Monday, January 28, 2008

Six Months Until Training Camp

One more week and then we can get on with the business of the truly important stuff: the combine, non-stop hypothetical draft situations, countless shots in the dark about which players and positions the Steelers truly need to target, and, ultimately, two days in late April to decide the fate of a Pittsburgh team that is seemingly a few players away from 6-10 or 13-3, depending on how good fortune looks upon them.

It all sounds very serious. In reality, I think it's how we all cope with the seven months without football. Interestingly, though, as the Steelers were making their Super Bowl run two years ago, we still had a wandering eye to the impending off-season; Antwaan Randle El and Chris Hope were soon-to-be free agents creating an immediate need at wideout/returner and safety.

In looking back at that post (you know, when I actually used to write for this site), I went through the painstaking effort to list Pittsburgh's options as well as all the potential free agents. Unsurprisingly, I had no real insights into the draft, but I did pimp Michael Robinson. Not sure what that means, but in retrospect, maybe the Steelers would've been better off taking him instead of Willie Reid. Or not. Who knows.

My point? Well, I'm not sure there really is one. But it does seem like we are forever looking ahead. Looking to see how the Steelers can improve, because, you know, they're this close to being where they need to be. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing; in the words of whatshisname, it is what it is.

Plus, by this point in the proceedings, I think we're all sick of the Super Bowl, no matter the teams involved. This year, obviously, it's especially true exactly because of the teams involved. But like many of you, I've already accepted what looks to be inevitable, and I just hope in 100 years none of us remembers the 2007 Patriots team for their perfect* record.


We've gone back and forth on the importance of tall receivers, but tangentially related to that, I'm curious what people think of Hines Ward's reaction to Ben's comments. We touched on it last Friday, but every time Ward speaks to the media, there is a subset of Steelers fans who can't badmouth him fast enough.

Mark Madden's idiotic diatribes I get: he's a fat douchebag who needs ratings. But why do everyday Steelers fans hate Ward? I don't think it's anybody here, but if it is, I'm legitimately interested in this.

I suspect his holdout prior to the '05 season had something to do with it, but I just don't get how that's any different than any holdout. Ward missed a week or two of training camp, but is that reason enough to hold a grudge against the guy for, I don't know, more than a week?

It's all very weird, but hey, that's what's great about this country: you can hate anything, even Hines Ward. And you don't even need a good reason (or, at least, a good reason that I can figure).


As usual, I'm late to Randy's QOTD, but here goes:

Which Steeler player's performance this season disappointed you the most?

Hmm. Since everybody's first instinct is to type SEAN MAHAN, I should probably try to be a little more original. I agree on Anthony Smith. I've always been a Ryan Clark fan and thought he should've been the starter as long as he was healthy, but when Smith got the chance to play he lost his job to Tyrone Carter. I wouldn't call that progress.

And as much as I hate to type this, ROBO-PUNTER was disappointing at times, particularly down the stretch. The shitbox line-drive punt to Leon Washington in overtime pretty much decided the Jets game. A replay during the AFC wild-card game sealed the Steelers' season. Of course, that punt followed the dumbest play call in Pittsburgh play-calling history, but we don't need to go down that road again.

On the upside, I'm not down on either player, and I think having some rough patches can help in the long run.


Finally -- and this may only interest the Brian St. Pierre family -- but the Steelers are all set to sign Jared Zabransky to compete with a rookie for the third-string job.

I'm guessing this has less to do with the team's views on St. Pierre as it does with how much it will cost to keep him and the fact that he's out of taxi squad eligibility. This has to be devastating news for Brian Jackson; that's one less identity he can rip off to impress the ladies.

I eagerly look forward to reading about the no doubt countless Zabransky-to-Bloom connections during training camp. There's your future of Steelers football right there.