Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Season's Saved!

So that's all it took, huh? A 5-7 start, last place special teams, and injuries to Verron Haynes, Willie Reid, Hines Ward, Cedrick Wilson, Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark and anybody else I forgot.

Duce Staley has finally been released and the Steelers have signed Chidi Iwuoma (thank god) and ... Lee Mays? (*stares blankly at computer screen with mouth agape*)

Well, just like most things this season, I guess we can't have just good news. It's always something. First, the Steelers re-sign Ike Taylor. Fifteen minutes later, Big Ben has an appendicitis. Pittsburgh avoids an embarrassing loss to the Browns and Hines Ward gets hurt.

The team finally re-signs Chidi, releases waste-of-space Staley and signs Mays just to remind us that it's still 2006. Thanks, guys. I got it.

The good news, of course, is that Chidi will immediately catapult the Steelers' special teams to the top of the charts. Okay, probably not, but it'll at least take some of the pressure of Sean Morey to make every tackle 40 yards down the field. Now the only question remaining is if Iwuoma will move ahead of Ike Taylor on the depth chart at cornerback.

While I might seem skeptical, the Mays signing makes sense. First, it's Week 13 -- there isn't a whole lot to choose from, and among the leftovers, only Mays knows the playbook. Of course, if Pittsburgh didn't cut Quincy Morgan ...

But hey, that's all water under the bridge. The more immediate concern is that the depth chart at wideout currently looks like this:

1) Nate Washington
2) Santonio Holmes
3) Sean Morey
4) Walter Young
5) Lee Mays
6) Kordell Stewart

I think it's safe to say we won't see a lot of four-wide sets Thursday night. And if we do, Heath Miller and Jerame Tuman will be one (or two) of the wide receivers.

When you put things in perspective (and by things, I mean injuries and silly coaching decisions) the fact that Pittsburgh's 5-7 (and one game up on the Browns!) is pretty remarkable.

I know some commenters on this here blog are in favor of playing the young guys once the season has been decided and it looks like you'll get your wish. While under normal crappy-season circumstances I don't subscribe to the "play the rookies" theory, with nobody left on the bench, well, I don't have much of a choice. So knowing that, I'm looking forward to Anthony Smith potentially getting a lot of playing time and watching how Holmes does as a starter (although, to be fair, he's hardly new to a lot playing time).

But what about Duce? Here's my question: What the hell took so long? During the preseason, I was under the impression that Staley just needed to get back in "game shape" (whatever that is) and he'd be fine as the part-time, short-yardage back. Yeah, that didn't work out. I guess I shoulda gotten the hint when Pittsburgh traded for Patrick Cobbs, or signed Najeh Davenport, or activated John Frickin' Kuhn from the practice squad instead of dressing Staley. Hey, what can I say, I'm pretty dense.

Anyway, it's obviously the right move, but just like every other move this season, it's about two months too late.

But hey, that's all behind us now. I'm glad Chidi's back with the team and I fully expect the Steelers to reel off four in a row, magically make the playoffs and become the first team in history to win the Super Bowl after starting the season 4-7. Or maybe they'll lose to the Browns Thursday night. One or the other.


... New Eric leaves this comment:
I can't believe the Tampa field goal at the end of the game is getting so much attention. Why is it so indefensible to not want to get shut out? I just don't think this was a bad call by Gruden---at all.
I totally agree. Big whoop, the Steelers didn't get the shutout. Now what? They won't make the playoffs? Uh, I don't think so.

I know, I know, that's not most people's issue. It's the fact that Gruden wussed out and kicked a field goal with a couple of seconds on the clock. Hey, like somebody commented yesterday, if you don't want them to score on you, don't let them drive down the field. And that's basically my philosophy for all professional sports, whether preserving shutouts or running up the score. (That said, I think college, high school, junior high and rec league coaches who do this should be arrested on the spot, charged with a felony and sent to prison without a trial -- is that possible DJ? Get on that.)

... Speaking of DJ ...
If we were to go outside of the organization, Mike Leach would be my honest 1st choice. If for no other reason than I think he's the smartest guy in the room, and I don't want him to be working for the other guys.

A question posted on a political blog I read, which has some relevance here:

If terrorists played the Baltimore Ravens, who would you want to win?
Fair enough, but I'm still standing by my No College Coaches in Pittsburgh statements from earlier. Leach sounds like a smart guy, but I'm not sure how well that translates in a football-crazed place like Pittsburgh. Texas Tech? People are too busy watching the basketball team to be overly concerned about the football team, and this point they're still kind of a novelty.

Plus, if the Bucs continue to lose, Jon Gruden might be available at the end of the season. I'm kidding, I'm kidding.

Just out of curiosity, what do you think it would take to get Bill Belichick to come to Pittsburgh? And if you're willing to indulge me on that ridiculous question, let me ask a follow-up: Would you want him? Me? Um, I don't know; I'll get back to you.

Now, concerning DJ's terrorist or Ravens question. At the risk of pissing somebody off, I had a similar conversation this weekend with MDS. He was asking me which college basketball teams I follow and I said something to the effect of "I grew up in North Carolina and follow UNC ... and naturally anybody playing Duke. (Although my father, who might be the craziest person on the planet, alleges he's a Tar Heel, Blue Devil and Demon Deacon Fan. And Wolfpack. Yeah, that makes watching basketball fun.) In fact, if the Osama Bin Laden All-Stars were playing Duke, I'd pull for the OBL All-Stars."

So I think in a roundabout way that answers DJ's question.

... Finally, this masterpiece from Adam Gretz:
I'm already planning on calling Bendel and Benz after the game Thursday and asking "Why didn't they give Duce Staley a chance?"

I figure it will make both of their heads explode and force Fox Sports Radio to replace them.
I will say a little prayer tonight hoping you actually go through with this. This could possibly be the pinnacle of unintentional comedy.