Were all these injuries in 2007 a blessing in disguise?
Let's face it, the Steelers just usually don't get bitten by the injury bug as much as they have this year. Sure we have our share of having big time players go down, and other players who have nagging injuries during the year. This year though with players being out for either the season or just missing significant time it may have finally brought to light how much we've been playing with fire and walking a fine line of potential disaster. It's also brought to light just how bad our previous drafting has been on day 2 for so many years now.
Holmes and Ward missed a significant amount of games this year - it shows how much we need some quality backups at WR. I like how Nate stepped up this year but it mainly showed that behind our starters we really have nobody that scares an NFL CB.
Aaron Smith - shows that while Eason did an admirable job stepping in, that when you force Kirchske into a starting role that depletes our depth so much it shows just how bad our drafting has been and that we can't keep bringing in scrubs that don't work out.
Parker & Kreider- I have no problems with Davenport as a compliment to Willie. Najeh brings a different style of running to the team and he runs alittle better between the tackles. However behind him we didn't give Russel any reps all year long and that hurt us. Parker got so many carriers that nobody felt the need to spread out the carries between the others and then we end up with only 1 back in Davenport with any experience going into the playoffs. I do think Davis played a lot better these last few games. Kreider just brings that toughness, hard nosed, punch you in the mouth mentality that Davis doesn't quite have and we were a different running team with out him.
Ryan Clark & Troy Polamalu - When he went down and Smith stepped up that left us with nothing but Carter as someone with experience. Then Smith goes flat and loses his edge, and Carter does OK till it really counts and then he totally chokes like he did last year. Polamalu's absence has just really hurt this team. He didn't practice all really since the middle of the year and was just not himself. We had both backups in all year and while I still have confidence in Anthony, Im not so much set on Carter as a good backup anymore and it just makes you realize how much this team misses Troy playing well, when he's not there.
Marvel Smith and Max Starks - Both of these guys going forced Essex to step in and I'd say he did a pretty good job overall considering he had almost no help all night because in the 2nd half we played a lot of no huddle and he was 1 on 1 and did a nice job. It did however reinforce that something needs to be done at both T positions because none of our guys dominated at all in 2007 and really showed that they can keep the outside pressure off Ben.
Hartings - Jeff retires and we let Okobi go and Mahan is just flat out terrible. You can't run or protect your QB when the pressure is constantly coming up the middle. His play affects both Faneca and Simmons because teams were having their best DL over Mahan and over powering him while Kendall and Alan were left trying to help out while still doing their own duties. We've been playing with fire for so many years on the OL and it's finally bit us in the *** in a big way. You just can't continue to ignore the Line in drafts. If you ask me this team should draft a OL on day 1 every single year of the draft because with 5 good hogs up front and quality guys behind them you see what happens and we watched in 2007. Ben gets killed for the 2nd straight season and we can't run the ball with any consistency.
Those are just a few examples of how I think this team may have finally seen the light as to how much we need help in key areas to get better and get back to the SB.