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Thread: Smizik: Could Steelers be headed for a losing season?

          
   
   
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  1. #1
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    Smizik: Could Steelers be headed for a losing season?

    Smizik: Could Steelers be headed for a losing season?
    Saturday, April 21, 2007

    By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    http://post-gazette.com/pg/07111/779932-194.stm

    As the Steelers take to the field this weekend with a voluntary minicamp at their South Side complex, hopes run high for the team whose following dwarfs that of any other in town. A return to prominence, perhaps to the Super Bowl, is on the minds of most fans.

    But while optimism reigns, a dangerous trend is all but obscured. Super Bowl victories, understandably, have a considerable effect on masking negative statistics.

    Still, what cannot be dismissed in evaluating the team's chances is this: In the past three regular seasons, the Steelers have gone from 15-1 to 11-5 to 8-8.


    If such a downward drift continues, the Steelers will be 6-10 in the 2007 season. Don't laugh. It could happen, as it did in 2003. That 6-10 season was preceded by ones where the records were 10-5-1 and 13-3.

    Maybe Bill Cowher didn't just want to spend more time with his family. Maybe he saw the future and wanted to get out with his reputation unsullied and nothing to stand in the way of him becoming the highest-paid coach in the NFL in 2008.

    This isn't to suggest the Steelers are doomed to another playoff-less season or even a losing record, but to point out such a finish is hardly out of the question.

    There has been a significant unraveling of the team that won the Super Bowl after the 2005 season. Not only is Cowher gone, but so are his two top offensive assistants -- Russ Grimm and Ken Whisenhunt. So are two players who were Pro Bowl performers as recently as 2005 -- Joey Porter and Jeff Hartings, both of whom were key team leaders.

    Team captain, perennial Pro Bowler and all-around solid citizen Alan Faneca did not show for the voluntary minicamp yesterday and is believed to be unhappy with his contract that expires after the 2007 season.

    In some organizations, these happenings would be reason to panic. In some organizations, it would be time to run out and find high-profile coaches to replace those that departed, and time to spend madly in the free-agent market to secure the kind of talent that would turn the team back into a winner.

    The Steelers, of course, are not "some organization." They do things the "Steelers Way," which means they never panic. It is business as usual -- always -- with the Steelers.

    It may seem maddening at times, it may seem stupid at times, it may seem cheap at times. But in the end, it usually looks pretty good. Doing things the "Steelers Way" has made them one of the most successful teams in the NFL.

    The manner in which the Rooney family replaced their departing coaches speaks directly to the "Steelers Way."

    When Cowher left, they didn't throw big money after a big name, which is what a lot of teams will do to Cowher when he decides to return.

    Instead, they replaced him with Mike Tomlin, an obscure defensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings.

    To fill out Tomlin's staff, they didn't necessarily hunt down the best, the brightest and the most expensive.

    To replace Whisenhunt, they promoted from within and named receivers coach Bruce Arians as their offensive coordinator.

    To replace Grimm, regarded by many as the best there is in the NFL, they brought in Larry Zierlein, who had been the assistant offensive line coach with the Buffalo Bills.

    To replace running backs coach Dick Hoak, the man who tutored Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis, they brought in Kirby Wilson, who had the same job last season with Tampa Bay.

    To replace Arians as receivers coach, they hired Randy Fichtner, who had been the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at the University of Memphis for the previous six years.

    None of the above is to make light of the new coaches. Good coaches can be found on every level of football. But it points out how the Steelers do business.

    The team's player personnel moves in the offseason were equally restrained.

    If the Steelers noted their victory total had been alarmingly decreasing, they didn't let on. Well after the big names had been plucked, they signed offensive lineman Sean Mahan to a five-year, $17 million contract. Mahan, who played more guard than center in his four seasons with Tampa Bay, looks to be nothing more than a journeyman. He will compete with Chukky Okobi and possibly starting guard Kendall Simmons for Hartings' old job.

    They also signed linebacker Marcello Church, who, because of injury, has not played since December of 2005 when he was a senior at Florida State, and defensive end Nick Eason, who was a backup with the Cleveland Browns.

    In terms of talent, they lost considerably more -- Hartings and Porter -- than they gained -- Mahan, Church and Eason.

    For a team that has gone from 15-1 to 11-5 to 8-8, that would not appear to be a good direction in which to be moving.



    (I don't know what to think of this article, am I mad or disappointed, Of course. Although, he does make some interesting points especially in the bold. We did lose a lot of good talent and brought in mediocre. the Steelers are known as winners and they know what they're doing. Obviously, we got a chance for an winning season at 11-5.)

  2. #2
    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    I think it's premature to predict how we will do, it's only minicamp right now and the draft hasn't even happened yet.

    At the same time it's a very real possibility that this team could struggle this year. There's alot of changes taking place, some familiar faces are gone and the team will need to adjust to a lot of things in 2007. Can we have a winning season and get back to the playoffs this year? Of course we can, we have a good mix of youth and veterans and most of this team was on the SB winning team in the 2005 season.

    Nothing is a given and with the way things are shaping up in the AFCN, it's anybody's division at this point and the Steelers cannot afford a let down in any way.

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    All of those statistics are during Bill's reign as HC.

    This year will be a year unlike anything the organization has faced in at least 15 years, so I really don't understand how Smizik can even bring up all those past numbers.

    If Cowher were still here, it would make perfect sense--and perhaps that IS why he decided to leave--but putting forth the idea that the very same trend will continue with an almost entirely different coach and coaching staff is a bit premature IMO.

    Besides--he's a new coach, ANYthing could happen. This could be a "learning year" and we might not do so well. Or he could have a Big Ben type of rookie year and blow the doors off the competition. Either way, he's only one man, and there's a LOT of other people and positions that have to do THEIR job to make this coming season a success. In my mind, it doesn't rest squarely on Mike Tomlin's shoulders--everyone--EVERYone has to do their job to make it happen.
    Last edited by SteelersWoman; 04-21-2007 at 09:20 AM.

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    Starter DIESELMAN's Avatar
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    In the past three regular seasons, the Steelers have gone from 15-1 to 11-5 to 8-8.....It could happen, as it did in 2003. That 6-10 season was preceded by ones where the records were 10-5-1 and 13-3.
    I hate to break it to this guy but those are 3 year streaks of goin down. Now its time to bring it back up a couple of notches and show the rest of the NFL what they need to be scared of.....


    If you donít stand behind our troops.....Please feel free to stand in front of them!!!


    "Give me a 6 pack, half hour of rest and lets go play them again....We can beat them."
    --Jack Lambert

    "They say that when you're the champs, everybody will try to beat you. Well, I'm glad we're the champs, so bring 'em on, bring 'em all on. If we die, we ain't gonna die running. It's gonna be a fight."
    --Joe Greene

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Don't forget too, that nobody could have forseen BC doing so well in his rookie campaign and getting us into the playoffs, and he was also following a legend and super bowl winning coach in Chuck Noll. Now Tomlin comes in following a Legend and SB winning coach in BC so the pressure is there but it's a very real possibility that we could do well or we could stink up the joint. It's all based on how the team responds to the new system, coaches, and overall design of the team as Tomlin begins to mold us into the team he wants.

  6. #6
    House of Steel
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    I really like all of your reactions so far to this article. I think this guy was high on crack and drunk as hell when he wrote this. I can't believe anyone having the guts to pull this article off in Pittsburgh.

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    Starter DIESELMAN's Avatar
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    Truthfully I think a lot of players are happy Cowher is gone. We as fans don't know what has gone on behind closed doors while Cowher was here. Slowly some players have made off the cuff comments about Cowher and their relationship with him, also throw in the fact of Cowher playing his favorite players instead of players who should have been playing. Attitudes form from different circumstances, I just think most every player is anxious to get out there and show Tomlin that they can play football with no one hanging over there shoulder. Like a lot of people have said, its a new day with new fresher attitudes for our Steelers.


    If you donít stand behind our troops.....Please feel free to stand in front of them!!!


    "Give me a 6 pack, half hour of rest and lets go play them again....We can beat them."
    --Jack Lambert

    "They say that when you're the champs, everybody will try to beat you. Well, I'm glad we're the champs, so bring 'em on, bring 'em all on. If we die, we ain't gonna die running. It's gonna be a fight."
    --Joe Greene

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Im sure there are many players who are happy for the change in scenery at the top. Those that are still holding on to what was, or what they wished would have happend so far this offseason so it will be interesting to see how fast Tomlin can win over their trust into his system.

    It will help to have some of the coaches from before still around to help cushion the adjustment period. We can't forget that these players are human beings too, regardless of the size of their paycheck or the fact that they play in the NFL so they need time to work through things too.

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    SA's #1 Pirates Fan Tetris Champion Black@Gold Forever32's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DIESELMAN View Post
    Truthfully I think a lot of players are happy Cowher is gone. We as fans don't know what has gone on behind closed doors while Cowher was here. Slowly some players have made off the cuff comments about Cowher and their relationship with him, also throw in the fact of Cowher playing his favorite players instead of players who should have been playing. Attitudes form from different circumstances, I just think most every player is anxious to get out there and show Tomlin that they can play football with no one hanging over there shoulder. Like a lot of people have said, its a new day with new fresher attitudes for our Steelers.
    Some interesting points in there about Bill Cowher Diesel. Hey I liked Bill Cowher but I felt it was time for a change. I thought the Steelers needed a fresh perspective. So I agree with alot you said in this post.

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    Top 30 BBG7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black@Gold Forever32 View Post
    Some interesting points in there about Bill Cowher Diesel. Hey I liked Bill Cowher but I felt it was time for a change. I thought the Steelers needed a fresh perspective. So I agree with alot you said in this post.
    I feel the same. I liked Cowher, but I really think it was time the Steelers get a breath of fresh air....and I think Tomlin is the perfect guy for the job. I agree it has been interesting to see some of the players make little statements about Cowher and their relationship now that he is gone.

    sig made by K Train....Thank you!

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