Wednesday, February 28, 2007

One Down, A Bunch to Go

Obviously, Aaron Smith signing a new deal is a big deal, especially when the next newsworthy nugget is ... learning Mike Tomlin will live in Pittsburgh (more on that in a second).

According to the Tribune-Review by way of J.J. Cooper, it's a five-year, $25 million contract, though J.J. adds this:
[The signing] seems to point towards the Steelers sticking with the 3-4 longer than is often thought. Smith is one of the best 3-4 defensive ends in the league, but he's never played in the 4-3 as a pro, so it's hard to project how effective he would be as a 4-3 defensive tackle.
I don't know why this is still a question. I know Bouchette was contemplating it earlier in the week, but Wexell wrote a column on Sunday (and I posted it on AOL the next day) that pretty much laid it out in black and white:
A source with the Steelers made the admission that, yes, the Steelers are sticking with their 3-4 defense, even though their new coach, Tomlin, is an avowed Cover 2 devotee.
Obviously, this doesn't mean Pittsburgh will only play the 3-4 -- they've never done that -- but it should make it clear that Tomlin's in no hurry to transition to the 4-3. Wexell even writes about the 3-4 tweeners the team interviewed during the Combine.

I know PFT, oddly, still writes Steelers-related posts like a switch to the 4-3 is a possibility. Yeah, that's wrong. Just like when PFT also reported that a Tomlin hire would be the end of Dick LeBeau in Pittsburgh and Troy Polamalu would soon follow.

For some reason, the media are slow on the uptake on this; it's not brain surgery, people.

... Anyway, anybody got thoughts on if Pittsburgh should try to sign Cato June? I'm kidding, but some guy at the Tribune-Star thinks June -- a 4-3, Cover-2 linebacker if there ever was one -- Dominic Rhodes and Nick Harper could all be potential Steelers targets. One more time, for the slow folks: June - No; Rhodes - No; Harper - Probably not. June is 6'0", 227 pounds; he'd struggle a lot as an outside linebacker in the 3-4. Rhodes peed on himself and, as I wrote on AOL, is a smaller, less dynamic version of Willie Parker; you can never have enough good defensive backs, and maybe the Steelers owe Harper -- and his wife -- for helping with the Super Bowl run, but he'll want A) to start, and B) too much money.

I'll pass.

... I was all set to rip Ron Cook for his latest diatribe against humanity, but you know what? I don't really disagree. Ben does need to work harder and I've said as much before. So, as much as it pains me, Cook isn't wrong. Bob Smizik, on the other hand, still sucks.

... Finally, I think it's kinda funny some Pittsburghers are high-fiving each other over Tomlin deciding to live in the city. This is a bad idea. Sure, on the surface, it's swell, having the head coach of the local ball club living two doors down from Joe Lifetime Season Ticket Holder, but here's the thing: if the Steelers go in the tank early, Tomlin will have to move. It's hard to hide from the pitchfork-wielding crowd when you live right in the thick of things. Tommy Maddox's yard got trashed and he lived in the suburbs (of course, Maddox and his agent made up the whole story, but if it were true, you'd see my point, right?).

Hopefully, it'll be fine; and Shadyside is as yuppie as it gets for the city, so that's a good thing, I guess. But I wouldn't be surprised if Tomlin's become the first black family in Fox Chapel in a year or two (or they could do like Kordell ... and Christina Aguilera, and move to Wexford).