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Old 08-02-2009, 11:48 PM   #1
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Default Steelers: Is offensive line worth big bucks?

Steelers: Is offensive line worth big bucks?
Monday, August 03, 2009
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Peter Diana / Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09215/988261-66.stm

Steelers offensive tackle Willie Colon could command a big contract next season.

By any mathematical standard, the Steelers tossed around a lot of money to re-sign two players -- left tackle Max Starks and left guard Chris Kemoeatu -- from an offensive line that remains, even despite a Super Bowl victory, a lightning rod for criticism.

Starks signed a four-year, $26.3 million contract that included a $10 million signing bonus in the offseason, despite beginning each of the past two seasons as a backup. And Kemoeatu, after just one season as a starter, signed a five-year, $20 million deal that included a nearly $4 million signing bonus.

Think that was too much?

The Steelers might have to pay even more if they want to keep right tackle Willie Colon, who is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The coaches not only think Colon, 26, was the team's best offensive lineman last season; they think he is one of the best at his position in the National Football League.

"I think Willie Colon is as good a right tackle as there is in this league," said offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

"He's as good a run-blocking right tackle as there is in the league," said offensive line coach Larry Zierlein. "He's an excellent drive blocker and his pass protection has improved tremendously. He's a lot better pass blocker than people want to give him credit for."

The Steelers allowed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to be sacked 46 times last season -- second most among NFL quarterbacks -- and their running game averaged the fewest rushing yards per game (105.6) of any playoff team in franchise history.

But, they won the Super Bowl, despite having four players at new positions on the line, and they rewarded two of those players with enough money to bankroll the new casino opening next to Heinz Field. In the process, they let go two of their former starters -- left tackle Marvel Smith, who had been plagued with back problems; and former No. 1 pick Kendall Simmons, who missed most of last season with a torn Achilles' tendon.

"They obviously believe in Max; they believe in all five of us," said center Justin Hartwig, another player who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. "They signed those guys to big contracts in the offseason and they deserve them. They're up-and-coming young players."

But where do the Steelers go from here?

If Colon, a fourth-round pick from Hofstra in 2006, was their best offensive lineman last season, then Hartwig was a close second. Brought in as an unrestricted free agent to handle some of the bigger nose tackles in the AFC, especially in the Steelers' division, Hartwig more than held his own against players such as Cleveland's Shaun Rogers and Baltimore's Haloti Ngata.

"They're obviously going to make their plays because that's what they're paid to do," Hartwig said. "But, overall, I felt I did a pretty good job to neutralize those guys."

Hartwig, though, signed only a two-year contract with the Steelers and the team would like to sign him to an extension, if possible. He said he didn't want to sign a longer contract at the time because he "didn't know what was going to unfold" with the Steelers.

"I know coach [Mike] Tomlin mentioned to me a while back that he wished he had signed me for longer, but it's a better situation for me," Hartwig said. "If I stay healthy and continue to play at a high level, I feel like everything will take care of itself.

"We've had brief discussions with the Steelers and there's mutual interest in having me here beyond this year, but it remains to be seen. I know there are a lot of guys up after this year and they have paid several players this year."

And they're going to have to pay Colon, especially if they hold him in such high regard.

Colon enters his third season as a starter, but, for the first time, is unchallenged at the position. He spent each of the past two seasons battling Starks for the right tackle spot, beating him out when Starks was the incumbent in 2007 and then holding him last season in what was loosely billed as a training camp competition.

The Steelers have invested heavily in their offensive line, even though the production did not seem to merit such a windfall. But Arians is not concerned, nor is he deterred. He likes the players on his line.

"I think we're a solid offensive line," he said. "An offensive line is all about cohesiveness, five guys working together, and you look at our injuries -- Marvel goes down, Kendall goes down. They really did a great job, I thought, of doing that. They're a very close knit group. They have each other's back."


Gerry Dulac can be reached at gdulac@post-gazette.com.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09215...#ixzz0N5mOVWFo
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Old 08-03-2009, 12:08 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers: Is offensive line worth big bucks?

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[
"I think Willie Colon is as good a right tackle as there is in this league," said offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

"He's as good a run-blocking right tackle as there is in the league," said offensive line coach Larry Zierlein. "He's an excellent drive blocker and his pass protection has improved tremendously. He's a lot better pass blocker than people want to give him credit for."
What do these coaches really know? All the message board posters here know he does nothing but false start, hold and give up sacks.
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Old 08-03-2009, 12:39 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers: Is offensive line worth big bucks?

Well, Willie likely will be a RFA after this season with no CBA in place, so the Steelers should be able to hold onto him for 2010-2011 season.
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Old 08-03-2009, 12:43 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers: Is offensive line worth big bucks?

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What do these coaches really know? All the message board posters here know he does nothing but false start, hold and give up sacks.
El-Gonzo Jackson you make me LOL! As usual you cut to the heart of the truth... Front office doesn't have a clue
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Old 08-03-2009, 05:06 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers: Is offensive line worth big bucks?

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El-Gonzo Jackson you make me LOL! As usual you cut to the heart of the truth... Front office doesn't have a clue
Sure they do, the front ofice always knows best so long as it supports an individuals point during a forum debate.

For example, Bruce Arians supporters have shot down the opinions of the Arians bashers by stating that the front office is happy with him and they know what's best for the team. Well I concede, the front office knows a hell of a lot more than I BUT, they're not always right, they've fouled up a thing or two.

But in the same breath, these same Arians supporters will trash the hell out of the offensive line, and I quote: "The worst offensive line in Steelers history". "They couldn't block their way out of a wet paper sack". The offensive line is a bunch of turnstiles".

I guess the front office knows best theory doesn't apply when E.F. Hutton is speaking.
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Old 08-03-2009, 11:03 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers: Is offensive line worth big bucks?

Hey, I'm not on an NFL staff, so I know I have no business holding an opinion about any player on the roster. I'm probably not even qualified to watch the games on TV.
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Old 08-03-2009, 11:57 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers: Is offensive line worth big bucks?

This is the worst article I've ever read on this site! Pay Colon more money than Max or Kemo? Are you kidding me? One of the best in the league at that position? That sounds like our OC and OL Coach trying to pat themselves on the back...taking credit for developing Colon to this superstar that he isn't! Are you kidding me???!!! I understand trying to hype your guys up....it makes you look better as their coach...but if our OL coach thinks Colon is one of the best in the league, I say let our OL Coach go...he apparantly doesn't watch other tackles from other teams....doesn't realize its not acceptable to have false starts or holds as often as Colon does.....So if the OL coach doesn't feel Colon is doing anything wrong, and is one of the best in the game...why would Colon try to get any better?
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Old 08-03-2009, 12:05 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers: Is offensive line worth big bucks?

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Sure they do, the front ofice always knows best so long as it supports an individuals point during a forum debate.

For example, Bruce Arians supporters have shot down the opinions of the Arians bashers by stating that the front office is happy with him and they know what's best for the team. Well I concede, the front office knows a hell of a lot more than I BUT, they're not always right, they've fouled up a thing or two..
this is a good sign.... make BC feel secure before they can him...

hes riding on our players backs... the steelers deserve way better...

we spend hundreds of millions on our offensive players .. we have a HOF QB and we let arians run this ship. hes average at best. i keep saying it... zero imagination and zero deceptions on the play calls.
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