WKCY.com, Ken Blaze photo—Haden’s job just got easier…
When I wrote the Vance McDonald story yesterday, I had no idea I would be called upon again quite so soon. And I’m not going to go into the sort of footbally details I did with McDonald, because he was from a land far away, in more ways than one, and a team the Steelers have only played once since he was drafted.
On the other hand, we’re quite familiar with Joe Haden on the field. In fact I almost titled the article “Some Random Thoughts About Ex-Brown Joe Haden.” That just didn’t seem right, though, because we’re all hoping he moves on from that sordid chapter in his life as quickly as possible. Read more
It’s official—the 49ers traded McDonald to the Steelers for a bucket of bubble gum. Actually, they swapped picks next season, giving the Steelers their 5th-round pick in exchange for the Steelers’ fourth-rounder. Which I guess means the Steelers won’t be drafting another quarterback next year, unless they get a fourth-round comp pick, because that’s where they seem to take them lately.
So let’s take a quick look at what sort of player we can expect to see and why he’s here. I’ll take the second question first, because it can be answered by Mike Tomlin’s typically succinct and (when he wishes to be) blunt reply to reporters today—the tight ends on the roster are not “varsity players.”
“Varsity” and “JV” seem to be this year’s Tomlinisms—the distinction between what, in last year’s Tomlin-speak, would have been “above-the-line” and “below-the-line.” I find myself wondering if this represents a heightened sense of urgency on Tomlin’s part, perhaps because the Roethlisberger Window is inexorably closing. I say that because there seems to be a more personal dig in calling someone’s performance “JV” as opposed to “below the line,” which is a bit more, as Dame Edna might say, kind and caring. But maybe there’s no difference, and he’s just looking for a way to get everyone’s attention.
The third preseason game, the only one in which the players on the field look anything like the eventual roster, and that only for a portion of the game, is in the books. It represents the first loss of the preseason, which perhaps could be viewed as not encouraging. But let’s dig into what actually happened to find out if this is true or not.
AP Photo/ Don Wright
Trey Williams is short. Not just short for an NFL player—short for anyone. He is 5’7″, which is just about 14″ shorter than Alejandro Villanueva. The next shortest men on the roster at the moment are 2″ taller than Williams. But he packs a lot into his 200-pound frame.
He was a high school star in Texas, a state in which high school football is practically sacred. During his three high school seasons at running back he rushed for over 8000 yards on 935 carries, and had 86 touchdowns. His senior season alone he had over 400 carries. That’s one tough dude. (He was a wide receiver his freshman season.) Read more
USA Today Sports, Charles LeClaire photo
The start of this game was not promising. Nor the middle, for that matter. You could excuse the Steelers not moving the ball as efficiently with Joshua Dobbs at quarterback as the Falcons did with Matt Ryan at quarterback.
But it got more and more difficult to excuse the Steelers not moving the ball at all as the first teamers for the Falcons stayed on the sideline.
By Ivan Cole
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/Peter Diana photo
Every year that I have been writing about Steelers football a highlight for me has been the team assessment I make just before the beginning of the regular season. It usually appears at the end of the preseason, around the time of the final cuts. The bulk of this year’s version will, more or less, follow that pattern. However, there are some elements of this season that are special and demand special attention.
That is not a typo. There are multiple opportunities/challenges for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and in particular, their leadership in 2017. This makes it a season like no other in my estimation, one that has the potential of defining an era, and not just relating to football.
Via WMU Football
This year’s training camp has been quite a roller-coaster ride. The hopes of Steeler Nation rise high as we see Ben putting the ball wherever he wants, whether that is in a garbage can, the crosspiece of the goalpost, the stomach of a recalcitrant cameraman*, or to be gently cradled in Antonio Brown’s arms. Then they crash to earth as we look at the list of injured players sitting out practice—a sort of Who’s Who of our best defensive players. Not to mention the League playing Whac-a-Mole with Martavis Bryant and the Steelers, seeming moving the bar every time Bryant thinks he’s hurdled it. (I realize that was a mixed metaphor, but it’s morning, people…) Read more
photo via Steelers.com
The Steelers won their first game of this young (pre-)season. We all know these games are meaningless, or so we’ve been telling ourselves for the past however many years, when the Steelers have lost most of them. It might not mean much, but it’s nice to see them win one, especially under the circumstances.
As we knew going into the game, many of the starters didn’t even see the field, except where their feet might have strayed onto the turf on their way to the sidelines. Those starters on the offensive side included Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones (abdominal strain,) Le’Veon Bell (who of course wasn’t even there,) Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant (who was there but not playing,) James Conner (putative second back,) Maurkice Pouncey, and Alejandro Villanueva (concussion.) Did I miss anyone? Is anyone left? From last year’s starters, at least the majority of the season, the only guys on the field were Marcus Gilbert, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Jesse James, and Eli Rogers (if you considered him a starter.) And of course there were the extras—Xavier Grimble, Cobi Hamilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, et al.
In other words, given they were working against the Giants’ first-team defense (with a few exceptions such as Jason Pierre-Paul) you might think the Steelers’ offense, led by the first rookie quarterback to open the preseason for a very long time, would be overmatched. And of course you would be right, although it might be just as fair to say many of the wounds were self-inflicted.
photo via Steelers.com
One of the scenarios which seemed almost a slam-dunk this season was that Joshua Dobbs would be a “camp darling.” After all, the man he’s behind in the depth chart, Landry Jones, has somehow or other not managed to endear himself to the fanbase, despite being about what you would expect from a backup quarterback. After all, guys are generally backups for a reason.
Via Tribune-Review/ Christopher Tyler Randolph photo
This is a very special edition of TCV, if you will, because I was joined by none other than Homer J and Ivan Cole! We met up at the
Ruths Chris Steakhouse—well, okay, it was Eat 'N Park—just east of St. Vincent's to plan our strategy. And as long as we're on the subject, can anyone explain to me why it is "Eat 'N Park" rather than "Park 'N Eat?" It isn't like they visit your car, like Sonics of old. You have to park before you can eat, unless you walk there. The Eat 'N Park in my neighborhood (Squirrel Hill) doesn't actually have a parking lot, so it would be more accurate to characterize it as "look for a long time for a parking spot, then eat." I suppose that's rather long for a sign…
But I digress already. We finished our lunch, headed over to the promised land, and claimed seats. Unlike last week, we didn't get seats in the shade right off, although we were shaded by about halfway through practice. It almost wasn't necessary, though. Mike Tomlin must have been cross, because it was the most perfect day imaginable. There was absolutely nothing to make anyone uncomfortable—beautiful blue skies with scarcely a cloud in them, temperature around 75 degrees, and the gentlest of breezes. It was, in a word, perfect. Read more