Big Lead Sports Bar

12/14/2009

HOW WOULD YOU FIX THE STEELERS?



Everyone has their theories on what's wrong with the 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers. They've lost a step. There are too many injuries to key players. They have no offensive identity. Their defense is over the hill. The o-line stinks. The locker room is divided. It's the special teams' fault. Super Bowl hangover. They miss Dan Rooney. The list goes on and on.

What I haven't heard in as much depth is how these numerous problems would be solved in order to give Pittsburgh the future Super Bowl titles that we are entitled to by birthright. Luckily, SI columnist/restaurateur/radio host Jerome Bettis had a few thoughts today, and his three-point plan includes getting depth, spending money on the offensive line, and making the running game a priority in training camp.

I don't think anyone would argue with old #36 on his ideas, but I do think they can be expanded upon. It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that a few assistant coaches will no longer be employed by the Steelers at season's end. And several free agents seemed destined to play elsewhere in 2010.

Beyond those points, what do you think? Does the organization need a thorough housecleaning, or do you think they are only a few bad bounces away from being a playoff team? I tend to lean more towards the former, but I do believe that injuries at key spots have also played a crucial role for this specific squad. Whatever the case, if the Steelers continue their downward spiral, you can count on at least some level of changes before the 2010 edition takes the field next fall.

Bus Stops: Three-step plan to fix Steelers; Moss needs some time
[SI]

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17 comments:

Jonny Van Mundegaarde said...

Three words. More Steely McBeam. Period.

But seriously, our D-line is getting old, and hopefully Smitty will be back to his old self next year(no guarantee, but I'd put my money on him being among the better D-linemen in the league), Ziggy should be ready next year, and I believe that we'll look back at how huge it was that we were able to get Ra'Shon "Sunny" Harris back from the Panthers (take that Cowher!) I remember reading in the Trib at the beginning of the season Smitty himself saying he believed he would be a starter in this league one day.

As much as I hate to say it, a replacement for Potsy is in order, at least one in the "grooming" stage.

The cornerbacks are definately in need of some help, and these last three games should be used to see how Joe Burnett and Keenan Lewis perform.

A new offensive coordinator, and a kicker who actually can kick the ball off 70 yards would be great too. *cough shotgun on third and one...twice in a row cough cough*

jmarinara said...

1. Get younger on Defense. Trade, draft, whatever, just get younger. Of course don't go sign any pile of crap so long as it's young, but it needs to be addressed that it is time to get some youth with significant talent on Defense.

2. Not a whole lot bad I can say about the offense. I still don't trust "Rashard Fumbles-ball" but I understand he is more or less what we're stuck with, and it's not like he's awful. What I'd like to see is a definite scheme. A core group of plays, or attitude, or system, that the Steelers stick too and build off of. They play WAAAAAAAY too much situational football on offense. Way too much. So much so that it has become easy to defend in a lot of ways. Get really really good at about a dozen plays. Run those dozen plays in the three different directions. AND THEN, when the time is right, pull out something new. Ken Wisenhunt has made his career doing this, and frankly, I don't think our offense ever looked as good as when he was running it.

3. Blow up the special teams. It's worth noting that Troy hurt himself on a special teams play. Why in the hell is the franchise on defense playing special teams? For goodness sake, this isn't hard, it just take discipline and effort. Find people who have discipline and effort, and find someone to guide them that will continue to get that discipline and effort. Period.

4. Go back to being tough a tough no nonsense coach. If the players don't like you, they can go lose in the playoffs for some other team, because we're gonna win superbowls. That's the attitude Mike Tomlin had coming into the league and that's the attitude we need back in our head coach.

5. Be patient. We need to rebuild the club. It may take a season or two. Be patient.

6. More Renegade. ;-)

Tall, Dutch and Bored said...

In addition to the above points, deal with No. 7 and his focus on football. Learn how to avoid taking so many sacks. Maybe a new QB coach. The o-line isn't great but the struggles of keeping the QB upright are not all on them.

Ben having a quiet off-season and dropping a few pounds wouldn't hurt either.

HomeRunFromBehindTheMeatballs said...

For starters, i have to mention firebrucearians.com... i know burresswithbutterflywings will enjoy that! I, for one, blame our awful 3rd down conversion rates on him entirely. Who consistently tries to convert 3rd & 1-2s with 5 WRs? Come on now bruce!

Also, this was a team with poor depth everywhere and poor starting corners going into the season. We couldn't handle injuries to Troy, the D-line (A Smith) or the O-line (Stapleton)... and we got 'em. Farrior and Deshea are finally starting to act their age and maybe they should be on the field a little bit less. Maybe the age of the D is the reason for all of the 4th quarter failures? Or maybe, the D is just missing one play that they would've made last year to seal the deal? We were in a lot of close games last yr too.

MOVE the NEEDLE said...

Hire as your new offensive coordinator the guy in the same building, down the hallway. Frank Cignetti. Has NFL experience and likes to run the ball (Dion Lewis) and use all of his offensive weapons. Seems to know how to properly make the talent he has better and put them in the right position. (Bill Stull, Dorin Dickerson)

Also, Carolina Panthers coach John Fox gets fired so they can hire Kaye, I mean Bill Cowher we should lock up John Fox in some capacity to succeed Dick LeBeau when he is ready to go. Fox has past Steeler and Pitt ties and runs a 3-4. make him assistant head coach/def. coord. in waiting.

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BurressWithButterflyWings said...

1.) Re-tool the defensive backfield and add some youthful depth the defensive line.

2.) Establish more balance on offense, including the use of a fullback and play action. I don't care what anybody says, an effective run game wins more games than some think.

3.) Need to have more offensive plays with intermediate routes and to get rid of the ball quicker in certain instances.

4.) Get an OC and QB coach who don't kiss the QB's rearend.

5.) Start putting your money where your mouth is, Coach T. Get tough and lead the team. Let your coordinators do their jobs. Dont handcuff LeBeau.

espo said...

get a real fullback who can actually block someone

Josh said...

I'm starting to get onboard the 'replace Arians with a running coordinator'. We have the depth at RB, but I also want an explosive offense as well. Think Dick Vermeil in KC. He made Priest Holmes an explosive RB... we can do that if we had the scheme. The passing game should revolve around the play-action pass. That should buy Ben time.

The offensive line isn't shambles, but they are a running O-line and we are using a freakin zone blocking scheme (which I can't stand). New o-line coach has been due for the past 3 years!

Also, I know Tomlin is a fan of flexible o-lineman, but I'd rather have some specialists just to have better talent in place.

The defensive line is what needs the biggest overhaul. We have youth in the secondary (though we definitely need another safety, whether it be through the draft or free agent... Mundy isn't cutting it), but where we need it most is the D-Line. If we can't find talent to use in the 34, then switch to the 43 and put silverback and woodley as DEs and rush OLBs.

Overhaul? Not needed... just more talent on the O-Line, more running, more youth on the D-Line, and a quality safety to play along Troy.

okel dokel said...

Something that caught be by surprise was the age of this team. The Steelers have never been fans of letting their starters age but that appears to be the case here.

1. New Offensive Line Coach - this is the same idiot who cannot use e-mail

2. Bring back Mark Whipple - he seemed to run the best scheme and I believe Cowher even by passed the Whiz on a few occasions to see what the guy with the Charmin thought. He is currently the OC at da U.

3. Take game planning seriously - this year the Steelers seemed to operate from the opinion that they could overcome everything and win. Therefore they had no reason to prepare. I know we had injuries but the schemes were very vanilla on both sides of the ball.

4. Go back to basics - how 'bout starting with proper tackling technique.

Someone Somewhere said...

Ok, this is in 2 parts due to size restrictions:

1. Make turnovers the number one priority for the defense starting on the first day of mini camp. The cornerbacks have ZERO interceptions this year…I mentioned this to my buddy at the bar during the Cleveland game and he was astounded by the statistic. The Steelers thrive on them, hell, every team thrives on them…but they are the key to success for Pittsburgh. The Super Bowl was about to be tied at 10 or 14-10 Arizona…suddenly James Harrison makes it 17-7 at halftime. Polamalu returns the interception for the touchdown sealing the AFCC. These are the biggest turnovers made by the Steelers last year, but there were countless others that were almost as important. The 2008 Steelers were far inferior offensively to this year’s, yet consistently getting turnovers usually provided the edge that this year’s team is missing. The Steelers are good enough to just show up and go 8-8 every year…turnovers are what make them into one of the best teams in the league. Sprinkle in a turnover here and there throughout the losses this season and I guarantee they are not 6-7…when your losses are by an average of 4 points, usually one or two big plays can make the difference in those types of games…plays that we, as Steeler fans, are accustomed to them making.

2. I know it’s been said by just about everyone, but they need to get younger on defense. Luckily they are in a position to integrate the younger talent in with the veterans to make the transition smoother. I know that this is going to sound blasphemous, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them transition to a 4-3 defense…as I don’t think they are going to pay an aging, but still effective Casey Hampton what he wants to get paid. If he leaves, who steps in and plays the NT? Chris Hoke? I love the guy, but he’s getting old too. This isn’t 2004 anymore. Maybe they can find someone in the draft or bring in someone in free agency, but nose tackles that demand double teams don’t exactly grow on trees. The big problem with the 4-3 is what to do with James Harrison? I know that Woodley would probably do fine as a DE, as that was his natural position, but I think Harrison is just too short to be an effective down lineman. His greatest asset is the ability to get to the QB, and that would be marginalized playing outside LB in a 4-3, though he is smart enough and works hard enough that he could probably morph into whatever role is asked of him. Over the last three games, the Steelers need to find out what they have in their two rookie corners…even if it’s in nickel/dime situations, or institute a pattern of rotation similar to McFadden/Gay last year…the secondary needs to get turnovers and the two guys out there right now are just not getting the job done.

3. I know everyone wants to blow up the offensive line, but I like the direction they are going. The Cleveland game obviously was not their greatest moment…but they have been playing much MUCH better this year versus last. The best lines are those that play together for a long time. There is no capability to gain trust amongst them when there are constant changes. Judging by their willingness to extend left side of the line, we should probably get used to seeing them together. Keep in mind that Max Starks completely shut down Elvis Dumervil and Jered Allen in back to back games. Kemo was killing people before he hurt his knee. The running game is VASTLY improved over last year. Does anyone remember the running game last year??? It was a freaking joke…I distinctly remember the Steelers having significant difficulty converting 3rd & 1 and 4th and 1 on a weekly basis. I recall that it got to the point where they were willing to try ANYTHING including inserting Gary Russell as the playoff short yardage specialist. It was pathetic. I think the line is going to be fine. The majority of sacks have been of the “quarterback holding the ball too damn long” variety this year.

cont...

Someone Somewhere said...

4. On that note, the quarterback needs to learn how to check it down to the TE and running back(s) on a regular basis. Roethlisberger was doing this regularly early in the season…just look at Heath Miller’s weekly stats…and notice that he has basically dried up the past 4 weeks. Remember when Roethlisberger was averaging (!) a 75% completion rate early in the year? He was making the easy throws. Miller wasn’t going for 15 yards a pop…but he was almost always available to bail out the quarterback. Last week in Cleveland, I saw a quarterback who was constantly looking to make plays 10-20 yards down the field…which led to 8 sacks. Maybe the outlet receivers were covered…maybe the OC was calling plays that didn’t have outlet receivers…or maybe the QB has the tendency to try and force the big play when all they need to do is move the sticks.

5. I don’t think it’s doom and gloom for the Steelers. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see them win their last three. All year they have performed much better against superior competition (save the second Bengals game), and now they are facing three potential playoff teams including a chance to ruin the playoff hopes of their biggest rival…you KNOW that would feel really good. I hate to play the “what if” game, but I think the KC loss was the turning point for this team. If they take care of business there, they don’t go to OT where the QB doesn’t take a knee to the head, leading to the Hines Ward fiasco, allowing him to play against Baltimore. If they beat Baltimore, there is NO WAY they are losing to the Raiders…which would have put them at 9-3 against Cleveland. Momentum is a powerful thing in sports and we’ve seen it work in the Steelers’ favor in 2005 and again last year. This year, unfortunately, they are caught moving in the opposite direction.

bohica said...

I agree with miladawley

Bill said...

Put in Maddox!

rjj130 said...

@ espo - How about they have a FB period. They gave up on Kreider too quickly.

I third on miladawley's post. Nice to to know the Chinese care about the fate of the Steelers.

Spatula said...

Tomlin needs to redesign himself like he did after his first year and become more emotional and hard nosed. Training camp has to be far more physical than it was this year. I know he didn't want to wear them out in camp, but the team's fitness is definitely suspect as they keep tiring out in the fourth quarter. Tomlin needs to convince the team that they can win. They have been playing not to lose this whole year and, therefore, have lost their swagger. Thus, Tomlin needs to be far more emotional, even, dare I say, Cowher-esque.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Ben, STOP TRYING TO GUN IT INTO THE END ZONE WHEN IT'S 3RD AND SHORT!!!

For the love of God man, you need just a few yards. Dump it off, get them, and keep the drive alive!

Tom Brady has literally made a HOF career off of doing this.

I guess it all comes down the offensive scheme.


I think the defense is first to blame for this year. They had to hold leads against beatable teams and couldn't seem to do it. But, if we ran a little more efficient offense, maybe those leads would've been too big to blow (like the San Diego game).

The problems with the defense seem to be personel, and with the offense they seem to be scheme (yes, even with an average line).


Also, Ben just seems to get sucked into the pocket and sacked this year, whereas in years past he was able to move around a little and make things happen. Let's get the big guy in a little better shape and and actually design plays that let him do what he does best.


And we need to run. We have the back to be a bruising running team finally. And a bonus that I've noticed is that Mendenall is the best pass-catching, every down back (Moore's mainly a 3rd down guy, although I barely saw him last Thursday night) we've had in awhile. Maybe a small infusion in talent on the line is necessary, but it's also scheme.

And another thing missing from the scheme that involves running is play action! In his early years, Ben was one of the best at it.


Holmes is entering his prime, Ward isn't slowing down because he was never fast, and Wallace will be more experienced and won't hit the "rookie wall" next year. Mendenhall has come along quite well, and Heath is more than reliable. This offense is maybe a lineman and some smart playcalling away from being truly lethal.

I spent a lot of time typing what could be summed up by saying fire Arians, and replace Farrior.