Friday, August 20, 2004

Blame this one on Cowher

This is from the August 12 press conference (subscription required) Bill Cowher had prior to the Detroit game:

Q: What is your comfort zone with your offensive line?

COWHER: It is night and day from a year ago. You put the first group out there and it has been the same guys every practice. It is probably the kiss of death that I just gave them. But it has been very good. Oliver (Ross) had a solid camp. Barrett Brooks has had a good camp, as has Todd Fordham, Max Starks is getting better every day. Keydrick Vincent has played well, as Chukki Okobi has. (Jim) Jones has come in and he has been kind of a guy that has caught my eye because I did not know much about him before. He has been solid. It has been very, very deep right now. So, they have played well. I would like to get a chance to gather some information now as we play games.
Well Bill your right, it is the kiss of death because what was thought to be a little tweak turned out to be a big tear. Kendall Simmons is out for the year and it's all your fault.

Not really. I'm actually going to take the optimistic, blind loyalists view and say that this is a minor hurdle the Steelers must overcome. In reality this isn't all that minor, but it's certainly better than losing either Marvel Smith or Alan Faneca.

Nonetheless, it looks like either backup guard Keydrick Vincent or backup center/guard Chukki Okobi will replace Simmons. And how either of them fare will be a large determinant in the Steelers success in 2004. If you don't think so just take a quick stroll down memory lane and revisit the 2003 season. Kendall Simmons was diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes, Marvel Smith missed most of the season with a pinched nerve and the Steelers' offense struggled mightily -- to the tune of a 6-10 season.

So the bad news is that the 2002 first round draft pick is out for the year. The good news (if you can call it that) is that every team suffers injuries throughout the season (although it's usually the teams that suffer minimal injuries that end up going far into the playoffs) and it's how these teams rebound that in large part determine how successful they are.

So we'll get to see exactly how the Steelers deal with this loss -- and hopefully it'll be much better than how they dealt with the losses of Simmons and Smith in 2003.