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August 9th, 2014, 7:30pmET

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Old 06-21-2006, 11:40 AM   #1
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Default Signs of trouble: Four '05 playoff teams that have reasons to worry

New S.I. article on the Steelers and others (including Plax) in case you missed.

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http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/200...ffs/index.html
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All the drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers the last couple weeks has me questioning their chances at defending their Super Bowl title. I wouldn't have said that three months ago, but it's easy to change your mind when their starting quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) smashes his face in a motorcycle accident, their first-round pick (Santonio Holmes) gets arrested twice in a two-month span and their most beloved player (Jerome Bettis) is settling into retirement and preparing for a television career. It's not that the Steelers don't have any less talent. I just wonder where their heads will be at once this season begins.

This isn't to say the Steelers are alone in that regard, either. Within the last few weeks, a handful of playoff teams have dealt with their own issues. Some face contract complaints. Others are contending with continual bickering. A couple teams are hoping unproven players can ease the loss of long-time stars. What they all have in common, however, is this: They don't look as strong as they did at the end of last season and they better hope these problems fade away during training camp.

That said, here is my list of problematic playoff teams:

1. Pittsburgh Steelers: Though Roethlisberger should be ready for the season, that doesn't mean Steelers fans can start thinking about defending their title. Losing wide receiver Antwaan Randle El in free agency is a big blow because of the versatility he brought to the offense and his explosiveness as a return man. It's even more of a big deal now because Holmes, despite all his speed and potential, already looks like he has to overcome maturity issues. If he can't grow up, that passing game that looked so impressive during most of the postseason won't be half as scary. Add in the free-agent departures of two solid role players on defense (free safety Chris Hope and defensive tackle Kimo Von Oelhoffen) and the leadership void created by Bettis's retirement (which means outspoken outside linebacker Joey Porter has to become a more tempered voice in the locker room) and you can see where this is going. When you play in a division that could be as competitive as the AFC North -- with the Bengals and the improved Ravens gunning for playoff spots -- the road back to the postseason won't be easy.

2. Chicago Bears: It's never a good sign when you have three key players from last year's team griping about their individual situations. One of the underlying factors in Chicago winning the NFC North last season was their locker-room. Now we know that Pro Bowl cornerback Nathan Vasher is upset about being paid back-up money, even though he recently ended a holdout and reported back to offseason workouts. We also know that Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs is just as disgruntled with his own deal and that running back Thomas Jones doesn't like the idea of splitting carries after a 1,300-yard season. What this all means is that the Bears are on the verge of having major chemistry issues. Players notice the team isn't taking care of young stars like Vasher and Briggs. That kind of controversy can undermine the foundation of a team and it destroy confidence in an organization. Remember, the Bears followed a magical playoff season in 2001 with a three-year slide into irrelevance. If they're not careful, they may be looking at a repeat of that fall from grace.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: One man is going to factor heavily into the Jags' hopes of returning to the postseason -- Matt Jones. If the second-year receiver can become a steady target for quarterback Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville will be fine. If he can't, then I don't know who's going to be leading a receiving corps that looks awfully thin now that Jimmy Smith has retired. Smith may have been well past his prime, but he kept defenses honest with his smarts and savvy. He also provided plenty of confidence for Leftwich and eased the pressure on the running game. Without Smith, Leftwich has to carry a greater offensive burden and I've several scouts have told me they still don't know whether Leftwich is ready to do just that. He needs help. The Jags better find some for him in training camp.

4. New York Giants: I have a feeling wide receiver Plaxico Burress' frustration isn't an isolated incident. He started fast last season but then cooled off late in the year. The offseason was filled with speculation of a rift between he and quarterback Eli Manning. Burress recently shot down that rumor, but I wouldn't be surprised if this issue resurfaces. The main reason Burress went south is that Manning isn't as good as his press clippings suggest -- at least not yet. Manning's 52.8 completion percentage and 75.9 quarterback rating are evidence of that. If he doesn't improve those numbers, Burress won't be the only unhappy person in the Tri-State area. There will be plenty of Giants fans joining him because their team will be home for the postseason.
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Old 06-21-2006, 12:14 PM   #2
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Default Re: Signs of trouble: Four '05 playoff teams that have reasons to worry

this guy must not have seen hope's ass get handed to him constantly last year
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Old 06-21-2006, 02:00 PM   #3
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Default Re: Signs of trouble: Four '05 playoff teams that have reasons to worry

I am still having trouble understanding how losing Randall El is a "big blow" to the team. It's only natural to speculate on Ben. Ben will be ready but to what extent? Who knows how the accident will affect his ability on the playing field. Only time will tell. I think we have found solid replacements for Kimo and Hope.
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Old 06-21-2006, 02:01 PM   #4
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Default Re: Signs of trouble: Four '05 playoff teams that have reasons to worry

right just like losing burress a couple years ago was a major blow 2.. haha
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Old 06-21-2006, 02:18 PM   #5
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Default Re: Signs of trouble: Four '05 playoff teams that have reasons to worry

The Steelers got no problems. They have deep depth a wr. and i don't think the writer has heard of the saying there is no "I" in team.
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Old 06-21-2006, 02:47 PM   #6
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Default Re: Signs of trouble: Four '05 playoff teams that have reasons to worry

I am not worried one bite about this years team in fact I expect them to be better
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Old 06-21-2006, 02:48 PM   #7
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Default Re: Signs of trouble: Four '05 playoff teams that have reasons to worry

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohio Steeler
I am not worried one bite about this years team in fact I expect them to be better
Like 12-4 to unbeaten and Unveiling a new banner opening night 2007 season?
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Old 06-21-2006, 03:26 PM   #8
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Default Re: Signs of trouble: Four '05 playoff teams that have reasons to worry

Only good thing Kimo did this year was to take out Carson...(he didn't do it on purposed)
Randel el had shit for recieving yards, and his returns were good, but not great (see fumbled punt return at Pats). His bark was defiently worse than his bite most of the time. Joey Porter was the voice of the locker room last season. The Bus was like a father figure, Joey was the "senior you looked up to during your freshman year of football" type of guy. Ben will be fine, he my be rusty in the first 2 games, but last time i checked, losing 2 games still gets you into the playoffs. Stupid article written by a stupid writer who never played an organized sport in his life.
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Old 06-21-2006, 03:31 PM   #9
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Default Re: Signs of trouble: Four '05 playoff teams that have reasons to worry

The Steelers didn't lose any star players in the off-season, but it's not necessarily those star players who win championships, it's also those role players who step up and make big plays (i.e. Randle El's trick plays, Kimo's "big hits," etc.). No one knows how big of an impact some of these players make until they're gone.
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Old 06-21-2006, 03:47 PM   #10
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Default Re: Signs of trouble: Four '05 playoff teams that have reasons to worry

Quote:
Originally Posted by CantStop85
The Steelers didn't lose any star players in the off-season, but it's not necessarily those star players who win championships, it's also those role players who step up and make big plays (i.e. Randle El's trick plays, Kimo's "big hits," etc.). No one knows how big of an impact some of these players make until they're gone.
we have been losing players in free agency for years and we have always bounced back
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