Who are the SteezBros?

Welcome to SteezBros! SteezBros is a Steeler Blog run by three brothers who are all huge Steeler fans. If the true definition of fan is fanatic, we fit the bill. We were born into Steeler fandom. Love of the Steelers goes back many generations in our family. It's in our blood. You can read our "Welcome to SteezBros" post in the archive if you are interested in more information about us and the blog. Thanks for reading and check back often!


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pool of possible 3rd Wide Receivers Deepens

The Steelers made some roster moves today, adding a few veterans to the mix. The first move was bringing in former Lions WR Shaun McDonald. Via Steelers.com: "McDonald (5-10, 183) was originally drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the fourth round (106th overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft out of Arizona State. McDonald spent four years with the Rams before signing with the Detroit Lions during the 2007 offseason. He led the Lions with 79 catches, 943 yards and six touchdowns that season." As you can see he had a pretty productive year in 2007, leading the team in catches while playing behind Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson. BTSC has likened McDonald to a poor man's Wes Welker. He should not still be available if that is the case. For our sake, let' hope he is just another diamond in the rough that the Steelers have discovered a la Mewelde Moore last season.

In what is sure to be welcome news to many Steeler fans, Mitch Berger will most likely never be punting for the Steelers again. Daniel Sepulveda is returning from his ACL injury this season. Plus, the Steelers inked Dirk Johnson, formerly of the Eagles, among other teams, today to take reps during pre-season. If anything happens to Sepulveda, Johnson will hopefully step in for him.
Via Steelers. com, "Johnson (6-0, 210) enters his eighth NFL season after playing 12 games with the Arizona Cardinals in 2008. He averaged 41.8 yards on 40 punts with the Cardinals, including a 35.2-yard net average. In 69 career games played, Johnson has averaged 41.7 yards on 320 punts (13,356 total yards)."

Finally, with the Steelers signing the long-snapper from Pitt as an undrafted free agent and with our former long-snapper, Greg Warren, returning from injury, the Steelers cut
Jared Retkofsky. He was the long-snapper who filled in for Warren after his season ending injury. He filled in seemlessly and never was an issue or concern during our Superbowl run. He was actually working moving furniture when he got the call from the Steelers to try out for the long-snapping duties when Warren went down. He made the most of that opportunity by winning a rather large ring.

I always feel for long-snappers. They play a crucial role on the team. See the NY Giants guy who came out of retirement to snap and botched a potential game winning FG try or James Harrison's attempt flying out of the back of the endzone. They get little recognition if and when they perform well and are the goat if they screw up. Teams want to keep them as cheaply as possible for cap reasons leading to them getting replaced all the time by rookies who get the lowest possible salary instead of having to pay a veteran the league minimum.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Foote cut?

Two items of interest not related to the draft.

1. Rumor has it that the Steelers will cut Larry Foote. PFT is reporting that Foote has already been cut to save $2.8 million in cap room. PFT has reported false information before, so I'm waiting to hear more from a reliable source. (UPDATE: The Report is true.) The Steelers don't have much cap room and Timmons could take over Foote's starting position, so this news isn't all that surprising. However, the timing is a little odd. If the team wanted to cut Foote, it probably would have done it earlier in the offseason. Maybe it was hoping to make a trade involving the linebacker during the draft? I'd love to keep Foote on the team for his final year. He has been a solid player that has helped the team win two Super Bowls, and he still plays the run much better than Timmons. If nothing else, it helps to have a veteran presence to continue the tutoring of young linebackers like Timmons and Woodley. That said, Foote is hardly irreplaceable and may free up enough cap room for this next point. If this is the end, Larry, Steeler Nation thanks you!

2. The Steelers search for a number 3 wide receiver continues. By all account, Limas Sweed is doing everything right this offseason and I hope he makes a huge jump in his second year, but it sure would be nice to grab a veteran or two. We're one injury away from Limas Sweed starting and Mike Wallace/Dallas Baker/Martin Nance in the number three spot. So it was good to hear that the Steelers hosted Ashley Lelie. Lelie's career has been a disappointment after a fast start in Denver, but he won't be asked to be more than a role player in Pittsburgh. He's an extremely fast player that has averaged more than 17 yards per catch in his career and could try to fill the Nate Washington role. After playing for the Raiders, he'd probably sign a cheap deal to join the defending world champs. Then again, I seem to remember Lelie as a less than stellar teammate. Even if Lelie isn't the answer, it's welcome news that the Steelers recognize the need for another veteran receiver.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Draft Thoughts and Report Cards

Putting the ridiculousness of grading players who have never set foot on an NFL field aside, fans clamor for draft grades and who am I to ignore the fans. Grades for the Steelers' draft have been all over the map; I have seen A's and I have seen an F. It is hard to believe anyone would give us an F given our stellar draft history but someone did. I guess there is a first for everything. One interesting comment I heard, considers this year's draft class combined with last year's draft class.

Last year's draft class made very little contribution to the team. Mendenhall was injured for the majority of the season, and the rest of the class rode the pine with all the quality starters ahead of them on the depth chart. Patrick Bailey, who was undrafted became the team rookie of the year. The upcoming season, we get Mendenhall back which was likened to having an extra first round pick in the mix. Same for the rest of last year's class that will have another shot to make the team and contribute significantly, Limas Sweed being a main example.

Here were all the picks. I can't complain much. Positions of need were dealt with nicely (D-line, WR, O-line, CB). Everyone knows that we are drafting for depth, not starters. This is a luxury I will take every year. I wish we were drafting for an O-line starter but once again we did not draft an O-lineman in the first round. I would have like to see us take another O-lineman in the 7th when Cadogan was still there but we went tight end (shocker). Arians will put out as many tight ends as possible if given the opportunity. In other good news, the steelers drafted another player who can be the next Bettis in Frank "the tank" Summers. Take a look at him and you will see why. He is already shouldering the hopes of all Steeler nation as our short yardage back.

DRAFT PICKS courtesy of BTSC

Round Player Position College Height Weight
1 (32) Evander "Ziggy" Hood DE/DT Missouri 6'3 300
3 (79) Kraig Urbik OG Wisconsin 6'5 328
3 (84) Mike Wallace WR Mississippi 6'0 199
3 (96) Keenen Lewis CB Oregon State 6'0 208
5 (168) Joe Burnett CB Central Florida 5'9 192
5 (169) Frank Summers RB/FB UNLV 5'9 241
6 (205) Ra'Shon Harris DE Oregon 6'4 298
7 (226) A.Q. Shipley C Penn State 6'1 304
7 (241) David Johnson TE Arkansas State 6'2 260

Undrafted free agents signed are always an area of intrigue. James Harrison was undrafted, Willie Parker was undrafted and our rookie of the year, Patrick Bailey was undrafted as well.

Here are some of the names that have leaked out so far:

Courtesy of Mondesi's House:

LS Mark Estermyer (Pitt)
LB Tom Korte (Hillsdale College)
T Ramon Foster (Tennessee)
QB Mike Reilly (Central Washington)
WR Tyler Grisham (Clemson)
S Derrick Richardson (New Mexico State)
QB Kevin McCabe (Virginia)

2 QB's in the group so including Ben, Charlie and Dennis we will have 5 in camp.


I would give the draft a B. We addressed needs. We added depth and we brought in multiple people who can compete to take over our kick and punt return duties which in my opinion is the biggest need on our team. Our returns were pitiful last season and pretty much have been since Antwan Randle-El left for the 'skins. I would have like to have seen o-line in round 1 but the steelers didn't want to reach with Mack and Wood already picked. I heard they did try to trade up in round 2 to get Max Unger but it didn't happen.

There are grades all over the net. Here are some links:

From ESPN:
- I couldn't get the chart to fit in. Check out the link. It lists a good variety of grades from various sources.

BTSC's Draft Grade Roundup

The Post-Gazette has a decent amount of coverage

On ESPN, you have to be an insider to see Kiper and McShay's grades as far as I can tell.

What does anyone else think about the picks?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

NFL Draft: Day 1

Eight hours of my life are gone and all I got for it is one lousy draft pick. That's not to say that the draft pick was lousy. The Steelers once again ignored their biggest immediate need - the offensive line - to take a player that won't likely play a major role until the 2010. Evander Hood, a defensive tackle from Missouri, was the last player chosen in the first round. Hood projects as a defensive end in the Steelers 3-4 system. He will likely back up the defensive end positions until next year when Brett Keisel's contract expires. Or he could be training to take over for Aaron Smith in a couple years. Hood is a high motor player that should take well to the tutelage of D-line coach John Mitchell and veteran Aaron Smith.

Hood was projected as a late first rounder, so the Steelers got adequate value and addressed a position of need. The first round went much differently than most projected (surprise, surprise), so several players that were expected to be available were gone and several that were expected to be gone were available. Most notably centers Alex Mack and Eric Wood were taken off the board before the Steelers picked. However, Eben Britton, a left tackle, Max Unger, a center, and Rey Maualuga, an inside linebacker, were still available. Nonetheless, the Steelers decided to address the defensive line.

With the power of hindsight, I think Kevin Colbert would like a do over. One player that many projected the Steelers would take in the first round, San Jose State defensive end Jarron Gilbert, was available with the Steelers 2nd round pick. But having already addressed the position with Hood, the team traded its 2nd round pick (along with the fourth round pick) to the Broncos for two third round picks. If the team could do it over again, I think we would have been better off with Britton and Gilbert. Then again, if the Steelers really had Gilbert high on their draft board, I suspect they would have taken him with their 2nd round pick.

The team now has three 3rd round picks, but no fourth round pick. I suspect we'll grab an offensive lineman (Jamon Meredith from So. Carolina, Duke Robinson from Oklahoma), wide receiver (Derrick Williams or Mike Thomas), or cornerback (Mike Mickens, Coye Francies). The picks in the third round will make or break this draft.

Day 1 was uneventful for the Steelers. Let's see if tomorrow morning brings more excitement.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Steelers take Ziggy Hood, a defensive tackle from Missouri. It's not sexy, but the defensive line needed an infusion of youth, and Alex Mack and Eric Wood were gone. Hood, by all accounts, fits the Steelers mold. He's an extremely hard worker and a high character guy. I kinda wish we would have grabbed Ebon Britton to replace Willie Colon, but I'm ok with this pick.

Here is the rundown on Hood:

Although Hood plays with a mean streak he lacks ideal lower-body strength, so he has some problems holding up when teams run at him when he?s lined up on the inside. That said, he's big and strong enough to set the edge as a 5-technique in a 3-4 scheme. He also has the quickness and motor to get to the quarterback on occasion.

James Harrison has TWO new left tackles to abuse

After the Bungles took Andre Smith at #6, the Baltimore Ravens traded up to select Michael Oher, the left tackle from Ole Miss. So we'll get to watch new players hold Silverback this year.

I'm disappointed with this pick, not only because Baltimore got great value with Oher at pick 23 and now the Ravens have a young QB and left tackle, but rather because Michael Oher has an incredible life story. Author Michael Lewis wrote about Oher's upbringing in the book The Blind Side and you couldn't find a more heartwarming story. Too bad I now hate him.

Hines Ward will retire a Steeler

John Clayton is reporting Hines Ward signed a four year extension for $22 million. Looks like my 86 jersey will be good for the rest of my life.

James Harrison has new left tackle to abuse

We shouldn't be surprised. The Bengals selected a talented player that had major off the field issues during the NFL draft process. Andre Smith, the left tackle from Alabama, went number 6 to the Bengals. To be fair, Smith was an outstanding player who was well-liked inside the Alabama locker room. Nonetheless, he was suspended for his final bowl game in college and went MIA at the NFL combine. Eugene Monroe, a left tackle from Virginia, was rated higher on most draft boards and is an outstanding character guy. Maybe he would have been a better choice. What can I say? It's the Bengals.

Speaking of terrible franchises, the Raiders just took Darrius Heyward-Bay over Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin. Al Davis fail.

Draft thought

My new thought: The Steelers will go defensive line in the first round, then trade up in the second round to get Eric Wood. The team has nine picks and nearly half have no shot of making the roster. So why not grab a good defensive line prospect (Ed Bouchette likes Ziggy Hood from Missouri) and trade some of those extra picks to get a top interior lineman? Makes sense to me. Then again, I'm no Kevin Colbert.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Draft Extravaganza

Draft tomorrow. It will probably be a couple hours from the start of coverage until the Steelers pick, but I'm going to enjoy those few hours like a Super Bowl Champion should - watching the 2009 championship DVD.

One of the reasons I haven't shared my thoughts about the draft is that I have no idea what the Steelers will do. (The other reason is sheer laziness). The consensus top needs for Pittsburgh are O-line, D-Line, and cornerback. Of those positions, I think a first round O-lineman makes the most sense. Not necessarily because Kevin Colbert thinks it is the team's biggest need (I think it is), but rather through process of elimination. The Steelers almost never take a defensive lineman or cornerback in the first round. Sure, Casey Hampton was a first round pick, but he is the only defensive lineman taken in the first round in 20 years. The last time the Steelers took a corner in the first round was 1997 with Chad Scott, and we all know how that worked out. Also, the Steelers don't need a d-lineman or corner to play right away, meaning they can select guys in the later rounds. Looking at recent starters at these positions, Aaron Smith was a 4th round pick. Keisel was a 7th round pick. Ike Taylor was a 4th round pick. McFadden was a 2nd round pick. Willie Gay was a 4th round pick. See a trend? Kevin Colbert is also on record as saying this draft class is deep on cornerbacks. Also, Keiwan Ratliff was signed by the team today, virtually guaranteeing they won't select a CB early.

That leaves offensive line as the likely pick. Alex Mack, Max Unger, or Eric Wood could all improve our team now by playing at right guard and transitioning to center next year when Hartwig's contract expires. I'd love to get two interior lineman to replace Stapleton now and Hartwig next year, but that's unlikely.

Regardless, the Steelers are in great position to take the best player available. I've spent lots of time worrying about the ineptitude of the o-line, wide receiver depth, and the age of our d-line, but when you've won a Super Bowl with the current offensive line, and the third wide receiver and fourth cornerback spots are the biggest worries, your football team is in pretty good shape.

Since I've been lazy, here are some links with good draft info:

Here's a link to a site with links to mock drafts: Alex Mack seems to be the favorite [BTSC]

Discussions on center prospects: who's better Mack or Unger. Screw it, let's take Shipley [BNG]

Post Gazette's Ed Bouchette like the Hood [ESPN]

4 Scenarios: JJ Cooper likes Wood, Eric Wood that is [NFL Fanhouse]

Dagger at postgameheroes is forecasting a trade [PGH]

Some great stuff from SteelerFury [Draft Board, 1st Round Predictions, Todd's Take, Final Mock]


Draft prospects that visited Mikey T; it's heavy on CBs and O-lineman [BTSC]

AFC North Picks from ESPN Blogger James Walker [ESPN]

Five different mocks here, none choose the same player at 32 [CBSsports]


Steelers Sign a DB

Per PFT, the Steelers signed former Indy Colts CB, Keiwan Ratliff to a one year deal. With the draft one day away, does this change the strategy for Radio City Music Hall tomorrow? Many a mock draft had us taking a CB in the first round to replace Bryant McFadden. Consider him replaced. The front office clearly feels comfortable with William Gay filling in for McFadden as the starting CB opposite Ike. With Ratliff, we add depth in the defensive backfield from a player who has a decent amount of experience. We rarely draft a CB in the first round to begin with. After this development I defintely don't see it happening this year either. Or maybe it's a smokescreen to make other teams think we won't draft a CB in the first round.

Speaking of CB's, Ike restructed his deal again to give us more cap space. Before the restructuring, we only had $440,000 worth of space which amounted to the least in the league. This is one reason people have been suggesting for the release of Gary Russel so we could resign Batch. I think we should have released Carey Davis instead but maybe Russel counted for more against the cap. Or we just enjoy carying useless fullbacks on the roster.

Stay tuned for a pre-draft post coming tonight and come back for a post-draft analysis after day1 and at the conclusion of the draft.

Polamalu, Fitzgerald Cursed

Maybe since there are two players on the cover, each will only get half a curse. Expect Troy to miss 6- 8 games due to injury next year, but be back in time for the playoffs.
Great googly moogly.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

PFT Steeler Hate Fest Continues, Schedule and Batch

Anyone who reads ProFootballTalk ("PFT") regularly, knows that PFT lead contributor, Mike Florio does not like the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the above video clip, he has gone to new lengths to stir up controversy among Pittsburgh Steeler fans. The clip is meant to discuss whether the Steelers have over spent recently mainly on James Harrison. Then the conversation turns to Big Ben's contract. Florio slips in near the end of the clip that there has been some discord between Ben and Tomlin because Tomlin believes Ben holds on to the ball too long. Then, he proclaims that at some point down the road as Tomlin wins more and more and garners more power due to those wins, a separation between the Steelers and Big Ben could occur.

Do you really buy that just because Tomlin believes Ben holds on to the ball too long will result in a feud so terrible that it will cause Ben to leave the team? Ben has already won one Superbowl for Tomlin. Would something as small as holding the ball too long cause Tomlin to run the franchise QB out of town? I hardly think so. Franchise QB's are not easily come by. Just look at our string of QB's from Bradshaw to Roethlisberger. We won many games this season including the playoffs and the Superbowl because he holds on to the ball and makes plays out of what should have been nothing. If defenders weren't on him so quicklydue to of our porous o-line, it would not be considered holding on to the ball too long. It would be considered time to throw, which is a rarity around here.

To more uplifting news:
-The Steelers have moved quickly after Leftwich signed with the Bucs locking up Charlie Batch for another season. I, along with most other Steeler fans have loved Batch. I think he is a great backup for this team. I am really glad to have him back for another season. Hopefully, the front office is high on Dennis Dixon and has liked what they have seen in his development. I would like him to be the heir apparent to Batch.

-The NFL Schedule was released yesterday to much fanfare. The start of the season could not come soon enough. Draft is less than two weeks away.

Here is the schedule:

1Thu, Sep 10Tennessee 8:30 PM
2Sun, Sep 20at Chicago 4:15 PM
3Sun, Sep 27at Cincinnati 1:00 PM
4Sun, Oct 4San Diego 8:20 PM
5Sun, Oct 11at Detroit 1:00 PM
6Sun, Oct 18Cleveland 1:00 PM
7Sun, Oct 25Minnesota 1:00 PM
9Mon, Nov 9at Denver 8:30 PM
10Sun, Nov 15Cincinnati 1:00 PM
11Sun, Nov 22at Kansas City 1:00 PM
12Sun, Nov 29at Baltimore 8:20 PM
13Sun, Dec 6Oakland 1:00 PM
14Thu, Dec 10at Cleveland 8:20 PM
15Sun, Dec 20Green Bay 1:00 PM
16Sun, Dec 27Baltimore 1:00 PM
17Sun, Jan 3at Miami 1:00 PM

This shakes out to the 4th easiest schedule in the league this year. Coming of the toughest schedule ever, we should be expecting at the very least as many wins as last year. Again we have 5 prime time games but only one on Monday night. This year we have a lot more 1:00 games than last season. Also, we have a superbly situated week 8 bye. Baltimore's whining was rewarded with a prime time game against us in Baltimore. I guess they don't realize that we win all prime time games, regardless of location. My early prediction is 13-3. But you never know, Ben and Tomlin could have a huge in game fight because he is holding on to the ball too long.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Just a Friendly Reminder

PS You know something kid, YOU SUCK!!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Silverback's Big Deal

It was a busy weekend for the Steelers. The team finished a relatively peaceful negotiation with James Harrison, the Defensive Player of the Year. The Post Gazette is reporting the deal at 6 years, $52 million, with $20 million in guarantees. As more details become available, we can dive into the salary cap ramifications of this deal and its impact on signing the bonanza of players that will become free agents after 2009.

Looks like we can enjoy the tandem of Silverback and Woodley for years to come.
In other news, Byron Leftwich signed with the Tampa Bay Bucs. He'll likely have a good shot at winning the starting job in Tampa, which is probably more enticing than serving in the back up role in Pittsburgh. Good luck Byron. Charlie Batch now returns to his role as fan favorite.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Steelers Finally Offer Leftwich A Deal

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers have finally offered Leftwich a contact. The Steelers have been giving much lip service to the fact that they wanted to bring both Leftwich and Charlie Batch back for next season, but neither had been offered a contract or were even in serious discussion for one until today. The contract is for two years at near the league minumums for veterans with Byron's level of service.

Leftwich has recently met with the Redskins and Bucs so it is not surprising that the Steelers finally made a move. What is surprising is the lack of interest in Leftwich this offseason especially how he performed when givin the opportunity. The level of quarterbacking in the NFL after the top 10 is not especially great. I could think of more than a few teams that would be better off with Letwich calling the signals than who they currently have under center.

This man got a 3 year, $9 million deal after this ridiculous display:

I find it hard to believe that teams like Minnesota, who are maybe one QB away from a Superbowl caliber team didn't take a serious look at Leftwich. I would love to see him as our backup again, don't get me wrong, but sometimes I just don't get this league.

Teams that should have looked at him:

Chicago-before Jay Cutler trade
Tampa Bay
Denver-after Jay Cutler Trade
Kansas City-How can they not be interested

Yet not one team had shown interest until this past week. This is why we win superbowls.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Broncos Drama Reinforces Hiring of Tomlin

Not too long ago I left western Pennsylvania for the mountains of Colorado. So I've been living at ground zero for the crazy drama surrounding the Pat Bowlen-Josh McDaniels -Jay Cutler trade saga. The Broncos pulled the trigger last week on a trade that sent Cutler and a 5th round pick to the Bears for Kyle Orton, two first round picks, and a third round pick. Apparently, Bronco owner Pat Bowlen snapped after Cutler refused to return his phone calls and decided that he no longer wanted to employ such an immature young player. My favorite quote of the whole ordeal came from a man who knows Bowlen well who told Peter King this week "You do not mess with Pat Bowlen, and you definitely do not ignore him.'' Dude sounds like a BA.

So why am I writing about the Broncos situation on a Steelers blog? Because this whole situation reinforces the magnificent job the Rooneys did in hiring Mike Tomlin. Tomlin, like McDaniels, was a very young, unproven coach that had to follow a legend. Nonetheless, he made a smooth transition and won over his team quick enough to make them the AFC North Champs in year 1 and Super Bowl Champs in year 2.

Yes, the situations were different. The 2006 Steelers were a balanced team only one year removed from winning the Super Bowl. The 2008 Broncos had a terrible defense and were ten years removed from winning a title. But, Tomlin and McDaniels inherited teams with two similar traits: a young franchise quarterback and an extremely strong unit that played to the coaches specialty. For Tomlin, a former defensive backs coach and defensive coordinater, he inherited one of the best defenses. McDaniels, a former offensive coordinator, took over an offense filled with playmakers.

Tomlin approached the role in the right way. Shortly after Mike Tomlin was named coach, he had dinner with his franchise quarterback. Big Ben shared his concern about how Tomlin, an outsider in the coaching search when many players favored in house candidates Ken Whisenhunt or Russ Grimm, was going to win over the veteran players in the locker room. Tomlin listened to what Big Ben had to say. Later, at spring mini-camp, he met with each of his other players. After spending some time with his players, Tomlin made his message was clear. This was his team. Things would be done his way. And the players should forget about the easy training camps of the past under former coach Bill Cowher. Tomlin took control by communicating with players off of the field and instilling discipline on it. He took control with confidence and leadership, not because of an overblown ego, but because of his knowledge that football teams are not operated as a democracy, but rather as a benevolant dictatorship.

In an offseason fraught with potential land mines, Tomlin was able to sidestep potential problems due to his adaptability. Just a little background. Tomlin is a disciple of Tony Dungy. He coached under Dungy in Tampa, where they featured one of the best defenses in the league. The team ran the Cover 2 defense and ran it superbly. Tomlin ascended up the coaching ranks because of his ability to coach the Cover 2 (a defensive formation operated under the 4-3 formation). When Tomlin was hired, the players and fans wanted to know his plans for Pittsburgh's stellar defense. The Steelers operated under a 3-4 defense led by Dick Lebeau, one of the best defensive coordinators in league history. Tomlin's defensive philosophy, the very philosophy that allowed him to become one of the youngest head coaches in the NFL, clashed with the philosophy Pittsburgh had been using for the last 20 years.
For outsiders, it was easy to see the best solution - keep Lebeau and maintain the dominant defense. But often, what's easy to see from the outside is not so clear to a new head coach. When coaches are hired, especially young ones, they have to justify their hiring. And they have to do it fast. If not, they'll likely be facing unemployment in 3 years (less if you're hired by the Raiders). If a coach drastically changes systems, it's an easy way to demonstrate control to their boss and players. It also allows the coach to switch to a system where they are more comfortable. It's easy to understand why a coach would do this, especially because their expertise in their own system is what caused them to become a head coach in the first place. But in marking their territory, a coach's ego can get in the way of maximizing the potential of the football team. Tomlin could have fired LeBeau and forced the Steelers to adopt a foreign defense. It would have shown moxie. It would have gotten rid of a coordinator that posed a threat. It would have been an easy way to show the players who was in control. It also would have been wrong. By refraining to make wholesale changes, Tomlin showed confidence in his own abilities to improve the team in ways that would not be easily recognized by the media and fans. After celebrating Super Bowl #6, we now know he did what was best for the team.

Don Banks from CNNSI recently wrote about new Chiefs Head Coach Todd Haley.

Someone asked Haley how a guy from the Bill Parcells coaching tree could feature the spread offense, as Arizona did for much of last season. Parcells teams are known for being able to bludgeon a team with the running games when they have to, and the Cardinals, especially in the regular season, were never a threat to pound the ball against anyone last year. "What I came out of it with Parcells is to play the way that gives you the best chance to win," Haley said. "Don't be so system-oriented that you're trying to fit square pegs into round holes. Do what your players do best."
Haley's remarks remind me of Tomlin's philosophy, and make me think that Haley has a good chance at success in KC.

Let's contrast that with what Josh McDaniels has done in Denver. McDaniels is an offensive guy that ran a different system in New England than what Mike Shanahan had in Denver. But McDaniels had offensive talent galore. The reason that the Denver coaching job was so attractive was because of Jay Cutler. No other team with a coaching vacancy had a young, franchise quarterback. Cutler made the Pro Bowl in 2008 by throwing for over 4500 yards and 25 TDs. In addition to Cutler. the offensive line allowed only 12 sacks all year and featured two young tackles (Clady and Harris) that will be fixtures in the Pro Bowl for years to come. Two young wide receivers, Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal, comprise the best young wide receiving tandem in the league. Sure, the defense needed to be rebuilt, but it only needed to become an average unit for Denver to win. The best course of action for McDaniels was to nurture his star quarterback and drastically improve the defense. But McDaniels, aided by an extreme lack of maturity from Cutler, messed it up. He couldn't resist trying to put his stamp on the organization by making a trade for Matt Cassell, allowing the team to make a seamless transition to the New England offense. It's isn't difficult to understand McDaniel's logic. The Patriots won three Super Bowls with his offensive system. It's the reason McDaniels is a head coach. But, unlike Tomlin, McDaniels didn't adapt to his new environment, he tried to change it. And when that revelation became public, Cutler threw a hissy fit.

The Broncos situation was captivating, in part, because it was entirely avoidable. McDaniels could have learned a thing or two from Mike Tomlin. Sometimes coaches display their ability for the job not by what they change, but by what they leave in place.