Big Lead Sports Bar


The Steelers are World Champions

Sorry, I was just doing my best Kevin Harlan impression.
Calling this team "World Champions" over and over, as Harlan did on Sunday, is an insult to the intelligence of the entire league and its fans. The World Champions are dead. They played in 2005.
I am the optimist of optimists. I always try to see the good in a situation. But when you lose to Oakland, who can't even crack 100 yards of offense, your season is over. Do not keep kidding yourself with playoff talk. This team can't even beat Oakland. This team can't even beat Oakland. This team can't even beat Oakland. Has it sunk in yet? OK, let me repeat it one more time: This team can't even beat Oakland.
The city is in an absolute tailspin. I listened to the postgame radio call-in shows to hear the virtual bridge-jumping of Steeler fans. And they did not let me down. Charlie Batch is, predictably, the most popular man in the city right now. Fingers are being pointed all around. A Top-10 pick in the 2007 Draft is looking more and more likely.
As we near the halfway point of the season, I think it is high time we hand out some grades.
I highly encourage you to join in the discussion with your own grades/thoughts in the comment section.
Coach: Bill Cowher looks absolutely uninterested. He is emotionless, apathetic, and as I've said before, Art Shell-esque. He has all the symptoms of a man who plans to move on after the season. Gone are the chin-jutting, spitting, challenge-flag-throwing gyrations. This is a man whose idea of showing emotion these days is shaking his head in disgust. Veterans appear to have tuned him out. The "never again" proclamation of celebration penalties happened again. This team is out of control. Not a good year for Mr. Bill. Grade: D
Quarterback: Roethlisberger has endured the worst season of his young career so far. His passer ratings were 98.1 in 2004 and 98.6 in 2005. This season, going into the Raiders game, his rating was 74.5. He is tenative, unsure, and unwilling to run. He averaged 4 carries per game in '04, 2.58 in '05, and 1.2 in '06. He is running for his life behind a horrendous offensive line. His TD/INT ratio is 6-to-11. This is the bad rookie season he never had. Grade: D
Running Backs: Willie Parker's yards per carry is down from 4.7 in 2005 to 3.8 in 2006. He's lost 2 fumbles, one of the critical variety in Atlanta. Again, the line is horrible, but the line didn't cough up the ball. Those are on Parker. Najeh Davenport is not the next Jerome Bettis. Announcers, please stop referring to him as such, just because he is large and plays for the Steelers. Those facts do not make him a future Hall of Famer. Kevin Harlan said that Davenport can get the tough yards and on the next play, a critical third-down, he got hit for an immediate loss. As for Verron Haynes, it looks like he's done for the season. Time to summon Duce out of retirement. Grade: C+
Wide Receiver: Hines Ward has finally showed a pulse, with 16 catches for 252 yards in the last two games. He was clearly not at full strength or in sync for the first five weeks of the season. Cedrick Wilson has averaged about 2 catches per week, has failed to reach the end zone, and has been a non-factor. Nate Washington, when not ending regulation with his flinching, has made a few big plays, with 3 catches of 47+ and 3 TDs. Once he gets beyond the mental mistakes and dropsies, he may be worth keeping. Santonio Holmes' season will be marked by his special teams gaffes, but has also contributed 3 plays of 36+. He has done pretty much as I expected so far. As a group, they have ONE 100-yard game, and that was Ward's 171 in Atlanta. A winning team with a balanced offense will require much more than that. Grade: D
Tight End: Heath Miller had 39 catches last year, and at this pace he'll finish with just 32 in 2006. Besides his 87-yard TD against Miami game, here are his game lines from weeks two through eight: 1-11, 3-34, 2-22, 1-16, 2-4, 2-10. Why invest a first-rounder if you didn't plan on using him?
Grade: C
Offensive Line: Yikes. When Alan Faneca isn't playing well, you know things are bad. It all starts and ends with the O Line, and they are the preeminent reason why this team is 2-5. No holes for the running backs, no time for the quarterback to throw, and the complete loss of the intimidation factor. This is a unit in disarray. Is Russ Grimm still on the staff? Cowher has said that Jeff Hartings will be out for an extended period of time, so we'll get a look at Chukky Okobi. And the Kemoeatu/Simmons merry-go-round will continue. Grade: F
Defensive Line: Game-by-game rushing yardage allowed: Miami, 38 (Ronnie Brown-30); Jacksonville, 110 (Taylor-92); Cincy, 87 (Rudi Johnson-47); San Diego, 119 (Tomlinson-36); Kansas City, 38 (LJ-26); Atlanta, 173 (Dunn-69); Raiders, 81 (Jordan-21). That looks acceptable to me. Grade: B+
Linebackers: If Joey Porter celebrates one more time when this team is behind, I think I might scream. When you're losing to the Raiders and you're doing a sack dance, that should be a pretty good indication of how you've lost focus. The linebackers have combined for 15 sacks: Haggans (5), Porter (4), Foote (3), Farrior (2), Brown (1). They have made some big plays, but have allowed too many long drives and at inopportune times. Grade: C
Secondary: Passing yards, Passing TDs allowed, and Interceptions For, Per Week:
Miami/Culpepper: 262, 0 Passing TDs allowed, 2 INT
Jax/Leftwich: 260, 0 TD, 1 INT
Cin/Palmer: 193, 4 TD, 2 INT
SD/Rivers: 242, 2 TD, 1 INT
KC/Huard and Croyle: 185, 0 TD, 3 INT
Atl/Vick: 232, 4 TD, 2 INT
Oak/Walter: 51, 0 TD, 1 INT
Some good games, some bad games. What's that equal? Inconsistency. Grade: C-
Punter: I'm not a Chris Gardocki fan, regardless of the always-repeated fact that he's never had a punt blocked. That 25-yarder on Sunday certainly didn't win me over. The Steelers are 21st in net punting. Not good enough. Grade: D
Kickoff Defense: Allowing an average of 24 yards per return, with a long of 51. Atlanta rolled up 247 yards on 8 returns last week. Always a unit that will give you a scare. Grade: D+
Kick Returns: 23 yards per return, with a long of 42. Nothing to write home about just yet. Grade: C
Punt Returns: This is the exam that you just don't even bother showing up for. 30th in the league with an average of 5.9 per return. I'm surprised it's that high. Grade: F
Field Goal Kicking: Skippy is at a 72% rate on field goals, which is 8% below his career average. Not really much of a factor either way. Just don't count on him nailing a 62-yarder at the gun to end the game. Grade: B-
Owner: Dan Rooney getting fined $25,000 for whining about officiating is the absolute icing on the cake. An embarrassment to a city that got insulted when Seattle did the same. Grade: F
Team: No focus, a drop-off in energy, and the only consistency they've shown is that they can dance and celebrate each and every week. They are no good when the target is on their backs, only when they are chasing the target. Grade: F

One last end with a little laugh...with all of the Mission Impossible III commercials during today's game, I thought of an obvious "seperated at birth" scenario: ESPN Radio 1250's Eddy Crow and MI:3's Philip Seymour Hoffman.


Anonymous said...

A lot of people are hanging Ben out to dry for the losses. As evidenced by your report card of sorts, it is not just Ben's fault. The defense is flip-flopping worse than John Kerry. One week they let up how many touchdowns to Michael Vick? This week, they keep the entire opposing offense sub-100 yards. Overall, I see a lack of consistency. If anyone should be benched (or fired, in this case) it should be Whisenhunt. We had four minutes left to play in the game when we broke into field goal range. It took until 1:40 left in the game when Ben threw his incomplete pass to Santonio "Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger" Holmes. Did anyone else see the adorable draw play that was ran when we got into the red zone? Come on. It is almost as if Whisenhunt is trying to make Bill "I'll give you some of that sweet chin music" Cowher look bad so that he walks away and turns the team over to Ken. Look, this year is over. Leave Ben in there and let him work out his growing pains. We all know that when Ben is on, he is ON. But when he is off, it's not the end of the world. He is the future of this franchise and he needs all of the support that he can get right now. Until Ben gets into a verbal lashing with Cahrrr and excommunicates himself from the team, believe in him. In the meantime, be a bandwagon jumper and root for the Pens. Unlike the Losers (I mean the Steelers), they are winning and have a very promising future. Please root for them and attend games so that the foul-mouthed canuck doesn't move them to Canadia.

Anonymous said...

Is it too early to pick sides for the impending east coast/west coast-style rift between the offense and defense?

Anonymous said...

This is the earliest that hockey season has started in recent memory.

E Buzz said...

Myron knew...what did he know?

I give the whole team and business organization, down to the beer vendors at that shithole cheap ass stadium and huge ass F.

Anonymous said...

Don't even waste your time trying to explain the woes of the 2006 Steelers. This team is undisciplined, unmotivated, and disorganized.


vinnie said...

I think the obvious thing is to look at what is happening on the field (O-line, erratic D, horrific special teams play), but perhaps there's more than meets the eye. I've been wondering aloud for a few weeks now whether the loss of Bettis' locker room presence has had a greater impact on the team than anyone recognizes or is willing to admit. Also, after yesterday's game, I also wonder if Cowher's retirement is a foregone conclusion in the locker room (lame duck syndrome).

Regardless, I'm glad the Pens are playing well, and we're less than two weeks away from the Panthers preseason, er, I mean non-conference schedule.

Unknown said...

I had very little confidence in the Steelers winning this game and my trepidation was correct. Strangely enough though, in this topsy-turvy world of the NFL, I am very confident that they will defeat the Broncos at home this week. Just another gut feeling.

One question though: If the Steelers have such a competent backup, and given the well-documented trauma that Big Ben's body has been through, why would Cowher start him, regardless of what the doctors said? Even better question: Why would the doctors give him the go ahead when it's so painfully obvious that he's not the guy we've come to know and love? The man is injured!

Think about this for a minute: Pretend that you were almost killed in a motorcycle wreck, suffered an emergency appendectomy and the for good measure you were knocked unconscious in an NFL game. Would YOUR doctor give you the go ahead to step back out onto an NFL field the very next week? I didn't think so. UPMC has really made themselves look very bad here. So have the Steelers...especially so Bill Cowher.

SDS said...

I'm not given to superstition, and I'm not throwing Ben under the bus. He's been too good for that. If he can be consistent, he'd be a Pro Bowler. Most people probably accept that now. That said, is it time to say that God hates him this year? Or Seattle? I see us beating Denver then somehow he'll get attacked by wild dogs in the following game. There's dark forces at work here.

E Buzz said...

Cowher having his little movie day this year at camp was a big old signal that this year would be full of half-assed play and shit laden coaching.

Bic said...

So do we fire Cowher to make a statement or let him walk out on his own as soon as the seaosn ends?

Anonymous said...

funny they like to point out they were still in it to the very end........even funnier is how they were down in the 4th quarter to what was supposed to be the worst team in the league and porter still had to do his sack dance.....pathetic

mondesishouse said...

No comments on my Crow/Hoffman lookalike? I'm disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Crow = Fag.

Is that better?

Megatron said...

Who's the better team, the Steelers or the Lions? I say the Lions. What happened to the Bill Cowher? He won his Super Bowl title, now he is just a bystander?! Was he abducted?! And a word on celebrating after each damn play, you do not celebrate for losing. Stupid penalties should never happen, why route for an idiot that is just hurting your team by getting penalties for things that can be prevented?! Porter should be benched for two games for his costly dance moves, like in the movie Hoosiers when the ref comes over and says, "Coach you need another man on the floor." Then Johnny Doofus starts to get ready to go from the bench out on the floor, and Gene Hackman says, "Where do you think you're going? Sit your ass down!" The ref then says coach you needs another man, and Gene says, 'Nope, that is my team out there on the floor." The ones that are playing to win and not acting like a bunch of assholes, are the ones that deserve to play. Cowher might want to watch that scene from Hoosiers, he might learn something. We lead by examples, not this bullshit! Every game in your entire life needs to be played smart and to its full potential, from every member, because most of us are not as lucky to play this game at this level, while we place our energy, hearts, and emotions into this disgraceful bunch of mules. What happened to the passion, and why the hell is Ben playing?! I don't care if he wants to play right now, he is not well. He needs some time to get things straight in his head with all this crap that gone on these last six months. I am officially issuing, as a doctor, for Ben to Hibernate for six months, when he awakens from his deep slumber, I hope, this will all be a forgotten nightmare.

Anonymous said...

Ben will get better and play well for a game or two.

Then during the next game, as he slides after a QB sneak, a live tiger will come out of nowhere and maul him! Just like in that baseball scene from the Naked Gun.

I noticed that after your team wins the big one, a lot of people start to hate them intensely. I believe it's what is known as "haterism".

When your team then comes out the next year and shits the bed, the "haters" have a LOT of fun with it.

Anonymous said...

Thank God I wasn't the only one that got sick of that "World Champion" shit.

PSH doesn't have quite the floating eye that Ed Crow does.