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Old 03-24-2009, 06:06 PM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Steelers' offseason report: O-line biggest concern

Steelers' offseason report: O-line biggest concern
Sporting News - RSS Feed
Posted: March 24, 2009
http://www.sportingnews.com/yourturn...c.php?t=530975

After their Super Bowl 43 victory in February, the Pittsburgh Steelers made it known that their intention was to, "keep the band together," so to speak. Their way of doing business has always involved drafting well, signing their own free agents rather than chasing someone else's, and rarely, if ever, overpaying for veterans. The trend continued this year.

Best free-agent move

True to their word, the team re-signed nine free agents from their own roster. At the same time, they only lost three players to free agency, and of that group, only Bryant McFadden was a starter. It's important to note however, that he has just 18 career regular-season starts in four seasons, and has played a full 16-game slate only once. The Steelers are not going to pay big money to keep that type of player in Pittsburgh. They simply continue to develop younger players behind the vets who are ready to step in.

The Steelers have always understood that consistency wins in the NFL, and by re-signing the bulk of free agents from their championship team, they have once again put themselves among the favorites to play for a title again in 2009.

Worst free-agent move


Among those re-signings were four offensive linemen; guard Chris Kemoeatu, who nearly signed with the Jets, and offensive tackles Willie Colon, Trai Essex, and Max Starks.

Some have asked why, and it's a reasonable question. This group might be among the worst offensive line units the Steelers have ever put on the field. They gave up 51 sacks (yes, Ben Roethlisberger holds the ball too long at times) and ranked 23rd in the NFL in rushing, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry (you can blame injuries to the RB's, but Detroit's Kevin Smith averaged 4.1 yards per carry behind an awful O-line).

The Steelers and their fans will tell you that the group played much better in the postseason, and they did. But what's hard to argue is the decision to put the franchise tag on Starks. Better as a right tackle, he moved to the left side when Marvel Smith went down with an injury and struggled mightily. As a player with a transition tag after the 2007 season, he didn't generate any major interest from teams, so why the team felt like they needed to franchise him and pay him the accompanying $8.45 million, one-year deal is questionable.

To-do list


In addition to looking for upgrades along the offensive line, the depth behind the starters is thin. With eight selections heading into the draft, expect the Steelers to look long and hard at some young, physical linemen who have the versatility to play several spots.

Age is an issue along the defensive line, so Pittsburgh will have to look to get younger there, and if the team continues to move toward a more pass-oriented attack, they will need to find another receiver. At the very least, they should be looking to replace the deep threat they lost when Nate Washington signed with Tennessee and Hines Ward is 33 years old and closer to the end of his career than the beginning.

Top draft priorities

Offensive Tackle: The Steelers seem excited about the prospect of keeping their O-line together, and in their defense, they did win a Super Bowl. But this was clearly the weak link and while they will talk about drafting for depth, it seems that if an opportunity arose early in the draft to acquire a bona fide left tackle, they should do it. That would allow Colon to move inside to offensive guard, his natural position, and would allow Starks to move to the right side where his struggles against top pass rushers wouldn't be exposed.

Defensive End: Aaron Smith is 32, Brett Keisel is 30, and backup Travis Kirschke is 34. This defense needs to get younger, and it has to start up front. They like their defensive ends big, strong, and physical in the 'Burgh.

Cornerback: The loss of McFadden leaves Ike Taylor and DeShea Townsend, who has played 11 seasons, as the starters. Fernando Bryant was re-signed as well, but the Steelers are in need of a young starting corner with some speed and ball skills.

Wide Receiver: Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward are the only experienced starters on the roster, and while Limas Sweed will step into the No. 3 role, the team needs to replace the deep threat they lost in Nate Washington.

RealScouts, a team of pro football scouts, analyzes NFL players, coaches and teams exclusively for Sporting News.
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Old 03-24-2009, 07:18 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' offseason report: O-line biggest concern

The writer of this article makes some good points, but, I dare say, he doesn't know the Steelers very well. Yes, Starks is an over payed LT, but he didn't play better on the right side. In fact, given the increased degree of difficulty when playing LT, he is actually better as a LT. Regardless, does he expect that if the Steelers draft a LT that they will start him in his first game as a rookie? There is very little chance of the Steelers moving Starks to RT and sliding a rookie in at LT, IMO.

Quote:
Cornerback: The loss of McFadden leaves Ike Taylor and DeShea Townsend, who has played 11 seasons, as the starters. Fernando Bryant was re-signed as well, but the Steelers are in need of a young starting corner with some speed and ball skills.
At the very least, you'd think he would look through the roster and find William Gay's name.
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Old 03-24-2009, 07:38 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' offseason report: O-line biggest concern

These guys don't have a clue.

This year's team is all about making one more run before the team gets blowed up next offseason.

The window is open.
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Old 03-24-2009, 08:20 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' offseason report: O-line biggest concern

The Steelers will not have a starter in 2009 from this draft. This year is all about depth, even at OL. Sure, someone might end up starting at the end of the year or something, but we have no needs other than depth at some positions. We don't need impact players.
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Old 03-24-2009, 09:33 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers' offseason report: O-line biggest concern

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Originally Posted by tyler289 View Post
The Steelers will not have a starter in 2009 from this draft. This year is all about depth, even at OL. Sure, someone might end up starting at the end of the year or something, but we have no needs other than depth at some positions. We don't need impact players.
If the Steelers get Alex Mack, I would guarantee he starts over Hartwig.
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:04 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers' offseason report: O-line biggest concern

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Originally Posted by Psyychoward86 View Post
Or at OG. He's versatile remember . But he's on like a 3 year contract right? Im sure there are no intentions to replace him completely already. This was his first season in Pittsburgh. And i was also insulted that Williams Gay wasnt found in that article!!
From the way Tomlin operates, I really do not think it would matter. Alex Mack, barring injury, would be the next great center for the Steelers. And if he out plays Hartwig, which I think he would, you have to put him there. Even if he could play guard. I believe a great center, makes the entire line work perfectly. Maybe I'm bias because I played center, but he makes the calls and is the grease that helps the engine run,
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:19 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers' offseason report: O-line biggest concern

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From the way Tomlin operates, I really do not think it would matter. Alex Mack, barring injury, would be the next great center for the Steelers. And if he out plays Hartwig, which I think he would, you have to put him there. Even if he could play guard. I believe a great center, makes the entire line work perfectly. Maybe I'm bias because I played center, but he makes the calls and is the grease that helps the engine run,
Absolutely. A great center can really impact a mediocre line like ours. I would certainly be happy with Mack at 32. But the Unger guy from Oregon who can play center, T, or G, would be nice as well.
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Old 03-25-2009, 12:14 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers' offseason report: O-line biggest concern

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Originally Posted by Psyychoward86 View Post
Or at OG. He's versatile remember . But he's on like a 3 year contract right? Im sure there are no intentions to replace him completely already. This was his first season in Pittsburgh. And i was also insulted that Williams Gay wasnt found in that article!!
Me too. That made the article pretty much irrelevant to me

they are not in need of a starting corner, all they need is depth, Young or old
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