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Old 11-18-2009, 06:01 AM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Tomlin sends message to special teams

Tomlin sends message to special teams
http://community.post-gazette.com/bl...k/default.aspx
By Bob Smizik | Wednesday 1 a.m.

The term ``human sacrifice’’ is enough to make your skin crawl so I won’t use it in describing the Steelers decision to release linebacker Arnold Harrison, whose chief role with the Steelers was to play on special teams.

Just let it be known that Harrison was cast aside two days after the Steelers gave up yet another special teams touchdown because he had not performed his job in a satisfactory manner and, well, it sends out a pretty straightforward message to the rest of the guys.

Do your job better or you, too, can be released next week.

If special teams coach Bob Ligashesky and assistant special teams coach Amos Jones were having trouble getting the attention of their charges, that probably is no longer the case.

Bernard Scott returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown Sunday and it was the margin of victory, as well as the only touchdown in the game, in the Cincinnati Bengals' 18-12 win over the Steelers. It was the third kickDonovan Woods returned for a touchdown this season against the Steelers.

The knee-jerk reaction from some fans was to immediately fire Ligashesky and Jones. That idea might have some merit, except for this. With Ligashesky and Jones in charge last season, the Steelers were first in the NFL in defending against kickoff returns and fourth against punt returns.

Neither Ligashesky nor Jones has undergone a brain transplant since the end of the 2008 season.

As is usually the case with these malfunctions, the players are the culprits and coach Mike Tomlin made that clear yesterday when he fired Harrison instead of Ligashesky and Jones.

Donovan Woods, also a linebacker, will take Harrison’s roster spot. Keep in mind that the Steelers have struggled all season on kick coverage, which means if Woods were anything really special he would not have been on the practice squad. Still, he almost has to be an upgrade.

The conventional wisdom concerning kick coverage is that it’s a desire issue and if the guys really, really want to do it, they can and will.

Except for this: The opposition has special teams players, too, and those guys also may really, really want to do it.

So if there are two teams with guys who really, really want to do it then it comes down to talent -- as it usually does.

Tomlin could alter that talent scale by using some of his starters on special teams. Defensive end Brett Keisel and linebacker James Harrison are well-known for their special teams ability and certainly would juice up the product.

But that could be counterproductive. Keisel and Harrison are 31, which is not young for NFL players. Asking them to run under kicks and then immediately assume their defensive duties -- providing, of course, the kick was not returned for a touchdown -- is asking too much.

No, Ligashesky and Jones will have to deal pretty much with what they have. There can be adjustments in scheme and alterations in roles but it all comes down to the players performing better.

``We’ve got to rectify it,’’ said Hines Ward. ``We have to get guys out there inspired to play.’’

If the sudden departure of Arnold Harrison doesn’t do that, nothing will.
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Old 11-18-2009, 06:57 AM   #2
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Default Re: Tomlin sends message to special teams

Quote:
The knee-jerk reaction from some fans was to immediately fire Ligashesky and Jones.
No - say it wasn't so.

Quote:
No, Ligashesky and Jones will have to deal pretty much with what they have. There can be adjustments in scheme and alterations in roles but it all comes down to the players performing better.
Nah - just keep blaming the coaches. It's too hard to rationally think the players aren't getting the job done.
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Old 11-18-2009, 07:27 AM   #3
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Default Re: Tomlin sends message to special teams

WOW!!! If you want to get there attention then this is it! I'd say that we are in for some more hustle on our kick return coverage unit!
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Old 11-18-2009, 07:45 AM   #4
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Default Re: Tomlin sends message to special teams

With Arnold Harrison gone the Steelers ST's should be the best in the NFL.
Can you say scapegoat.
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Old 11-18-2009, 12:32 PM   #5
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Default Re: Tomlin sends message to special teams

Arnold has been skating by staying on the roster because of his knowledge of the defense more than anything else. I don't mind seeing changes made to the coverage teams.
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Old 11-18-2009, 12:52 PM   #6
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Default Re: Tomlin sends message to special teams

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Originally Posted by mesaSteeler View Post

``We’ve got to rectify it,’’ said Hines Ward. ``We have to get guys out there inspired to play.’’
I can recall, in the early 1980s, Jack Lambert & Donnie Shell, voicing these same concerns about the Stillers' special-teams play, specifically that few of the younger players wanted to 'earn' their position on the team thru special-teams excellence.

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Old 11-18-2009, 03:48 PM   #7
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Default Re: Tomlin sends message to special teams

Does Arnold Harrison get his full year salary from the Steelers after being cut + 52 week unemployment benefit? Anyone knows. I am just curious.
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Old 11-20-2009, 12:04 PM   #8
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Default Re: Tomlin sends message to special teams

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Originally Posted by Jmat View Post
With Arnold Harrison gone the Steelers ST's should be the best in the NFL.
Can you say scapegoat.
That sums it up for me with Arnold Harrison getting waived. Although I do think Donovan Woods is a better athlete and special teams player compared to Harrison.
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