View Full Version : Cowher's attention to ST problems

11-22-2006, 06:32 AM

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Bill Cowher's impatience with the Steelers' kickoff-coverage team may have reached the breaking-a-long-one point.
Josh Cribbs' 92-yard touchdown return that put the Browns back on top by 10 points in the fourth quarter Sunday in Cleveland might have done the trick. With All-Pro returner B.J. Sams lurking -- or smacking his lips -- Sunday in Baltimore, Cowher is ready to make a change.

"Where we are right now, we're going to have a big challenge because our coverage team has not been very good," Cowher said.

He might do something drastic, such as putting more starters on the kickoff team. The prospect of seeing former special-teams terror Brett Keisel and his 285 pounds bounding down under kicks or All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu chasing Sams Sunday would be enticing.

"I'm considering anything and everything," Cowher pronounced firmly yesterday. "Something has to change somewhere and somehow. The results right now are not where they need to be. It's disappointing."

Cowher also talked about making changes to his starting lineup before the Steelers played the New Orleans Saints Nov. 12 and made none. But this time, he seems determined to do something to improve a kickoff-coverage team that ranks fifth from the bottom of the league, allowing opponents to start their series on average at the 29.5-yard line.

Two starters have been on the kickoff team much of the season, cornerback Ike Taylor and free safety Ryan Clark. It also includes No. 3 cornerback Bryant McFadden, who has started three games because of injuries to Deshea Townsend.

The options for adding others are not many besides Keisel and Polamalu. Former special teams co-captain Chidi Iwuoma, one of their best kick- and punt-coverage men, was released the day before the opener.

Cowher has become so frustrated that he has had kicker Jeff Reed pooch a few kickoffs to keep deep men from returning them. Special teams co-captain Sean Morey said that kicking off out of bounds also has been suggested, although he did not say by whom. A kickoff out of bounds would place the ball at the opponent's 40.

Steelers kickoffs average 62.9 yards, which ranks 26th in the NFL. Cowher cleared Reed of culpability.

"I understand this time of the year, with the kicking game outside, unless you have two or three guys in this league that are just kickoff guys, you're going to have to deal with the field position being higher," Cowher said.

ST is going to be HUGE part of the game this weekend. The ratbirds have a good return game so its imperative that Jeff kick the ball in a manner that allows our guys to converge on the returner.

11-22-2006, 07:30 AM
I just hope the change is for the better:scratch:

11-22-2006, 07:33 AM
its imperative that Jeff kick the ball in a manner that allows our guys to converge on the returner.

Which would require him to kick it deeper than the 20 yard line. Now that should be a bet in the casino. I'd put everything I had on ZERO. Either way, the Ravens could easlily win the game via ST. Need to step it up, big time.

11-22-2006, 07:40 AM
Our ST must have something to do with the Madden Jinx because they suck on the game as well:willybs:

House of Steel
11-22-2006, 09:33 AM
Good Point, Capt. I am getting sick of watching them give up big gains and great starting position as we shoot ourselves in the foot. This really needs to be addressed during the offseason. Why in the hell don't they make a move to bring Chidi back? That is really ticking me off somewhat.

11-22-2006, 11:00 AM
The Browns rank higher than the Ravens when it comes to kick and punt returns so that is plus. We all knew going into the Browns game that their returners were ranked at the top or within the first 3 spots for the entire league. The Browns were going to get theirs no matter what because their returners are like LT because you know he's going to get his yards and score touchdowns. All the Steelers could really do is hope that they didn't break one, which they did and is why we are talking about this now.

Special Teams have always been an issue for the Steelers... I don't know if they don't practice it enough or if they are just throwing some scrubs out there on the field, but something does need to change. I would really like to see Chidi come back but I doubt that will happen, so the Steelers will defunct to plan B and throw more starters on the field and subject them to possibly being injured! If that's what it takes then so be it!

11-22-2006, 07:15 PM
The last few years we've had some really great ST..sure they gave up a return now and then but overall those guys wouldn't let much get through on a regular basis. Even last year our ST were very good...but this is a complete 180 degree turn from the norm that we've come to expect from a Kevin Spencer team. Getting rid of our best ST ace, Chidi, was the dumbest move this organization has made since we gave Kordell 29 million dollars !

11-22-2006, 07:18 PM
Chidi is available right now, isn't he??? :dunno: If he is why do you suppose the team hasn't tried to go after him and bring him back???

11-22-2006, 07:21 PM
That's yet another mystery in this ridiculously weird season we're experiencing here. The guy is a ST demon and a big hitter, and with as much as our coverage teams have struggled I cant believe they havent gone out and brought him back.

You're guess is as good as mine. :dunno: The only slightly-logical reason I can think of is that with our LB core is depleted with injuries to the backups so maybe they feel they need the roster spot there more.

Iron City South
11-22-2006, 08:56 PM
Chidi was picked up by the Dolphins (practice squad), so again .... we blew another opportunity to bring him back to help this pathetic bunch. I'm inclined to think Chidi had a personality conflict with SOMEBODY on the coaching staff (not sure who), 'cause it just doesn't make sense that they wouldn't reel him back in as soon as they had the opportunity knowing how bad this unit is.

Again I say, KEVIN SPENCER must be fired!

The hammer needs to fall on someone from the Special Teams unit and he's ultimately responsible. Plus, there's too many good ST Coaches that we can go to the well to bring in. Spencer is a BUM!

My instincts tell me that Cowher will send him packing as soon as we're mathmatically eliminated from any playoff scenarios. He knows he'll need an escape goat and firing Spencer will cleanse his soul with many diehard fans that are currently on the Cowher doesn't give a **** bandwagon.

He doesn't want to do anything now that will disrupt their focus.

11-22-2006, 09:21 PM
Why would Cowher send anyone packing? If himself has thought about packing.

11-22-2006, 09:22 PM
I think it's almost a foregone conclusion that Spencer will be replaced next year. They've just been too poor this year to not have him get the ax.