Thursday, January 05, 2006

Billy McMoustache

I was all set to get my buddy Desmond riled up and talk about why the Red Sox should trade Manny et al for Tejada, but it looks like there's actually some Steelers stuff to discuss. So Miggy Ramirez will have to wait.

... Henigin points out that ProFootballTalk is speculating that the Chiefs might make a run at Cowher if Hermhead Edwards doesn't take the plunge (although the Edwards prospects are looking pretty good right now). Honestly, I almost never read PFT (and don't link to it here because they don't have permalinks -- instead they just update their "rumors" page) because anything that's the least bit interesting is invariably made up. My favorite PFT rumor was the one where everybody on the team hates Big Ben. Hey, maybe it's true, but PFT reported this in August and, um, I haven't heard anything about it since. And the other rumors they report are the same ones you can find on FoxSports, CNNSI and ESPN. Big whoop.

Anyway, back to Cowher. I tend to agree with Eric's assessment as to why he would stay. Yeah, Marty gave Bill his start in coaching, and why would he want to start over in KC with a bunch of geriatrics, and uproot his family after 14 years in Pittsburgh?

I don't know if anyone else caught the NFL Films show on both Belichick and Cowher a few weeks ago. It mostly dealt with their family life as it related to their day jobs -- really interesting stuff (so interesting -- and so humanizing -- in fact, that it's really hard to hate Belichick after seeing it). Anyway, Cowher seemed quite happy with the Steelers, and made it pretty clear that his family comes first. He has three daughters (his oldest, Meagan, plays basketball at Princeton), and the fact that they've all been in the same school district since kindergarten just re-emphasizes that stability. Plus, besides all that, if Cowher ended up in Kansas City, Kendrell Bell would be on injured reserve indefinitely, and DeWayne Washington would find a way to lose games by randomly running into kickers.

... Brian points us to, "A Steelers Playoff History: The Bill Cowher Years," as told by Look, there's no changing the fact that the Steelers have struggled in the post-season. And that's an understatement along the lines of, "Yeah, it does look like that Ravens owner guy basically neutered Brian Billick ... and he willingly went along with it," or if you're into the whole brevity thing (yeah, I stole that from here), "Kyle Boller sucks."

But when you consider all the alternatives, things could be a lot worse. Try being a Lions fan. You end up wearing blaze orange shirts to home games. I guess in a perfect world, the Steelers should be going for their 14th consecutive Super Bowl. Should they have made it to more Super Bowls? Yeah, probably. Is every playoff loss Cowher's fault. Uh, no. Not unless he told Kris Brown to kick it low enough to get blocked and returned for a TD, or Kordell to throw two picks in 2001, or Ben to do his best Kordell impression in 2005.

I know some of Steelers fans dislike Cowher, but whenever you ask them who should be the coach, they usually don't have any answers. (And the next person I hear say "Kirk Ferentz" is getting donkey punched. Seriously. When's the last time a college coach came into the league and tore it up? Anyone? So now, in addition to getting rid of a guy that perenially gets to the playoffs, you're now stuck in rebuilding mode for no real reason. Yep, that makes a lot of sense.)

Personally, I don't think Cowher's a great tactician, and I've said that before (In fact, he seems to make a lot of puzzling in-game decisions, and hey, Brian agrees). But I do think he's a great motivator, and does a really good job of preparing his teams over the course of a season. He gets into trouble when he starts winging it mid-game (hello random onside kicks, or overruling play calls). I'm all for him yelling, "Let's go! Let's GO!," all game long while Whisenhunt and LeBeau take care of little details like play-calling.

But more importantly, I think Cowher's a solid person. Yeah, I know, this is football we're talking about, but character should count for something ... and it should be pretty high on the list. I'll take the Steelers during the Cowher era over Brian Billick's one Super Bowl and six seasons of scandal and crappy football. I'm sure some Steelers fans would disagree with me, and that's fine. If everybody agreed about everything, I'd have nothing to talk about. But think about what the hell you'd be talking about if the Steelers won a Super Bowl in 2000, and after getting their asses handed to them last season, followed that up with a 6-10 effort this year. Yeah, I'm guessing it would be something like, "God, our coach sux! We need Kirk Ferentz ... Now! O'Doyle rulz!"

So yeah, it's hard to argue that the Steelers have been less than spectacular in the playoffs. But if you're willing to pin every loss squarely on Cowher and every victory on luck, then congratulations, you're the newest graduate from the Skip Bayless School of Really Lazy Journalamilism. Please report immediately to the set of "Cold Pizza," for your first assignment.

Alright, getting off the soapbox now. I'll have some Cincy - Pit thoughts tomorrow. Feel free to voice any thoughts/gripes/concerns in the comments. And oh yeah, "O'Doyle, I've got a feeling your whole family's going down."