In emulation of the all too familiar words of Bob Smizik (also known as BS), I present the 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers training camp edition of
Nobody Asked Me, But...
- Why, why, why, oh WHY (!!!) is James Farrior still a starter at inside linebacker, or even still on this team?!? He was NEVER more than average in pass coverage, even in his prime. Now, he is very near the end of his career, and last year he proved that against the pass he cannot cover his own shadow, and sometimes struggles to stop the run. Larry Foote was brought in to backup Farrior. So why not make Foote the starter? Like Farrior, Foote's forte is stopping the run, and also like Farrior, he's not all that great against the pass. But being five years younger than Farrior, he cannot be any worse than Farrior against either the pass or the run. And please, don't give me any of that nonsense about Farrior "being a great leader and teacher for the young players". Great leaders who can't play are called coaches, and that's exactly what Farrior should be doing for the Steelers. How much more could Farrior teach the young players if he spent all of his time teaching them, instead of trying to pretend that he can still play with them? It's time for Farrior to pursue his next Lombardi trophy from the sidelines rather than from between the lines.
- This from John Clayton in his July 31, 2010 article on espn.com, "Look for Ravens to lean on offense":
"Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron knows the right mix of spread passing sets and power running formations to keep defenses off balance."
Duh!! If a mousey, journalistic equivalent of Mr. Peabody can understand this simple, common sense concept, what in blazes has been Bruce Arians' excuse? Does anybody really believe Arians when he says that the Steelers will run the ball "more effectively" this season, when for the last three years he hasn't demonstrated the ability even to understand the concept?
- Why all of the extensive, intensive, and any-other-"ensive"-you-can-think-of coverage and analysis of NFL preseason games? Preseason games are worthless. Great fun, yes, but worthless nonetheless (and yes, I like to watch them just like regular season games, especially with a cold, crisp beer in hand). So just sit back, chill out, enjoy a game or two with friends or family, and save all of your energy for the regular season. We'll get there soon enough. And we'll need that energy. We'll still have Bruce Arians to kick around, you know.
- Byron Leftwich or Dennis Dixon? Should we even be asking this question? Since losing his starting job with Jacksonville several seasons ago, Leftwich has not played more than six games in a season. Last season he was benched by Tampa after three games. This cannot be a matter of circumstance or coincidence. He doesn't bring anything to the team that everyone else doesn't already know, including the Steelers themselves. Dixon, on the other hand, is still a question mark. The Steelers need to find out what Dixon can do now, before his contract ends. If he has the potential that the team seems to think he has, then they need to give him the opportunity to prove it and end the uncertainty. If he delivers the goods, then they can decide what it is worth to keep him, or what value they can obtain in a trade. If he can't deliver, then Leftwich is a viable option as backup.
- This might be sacrilege, but the problem with William Gay's play last season wasn't with Gay himself. It was with Dick Lebeau. Gay plays well in man-to-man coverage, when there is certainty as to whom he must cover and when he can stay close to the receiver. In zone coverage, however, when he must play softer coverage until the play develops, he has problems. That uncertainty makes it more difficult for him to adjust to receiver routes and to close on coverage. If you looked at video of Gay in coverage, when the defense used man-to-man coverage, Gay played as well as in 2008, with or without Troy Polamolu on the field. When Troy was absent, the defense played much more zone coverage than normal, and Gay's weaknesses were exposed. With Troy out of the lineup, the tradeoff is between tighter cornerback coverage but higher risk at safety, and softer, riskier cornerback coverage but lower risk at safety. Lebeau chose the latter, so he must bear at least some of the blame for the secondary's lacking performance. Let's hope that he and the other defensive staff have learned the lesson.
- And what happens if the Steelers are rolling along nicely when Little Benny's timeout ends and he's allowed to return to the playground with all of the other good little boys in the neighborhood? Everyone says Ben should be the starter immediately. Maybe sacriledge again, but I say, "Not so fast, O Gurus of the Gridiron". If the Steelers are performing well and winning handily, why not rides your winners? At least until the game against the Saints? The schedule gets pretty tough in the second half of the season, and it might be worth giving Ben an extra week or two to prepare after his long layoff. Even more so, if Ben's replacements are taking a beating from opposing pass rushes. If he plays only eight or nine games of the regular season, by playoff time he'll be hitting full stride just when the team needs it most. Sheer speculation, of course, but one that I think should not be dismissed lightly.
- Hey, Jeff Reed: Stop complaining about your contract, and just shut up and play!! Your salary is in the top five in the league for kickers this year. Isn't that enough? With all of your erratic off-field antics the last two seasons, did you really expect the Steelers to commit to that level of pay for the rest of your career? Straighten your childish, borderline-lunatic butt out, and prove that you are worthy, and the Steelers will surely reward you handsomely for the long term. And you know that already, so stop your whining.
- Once training camp begins, the Steelers' policy is not to negotiate new contracts until after the season, and they have adhered faithfully to that policy over the years. This year, however, they should make an exception for LaMarr Woodley. He is too good to risk losing because of labor uncertainty. If he becomes disgruntled with his contract situation, he knows that there isn't a single team in the league that would turn him down if he offered his services to them, even after a labor disruption. The Steelers have a strong group of veteran linebackers, and very promising youngsters to augment them. The defense is very strong with Woodley, but it would be significantly weaker without him. They let McFadden go and were burned badly by it. They should not risk even the possibility of making that same mistake with Woodley.
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