It’s a slow time in the NFL as teams prepare for free agency and very few contracts are being negotiated. The Indy Combine doesn’t start for another eight days, but thinks will pick up after that.
Onto some slow-time stuff:
--- Did You Know? In 1975, the NFL draft was over by now. Through that year, the NFL conducted its annual drafts in January. In 1975, for example, it was held Jan. 28-29, or a little more than two weeks after the Steelers won their first Super Bowl. By 1976, the draft was held in April and for the final three years of the 1970s, it was held early in May, the latest it has been conducted. By 1980 it was back in late April, where it has remained for more than 30 years.
The Steelers had great drafts between 1969 and 1974 and then they tailed off. Many believed it was because they delayed the drafts another three months or more and that allowed other teams to catch up to their scouting. It’s a plausible theory because the Steelers at that time were ahead of most teams in their scouting department.
Today, the draft is such a publicity tool for the NFL in what otherwise would be dead months that it almost looks like a stroke of genius by someone to move it back three months. In reality, they delayed the draft because of the competition from a new league, the World Football League, which began in 1974. By delaying its draft, it took away an WFL tool of appealing to players who may not have been drafted as high as they wanted or to a team they wanted if it were held in January. The WFL began play in July. Turns out, it didn’t matter much because the WFL folded in the middle of the 1975 season. What lasted, though, was the April draft.
--- Chat today at 1:30.
--- The Steelers have never drafted a player in the Supplemental Draft, which began in 1977.
--- The Baltimore Ravens have to keep Joe Flacco, even if they cut half the rest of their team. If they lose Flacco in free agency, they won’t soon live it down. It took the Steelers nine years to find another quarterback after Neil O’Donnell left as a free agent after their Super Bowl XXX visit. It took them 10 years to get back to the Super Bowl. Not signing O'Donnell to a long-term contract in 1994 cost the Steelers a decade at the position (although Kordell Stewart was a talent at the position they just weren't prepared for).
--- Two more shopping days left until St. Valentine’s Day.
--- Your questions:
--- YOU: I just can't believe the state the Steelers are in and no one is really pointing the finger where it needs to be pointed. It seems to me that Colbert and Tomlin should be sharing much of the blame. Beginning with Colbert it would take to many key punches to list the number of busts we have had the last several years. Now to make it worse we give all these players huge contracts and they are just not producing at all. I hate to even say this but yes Troy is one of them along with Woodley. Then Colbert has the nerve to say that none of our free agents are safe because we were an 8-8 team and then they go and hire an offensive line coach from one of the most losing franchises in the NFL... Kansas City!
It just makes no sense at all to point fingers at just the players.
However, Art Rooney indicated blame on the coaching staff when he said in a speech recently that why are we sitting at home with the talent we have and other teams are still playing. I thought Keenan Lewis turned out to be a pretty descent corner. If he leaves who will play the nickle? Curtis Brown... oh wait he is yet another third round bust in a list too long to mention. And are all these players busts with no talent or is our coaching staff which Art Rooney last year in a speech said we must develop our younger talent.
We are left in an embarrassing state of affairs being so far over the salary cap that we can barely afford to pay the water boy and by your admission Ed we will again be bottom feeders. Hey I know, lets pick up another Arnaz Battle while the Ravens sign another Anquan Bolden!!
ME: Did you mean this to go to someone who covers the Cleveland Browns or Arizona Cardinals? It’s not bad when a team hits rock bottom at 8-8, missing the playoffs by one interception in the next-to-final game. I agree that the Steelers do not look as if they will improve in 2013, but I also am the one who picked them to go 11-5 last season. They are one year removed from 12-4, two from a Super Bowl visit and four from a Super Bowl victory. They must be doing something right. The Ravens won their first Super Bowl in 12 years, made it there for the first time in 12 years. The Steelers have been there three times in the past eight and won it twice.
You are not the only Steelers fan who feels this way because I get a ton of emails and Tweets about similar things. You should poke your head outside the pasture you occupy and see how green the grass is outside of it. My first year covering the Steelers for the Post-Gazette was 1985. The Steelers had just been to the AFC title game and their fans were still chiming about winning one for the thumb. They did not make the playoffs my first four years covering them, and they made the playoffs just once in my first seven years covering them. A man named Chuck Noll coached them the entire time. His bust is in the Hall of Fame, by the way.
Teams just cannot stay near the top every season. Bill Cowher had three straight seasons out of the playoffs, one at 6-10. Let’s see what the Ravens do now with their own free agents and salary cap problems. At least the Steelers acknowledged they had a great quarterback and signed him to an extension long before it could become an issue as it is now with Joe Flacco in Baltimore.
--- YOU: I turned on ESPN the other day & saw you were on, but I only caught like ten seconds of the interview. Anyway's w/ all the change that is coming, doesn't K.Colbert have to go outside, for even a mid tier FA, w/ all the needs the Steelers have? I'm looking at the offense for this spot, namely a TE like Brandon Myers of the Raiders.
We have so many needs, & I just don't know if the Draft can fill them all. We have 7 picks?? what is needed?
RB, WR, TE, OLB, MLB, S, possibly another NT, that's 7 right there. You were right at the beginning of the 2012 season, when you said a season of transition, except you should've made it plural, b/cuz I think it's going to be a couple more years till this situation turns towards the positive.
ME: There are needs everywhere. What there is no need to do is panic. Tom Donahoe had a favorite saying this time of year when fans and the media would ask him questions such as yours. They don’t play football for real for another seven months. A lot can happen between now and then.
--- YOU: Thinking about next year's team - it seems to me that there are 2 keys - (1) turnovers and (2) stability and good play from the O line. I think the former will come as long as the pass rushers are healthier; the latter is totally up in the air - hopefully these guys can figure out their roles and stay healthy so that there is continuity and solid play. Time will tell....
ME: I’m looking for a question here that I don’t see (by the way, time always tells). The turnovers have not come much over the past two seasons so that now has become a trend, not producing turnovers. They are coming to a young offensive line after sinking two first-round picks and two seconds in that unit over the past three years.
--- YOU: We keep hearing about the Zone Blocking scheme and how Todd Haley and Jack Bicknell are well-versed in it. What about the RB Coach, Kirby Wilson? Perhaps it won't be as big a transition for the RBs compared to the OLine, but just curious if he has any experience with it.
ME: That subject has never come up whenever I’ve talked to Kirby but he’s a well-rounded coach with 25 years of experience, including stints with five pro teams. I’m sure he’s seen it all and can work with Bicknell in whatever kind of blocking scheme they decide to use.
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