5 Smoldering Questions, Season Opening Edition

via totalsteelers.com

via totalsteelers.com

by Hombre de Acero

1. Since the new CBA went into effect in 2011, It seems like every September is littered with complaints about sloppy, undisciplined play. The next step is to then cite the practice and contact length and duration limitations imposed by the CBA. 

Which makes sense, except….

… these very same complainers are the ones who howl the loudest about how the preseason is a wretched institution, end-to-end, that ought to be curtailed if not abolished entirely.

Can these two complaints be reconciled or are they inherently contradictorily?

2. Question number two comes with full disclosure. I grew up as a Pittsburgh expat in the DC area and I instinctively learned to actively root against the Redskins during the height of the first Joe Gibbs era. (And for the record, neither of my parents particularly cares/cared about football or sports loyalties in general.)

So now with my confirmation bias firmly on the table:  Given the yesterday’s personality contrast between Art Rooney Sr. and both George Preston Marshall and Jack Kent Cooke and today’s contrast between Dan and Art Rooney II and Daniel Snyder, and given the large number of Pittsburgh expats living in the greater DC Area, is there a latent natural rivalry that the NFL’s divisional and conference structure obscures?


3. It says here that the Steelers decision to trade for Justin Gilbert was a wise move. However, the cynic in me can’t help but observe that the last three players Kevin Colbert acquired via a trade were Felix Jones, Levi Brown and Brandon Boykin….

So, does Justin Gilbert sustain or break the trend?

4. What under-the-radar player’s development are you most anticipating in the coming season?

5. As Bill Cowher’s pre-Ben Roethlisberger Steeler teams so painfully illustrated, the gap separating contenders from pretenders is exponentially smaller than the one standing between contenders and champions. In 2015, the Pittsburgh Steelers reestablished themselves as contenders.

What must happen for the 2016 Steelers to cross that gap?   

You know the drill. Don’t forget to show your work, and be sure and use a No. 2 pencil…

9 comments

  • 1. It is an interesting conundrum. There are a few ‘two-edged sword’ issues to deal with. In the old days training camp was used to get in shape. At least part of the reason for that is that football didn’t pay enough for most players to have the luxury of preparing themselves year round. Today the standard for Pittsburgh is that you better show up in shape, and most players can go to places all over to country to get that done. Its their job. So how much camp do you need?

    On the other side, the more finely tuned some are, in some ways it is easier to break down, plus the body never really rests. Bigger, stronger, faster players also up the ante in terms of violence such that injury, a once ignored topic area, is now uppermost in a lot of people’s minds to the point that the biggest accomplishment this summer is the team escaped relatively unscathed. But there is a difference between general conditioning and being in football shape, which can only happen being engaged in the game. Surprising to hear Tunch Ilkin say just the other day not to expect a quality product until the third or fourth week of the season. More practice, more injuries. Less practice, lower quality (and maybe still a good amount of injuries). What do you do?

    2. This is such an interesting question for me. My parents met in DC during WW II, though I was born and raised in Pittsburgh. And now I reside in the DC area, If there is a larger Pittsburgh expat community than Washington I’d like to hear about it. My brother and several other fans I know will be there as well. My guess is that the stadium will look like this is some sort of crosstown rivalry like the Giants and Jets. But as you say, the only regularly occurring athletic match ups in the past fifty years, and are now very intense have been Penguins/Capitals. There have been Pitt-Georgetown basketball games in the old Big East, and now the Pirates and Nationals. The resonance is entirely different from that of Baltimore, whose stadium is just thirty minutes up I-95 from FedEx.

    If there was was ever a significant realignment in the NFL, Pittsburgh/Washington makes so much sense. Especially Baltimore has already broken the midwest/rustbelt logic of the AFC North. Only Cleveland is closer geographically. If Pens/Caps are any indication it could get intense. The organizational cultures conflict nicely, reflecting that of the development of the two cities.

    3. The move is not a slam dunk, but it is so low risk/high reward that it might as well be. There is no chance that he will disrupt this locker room, and no one will remember or much care that we don’t have a six round pick in 2018. And while we have had some trade duds, remember that Jerome Bettis came in a trade.

    4. Can’t decide on one. It’s a pick among these three: Ross Cockrell, Robert Golden and Vince Williams.

    5. You actually reveal the answer in how you frame the question “pre-Ben Roethlisberger”. It is at this highest level that the franchise quarterback makes the greatest difference. Cowher didn’t have that in the Nineties and and the first half of the last decade. If they stay healthy first of all, then players like Ben (or Aaron Rodgers, Brady, Wilson, Palmer, etc.) is what gets you over the hump at the end. Can’t think off the top of my head when, all other things being equal, a lesser quarterback overcame a greater one.

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  • Didn’t they trade for a really bad kicker last season as well?
    His name escapes me.

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  • Great questions, Hombre! I’m heading to the airport soon, but hopefully will get a chance tomorrow to look at these, because there is a lot to ponder there.

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  • 1) Can these two complaints be reconciled or are they inherently contradictorily?

    If the same people are making both of those complaints then I’d rather that they not be reconciled, just ignored.

    2. So now with my confirmation bias firmly on the table:  Given the yesterday’s personality contrast between Art Rooney Sr. and both George Preston Marshall and Jack Kent Cooke and today’s contrast between Dan and Art Rooney II and Daniel Snyder, and given the large number of Pittsburgh expats living in the greater DC Area, is there a latent natural rivalry that the NFL’s divisional and conference structure obscures?

    Interesting question. I dunno. Maybe in the DC area, but I don’t see Pittsburghers getting excited about a rivalry with the Redskins.

    3. So, does Justin Gilbert sustain or break the trend?

    I sure hope/think he’ll be a positive roster addition! Imagine if Gilbert, Golson, and Burns were all playing well by the end of the year and fighting for snaps. That could be great fun…

    4. What under-the-radar player’s development are you most anticipating in the coming season?

    The under the radar requirement limits the choices. Golden? JJ?

    5. In 2015, the Pittsburgh Steelers reestablished themselves as contenders. What must happen for the 2016 Steelers to cross that gap?   

    Considering that even with all the injuries last year the Steelers were just one A.B. concussion away from beating Denver and then presumably Carolina, I posit that the Steelers have already crossed that gap. All they need to do is remain injury free this year.

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  • Really good questions!

    1. Before the first preseason game I think each team should have to pick a first team defense and offense. These players then can only play a total of 1 or 2 quarters during the whole preseason which would last maybe 3 games max. This approach should be enough for coaches to decide the starting 53 and limit injury’s to the starters and marquee players. I don’t know what each stakeholder (coach, owner, player) wants though except that it seems to me that owners want to make money, players want to play, coaches want to be able to pick the best 53 and the fans want to watch their team play quality football. Everyone wants to have a successful season and ultimately win the SB! This is probably a silly idea for many reasons and I don’t think I came close to answering the question. haha.

    2. No! True enemies are born thru battle on the field of play. Owners, demographics, ideology, and geography means very little to me. If you live in the enemies territory though and have to listen to their propaganda every day then you would probably disagree here. How do the Steelers best position themselves to win the SB trophy? Take the hill that is the AFC North!

    3. Guess I would ask you these questions Hombre.When the roulette wheel spins red 3 times in a row do you play black for the next spin? Do you think the past performance of other players and their specific situations has anything to do with Gilbert and the current situation?

    4. Sorry but have not been following players that closely.

    5. We got the talent just need a little luck sprinkled in.

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