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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tuesday news, notes

Anything happen today with the Steelers?

Seriously, I've been covering this team for 23 years and I don't know if there was a day that was quite as newsy in that time period.

In the span of the past 24 hours, All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey had surgery to place a plate into his fractured fibula; backup QB Bruce Gradkowski had surgery to repair a dislocated finger and might require a second surgery to repair a shoulder injury; the team re-signed former center Doug Legursky to help ease the loss of Pouncey; and some guy named Michael Vick was brought in to replace Gradkowski, who went on season-ending IR.

Got all of that?

Let's start with the last topic first, since it seems to be drawing the most interest.

Vick is a polarizing figure. Actually, that's not right. There's a certain segment of the population who will never, ever forgive him for hosting dog fights no matter what he does,

He could cure cancer, save the whales and end famine worldwide and it wouldn't matter.

I get that. But he's also paid his debt to society, serving 21 months in a federal prison. That's nearly two years of his life not in some halfway house, but at Leavenworth.

There are people I severely dislike who I wouldn't wish to spend one day in Leavenworth, let alone the 548 days Vick did there.

I know, I know. He killed dogs. I get that. It was cruel and inhumane in many cases.

But he served his time and has walked a straight line in the nearly 10 YEARS since.

I don't know the man. Only talked to him a couple of times on the phone over the years. But I'm certainly willing to give him a second chance.

It was a calculated risk by the Steelers. They knew there would be a firestorm surrounding the signing. It's why they haven't brought him in before when he's been available.

But even despite the injury to Pouncey, the Steelers feel they have a Super Bowl contender. And they're not about to turn this contender over to Landry Jones unless all other options have been explored.

Signing Vick was their nuclear option. And when Gradkowski was lost for the season, it was time to push the red button.

I laugh when people bring up the "Steelers way," anytime something like this happens or another team has issues.

The "Steelers way" is winning. Period.

Does character still matter to the team? Absolutely. Given a choice between Player A, who is a model citizen, and Player B, who is not, the team will take Player A every time if the talent is close.

But winning in the bottom line in professional sports. And the Steelers have many model citizens in their locker room, from Heath Miller to Arthur Moats to Cam Heyward to Kelvin Beachum. There are many.

It's a shame when the really, really good guys get their names drug through the mud by the bozos who want to paint a team that has, right now, 90 players on the roster. But it goes with the business.

There will be those who like one guy one Twitter said, "If the Steelers sign Vick, I'm done. I'll follow the Eagles. And I've been a fan since 1964."

That guy obviously only pays attention to the Steelers since the Eagles were the team that gave Vick his second chance when he got out of prison.

But it shows how little some people think about things.

Now, would I have signed Vick? Probably not.

But not because I have issues with what he did - though I did and do. But I wouldn't have wanted to deal with the firestorm surrounding him.

And I also don't think that, at 35, he has a lot left in the tank.

* I spoke with offensive coordinator Todd Haley today about what changes, if any, the team will have to make in its blocking schemes without Pouncey.

Haley said the team has several plays it uses that were designed to take advantage of Pouncey's skill set.

Those will likely be out the window now. But he did make sure he mentioned that Cody Wallace, who will replace Pouncey, showed that he's capable of getting out on the edge as well, pointing out that soon after he entered the game, he drove Julius Peppers about 10 yards downfield after getting out on the edge.

* Ben Roethlisberger said today that he feels the offense is ready to go and that, realistically, he only needs a couple of preseason games to be ready.

Roethlisberger understands that young players need to play. But at this point in his career, the less preseason, the better.


Tim said...

So, once a man serves the time that a judge deemed fair, everything's Even Steven? For you, does it just erase whatever he did?

There's a difference between giving a criminal a second chance at life and welcoming him as quarterback of my football team. I wonder if you'd hold the same position if we were talking about a child rapist who served his time and had walked a straight line since getting arrested. I'm not trying to catch you in a "Gotcha", I really wonder. Is your forgiveness absolute? And if your position would change if he was more the Sandusky type, then what does that mean? Some crimes are less forgivable? Who draws that line? It seems like a personal thing, so do you judge those that disagree with you?

For me, it's not just the cruelty of the crimes. Vick didn't make a mistake, he did what he wanted to do. The things he did weren't just evil and cruel, they were also methodical, premeditated, done for his own pleasure, and over the course of many years. He took advantage of and betrayed those most loyal, trusting, and helpless. Those are some connections to Sandusky that you don't see in most typical NFL crimes, like what Ray Rice did (which was horrible and I say throw his ass out, but I'm willing to admit it was a momentary lapse, and very different in nature from the crimes I described above).

I wish I wasn't in this spot right now, as a fan. If he takes a snap, I won't be rooting for success. Say what you want about what kind of fan that makes me, but I wonder what kind of fans can root for their team truly unconditionally. I guess that's how you get people saying Brady didn't cheat and none of the Pats' super bowls are tainted.

adamg said...

Spot on Dale. The bottom line with the Steelers, and all NFL teams, is winning. If they didn't feel Vick was the best option out there to achieve that end, they wouldn't have signed him. PETA seems to have moved on, too. They're happy for him to get on with football as long as he's no longer hurting animals.

adamg said...

Dale, to appease the fans, do you think Vick might not dress on game days? The Steelers could probably survive 1 game where Jones had to come in for BR. Do you think they might release Vick if a better qb option comes along as teams cut down to their final 53? Will they try and sign a qb to the PS?

Tim said...

The bottom line is money. That means winning + PR. Or didn't the team think La'el Collins was worth a 7th round draft pick?

They have a moral compass, but they only use it to gauge how the public will react, and they factor it into the talent equation. Cedrick Wilson out, James Harrison in. They'd sign Hitler if he could get to the quarterback and the majority of football fans forgave him.

By the way, screw PETA. They are not the animal lovers they claim to be. A common misconception.

Anonymous said...

I'm kind of excited to have Vick. Always thought he was one of the more fun players to watch. Hope he gets a little playing time but not at the expense of the current QB who has less than a stellar reputation (oh I didn't say that; did I). I'm more interested in Vick's attitude and health now rather than his behavior 10 years ago. As far as the "Steeler Way", I believe or at least hope it's "team first"; the reality is "team first" is how you win in everything, sports, business, family.

Anonymous said...

ummm let's not blast Dale for his opinion on the matter. Exactly when does raising your hand to a woman or anyone for that matter to get what you want rate a "momentary lapse". It speaks to a person's character pretty loudly. What is the implication here? As humans we are constantly suppressing our desire to use violence as a motivational tool? I think not. How does that asimov quote go .... Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent .... or something like that.

How long did the court spend on Vick's case? What gives the Rooney's or any other employer the right to dole out additional punishment? Fear of public opinion?

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

All things considered, Vick does not fit the Steeler mold. But now the mold has changed.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Tim. I have been a fan since 1972. I have never ever wished for any Steelers player to fail. When Vick plays I will be hoping for failure, regardless of the consequences to the team with respect to winning or losing. That includes playoff games. I was planning a trip to Pittsburgh for a game this year. That is off the table now. They had other options and made a choice that they knew would seriously offend many of their longtime fans. That fact alone has me seriously considering whether or not I want to even remain a fan of this team when he isn't playing. I know most of you probably couldn't care less what I think. Fine. This comment is to let those fans like me, who used to proudly declare that they were Steeler fans but now feel insulted and embarrassed by this organization, know that they are not alone.

Anonymous said...

Dream Team !

Anonymous Brian said...

Roethlisberger is almost guaranteed to get hurt now.

Change of topic - do all the injuries / signings / possibility of carrying Pouncey on the 53 for a few days, etc., make Dri Archer less of a lock to make the team?

ozrescue said...

how did they get to this point with backup qb's ? year three and jones isn't ready for the backup position ?
vick just isn't that good anymore, tomlin couldn't have waited a few days and looked at other qb's bound to be cut ?

Anonymous said...

The "Steeler Way" got Ernie Holmes off on charges after he SHOT AT A POLICE HELICOPTER.

The Steeler way is a close-knit, family feeling in the organization and in the locker room. It never has been this morally superior we only sign model citizens idea that some fans seem to think.

Marc said...

I love how people hate vick and can't cheer for the steelers now, but have no problem kissing the feet of their QB who, at the very least, was incredibly inappropriate towards women on at least two occasions.

also, please do not forget that vick's #1 character reference comes from none other than former steeler player and coach, Tony Dungy. quite possibly the absolute most respected man in all of football. are any of us more aware of the person vick is now and his character than dungy - I highly doubt it.

cheering for a sports team is, and always has been, a compromise. there will always be players of questionable character who you might never like if you met them on the street. but on the field, or court, or whatever, they are part of the team you want to win.

finally, get of your high horse. don't wear that shirt made in india by some kid for $.50 an hour, stop paying for gasoline made from oil extracted from a fracking well on farmland out west, scrap your car whose steel came from a blast furnace using coal derived at a coal plant polluting some river in west Virginia, flush your meds down the toilet that came from years of research on rats and monkeys. or how about your neighbor down the street that comes over for cookouts who picked up a DUI and turned his car into a steel missile on the road and got lucky he didn't kill anyone.

Qwikdoc said...

If Ben goes down and Vick keeps the team in the chase, all these indignant, champions of morality will be stumbling over each other to hop back on the bandwagon.

He's a human being who allowed himself to get sucked into a culture of inhumane treatment of animals. He paid what we as a civilized society determined was the price for his despicable actions. It has almost been a decade since he paid his penance and he has shown that he has changed. He is the Steelers' best option at this time and is getting the chance to prove he can still play in the NFL.

As a Steeler fan I applaud the organization's commitment to success and their willingness to give Vick a second chance.

Steelerfann43 said...

Mike Frazer said...

@ozrescue What's to say they can't still do that? The can just as easily cut Vick if another options comes available. What this gives them is an extra two weeks to get Vick going in case no one else worth a darn is available after final cut-down day.

I don't like the signing, but not because of what he did. He has done everything right since getting out, just like Roethlisberger did after he was suspended. If I am willing to forgive Ben, I *have* to be willing to give Vick the benefit of the doubt. Otherwise I am a hypocrite and I would have to explore my motivations for withholding forgiveness from Vick. Do I think killing dogs is worse than taking advantage of women? Am I racist? They are questions I don't really want to address within myself. It's easier just to forgive -- and withholding forgiveness only hurts me, anyway.

On the contrary, I dislike the signing because he is not as fast as he used to be, which was his bread and butter. He has a strong arm and can throw a good deep ball, but he is average at best on short throws and dreadful on medium throws. And he reads defenses about as well as my 13-month-old reads legal books.

Landry said...

Mike Frazer - It's hard to believe the scouting report from a football genius such as yourself could be ignored by the Steelers' coaches and FO.

I'm sure you told them that this move reeks of desperation and that your analysis of Vick's current abilities says not to go anywhere near Michael Vick. Why didn't they listen to you? How frustrating.

Mark said...

Landry - The coaches and FO also decided to ignore the Chargers game last year, where Vick played horribly when he was sent in, and admitted that he had not prepared for the game. Hardly the behavior expected from a veteran backup QB.

Landry said...

Mark - The coaches had a better look at Vick when he beat the Steelers last year. Maybe they put more emphasis on that performance?

Anonymous said...

"finally, get of your high horse. don't wear that shirt made in india by some kid for $.50 an hour, stop paying for gasoline made from oil extracted from a fracking well on farmland out west, scrap your car whose steel came from a blast furnace using coal derived at a coal plant polluting some river in west Virginia, flush your meds down the toilet that came from years of research on rats and monkeys"

Best thing I have read in a long time. However, I bet that kind in India wishes he was getting .50 per hour, probably more like .50 per day.

Dale Lolley said...

Yes, Tim. To me some crimes are different. To equate what Vick did with raping a child is, in my mind, ridiculous.

I'm a hunter. And while torturing animals or breeding them to fight is wrong, I'm not going to equate that with torturing (which is what raping a child is) or killing a human. If that makes some people angry, so be it.

There was the possibility that Collins had had a hand in murdering his pregnant girlfriend. The story broke so late that nobody had time to vet it.

Sorry if people don't agree with my opinion on this. So be it.

Mark said...

Landry - The score of that game was 20-13.
Vick didn't beat the Steelers. The Jet's defense stopping the Steeler's offense won that game.

Besides, Tebow had one of his best games ever, beating the Steelers in the playoffs.
He is still considered a below average QB, who happened to play well on that one day.

Qwikdoc said...

Mark - Vick averaged 5 yards a carry and threw for two touchdowns in that game. Yes, he beat the Steelers. I doubt the Steelers coaches and FO watched the San Diego game. Nor did they likely re watch all of Vick's games from last year before signing him. If we need Vick and he performs well this year, I'll be up on the bandwagon with my arm extended to help you back on!

Mark said...

Qwikdoc - The Steelers averaged 27 points a game last year. Even a slightly below average offensive performance would have beaten the Jets, despite Vick's performance. (The Steeler's defense also allowed 23 points a game, so the Jets performed below average.)

My concern is that if we need Vick, and he is unprepared, then in hindsight it was a mistake for the team to have not considered the San Diego game when picking someone to be a backup QB.

Landry said...

Mark - My point is that he performed well enough in the game against the AFC North champions to have warranted that team to sign him. They need to sign someone now to get him as prepared as possible in case Ben goes down. After cut downs in another week and a half there well might be another option available to the Steelers and if Vick proves he's no longer NFL material by then, the Steelers can bid him adieu and sign the better option.

Dale Lolley said...

They aren't cutting him. You don't go through this process with signing him and dealing with the fallout if you're not going to keep him.

Anonymous Brian said...

Should have just sprinkled some of Russell Wilson's miraculous "Recovery Water" on Gradkowski's shoulder and finger.

Tim said...

Collins in the 7th? If it turns out he had a hand in it (and there was no reason to think so at the time - he was a victim of tragedy at the time, and remains one still), you cut him. It makes every ounce of football sense to take a 1st round talent in the 7th round, even with a minor chance you'll lose him. What do teams end up doing with 7th rounders anyway? There's a bigger chance of losing a typical 7th round pick due to lack of talent than losing Collins due to that murder, and those guys don't even usually have the ceiling of Collins. It was a no-brainer, logically.

Losing a 7th round pick means nothing. Dealing with the PR of having drafted a murder means everything. They sacrificed football for not risking looking bad. That's what I mean.

The comparison I made is completely legitimate, and I even put the reasons in bold. I didn't say they were the same thing, or one was worse than the other. I pointed out the similarities, and how what Vick did is so much worse than your typical NFL crime, just like Sandusky's.

Anonymous said...

well to be fair Dale, if Vick shows putrid game the next two games he could certainly be cut. IN fact I wouldn't be shocked, based on his play last year

Dale Lolley said...

I wouldn't even expect him to play this week. Roethlisberger will play into the third quarter - if they do as they typically have. Vick will only have two practices under his belt.

I highly doubt they're cutting him. You don't put yourself through this kind of stuff and then cut him a week later.

Qwikdoc said...

Dale do you really think Ben will play that long? With the rash of serious injuries across the league and Ben playing well so far, you don't think they'll play him very little if at all?

Dale Lolley said...

AS Tomlin says, he doesn't live in his fears. Now, if he thinks Roethlisberger is ready, he'll get him out of there earlier. But it's all about the prep. They open in New England in two weeks.

datruth4life said...

Dale, you still think Cam Thomas is a lock for this roster? I believe there has to be a better DE at final cuts than this guy. Also, do you think Chickillo has done enough to make the final 53? And if not, do you think he will make it to the practice squad?

datruth4life said...

BTW, if Tomlin plays Ben more than a series or two, he needs his head examined. If Ben goes down, the season is over - point blank, period. Get him some work and then get him out of there. Let Landry Jones play the rest of the way.

I would like to give Vick more work before putting him in a preseason game. Gotta let his body get readjusted to playing football again.

Dale Lolley said...

If they cut Chickillo, he'll get a look somewhere else. That's going to be the case for whatever linebacker they cut, him or Garvin. And Wild has shown enough that teams will be interested.

Colin Philbin said...

What has chickillo shown in a game that makes anyone think he is worth keeping? The annual great white hope at linebacker is all I see.

Anonymous said...

dammit no, not Wild

Marc said...

how's Timmons doing with his turf toe? also, is shazier healthy? thanks, dale.

Anonymous said...

Only thing keeping me from thinking Timmon's is unexpectedly done b/c of turf toe just like Lambert is the 30 years of medical progress - but have we really learned anything more about turf toe?? A little nervous.

Zeke R said...

And the punches keep coming, the killer B's are killing this team

Zeke R said...


This must of been Bryant's second positive testing within 90 days, is this correct?
I say this because it sounds like a stage II fine with the four games.

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