Category Archives: Commentary

Of Raps and Rugby: A Pittsburgh Steelers Housekeeping Post

EF3B6EE5-43DF-4C28-997C-F8F7E70A2705

Although Ivan has pretty much sewn up the “think globally” part of the site writing, I’m going to dip my toes back into those waters before continuing with my profiles of the new players, because several interesting bits of news have hit the stands.

But before I speak of things particular to the Steelers, I’m going to tackle a league-wide issue which, strangely, does not effect the Steelers, thank heavens—the increasing fuss over the “working” conditions of the NFL cheerleaders.

I’ve always been a fan of the Steelers eschewing cheerleaders, and given what I’m reading, I’m even gladder, although I can’t see the Rooneys treating “employees” with the same disdain as some of the teams.

In case you’re wondering why I have italicized “working” and “employees,” it is because many cheerleaders are not, apparently, paid in any significant way.

Read more

The Journey to Seven Lombardis: Part 1

By Ivan Cole

If you are interested enough, the entire football year can be endlessly intriguing. As we move into the second week of OTAs it is still far too early to make much sense of where the Steelers stand in relation to securing that seventh championship this season, but enough of the puzzle pieces are in place to allow for some educated speculation.

Injuries and other handicaps

In past seasons the team often struggled with a high volume of injuries. As Head Coach Mike Tomlin has said, the injury rate in the National Football League is 100 percent, therefore it has been tempting to throw one’s hands in the air and declare that it is all just a matter of luck as to how things work out.

A few years ago, Art Rooney II threw the gauntlet down and declared the organization’s intention to get a better handle on the situation. It sounded at the time like Owner Speak, putting an optimistic face on a problem that was really beyond the capacity to influence.

Read more

Momma Looks at the Actual Draft: Round 2

photo via Steelers.com/ Karl Roser

I won’t repeat my rather ambling preamble to the first post—feel free to read it if you’ve got a cup of coffee and some extra time. Let’s get right to it:

There was fairly general agreement among those writing about the Steelers’ likely draft, at least among those who are actually knowledgeable about the Steelers, that the Steelers would take a wide receiver at some point, maybe even as high as the 2nd or 3rd round. While it wasn’t exactly a major point of need, there were a couple of factors driving it—first, Martavis Bryant wouldn’t be with the team in 2019, and second, the Steelers like to do that.

Read more

An Update on the Real Issues Facing the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers

By Ivan Cole

Since last we met on this topic the personnel situation has advanced significantly. The draft has occurred, free agents signed and a significant trade. How have these developments advanced the narrative?

A quarterback controversy

I don’t believe that we have had a full-blown version of this phenomena during the Ben Roethlisberger era, although there has been some drama and conversation surrounding back- ups. But the drafting of Mason Rudolph has impacted the entire quarterback room and will likely be a focus of conversation for years to come, regardless how the situation unfolds.

The current bottom-line as I understand it now is that unless there is an injury/IR circumstance like the one that unfolded during the 2010 season when Ben, Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon were all on the roster, when the 2018 edition of the Steelers begins play in September one the players in that room, Ben, Rudolph, Landry Jones or Joshua Dobbs, will be gone. What should we look for going forward?

Read more

The annual post-draft analysis of analyses

By Homer J.

“Can’t Act. Can’t Sing. Slightly Balding. Can Dance a Little.”

That’s how the guy who gave Fred Astaire his Hollywood screen test rated the greatest hoofer of all time. The debut performance of Debussy’s timeless “Clair de Lune” was described as “ugly to the ears,” by the most respected Parisian critic of the time.

When George Gershwin’s beloved “Rhapsody in Blue” premiered at Aeolian Hall in New York in 1924, New York Tribune reviewer Lawrence Gilman was less than overwhelmed. “How trite, feeble and conventional the tunes are; how sentimental and vapid the harmonic treatment, under its disguise of fussy and futile counterpoint! … Weep over the lifelessness of the melody and harmony, so derivative, so stale, so inexpressive!”

“Fiddler on the Roof” was described as “nothing special” by the Variety stringer who reviewed its off-Broadway opening.

And Rex Reed and most of the other jerks who review movies panned the greatest movie of all time, “A Christmas Story.” (They just hated producer Bob Clark, because he did those Porky’s movies and Reed would never know what to do with a Red Ryder BB gun, anyway).

Read more

Three Quick Reactions to the Steelers’ First Round Draft Day

photo via Steelers.com

I said yesterday I wasn’t going to write any more about the draft until we came back from our anniversary trip, but we don’t leave until tomorrow, and I just have to take a few minutes out from packing and such to comment on last night.

What a day for Pittsburgh sports! The Penguins beat the Capitals in the first game of the second round, in Washington, but considering that Washington has been their traditional second-round opponent every time they’ve won the cup, perhaps it isn’t surprising. It is a bit more surprising that they did it without Carl Hagelin and Evgeni Malkin, but there you are.

Then comes the news that Jung Ho Gung, the Korean player the Pirates had presumably given up on ever seeing again, finally got a visa. It’s been a year and a half, at least. There are plenty who would say the Pirates should turn their back on him, and there’s no doubt he screwed up royally. Nor does anyone know whether he’s still good at baseball. But I’m hoping this is the chance he needs to turn his life around. How quick we are as a society to turn on celebrities. Perhaps it makes us feel better about ourselves. I’m personally a big fan of second (or in his case, rather more than second) chances. It’s certainly his last one.

And speaking of second (and third) chances, the thing that Kevin Colbert swore wasn’t going to happen happened yesterday—the Steelers traded Martavis Bryant to the Raiders for a third-round pick. I think it is excellent for everyone. The Steelers get a pick back for the fourth-rounder they traded to the 49ers for Vance McDonald, but a much better one—middle of the 3rd round. They can pick up another big receiver, probably in the 2nd or 3rd round, and hopefully everyone is happy. Bryant gets a fresh start and the Steelers get to move on from a question mark.

After all, there are three possible scenarios for this coming season with Bryant on the roster. 1) He has a monster season and then parlays that into a huge contract with another team. Great for 2018, not so great ongoing. 2) He has an up-and-down season like last year and frustrates everyone, including himself, because he stops getting “mines.” Bad for the team, bad for the locker room, I’m guessing. Or the worst scenario—3) he isn’t doing well or getting enough balls, gets depressed, smokes some weed, and bang, he’s out of football, maybe forever. I’m guessing he’ll be a focus of the offense in Oakland, at least unless he proves himself unworthy of it, and he can blossom. Hopefully he won’t do so the week we have to play the Raiders, in Oakland, but that’s the breaks…

And then there was the surprise announcer of the Steelers’ pick. Ryan Shazier walked to the podium with his fiancee to make the pick. If you haven’t seen the video, check it out. It’s front and center on Steelers.com. If you can watch it and not tear up, you’re a hard-hearted person, is all I can say.

And of course many are tearing up, in a different sense, over the pick itself. It absolutely came out of nowhere—rather like the Ryan Shazier pick, actually. But even more so. Most don’t have anything against Terrell Edmunds, only that they felt he should have been taken in the third round. The Steelers, obviously, didn’t feel that way, nor, apparently, did they feel comfortable trading down and taking a chance on him being gone. (Or perhaps they couldn’t find any trade partners.)

I’ve read a bit of the analysis, and here’s what stood out to me:

Edmunds is a hybrid safety who can play at the line of scrimmage and can play some man coverage.

He is in the super high character mold of recent drafts. The man he and his brother Trumaine (who was taken by the Bills at Pick 16,) trained with the same guy, and according to Mike Mayock said that the two young men were the politest and nicest young men he’d ever worked with. With any luck this means that Edmunds will say “I’m sorry” when he’s forced to snatch a ball away from an opposing receiver.

Because yes, he has ball skills. Not so much last year as in 2016. But it turns out there’s a reason—he was playing with an injured shoulder for the whole season, until he finally had to give up and have the surgery. Kevin Colbert said they were impressed by this, and I assume they are thinking his 2016 tape is more realistic, assuming Edmunds is healthy.

And this also demonstrates his commitment to the team—that he would continue to play, knowing he couldn’t play as well, and that it was going to hurt his draft stock.

And finally, he was responsible for lining up the defense, and apparently was very good at it. His plus communication skills were undoubtedly one of the things that attracted Tomlin and Colbert to him.

Well, there’s no telling whether he will turn out to be a Jarvis Jones or a (hopefully luckier) Ryan Shazier. You could pretty much say that about anybody they took. But hopefully a similar scenario will play out to Shazier’s draft year, in that many thought the Steelers might take Stephon Tuitt in the first round and were outraged at the pick. And instead the Steelers got both men*. I’m hopeful that someone they had highly graded will fall to them in the second round.

We will see. In the meantime, it’s going to be hard to top last night, in terms of sheer Pittsburgh sports drama.

And now I really am shutting this down. Unless, of course, the Steelers’ next three picks all come from my mock drafts. Who knows what I would do then?

*They still have Shazier. He of course will not be able to play this season. And very possibly not ever. Coming back from an injury like that when you’re a player whose game is predicated on blazing speed is extremely difficult, in terms of whether you can ever be the same player. One can’t help but think of Sean Spence. If I were Shazier’s fiancee I would be praying every chance I got that he never walks onto another football field, at least in a uniform. But watching his indomitable spirit is inspiring for everyone, and the Steelers seem determined to involve and utilize him as much as possible.

The Real Issues Facing the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers

By Ivan Cole

I have written previously about the ‘fake news’ that rises this time of the year concerning the Steelers and the rest of the NFL. We are still some distance from clarity as to all the operative narratives that will fully describe the 2018 season, but some of the potentialities are obvious even as the off-season conditioning effort is just commencing, and we are still weeks away from the draft.

Whither Shazier?

Ryan Shazier will not play for the Steelers in 2018, but the trajectory of his life and NFL career may well impact this season and the organization for years to come. If you are young or otherwise not much up on the history of the franchise you might be surprised to learn that this isn’t the first time that a player and the organization faced a verdict of ‘may never play again’. Taking a look at the two most notable examples we learn something uplifting and important about the human spirit and how two men and the leadership of the Steelers organization responded to these challenges.

Read more

« Older Entries