The Steelers Have To Make Changes Now!

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The Steelers Have To Make Changes Now!
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Well, it did not take long, but the 2008 NFL Draft is dooming the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are getting more from the 2009 class than they are the 2008 class already. That's pathetic!

The Steelers, as of this writing, are awash in mediocrity. Their offensive line is a joke! Their defense is getting hung out to dry and compromised by their lack of a running attack. If the Steelers are serious about winning they need to make changes tonight!

If the Steelers do not have a serious discussion about cutting Limas Sweed today than they are completely incompetent! If your second round pick is a fourth receiver just admit you made a mistake and move on. He's a bust! He can't play for the Steelers. He might not be an NFL-caliber player. To be a receiver in this league you have to be able to catch the ball more than anything.

What made Sweed so attractive last April is the fact that he is 6'4 and Ben Roethlisberger has been craving a tall wide receiver since that knucklehead Plaxico Burress was suiting up for the Steelers. Also, the Steelers need to realize they can't keep wasting picks trying to kowtow to their quarterback and give him a tall receiver. He's done fine with Ward, Holmes and others!

It's official: Limas Sweed is a bum! He can't catch; he can't go over the middle and he is not even close to deserving the third receiver spot. Mike Wallace is a stud in the making. Mike Wallace is faster, knows his routes better and most of all can catch!

I'll never forget watching the Steelers' Championship DVD of the AFC Championship Game and realizing after Sweed's drop that nobody on the team really believed in him. Hines Ward, the heart and soul of the Steelers, came over and told him to get the drop out of his head. But did you notice that nobody was stunned he dropped that ball?

Like today, the Steelers couldn't pull ahead because Sweed screwed up. If Polamalu doesn't bail the Steelers out than they may have had an epic meltdown in a game they should have won by 20 points. This is what happens when a receiver can't make a big play. He dooms his team!

If Sweed were a 7th round pick would he be on the team with his skill set? I doubt it! If he's worthy of a spot now, the Steelers should simply cut bait and release him.

The second change I would make would be to give Rashard Mendenhall more carries. Mendenhall's talent is an enigma at this point. He played in four games last year and hasn't got enough touches to really be identifiable yet. Personally, I hated the Mendenhall pick! They could have had Chris Johnson with that pick. He would have been a lot nicer for the Steelers than Mendenhall. But, Mendenhall needs touches to prove his worth,

The next change I would make would be to fire the offensive line coach Larry Zierlein! Russ Grimm was an institution! Larry Zierlein is not. He's clearly over his head and he should be given a pink slip the moment the Steelers arrive in Pittsburgh. His possessions, along with Limas Sweed's should be sitting on the curb waiting for them. Both of these guys should not even be let back into the building.

Kevin Colbert has been great for the Steelers. There's no denying that. But, what's happened lately is almost criminal. The Steelers made a $102 million dollar investment in Ben Roethlisberger and they have not protected that investment with a stellar offensive line.

In 2004, the Steelers offense was perfect for a rookie. He would hand the ball off, throw 15-20 times a game. The Steelers would wear down the opposing team, chew up the clock and grind out victories. Could you imagine the 2004 Ben Roethlisberger with this group of starters? He would look worse than Kordell Stewart ever did.

I'm not advocating the Steelers going back to only throwing 15-20 times a game. What I am saying is that the Steelers have to revamp this offensive line! They have to revamp it soon. What makes this even more frustrating is the fact that all of the starters but Colon got extensions. Are you kidding me? The Steelers rewarded the poor play of this line! This is what they did with Kordell Stewart after the '98 season. They rewarded him for his incompetence and it killed the Steelers for years.

I hope history is not repeating itself this time. The Steelers should have known that the offensive line was more than vulnerable in 2006. In 2006, the Steelers got hammered 27-0 in Baltimore, Roethlisberger amazingly wasn't carted off the field he was hit so much, and the offensive line was humiliated. That was when the Steelers had Faneca and Jeff Hartings. Nobody on this line is anywhere close to being as good as those two. Not even by a mile!

Like today's game against the Steelers have been plagued by poor line play since the start of the 2007 season. In 2006, the initial warnings were sent but nobody heeded the warning!Maybe because Mike Tomlin was stepping in and there was so much uncertainty surrounding such a stable franchise. Maybe Bill Cowher, who already looked like he had enough two games into the season, realized he could not turn this line around quickly enough to get the Super Bowl and decided that was another reason to leave.

For whatever reason, the Steelers have played Russian Roulette with Roethlisberger, their running game and ultimately their chances of winning with this subpar, ineffective offensive line.

The Steelers lost close games against the Cardinals, Jets, Broncos, and Jaguars (twice). Each game this formula happened: The Steelers gained a lead, failed to pull ahead, couldn't consistently run the ball and ultimately sold the defense out because of poor line play. (You can also mention poor special teams play as well!) And lost in the final quarter.

Even Troy Polamalu, the best safety in the NFL, said that the defense he plays for is not designed to be on the field for long periods of time. That was a not-so-subtle way of saying the Steelers needed to upgrade the offensive line.

I'm aware that the season is only three weeks old. I know Polamalu is hurt. It's just not going to get better with Sweed, Zierlein and this ineffective group of offensive lineman. It's hard to believe in a team that can't protect a lead, its quarterback and can't run the football. It may take years to fix the offensive line. I hope they start tonight, though!

 

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