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Old 01-05-2008, 06:37 AM   #1
lamberts-lost-tooth
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Default The times they are a changing

The times they are a changingBy Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, January 5, 2008

They may have limped to the finish, but at least the Steelers made the playoffs. By doing so, they've come full circle in the transition from Bill Cowher to Mike Tomlin.
The Steelers reached the postseason in 1992 -- Cowher's initial season at the helm -- and nine times in the 14 seasons that followed.

The Cowher-era Steelers will always be remembered for Super Bowl XL, but they really distinguished themselves by bringing playoff football to the North Shore on a regular basis.

Only one team can win the Super Bowl, but even while failing to do so 14 times in Cowher's 15 campaigns, the Steelers hosted a playoff game on a remarkable 13 occasions.

They were at home in the postseason more times than any other team from 1992-2006 (at 11, San Francisco was second).
They're home again tonight, most likely for the final time this season and for the final time as we've come to know the recent bunch.

Two years ago, they were champions.

Last season, they were also-rans with an asterisk.

They entered this season with a championship core still intact, and hoping to recapture the magic, while, this time, avoiding such unforeseen developments as an emergency appendectomy and a motorcycle accident.

Ben Roethlisberger did his part -- remaining upright despite being forced to the ground 47 times -- but as the season played out, it became apparent these Steelers were a lot further removed from the Super Bowl than initially anticipated.

They're not a bad team; they're better than average, actually.

But their season is most likely destined to end soon, either tonight against a Jaguars, team that's beaten them once already at Heinz Field, or the following weekend in New England.

Once it does, that championship core will continue to dissipate and the Steelers will become that much less recognizable in relation to their championship predecessors.

By the time this season began, the likes of Kimo von Oelhoffen, Joey Porter, Chris Hope, Jeff Hartings, Antwaan Randle El, Jerome Bettis and Chris Gardocki had moved on down the road.

Once this one concludes, it's likely that Super Bowl XL-holdovers Dan Kreider, Alan Faneca, Max Starks and Clark Haggans will have played their final downs with the Steelers.

And before the 2008 campaign commences, Hines Ward will turn 32, Deshea Townsend will be on the verge of turning 33 and James Farrior will be 33 (that happens tomorrow).

And Marvel Smith will have to have established that he's made it back from back surgery.

The team is aging.

And the times, they are a changing.

That's why nights such as tonight ought to be embraced by Steeler Nation.

Home playoff games used to be taken for granted in these parts, and four of the five staged between 1992-2006 that decided the AFC championship aren't remembered fondly.

But they haven't played one of these since Jan. 23, 2005, and it might be some time before they play another one.

As Cowher used to say, "seize the moment."

As the Steelers rebuild, retool and re-invent themselves under Tomlin, they may take a step or two back before moving forward no matter what happens against Jacksonville.

They'll always have Super Bowl XL, but tonight might well be the previous incarnation's last hurrah.
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Old 01-05-2008, 08:13 AM   #2
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Default Re: The times they are a changing

Very well put.
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Old 01-05-2008, 08:36 AM   #3
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Default Re: The times they are a changing

Well it sounds to me like the guy is just saying that we are gonna suck the next few seasons to me. We have alot of youth on this team in the right places in my opinion. Ben is only in what? his 5th year.. Willie is still very young as well. The right side of our OLIne is young with Colon and Simmons. On defense I think is where we are getting old. Aaron Smith is not as young as he once was and now he will be coming off a injury next season. Casey Hampton needs someone here to take notes and learn because he is coming to the end as well in a couple years probably. ILB has to be a priority in the offseason with Farrior turning 33 this weekend, and Foote just isnt making the plays that he was a couple years ago. Our secondary has played decently this year in my opinion, just not great. Troy has had all kinds of injury problems the last 2 years and made the pro bowl this year on reputation only and obviously we havent found a replacement for Chris Hope at FS.
Oh yeah.. and Hines Ward at WR is not getting any younger either and we need some depth here as well because Cedric Wilson is NOT the Answer
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Old 01-05-2008, 08:41 AM   #4
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Default Re: The times they are a changing

Wow......is it still that bad in Pittsburgh?

Look folks.....teams in the NFL retool on a regular basis. Rosters can turn over 10-15 players a year if need be for a team to stay competitive. The Steelers are going to be fine. They've proven that they know what they're doing when it comes to managing the roster and bringing in players who can fill holes. Faneca leaves and they bring someone in to fill his spot. Parkers gets hurt and they find someone to fill his spot. Someday Ward will leave and there will be someone to fill his spot.

My expectations are always high for the Steelers and there's nothing that's going to change that.
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Old 01-05-2008, 09:53 AM   #5
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Default Re: The times they are a changing

It seems like every year we lose key players and always respond. Everytime one of our no name LB's had a break out year they seemed to bolt when their contract ended.Gildon, Porter, Kirkland, Chad Brown, Kendrall Bell. We have always had great lb's. Ham, Lambert, and Robin Cole when I was a kid, and I expect Timmons and Woodley to be the same caliber. We have youth at WR and TE with the exception of Ward. Who is a posession receiver so could have a couple of years left. We need improvement to both lines next year that is glaringly obvious. I still expect us to be a playoff team the next 5 to 7 years with Ben as our QB. Hopefully Foote, and Farrior will be willing to take a back up role the next two years.
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Old 01-05-2008, 09:54 AM   #6
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Default Re: The times they are a changing

no matter what happens i'm proud of this season .
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Old 01-05-2008, 10:30 AM   #7
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Default Re: The times they are a changing

youth wise, we suck. mid experienced players is where we are deep at and i think that is why we have so many players that produce well. we dont start the 21 yr old rookie very often.. holmes started the last 4 games last season only because cedrick wasnt doing that well. ben got the chance of a lifetime, who knows if maddox wouldnt of went down he might of sat for a whole year or maybe even 2. my point is that farrior,foote,haggans,harrison,ike,deshea,ryan,aar on smith, brett keisel just on defense didnt start their first season, farrior did but he was like 29 and already started with the jets. i dont think youth is a problem we just need to release the nick easons and the anthony madisons to get some players out of the draft.
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Old 01-05-2008, 10:33 AM   #8
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Default Re: The times they are a changing

I know I'm looking forward to seeing Woodley, Harrison and Timmons for the next 5 years! Not to mention having the franchise QB for the next 7-8 years. A lot can go right when you have a great QB. I'm not worried!
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Old 01-05-2008, 10:57 AM   #9
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Default Re: The times they are a changing

It's not as bad as Prisuta is saying, but where he is right is that our SB core players on defense are either gone or are at the tail end of their careers.

Next season, if McFadden, Woodley, and Timmons can start, we have 3 of the positions in concern taken care of. If Smith and Polamalu come back healthy....and stay healthy, we will be fine there as well. We really need Anthony Smith to step up and seize the moment. So far, he is a big hitter and nothing else. He is a liability in coverage up to this point. I'm not sure if Ryan Clark will be back or not due to his health concerns. Depth at DL must be added through FA or the draft as well. Eason is horrible.

The offense, with a core of Ben, Willie Parker, Holmes, and Miller will be fine. Washington and Wilson are servicable as #3 and #4 receivers, but not as #2 guys. We need to bring someone else in for help here. Our OL problems may be really helped if we can upgrade at Center. Mahan must be replaced, no matter how the Steelers try to spin it. According to Jim Wexell, we are going to make a serious run at trying to sign Faneca and Starks again. Wex doesn't make stuff up, so hopefully that will be the case.

The special teams....just find a kicker that can kick it through the end zone every single time on kickoffs and the battle is half won :>). I know it's not that easy, but I wish it was.
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Old 01-05-2008, 11:32 AM   #10
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Default Re: The times they are a changing

The Steelers need to try and re-sign Haggans for decent but not too too much. He is in his Prime and has 3 good years left in him.
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