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Old 09-03-2010, 11:33 PM   #1
tony hipchest
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Default a Tony H. editorial- "The Past is So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades"

The Past is So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

(pardon any mistakes, as i have yet to clean it up for any publication, and only proof read it once as i was typing. it still needs some editing, but a good piece nevertheless)-

Quote:

Interesting similarities w/ our Superbowl hangover teams

Last season was one of disappointment as the SB champion Steelers missed the opportunity to defend their title in the playoffs by 1 game. In fact their 9-7 record was actually good enough to get into the playoffs but they lost the tiebreaker to the Jets and Ravens (both 9-7 Wildcard teams).

It was eerily reminiscent of '06 when the 8-8 Steelers again missed the opportunity to repeat as champions and again it was a single loss that kept them out.

Everyone remembers all of the reasons, excuses, and blame that was tossed around after 2005.

Ben was in his motorcycle accident and had his appendix removed before the opener. Bill Cowher was a lame duck coach and had "Carolina on the mind", And of course the players just got too fat, happy and lazy.

But the real culprit is the least obvious one- We lost Jerome Bettis, Kimo Von Oelhoffen, Antwaan Randle El, and Chris Hope. All were nondescript players who were either past their prime or hadnt yet reached it. On paper, their number, stats and on the field contributions, looked easilly replaceable.

What couldnt be measured was the leadership they provided. Kimo and Jerome were both the grizzled vets of their respective units. Chris and Antwaan were both budding play makers and locker room favorites. The intangibles they took with them were more valuable than their actual production in the games.

Fast forward to 2009. The road to SB 43 was much easier and more dominant than the path they took in '05. The Steelers looked like the hands down favorites to repeat returning all but 2 of their starters from the champion season. The defensive unit was best in the league with the reigning defensive MVP, plus Ben and Santonio were the superstars of the offense. "Thats how you be great".

But lets look at what they lost. Bryant McFadden, Larry Foote, and Byron Leftwich. Their numbers and production was easilly replacable as younger rising stars were waiting in the wings to replace them. There were still plenty of leaders on the team, such as Ward, Farrior, Arron Smith, and the silent leadership of Troy Polamalu. It was widely considered to be Bens team and this was the season Holmes was to break out as an elite receiver.

No problem, right?

Everyone remembers the excuses of why '09 ended up in failure. Arians play calling, horrible special teams, Lebeau playing too soft and not adjusting when the unthinkable happened and Troy and Smith were lost for the year.

Suddenly 4 of the starters from the best unit in the league were missing, but it was obvious that their production was just a fraction what was lost.

Steelers football is about defensive dominance and imposing our will. The team had lost leadership. As great as Ben and Santonio were, their off the field actions prove they were inadequate leaders. How can a duo lead if they cant even play for atleast the 1st month of the season? Never has an elite QB and their #1 weapon both been suspended at the same time. It is now appearant that they were more a part of the problem as opposed to the solution and the Rooneys dealt with them accordingly.

This is where the similarities of the reaction to the SB hangover years come into play.

In '06 the Steelers started off with a 2-6 record but finished up strong at 6-2. In '09 the steelers started off right were they left off as one of the strongest teams with a 6-2 record. Then the bottom fell out. It is obvious both teams had 12-4 potential, but the Rooneys recognized that the leadership was missing. They realize you dont solve the problem by throwing money at free agent talent.

In '07 the Rooneys replaced the leadership altogether. Cowher was shown the door and Mike Tomlin was brought in. defensive spokesman Joey Porter, and veteran offensive leader Alan Faneca were soon to follow.

In '10 the Rooneys did not replace Tomlin, but showed faith in his leadership and gave him an extension. They let Goodell suspend Ben and didnt even bother with an appeal (which likely wouldve gotten the suspension reduced). They unceremoniously dumped Santonio, by trading him for far less than he was worth.

But look what they brought in- Larry Foote, Byron Leftwhich, Randle El, and McFadden. All guys who may not bring the high priced, free agent, stats and production on the field, but whose leadership was desperately missed.

The proof is in the pudding and the Steelers ownership and management is rarely wrong. If past history is any indicator, we should expect atleast a playoff berth this season with a return to the SB in the next.
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Old 09-03-2010, 11:50 PM   #2
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Default Re: a Tony H. editorial- "The Past is So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades"

There are parts of that write-up that are outright brilliant, and parts that left me scratching my head....

I agree 100% with the basic premise of the article, that the Steelers failed last year due to a hangover and a basic lossof leadership. Folks try to read too deep into our secondary problems last year-- the problem was simple, they were hungover.

Gay looked terrible last year, but if you recall, started for 6 weeks in 2008 when McFadden was out, and the defense did not lose a single step.

Polamalu was out for half of the 2007 season as well, but we still ranked #1 against the pass by a margin.

I also think that Dick Lebeau dealing with the death of his mother just prior to the start of the 2009 season played a part too, one that nobody is looking at.

But....

The Bus, Chris Hope, Randle El, and Kimo are just "nondescript players"? Really?

We "showed Bill Cowher the door"? Really? I thought he retired....
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Old 09-03-2010, 11:53 PM   #3
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Default Re: a Tony H. editorial- "The Past is So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades"

Quote:
Originally Posted by tony hipchest View Post
In '10 the Rooneys did not replace Tomlin, but showed faith in his leadership and gave him an extension.
If I may offer another perspective, the Rooneys effectively extended him a year. With 2011 looming, facing the prospect of dead money wasted on a larger extension, and having absolutely no confidence in MT after the 2009 meltdown that squandered a tee-up at another Lombardi, they very wisely made a minimal investment in "continuity" for another year. It is another hallmark Rooney move. If he succeeds, they control him to resign him to a new deal. If he doesn't, no loss - Next?

I think we will go 17-2 this year and get that 7th Lombardi despite MT or his tool OC. There is that much talent there.

After this season? Who TF knows. It'll be MLB.
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Old 09-04-2010, 12:06 AM   #4
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Default Re: a Tony H. editorial- "The Past is So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades"

to you sir. Excellent read.
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Old 09-04-2010, 12:12 AM   #5
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Default Re: a Tony H. editorial- "The Past is So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Riddle_Of_Steel View Post

But....

The Bus, Chris Hope, Randle El, and Kimo are just "nondescript players"? Really?

We "showed Bill Cowher the door"? Really? I thought he retired....
allow me to explain.

the bus- had been replaced not only by duce staley, but willie parker. he was almost retired at the end of 2004 but came back for a victory lap as parkers back up/ "mudder" in 2005.

the other three were allowed to walk for greener dollars after 2005. in no way were we willing to pay them what they got on the opne market. kimo didnt do shit with philly, randle el is almost seen as a bust in washington, and while hope has done well with tennessee, the steelers figured he was easilly replacable with either anthony smith, or the cheap, no name, free agent, ryan clark.

as for cowher, he was looking for the typical extension the rooneys usually give coaches with 2 years remaining on their contract. by that time top market value for a coach of his calibur was about $8 mil/year (in the mike holmgren range).

however, the door is ALWAYS visible and it doesnt take much for the ownership group to point towards it.

it was an amicable split, and cowher most certainly didnt just walk out on them.

thanks for the compliments and critique.
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Old 09-04-2010, 12:41 AM   #6
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Old 09-04-2010, 05:00 AM   #7
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Default Re: a Tony H. editorial- "The Past is So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades"

Excellent post. Leadership on the field and in the locker room is an art, not a science - you can't lose strong positive personalities and immediately replace them because those kind of roles rely on trust and respect and that's earned by being the first to take the hit, the first into practice and the last to leave.

Getting B-Mac, Foote and Randle-El back was as much about the tacit recognition that last season's side needs veteran leadership from players who know how the team and the operation works, and in turn are players the Steelers as an organisation know and trust. All three will offer more than the numbers they generate on the field and after a difficult close season, will bring a steadying influence we clearly needed.
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