Steelers Thoughts #7 (1/14/15): Off-brand Aftermarket Parts Bonanza!

defensive staff

Also known as the NFL offseason. Yes, I know meaningful games (and the Pro Bowl) are still left to be played, and I plan to at least pay lip service to this weekend’s impending conference championships and the gridiron scraps what precursed them, but let’s be real. This is a Steelers column, intended (mostly?) for Steelers fans, and for the Steelers, the offseason has already started in earnest. Because I intend for this to be my final published word on the team until well into NFL Draft run up, if not after the Draft itself, I’ll look to cover a lot here, very likely too much. My apologies in advance. Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #7 (1/14/15): Off-brand Aftermarket Parts Bonanza!”

Steelers Thoughts #5 (10/27/14): Rare Air

ben and ab

Expectations are fickle and fragile things for sports fans. They can serve as both crutch and anchor over the course of a long season. The wise fan monitors facts on the ground closely, considers trends and opposition, and, if needs be, adjusts his or her expectations accordingly. But football fans – indeed, fans of anything worth the investment – are just not overly cerebral creatures, or at least not on Sunday. We are ruled by our hearts, and the high expectations Steelers fans took into training camp 2014 and week 1 have already been both sorely tested and somewhat reconfigured through no real action on our parts. Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #5 (10/27/14): Rare Air”

Steelers Thoughts #4 (9/29/14): Duck! Rabbit! Duck!

Steelers_team

I have a few points to make about yesterday’s last minute Steelers loss to the Buccaneers, and no wish to belabor any of them. Sixteen hours later, the sting is still fresh and the taste still bitter. It was one of the most frustrating losses in my recent memory, or, at any rate, has temporarily crowded out all other contenders from my personal shortlist. I certainly have no desire to detract from the performance of Tampa Bay, who were game, opportunistic, resilient, and tenacious in victory. Though Tampa played well enough to win, I also don’t think it’s homerism to suggest that, by most objective measures, the Steelers on the whole outplayed them. They moved the ball, often with ease, and for much of the game held close to a threefold advantage on Tampa in terms of yards gained. The Bucs parlayed a crippling turnover into an early lead but then seemed to succumb to our offensive pressure and relative defensive competence, before the Steelers, who have a well-established recent history of playing down to lesser competition, shot themselves in the foot late, taking it off the gas in the process. Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #4 (9/29/14): Duck! Rabbit! Duck!”

Steelers Thoughts #3 (7/30/14): Are we there yet?

locker

Steelers Training Camp is officially underway in beautiful Latrobe, PA, though today is an off day for the team. Yesterday, the boys practiced in pads for the first time this year, and, though Mike Tomlin has in his press briefings kept things in strict perspective and been typically (and, I might add, properly) circumspect about praising anybody, there is nevertheless lots to talk about, both on and off the field. The air is thick with possibility, which, of course, is so much fuel to the fires of speculation. Soon enough, they’ll be raging, but I’ll do my best to keep this piece comparatively breezy in feel. There is, of course, absolutely no news to be found here, but this is just too fun a time of year for fans for it to go wholly unremarked upon. So, without further ado, my quick takes on some recent Steeler headlines, plus other tidbits. Mmmm…training camp! Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #3 (7/30/14): Are we there yet?”

Chuck Noll: An Appreciation

noll

As best I can piece together, the first football game I ever watched was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV. In 1980 I was still a fairly tiny thing, pure as the driven snow, and life was interesting to a degree I found almost overwhelming. From what I could tell, everybody sure seemed excited and invested, practically over-awed, by what was happening on this particular field. There are surely few athletic feats more impactful for an impressionable youngster to witness than Joe Greene engulfing a cowed quarterback or the sick thud of Jack Lambert concussing a tight end. It was striking. Continue reading “Chuck Noll: An Appreciation”

Steelers Thoughts #2 (5/9/14): Draft, Punk…

airliner

Quite a bit to chew on and mull over following a wild and woolly first round of the NFL draft that saw the Cleveland Browns careening all over the board, trading down then back up, twice, that saw three teams select their presumed QBs of the future, that saw ESPN trot out a group of on air talent that was the human equivalent of a black hole from which only bottomless Johnny Manziel speculation could escape, and then dutifully cut to a reaction shot from Johnny Football every time a pick happened to bypass him (as 21 did) or a commercial break dramatically ended. Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #2 (5/9/14): Draft, Punk…”

Steelers Thoughts #1 (1/24/14): Vexing and Vortexing

o-line

The hiring of recently deposed Tennessee Titans head coach and Hall of Fame Houston Oilers guard Mike Munchak as the Steelers’ new Offensive Line coach predictably has the hearts and daydreams of both our fanbase and local journalists all aflutter. I’m right there with them. Grabbing one of the best linemen in NFL history, with years of proven experience (and results) as first a line then a head coach? Score! He’s a local guy who wants to be in the ‘Burgh and brings instant unspoken authority and credibility to a line that is already trending up, despite having had more members than Spinal Tap in the last five years (including four centers in 2013). Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #1 (1/24/14): Vexing and Vortexing”