Here is some short stuff as a warmup to our chat today at 1:30:
--- In Cleveland, they are suggesting they do it the Steelers Way.
--- YOU: Question about offensive philosophy. With elite QBs like Ben you hear people say they need to "build around him" which I usually interpret as drafting WRs and become a pass throwing team. But wouldn't the opposite be more advantageous -- if you already have an elite QB, how about developing a dominant running game? I rather rely on an elite QB elevating average WRs, than having a great passing attack w/ a minimal running game. I can't help but think of some of those great Bill Cowher teams that heavily ran the ball and was a Ben Roethlisberger- away from winning multiple SBs. You could power your way to 3rd and 3 every time and then I like Ben's chances to convert. Seems like Steelers are trying to move back in this direction, but I look at teams like GB, NE, (and any Peyton Manning team) who rely on passing too much instead of balance. Thoughts?
ME: Once while interviewing Don Shula I asked him how good his team would have been had they had a good running game to go with Dan Marino. He almost sounded offended. He told me he didn’t need a good running game because he had Marino, and why would he want to run the ball more when he had Marino? I let it go without saying he might have won a Super Bowl or two if he had a running game to go with Marino. I agree with you to a point, but if you have a great quarterback, especially in today’s NFL, you are better off leaning on him and his receivers than on a ground game. Ideally, of course, you would prefer to have both; it’s what coaches preach as “balance.’’
--- YOU: It’s my understanding that the Steeler’s can’t actually waive Rainey for another 3 weeks. Since it now looks like the charges against Rainey will be dropped, can the Steelers change their mind and choose not to release him?
ME: Yes, they can. No, they won’t.
--- YOU: YOU: “The Steelers either need to sign Rashard Mendenhall or halfback will be
their top priority entering the draft.”
I couldn't agree less. The issues on defense are far more pressing.
All the best guys are old and done-or-nearly-so. You yourself admitted we
don't have a replacement for James Harrison. The same is true for Troy,
who, though younger, is proving very brittle. Keenan Lewis is a
strong-playing young guy, but we're likely to lose him to free agency, and
the next best corner is Ike, who is also not a young man. Casey Hampton
is well beyond his prime, yet McLendon wasn't able to push him out of the
starting job, which leads me to conclude he's not the next Hampton. In
short, you can make a good case that we need to use a high pick at OLB, S,
CB, and NT. And all that is taking it on faith that Spence is going to be
the next Foote and that somehow our underachieving 1st-round-pick DE's are
going to come around. Even if some of the old guys still have a year left
in them, we need to draft their replacements now because it takes at least
a year for new guys to come in and learn LeBeau's defense.
By contrast, I think we can be ok at RB with Dwyer and Redman, assuming
that our high-draft-pick o-line ever gets healthy and comes together.
So where am I wrong?
ME: I’ve talked to enough people inside and outside the Steelers organization to be convinced they are not OK with just Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, not that your points about the defense are not good ones. McLendon will be fine. Inside linebacker is OK. They need an ultimate replacement for James Harrison. They will find a strong safety. Cortez Allen can capably start at cornerback.
--- YOU: I have been following the Steelers a long time and it seems much more often than not, their special teams are far from special. I could probably find at least 10 games over the past 15 years or so that have been lost directly by poor play on that unit. If the Steelers want to be an elite team, they need at least solid play from all three units. Is it the players, their focus or lack thereof, the coaching? How might they make their special teams not hurt their chances to win, and maybe even help them?
ME: At least 15 years. People still think Kordell Stewart should shoulder the blame of them losing the 2001 AFC championship game at home to New England by 7 points when the Patriots returned a punt for a touchdown and a blocked field goal for a touchdown. And now they have two special teams coaches, or at least they did until Mike Tomlin fired Al Everest in the preseason. They had good special teams in 2011, not so good this past season. I have no answer for you.
--- YOU: Didn't Frank Fuhrer own the Spirit? I worked for him back then and remember the players hanging around our office. Maybe Frank sold the team to DeBartalo. I don't remember it was so long ago.
ME: Yes, Fuhrer founded the pro indoor soccer team in 1978. It then went on hiatus in 1980 and when it returned in 1981, the DeBartolo family owned it. And here’s some trivia: Gerry Dulac covered the Spirit for the Pittsburgh Press, until the team folded in 1986. Thus, the DeBartolo family folded two pro sports franchises in Pittsburgh within a two-year period, counting the USFL Maulers in the fall of 1984.
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