Thursday, October 20, 2005

Glass Houses

I found this on and it struck me as kinda curious:
[Cowher]now has to decide who the No. 2 quarterback will be. How he could ever go back to Maddox with confidence if something happens to Roethlisberger is an issue. It appeared early in the week that Charlie Batch would start Sunday's game against Jacksonville, but someone talked Cowher into going with Maddox instead.

The front office are all Batch men. Director of football operations Kevin Colbert and Ron Hughes, their college scouting coordinator, were both with the Detroit Lions when Batch was drafted and was their starting quarterback.

Batch came out looking better after Sunday's game because he played no part in the debacle. And it may not be an aberration for Maddox. That's now five straight poor games in his past five starts.
Alrighty then, if Cowher was set to start Batch, and all the front office peeps are Batch supporters, who's Deep Throat? Whisenhunt? QB coach Mark Whipple? Both seem unlikely because neither have been around all that long, and I can't imagine they would be able to convince Cowher that Maddox would be a capable replacement, especially since he had just suffered a calf injury. Of course, I also thought that Maddox wasn't all that bad a backup prior to last week's debacle (see below), so what do I know? This sounds like a job for Patrick Fitzgerald.

Sam Blackburn of the Zanesville Time Recorder is this week's Honorary Out-of-Town CPW winner ... by a landslide. Don't ask me how I even found this article, just be glad I did. Zanesville is in Ohio, and Blackburn writes from the perspective of a persecuted Bengals fan. Fair enough, but he might want to at least try and get his facts straight as he touts this weekend's matchup:
"I wish they were both undefeated.

I wish Ben Roethlisberger, Duce Staley and Hines Ward were 100 percent healthy.

That way, if the Bengals win this Sunday's AFC North showdown at Paul Brown Stadium, Steeler fans wouldn't have anything to complain about.


Ward missed the Jags game with a hamstring pull, meaning Maddox had arguably the worst pair of starting receivers in the league that day in Antwan Randle-El and Cedric Wilson.

Jerome Bettis, usually solid as Mount Rushmore, continues to be mostly a spot player because of a calf problem.


Even the defense took recent hit, losing linebacker Clark Haggans, who won't play again this season. He was one of the team's leading pass rushers before the injury.


But Pittsburgh still had a healthy defense, which will take you a long way in the NFL."
First of all, Steelers fans generally don't complain about players being out with injuries. And before anyone brings up the, "Hey , what about all the whining that Pittsburgh lost to Jacksonville because of Big Ben's injured knee?" argument, let me make one thing clear: I never blamed the lost on an injured Big Ben. I blamed the lost on an awful Tommy Maddox.

In fact, I think I said at some point that Dan Kreider could've taken all 50 snaps and the Steelers would've won by two touchdowns. I was half-kidding when I wrote that, but I was making the point that 95% of the QBs in the NFL would've won that game. The other five percent? I'm guessing that, in addition to Maddox, Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright would round out the list. But I digress. My point remains the same: Pittsburgh fans usually don't blame poor performance on injuries -- they instead look to the head coach, backup QB, heavyset and aging running back, or any other tangible evidence they feel strengthens their argument (however weak).

OK, I'm getting too far a field here. Back to Blackburn ...

In the very next paragraph, the writer calls Randle El and Wilson "the worst pair of starting receivers in the league." Uh, OK. Has this guy ever seen the Ravens? I guess he missed the Titans and Texans highlights; or even the Pats highlight before Randle El got the bright idea to lateral the ball. And by the way, it's "Antwaan," not "Antwan;" and "Cedrick," not "Cedric." It's not that hard.

Blackburn then tells his readers that Bettis is playing sparingly because his calf is still bothering him. Unless "calf" is code for "Cowher had a game-long brain cramp and inexplicably didn't play him," then Blackburn is wrong ... again.

He then goes on to say that Haggans is out for the season and the defense has taken a hit because of it. Well, I can't argue that the defense is thin at a lot of positions, but unless the season ends in mid-November, I think Haggans should be back. And I know that's a really hard fact to check, but maybe a quick stroll over to would have cleared up any confusion. Oddly, in the very next breath, Blackburn argues that "Pittsburgh still has a healthy defense, which will take you a long way in the NFL." Nothing like contradicting yourself in the span of 30 words.

I don't begrudge Blackburn, because I'm guessing he thought nobody in their right mind would actually scour the internets for hometown opinion pieces about the Steelers-Bengals game. Unlucky for him, I have nothing better to do. Disregarding my issues for a moment, I thought the column was pretty funny. It's certainly infinitely more readable than Bayless, even if every paragraph I read contradicted the one just before it. It's kinda like doing a crossword puzzle, but without the clues. Or not.

Even though Blackburn is now officially enshrined as a CPW, I can't give him too hard a time. In fact, what I'm about to tell you is probably a lot more egregious than anything written above. In my defense, when you write roughly 5,000 words a week, you tend to forget a lot of it. Anyway, I stumbled across some of my keen insights as the Steelers headed into Week 2 and I'm a hell of a lot dumber than I thought. Here's the story I was pimping at the time:
Speaking of Big Ben, he's been downgraded to questionable because of a bone bruise in his knee that has been slow to heal. Which means that there's some chance Tommy Maddox might play against the Texans Sunday. My first reaction to reading this was, "OK. Not really a big deal." Of course I'm discounting Maddox's last performance against Houston when he threw two picks that went the other way, the Steelers amassed something like 400 yards while allowing only 40 and went on to lose 24-7 24-6 and lose home field advantage in the playoffs.

But seriously, I don't think having Maddox step in for Ben is a problem. First of all, everyone knows the Steelers are going to pound the ball as long as the game is close. (And if Pittsburgh goes up, they'll run it even more.) And while Maddox sometimes likes to force throws into coverage, he's also pretty accurate on the short and medium passes. All this got me to thinking who the Pats would prefer to face in two weeks: Roethlisberger or Maddox. Personally, I want Ben to play, but just from a game-planning perspective, New England knows how to rattle Ben, but they've seen a lot less of Maddox. Another option would be for Cowher to rotate the position between Randle El, Hines and Cedrick Wilson -- all former QBs -- and run the single wing. Or just start Roethlisberger. Either way.
God, this is embarrassing. And it's not like it was something I wrote 10 years ago -- I wrote it last month. Honestly, can you imagine if Maddox had started against the Pats? People would've been throwing themselves out of windows before the bye week.

Well, I haven't talked about UNC basketball since virtually everybody left for the NBA back in June. Since then, the Tarheels have already had Midnight Madness and have maybe the best freshman class in the country. Unfortunately, they won't be in town until 2006. But hey, anything's better than 8-20 starring Brian Morrison and Adam Boone. Here are the guys committed to Chapel Hill for 2006:
*William Graves - 6'6", 245 lb. SG
*Tywon Lawson - 6'0", 170 lb. PG (Scout #8)
*Wayne Ellington - 6'4", 195 lb. SG (Scout #4)
*Deon Thompson - 6'8", 250 lb. C (Scout #22)
*Alex Stepheson - 6'10", 215 lb. PF (Scout #58)
*Brandan Wright - 6'9", 195 lb. PF (Scout #5)
Yeah, not bad. Now I just need Quentin Thomas to hold down the fort for 2005-06.