Big Lead Sports Bar

2/08/2011

Steeler Offseason Chatter Begins Already



Less than two days after their SB45 letdown, the Pittsburgh Steelers are now left to pick up the pieces and start assembling their organization's plan of attack for 2011. And as anticipated, it sounds like some change is inevitable.

Most of the early talk has centered on the defensive braintrust. Dick LeBeau is on record as saying that "I promise you, if I'm coaching [in 2011], it will be the Pittsburgh Steelers," so I'll take the coach at his word. However, that hasn't stopped the Arizona Cardinals' pursuit of LeBeau, or anyone else connected to his defense, for their vacant coordinator position.

If Ken Whisenhunt can't poach LeBeau for his staff, his next target would be linebackers coach Keith Butler, who is actually the coach-in-waiting for LeBeau's job the day he finally walks away. That deal was struck in 2009, and it was apparently enough to sway Butler from becoming the Dolphins' defensive coordinator last season. Whether or not Butler's contract would allow him to talk to Arizona is unknown, but it sounds like such a clause may be present.

Arizona's Plan C would then become Ray Horton, the Steelers' secondary coach. So at the very least, I could see the organization losing him in 2011. Then again, the Steelers didn't exactly have what one would call a vaunted secondary this season, so I would think that Horton would not fall under the category of irreplaceable.

Another drama-packed angle will be the status of Bruce Arians, as the rumor mill has started churning with news that he may not be back next season. Arians is a frequent target of certain factions of Steeler Nation, but he has two things going for him: two Super Bowl appearances and the full support of Ben Roethlisberger. An Arians departure would surely chafe Large Ben in some way, so it will be worth watching to see how this plays out.

On the topic of players who will or will not be back in 2011, you can count 36-year-old James Farrior and 34-year-old Hines Ward in for another rodeo. And talks are already underway to re-sign Ike Taylor, because I wouldn't even want to imagine the Steelers' thin secondary without him. As for LaMarr Woodley, he is unopposed to getting the franchise tag, so I don't see him going anywhere. Woodley made $550,000 in 2010, but would get the average salary of the top five LBs in the league if tagged.

Finally, the team is scheduled to have their first comprehensive draft meeting Wednesday, and they'll be working the combine next week. The draft's first round is slated for Thursday, April 28, 2011; the second and third rounds on Friday, April 29; and the final four rounds on Saturday, April 30, 2011. New CBA or not, the draft will go on, although if there is no deal in place, players cannot be traded for draft picks. The Steelers will be picking 31st.

Mondesi's House: The Director's Cut (more links, commentary, etc): twitter.com/mondesishouse
Email: mondesishouse@gmail.com

7 comments:

Jeff said...

The Steeleres need to figure out how not to get old like the Super Bowl 14 team did. We have an aging team that already has issues on both lines and the secondary. While I have faith in the organization(3 Super Bowls in 6 years), we have an aging team.

John said...

The situation with Phoenix is not good. I understand wanting to hire a specific person, but they are going beyond that, they are going after anybody in the organization. They want to steal domain knowledge. Back off! I hope Whizz gets fired.

It is not good to have two organizations share the exact same philosophies. They are going to compete over the same players and coaching talent. Nobody wins. How many ex Steeler free agents have they signed since Whizz has been hired?

btw - If Arians is a good coach, as many establishment pundits claim, they why aren't other teams beating down the door to poach him? A successful organization that has been to 3 Super Bowls over the last 5 years, and nobody wants him. That speaks volumes. They know he sucks.

John said...

The Steelers performance typically goes in a two year pattern. One year performing better than expected, the next year performing worse than expected. Well we are now in the worse than expected part of that pattern. Perhaps the pain of losing a Super Bowl will keep them hungry next season.

I do think age is a big factor. I may be wrong, but I think Ziggy the only defense lineman under 30. Farrior is getting up there. I would like to see the Steelers start somebody younger in his spot, with Farrior serving as backup. I worry that LeBeau is too close with the players to make the touch changes.

Over the past 5 years, Troy Polamalu has had two season ending injuries and this season ended with severely diminished performance, most likely the result of an injury. He is only getting old which typically means slower speeds and more prone to injury. Is it blasphemous to think about trading him while his super star value is still high.

Brian said...

John: On Troy... It is blasphemous.

Nick said...

Count me among the fans who would be elated if Arians is gone next year. Our offense consistently underachieves in scoring and we can't rely on our defense to be number 1 forever.

Name another team with a QB, RB, WR and TE who are all considered among the best at their positions? Can't, right? Yet the Steelers are only 12th in scoring. The O-Line was much improved this year. I would expect a good offensive coordinator to be able to put many more points on the board and not struggle to score against the likes of Buffalo, Miami, Cincinati and even Baltimore who's defense is no where near as good as it once was.

Let Arians go.

Louis Lipps no longer accepts my phone calls... said...

Kudos to Woodley for willingly taking the franchise tag.

Most guys who are up for a big raise go ballistic when it happens to them.

When you read his facebook/Twitter posts, you get the sense that Lamar really enjoys being a Steeler.

PhillyRay said...

I'd like them to get some more DB's and OL. Pouncey's twin is going to the NFL for sure, I'm positive he'll be taken before the Steelers have the chance though. But that would be really great to have essentially a clone of Maurkice Pouncey on the team.