The Rooney way has been a legendary concept of doing NFL business for decades. A way that's been a model of efficiency in running a business in general but in particularly, the NFL.
You surround yourself with a front office that buys into the way you see your business being run. You hire coaches to facilitate that atmosphere to the players. You bring in players that share your philosophy on the team concept, hard working dedication to the common goal, and a selfless attitude.
Over the years you could say that it's worked like a charm for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The first team to win 4 Super Bowl Championships, and then again the first to win 6. A drafting strategy where player character is as important as on the field production. Above all else the team comes first the and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
When you look at this team during the 2 most recent "generations". The Cowher era was one of "run the ball", play tough defense, solid special teams, and don't rely on the QB to win the game for you. You draft quality offensive lineman, big running backs, tough wide receivers, and a defense that takes as much pride in knocking your block off as they do in scoring a touchdown. You sacrifice some skill position talent for the integrity of the interior. This allows you to stay competitive in most every game situation and keep yourself in a position to win the game late in the 4th quarter. Imposing your will with the ground attack and a smothering, relentless defense was the staple. Other than the few teams that run a west coast offense, this was the norm in the NFL.
Cowher and his staff made it a habit of securing themselves for the future by constantly replenishing their team with quality free agents and draft picks. As I mentioned, the offensive line was a top priority. Spending a premium draft pick every year on a big guy up front regardless of whether it was immediately needed or not ensured that you'd always have able bodies available to step in. As I mentioned, you didn't always have the biggest, fastest, or best pass catchers but because the Quarterback had time to throw, you could make do.
The Steelers flirted with underachieving, no nonsense types of Quarterbacks since Terry Bradshaw retired. Finally late in Cowher's tenure the Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger to finally break that cycle of "just getting by" at the Quarterback position. A draft pick that could very well go down as one of the most important in team history; certainly in the modern era.
cowher eventually won that elusive "one for the thumb" by keeping with the tradition that had been entrenched for so long but also incorporating a passer that opened up a whole new world of possibilities.
Fast forward to the Mike Tomlin era. The Steelers won another super bowl and appeared in their 8th overall. Things seemingly humming along but quietly some problems began to surface that the Steelers managed to avoid for so long since the dynasty years. They have allowed themselves to get old. The drafting has not been as good, the free agents not panning out, and a coaching staff so hell bent on doing things their way that they've allowed themselves to become predictable in most every facet of the game.
The Rooney's allow their coaches to run their teams with little interference. They believe that by hiring the right people, they can let their staff do it's job and all will be well. That's fine, however in 2011 it's time for the Rooney's to step in and put this team back on the right track.
No longer do you ignore the offensive line in the draft until it's too late. No longer do you allow veterans to hang around when it's clearly time to move on. No longer do you allow low tier free agents to occupy such key positions on the field as starters. It's time for Art II and Dan to sit down with Mike Tomlin and his staff and have a heart to heart.
- Stop spending money on "no names" that continue to allow your 100 million dollar Quarterback to get killed.
- Stop ignorning free agency like it's the plague. There are players to be had that can help your team while you continue to build through the draft.
-Stop allowing your offensive coordinator to just get by with the same old plays and predictable situational calls. Start being creative with the talent you have. We've seen enough quick outs to a WR to know they don't work nearly as often as you'd like us to believe.
- Stop allowing your head coach to just sit back and wait for a disaster to happen before he makes a significant change. Did you not learn anything from the Super Bowl last year and the way things have gone this year? You can't blame that loss on just injuries. Could you not see the writing on the wall over the last few seasons where teams are starting to figure you out, and now point of "just being tough" isn't enough.
- Stop allowing your dedication to the veterans to affect your future. Father time catches up with everyone. In the past you had no problem cutting ties with great Steeler players "at just the right time" near the end of their career. Now there are several names that should not have made this roster but yet are still there and clearly being outplayed and overmatched. Perhaps you kept them around because you had no faith in the young players? If that's the case then that comes back to the lack of drafting quality players at the needed positions as much as it does the over dedication to veterans.
Thank you for stepping in and making sure the team listened to it's Quarterback and made the right decision to bring back Max Starks. Now take it to the next step and make the tough decisions that will help ensure the future of the Steelers.