Friday, August 19, 2011


What a difference a week makes. Last week, the Steelers Country was worried about the porous defense, the flat offense and an angry Mike Tomlin. Fast forward one week. The defense dominated the Philadelphia "Dream Team" Eagles. The first-team offense had a balanced and efficient attack. And Coach Tomlin walked away, well, not angry. Let's face it, one week preseason week isn't a cause for concern, but Tomlin and the Steelers needed to show some consistency. They did. Ben Roethlisberger connected on two touchdown passes, while the running game churned out yardage with the combination of Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman. The defense picked off Michael Vick three times, limited Vick to 5-for-12 and a quarterback rating similar to a running back's number. So, what does this mean? Well, it shows that Tomlin can push the right buttons. That the veterans know the urgency of righting the ship before the September 11 opener against Baltimore. But it also means nothing. The teams play base defenses and vanilla offensive game plans. The game doesn't count in the standings. And losing left tackles Jonathon Scott and Marcus Gilbert is a frustrating part of the preseason. But if anything comes of it, the preseason shows Roger Goodell and the NFL brass that kickoff off from the 35-yard line is a unmitigated failure of epic proportions. But so were the Eagles on this hot August night in the 'Burgh.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


The media will have a field day. The Steelers offensive line was exposed. The backups looked lost. The secondary lost its best cover corner. And the running game stalled. Did I mention Dennis Dixon looked better running than throwing?

Okay, let's all take a collective breath after the Steelers lackluster 16-7 loss to the Washington Redskins. Yes, Rex Grossman through for more than 200 yards and Evan Royster thought he was running against Indiana's defense and not the run-stopping menacing Steelers D.

After all that's said and done, it was a case of a short preseason and working on the details rather than worrying about the scoreboard.

Don't jump off of the Clemente bridge wearing your Big Ben jersey. Or sell your Steelers Terrible Towels. Or cry in your Iron City Beer.

Here's the deal. The Steelers starters didn't play much. Sure, the defense took 20 snaps, but they weren't utilizing Dick LeBeau's exotic blitz packages. They didn't play Ben Roethlisberger more than a few snaps. Rashard Menendhall had only one carry. And Mike Wallace's pregame running was the most exercise he got during the game. The Steelers will be fine come the Baltimore opener. Yes, they have to get the offensive line in check. And they have to stay healthy. And of course get pressure on the quarterback. But I'm not worried. They have a month to get into game shape mentally and physically.

Chris Scott will improve as the preseason moves on. Cameron Heyward has a lot to take from a successful pro debut. The receivers are deeper because of Jerricho Cotchery's arrival. And the linebackers have reinforcements with Jason Worilds, Stevensen Sylvester and Chris Carter. The secondary has hope with young players like Curtis Brown and Crezdon Butler.

Rest easy Steelers Country. This defending AFC Champs will be ready to play.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Limas Sweed, the second-round selection of the Steelers in 2008, was supposed to be the next Plaxico Burress. A rangy, good-handed receiver that would be an ideal fit for Big Ben Roethlisberger in the red zone. Four years later, the Steelers organization is asking if Limas Sweed will answer what is his final call. Sweed has had a roller coaster ride with the Steelers, including more negative than positive experiences. He's dropped passes in key games, got hurt, had personal issues, got hurt, and watched the likes of Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown rise above him in the depth chart over the last two years. With Antwaan Randle El cut, Arnez Battle becoming non-existent, and Hines Ward one year, older, Sweed has another chance. Not that Wallace, Sanders and Brown are going anywhere. But Sweed has the opportunity to be the red zone receiver that the club coveted four years ago. If he can rebound mentally and physically, the Steelers would be playing with house money.  They would have the best young wide receiving corps in the league. But the reality is that the Steelers may have that distinction with or without Sweed. Last call Limas. Will you answer it?


The Steelers always seem to have a feel good story? A story of over achieving? Overcoming the odds? Enter Baron Batch. The seventh-round selection out of Texas Tech made a name for himself in training camp with his blocking and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield... which may be an inherent trait playing college for pass happy Texas Tech. Still, the kid seemed like he was set to make the club. Not the practice squad but the team. Well, Steelers Country is collectively holding their breath for the rookie after he was carried off of the practice field today with a possible serious knee injury. He got injured making a cut during a drill. As of press time, there's no word on his condition. This is one of the few times I want a Steelers player to be injured- injured with a sprained knee. Because a sprained knee ligament may be a lot better than a torn ACL. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Well, it took me a random hot August day to finally start my blog. I'm proud to be a part of Steelers Country. The Steelers are a passion of mine. A Sunday game day is like a regular ritual in my house. It's three hours of screaming, yelling, dancing, and bliss watching the black and gold. Steeler Country carries the essence of Myron Cope, Jack Fleming, the Pittsburgh Press, Forbes Field, Three River Stadium, the Chief, Cowher Power, Super Bowls, AFC North rivalries, the big Ketchup bottle, the hair, Coach Tomlin, and more. I hope to share some insightful yarns, unique takes, and great news from a variety of news outlets. I want to share my passion with you. And I hope we can celebrate every February. It's not about the destination but rather the journey. I hope you join me. Go Steelers!


My initial post focuses on what I've been hearing for years: the Steelers are aging and the "window" for success is closing. Balderdash. Hooey. Rubbish. Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin know full well the formula for success. This organization's history speaks volumes. No need to have to relive the past to prove the point.

So, here we are in 2011 and the names James Farrior, Casey Hampton, Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel. All over 30. A few over 35. And isn't Aaron Smith over 40? It may be feel that way to the oft-insjured heart and soul of the Steelers defense.

Which leads me to the reality: the Steelers are getting younger and younger on every Maurkice Pouncey snap.  Let's take a look:

The offensive line. It's projected to be Jonathon Scott, Chris Kemoeatu, Pouncey, Ramon Foster/Doug Legurskey, and Willie Colon. All are under 30. Scott is a stop gap for rookie Marcus Gilbert to take over the left tackle spot. And Chris Scott is a promising second-year guard/tackle from Tennessee. 'Nuff said.

Skill positions. Ben Roethlisberger is entering his 30s and his prime. 30 is the new 20s for a quarterback (see Brett Favre). Rashard Menendhall is just 24. Between his mouth and coming in the league as a 20 year-old, it just seems he's been in the league longer. Baron Batch might become a surprise backup as a rookie. Receivers Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders are in their early 20s. Tight end Heath Miller is over 30, a slight concern, but Wesley Saunders could be a backup coming from the free agent ranks. That summarizes the offense. Other than Ward, Miller, and Ben, there are no key offensive players over 30. Ward is among a young group of receivers. And Ben is young in the quarterback world.

Per the defense, worrisome Steeler Country fans (yes, me included) are more concerned. The likes of Keisel, Hampton, and Smith make us all think our legendary run defense will suddenly wither. But if you look closer, the defensive line is seeing a transformation. Ziggy Hood, in his third year, became a regular contributor in Smith's absence due to season ending surgery. On the other side, expect Cameron Heyward, the black and gold's first-round pick, to slowly rotate into the lineup. Add Steve McClendon, at age 25, as a backup, and the line is slowly getting a facelift. The linebackers also send shivers when you see a mid-30s Farrior, achy back angry James Harrison, and backup Larry Foote that are on the wrong side of 30. Rest easy. Lamar Woodley is $60-plus million richer and is happy to become the next legend at linebacker (and to never let Joe Flacco touch Lombardi's trophy). Lawrence Timmons is next in line for a big pay day. Harrison is a workout beast and should play at a top level for the next few years. This will be Farrior's last year. Larry Foote can move into his spot or second-year special teams standout Stevensen Sylvester should surprise. Add Jason Worlilds to the mix at the outside, and rookie Chris Carter potentially waiting in the wings, the Steelers are in good shape.

Which ends this post with the secondary. Ike Taylor signed a new deal that will keep him in Pittsburgh until his mid-30s. Bryan McFadden and William Gay are 20-some corners that are average at best. They tackle well in space, but they also give up the big play. Enter a young group of corners who may help. Crezdon Butler may step into the role of nickel back if Gay falters. Keenan Lewis, in his third-year, needs to keep his head and continues to develop. Rookies Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen have potential, but may take time to help the team. The safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark are both over 30, and backup Will Allen is almost 30. Ryan Mundy isn't the answer. So, with Troy's injury issues, this may be a problem area.

But despite the relative age issues, the Steelers are slowly rebuilding the team. And the black and gold have fewer issues than most of the NFL.