Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Good Guys: Roxanna Firehall tackles the receivers

This week, I tackle the wide receivers. Through the seasons, the Steelers have been blessed with wideouts who are winners in the game of life and have what it takes to earn a spot on Going Deep’s Good Guys:

(5). Sammie Coates.

Yes, I know. Sammie Coates has caught one ball in the NFL. His resume as a player is shorter Danny Woodhead standing in a sinkhole. You know what, I don’t care. I love this kid. The whole point of this series is to celebrate the character, the characters and the great players who have impressed me as men.  Sammie is a man of character.

Sammie was a third round draft choice in the 2015 draft. He is fast and appears to be motivated to get better. He’s worked hard, both at the college level and now with the Steelers. But that, my friends, just scratches the surface. Read more

The Bungles No More: Steelers Week 8 Opponent Preview

via The Guardian/Aaron Doster photo, USA Today Sports

Week 8 in the NFL started with a disappointment and more than a few conundrums. Naturally Sunday’s game vs. the Chiefs didn’t end the way Steeler Nation hoped. But this is a more comfortable year to be in the AFC North than 2014.

Last season at this point the Ravens were 5-2, with a 2-1 division record. The Bengals started out like gangbusters, winning their first three games, but after their Week 4 bye came back, lost two games, and tied the Panthers 37-37. They were 1-0 in the division, and 3-2-1 otherwise. Even the Browns were at .500, although they were 1-2 in the division. The first number, though, was a win against the Steelers, in embarrassing fashion (for the Steelers, that is).

The Steelers were 4-3 at this point last season, but were 1-2 in the division. They  lost to the Ravens as well as the Browns. And that was with Ben, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and a kicker who during the course of the season made over 90% of his field goal attempts.

The Steelers are also 4-3 this season, despite missing Bell for two games, Bryant for five, and Ben for four and a half. They could possibly have been 5-2 or even 6-1 with an ordinarily proficient kicker. They have only played one division game, although it was a frustrating loss, very possibly due to the lack of said ordinarily proficient kicker. These things make this season feel rather different, at least at this point.

The Ravens are 1-6. Think about that for a minute. It’s really rare for a coach who has won a Super Bowl to have such a poor start to a season. It isn’t like he went somewhere else and tore apart a completely dysfunctional team. It’s one of the above-mentioned conundrums.  The Browns, after a couple of surprises, are 2-5. There’s only one fly in this soothing ointment—those pesky Bengals.

The Steelers have the opportunity to make up some ground. The only caveat is, they have to actually win Sunday’s game. Read more

The AFC North Stats Watch, Week 7

AP photo That’s how we felt too Ben…

Here’s the AFC North record, which doesn’t look nearly as nice this week, alas. The Steelers lost ground on the Bengals, although the Browns and Ravens have thoughtfully continued to lose. How long before we start to worry about the Ravens getting the No. 1 pick?

Record Week 7

I’m going to leave the Point Differential up here, since it makes sense to put it with the record:

  • Bengals +60
  • Steelers +27
  • Ravens -27
  • Browns -35

What you can’t see is the total number of points gained. Obviously the Bengals are in front, with 182 points gained. (This is even more dominant than it looks, because the Bengals have still only played six games, whereas the other three teams have played seven.)

The Ravens actually overtook the Steelers this week, with a total of 161 points gained. The Steelers have 158, a number which I trust will go up sharply soon, and finally the Browns are bringing up the rear with 147.

Read more

5 Smoldering Questions On the Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 7

This week Hombre de Acero is unfortunately not among us. Not in the corporal sense, of course—he was never that. But he is on an extended business trip, which means, according to him, that something huge is about to happen in the Steelers universe. Because something huge ALWAYS happens in the Steelers universe while he’s gone. Let’s hope it is something good!

In Hombre’s absence I called upon the resources at my disposal for help in compiling this week’s Smoldering Questions. Ivan, Adrian, and Homer J. submitted queries. Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to grapple with them. After all, it isn’t only the players who have to prepare for Cincinnati:

(1) Ivan asks: Thirty nine years ago, the Steelers made the playoffs with a backup quarterback playing for much of the season. That year the formula for success was to rely on the defense and the running game which resulted in Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier each gained a 1,000 yards. Even though Le’Veon Bell had a solid game on Sunday in Kansas City, would the Steelers have been better off leaning on him even more, depending upon him and DeAngelo Williams to carry the offense and bypassing Landry Jones?

Read more

Things Bigger Than Football: The Chief

via athlonsports.com, from an article naming the ten best owners in sports. The Rooneys hold the No. 1 spot. The Chief would be proud.

Recently Dan Rooney and his wife were honored by the United Way for their four decade involvement with the local United Way. You can read Teresa Varley’s article about it here. This got me to thinking about the many members of the Steelers organization who give back to their community. Generally I’ve focused these sorts of articles on players, and I will do that in later posts.

But today I want to feature the founding member of the franchise. I started to write about the whole family, but there’s just too much to cover in a single article. And where better to begin than the founder?

Being a part of the local community is a concept embedded in the heart of the organization for many years. I recounted recently the story of Art Rooney I and his predilection for hanging out with the groundskeepers. It is a small window into the heart of a man full of contradictions. Read more

On Second Thought—Some Inconvenient Truths About the Steelers at Chiefs Game…

Don Wright/ AP 

 by Ivan Cole

As much as I have tried, I can’t get totally bummed about this loss. A missed opportunity? Yes. A disaster? Hardly. Just a reminder of certain truths about the game. 

1. “The Standard is the Standard.”

This phrase has its uses and has been employed to great benefit by Mike Tomlin, but on the other hand, there is a reason some players are starters or stars and others are not. The reasons why are a story in and of itself. The practical takeaway in viewing yesterdays’s game is the margin for error is much narrower. Enough things didn’t go right and just enough went wrong to result in a loss.  Read more

Massacre at Arrowhead: Steelers at Chiefs Game Recap

Post-Gazette: Peter Diana photo

Okay, so it wasn’t really a massacre. “Massacre” would be what the Dolphins did to the Texans in the first half (the score was 41-0 at the beginning of the 3rd quarter. And you have to say for Houston, they came back in the 2nd half and made it a game. Sort of.)

While the Steelers never led in this game, it never felt as if it was totally out of reach until quite near the end.

Homer J. had a lot to say this week. Here’s a amalgam of our observations. Homer begins with a host of questions:

Mike Tomlin says he chooses not to live in his fears. Sadly, Homer doesn’t have that luxury. With Roethlisberger and Vick out, and with the offensive line being a bit of a patchwork, my fears center around Landry Jones.

Kansas City has a fierce outside pass rush, and I’m relatively confident that Alejandro Villanueva can do a decent job, but the big concern is whether Cody Wallace is able to hold the center of the line so that Jones is able to step up in the pocket when the rush comes from the outside.

Also, the offensive line needs to establish a decent running game.

Will the week of practice produce a little better coordination between Jones and Antonio Brown? Read more

The Good Guys – Tight Ends and Centers

via Post-Gazette/ UPI: Steve Yakub photo

In this edition of “The Good Guys,” I choose my favorite tight ends and centers.  While these positions don’t exactly exude glamour, this installment features four dedicated and hardworking guys who I admire.

TIGHT ENDS

No. 2.  Randy Grossman

This pick was more difficult than most.  I always liked Randy Grossman.  It wasn’t the out and out Steeler bromance I have with Lambert and Deebo (hey, if your name is Roxanna, you can handle the heat), but I liked him well enough. Although he was primarily a backup to Benny Cunningham, his great hands made him a solid contributor to the Super Bowl teams of the 1970s.  Grossman played eight seasons, from 1974 to 1981.  His most celebrated play was catching a touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw in Super Bowl X against the Cowboys. I selected Randy as my backup tight end, however, based on more arbitrary and esoteric criteria.

Grossman was an undrafted free agent in the days when undrafted really meant something. During the seventeen rounds of the 1973 NFL draft, 442 players were chosen, but Grossman was not among them.  The Steelers signed him the day after the draft for $15,000, the rookie minimum salary.  This year, the rookie minimum is $435,000. Read more

An Invitation Having Nothing Whatsoever to Do With Football

Cherub angelI know the vast majority of my readers are from elsewhere, but for those of you who live in Pittsburgh, I am running the final performance of my concert The Heart of Darkenss tonight in Highland Park.

You may wonder about the name. The concert is intended to shine a light on a couple of corners of human trafficking, and the music ranges from Renaissance polyphony to U2 and lots in between. For more information you can go to our website.

For even more information than anyone might ever want to know (and which you can read even if you can’t or couldn’t imagine coming to the concert) you can find a web program here:

If you should happen to come please come up and say hello afterwards. There will be a reception (free food, people : ) and I would love to meet you personally. If you would really like to come but can’t afford a ticket contact me at rebecca@rollett.org sometime before 3 pm today and I will leave one for you at the door.

Rebecca

The Culture Which Made the Immaculate Extension Possible

Peter Diana photo

As Ivan noted in his article, The Immaculate Extension: A Second Look,

“When I heard it [the term “immaculate extension”] I thought it was a clever, exuberant reaction to what would, ultimately be a mere transitory moment in the yearly journey that football fans travel seeking the grail of entertainment gold; a place in the playoffs over the holidays and, if fortunate, a championship.

Let me invite the reader to carefully consider whether something more significant has occurred.”

Indeed it would turn out to be a much bigger deal even than it seemed at the time.

For Ivan, this puts Mike Tomlin into the exclusive category of great coaches. But there are other ramifications.

Endless discussions have taken place as to how many coaches would have the courage to do that.

Hombre de Acero opined in his game recap for Steel Curtain Rising that it was a trust issue:

Faced with an all or nothing prospect, Mike Tomlin opted to trust the game by putting the ball into the hands of his most talented player on the field.

I don’t dispute either the courage of his convictions Tomlin displayed or the trust he put in his players to get the job done. My contention is, the reason the list for the question “What coach would do that?,” is so short is that few coaches know they have an ownership who will look beyond immediate results in judging the outcome of such things. Read more

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