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Old 07-23-2006, 07:00 AM   #1
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Default Starkey: Not a Good Vibe

Steelers' vibe not good
By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, July 23, 2006


Steelers stability.

That was the recurring -- and appropriate -- national storyline as Bill Cowher's crew rolled through Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Denver and Detroit on its way to a most improbable Super Bowl title.

It's not the storyline now.

Massive uncertainty is more like it, as the Steelers gear up for the opening of training camp next weekend in Latrobe.

Six months ago, as the playoff momentum built, it felt as if nothing could go wrong. Today, it feels as if anything could -- at any time. The offseason has been a disaster. To describe it any other way would be a lie. The vibe is not good.

The biggest offseason headlines were reserved for the star quarterback who nearly died in a motorcycle accident 41 days ago and the first-round draft pick who rang up arrests at a rate that would make Darryl Strawberry blush.

Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback, must overcome any physical and psychological remnants of his wreck. It might not be as simple as most seem to expect, and Roethlisberger is, without a doubt, the straw that stirs the Steelers' drink. He's the main reason they snapped their 25-year Super Bowl drought.

Santonio Holmes, the first-round draft pick, is scheduled to face trial Aug. 15 for a domestic violence charge in Columbus. At the very least, that will be an unpleasant distraction that could further retard the progress of a rookie who missed most of the team's spring workouts because of a silly NFL rule barring players whose college classes have yet to graduate.

Meanwhile, Cowher's future here looks anything but stable, and the team lost four of its steadiest personalities -- Jerome Bettis, Kimo von Oelhoffen, Chris Hope and Antwaan Randle El -- in a matter of weeks. The remaining leadership core will include more of the free-spirited types such as Roethlisberger and linebacker Joey Porter.

Cowher hasn't exactly squashed rumors that his retirement -- however temporary -- could occur within a year or two.

All of which does not mean the Steelers are doomed. The purpose here isn't to sound a siren call. It's merely to shed light on the fact that Cowher has a monumental challenge ahead of him over the next month or so.

Certainly, the Steelers have enough talent to defend their title. Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, Heath Miller, Willie Parker and a solid line should make for a potent offense, assuming Roethlisberger regains the Elway-like form he displayed in the AFC playoffs. Holmes' speed could make the unit downright scary.

The defense is stocked with players of All-Pro pedigree, such as Troy Polamalu, Casey Hampton, James Farrior, Porter, Aaron Smith, Clark Haggans and Ike Taylor.

On both sides of the ball, it's easy to find solid leadership in the likes of Jeff Hartings, Farrior, Hampton and Ward. The entire coaching staff was retained, and the Rooneys remain the rock upon which five Super Bowl teams were built.

But it's safe to say this team had the most tumultuous offseason of any of them. Something feels very unsettled around here. It's Cowher's job, with the help of his veteran leaders, to restore the positive vibe that enveloped this franchise six months ago.

Steelers stability will be put to the test in Latrobe.
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Old 07-23-2006, 08:30 AM   #2
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Default Re: Starkey: Not a Good Vibe

This is not an unfair assessment of the current situation....it may be a bit alarmist...but certainly not unfair...

It will be very interesting to see how the squad reacts to being the prey..as compared to being the hunter....
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Old 07-23-2006, 08:35 AM   #3
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Default Re: Starkey: Not a Good Vibe

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackNGold203
This is not an unfair assessment of the current situation...
I agree with that. Repeating is never an easy task to begin with, but with the offseason we have just been through it's not making it any easier. Is there cause for concern? Sure. Overall though, I think the positives outweigh the negatives.
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Old 07-23-2006, 08:38 AM   #4
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Default Re: Starkey: Not a Good Vibe

I guess I missed the part where Ben actually died. What a tool.

This article is another example of Pittsburghers being totally negative about every little thing that happens with their team.
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Old 07-23-2006, 08:52 AM   #5
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Default Re: Starkey: Not a Good Vibe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeremy
I guess I missed the part where Ben actually died. What a tool.

This article is another example of Pittsburghers being totally negative about every little thing that happens with their team.
I couldnt disagree more....

there IS reason for concern...I didnt find this piece as alarmist...or a depiction of people jumping off bridges...

it is responsible journalism to outline potential concerns and lurking problems...as long as its not over the top...which in my humble...Starkeys piece was not...
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Old 07-23-2006, 08:59 AM   #6
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Default Re: Starkey: Not a Good Vibe

Six months ago, as the playoff momentum built, it felt as if nothing could go wrong. Today, it feels as if anything could -- at any time. The offseason has been a disaster. To describe it any other way would be a lie. The vibe is not good.

Oh no, that's not even close to over the top.
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Old 07-23-2006, 09:11 AM   #7
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Default Re: Starkey: Not a Good Vibe

Starkey's column was not a "sky is falling" take but a fairly objective review of a what has been a tumultuous offseason. However, if you read the Boston or Indy papers it is not as if the Colts (Edge goes to Arizona) and the Patriots (free agent losses including the best pressure kicker in the game) have had clear sailing.

The 2 big long-term issues are Ben's status and whether Cowher is going to hang it up.
My recollection of winning coaches that have left voluntarily (Walsh, Parcells, Gibbs, Lombardi) is that they do not announce prior to the end of the season that they are stepping down. so everyone probably will just need to accept the fact that Cowher will announce his plans when he sees fit.

With regard to Ben, only his doctors have any reasonable medical opinion as to what the impact of getting hit with the violence of a NFL game may have on a face that was badly fractured only 3 months before the start of the regular season.

I obviously am looking forward to how this plays out, but with the first month of the season being against 4 potential playoff teams (Miami. @Jax, Cincy, bye, @San Diego) this year's team will not have the luxury of finding itself against the dregs of the league to start the year.

Given how poorly the offense played last pre-season I will not start to worry until the games count in the standings.
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Old 07-23-2006, 09:12 AM   #8
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Default Re: Starkey: Not a Good Vibe

In my opinion, six months ago nothing felt as it could go wrong. Today, who knows what could happen? Our starting QB went down with a bike crash and was close to death and our number one pick was arrested on two different occasions and could be reprimanded by the league. That sounds like a pretty bad offseason to me.

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with this article. He reported the good with the bad. He also reported that this team has "enough talent to defend their title" and gives his reasons on why that is definately possible. But to deny that this offseason has been horrible would be a complete lie. There are legitimate concerns heading into this season that Starkey brought up in this article.
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Old 07-23-2006, 09:49 AM   #9
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Default Re: Starkey: Not a Good Vibe

"The purpose here isn't to sound a siren call. It's merely to shed light on the fact that Cowher has a monumental challenge ahead of him over the next month or so."

as does EVERY coach EVERY season.

i feel better going into this season (despite the negatives) than i have any in a long time.
most teams would be lucky to have 2 of the character players we had in jerome, hope, el, and kimo. we have a surplus.

ben and our running game is in the middle of an evolution. quarterbacks have successfully played after a broken jaw. farve and collins both come to mind. (farve made it to the sb 2 years in a row the year after lloyd clocked him pluss he still hasnt missed a game.) bens jaw will be fine. bones heal to be stronger than they were in the 1st place.

many teams have holdouts that dont kill the team. at this point im just looking at santonio as a holdout. receivers usually dont grasp the game till their 3rd season anyways. 5 tds and 600 yds would have to be looked at as a great year from him.

cowher will not be a distraction to the team. when he does leave im confident the current corps of assistant (who happen to be the leagues best) will be kept together. as i remember, belichick and the other assistants rebounded from the loss of parcells.

the glass is definitely half full and not half empty. the team is growing and maturing, definitely not devolving. it will seem that way if they dont repeat but its just not that easy. the 4 negatives pointed out by starkey will autonatically be labeled as the reasons why.

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Old 07-23-2006, 09:59 AM   #10
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Default Re: Starkey: Not a Good Vibe

From all that I've seen of Roethlisberger's personality in interviews and read about him in papers, He's not all that emotionally complicated a guy. He doesn't brood. I don't think that this accident is going to affect him one bit. If you discount that, the only off season issues are Bettis' retirement and the loss of some vets. Everyone knew about the Bus last year, that this was coming, so it should be easy to overcome. And the Steelers lose good players and strong leaders every year, but weather it because they are the type of team where leadership is spread around, and they have a lot of players who need very little direction.

Too much is being made of larger themes here, when the reality of most teams is that smaller themes and issues make or break a season. You don't lose games all at once, you lose them one at a time. Injuries, lack of conditioning that shows up late in games and late in the season, lack of depth, lack of preparation, all those things are more important than the "vibe" perceived by an outsider... the "vibe" comes from inside the writer, not from the team.

My vibe is pretty optimistic; I get a GREAT feeling for where this team is going. We have some great players. We've added some strong rookies. We have one of the best coaching staffs in the league. We have great fans who travel all over the country to support the team. There's really no down side to it at all, unless you're streching to try and find one, unless you're trying to get your head in the toilet.

Sure it could fall apart; that's why they play the games, to give the other guys a chance. But from where the Steelers sit, every other team in the league would love to be where we are now.


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