Author Archives: Rebecca

A Couple of Snarky Questions on the Pittsburgh Steelers: Free Agency Edition

Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As noted in the premier post in this series (“premier” in the sense of first, not the sense of good…) this feature is a placeholder for the 5 Smoldering Questions. So let’s get to it, since it’s already late.

1. Most everyone seems to think Lawrence Timmons will be a cap casualty with the Dolphins. His stat line last year was nothing to write home about. Part of this is because he bizarrely missed the first walk-through of the season for the Week 2 game, the first for the Phins because of the hurricane, thus being suspended for the first two games. It was the first time since 2009 he missed a game.

But some might say that, in terms of inside linebackers, beggars can’t be choosers, and the Steelers, due to Ryan Shazier’s health and their cap constraints, are definitely beggars. If you were the Steelers brain trust, would you try to bring the 32-year-old Timmons back for another year in the Black and Gold?

2. James Harrison recently showed up, rather to most people’s surprise, to Brett Keisel’s “Shear Da Beard” event. Arthur Moats said they had “talked out their differences.” Whether Steeler Nation will ever again take him back to their collective bosoms is another matter. But my question concerns Harrison’s stated desire to play next season. What’s your guess? Did you see enough from him in a different scheme to think another team will take him on?

That’s all for now. This is plenty to deal with in the offseason, right in the middle of the Olympics. And speaking of the Olympics, here’s a bonus for you. One of my son-in-laws is a police officer, and this was recently published in the department newsletter. Names are changed to protect the guilty:

  • PO Jim Smith at 7 PM: “Oh…Figure skating?”
  • PO Jim Smith at 10 PM: “If they nail this triple twist they’ve got at least 40 in the technical category.”

Stay warm, y’all.

Tackling the Big Questions, No. 1: To Keep or Not to Keep

Photo via Steelers.com, illustrating some of those intangibles…

I’m launching another new offseason feature this year, because as Kevin Colbert said in his recent press conference, if you keep doing the same thing, why would you expect a different result? (Although why we would want a different result than a 13-3 season and winning the division was not stated, except, I suppose, for that little “first-round playoff exit” thing…)

And I don’t know what different result I’m aiming for, either. Truth to tell, I just like the sound of the headline, and you’re going to see it a lot, exploring different issues. Today’s issue, as you might suspect, is the potential free agents whose status is still very much up in the air at the moment.

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A Couple of Snarky Questions: The State of the Steelers

As promised in my previous post, here is the new feature for the off-season—the Snarky Questions. If any of you have snarky questions you would like asked, send them along! Although I have an inborn facility for being snarky, I would be happy for any assistance. So here goes:

I thought it might be good to take a long look at Art II’s State of the Steelers address, which will obviously require more than a few questions. So this will be an ongoing feature. But before we get to that, I wanted to throw this into the mix:

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A Potpourri of Steelers Talk

Photo via Steelers.com

There’s a surprisingly large amount to report/discuss/disagree about in the Steelers universe, given that we are only one week out from the most offensive Super Bowl in the history of the game. (Read that as you like.)

For one thing, the Steelers have been busy making small signings and salary restructures, the former to take care of impending free agents of one sort or another, the latter presumably in the name of freeing up the cartloads of money it will take to re-sign Le’Veon Bell.

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What I Saw in the 52nd Super Bowl: A Great Championship Game

Photo via PatriotsWire/USA Today Sports

By Ivan Cole

I had originally planned to not watch the game but changed my mind. I was glad I did. It was almost certainly the most entertaining offensive spectacle of a championship game, beginning to end, there has been. Further, the outcome, and the manner that it was reached was probably the best the league could hope for given the circumstances.

You didn’t have to be a Patriots hater or buy too deeply into the ‘cheaters/conspiracy’ narratives to believe that it would be best for the game that they lost. The league has staked its business model on being anti-dynastic (more commonly referred to as parity) for some pretty good reasons. Even some Pats fans were hoping to break the cycle this year. Read more

So What’s The Catch?

Photo via Michigan Insiders

The balance in the world order has been somewhat restored, as the Philadelphia Eagles outscored Tom Brady and the Patriots to win the Super Bowl.

Just kidding. Wait, I’m not kidding. But if I were an Eagles fan this morning, I would probably check the headlines a couple of times, just to make sure I didn’t dream the whole thing.

And all is right in Momma’s world, as pretty much the lone defensive hero of said Super Bowl was none other than Momma’s very first pick in her very first BLA Mock Draft. At the time I said:

Scouts Inc. has him at #18, cbssports has him at 28 and rising, and he won the Senior Bowl MVP. We need to get some younger players on the D-line, and frankly finding a good linebacker that is a pleasure to look at isn’t easy. This gentleman gets my recommendation.

And in case you’re wondering, the photo was the one published with the article. Which I would link, but a Google search didn’t reveal its location…

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5 Smoldering Questions, For Real (or, Getting Real)

photo via Steelers.com

By Hombre de Acero

While the Steelers 2018 off-season has reached its second week, much of the discussion in Steelers Nation is still on looking back as opposed to focusing on how the franchise can pick upself up off the slag heap that is 2017.

With that in mind, we give you our 5 Smoldering Should Be in the Super Bowl But Not Questions on the Steelers.

1. Mike Tomlin led the AFC to a last minute 24-23 come back over the NFC in the Pro Bowl, and by doing so he improved the modern era Steelers head coaches Pro Bowl record to a perfect 8-0, as streak which includes wins over 4 Super Bowl winning coaches (Buddy Parker was the lone loser in 1957, for those who MUST know.)

Does this factoid:
a) Validate the legacy of coaching excellence the Steelers have enjoyed, given the size of the sample, time span considered, the quality of the opposing coaches and the relative equality of talent between the AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters?

Or:
b) Or is it something that will only prove useful should you make it to Final Jeopardy and the category is “Steelers in the Pro Bowl”?

Make a choice and defend it as if it were one of Johnny Mitchell’s lineman tasked with defense of one of Mike Tomlin’s proverbial blades of grass.

2. Irrespective of your answer to question number one, the Pro Bowl gave Steelers Nation its first glimpse of a Randy Fichtner-coordinated offense, NFL.com’s Jeremy Bergman observed:

It was especially sad to watch Randy Fichtner ring in his first game as Steelers offensive coordinator in the Pro Bowl, calling double reverses for Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown and simple routes for Ben Roethlisberger to underthrow.

It’s fair to wonder how much will change next season in the Steel City. Will Bell leave in free agency? Will Roethlisberger hint at retirement again? Will Fichtner force Big Ben to run a sneak? On Sunday, we got an answer to at least one of these quandaries. On third-and-1 from the NFC 39 with Roethlisberger under center, Fichtner called … a dive to Roosevelt Nix. Some things don’t change.

Do you agree with Jeremy Bergman’s observation and is it a legitimate cause for concern?

3. In diagnosing the post-Shazier decline of the Steelers’ 2017 defense, a number of commentators pointed to the fact that his back up, Tyler Matakevich, also got injured against Cincinnati. Do you think a healthy Tyler Matakevich would have made a difference down the stretch?

4. By the time we get to our free agency edition of the 5 Smoldering Questions, the Le’Veon Bell situation will likely have clarified itself. So let’s jump the gun and cut right to the chase. Should the Steelers:

a. Try to sign Bell before the Franchise tag is due?
b. Use the franchise tag if signing him is not possible?
c. Let him test the market but be ready to make a competitive offer?
d. Simply let him walk and attempt to reload via the draft or going with the current backs on the roster.

There are arguments for and against all four options, and each choice carries significant risk as well as opportunity costs for the Steelers. What should they do?

5. The loss to the Jaguars was devastating to fans, as no one saw it coming. Yet, Jim Wexell insisted a few days after that the arrow on the Steelers was still pointing up. That prompted me to observe that, for as bad as the loss was, it didn’t have type of “era ending” feel that say the Tebowing in Denver did a few years ago….

…But on second thought, the 1997 AFC Championship loss to Denver didn’t seem to signal the end of the Cowher-Donahoe Steelers status as contenders, but it did.

The reasons for that of course were tied to decisions made after that fateful AFC Championship loss, and not the game itself.

With that in mind, knowing that Ben Roethlisberger is coming back, what other decisions must the Steelers make to keep their Super Bowl window open for 2018?

This will be the final 5 Smoldering’s edition for the Steelers 2017 season. As in past season we’ll have future edition for the draft and free agency and/or as events warrant.

Until then thanks go out to everyone who took time to contribute to the conversations, and a big Thank You to Rebecca and everyone else who helped construct questions during times when travel prevented me from coming up with my own. Thank You.

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