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Monday, January 04, 2010

Post-Miami thoughts

Complain about teams laying down in the closing weeks all you want – and apparently commissioner Roger Goodell is angry about it as well – but there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Anyone who wants to complain about need only see what happened to New England's Wes Welker Sunday in a game the Patriots really didn't need.

Welker apparently blew his knee out and will miss the playoffs, likely making New England a long shot to win the Super Bowl. The Pats were something of a long shot to begin with, but without Welker, they have no chance.

Goodell has good reason to be ticked off about teams tanking. Fans around the league – especially those in Pittsburgh and Houston – are angry about the Colts tanking a game against the Jets and costing their teams a shot at the playoffs.

Ticked off fans could mean fewer fannies in the seats. And with Goodell pushing for the league to expand to an 18-game schedule, how's it going to sell when you've got a quarter of the league taking the final week - or more in the case of Indianapolis - off?

Reportedly, Goodell would like to offer teams draft picks as a reward for playing their regulars in meaningless games, but all they'll have to do is think about Welker and weigh the loss of a top player against picking up an extra draft pick.

© Now, let's get on to the thoughts from Sunday's game.

Willie Parker closed out his career with the Steelers in style, hammering the Dolphins down the stretch and eating up the clock.

Parker likely won't be back in 2010. He wants to be a starter somewhere or at least be given a chance to start.

But he kept his cool about it all season long and performed when the team asked him to. That's what professionals do.

© Finally, not one but two interceptions by the cornerbacks. Than again, that ruined what would have been a great statistical footnote.

© That was a nasty, but clean, hit that Ike Taylor put on Pat White, knocking the former WVU quarterback out of the game.

White was falling to the ground after being tripped from behind by Lawrence Timmons and Taylor just happened to hit him helmet to helmet.

It was still a scary play, though.

© I think you might have to get used to the shootout-style victories.

Something tells me they'll be more of the norm rather than the exception in 2010.


rocket9 said...

I believe what really killed the Steelers is the lack of adequate replacements on D after the injuries to Smith and Troy P. (He's NEVER healthy so I don't know why we are surprised..great player. short career I think) The dregs they trotted out there for this game ..Kirschke, Eason, Townshend (he's way over the hill like many Steelers), T.Carter (embarassingly bad in many games down the stretch, his spastic attempt to tackle will linger in the memory) Ryan Clark (one of my faves but sadly he's lost a huge step).. It may be time for Lebeau to retire as well, IMO. Watching Revis play ON his man against the Bengals made me realize that in teh Steelers scheme he'd be 15 yards off giving up the yardage for first down. hee hee...Dick has been great but he no longer has great players to run his scheme. I imagine he'll be here as long as he wants to..and thats only fair. But we need a lot of shakeups on D and the DC is not exempt after this embarasing year of blow leads, in which even third string QB's made our secondary look porous.

Dale Lolley said...

What adjustments would you have him make? You just said yourself that the players stunk - your words.

adamg said...

I doubt Wes Welker is the be all and end all of NE's offense. He's a product of their system, not the other way around. Belichek will find someone else to play that role. NE's problem is their defense, which is why they aren't too likely to go far in the playoffs. Say what you will about Belichek, he at least tried to win the game although it meant little to NE.

As for treating end of season games like exhibition games, that's fine for any game that doesn't have any impact on any other team's playoff chances. Indy is deservedly taking heat for the
way Caldwell managed the game vs the Jets. However, GIVING a team something like extra draft picks for doing their job - i.e., playing to win - is the wrong way to go. Try taking draft choices or home playoff games instead.

Anonymous said...

Any word on how Pat White is doing?

Anonymous said...

White had a concussion but he's okay.

I can't believe anyone would criticize LeBeau for the way the defensive backs played this season. He can't cover the receivers for the players and he sure can't tackle them either, although at 71 he'd probably be almost has good as them.

This team needs an infusion of talent at the corners, without a top on their defense teams will continue to pick them apart irregardless of who the DC is.

LeBeau's defense has taken the Steelers to countless playoff games over the past decade. He desreves better than that Rocket.


marc said...

off-seasons like this one are typically what separates the steelers from most the rest of the league. they need to fill some holes, upgrade some spots and etc, etc. it will take a combination of bringing in some talent, developing who's here, and drafting well. they have done it in the past and feel they will do it again this time.

i don't believe our defense will be world beaters next year, but they will be better and this team will continue to contend for the playoffs.

imo, we need a couple coaching changes as well. hopefully we can bring in 1 or 2 impact free agents if possible.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of coaching changes... When can we expect any coaching changes to happen, if they happen at all?

Collin Williams said...

I know we can fire the Special Teams coach and that idiot named Bruce Arians

Todd said...

I think we need to make changes to the following coaches, OL,DL,DB, and ST. BA isn't going anywhere as much as I would like to see a change there as well.

I am hoping we can get a CB in the draft that can contribute, as well as a DL.

adamg said...

Rumors are about that Arians is being considered for the Texas Tech and/or Cent Mich head football coach vacancies at those schools. Arians did have some success at Temple - not an easy task - so he might do fine as a college head coach. I can only hope that "win-win" scenario comes true.

Zerlien definitely needs to go. Never have I seen an OL that is so consistently "confused" by DL/LB stunts. Wofley commented on that again yesterday. After 20 games - no improvement. The OL group is almost the same as last year, yet they still cannot get their signals straight. To me, that is 90% coaching and 10% a talent issue.

I'm agnostic about Ligashesky and Jones. After the Steelers signed a couple ST aces, esp Madison, the coverage seemed to improve a lot.
I think the ST nove dive was more an issue of releasing higher salaried ST vets and keeping rookies who weren't nearly as good on STs. To me, that is personnel not coaching, and can be fixed.

Anonymous said...

What other job can you not perform because you are afraid of injury. A fireman says I dont want to fight this fire, because I want to be ready for the next big fire?? LOL

Anyway, the Steelers always do good in the draft, so I am thinking they will bring in 3 outstanding players with 1 or 2 having the possibility of making the team with the higher draft picks alloted. CBs/S, DL, OL, LB being priorities. RB, WR, QB, TE are good

Next priority, Tomlin needs to call up Cowher (&/or watch films), and talk to him about how he went 100-1 when Pitt had the lead.....

Now, all that being said, I would love to see Pitt in preseason game #1 do nothing but RUN, RUN, RUN. Do you know how tough that is to run block an entire game?

Collin Williams said...

In the draft we need a cornerback like Todd Said

Anonymous said...

"Anyway, the Steelers always do good in the draft, so I am thinking they will bring in 3 outstanding players with 1 or 2 having the possibility of making the team with the higher draft picks alloted."

Meant to say "and 1 or 2 in rounds 4-7 having the possibility of making the team."

Justin said...

Dale, do you really think that this team will be forced into shootouts again in 2010 with a healthy Troy and Aaron Smith on the field? It seems to me that if the Steelers draft for depth and are able to get their stars on defense healthy, this defense can still be as dominant as the 2008 defense was. At least for another couple of years.

Scott said...

I don't think the special teams coach should be canned necessarily. We had great coverage last year. But when you constantly lose players like Okobi, Morey and Madison every year, eventually it takes its toll.

As for Arians I am undecided, but I would NEVER like to see the empty set again.

It takes a year for rookies to learn LeBeau's D, so I think we should get a solid free agent corner who can come right in. Hampton is also a free agent, but I think it is easier for a rookie to step into the role as nose tackle (as Hampton and others have done around the league). We need to upgrade our line as well. Willie Colon is a free agent but our runs to right tackle were our worst, while right end were our best. Tackle is another position you can have a starter right out of college.

Other than that, we need some DEPTH at safety. Injuries to Troy kill us and we need some insurance there.

noel said...

The last guy deserving of blame for all this is Dick Lebeau. He has proven himself many times. I think the loss of Aaron Smith impacts all the defensive units. Brett Keisel doesn't command double-teams like Smith and Hampton, it really creates a lot more work for the LB corps when they're missing such a huge piece. It's a blessing in disguise because Aaron Smith won't play forever, who knows if he'll even be back next year. Ziggy Hood looked good but he's no Aaron Smith, at least not yet.

I would like to see them try and pry Adam Carriker away from the Rams. He'd look good in our system. Aside from that I agree with everything Colin said.

marc said...

until we upgrade our DB's teams will find holes in the pass defense. even with all the sacks this year we got torched.

taylor, when "on" is very good, but is just too inconsistent. gay obviously was exposed this season and needs much improvement. carter is like trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. he only does one thing well and that's throwing his shoulder into someone near the line of scrimmage. clark is adequate, but needs troy in the game so he can focus on playing centerfield. towshend should retire. troy, imo, is the best strong safety ever, but his style play will lead to a short career. the young guys did some good and bad things. let's hope they can build off it for next year.

even with troy and smith playing, i feel other teams are finding openings in our secondary. we need to adjust our scheme some and obviously play better man-to-man.

Dave in Las Vegas said...

Dale, Happy New Year. 1st Who are the top two corners comming out in this years draft? 2nd What offensive linemen will be available in the second or third rounds. Also what limitations are going to be placed on restricted and unrestricted free agents in the uncapped year if no agreement can be reached in the CBA? Thanks again as always ..

Anonymous said...

Dale, I saw that the Bills fired their entire coaching staff, including Bobby April. Any chance the Steelers would bring him back to replace Ligashesky, or is that just wishful thinking?

Patrick said...

Dale, Interesting you say we might see more of this shoot out style team. This year that was the team's identity and Tomlin embraced it (see the onside kick call for exhibit A). I hope it changes, but that will depend on the OC.

Looking forward to some changes, whether coaches, FA or the draft. Should make for an interesting offseason.

marc said...

dale, out of curiousity, how is sweed doing?

Dale Lolley said...

I still haven't heard anything about Sweed. I'll keep my ear to the ground on that one.

Fire John Mitchell? Seriously? There's no way that's happening.

Ligashesky will likely get the ax. Zeirlein may retire on his own. But I don't think there will be wholesale coaching staff changes.

As for the draft, I don't want to start speculating on that until I get some more information.

Ben said...

"I think we need to make changes to the following coaches, OL,DL,DB, and ST. BA isn't going anywhere as much as I would like to see a change there as well."

Todd, you want to fire John Mitchell, who has been coaching the D-Line for 16 seasons? He is the best 3-4 line coach in the NFL - hands down. He's probably next in line to take over for LeBeau when he decides to retire. He was missing his unit's best player for most of the season - Aaron Smith - who is the best 3-4 defensive end in football.

I can't fathom why anyone would want him to be fired. It seems like you're picking position coaches out of a hat at random.

Patrick said...

This offseason will be interesting, much like many of Dale's interesting articles and the interesting draft speculation we'll be hearing. Interesting too will be the changes in the coaching staff and roster we will probably see. Very, very interesting....

BlackNGold said...

IIRC, the top 2 CBs this year is Joe Haden from UF and Patrick Robinson from FSU. After that not sure.

Seems to be a better draft for S though with Eric Berry (Tenn), Earl Thomas from (Tex) and Taylor Mays (USC).

Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick said...

thats the last thing we need on here - a draft choice named Patrick.

and sorry I used the same word in one post - what was I thinking? especially in regards to the offseason since last year's was so dramatic and all, with next to nothing changing.

Anonymous said...

Im waiting for Steeler Nation to open its eyes...

Heres the drill, this draft and this year going forward all hinge on 1 player and 1 coach. Follow me on this.
IF we franchise Hampton, were sticking with OUR NORM on defense (ie Cowhers defense) and look to fill for Safety, Corner, and MLB.
IF we dont franchise Hamp, we will then begin the transition into the 4-3 defense.
After all, its what weve been drafting for on defense for 3 years. News Update!- Ziggy Hood isnt a 3-4 DE, hes a 4-3 DT. Lawrence Timmons isnt a 34 ILB that stuffs the run, hes a 43 OLB that rushes the QB, and while Lamarr Woodley kicks a** as a 34 OLB, he was stellar as a 43 DE in college, needing double teamed. Lastly, those corners we drafted in the 3rd and 5th rounds? Their college teams predominately held cover 2/3 zone defenses.
Just like Cowher did when he got here, Coach Tomlin has been patiently waiting for this moment. The 3-4 players to either have their contracts end or age themselves out.
A change is coming my friends. Oh, and watch what happens if/when coach Lebeau retires after getting into the HOF.

Scott said...

Sorry SteelRose but I have to disagree with you there. We are 1 season removed from having 1 of the best defenses in league history and suddenly you want to change the whole scheme? We have all of our solid offensive stars locked up for a while. Why on earth would we blow up the other side of the ball? We hardly have depth in the 3-4 at DE as it is. Where are we going to just come up with extra DE depth? If anything, NT is one of the few positions that can be replaced by a rookie with success in Dick LeBeau's defense. And you honestly think the Steelers are going to base their D or the talent and on the "schemes" at Oregon State and Central Florida? On second thought, maybe they would get more INTs is they did that. :) Anyway, I just find this to be quite a stretch. If LeBeau retired, then I suppose all bets are off, but until then we ain't changin jack other than infusing some new blood.

Anonymous said...

Actually Scott, you made part of my point. We dont have depth at DE in the 3-4, so why not build depth with 4-3 ends? Heres how it works- Aaron Smith is old and injured ALOT and his kid is very sick, Im guessing hes about thru. Brett Keisel can play 4-3 end, he also did it in college. Hoke can fill in DT. Sunny Harris, who the coaches love, is a suitable backup 4-3 DT. Eason- bye, Kirschke- bye. You have to admit that when the average term for a pro football player is 6-8 years, these guys age like dogs. So while we had the #1 D last year, and a few years before, we havent injected ANY blood into it. Nor did we for the past 3 years. Did we draft a 6'5 275 lb DE? Nope. Maybe a 6'1 340 lb DT? Nope. Did we draft 6'3 300 4-3 DTs? Yep, 3 of them... at least. And this isnt switching to what Oregon St. or Cent. Fl does- its what OUR coach HAS DONE- successfully with the Bucs and the Vikings. Look, everybody and their brother is switching to the 3-4. When Cowher got here we jumped onto a unique change. And we are doing so again. Maybe not this year... but soon my friend, very soon. Oh, and if Joe Paterno keeps d*cking around with PSU, and if PSU is really gonna give the reigns to his son... Id be calling Tom Bradley, PSU Def. Coord- no resume required.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Woodley would be LDE with Hood and Hoke/draft pick in the middle and Keisel at RDE. Timmons would be LOLB with a draft pick at MLB (sorry Potsie, we need speed to cover when we do tampa 2, Fox will backup) and Harrison at LOLB. Ike stays and Troy stays. FS and RCB will be draft or FAs.

Rd 1- trade up or cross fingers for Haden or Lindley, or Wilson- these are the top 3 CBs.
Rd 2- Brown, Calloway or Fox all OT
Rd 3- Johnson or Allen both FS
Rd 3 comp pick- Pawalek, Dimperi or Ezeh all are MLBs
Rd 4- Alualu or Neal both 43 DTs
Rd 5- Kerlew, Young or Alem- all 43 DEs
Rd 5 comp pick- Cooper or Hodge both WRs
Rd 6- Moeaki or Dray- both superb blocking AND catching TEs
Rd 7- Dorin Dickerson- just for fun

(round 3 could flip if Washington or Lee fall)
oh, and the 3rd rd comp pick is for loss of McFadden (in playoffs)
And 5th round comp is for Nate Washington- starter.

Anonymous said...

Last thing- bye bye Larry Zierlein (enjoy your porn old man) and Ligashesky. Bye Colon, Bye Essex. Funny thing... youve both been replaced essentially by 1 guy. Hi there Ramon, youre doing very well kid. My 2nd round pick above is for RT/LT, depends who falls. The undertaker played RT during the SB 40 yr, and can do so again.

Goodnight all.

Anonymous said...

Terrence Cody out of Alabama also known as Mount Cody is a monster of a defensive lineman. He would be the heir apparent to Casey Hampton and quite frankly this guy is a load. Even if he had to play DE for a year he is an absolute force to be reckoned with. If the Steelers can't get a top flight CB they should go after this guy.

Here it is only 24 hours after the season ended and I'm already playing GM. Geez it's gonna be a long off season.

Scott said...

I'm still not buying it SteelRose. So, we would have rookie and 2nd year DTs (Hood), a rookie MLB, a rookie CB and a rookie or Free Agent FS. Or, if we waited til the next year, at best, you draft some 4th and 5th round DEs this year according to your mock draft and hope by next year they are ready to play in a 4-3...and you waste half a season adapting to that new system in the 2nd year? Doesn't make any sense. Seems like we would get killed with so many rookie and 2nd year players in the prime of so many of our stud offensive players...wasting those prime years.

I have heard Terrance Cody and Dan Williams names tossed around a bit and it seems to me it would be a lot easier to let Casey and his $6.6 million go and take one of those NTs. Didn't Casey start his rookie season? And haven't numerous rookie NTs started this season in the NFL?

How bout this:
- take one of the above NT's in the first or 2nd round
- with the other pick take a quality offensive lineman which we haven't done in years
- take another 3rd round CB or S and hope Keenan is the real deal
- same in the 4th with CB/S

Re-sign Clark, RFA Colon, and most of the rest on the cheap compared to Hampton. And maybe use some of the money left over to get a solid/veteran CB free agent. Other than that, we get Polamalu and Aaron Smith back. Hood is being groomed as Smith's eventual replacement.


marc said...

wow, you guys need to get a hobby or i agree, we are headed to a 4-3, but not yet. it won't be until lebeua is gone and we get some more experienced players to fill those spots. maybe in a few years.

i would still like to see them draft a top flight OL. we MUST be more consistent running the ball. a new OL coach may help, but you just can't teach natural talent and instincts.

Anonymous said...

Rose has it dead on, this team is heading to a 4-3, fact is with so many teams moving to a 3-4 it has created a shortage of both NT and DE who can play in the 3-4, driving up the price. And this game is all about salaries and salary caps.

And please don't tell me it's an uncapped year - thats not going to affect the Steelers behavior, it may allow large market teams to blow a few bucks but it ain't gonna happen in Pitts.

They are not going to draft Cody - the guy will eat his way out of the league and Hampton will not be franchised that would be flat out stupid. If they want to keep him - sign him to a deal, or cut him loose, to do anything less would create a mess.

they have a solid 4-3 line right now: Kiesel Hood Hoke Woodley with Eason and Harris as back ups. Can you imagine Timmons and Woodley both lining up on a QBs blind side - scare the %^&)*&^ out of anyone.

ANd take the money from Hampton and sign Dunte Robinson from Texans (he had a bad year but the guy has talent the bad year will bring down the price)

Texans will probably sign Hampton - nice trade off.

Farmer Fran

Anonymous said...

Lebeau is coming back next year. As long as Lebeau is the Steelers DC they will use the 3-4 (with some 4-3 stances thrown in), so give the 4-3 talk a rest until he is officially gone. It's also a bit early to be saying the Steelers will or won't take a guy in the draft. People will rise and fall in the draft over the next few months. At least wait until to combine is over to see who rises and who falls.

marc said...

i don't know if they did it at all this year, but it would be interesting to see the steelers defense line up in a 3-4 then have woodley step down to a 4-3. would that throw off an offense?

Dale Lolley said...

They will not be shifting to a 4-3. It's very, very unlikely to happen.

Patrick said...

thanks for putting an end to that speculation Dale - we've been hearing that since the day Tomlin was hired and I don't understand why it persists.

I agree Timmons would be better in 4-3, and Hood could play in the 4-3 if needed. But Hood has the unique body size to play 3-4 DE. And thats about where it ends - everyone else on the defensive front 7 excels at where they are now, why change it?