Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Turnover Tommy

Here's a bunch of random stuff I remembered over the course of the day that I forgot to mention yesterday:

As we were driving from the stadium back towards Squirrel Hill on our way to 376E and Washington, D.C., I tried to catch the post-game press conference but I somehow missed it. Anyway, I caught bits and pieces of it today on NFL Network and I have a couple of thoughts: B. Minich mentioned yesterday that Cowher was pretty terse in his responses. He was. And given how the game unfolded, I can't say that I really blame him. Then again, he was the guy making the decisions, and one of those decisions was to leave Turnover Tommy in the game. (After the fumble in overtime, I could only assume that Cowher wanted Maddox to get the record for most turnovers in a game; otherwise, there wasn't a rational reason to trot him back out there.)

More often than not (read: always), press conferences are a waste of time. It's nearly impossible to get a straight answer about game-planning, injuries, or anything else that might be considered mildly newsworthy. But that's the point. Coaches don't want to give opponents an advantage by blabbing about what they plan to do. Yesterday, however, I don't think any of the aforementioned cat-and-mouse stuff had anything to do with Cowher's post-game comments. I'm guessing he was pissed about two things: (a) not pulling Maddox at some point during the game (or maybe even not starting Maddox), and (b) Maddox.

Everybody seems to have an opinion as to why Cowher didn't pull the trigger on Maddox (well, everybody but me), but the only thing I can hope is that Cowher learned a valuable lesson. Like Alex, I won't be losing any sleep over this loss because it was just such a goofy game, with almost all of the blame falling on Maddox. Unless, of course, you hear Maddox tell the story. I watched a couple of his answers, and to hear him tell it, you would've thought he threw for 200 yards, and completed 60% of his passes. And when he wasn't delusional about the passing game, he was a little confused about the running game:

Q:Was the snap good on the fumble?

A: I didn’t get it clean and I don’t know for what reason. I thought I had it but I kind of bobbled it. When I was turning around I thought I was about to control it and kind of bumped into Danny (Kreider) and lost it. I was just trying to pick it up so I could just throw it away.


Q:Do you feel as though you forced some of those throws to make plays?

A:The only throw I felt like I forced was the interception at the end to the linebacker. That was really the only one that I felt, coverage-wise, that I had forced into coverage. Everything else I felt that it was coverage that had dictated me where to go. They made some plays on things and I missed some throws on things. And we could have made it on some other things. We knew coming in it was going to be a dog fight. We knew that their defense was going to play well and that it was going to be a tough day and we got exactly what you ask for. We fought through and had a chance to win in regulation and a chance to win in overtime but I didn’t get it done.
Yeah, I watched a replay of that fumble and Dan Kreider didn't touch Maddox. Other than that, he was exactly right. The question about forcing balls into coverage is so inane that it's hard to believe that Maddox wasn't kidding. Here's what I'm thinking: if he Maddox is convinced he only threw one ball into coverage, that means he's not good enough to make the throws he has to. If coverage dictates you throw to a particular receiver, and you throw it there ... and the ball still gets picked easily, it might be time to dust off the old insurance license. Look, it's not hard to imagine Maddox crapping the bed, and in all honesty, I'm not of the opinion that Maddox should be sacrificed in the town square because he's a sucky QB. We've all known that for some time. But what bother me is that he can say with a straight face that he felt like he only forced one throw, and that Kreider somehow kept him from falling on the fumble. Sheesh.

One more thought on the fumble: a couple of people left comments yesterday wondering why the Bus wasn't in the game during the overtime. That's exactly what my buddy Andy was asking as we left the stadium. I can't disagree, but here's the thing: O.J. Simpson could've been in the backfield with a black ski-mask and a butcher's knife ready to slash his way to the end zone and it wouldn't have done the Steelers any good because Maddox still fumbled the snap.

Now if we're assuming that Turnover Tommy would be competent enough to actually handle the center exchange, then yep, the Bus should've been in there, (and preferably run up the middle instead of running two sweeps, like they chose to do with Willie Parker).

Update: I just read this about the Maddox fumble in today's Post-Gazette and almost choked on my Krispy Kreme:
" ... Parker gained 2 of those back on an inside run on second down. On third down, Maddox was supposed to pitch right to Parker. The Steelers' video of that play shows it was wide open for a touchdown if Maddox had not fumbled away the ball."
Ugh. I coulda done without knowing that.

As we were driving from the stadium, through the Strip District, on our way to Oakland, we were sitting at a light (getting ready to take a left on Penn Ave.) and saw a black Hummer with what looked to be 28-inch rims pull up next to us. It turned out to be Ike Taylor. Apparently, he didn't recognize my voice from our interview as I yelled at him out the window. Yep, Ike was Big-Timin' me.

This is actually a really funny article from one of the Jacksonville papers (even if the headline writer can't spell Maddox's name). I thought yesterday was maybe the worst game of Maddox's career, and Countertorque still thinks it's the Texans game. I think we were both wrong:

I covered a game Tommy Maddox played when he was a New York Giant and swear he once threw a limp pass downfield that was blown back to the line of scrimmage. Against Philadelphia in 1995 he had a game in which he went 6 of 23 for 49 yards and owned a sparkling quarterback rating of 0.0. Some of his own teammates nicknamed him "Tommy Terrible."
OK, we have a new winner. Man, is that awful.

Speaking of awful ...

That's right, it's the latest installment of CPW. And once again, the full article is only available to those dumbasses willing to fork over $30 clams (hello me). Here's what Tribune-Review resident village idiot, Rocco DeMaro had to say in his column yesterday:
...Cedrick Wilson, on the other hand, has been a disappointment. With Hines Ward out of action for the first time in his life, Wilson figured to get a lot of time playing in Ward's place. He did little with the opportunity, dropping a sure first down conversion and looking timid in his routes in general. He finished the game with one catch for 11 yards.

...We saw the bipolar return skills of Antwann Randle El in their full bloom yesterday. When El catches and gets upfield immediately, he's a dangerous return man. See his 72-yard TD return for reference.

But when he stutters and jukes and moves laterally, he's not an asset.

He's got to be more decisive.

It's not just the big plays that separate the great return guys from the average ones. The routine 7 and 10 yard-ers are important, too. And for all El's explosiveness and elusiveness he's good for a 'zero' on at least 2 returns per game.
Yeah, you know, I was thinking that Cedrick Wilson really had a bad game because he single-handedly made Tommy throw all those balls into coverage. And the pass that Wilson dropped was thrown late and about three steps in front of him. And I don't even know where to begin with his comments on Randle El (and for the love of god, can someone consult steelers.com on how to spell "Antwaan"; the Trib must hold the record for the most misspelled player names per really crappy article). I'm guessing it might dawn on DeMaro at some point that the punter and the punt coverage have a lot to do with the returns as well. Or maybe it won't.

Like most people, I enjoy reading Bill Simmons, but he wrote some pretty craptacular stuff last Friday:

Steelers 22, Chargers 21
The Chargers were 2-2 and coming off two straight emotional wins (Pats and Giants) to save their season. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh was 2-1, coming off a bye week and licking its wounds after an agonizing "maybe we just can't beat these guys" loss to the Pats (the same team that thrashed them in January). With a physical JACKSONVILLE/Cincy/BALTIMORE stretch coming up, the Steelers needed a statement win to boost their confidence, one of those games where they come up big on the road and Bill Cowher clenches his fist about 20 times and looks like Sergeant Slaughter right after pinning the Iron Sheik at MSG.
I don't know much, but I'm pretty sure that the Steelers weren't agonizing that "maybe we just can't beat these guys" after losing to the Patriots. If anything (at least for me), I felt like the Steelers would fare pretty well against New England if they played again this year. The fact that he added the "thrashing" sentiment a sentence later is all part of what comes with losing the AFCC to the same team twice in as many matchups, I guess. He then follows that with intimating that the Steelers needed a confidence boost. Um, huh? Confidence boost? Maybe I've been watching the wrong season because the Steelers certainly don't look to be lacking confidence (excluding Turnover Tommy, of course). Simmons goes on to write that Brady is so good that he just won't let his team lose (meanwhile, the team was 3-2 heading for 3-3), so we'll just chalk it up him having an off week.

One more thing: trolls are funny.