photo via Steelers.com
2018 third-round draft pick OT Chuks Okafor seemed like a luxury pick when he was selected. Or perhaps not so much a luxury as a “Haven’t dem Stillers noticed that the problem last season was the durn defense?!!!” pick. But with the (temporary) demise of third-year tackle Jerald Hawkins during OTA (torn quad) it started to look a good deal smarter.
And now G Ramon Foster, who is entering his 10th season in the NFL, is out, at least for the nonce. In Foster’s case the news is considerably better than first feared when he was taken off the field with a knee injury during the Steelers’ first padded practice on Saturday, It turns out he has a hyper-extended knee with no ligament damage, which is projected to keep him out for 4-5 weeks. Fortunately the heir apparent, YouTube star* B.J. Finney, has had a considerable number of game reps by now coming in for injured players—mainly Foster, but he also played some center last season, with mixed results.
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.
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.
photo via Steelers.com
By Ivan Cole
Twenty five percent of the 2017 season is in the books, and now is a good time to take stock and see what we have learned and can look forward to as we move into October. Let me caution you at the outset to be careful about drawing broad conclusions from what has transpired. Despite the apocalyptic pronouncements coming from the football media and elsewhere, the general outcomes of this season are still far from being settled, no matter how promising or dire it appears for individual teams. It is quite possible that teams that seem Super Bowl bound won’t even make the playoffs, and I would remind you that a few years ago the Steelers, like the present-day New York Giants, began the season at 0-4 and missed the playoffs on the last play of the last game.
by Homer J.
“Oh, it’s lovely weather for a victory together with you.”
Playing on the road in winter conditions can be too much, even for heavily favored teams performing at their best.
Napoleon was on a big winning streak when he took on the Czars in a big road game in Moscow. The weather, as they say, was a factor. The Czar’s field generals, General Mud, General Frost, and General Snow wore down the plucky little Corsican. The home team won the battle in the trenches, and humiliated the heavily-favored French, sending them limping home in defeat. Tchaikowsky wrote a song about it, or something, and they still play it on the 4th of July.
The term “rubber match” implies that the Steelers and Bills are even in their last how ever many games, but this would be wrong. The last five games between the two franchises, beginning in 2001, are all Steelers wins, although if instead you go to Rex Ryan-coached teams there are a few Steelers losses in there. Of course, by the time you read this it is possible that Buffalo won’t be a Rex Ryan-coached team anymore, at least according to the rumor mill.
No, the “rubber match” aspect of this is literal, as those of you who watched the game can attest. (Let me say up front that I didn’t originate the expression. I saw it in a tweet which I can’t find again, and forgot to write down the name of the clever guy who came up with it.)
This game is but one of a series of weirdnesses to happen in Steeler games which caused serious delays—think the blackout at Candlestick Park or the artificial turf catching on fire in the Steelers (St. Louis) Rams tilt.
via Steelers Wire/USA Today Sports
by Ivan Cole
In Part 1 Ivan gave a general overview of the team to this point. Here are specifics about each unit.
To be honest, until the fourth game I have found the offense to be something of a disappointment. Considered the strong aspect of the team, the one which was supposed to carry a fragile and still developing defense, too often the opposite appeared to be the case. Citing the Cincinnati game as an example, time and again the offense was handed favorable field position by the defense and special teams but could not seal the deal until late, allowing the Bengals and Washington to hang around longer than should have been the case.
Tom Puskar photo
Homer J and Ivan both had plenty to say about Sunday’s game. Not a surprise. We all have plenty to say because it was so very satisfying. For one thing, perhaps the Steelers won’t make us all look like fools for our confident predictions of a great season. But there were a lot of interesting facets to the game beyond the “old-fashioned beat-down” aspects.
First was the score in the first quarter. The Steelers have never put up 22 points in the first quarter. Adrian (eldest son) and I were extrapolating an 88-0 win, but perhaps it was overambitious. Even the 58-0 win we projected at half time was, in the event, a non-starter. But both of us were perfectly happy to take a win by 29 points, with the other team’s points all coming in the last 11 minutes.
Today’s post was inspired by the following exchange on yesterday’s Asked and Answered, Bob Labriola’s Q and A column on Steelers.com:
QUESTION: Do you see Justin Gilbert getting a start against the Chiefs, and do you also see Mike Tomlin making any changes to the secondary?
ANSWER: Justin Gilbert starting against the Chiefs? No. But there could be some personnel changes to the secondary, and those changes could be dictated by injuries. Yesterday, Robert Golden (hamstring) and Sean Davis (back) both missed practice, and both of those guys have significant roles either in the starting lineup, in sub-package alignments, or both. As a rookie, Davis is going to have to show Mike Tomlin that he can practice, because knowing what to do is a big part of it. I cannot predict how the Steelers might react if either or both of those guys cannot play, but if changes have to be made, and those changes produce positive results, then my experience is that’s how changes can become permanent.
Who are the Chefs? An oldie but goodie…
It hasn’t been nearly long enough since we’ve seen the Chiefs. For some reason the Steelers seem to have to play the Chiefs almost every year, and almost every time something bad happens. So let’s begin by checking whether this is actually true in recent years.
The most recent was just about 11 months ago, on October 25th. The quarterback for the Steelers was Landry Jones. Ben Roethlisberger had been injured four weeks previously, and his back-up, Michael Vick, had been injured the previous week in the win against the Cardinals. The Chiefs were 1-5, having won their first match and lost the subsequent five. And of course they turned out to not be as bad as you expect an 1-5 team to be. In fact, they didn’t lose a single game after that, including, of course, the tilt against the Steelers, and ended the season at 11-5. Read more