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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Where the Steelers go from here

The No. 1 priority for the Steelers heading into this offseason is to re-sign linebacker Jason Worilds.

After allowing wide receiver Mike Wallace and cornerback Keenan Lewis to leave as free agents following the 2012 season because they couldn’t afford to sign them to new deals, the Steelers aren’t about to let another good young talent get away.

The problem is that the Steelers are currently projected to be just under $13 million over the 2014 estimated salary cap, including dead money from players already released and workout bonuses.

The team will also need an additional $5.8 million to sign their draft picks and some additional money for the practice squad, emergencies, etc. By the time all is said and done, they’ll need between $18 and $20 million in cap space.

The first order of business will be clearing the cap space needed to be compliant by March 11, when the new fiscal year begins.

Releasing offensive tackle Levi Brown will account for $6.25 million of that and is an easy fix. Brown never played a down for the Steelers after being acquired via a trade for a conditional pick with Arizona. Since Brown met none of the conditions of the trade, no pick will be exchanged.

Veteran linebacker Larry Foote, who spent most of 2013 on injured reserve, could also be released at a savings of $1.17 million.

So where will the rest of the money come from?

An extension to Roethlisberger could net the team $3 to $4 million in cap savings for 2014 and seems to be a no-brainer. And simple restructures in the deals of Brown and linebacker Lawrence Timmons could create an additional $8 million in cap space.

The team could also approach cornerback Ike Taylor and inquire about the possibility of taking a paycut on the $7 million salary he is scheduled to earn in 2014. But, as happened in 2013 with James Harrison, the team must also be prepared to release Taylor if he isn’t agreeable to taking a cut.

Placing the franchise tag on Worilds would cost $10.9 million and would keep the linebacker from bolting in free agency but might be too high a cost for the Steelers to afford. But they might not have a choice at this point and would have to release another veteran outright to use the tag and hope they can work out a new deal with Worilds to lower that total.

One of the biggest issues facing the Steelers is what to do with outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley.

Woodley has missed time with injuries in each of the past three seasons and is scheduled to make $13.5 million. If the Steelers re-sign Worilds as expected, they will release Woodley.

But they likely won’t be able to make that move until after June 1, at which time they can free up $8 million with the other $5.3 million being carried over to 2015. Releasing Woodley prior to June 1 means the Steelers would take a $14 million hit against their cap in 2014.

But the Steelers will have to carry Woodley’s $13.5 million salary against their cap until his June 1 release.
The Steelers will also need to figure out ways to re-sign some of their own free agents.

Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders will want more than a minimum deal, as will safety Ryan Clark. Neither will likely return.

But the Steelers might be able to work out minimum deals with wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who led the team with 10 touchdown catches, running back Jonathan Dwyer, long snapper Greg Warren, defensive lineman Al Woods and offensive lineman Guy Whimper.

Center Fernando Velasco would have required a decent contract offer given his play throughout the season, but after suffering an Achilles tendon injury late in the year, could be re-signed for a minimum deal prior to training camp. If Velasco gets another offer or the team feels he’s not progressing with his rehab well enough, 

Cody Wallace could be re-signed as well.

With Clark gone, the Steelers will also look to add a veteran at free safety as well. Will Allen could fill that role if he is re-signed, though cornerback William Gay could also be moved to that spot.

Steelers unrestricted free agents (and their chances of re-signing)
S Will Allen (60-40)
WR Plaxico Burress (10-90)
S Ryan Clark (10-90)
WR Jerricho Cotchery (70-30)
RB Jonathan Dwyer (60-40)
DE Ziggy Hood (60-40)
TE David Johnson (50-50)
RB Felix Jones (25-75)
DE Brett Keisel (60-40)
P Mat McBriar (30-70)
OL Eric Olsen (20-80)
TE Michael Palmer (50-50)
WR Emmanuel Sanders (20-80)
RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (50-50)
LB Stevenson Sylvester (50-50)
C Cody Wallace (50-50)
LS Greg Warren (40-60)
LB Jamaal Westerman (30-70)
OL Guy Whimper (60-40)
DT Al Woods (70-30)
LB Jason Worilds (80-20)

OL Fernando Velasco (80-20)

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cut pouncey and save even more!! Everyone complains about woodley missing time due to injury and pouncey's the same way

Slab said...

Yeah because Pouncey going down didn't impact the effectiveness of the O-Line at all......

Dan said...

If we're just letting Sanders walk after this season anyway, then not taking the 3rd from the Pats looks even worse in retrospect than it did at the time.

Surely, Wheaton or Moye could have made critical, game changing drops and celebrated 5 yard completions just as well as Sanders did this year.

I agree with Anonymous about Pouncey. I think the Steelers should start shopping him. IMO, Velasco and Wallace both were at least his equal this year.

Dale Lolley said...

Shop a player coming off a season-ending knee injury? Yeah, you'll get maximum value there.

As for Pouncey missing so much time, he's missed three regular season games in three seasons before this injury - which there wasn't anything he could do about. Yep. injury prone.

Some of you guys really make no sense whatsoever. Trade every good player for somebody else. This isn't baseball or hockey.

Pouncey is still 24 years old. You think the line won't be better with him on it rather than not having him? Ridiculous.

As for Sanders, they were looking at this season, which is what they always do. They'll get a comp pick for him next year depending on what kind of contract he signs.

phil said...

His rookie year (2010), Pouncey hurt his ankle in the AFC championship game and couldn't play in the Superbowl.
In 2011, he missed 2 games at the end of the season and the Denver playoff game because of another ankle injury.
In 2012 he missed the end of the Tennessee game and the Bengals game that followed.
In 2013 he tore his ACL and missed the whole season.

So yes, 3 full regular season games. Also a playoff game and a Superbowl. He's gotten hurt every year he's been in the league. Dude is injury prone..facts are facts

Dan said...

"Shop a player coming off a season-ending knee injury? Yeah, you'll get maximum value there."

It's better than letting him walk for nothing as a FA a la Sanders, or, even worse, over pay him in some grotesque contract a la Willie Colon that they'll have to eat for two years after he fails to live up to it. Best get a 3rd rounder from some team who wants an overrated brand name. Miami would be a good target. Dr. Wallace could be re-signed at a fraction of the price, and the savings could be spent on a redzone target or on the defense.

Pouncey regularly gets manhandled by large D linemen in a way that Velasco and even Wallace did not. Ben actually had a pocket for the second half of this year. Plus, Pouncey hasn't been the same since his injury vs. the Jets in the AFCC game his rookie year. Nevertheless, someone will overpay for him. I just hope it's not the Steelers.

"As for Sanders, they were looking at this season, which is what they always do. They'll get a comp pick for him next year depending on what kind of contract he signs."

In other words, they were being short sighted.

They'll be lucky to get a 6th round comp pick for Sanders, given the league's recent hostility to the Steelers. Who knows what the arbitrary and capricious Goodell will do? Let's see what the Steelers get for Wallace. I doubt it's higher than a 4th (which will then be stripped because of the vastly overblown Tomlin incident- isn't screwing the Steelers out of the playoffs enough?)

You may disagree with us, Mr. Lolley- and that's fair- but it doesn't mean we make no sense... except for those people who wanted to trade Ben.

Dan said...

Also, the superstar Pouncey was selling t-shirts and calling fans losers hours after the Steelers lost Super Bowl XLV:

http://www.blitzburghblog.com/2012-articles/january/maurkice-pouncey-is-not-very-team-oriented-and-probably-hates-you.html

At least he's best buds with Aaron Hernandez.

Dan said...

My mistake- after Pouncey had his hissy fit after the Tebow game, not the Super Bowl.

kyle said...

If people who weigh over 300 pounds run into your legs and you get hurt, you're not injury-prone. You're human.

Velasco played much better than anyone could have expected but he is maybe half as mobile as Pouncey.

Wallace played poorly against Miami and then well against a horrid Green Bay Dline and a Browns Dline missing Phil Taylor.

If you think the Steelers shouldn't sign Pouncey to a new deal because they shouldn't allocate a lot of resources at the Center position, that's fine. If you think they should get rid of Pouncey because he's not any better than Velasco or Wallace then you have no idea what you're looking at when football is in front of your face.

Dan said...

"If you think the Steelers shouldn't sign Pouncey to a new deal because they shouldn't allocate a lot of resources at the Center position, that's fine. If you think they should get rid of Pouncey because he's not any better than Velasco or Wallace then you have no idea what you're looking at when football is in front of your face."


Pouncey's more mobile, I grant you. Does that mean that he's qualitatively better than less mobile but more stout centers? Arguable. Pouncey's mobility doesn't help much when Ngata is making him his bit*&. Pouncey's certainly better than the Sean Mahans and Justin Hartwigs of the world, but that's not saying much.

Even if I stipulate that Pouncey's better than Velasco, he's not so much better that it's worth investing what he's going to demand. Velasco showed that the Steelers' O line can be decent without investing top dollars in the Center position. As long as the Steelers have a Center better than the ones they had during the post-Hartings, pre-Pouncey period, they'll be fine.

kyle said...

"As long as the Steelers have a Center better than the ones they had during the post-Hartings, pre-Pouncey period, they'll be fine."

I don't think that's as easy as you're suggesting. You could point to this season and say "Centers grow on trees! The Steelers brought in two guys off the street and they were fine." But you would be forgetting that Ramon Foster had his best season as a pro and Decastro looked like a first round pick.

There are two reasons to move ahead with a player who is "fine." Because you have no better player to replace him or because of money. The Steelers might let Pouncey play out his deal because of money. That makes sense to me. Intentionally getting rid of him because you've found the answer in Cody Wallace does not.

Dale Lolley said...

Yep, Phil. If anyone else would have been hit in the knee the way he was by DeCastro, they would have jumped right up and kept playing. He got hurt because he's injury prone.

Ridiculous.

Pouncey had put on 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason. People forget that, again, he's 24. He was barely legal to drink when the Steelers drafted him. He's still filling out.

So you're going to keep Wallace, who is 29 and so good that he's been cut by four other teams without playing a down over Pouncey?

Or, you're going to bank on a player who tore his Achilles tendon.

Yep, that sounds perfectly logical.

Anonymous said...

Pouncey is overrated by Steelers fans. The guy can't push the pile in front of him and help that much in the run game. He's an above average center. Maybe even good but probably not top 5 league. Top ten at best.

kyle said...

Dude, really?

I don't think Pouncey is the linchpin for the Steelers or anything but Top Ten? Can you even name ten other starting Centers off the top of your head? I don't think I can. Let's see.

Mangold
Mack
Wood (not better than Pouncey)
the other Pouncey
Gino Gradkowski (not better than Pouncey)
Garza (not better than Pouncey)

Without using the internet, I could name six. And only two of them are better than Pouncey, plus Mangold is on the back end of his career.

I don't think they should give Pouncey a huge contract but can we stop pretending he's a bum?

Anonymous said...

Pouncey is a good center, not a great one. Probably the team's most overrated player. Steelers will likely make him one of the NFL's highest paid centers, which will be a mistake that will hurt their cap.

Dan said...

"Can you even name ten other starting Centers off the top of your head? I don't think I can."

That's just an argument for Pouncey being famous at a relatively obscure position, not that Pouncey is actually a top 10 center. Pouncey was a first round pick who had a good rookie year. That made him famous at an obscure position, and therefore he's basically an automatic Pro Bowler regardless of his quality.

For the record, I am not basing my position on the idea that Pouncey is injury prone. This year's injury was a fluke that would have severely injured anyone.

If some team offered a good pick in this year's draft (very high 3rd rounder at the absolute worst), then I would consider going forward with Wallace for a year. It would be an easier decision if we were talking about Velasco, but the fact that the Steelers' line was the best it's been in years for the second half of this year would make rolling the dice appealing.

To the extent that the line play improved due to improved Guard play, then that's even more of a reason to start preparing for a post-Pouncey era. If Foster and DeCastro can make scrub Centers look good, then maybe the Steelers need to start saving up for their extensions.

Dale Lolley said...

He's a center. The only positions that earn less than center are punter and kicker.

The average - average - salary for a the top 10 players at the position is $5.8 per year. The top salary - Kalil - made 9.1 million.

Pouncey is hardly going to break the bank when the Steelers re-sign him.

The bottom line is this: Yes, the Steelers still have (manageable) cap issues this season. But they only have 18 players under contract for 2015 and two of those are Levi Brown and LaMarr Woodley. They have 11 players under contract for 2016 - and again, two of those are Brown and Woodley.

They will have cap space to spare after this season to sign their better young players.

Patrick said...

Pouncey is a good center and I agree with Dale that at 24, hes an investment worth keeping if possible.

That said, the fact that Velasco and to an extent Wallace were able to play at a high level sort of shows you how valued a center should be. For example, Velasco was sitting on a couch during week 1.

kyle said...

Dan,

And I'm not saying Pouncey is a must-sign. I think when you have the opportunity to sign a very good player at a position you look into it. Signing Pouncey isn't going to keep this team from signing a franchise LT. So why not lock up a guy who is young and very good? If they get into negotiations and his agent wants him to be the top paid player at the position and by an unreasonable amount then you move on. But I think a lot of fans will be mad if they sign him for anything above vet minimum.

All in all, I think we have the same opinion: he's a very good player at a somewhat devalued position and the Steelers shouldn't spend a ton to keep him. Where we might differ is that I'm fine with them signing him over Velasco or Wallace and spending more money to do so as long as it's a "reasonable" amount.

Norbert said...

I would give Pouncey an extension now. It would be cheaper than after a healthy year. His agent wouldn't like it, but after such an injury it would be reasonable for him too.
Keep Cody Wallace, beacuse he played quality, physical football at center and he is a capable OG backup. More capable than Whimper, that's for sure.
And btw Pouncey gained 10 pounds of muscle, but against the Redskins nose tackles at the preseason his power wasn't on full display, to say the least.
I hope that Keisel will be resigned for one year as a RDE backup and Woods should be kept for 3 years as a nose/LDE backup. But I will be very disappointed if Hood will be on the 2014 Steelers roster. He is simply not good enough, even for backup duties. Arnfelt has much more upside.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to note Pouncey is 24. Did you know that Jarvis Jones is only 5 months younger than him?

Anonymous said...

"Placing the franchise tag on Worilds would cost $10.9 million and would ..."

Be insane? 4 years in, Worilds has yet to prove that he can stay healthy and start for more than 11 games in a season.

Worilds should be offered no more than $25 million/5 years

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it doesn't make sense to get rid of Woodley because he can't stay healthy and then give Worilds a huge deal. Worilds has been very injury prone so far.

rvaccare said...

Pouncey bashing? Some of you people are know-nothing idiots. I wonder if you really watch the games, if you are sober when you do, and if you ever played football. Go root for the Ravens you fools.

Homegrown Misanthropist said...

Dale having three different OL coches in three years, how much does that affect the cohesion of the line and the flow of their game? Does that have anything to do with their increase in play as the season unfolds and poor play during the beginning?

marc said...

pouncey is a good center, but he gets criticized at times because he is "supposed" to be great. further, he clearly has had issues in the past with large NT's (many centers do, though, to be fair). if they can keep him after next season, then great. up until this season, I don't believe he has played up to the level of top 5 center money. we'll see how he plays next year.

as for their roster moves, the steelers always make moves so they are not pigeon-holed come draft day. the key to the direction of this whole offseason will be Woodley/worilds. if they tie up a lot of money there then there will be quite a bit of turnover in other areas. if worilds gets big money somewhere else, then Woodley will be back and the steelers will have more money available.

I know it's early, but these two WR's out of college (Watkins and Benjamin) are really impressive with their hands and size. one of them (most likely Benjamin) will probably be available at #15. imo, either one of these guys nails down the final piece to a very good offense for the next few years. do you take one if they are available or still go defense with the first pick?

Dan said...

"All in all, I think we have the same opinion: he's a very good player at a somewhat devalued position and the Steelers shouldn't spend a ton to keep him. Where we might differ is that I'm fine with them signing him over Velasco or Wallace and spending more money to do so as long as it's a "reasonable" amount."

I basically agree with you, with the large caveat that at this point I am skeptical of Pouncey's ability to anchor. If the center of the line regularly collapses, the offense is going no where. Mobility and ability to pull are nice to have in a center, but they're secondary to the ability to anchor the line. It's like having a great blocking WR who has bad hands.

Maybe Pouncey will come back stouter and stronger than ever. I hope so. But what I saw of Pouncey the last few years and this year's preseason didn't give me much confidence.

Dan said...

"rvaccare said...
Pouncey bashing? Some of you people are know-nothing idiots. I wonder if you really watch the games, if you are sober when you do, and if you ever played football. Go root for the Ravens you fools."

Great commentary, rvaccare. I could ask you the same question. Not that it matters much, but since you asked in fact I played center in the 1990s and was honorable mention all state. I enjoy watching Center play.

Let me ask you this- do you think that Pouncey is better than Jeff Hartings? I don't. Has Pouncey received more hype than Jeff Hartings? Certainly.

DD said...

Let's be honest for a second. Haley/Ben made that line look A LOT better than it really is. Run blocking was still poor (hence OC out). Ben did have a pocket on extended pass plays to be sure. But with the quickness of many of his throws and not holding the ball every single time he dropped back for 5+ seconds (as many here clamored for him to eliminate loooong ago), the line inherently looked better. They shd resign him.

As for Pouncey, Center is not a valuable position as is obvious by the position rarely being high round selections. Poncey's value is getting outside after the snap and tag teaming the DE's so as to create running lanes. Neither Velasco nor Wallce can do that.

DD said...

^^ I meant OLC out and they shd sign Pouncey obviously

Anonymous said...

Vince Williams was a 2-down guy this year. Do you think he will play faster as the game slows down for him?

I appreciate that he is a fast learner who quickly picked up the system, but could he play as fast as Foote with an off-season to prepare?

-Zac in Tempe

Dale Lolley said...

If you put a good 350-pound nose tackle one-on-one with a 295-pound center, they are going to struggle. I don't care who it is. That's why teams look for good 350-pound nose tackles. Because they command a double team.

We would always comment in training camp how every defensive lineman on the team would kill Hartings in practice in the one-on-one drills. But he was fine in games because he had help or was somebody else's help. That's the nature of the position.

What Pouncey brings to the position that Velasco and Wallace do not is elite athleticism. He's capable of getting out in front on sweeps and such ala. Dermontti Dawson. He's not the in-line blocker that Dawson was, but you can do more things with him than a run of the mill center.

As for Worilds, you put the franchise tag on him not to lock him up at that price, but to keep him from signing elsewhere. They will work out a deal with him to pay him far less than the franchise price.

Anonymous said...

Pouncey does get out in space but he doesn't finish his blocks very well there. I never seen him throw a block a as good as his brother in the Steelers/Dolphins game this year in one of Miami's long run.

And please don't mention Pouncey and Dawson's name in the same sentence.

Greg W. said...

For those who think the Steelers should draft Benjamin if he is available at 1.15, check out CHFF's posts about the shiny hood ornament theory with respect to wide receivers. This one is particularly interesting (if somewhat dated):
http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/content/explosive-draft-day-findings/5177/

I say go defense in the early rounds to shore up the secondary and the linebacking corps.

Anonymous said...

Lets look up the yards per carry up the middle during all of Pouncey's seasons. I bet the number sucks. He gets no push in the run game unless he is on the move.

Anonymous said...

"As for Worilds, you put the franchise tag on him not to lock him up at that price, but to keep him from signing elsewhere. They will work out a deal with him to pay him far less than the franchise price."

Why would Worilds sign a longer term deal when you just handed him a $11m signing bonus ... and he'd be in line for another one next year?

Dale Lolley said...

It's hardly an 11-million signing bonus.

You sign him long-term because it's cheaper against the cap to do so. And he has incentive to want a long-term deal, as well. While the 11 million for one season might sound good, most players don't like the non-guaranteed future. There aren't any guaranteed futures in the NFL as it is. This isn't like hockey, the NBA or MLB. The contract money isn't guaranteed, only the signing bonus.

So if they have to tag Worilds, they would then be looking at, say, giving him a four-year deal worth, let's say, $28 million that would include, say, $8 million in bonus money.

That allows you to spread the $8 million in bonus money over the four years in terms of the cap hit. So just on average alone, his cap hit is $9 million as opposed to $11.

Dan said...

"What Pouncey brings to the position that Velasco and Wallace do not is elite athleticism. He's capable of getting out in front on sweeps and such ala. Dermontti Dawson. He's not the in-line blocker that Dawson was, but you can do more things with him than a run of the mill center."

My point is that the athleticism is a nice bonus, and it's what separates the exceptional centers from the very good centers. However, it's only a bonus.

Being an asset on sweeps doesn't make up for being a liability in shoring up the middle. Far more plays rely on the center being able to keep the pocket from collapsing than on the center being able to execute a sweep.

I'm saying that I'd rather have a less athletic center who was stout in the middle of the line instead of a very athletic center who had trouble getting push in the middle of the line and who had trouble maintaining the pocket. The question remaining is whether Pouncey can get better at staying strong in the middle.

marc said...

what the second half of the season showed was that you don't need an elite center to have a successful offense. now, they still did not run the ball exceptionally well, but they did score points.

the steelers will eventually be tasked with determining not only if pouncey is worth the money he will want but also if they need him to be successful. or, could that money be better spent somewhere else.

but, that is a year away and much could happen by then.

dale, any talk of signing an o-line coach soon?

Anonymous said...

I dunno. Ties up a lot of cap space initially and gives Worilds the leverage of a doomsday clock. Steelers have to be willing/prepared to eat the full tag amount in 2014 and the consequences of what that would entail. They'd have til July to sign him long term. And the onus would be on the Steelers to sign him as quickly as possible to clear that space back out. Tick/tock. Dunno. Worked on Starks, the second time around anyways. So what if they don't extend him until June/July and they designate Woodley a June 1st cut? They have to cut and restructure on the front end of the offseason just to get compliant as ship after ship sails, only to free up $15m in cap space right before camp and have absolutely nothing to use it on.

IMO, tagging Worilds is a bad idea. Designating Woodley a June 1st cut is worse. Rooney seems content with 8-8. Ain't gonna get better by dragging this out. Can't get out of the hole while continuing to dig.

Also, something that hasn't been mentioned, but the Steelers used all those available 'transition' cap credits back the first two years of the new CBA. $4.5m in total. Timetable for repayment of those credits begin this year. It's up to them how much they payback as long as it's paid back in full by 2017. IIRC. Would guess that would shrink the Steelers cap space by another ~million this year.

Slab said...

Saying Velasco and Wallace were anything more than suitable fillins is just wishful thinking. The line played better when they were able to keep the same unit on the field for more than a quarter. Replace Velasco or Wallace with Pouncey AND keep the unit on the field and then you've got something.

Anonymous said...

yea, this offseason will be much easier than last years...

Anonymous said...

look at all those free agents! This offseason will be much easier than last year :sarcasm:

Anonymous said...

"giving him a four-year deal worth, let's say, $28 million that would include, say, $8 million in bonus money.
That allows you to spread the $8 million in bonus money over the four years in terms of the cap hit. So just on average alone, his cap hit is $9 million as opposed to $11."

Sorry, that makes no sense...

Why would his first year salary be 7 million?

You have 20 million to spread in salary over 4 years... and 8 million to spread evenly (2 mil) over those 4 years...

Given your proposed contract...4/28/8... he'd probably have a cap hit of 5 million in year 1...
14: 3 sal + 2 bonus = 5 cap
15: 5 sal + 2 bonus = 7 cap
16: 6 sal + 2 bonus = 8 cap
17: 6 sal + 2 bonus = 8 cap

Dale Lolley said...

Only using that as an example with the salary. Even with a $7 million salary and $8 million signing bonus, his cap hit for next season would still be lower than the $11 million.

As for the possibility of having $15 million available prior to the start of camp, considering they have very few guys signed past this season, they could use that money on extensions - Heyward, Pouncey, etc.

As for the Pouncey argument, so since the team went 6-2 down the stretch without Pouncey, that proves that they don't need him? That's flawed logic. Who's to say they don't go 7-1 or 8-0 with him? Who's to say they don't win more than to two games in the first half with him.

I can certainly point to the Tennessee game and say that if he hadn't gotten hurt, they win that game. The line/offense was in shock after seeing him go down on that first drive.

They also all but scrapped the outside zone blocking stuff when he went down because he was the lynchpin to it.

Slab said...

Bingo. Since the Steelers beat the eventual Superbowl champs last year in Baltimore with Batch at QB, that means having a franchise QB isn't that important or, better yet, Batch is a better QB than Ben. Just as silly as the "we don't need Pouncey because we have Velasco and/or Wallace" argument.

Anonymous said...

If it went unnoticed from the opener, Tennessee, Velasco's last employer, runs a lot of outside zone. Velasco was/is well versed in the scheme. They already started to withdraw from it in the preseason, using it less and less. Wasn't because they had perfected it. They scrapped it because they were awful at it. They were awful at it because they didn't commit to it or practice critical elements of it. And because their TEs at the POA would get routinely flogged backwards killing the RBs read and options, And because there was no where left to go because couldn't cutblock on the backside for crap. All going back to not practicing it and not fulling committing to it. It was foreseeably doomed and was in the throes of being tossed before the reaping of Pouncey. Losing Pouncey was just an excuse of convenience.

Anonymous said...

On Pouncey, the point is: would you rather have him for 8 mm / year (reasonable guess for a new deal) or an average guy like Velasco for 2 mm / year?

I'd take the average guy even if the Steelers didn't have the cap problems they currently have.

Dan said...

"As for the Pouncey argument, so since the team went 6-2 down the stretch without Pouncey, that proves that they don't need him? That's flawed logic."

You're responding to a straw man argument. I don't think anyone is just pointing to the record.

The argument is that the line performed better this year with Pouncey out and Velasco and Wallace in than it did last season and this preseason with Pouncey in. Either DeCastro's Guard play is so great that he can make scrubs look like above-average starters, or Pouncey isn't as good as reputed is replaceable.

marc said...

"As for the Pouncey argument, so since the team went 6-2 down the stretch without Pouncey, that proves that they don't need him?"

nope, I didn't say that. what I am saying is that they had a successful offense over an extended period of time without him, not just one game (batch reference). if pouncey prices himself too high, the steelers should not feel solely dependent on his presence on the field to be successful. they have already proven that.

Dale Lolley said...

"They were awful at it because they didn't commit to it or practice critical elements of it. And because their TEs at the POA would get routinely flogged backwards killing the RBs read and options, And because there was no where left to go because couldn't cutblock on the backside for crap. All going back to not practicing it and not fulling committing to it."


So you're telling me that when I saw them practicing it in the offseason and training camp, I actually didn't see it? OK.

Certainly you can't practice certain elements of it - don't want to cut your own linemen a lot - but they certainly practiced it.

Dale Lolley said...
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Anonymous said...

DeCastro himself said they never practiced cutblocks. It showed. There are ways to practice cutblocking without actually cutting. Gibbs use to have his lineman tackle the defender. Same process/motions but kept everyone's knees intact. There are drills as well.

There's no way you can convince me they committed to it. They didn't. Gibbs himself said many times you can't fold it in with a bunch of other crap and expect to be even decent at it. Also talked about all the teams he consulted that tried to do just that, only to scrap it quickly into the season because they couldn't do it. That sounds familiar. They ran outside zone 12 times in the first preseason game, then 9, then 6, then 6 game. That's not commitment, but it is a trend. I didn't say they failed to practice it. I said they didn't practice critical elements of it. Cutblocking is a critical element. If they practiced it (DeCastro says otherwise) then they didn't practice it enough, because it was flat out embarrassing out pathetic they were at it. Hell, they didn't throw their first cutblock until the 3rd preseason game. That's not commitment. There's a chance to 'practice' on some other team's knees and they didn't take it. That whole thing was a train wreck. If Pouncey had anything to do with why they junked it, it was as a final straw. It wasn't because they felt like they couldn't run it without him. It was a complete waste of time.

Anonymous said...

^ spot on

DZ said...
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