' line situation, meanwhile, only appears to be hopeless.

"[Determining the five starters for continuity's sake] is important. We're getting down the road a little bit," coach Mike Tomlin said in Washington the other night. "But these guys are professionals. I think we're going to have cohesion even if we do allow this thing to play itself out."

What?

You expected him to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

What do you want us to do? How can we pick five linemen when we're not entirely sure we have five good ones? How would you like to have to decide between Willie Colon and Max Starks at right tackle? And heaven help us if Marvel Smith goes down. We'd have to ask Alan Faneca to move over to left tackle, but that might not go over so well. It's not as if Big Red is feeling a lot of loyalty to the organization these days ...

No coach is that honest.

The good news is it's Aug. 20, not Sept. 9 when the Steelers have to line up for real against the Cleveland Browns. The team still has time to get it right, at least with the five starters. It's unfair to pronounce final judgment on the group the way Tomlin and his coaches, because of the necessary evaluation process of a new staff, have bounced the linemen in and out of games, from one side of the line to the other, often from series to series. Let's see what the starters -- presumably, Smith at left tackle, Faneca at left guard, Sean Mahan at center, Kendall Simmons at right guard and Colon or Starks at right tackle -- do once they get some work together. It's not hard to think they can be functional. Colon was impressive in his two starts as a rookie late last season, wasn't he? Starks started on the Super Bowl team in 2005, didn't he?

But, make no mistake, the No. 1s had better be in place soon.

The home exhibition game Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles isn't rushing it.

"The more you play together, the better you are," Starks said after the line had a difficult time, to be kind, in the Steelers' 12-10 win Saturday night against the Washington Redskins. "You get to know each other and build together and figure out each other's idiosyncrasies, which is a big part of being an offensive lineman."

Makes sense to me.

That doesn't change the fact that depth has become a troubling issue. Chris Kemoeatu might be able to fill in at guard and Chukky Okobi could play center, but who's going to fill in for Smith? He suddenly ranks up there with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and running back Willie Parker as players the Steelers can't afford to lose. Starks tried playing left tackle in the first two exhibition games and gave up three sacks. Trai Essex played the position against the Redskins -- Smith was held out for precautionary reasons because of a bad back -- and was generally awful. He missed a block on the first running play, with Parker being thrown for a 1-yard loss. He was called for a tripping penalty when Roethlisberger was sacked in the second quarter. He gave up a sack of backup Charlie Batch in the third.

There's no one else to play left tackle.

Oh, yeah, Faneca.

You know all about his bitterness toward Steelers management as he heads into the final year of his contract. He told the Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette last week he would have to think long and hard about moving to tackle if asked, a switch he readily made when the Steelers had injury problems in '03. In the end, because he's such a pro, it's believed he would do it out of loyalty, not to the Rooneys and Tomlin, but to his teammates. Just to be safe, though, Smith had better stay in one piece.

At the risk of being overly simplistic, the Steelers will go as far as the offensive line in general and Smith in particular take them. He and the line didn't have a great year last season; the team went 8-8. He and the line were terrific in '05; the team won the Super Bowl. And who can forget the 6-10 mess in '03 when Smith was out with a neck injury and the line was in disarray?

It's still too early to say how it's going to play out this season.

But it's not too early to say Tomlin needs to make up his mind about his starters and do it like, you know, today.

And it's definitely not too early to say Smith has to stay healthy.

That, perhaps, above all else.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07232/810757-87.stm
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Old 08-19-2007, 11:27 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers need to settle on starting line

*note to self*

left tackle is an important position in the nfl.

*check*

atleast cook didnt guarantee marvel smith to rip up his knee in this article. but it is still evident we are totally screwed. i guess we shouldve taken joe thomas with the 15th pick or sign walter jones off of waivers.
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Old 08-19-2007, 11:28 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers need to settle on starting line

I want to stab Ron Cook in the trachea and kill him over and over and over again. Right in the trachea......directly in the trachea.....until he's dead I tell you.....until he's dead.

If Smith goes down, I will fill in.

If Cook goes down, I will fill in.
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Old 08-19-2007, 11:40 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers need to settle on starting line

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Originally Posted by 83-Steelers-43 View Post
I want to stab Ron Cook in the trachea and kill him over and over and over again. Right in the trachea......directly in the trachea.....until he's dead I tell you.....until he's dead.

If Smith goes down, I will fill in.

If Cook goes down, I will fill in.
tomlin will have a tough decision of who "fills in" since i am throwing my hat into the ring, too. tomlin may not have it figured out until the 2nd pre season game in 2009.

regardless, its fair to say you and i are both better than smith or cook. lets make a deal. i'll take on run blocking and write articles on passing downs.
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Old 08-19-2007, 11:45 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers need to settle on starting line

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Originally Posted by tony hipchest View Post
tomlin will have a tough decision of who "fills in" since i am throwing my hat into the ring, too. tomlin may not have it figured out until the 2nd pre season game in 2009.

regardless, its fair to say you and i are both better than smith or cook. lets make a deal. i'll take on run blocking and write articles on passing downs.
I'll pick up pass blocking and writing articles on Ben Roethlisberger's favorite cereal, How I killed Ron Cook because I really, really, really hate his articles and Ward's family history. I see good things here........good things.
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Old 08-20-2007, 01:49 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers need to settle on starting line

When will the Rooney's get smart and just hire Cook?
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Old 08-20-2007, 09:45 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers need to settle on starting line

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When will the Rooney's get smart and just hire Cook?
Well, the PPG is waiting for an answer from me. If I take the PPG offer, then Cook is going to the Steelers and I will be filling in for Ron Cook at the PPG.

The PPG stated that they were skimming over SF and saw the complaints and realized that Ron Cook is just not PPG material. After they read that I will write about Roethlisberger's favorite cereal, Ward's family history and more articles on Roethlisberger (seven per-day), they wanted me.

I'm going to give them my decision by 4:00 today.
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Old 08-20-2007, 09:50 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers need to settle on starting line

And I wondered why the Rooneys didn't hire Grimm as HC. I have a much better insight as to why now - this line is a mess, and quite frankly, it shouldn't be.
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Old 08-20-2007, 10:00 AM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers need to settle on starting line

Grimm didn't get the nod mostly because he had the reputation of being the town drunk here in the Burgh. Nuff said.

Coaches always get too much credit when things are good and by the same token too much of the blame when they're not.

As far as the PPG gig, I'm pretty sure the only qualifications have something to do with who your uncle is. Pretty much the same everywhere, how else do you explain all these hacks with a writing job??
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Old 08-20-2007, 10:01 AM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers need to settle on starting line

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Pretty much the same everywhere, how else do you explain all these hacks with a writing job??
Hell, if that's the case I'll call up ESPN and SI and see if they are hiring.
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