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View Full Version : Tomlin confident Steelers will be competitive in '08



BlitzburghRockCity
03-31-2008, 10:31 AM
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08091/869287-66.stm?cmpid=HBEHTML


Monday, March 31, 2008
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- In charge of a team they admit went downhill at the end of the 2007 season, Steelers mechanics went to work on fixing things in the new year.

They tightened a few bolts, added some chrome but also lost a wheel or two in the process. Yesterday morning, the young driver assigned the duty of trying to bring her home again next season relaxed under a warm South Florida sun and declared her ship-worthy.

"I feel good about the pieces that we have in place for '08 thus far to compete," coach Mike Tomlin said. "I have a level of comfort with some of our leadership and the guys in their roles.

"I know we're capable of being a good team. Whether or not we're capable of being a great team, which is what's going to be required to be world champs, that always will unfold inside the white lines in stadiums."

Tomlin did not express satisfaction with everything that has been done or where his team resides as it heads into the draft April 26-27. But, he was not dissatisfied either.

The highlights of the Steelers' offseason read like this:

Lost seven-time Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca, starting outside linebacker Clark Haggans and third-string quarterback Brian St. Pierre in free agency, all expected.

Released special teams captain Clint Kriewaldt and No. 4 wide receiver Cedrick Wilson. Re-signed some of their own backup veterans, their starting quarterback, signed a linebacker to replace Kriewaldt, added third-down back Mewelde Moore, and signed center Justin Hartwig, released by Carolina, to possibly start.

Those moves, plus re-signing backup defensive ends Travis Kirschke and Nick Eason, will allow the Steelers to pursue their original goals in the draft, the coach said.

"Like we've said all offseason, all our positions are draftable," Tomlin said. "That's some of the things we've done through free agency. Anywhere we felt like we were thin positionally, we addressed it in free agency, so we could take the draft the way we're approaching it, in that we would take the best available, barring positions."

Tomlin acknowledged that although his team won the AFC North Division at 10-6 in a tiebreaker with Cleveland, which missed the playoffs, the Steelers limped home and were not at their best when January arrived. They lost four of their final five, including their playoff game against Jacksonville.

"We were a team going down and not up, that's the reality of it," Tomlin said. "That's how some teams rise to the top and win world championships while others watch. We were one of those who watched. We didn't play well enough to move on.

"We had some injuries, but injuries are part of the game. You'll never hear us make those excuses, it's just part of it. We have to try to be one of those teams on the rise in January and be part of it next year, as opposed to be on the decline."

The injuries came fast and furious and struck some of their top players near the end of last season, including to halfback Willie Parker while he was leading the NFL in rushing, to left tackle Marvel Smith, and to one of their most indispensable defensive players, end Aaron Smith.

Tomlin yesterday issued some updates on those injuries.

Parker, whose fibula was broken in the 15th game of the season, is working out and running at home in North Carolina and the Steelers are optimistic he'll be fine as new in 2008.

Receiver Hines Ward, who had knee surgery, also was working out at home, in Atlanta, but plans to return to Pittsburgh today to take part in the offseason drills.

"Things are going well with him," Tomlin said.

Defensive end Aaron Smith, who missed the final four games, including the playoff game with a torn bicep that required surgery, "looks good ... he's close to normal."

Offensive tackle Marvel Smith, who had minor back surgery in December, is doing well and working out with his teammates. "We expect him to be ready to go."

Safety Ryan Clark, who had his spleen and gall bladder removed at midseason, also has been working out at the Steelers facility, regaining his weight and "getting that pep in his step back."

Tomlin said he looks good and the Steelers hope to have him back fully this summer.

Some of the injured will be held back in the spring "to err on the side of caution," Tomlin said.

After one month of free agency, the Steelers normally are finished after making a ripple and not a splash. Tomlin, though, would not rule out anything -- as happened when the Panthers unexpectedly released their starting center in Hartwig.

"We leave no stone unturned," Tomlin said. "If people show up on the market that are not on the market at this point, we'll consider them.

"We'll continue to hash through the guys left on the market to see if their fit is feasible. That's what this time of year is about."

In Pittsburgh we expect to be in the playoff race every year, that's just a given when you follow this team. The expectation level is always high and this coming year the team needs to take another step and move forward. This offseason is one of the most paramount ones in years because key additions to this team in the right area can really make a big difference. We are starting to get older in some areas and we've got to have depth ready to start playing a more prominent role.

BlackGold4vr
03-31-2008, 11:25 AM
IMO there were 2 key injuries that uncovered a couple of our needs for this year. Number 1 was the injury to Aaron Smith. When he went down our defense struggled to stop the run. Eason, Kirschke and McBean just did not get the job done. Clark was the other injury that exposed our ***. We all thought that Anthony Smith would be a badass and take his opportunity and run with it. To say he dropped the ball could be the understatement of the year. He sucked. He was made to look stupid on a number of plays with bad reads and being way out of position. He almost single handedly lost us the New England game with his bad play and his guarantees. We need another option! Not to say that Smith could not rebound and blossom into the star we all thought he could be, but what if what we saw last year was a glimpse into the future? Another option would be nice, just in case! :yesnod:

DIESELMAN
03-31-2008, 11:30 AM
Tomlin in his 2nd year still has work to do to make the Steelers his team. He's made some good moves in FA, now he needs to have a good draft. He's on his way by getting rid of Cowhers guys and putting his stamp on the team. By the time his 3rd year rolls around we'll see what he's really made of. He knows the traditions here at Pittsburgh, thats what attracted him to the job, he won't let the Steelers or us down.

TEEMONT
03-31-2008, 12:09 PM
lol...who the hell signed St Pierre?

BlitzburghRockCity
03-31-2008, 01:23 PM
IMO there were 2 key injuries that uncovered a couple of our needs for this year. Number 1 was the injury to Aaron Smith. When he went down our defense struggled to stop the run. Eason, Kirschke and McBean just did not get the job done. Clark was the other injury that exposed our ***. We all thought that Anthony Smith would be a badass and take his opportunity and run with it. To say he dropped the ball could be the understatement of the year. He sucked. He was made to look stupid on a number of plays with bad reads and being way out of position. He almost single handedly lost us the New England game with his bad play and his guarantees. We need another option! Not to say that Smith could not rebound and blossom into the star we all thought he could be, but what if what we saw last year was a glimpse into the future? Another option would be nice, just in case! :yesnod:

Those injuries may turn out to be blessings in disguise as you eluded too. I think a lot of us didn't really realize how little depth we actually had because the front 3 are usually healthy, especially Smith. When Casey went down Hoke was able to step up and play well in his absence. I think another one was Parker. The team expected to keep moving right along with Davenport but the reality is the days of having viable backups in the running game are gone for this team right now. They need grab a good solid RB in this draft at some point; and that combined with an improved OL should really help things. Davenport is a good 3rd down back and runs hard but behind him is Davis who is unproven right now.

As far as Clark goes, indeed we all though Smith would take the job and just run with it when given the chance. He did play well through most of the season right up until the stretch run when he just totally fell apart. We need him to come back stronger and most importantly come back a smarter and more dedicated player.

Stlrs4Life
03-31-2008, 06:04 PM
What Top Gun said the first time.

stillers4me
03-31-2008, 08:09 PM
lol...who the hell signed St Pierre?

You've got 3 guesses.......but you'll only need one. :lol:

Ambridge
03-31-2008, 08:54 PM
I wonder what Tomlin's idea of "Competitive" is???
With the killer schedule for the entire division......the Browns looking to close the gap a little more after just missing the playoffs and Cincy probably to play better after last season....the AFC North is up for grabs.

I wouldn't be surprised if a 9-7 record wins the division.

Iron City South
03-31-2008, 09:02 PM
I wonder what Tomlin's idea of "Competitive" is???
With the killer schedule for the entire division......the Browns looking to close the gap a little more after just missing the playoffs and Cincy probably to play better after last season....the AFC North is up for grabs.

I wouldn't be surprised if a 9-7 record wins the division.

I was thinking the same thing when I read this. One could easily argue a 6-10 team is "competitive" as long as they're only losing games by 3 points or less. Tomlin must be more than just "coach speak" this year. He preached "accountability" all last year and every damn week ...... week after week ...... our not-so-special teams would come out and totally **** the bed. Not only did I not see players being held accountable .... the ST's Coach still has a job which I find unconscionable.

BlitzburghRockCity
04-01-2008, 01:39 AM
The AFCN could be the most competitive it has been in a very long time but one thing is for sure, yes we have a tough schedule coming up this year but anything can happen; any of those team could be hit with injuries or just not have a good year so the as far as the schedule goes we can't worry about that too much till we see how things unfold in training camps and also early on in the season. Personally I think the Browns are in for a rude awakening this year, they've had a pansy *** 3rd or 4th place schedule for so long now they don't know what it's like to play tough games nearly every week of the season. It's 1 thing to go 10-6 with a 4th place schedule but it's a completely different thing to do it with a 1st or 2nd place schedule.

Stairwayto7
04-01-2008, 06:44 AM
I was thinking the same thing when I read this. One could easily argue a 6-10 team is "competitive" as long as they're only losing games by 3 points or less. Tomlin must be more than just "coach speak" this year. He preached "accountability" all last year and every damn week ...... week after week ...... our not-so-special teams would come out and totally shiat the bed. Not only did I not see players being held accountable .... the ST's Coach still has a job which I find unconscionable.

Damn! I`m agreeing with ICS???? How can our ST coach stay???????????

I didn`t like the interview either, just to laid back for me. Maybe I`m just use to Cowher

JensK
04-01-2008, 08:57 AM
we may have at tough schedule, but thats just the way it is. If we want to call our self a good team, we'll get the job done, wether we have a hard schedule or not.. I mean, we really only struggled big time against bad teams last season, so yeah...