Thursday, October 14, 2004

Random Steelers stuff

Hatin' on Jerome
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette has mentioned this a couple of times in his column and I think it's worth repeating here because it keeps coming up. This is what I'm talking about (from Bouchette's daily Q & A with readers):

Q: Despite his season high, Jerome looked pretty ineffective in the second half. Why not make Verron Haynes Duce's backup and keep using Bettis on the goaline?

Charles Walsh of Butler

BOUCHETTE: He looked ineffective because the Browns knew the Steelers were trying to run to kill the clock and they stacked the front with players to stop it. Listen, Jerome Bettis at 32 is not the Bettis of 28. That's why he's lost his starting job. But Cowher has put Bettis in six goal line situations and the Bus scored all six times. Let's not judge him on a couple of series in the fourth quarter when everyone in the stadium knows he's going to run. Also, Cowher used him in that situation because he's more reliable holding onto the ball than Haynes. Here's a reason why Haynes won't be Staley's backup: He plays on third downs. If Staley is hurt, Bettis is next unless he proves he can't do the job.
I'm not sure why it's so hard to understand why Bettis was largely ineffective in the second half (and when I say ineffective, I mean in terms of gaining positive yards; he was pretty effective at running time off the clock and not fumbling).

Since I no longer live in Pittsburgh, I usually end up at the local watering hole on Sundays to watch the game. Now this bar is decidedly Pittsburgh-leaning, but you'd be hard-pressed to believe it if you were there last week. I say that because of the vitriolic response to Bettis spelling Staley in the second half. By the reaction, you would have sworn that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were sent in for Hines and Plax.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: "Why the hell is Bettis in there?" After a minimal gain on first down I heard the predictable, "See! What is Cowher thinking!?! Get Staley in there now -- we're only up by 18 points!" And this was just for Bettis' first series. You can imagine how things spiraled out of control when he came back on the field for the next series.

I don't want to be the guy to say that because the Steelers are currently 4-1, fans are just looking for reasons to complain, but the Steelers are 4-1 and as Bouchette mentions above, Bettis has been given the ball six times on the goal line and he's scored on every occasion. If fans want something to get worked up about, it should be the Steelers schedule. Steeler opponents during the first five weeks are a combined 5-14; the remaining 11 opponents are 31-23. There seem to be more important things to worry about than Jerome getting a few carries to spell Staley.

One more thing. I realize that used Hatin' in the subtitle of this post and I've made it clear how I feel about using really tired urban slang, but I'm making this an exception (primarily because I couldn't think of anything wittier -- which is a scary thought when you consider that I actually thought that 'Hatin' on Jerome' was witty in the first place).

Don't believe everything you read
This is from Bill Parcell's weekly press conference yesterday:

Q: What are your impressions of Ben Roethlisberger?

PARCELLS: I just told the press that he is the best prospect I have seen in 10 or 15 years.

Q: Why?

PARCELLS: I have not seen anybody come in the league like that. The only guy that I can say came in, and in the first year started playing like he is playing, is Dan Marino.

Q: That is high praise.

PARCELLS: Well, he has done a great job, and they have done a god job with him.

Q: Is it more mental that is impressive in the way he manages the game, or is it mostly physical?

PARCELLS: It looks to me like he can do about what he wants out there. You see him, you guys cover him, he is out of the pocket throwing 50-yard passes right on the money. It is not going to be without some growing pains, but I think he is in an ideal situation. They have good balance on offense. They are running the ball well. They have a good receiving corps. They are protecting him pretty well. He has done a good job. I am telling you, I am very, very impressed and it is not just because he is the opponent.
A couple of thoughts. First, reading this, you get the impression that Parcells is taking a page out of the Presidential campaign strategies by trying to spin lower expectations for their candidate heading into the debates.

Parcells is the same guy who called Terry Glenn "she" and made some derogatory comments about the Japanese last season, so I don't know if I trust him when he says Roethlisberger is the best rookie QB since Marino (even if it is true).

Anyway, I'm sure Parcells has the capacity to be a nice guy, but given that the Steelers will be in town this week, I'm not buying it. Of course, it really doesn't matter what Parcells says, because invariably it will come down to execution (hey, big surprise there, right?). Either way, I thought Parcells' comments were interesting, even if not totally believable.