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Old 05-18-2012, 03:48 AM   #1
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Default The End of the Rickety and Incompetence Periods

After many years of a respectable offense and a solid OL, 2007 is where things began to go badly, ushering in the 5-year Rickety Period of the Offensive Line. It's a very interesting topic for Steelers historians, as it coincides with the 5-year Incompetence Period of the Offensive Coordinator. When two forces of mishmash collide, it's difficult to separate the cottage cheese from the tofu. Indeed, it's best viewed from the perspective of afterwards.

Quote:
2003 Marvel Smith Alan Faneca Jeff Hartings Kendall Simmons Todd Fordham
2004 Marvel Smith Alan Faneca Jeff Hartings Keydrick Vincent Oliver Ross
2005 Marvel Smith Alan Faneca Jeff Hartings Kendall Simmons Max Starks
2006 Marvel Smith Alan Faneca Jeff Hartings Kendall Simmons Max Starks
2007 Marvel Smith Alan Faneca Sean Mahan Kendall Simmons Willie Colon
2008 Marvel Smith Chris Kemoeatu Justin Hartwig Kendall Simmons Willie Colon
2009 Max Starks Chris Kemoeatu Justin Hartwig Trai Essex Willie Colon
2010 Max Starks Chris Kemoeatu Maurkice Pouncey Trai Essex Flozell Adams
2011 Jonathan Scott Chris Kemoeatu Maurkice Pouncey Doug Legursky Willie Colon
The 2007 season saw the loss of Hartings at C, the failure of Sean Mahan as his replacement, and a noticeable drop-off in Faneca's attitude/performance due to the very bitter contract negotiations. Essentially we lost our strong interior plus the great leadership all at once.

It was also Tomlin's first year, and I've always wondered whether he was fully aware of how decisively things had changed. He viewed the team as having a "Super Bowl pedigree", and rightfully so, but it just wasn't the same line. At any rate, an ineffective, porous OL was destined to become business as usual over the subsequent five years. But that's not all. Oh no, that's not all.

In 2007-2008, things were quite confusing. Yes, we had lost Hartings, and it was easy to see that Mahan was struggling. But nobody was looking at Faneca - after all, hadn't he always been the rock? Of course, but now an unhappy and demotivated rock.

And then there was this squirreley new OC named Arians. It was hard to tell what was going on; were our linemen dropping their assignments, or were our offensive schemes actually designed to allow freedom of defensive movement within our backfield? Were we even running actual designed plays at all times? Could it actually be all of the above, and a chicken-wired OL without much NFL-caliber talent? (Do running backs really need holes, or is that just for inferior teams?) Of course, it was all of the above, and more.

The Miracle Defensive Super Bowl season of 2008 allowed many casual fans to look past the OL (and OC) problems, but knowledgeable observers knew we had big problems. The dirty truth was exposed in September, when the Eagles Defense tore through the Steelers OL and scheme as if they were a high school team. Perhaps once a decade, a defense for the ages can carry an inept offense to the Super Bowl. We were thankful, but at the time we had no idea that we'd spend the next year or two chafing at the incessant bleating of the ignorant; "How bad could [Arians or the OL] be? After all, we won a Super Bowl."

Thankfully, the Rooneys always know what they're watching.

By 2009, virtually everybody recognized it, and we began hearing polite and gracious statements trickling down from the Rooneys, statements that became stronger each year. To translate coarsely: "Guys, fix this so it looks like football." "Guys, really, fix this. I'm not telling you what to do, just do something effective so it's not embarrassing." "Last chance guys, no kidding, big heads are gonna roll if my QB is decapitated."

And even though the OL Rickety Period and OC Incompetence Period lasted five long years, you could see the effects of behind-the-scenes pressure from the NFLs best management team. Changes were made - a few OL draftees at earlier rounds than usual, the firing of a scapegoated OL coach (a skillful deflection of blame by the OC, but undoubtedly coupled with a "last chance" warning), Pouncey at #1, then finally taking out the root of the disease (the OC), and now a wholesale commitment to rebuilding the line.

Thank you, thank you thank you Mr. Rooney.

The Rickety Period is over! The Incompetence Period is over!

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Old 05-18-2012, 05:18 AM   #2
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Default Re: The End of the Rickety and Incompetence Periods

I do like your perspective of looking back. These are off-season musings of what this coming season could be. I am not one to count my chickens... While the potential is there, I have yet to see a game. I will hold back my elation until such time as it becomes a reality.
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Old 05-18-2012, 06:05 AM   #3
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Default Re: The End of the Rickety and Incompetence Periods

It's amazing how you refuse to draw any parallel between Arians' lack of success to the suddenly poor level of talent on the offensive line. Is it really surprising that the offense was suddenly...less after losing Pro Bowl players? Things like this really get tiring for people like me who have no desire to actually support Arians and tout his abilities. The reality is that he's a middling talent of a coordinator with a relatively unsophisticated philosophy. The mythology is that he is the worst coordinator ever and a horrible human being that destroyed the greatest sports franchise in the history of the world. Who knows? Maybe Arians could have had a top 5 scoring offense this season with this offensive line, and not a line that had 22 different combinations. A good deal of the Steelers' lack of success in the red zone was due to RBs being stuffed at the line and Ben being pressured. You know, things a better offensive line would be better at preventing. So let's get this out here now: if the offense has a huge year this year, it will probably be more because of the offensive line being better than because of Todd Haley (aka NotBruceArians).
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Old 05-18-2012, 06:16 AM   #4
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Default Re: The End of the Rickety and Incompetence Periods

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Originally Posted by bornaSteelersfan View Post
I do like your perspective of looking back. These are off-season musings of what this coming season could be. I am not one to count my chickens... While the potential is there, I have yet to see a game. I will hold back my elation until such time as it becomes a reality.
I agree....Have to see it work on the field first. Does look very promising though!
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Old 05-18-2012, 12:48 PM   #5
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Default Re: The End of the Rickety and Incompetence Periods

Sorry, but a good OC works around the strengths and weaknesses of his players. Let's see now. 3rd and goal inside the 10. Why don't we run an empty backfield set that gets our QB sacked more than 50% of the time. What about 3rd and goal from about the 9. Let's just run the ball up the gut 3 straight times with a pitiful Oline using the same exact play. Two of them lose a yard. The third one might gain one yard. Kick a field goal. Don't even try to tell me that most of the fault for the ineptness of the offense in the red zone area was not on the slow developing play calls by Airhead. I am not a football genius but it is plain as day to anyone who knows anything about the game and watches how the better teams do it.
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Old 05-18-2012, 12:54 PM   #6
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Default Re: The End of the Rickety and Incompetence Periods

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Originally Posted by Dodens Grav View Post
It's amazing how you refuse to draw any parallel between Arians' lack of success to the suddenly poor level of talent on the offensive line. Is it really surprising that the offense was suddenly...less after losing Pro Bowl players? Things like this really get tiring for people like me who have no desire to actually support Arians and tout his abilities. The reality is that he's a middling talent of a coordinator with a relatively unsophisticated philosophy. The mythology is that he is the worst coordinator ever and a horrible human being that destroyed the greatest sports franchise in the history of the world. Who knows? Maybe Arians could have had a top 5 scoring offense this season with this offensive line, and not a line that had 22 different combinations. A good deal of the Steelers' lack of success in the red zone was due to RBs being stuffed at the line and Ben being pressured. You know, things a better offensive line would be better at preventing. So let's get this out here now: if the offense has a huge year this year, it will probably be more because of the offensive line being better than because of Todd Haley (aka NotBruceArians).
Bingo. Can't wait to see what is said around here the first time they have to settle for a FG in the red zone after Haley takes the reins.
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Old 05-18-2012, 05:12 PM   #7
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Default Re: The End of the Rickety and Incompetence Periods

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Originally Posted by Dodens Grav View Post
Things like this really get tiring for people like me who have no desire to actually support Arians and tout his abilities.
And yet you do support Arians, and tout his abilities beyond any level that he's earned. He's not competent, he's nowhere near being a mid-level NFL OC. Where are his successes?
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Originally Posted by Dodens Grav View Post
A good deal of the Steelers' lack of success in the red zone was due to RBs being stuffed at the line and Ben being pressured. You know, things a better offensive line would be better at preventing. So let's get this out here now: if the offense has a huge year this year, it will probably be more because of the offensive line being better than because of Todd Haley (aka NotBruceArians).
I don't understand. Are you the same Dodens Gray who has been regularly singing the praises of all the sub-mediocre Steelers OL players all over these threads? If you like the OC, and you like the OL (or now you don't?), then how do explain the ineffective offense? Or do you think the offense has been fine? If you can't recognize the problems, how will you understand the fixes?

These have not been the good old days, Dodens. An NFL-caliber OL and OC is coming to Pittsburgh, ready or not! I think you're going to like it when you see it, whether or not you agree with the Rooneys on the rationale.
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Old 05-18-2012, 05:29 PM   #8
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Default Re: The End of the Rickety and Incompetence Periods

For those of you who are concerned about immediate results - relax, that's not important. Good results will ultimately follow good decisions. I'm elated to see all the evidence of great decisions lately. The Rooneys are all about solidly building for the long term; that's why we have such a great Steelers institution.

The Rooneys looked past the mirage of apparent successes, and recognized the problems that casual fans don't see and that many aware journalists won't talk about. They've been systematically exerting pressure in the right directions. NFL-caliber starters are being pulled into the fold, and the root cause has finally been eradicated.

We're on the right path, building the necessary infrastructure for the second half of our franchise QB's career. Success will follow well-directed actions, but of course there will be missteps. The knowledgeable fans will understand an occasional hiccup on the road, but they won't accept institutionalized incompetence. Let the casual fans squawk at the losses and cheer the wins on a weekly basis; they'll be happy with the overall result.

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Bingo. Can't wait to see what is said around here the first time they have to settle for a FG in the red zone after Haley takes the reins.
Hahah, I can hear it now. The same geniuses who will remind us that "after all, Arians won us a Super Bowl!!!"
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Old 05-18-2012, 06:04 PM   #9
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Default Re: The End of the Rickety and Incompetence Periods

There's a difference between supporting or liking a coordinator or offensive line and defending them against practical slander. I will give a more proper response when I have more time. But in the meantime, I urge you to stop instigating me with this "ready or not" crap and acting like I'm an abused spouse that only accepts my position because I haven't known any other way. Seriously. Cut that crap out. That's not how to have a discussion.
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Old 05-18-2012, 06:49 PM   #10
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Default Re: The End of the Rickety and Incompetence Periods

Lets keep this civil gentlemen.
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