Tuesday, January 02, 2007

And That Is That

Well, the 2006 season ends a little differently than the 2005 season ended. I know some of us reflect on the fact that if the Steelers hadn't crapped the bed any number of times this year they probably would've made the playoffs, but I like to focus on the fact they didn't quit after a 2-6 start.

Sure, losing to the Raiders sucked balls but I'm guessing the Bengals knows what that feels like … and worse. I mean, can't we now call Cincinnati the league's softest team? Heading into Week 15, they were 8-5 and in perfect position to make a postseason run. So, what do they do? Proceed to lose three straight, the last two in heartbreakingly embarrassing fashion. If it's a 2006 special teams screw ups, I'd just assume you're talking about the Steelers, but against the Broncos two weeks ago and the Steelers last Sunday, it was the domain of the Bengals. What a freakin' joke.

My buddy Desmond, who's a Redskins fan, asked me what was the most demoralizing loss of the season for the Steelers. I immediately piped up with, "Oakland," well, because it's Oakland. And let's be honest, if you can't win that game you really don't deserve to go to the playoffs. My buddy Andy thought the first Cincy game was much worse and after some thought I had to agree. Cowher lost that one all by himself. Pittsburgh dominated for most of the afternoon and one silly muffed punt changed everything. But like I said, I'm over it. Onward and upward. Or something like that.

Randy Steele asked a good question in the game thread: "Isn't the O-line in disarray? Or is it? " I really have no idea what the hell's going on with the offensive line. Early in the season they looked lost, gained momentum for a few games, played scared against the Ravens, and then dominated in the season finale. I will say that the o-line didn't once dominate a good defensive front seven this season and I think that says something.

I know much of the talk this season has been about getting a back to replace complement Willie Parker, but I hope nobody here thinks that need should be addressed in the first round. (By the way, as I was thinking about the Steelers' draft needs, I remember DJ city early – and often – that Pittsburgh should go after a wideout in the first round a year ago. I, for one, was against the idea, and frankly, thought it idiotic. Shows what I know. Just out of curiosity, I wonder what DJ thinks about this year's first-round prospects. Just so I can hold it against him if it doesn't work out.)

Right now, with a month to go in the season, I like Pittsburgh taking an offensive linemen early. I think Eric suggested a few months ago that the team could take a left tackle and move Marvel back to his original position. I like this idea, too.

And after watching Willie Colon handle himself pretty well, I wonder what the future holds for Max Starks, who's a restricted free agent.

Currently, the Steelers have the 15th overall pick, which, all things considered, ain't too bad. Here are previous first rounders taken 15th:
  • Tye Hill, 2006
  • Derrick Johnson, 2005
  • Michael Clayton, 2004
  • Jerome McDougle, 2003
  • Albert Haynesworth, 2002
  • Rod Gardner, 2001
  • Deltha O'Neal, 2000
Okay, maybe the 15th pick is bad. Really, really bad. Honestly, I stopped after 2000 because I got more and more depressed the further back I went. So, I'm now advocating Pittsburgh trade down out of this pick ... for the sake of the franchise. Or maybe they should've just lost against the Bengals. Alright, changing subjects...

Israel has some news on next season's schedule:
Because of the way the tiebreakers worked out, the third place Steelers get the third place Broncos and Jaguars next year - rather than the expected Chiefs and Titans.

Of course the AFC North plays the AFC East and the NFC West.

So this means IIRC Miami, Buffalo, San Francisco and Seattle at home, with New England, the Jets, Arizona, the Rams on the road. I think it's Jax at home and Den on the road. Not too bad travel-wise.
What's funny (or maybe not so funny, depending on your perspective) is that the Bengals, as the second-place team, will play the Chiefs and Titans. I'm not so sure the Broncos and Jaguars aren't the tougher matchup. That said, Jack Del Rio will cost his team at least 10 points, so it's important to factor that in.

Countertorque brings us even more douchebaggery out of Cincy:
AP has a hilarious Carson Palmer quote this morning. "That's just another game we shouldn't have lost to another team we feel were better than."
Hmm, this sounds familiar. You know, Palmer used to not bother me -- in fact, I actually liked him. I felt awful about the whole Kimo-to-the-knee incident from a year ago, blah blah blah. But now, after watching him flail all over the field, he just personifies the wussified culture that has become Bengals football. It's kinda ironic that the team most likely to lay down and let the opponent run right over them is also populated by felons.

Randy Steele asks another good question:
If the Rooneys want Whisenhunt for the top spot, will they get into a bidding war for him with the Falcons? (For that matter, is he worth a bidding war?)

Also, I wonder how Russ Grimm will feel if or when he is passed over for Whisenhunt, should the Steelers elect to made him HC.
In a perfect world, the Steelers will hire Whisenhunt in a timely fashion, but with the Rooney Rule, doing a thorough job finding the next head coach and all the other stuff that's pretty important in such situations, the process probably won't be that straightforward. Still, I wouldn't expect the Rooneys to break the bank for Whisenhunt (or anybody for that matter) when speculation has it that that's part of the reason Cowher's splitting.

Concerning Grimm, you'd have to expect him to a)not be psyched by the move, and b)to start looking for another job. I think Mike Florio floated Grimm's (and Whisenhunt's) name on the Arizona Cardinals' early interview list, so maybe it won't be an issue.

But like I said Sunday, this all presupposes Cowher retires. While we wait for the verdict, I'll agree with Trevin Shirley:
I've really become frustrated with everybody who wants Bill to leave. It's almost like the PGH media is encouraging it at this point. This coaching situation is a perfect example of Steeler Nation having expectations that are way too high. Steeler fans expect the Steelers to go to the Super Bowl EVERY YEAR. Anything less and it's somebody's head on the line. I've grown up watching the media and fans hang loyal players and coaches out to dry over one bad game or down year. Bill Cowher has completely revitalized this franchise during his tenure, won a Super Bowl, and produced a playoff team nearly every year. A year ago, Cowher was the king of Pittsburgh. Then, after a bad year where lots of things went wrong (most not his fault), Steeler fans are hoping for his resignation. Cowher has shown loyalty to the fans during his whole tenure, but the fans desert him right away. And like I said, this happens after every down year with this franchise.

I'll be sad to see Bill Cowher leave if that's what happens.
(Nodding my head approvingly ... while Israel shakes his head in disappointment)

I should say that almost all the people that post here like Cowher and want him to stay. Unfortunately, I want to rule the world and to do that, I need to convince every Steelers fan to agree with my every word.

Rob gets the Day 2 draft conversation started early:
The real weakness in the Colbert era is the weakness of his 2nd day picks..and that is where you often find the role players/ST's/diamonds in the rough that keep a team competitive.
True that. And if I'm the Steelers, my first special teams priority is finding a good, young punter. And I don't mean in free agency, either. I'm talking about the fourth round, or so, maybe with one of the compensatory picks. And before anybody gets all huffy, take a look at previous Pittsburgh fourth-round picks over the years.

And finally, one last word from Mr. Steele:
Uhhh…by the way, have we lost Ryan for good?
Nope. Not even close. Actually -- and stop me if you've heard this one before -- but I hope to be a little more consistent in posting. My schedule's pretty hectic and has been for about eight months now, but I think I've got this thing figured out. We'll see. And if I slack off, I'm sure somebody will let me know.

And now, one last word from me: If you want to take your mind of the 2006 season, or don't want to think about the Ravens winning even one freakin' playoff game, feel free to time machine it up to 12 months ago:
Feel better?