Photo via Steelers.com
By Ivan Cole
It’s Bonus Week! You get a dose of reality from Ivan to mitigate my (partially) fictitious JuJu adventures…
Some additional observations at the halfway point of the 2017 season
Are the Steelers particularly vulnerable to ‘Trap’ games? Let’s examine the underlying assumption here.
In thinking this, we are essentially declaring that certain opponents cannot possibly win a contest against Pittsburgh unless the Steelers screw up and underperform. It must be and can only be that the Steelers play down to the level of their opponent, rather than the opponent, though objectively weaker, is capable of elevating their efforts to be competitive with an otherwise superior group.
Kelly L. Cox, USA Today
By Ivan Cole
I once took over the head coaching duties of a girls basketball team that had been winless the previous year and guided them to an undefeated season and a state championship. This was accomplished despite my being saddled with a considerable set of handicaps.
I had solid experience coaching football, and had been a basketball assistant, but I had never played the game at an organized competitive level myself and had never led a team.
Some of the preparation and developmental principles are transferable across sports. This fact, along with deep study of great coaches such as John Wooden and Morgan Wooten, and being open to the insight of the other strong coaches I knew, helped. No team was better prepared than we were. Read more
Fred Vuich/AP Photo
By Ivan Cole
On Christmas Day 2016, the Baltimore Ravens were eliminated from both the possibility of earning the AFC North championship and a spot in the playoffs when Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown combined for a game winning touchdown with nine seconds left to play.
In the days following the game, some Ravens fans directed their ire at head coach John Harbaugh and his staff, asserting that the group should be terminated, for, among other crimes, poor clock management. Sound familiar?
Bill Nunn, Jackie Robinson, and others: Teenie Harris photograph, via Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh website
By Ivan Cole
I want to thank Hombre for being a source of inspiration for Part One of this series. His first question in the latest 5 Smoldering Questions provides the launch point for Parts Two and Three:
Which of these key Dan Rooney decisions do you think was most consequential to the Steelers present day AND future legacy?
- a) Listening to Bill Nunn’s complaints about how the franchise dealt with African American reporters and then convincing him to join the Steelers scouting department.
- b) Hiring Chuck Noll.
- c) Firing his brother Art Rooney Jr.
- d) Choosing Bill Cowher over Tom Donahoe and replacing the latter with Kevin
- e) Hiring Mike Tomlin (or acquiescing to Art II decision to hire Tomlin)
- f) Accepting the ambassadorship to Ireland and giving up control of the team.
I cheated and chose both a) and b) as most important, making the argument that to do justice to either demanded that their linkage be acknowledged. I feel that the Rooney (Dan and Art Sr.)/Noll/Nunn collaboration was in the same neighborhood of significance as Branch Rickey/Jackie Robinson, Paul Brown/Bill Willis, Marion Motley, and a handful of other collaborators whose actions resulted in significant transformation, not only in the supposedly trivial domain of sport, but also with significant spillover into the larger society. Read more
by Hombre de Acero
With NFL Free Agency about to begin its third week the 2017 off season is fully underway. And for the Steelers it’s business as usual, greatly to the chagrin of much of the franchise’s fan base. Nonetheless, there’s been enough activity thus far to give this corner of Steelers Nation 5 Smoldering Questions to struggle with before our focus firmly shifts to the 2017 NFL Draft. Read more
by Ivan Cole
In August 2015, I spent a delightful day indulging in a Pittsburgh sports feast with Rebecca. We spent the afternoon attending Steelers training camp in Latrobe, and then the evening taking in a Pittsburgh Pirates game at PNC Park.
One of many things that struck me that day was the difference in mood at the respective venues.
by Ivan Cole
“I am on record as stating that the standard for success for this particular collection of talent is to make it to the Conference Championship Game. Don’t get me wrong, I will be as disappointed as anyone if the team falls short after traveling so far. Nor am I attempting to inoculate the reader against failure as well. However, I would suggest that we be mindful that given the relative lack of experience in these matters, a winning performance would be a step beyond teams from the 70s and the last decade who needed multiple tries before claiming the ultimate prize.”
This is what I wrote in my last posting, and I am not backing off any of it. The reader may be wondering how I can be such a bleeding-heart optimist considering the events of the last few days. It’s a fair question, so this will be a multiple part post mortem. In the following segments (we have plenty of time on our hands now) I will give my take on where the team is in the larger journey.