View Full Version : Big Ben, not 'tough' camp, likely trigger for 3-0 start

09-27-2007, 06:08 AM

Thursday, September 27, 2007
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Sometimes it's just circumstances, sometimes it's who you're playing, sometimes it's a little everything."

-- Alan Faneca, on the 3-0 start

Deserved or not, critics blamed the traditionally slow starts by Bill Cowher's Steelers on easy training camps. Then along came Mike Tomlin with a 3-0 start, and people linked it to the "tough" training camp he held in Latrobe this summer.

It sounds good, except for one thing. Tomlin's training camps were easier than those run by Cowher. At least, that's what guard Alan Faneca believes.

"The only thing I would say training camp-wise, it was a little lighter than what we've done in the past," Faneca said yesterday.

And here most everyone thought they were more difficult.

"That was y'all guys," Faneca told the media gathered around him.

While Tomlin scheduled 15 two-a-days, several were canceled and more than half were short special-teams practices. Other times, he cut the afternoon practices short.

Faneca cited his main reason for believing the new staff went easier on them.

"It was just probably less banging, at least up front."

And maybe it's the work, not the degree of toughness, that has an effect on the start of the season. Or, maybe it's the schedule.

"We really had a history of either starting off slow or not coming out of the gates like this. It's definitely different," Faneca said. "Sometimes, it's just circumstances; sometimes, it's who you're playing; sometimes, it's a little everything. It's making that transition from camp to the season and putting it down when it counts."

And nobody's putting it down more forcibly this year over last than quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. His team is 3-0, he has thrown six touchdown passes and one interception, and his passer rating is 102.9. After missing the first game last season, Roethlisberger went 0-3 in his first three games with no touchdown passes, seven interceptions and a 41.67 passer rating.

What's the difference?

"I think it's being smart," Roethlisberger said. "Last year, I felt like I knew the offense real well. Maybe I tried to do too much, knowing too much. This year, I know more, but I am not forcing it."

Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, Roethlisberger's offensive coordinator the previous three seasons, suggested in February that, in hindsight, the coaches likely brought him back too soon from his appendectomy.

Roethlisberger took issue with that and reiterated yesterday he did not believe it to be the case.

"I certainly didn't mean to offend or upset Ben," Whisenhunt said yesterday. "I was asked a question and tried to answer the question honestly. I've always admired Ben the way he's been able to fight back from injuries. He's one of the toughest players I've ever been around."

Roethlisberger and Whisenhunt appeared to have a frosty relationship when they worked together, and it has come out since they separated. Neither said much of anything yesterday to further the feud, but it became so apparent to Tomlin that he had a talk with his quarterback about it yesterday, to make sure Roethlisberger is focused on beating the Cardinals, not Whisenhunt.

"We had a brief talk this morning about that," Roethlisberger said. "I am going to go out and do what I have to do to win the football game ...

"I am not going to bash anything about the last year or any of the years. We won a Super Bowl and were very successful. Of course, I am going to be happy with the system I am in now."

Roethlisberger was asked by the Arizona media yesterday if Whisenhunt was tough on him the way he's pushing Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart.

"I know what Matt's going through," Roethlisberger answered, laughing.

Whisenhunt, appraised of that remark, asked a reporter in Arizona yesterday, "Is that good or bad? I think Ben had a couple of perfect passer ratings and I think he won a Super Bowl, so if that's a product of it, then that's not bad."

The Steelers' quarterback was harsher earlier this season when speaking about his former coaches compared to new coordinator Bruce Arians.

"We were so predictable -- run on first, run on second, throw on third-and-long -- and that killed us," Roethlisberger told USA Today Sports Weekly in training camp. "Last year, if we took a shot downfield and it was incomplete -- or, heaven forbid, intercepted -- we weren't throwing it again for a long time. And since we knew we were only throwing 15-20 times, we were so careful with doing this and that.

"It will be nice to know that Bruce isn't going to handcuff us."

Said Whisenhunt, "He's very efficient and looks very confident in the pocket. Certainly, he has made some plays moving out of the pocket and throwing downfield, a lot of the things that make Ben the good quarterback he is."

From what we heard, TC was more tough and there was more hitting than preivous Camp Cowher sessions. I don't know that camp is the reason for a slow or fast start; I think it's more about the team having a fresh new attitude, a new offensive mind set, the defense being able to get after people with new schemes and personnel. I think also it's about players staying fresh by being rotated in and out of the game as well.

09-27-2007, 10:24 AM
I find it interesting that camp was not as tough this year as in the past. I thought it was the exact opposite. I did wonder if that had something to do with the slow start in comparision to our start this year. Yes, we are beating these teams that we should, but we are completely dominating. The guys have come out hungry, and I like that.

I like the Tomlin took Ben aside and got him refocused on beating the team and not Whiz. He really hasn't said much, but Tomlin might have seen it coming. Another great move by our new coach!

09-27-2007, 11:03 AM
Work smart, not hard is what happened in camp. Tomlin got back to basics and fundamentals. Any team can go into camp and bang heads all day long, that will only leave you with a big headache for the season.

09-27-2007, 11:12 AM
Faneca has been saying stuff against the grain all year. You can bet your arse it was a harder training camp. And as far as Ben needing to have a talk on focus. Well he needs that once in a while. I like how the coach is handeling his athletes

09-27-2007, 11:17 AM
That sure isn't what we heard all during training camp. It seems to me that I read articles talking about how easy it was with Cowher and the guys were unprepared and Tomlin was knocking the slack out of them???

Whichever, they've come out looking good so far. Let's see what happens after the bye.

09-27-2007, 11:28 AM
No doubt Tomlin has this well in control, and I believe it is a nonissue with Ben also. What is not lost on me is the fact that these are all some class guys involved. No cheap shots in the media, nothing but mutual respect and conducting themselves outwardly like heroes should. The mediots want to see hissy fits and name calling. All they are getting is solid morals and ethics.
Big Ups for Coach Mike , Big Ben, and Whiz-ona !
Story will be buried on Fox, and ESPN behind endzone dances, inditements, and indescretions.
Why not have a Best person in the NFL each week Mr Oberman (sic).

09-27-2007, 11:41 AM
I never thought I would hear that TC was easier than a BC camp... goes to show we can't believe everything coming out of the media's mouth! So, who's to really say what has lead to this fast start.. I guess we'll have to wait until next year to see how the Steelers start off :dunno:

I'm not liking how this is turning into an Ben vs Wiz... hopefully the media stops beating a dead horse or Ben calls a meeting off b/c all he's being asked his stuff about his relationship with Wiz. This is the quickest way to a distraction and I'm not liking it...

09-27-2007, 11:51 AM
Doesn't matter much to me if camp was easier or harder as long as the results are W's when it comes down too it. Will definately be an interesting sunday afternoon in the desert...........

09-27-2007, 03:18 PM
It's been since '92 since we've had this good of a start--has it been THAT many years since we started off with a similar schedule that we have this season??

I'm sure we've had at least a FEW schedules that've been similar...

Media sitting on the sidelines, and most of the players interviewed for this past camp also felt that it was tougher, so who knows why Alan feels this way?

09-27-2007, 04:04 PM
That sure isn't what we heard all during training camp. It seems to me that I read articles talking about how easy it was with Cowher and the guys were unprepared and Tomlin was knocking the slack out of them???

Whichever, they've come out looking good so far. Let's see what happens after the bye.

Exactly, makes you wonder who is the liar, Media or team?

black an gold 4 life
09-27-2007, 06:10 PM

09-27-2007, 06:54 PM
first off, I wonder if Faneca is just trying to defend cowher? who knows? it doesn't matter were 3-0 and if I was whiz I wouldn't try to **** off our new and improved team. I bet ben has one of his better games threw the air next week.

09-27-2007, 07:53 PM
We're starting to see so many things since BC and half of his staff are gone. Ben and Whiz disagreeing, Cowher not letting Lebeau do certain things on the offense, Ben being rushed back or so they say, the list goes on and on. All that matters now is that Steelers are playing hard, working hard, and coming together as a unit and if we continue down this path good things will continue to happen.