Friday, October 21, 2005

A Loser Picking Winners, Week 7

OK, so are the Steelers going to actually have enough people to field a team this Sunday? Seriously, there's a chance that Bryant McFadden might start opposite Ike Taylor because Deshea has a tender hammy, Willie Willie (my clever nickname for Willie Williams) as a groin thing, and Ricardo Colclough hasn't played since injuring his shoulder during the Monday night game against the Chargers. I sent my buddy Andy an email about all of this and here was his response:
"Do they have anybody who isn’t hurt? Wilson got hurt tackling somebody on an interception, thanks Tommy ... They need to play Duce and Bettis and run the ball up the gut a hundred times to shorten these games and get some people healthy."
Fine by me. Just as long as Tommy doesn't isn't doing the handing off, that strategy should be fine. Incidentally (or perhaps, ironically), Tommy is listed as questionable for Sunday's game too. Of course, with hindsight being 20/20 and all, nobody would've batted an eye if Tommy was listed as "Under No Circumstances Should He Play" on the injury report last week.

According to Maddox, he was injured in the Jags game on his 15-yard scramble that ended with him getting donkey-punched on a late hit. More troubling than the fact that Tommy's little jaunt actually was the longest run of the day for the Steelers, is that Cowher didn't know Maddox was injured until Tuesday of this week. I guess underthrowing every pass (including a couple of the interceptions) wasn't a big enough hint. Maybe we should get Maddox a medic-alert bracelet that immediately notifies the medical staff if he thinks he might be injured. Or better yet, let me operate that thing. Tommy wouldn't have made it on the field after the third offensive series (which ended when he threw his second pick of the day ... into quadruple coverage). Just thinking out loud here.

A couple of days ago I mentioned that Bill Simmons was way off in his assessment of the Steelers having confidence issues after the Pats game. Well, I can't disagree with a word he wrote today.

The thing is, two weeks ago, Maddox was minding his own business as Pittsburgh prepared to hop on a plane for their game in San Diego. Tommy was going to spend Monday night in his above-ground Jacuzzi, sipping on SoCo & Cokes, and enjoy MNF from the comfort of his double-wide. And then Roethlisberger got hurt, Maddox saw an opportunity to start a game -- and maybe even garner some interest from NFL teams looking for immediate QB help if he played well. Yikes, was that a bad idea. It ranks right up there with the Kent Graham Experiment, followed closely by the Amos Zereoue Project.

(By the way, for all the grief Kordell Stewart had to deal with -- and is still dealing with -- during his tenure in Pittsburgh, you have to give the guy credit. After being benched in favor of Maddox in 2002 -- after being named to the Pro Bowl and team MVP in 2001 -- Stewart started and won two games during the middle of the season while Tommy recovered from temporary paralysis. I think that's important to point out. I guess it's also worth noting that the Ravens currently have three former Steeler cast-offs as backup QBs -- including Stewart -- and they're probably all better than the incumbent, Kyle Boller.)

Now he has his own corollary. And because of that debacle against Jacksonville, there's absolutely no way in hell that guy will ever get chance with another NFL team to earn a starting job. In fact, his best bet might be to hang around Soldiers Field during the 2006 preseason, hope Grossman and Orton both get hurt (right now, the odds on Grossman are 1-to-1, and Orton will probably be close to that by the time the season ends), and hope he gets a chance. He can't be worse than Jonathan Quinn, can he? In the meantime, Maddox's balky shoulder (which can only be a euphemism for "I'm too sucky to dress out") means that Charlie Batch moves up to backup. Which is probably where he should've been heading into the season. Going forward, it'll be interesting to see if Maddox ever gets his second string job back. Personally, I can't see how that would happen, but Cowher's making the call, and he's the same guy that somehow forgot that he had Jerome Bus on the sidelines waiting to run over people during the Jags game.

Anyway ...

So in addition to all the injuries in the defensive backfield, the wideouts are also a little banged up. Randle El, Hines and Wilson are all questionable. It looks like Randle El and Hines will both give it a go, but Wilson has a broken bone in his wrist and I can't imagine him being too effective. The bright side, however, is that with Roethlisberger back on the field, Wilson shouldn't have to worry about tackling defenders after the QB throws a pick.

These injuries also mean that Quincy Morgan and Nate Washington might get a chance to make more plays. Washington's only real action came last week when Maddox threw an interception to the guy that was covering him. Everybody remembers that Morgan had that unbelievable runback to start overtime, but he also caught two nice passes (one of which accounted for the only third down conversion of the game for the Steelers).

And even though no one on the offensive line is injured, maybe their play the past few weeks should be the primary concern. The Steelers - Jags contest was NFL Network's Game of the Week, and at one point offensive line coach Russ Grimm was giving Max Starks the business for not knowing his assignment given a particularly look from the Jags. Now I don't know if this was an isolated incident or a regular occurrence, but I do know that Max has been a little shaky lately. Still, I think he's done fine given that this is only his second year in the league, and his first as the starter. Another thing that makes me feel a little better about this unit is the fact that they rank eighth in Adjusted Line Yards. And even more encouraging is that the Bengals defense line ranks 27th. Hmmm. I wonder how the Steelers should exploit this?

OK, on to the "picks that get worse by the week ... if that's actually possible." God, I suck. Real, real bad. But you already knew that, so no surprises there (on the upside, however, I only lost on the juice this week, so if nothing else, it's a moral victory). Alright, let's get to it:
KC MIA -1.0 KC
NO STL -3.0 NO
SF WAS -13.0 SF
Season: 38 - 49 - 1
Last week: 7 - 7
Earnings to date: - $1590

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Week 6 picks