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Old 07-28-2006, 07:50 AM   #1
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Default Ron Cook: Don't be foolish, but don't bet against us

Cook: Don't be foolish, but don't bet against Steelers repeating
Friday, July 28, 2006

You would have to be a fool to bet on the Steelers to win another Super Bowl. The odds against them are just too overwhelming. Only three teams have repeated in the free-agency era. The schedule is brutal. The AFC North Division will be much stronger, especially if Carson Palmer is healthy in Cincinnati and no other Bengals get tasered between now and the start of the season. The division will be better merely because Steve McNair has landed in Baltimore and Kellen Winslow is back in Cleveland, having learned all about motorcycles a year earlier than Ben Roethlisberger.

Beyond the competition, the Steelers must deal with a few potentially crippling distractions. Bill Cowher's hazy future. Ike Taylor's contract situation as he enters his free-agent season. Santonio Holmes' legal troubles.

They also are facing some hard questions. Will Big Ben flinch when Miami defensive end Jason Taylor goes after his head in the opener? Will they replace the threat that was Antwaan Randle El on punt returns and gadget plays? Will Ryan Clark, Tyrone Carter or rookie Anthony Smith step in adequately for free safety Chris Hope? Will Duce Staley stay healthy and fill the Jerome Bettis role in the power offense? And who will step up to fill the leadership void left by the losses of Bettis and Kimo von Oelhoffen?

Of course, you should give the Steelers and take the field in your Super Bowl wager.

Me? I won't do it.

I love the Steelers' chances.

Go ahead, call me a fool. It won't be the first time.

It might seem silly to be thinking about Super Bowl XLI with the Steelers just gathering today at St. Vincent College for the start of training camp, but it's not too early with this team. It has an extraordinary opportunity to make a little history and separate from all of the run-of-the-mill, one-year wonders by winning again.

From this angle, it looks as if the Steelers are more than capable.

It will be a little easier to predict another title after we see Roethlisberger make it through camp and the exhibition season. All indications are that he has healed physically from his motorcycle accident. What he has to show is that he's put it behind him mentally.

The prediction also would be easier if we knew for sure that the right players are going to stay healthy. All bets are off if Roethlisberger goes down for the long haul. The same is true of Marvel Smith, Alan Faneca, Casey Hampton and Troy Polamalu.

But, hey, where's the fun in stepping out on a limb in a perfect world?

The Steelers clearly have the coaching and personnel to repeat.

Cowher is so strong that he won't tolerate distractions. He figures to find a quick cure for his players' post-Super Bowl hangover, starting tomorrow with the team's grueling conditioning run and then Sunday with the first camp practice. As for the distraction his uncertain future might cause, don't worry about it. It's not as if the players are going to spend much time fretting that this might be his final season. Their only concern is playing well and winning games. The better they play and the more they win, the more money everybody makes.

Despite the questions about Roethlisberger's surgically rebuilt face, the loss of Randle El, the free safety position and Staley's durability, the Steelers look to be stronger than they were a year ago when they reported to St. Vincent off a 15-1 season and a trip to the AFC championship game.

Roethlisberger has proved his spectacular rookie season was no fluke. Max Starks showed he can play right tackle. Hampton came back strong from a serious knee injury in 2004 to be the team's co-MVP. Heath Miller is a year wiser and should be a bigger part of the pass offense. And there aren't the same questions about the running back position that there were after Bettis and Staley were injured in the exhibition season. Willie Parker showed, with one marvelous 75-yard touchdown run in the Super Bowl, that he is the man. Actually, he showed it all season.

As for that leadership thing, the Steelers are lucky. No one can replace Bettis in that regard; he ranks with Joe Greene and Willie Stargell among this city's all-time great locker room presences. But Faneca and Jeff Hartings are better people than players. They, along with Roethlisberger and Hines Ward, will take care of the offense. And the defense will be Joey Porter's. Again.

The bottom line is this:

It won't be a shock if the Steelers don't win Super Bowl XLI. Just a huge disappointment.
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Old 07-28-2006, 08:17 AM   #2
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Default Re: Ron Cook: Don't be foolish, but don't bet against us

In my opinion this is a pretty good article although Cook failed to mention only eight teams in history have repeated. And that's out of forty years of Super Bowls.
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Old 07-28-2006, 08:32 AM   #3
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Default Re: Ron Cook: Don't be foolish, but don't bet against us

That was a very good article by Ron Cook. He makes a lot of valid points but he failed to mention the black and gold mojo. Historically, the Steelers have won back to back Lombardi trophies twice since 1974, so if history repeats itself once again, the Steelers should be in line for that one for the pinkie.
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Old 07-28-2006, 09:17 AM   #4
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Default Re: Ron Cook: Don't be foolish, but don't bet against us

Good article by Cook. Cowher definitely will remind the guys every single day that last year is just that - last year. Plus, they all have to know they're marked men since they're the champs, which combined with the desire to win another championship should keep everyone focused and hungry. I certainly won't bet against them repeating, that's for sure.
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Old 07-28-2006, 09:46 AM   #5
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Default Re: Ron Cook: Don't be foolish, but don't bet against us

A very good article. Sure the Steelers lost some players from last years team. But if Ben has no setbacks then the Steelers will be one of the top three teams in the AFC this year. Ben Roethlisberger is what makes this team special. Thats what alot of people don't get. Sure he doesn't put the Peyton Manning stats or has to carry the load on offense like Dan Marino did in his career. But Ben is the spark plug. Kind of like Tom Brady with the Pats.

I agree though if the Steelers lost Troy Polamalu, Marvel Smith or Faneca that could prevent them from repeating. I don't agree with lossing Casey Hampton. Casey is the best NT in the game. But the Steelers proved in 2004 that they can overcome his loss all the way to a 15-1 record. I'm suprised Ron Cook didn't mention Hines Ward as one the players that the Steelers couldn't afford to lose or even Willie Parker. Lets face it lossing one of those two would end our dreams of a repeat.
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Old 07-28-2006, 10:05 AM   #6
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Default Re: Ron Cook: Don't be foolish, but don't bet against us

On the Dan Patrick show, Dan Marino said if he had any one player to start a franchise, it would be Ben.
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Old 07-28-2006, 10:29 AM   #7
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Default Re: Ron Cook: Don't be foolish, but don't bet against us

Interesting article. I'm trying to figure out what he means when he says Faneca is a better person than player. I know Faneca is a nice guy and all but he seems to hold his own and then some when he is playing the line as well.
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Old 07-28-2006, 10:38 AM   #8
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Default Re: Ron Cook: Don't be foolish, but don't bet against us

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelerFanInCA
Interesting article. I'm trying to figure out what he means when he says Faneca is a better person than player. I know Faneca is a nice guy and all but he seems to hold his own and then some when he is playing the line as well.
hes paying them the highest compliment. as great as he is on the field as a potential hall of fame talent and perinniel pro bowler, he is an even better person and leader, more than capable of picking up the leadership slack with jerome being gone.
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Old 07-28-2006, 10:41 AM   #9
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Default Re: Ron Cook: Don't be foolish, but don't bet against us

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Originally Posted by tony hipchest
hes paying them the highest compliment. as great as he is on the field as a potential hall of fame talent and perinniel pro bowler, he is an even better person and leader, more than capable of picking up the leadership slack with jerome being gone.
I see, yeah that makes sense.
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Old 07-28-2006, 03:06 PM   #10
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Default Re: Ron Cook: Don't be foolish, but don't bet against us

I could see us losing in the opening or second round of the playoffs and winning another Superbowl the following season in 2007 (much like the Patriots did in 2001 to 2003/04).
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