Let’s take a look at some of the things Kevin Colbert said to us Wednesday a little deepers:
--- He noted that other teams had lost more starters to injuries than did the Steelers and made it to the playoffs. Yes, but did those teams lose two former NFL Players of the year, their quarterback, their starting running back and half their offensive line? It’s gallant for the Steelers not to want to blame injuries for their 8-8 record, but 8-8 is quite an achievement considering their injury tale.
--- He used that 8-8 record as a rallying cry to make some serious changes on the roster. That too is all well and good, but they were one interception away from being 9-7 and making the playoffs. Might they be looking differently at things today had that happened? I don’t think so. They were 12-4 last season and tossed James Farrior, Hines Ward and Aaron Smith overboard.
--- He said it would be very doubtful they would use the franchise tag on any player because “in my mind when you’re 8-8, I don’t think you had too many franchise players.’’ Actually, they did have two franchise players because they used that tag on both Max Starks and LaMarr Woodley in the past before signing them to multiple-year contracts.
--- Saying they would use any round in the draft at any position, means they would consider drafting a quarterback in the first round. Really? I’ll take the under on that one. I could see them drafting a quarterback from the fifth on, but not in the first.
--- They desperately need a running back. That was clear before Colbert talked and he made I crystal clear without saying those exact words. “I can say collectively that group wasn’t as good as we anticipated,’’ Colbert said, which says enough.
--- There were too many questions, not enough time, but it would be nice to know how Chris Rainey “lost the trust of the organization” and Alameda Ta’amu did not.
--- The Steelers are not negotiating with any of their impending free agents and it sounds as if they have no plans to. This does not mean they will not sign some of them. This strategy has worked many times in the past. Among those who re-signed after free agency began and after other teams reportedly made them better offers was Ryan Clark.
--- Onto your questions:
--- YOU: Ed, I noticed in your chat that you said the Steelers coaches are all off this week. I would have thought that they would be at the East-West Shrine practices & game. Do the Steelers not attend this event in the same way as they do the Senior Bowl?
ME: Thank you for reminding me there is an East-West game still, although they no longer play it in the San Francisco area. No, a scout or two usually handles the East-West game. The big one is the Senior Bowl, where most of the top seniors attend and the game – and more importantly the workouts and the weigh-ins, etc. -- is run by the NFL. Everyone goes to that one – coaches, scouts, GMs, sometimes even a few owners. They all leave Monday.
--- YOU: I have seen your discussion about lack of leadership on the 2012 Steelers and wholeheartedly agree. Let's assume that last year was a year of transition in that regard. Who are the players who will step up and lead the team for the next 5 or so years? Obviously Ben; maybe Pouncey? Brown? What about on the defense? Who seems like they have that intangible leadership quality?
ME: Maurkice Pouncey, definitely. As quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger will always be seen as a leader. David DeCastro seems to have it in him. After that, I’m not sure because there are not many young players playing or leading.
--- YOU: Should the Steelers pursue Hines Ward as the WR coach? He could provide much needed leadership for the WR crew. He’s smart, intense, and knows the play-book. While all of the failings of the wide-outs in 2012 does not fall on current WR coach Scott Montgomery, it seems that Hines would be a better candidate. Then again, he may not want to leave his broadcasting gig.
ME: Ward told me this week when I talked to him that part of his future could be in coaching. He has a lot going right now – he’s pursuing the Ironman competition in Hawaii, has his NBC job, etc. Some day perhaps he will coach wide receivers in the NFL, but I would not look for him to do so anytime soon with the Steelers. Teams do not like to bring a recent player onto the staff too quickly because they are buddies with too many players on the team.
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