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, February 26, 2009

Jeff Saturday signs with Colts

Not that there was much of a chance he would sign with the Steelers, but it kills the joy of speculation

Steez Release Simmons

The Post Gazette reports that the Steelers have released Guard Kendall Simmons. This is great news to Steelers fans everywhere. This will take the outrageous contract extension he got off our cap. The Steelers overpaid him way too much and this will free up some money to maybe make a little splash in free agency or maybe a last ditch effort at one of our unrestricted free agents (hmmm McFeezy or Nate). Simmons underachieved greatly and it was a blessing that he tore his Achilles in week 4. Stapleton came in and performed to the same ability Simmons did and this opened the door for his release. I feel like Alan Faneca is smiling in New York somewhere.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

McFizzle, Nate, Draft Prospects, and Jeff Saturday

  • Things have been quiet here at SteezBros. One excuse is that we are in the dullest of times for football. The draft is still two months away and free agency is yet to begin. Or maybe, I've just been busy at work and am suffering from a bad cold. Or really, I'm lazy.

  • There are many interesting developments in Steelerland. It appears that my top two priorities for free agency, Bryant McFadden and Nate Washington, were not Kevin Colbert's top priorities. Neither has been contacted by the Steelers front office. Ditto, Marvel Smith. All three have likely seen their last days in black & gold. As a result, Pittsburgh will need to draft a cornerback and sign a veteran wide receiver. The front office's top two priorities seem to be Max Starks, who received the franchise tag and will hopefully sign a long-term deal to lessen his cap hit, and Chris Kemoeatu, whose agent is currently in contract negotiations with the organization.

  • The NFL combine took place last week. I tried to feign interest in this meat market, but couldn't stand more than 5 minutes of NFL Network coverage. I couldn't draw any logical conclusions from watching 5th round tight end prospects running the shuttle drill while Warren Sapp discusses his performance on dancing with the stars. I'll leave that analysis to the experts. But developments regarding two of the top left tackle prospects could impact what the Steelers do in the draft. Andre Smith, a left tackle from Alabama that was expected to be a top 5 pick, showed up out of shape and went AWOL without telling anyone. He also missed the Crimson Tide's Sugar Bowl game due to breaking team rules. His draft stock is plummeting. Who knows if he will last to the 32nd pick? Even if he does, the Steelers may not want to risk drafting a questionable character guy into an extremely close locker room. The other left tackle that is falling is Michael Oher. Oher was the left tackle at Ole Miss and the subject of Michael Lewis's book, the Blind Side. His strength was questioned at the combine and he has also been labeled as a character risk. Don Banks at CNNSI has him falling out of the first round. Both players could drastically improve the talent on the O-line.

  • Obviously, I want the Steelers to draft offensive line in the first two rounds. But even if one of the two prospects above were available, the Steelers may decide that Max Starks is the left tackle of the future. If that's the case, I'm hoping we draft interior lineman. Kendall Simmons, Darnell Stapleton, and Chris Kemoeatu could not open any holes in the interior line and the short yardage running game has struggled because of it. Kemo let up the most sacks of any interior lineman and Simmons/Stapleton are both average to below average lineman. All of the top centers and guards will be available at the 32nd pick.

  • But maybe there is another option. Jeff Saturday, the Pro Bowl center from the Colts, is set to become a free agent on Friday. I haven't even entertained the thought of the Steelers signing Saturday. He doesn't fit the mold. He's old (34 yrs old), he's expensive (3 time pro bowler), he's a big name, and he plays a position where the Steelers have a solid (ok, average) starter. But today, in the Tribune Review, John Harris writes that Jeff Saturday has told his agent that he would like to be a Steeler. He also said that he would play any position on the O-line if he were a Steeler. If this is the case, maybe Saturday would take a cheap, short term deal to try and win a Super Bowl in Pittsburgh. His signing would immediately improve the line in talent and experience and would allow a rookie drafted this year some time to study under or with one of the best in the game. I still say it's very unlikely (and completely irrelevant if he won't take a major pay cut), but at least it keeps me entertained during the dullest of times in the NFL.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ten Thoughts about Free Agency

There were a lot of questions about what the Steelers would do with their free agents this year. Many were answered when the franchise tag was placed on Max Starks yesterday. The tag guarantees that Starks will be paid at least $8.5 million in 2009, unless he signs a long-term deal by July 15. The Steelers are now $11 million under the cap. Assuming $5 million will be spent on the NFL draft, the team has about $6 million to use on free agents.

Ten Thoughts about Free Agency
1.) James Harrison's new contract will increase his cap number in 2009, meaning:

2.) Bryant McFadden will not be a Steeler in 2009. The team can probably sign Nate Washington, Willie Colon, Trai Essex, and a couple other low price free agents.

To save cap room:
3.) Starks can sign a long-term deal, lessening his cap hit in 2009. Starks has the bargaining power here, because he can reject a low ball offer and play in 2009 for $8.5 million. I doubt the team franchised him without the intention of signing him to a longer deal.

4.) Cut several players. The most likely candidate is Larry Foote ($3 million). I'd prefer to keep Foote, but if his cap space allows the team to sign a free agent he will be out. I wouldn't mind cutting Kendall Simmons ($3 million). Stapleton didn't play extremely well, but I like him better than Simmons.

5.) Restructure contracts. Likely candidates to restructure and re-sign are Hines Ward and Casey Hampton.

Looking at the line:
6.) Two positions are set in stone. Left tackle and center. Starks and Hartwig are locked in at those positions.

7.) Willie Colon will probably be the right tackle. Maybe Tony Hills can challenge him.

8.) Interior lineman will probably be targeted in the first round. Alex Mack and Max Unger are both centers, but may be able to play guard. Duke Robinson is the top guard and will be available at pick 32. I would love to see two offensive lineman taken in the first two rounds. Preferably one to play right tackle and one to play guard. It's unlikely that two rookies will be ready to start on the line, but a man can dream. That would allow the team to release Simmons (probably not happening), and move Colon to guard (even less likely than releasing Simmons). Maybe Tony Hills develops into a right guard. It would allow a starting line of Starks, Rookie (Alex Mack/Max Unger/Duke Robinson), Hartwig, Colon, Hills/Rookie (Phil Loadholt).

9.) I hope there is an open competition at offensive line. Despite loving position flexibility, it didn't seem like Tomlin gave Starks a shot at right tackle and Colon never had an opportunity to play at the guard position. Simmons and Marvel's injuries made the argument moot, but Colon and Starks on the right side seemed like a better starting tandem than Simmons and Colon.

10.) My best guess is the line will be Starks, Rookie (Mack/Unger/Robinson) Hartwig, Simmons, Colon. Backups will be Hills, Stapleton, and Essex. I hope I'm wrong.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Steelers Franchise Max Starks, Starks Agent Named Pittsburgh Business Man of Year

Yeah, I've got some major photoshop skills

According to the Post-Gazette (I think John Clayton broke the story), the Steelers have placed the franchise tag on Max Starks.

The Steelers have placed the franchise tag on offensive tackle Max Starks, a move that will keep him from becoming an unrestricted free agent and guarantee
him $8.451 million in salary -- the average of the NFL's top five offensive linemen -- in the 2009 season.

The Steelers will try to work out a long-term deal with Starks, a No. 3 draft choice in 2004 who started 11 games last season at left tackle.

The franchise tag placed on Starks was non-exclusive, meaning he is allowed to talk with other NFL teams about a contract. However, if he would sign with another team, that team would have to compensate the Steelers with two No. 1 picks.

It is the second year in a row the Steelers have used a tag to keep Starks from becoming an unrestricted free agent. He was named a transition player last season, even though he wasn't a starter, and was paid $6.9

Translation: Max Starks is a very rich man. I don't think this will be a popular move with the Steelers faithful. Starks isn't anywhere near the top 5 at his position, but the Steelers must have been desperate to ensure the team has a left tackle in place for next season.

Here is the immediate reaction e-mail chain between Elliot (SteezBro 1), Josh (SteezBro 2), Alex (SteezBro 3), and the Scerb (friend of SteezBros).

Elliot: Steelers franchised Max to the tune of $8.45 million if I remember correctly. They are trying to negotiate a long term deal. Thoughts?

Josh: This is a guy that couldn't even start over Willie Colon. Definitely not worth $8.45 million. Hopefully he signs a long term deal worth less $$$, but this gives him an incentive to hold out for a big contract. If he doesn't get a deal he likes, he can play next year for $8 million. Stupid. He'll be the second highest paid player on the team over 2008-2009 and make enough to retire ($15 million in two years). I just don't understand it. I'd rather sign Marvel Smith and have Trai Essex as a back up than spend $9 million on Starks. Good thing we won the super bowl and there is a moratorium on complaining. We could probably sign Jordan Gross for $9 million per.

Scerb: Wow. Two years in a row. Can't seem to rationalize any other way to keep him around. Rather would have seen them do this with BMac though. Perhaps they have something else in mind... It's not like they just started into this business or something.

Josh: Yeah, much rather have BMac and Nate. Save some cap room to re-sign Deebo, Heath, Clark, and Hines. Draft a Left Tackle this year or pray like hell Essex and Tony Hills can develop. Kevin Colbert is the man, but he's made some mistakes on the O-line recently. Kendall Simmons big contract comes to mind.

Elliot: I don't understand the need to franchise him. Do the Steelers really think there is going to be a bunch of suitors for him? He did play well this year at LT. I just think they should not have acted so quickly and tried to work out a long term deal with him. If we can't sign him we should be able to get Marvel back at much less and maybe draft someone for emergencies. 8.45 million eats up about 45% of our cap space for next year I think. He is guaranteed the 8.45 for next year even if they sign him to a long term deal.

Alex: Marvel is not reliable anymore. When he plays yes he is better than Starks but he has had some extreme back issues the past two years and Starks is the best tackle on the team and with no one on the team (Essex and Hills are no where near ready) to protect Bung's blindside this is probably the rationale of tagging him. I don't agree with it because now we are gonna be handcuffed with Deebo and McFeezy and Nate too let alone as all the other marquee players with one year remaining on their contracts. I dont understand doing this to Starks two years in row.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Arians Will Return Next Season

The Post-Gazette is reporting that for the third straight season, the Steelers will have the same coaching staff. This means that much criticized (in these pages and elsewhere in Steelers Nation) offensive coordinator, Bruce Arians, will be returning in that capacity next season. Although much of the criticism was deserved, especially for play calls that involved shotgun formations in third and one when we needed to run time off the clock, the Steelers did win the Superbowl this season. Once that occurred, any realistic expectation or hope that Arians or any of the coaching staff would be let go was gone.

It is harder to believe that no coaches were interviewed or hired by other teams. The only coach who even had a sniff of interest was linebackers coach Keith Butler (see post here) from the Arizona Cardinals aka Pittsburgh West. Interestingly, the Cardinals new D-coordinator was a former quality control coach under Bill Cowher.

In order to repeat as champions, you need to improve every year. Not big changes, but constantly tweaking to get better. The Patriots are the best at this in the NFL. The Spurs do this amazingly well in the NBA. The team that won this year on the offensive side of the ball was in no way a perfect team. We struggled to score for decent stretches of the season especially in the red zone late in the year as was witnessed in the Superbowl. We were inconsistent at best running the ball this season. We could not run time off the clock with long possessions when we needed to and we couldn't gain one yard by pounding it many times this season. We also gave up tons of sacks. Imagine if Ben wasn't the best QB in the league at escaping would be tacklers and making something happen. We could use some tweaks. One could have been getting rid of Arians and O-line coach Larry Zierlien. Maybe the draft will bring some new talent to the O-line. Maybe Ben will be permitted to call more plays next season. Whatever happens, tweaks need to be made somewhere to continue our improvement. We now know where the tweaks aren't happening, the coaching staff.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Steelers Fill Out Offseason Roster

According to the post-gazette, the Steelers signed 10 players to help fill out their offseason roster.

Seven of them were on their practice squad last season:
WR Dallas Baker, C/G Doug Legursky, CB Roy Lewis, S Ryan Mundy, TE Dezmond Sherrod, RB Justin Vincent and LB Donovan Woods.

Three new players signed are RB Stefan Logan, WR Brandon Williams and FB
Ryan Powdrell.

Odds these players make the roster
Dallas Baker - He was active in the early part of the regular season. The Steelers depth at WR is very limited, so don't be surprised to see Baker make the roster next year. Vegas says: 3/2

Roy Lewis - The undrafted rookie appeared to have a chance of making the team last year. If McFadden isn't re-signed, Lewis will compete for the 4th cornerback spot behind Ike, Willie Gay, and Deshea. Vegas says: 3/1

Stefan Logan - rushed for 889 yards on 122 carries (7.3 avg.) and caught 52 passes for 477 yards (9.2 avg.) and three TDs in 2008 with the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League. His only chance of making the roster is as a kick return specialist. Seeing as though his competition is Gary Russell and Carey Davis, he should get a fair shot. Steeler fans pray he is capable of returning a kick off past the 30 yard line. Vegas says: 3/1

Donovan Woods - Possible special teamer. Vegas says: 7/2

Ryan Mundy - If Anthony Smith isn't re-signed, Mundy could be a back up safety and special teamer. Vegas says: 4/1

Legursky, Vincent, Sherrod - I don't know much about this crew, but my guess is they don't have much of a shot. Vegas says: 10/1

Brandon Williams, Ryan Powdrell - The competition at fullback and wide receiver is thin, but this is the first time I've heard of either player. That doesn't bode well for their chances. Vegas says: No line

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Steeler Free Agents (Part 2)

Yesterday, I reviewed the Steeler free agents going into 2009. There aren't many and if you don't want to read the entire post, here's the cliffs notes: sign BMac, Nate, and Max Starks. Sign some others if they are dirt cheap.

Now, let's dive into the hard stuff. The Steelers have some mega-stars entering the final year of their contracts. Here's the list: Brett Keisel, Casey Hampton, Willie Parker, Larry Foote, James Harrison, Ty Carter, Ryan Clark, Hines Ward, Justin Hartwig, Deshea Townsend, Heath Miller, and Jeff Reed. Ideally, the team could sign all of these guys to long term contracts, but that's completely unrealistic. 2010 is scheduled to be an uncapped year. I'm assuming that a new collective bargaining agreement will be reached. Most NFL owners know that one reason for the popularity of the NFL is the parity (or illusion of parity) provided by a hard salary cap and revenue sharing. But I digress.

Priorities, Priorities
For the last two years, James Harrison was named the Steelers MVP. For the last two years James Harrison made $1 million per year. Notice anything wrong here? Things are about to change. Deebo earned a major raise and Kevin Colbert has started conversations to ink the Defensive Player of the Year to a new deal. He is 30 years old, but only had two years of real wear on his body. After being cut four times, Harrison appreciates the opportunity given to him by the Steelers, but this is his last long-term contract. He needs to cash in to set himself up for a life of watching cartoons and lounging by the pool. If we're lucky, the deal will be similar to Troy Polamalu's contract of 4 yrs, $32 million. If we're unlucky, it's closer to Jared Allen's six year, $72 million contract. He's the best defensive player in the league. After two years of making less than Jeff Reed, Silverback's earned it.

Hines Ward is the heart and soul of the Steelers. More than any player in the league, Hines Ward is the personification of his team. His hard-nosed style has rubbed off on the young guys and he has one of the unquestioned leaders in the locker room. Oh yeah, he can still play too. At 33 years old, he had one of the best statistical years of his career. He needs to finish his career as a Steeler. Unfortunately, Hines has always had a major inferiority complex and will probably want to get paid like one of the best in the league. The Steelers rarely make long-term deal with players on the downside of their careers, but Mike Tomlin will definitely want to make a deal (similar to James Farrior) that enables Hines to retire in Pittsburgh. Please Hines, you are a rich man. You'll never have to buy a drink in the Burgh for the rest of your life. Accept a fair deal that keeps you here.

Jeff Reed is one of the best kickers in the league and one of the few that can kick at Heinz Field. Plus, he leads the team in drunken photos. Sign the man.

Ryan Clark allows Troy to be Troy. He also sacrificed his spleen for the team. Unless Anthony Smith or Ryan Mundy can develop in one year, sign the hardest hitting safety in the league.

Heath Miller is underrated and underutilized. Tight ends aren't the most expensive players around, but there won't be much money left after signing Deebo, Ward, Clark, and McFadden. It's going to cost at least $4 million per year to keep him. Matt Spaeth is worse than Heath at just about everything, but he was serviceable when Heath was hurt this year. I'd say it's 50-50 that Heath comes back.

Brett Keisel - The Steelers aren't deep at defensive tackle, but Keisel isn't getting any younger. He's already 30. There isn't any one on the roster that can replace him, so let's keep him. I hope my enthusiasm didn't get you too excited to keep reading.

Willie Parker - Parker's been hurt the last two seasons. Delicious Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore are waiting in the wings. Even though the Steelers are 7-0 in the playoffs when Willie starts, another team will pay more than Pittsburgh.

Casey Hampton - He's getting fat and old. He can still be dominant, but it'll cost too much. Aaron Smith means more to the D-line than Big Snack. We'll miss him at beer pong tailgating and Penguins games

Larry Foote - You were an integral part of two Super Bowl winning teams. You never got much credit, but you were always solid. It's sad to see you go, but Lawrence Timmons is waiting in the wings. I just hope you aren't cut before next season.

Justin Hartwig - He's an average center who appeared much better than he is because he replaced Sean Mahan. He'll play out his contract and hopefully Stapleton or a new draft pick can take his spot.

Deshea Townsend, Ty Carter - Aging secondary guys. If necessary, e can re-sign them at when their contracts expire.

So there you have it. Sometime next week I'll address each position group and discuss the focus for the upcoming draft.

Voice your disagreements in the comments section.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Steeler Free Agents (Part 1)

For a team that won the Super Bowl, the Steelers are in great shape heading into the offseason. Only two offensive or defense starters are unrestricted free agents and the team is approximately $20 million under the salary cap. Other than a shaky offensive line and an aging defensive line, the Steelers have few areas to address in the off season. The team will return 10 starters from the best defense in the league and Big Ben is signed for the better part of the next decade.

Historically, the Steelers focus on re-signing their own players before moving on to free agency. As part of this philosophy, they nearly always lock up key players before they enter the final year of their contracts. And that's where the team runs into some problems. Here are the guys with one year left: Brett Keisel, Casey Hampton, Willie Parker, Larry Foote, James Harrison, Ty Carter, Ryan Clark, Hines Ward, Justin Hartwig, Deshea Townsend, Heath Miller, and Jeff Reed. We'll address these players in the next post. So let's focus on the free agents heading into this offseason.

2009 UFA
CB: Bryant McFadden, Fernando Bryant
QB: Charlie Batch & Byron Leftwich
OG: Chris Kemoeatu
OT: Max Starks, Marvel Smith, & Trai Essex
WR: Nate Washington
LB: Arnold Harrison , Keyaron Fox
DL: Orpheus Roye
P: Mitch Berger

2009 RFA
OT: Willie Colon
FS: Anthony Smith
CB: Anthony Madison
FB: Carey Davis
TE: Jon Dekker

Priorities, Priorities
If I were Kevin Colbert, my first focus would be on Bryant McFadden. If McFeezy were to re-sign, the Steelers secondary would be set for 2009. Ike & McF. starting. Gay and Townsend in the nickel and dime. Polamalu and Clark at safety with Ty Carter as a backup. Unfortunately, McFadden may be the one free agent in this class that could attract some major suitors. Solid cornerbacks rarely hit the open market, especially ones from the #1 and Super Bowl winning defense. McFadden has stated that he wants to stay in Pittsburgh, but his agent Drew Rosenhaus won't be afraid to test the open market. If McFadden is willing to take #2 CB money, the Steelers will be happy to have McFizzle back. But with plenty of Steelers stars entering the last year of the contract, Pittsburgh won't break the bank for McFantastic.

My number two priority would be Nate Washington. Before this year, Nate was better known for the dropsies (which he passed on to Limas Sweed), but he developed into a nice #3 WR and deep threat. He had four or five straight games with 40+ yard catches this season. I'm hoping that his lack of huge stats will limit interest in him on the open market. The main reason the Steelers need to make Nate a priority is the lack of depth at WR. Without Nate, the only receivers on the team with experience are Ward and Holmes. Limas Sweed will move into the #3 WR spot. After Sweed, there are literally no WRs on the roster. If Nate isn't signed, the Steelers will have to target an experienced wide receiver in free agency. I'd rather have Nate. He's productive, knows the system, and has good potential.

The third priority is the offensive linemen. Three starters on the O-line, the former starting LT, and the top back up are looking at free agency. Colon will be tendered as a restricted free agent and no other team will give up draft picks to get him away from the team. My guess is that Marvel Smith is gone. A recurring back injury is not a desirable trait in a left tackle. Essex will probably be brought back as a cheap back up. Kemo is gone unless he can be re-signed very cheaply. He has potential, but was maddeningly inconsistent. Stapleton has starting experience and Kendall Simmons will return from injury. Two inconsistent starting guards are enough. I think the Steelers draft an interior lineman in the first round to bolster the guard spot. Max Starks is the most complicated situation. He has started on two Super Bowl winning teams. He has experience at right and left tackle, but he is only an average player that sometimes struggles with weight issues. That said, he is the only player on the team with experience at left tackle. With the 32nd pick in the draft, the top tackles will be picked before the end of the first round. Tony Hills, a 4th round draft pick, is still a developmental player. The Steelers probably don't want to enter 2009 without a left tackle on the roster, so they probably want Max Starks back on the team (note: there are rumors that Tomlin doesn't like Starks, but Colbert does. How else do you explain Colon starting at RT over Starks?), but only at an affordable price. I don't think the front office wants to repeat last year's mistake and make Starks the second highest player on the team. There wasn't much outside interest in Starks last off season. If that trend continues, we'll re-sign Starks and return our two starting tackles from this year. Imagine another year of watching Starks and Colon. Oy! One intriguing thought is the possibility of signing Marvel Smith to a short, incentive laden deal, re-sign Starks, move Colon to guard (his more natural position), and have a starting line of Smith, Colon, Hartwig, Simmons, and Starks. It's hardly a great line, but if we add a draft pick or two that line could be much improved. Then again, these players were on the roster at the beginning of the season and Tomlin refused to move Colon to guard. Probably just a pipe dream.

The other players aren't as high profile. As long as they sign cheaply, here are my recommendations:

Re-sign: Batch, Fox (good special teams player and back up LB), A. Harrison, A. Smith (cheap tender offer), Madison

Let walk: Leftwich (he wants to start), Dekker, C. Davis (probably will be re-signed b/c Arians has a hard-on for fullbacks that can't block very well, but excel at catching 1 yard passes), Berger, Roye, Bryant

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Keith Butler Next to Join Pittsburgh West?

Per PFT,the Steelers have given the Arizona Cardinals permission to interview Keith Butler, the Steelers linebacker coach for the past 6 seasons, for their vacant Defensive Coordinator position. The position came open recently when their former D-Coordinator, Clancy Perndergast was fired after the Cardinals loss in the Superbowl. There has been speculation that Butler is the leading candidate to replace Steelers current D-Coordinator, Dick LeBeau, whenever he decides to hang it up. Butler has been integral in the development of the Steeler linebackers especially James Harrison and Lamar Woodley in past few seasons. Losing Butler wouldn't be disastrous but the effects will be felt. The libebackers are the key to our defense and Butler has done an outstanding job developing our young guys. Timmons is ready to replace Larry Foote. Woodley and Harrison have become stars. I would love for Butler to stay on and coach are LB's as the continue to improve and dominate. Once Dick LeBeau retires, he can take over the D.

I think it is a little ridiculous that Arizona feels the need to bring in everyone they can from the Steelers. I know the Steelers are one of if not the best run franchises in any sport but this is getting ridiculous. If Butler heads out west to run the Cards D, their three top coaches will be from Pittsburgh. Whiz is the Head Coach who may take over play calling since Todd Haley left, was our tight end coach and offensive coordinator, Russ Grimm is their assistant head coach and O-line coach, the same positions he held with the Steelers and then their D-Coordinator would be Butler. Not to mention the numerous players they have who were with the Steelers. Some say imitation is the best form of flattery but this is getting a little ridiculous.


Check out the latest from PFT. Apparently, the Steelers have NOT given Arizona permission to interview Butler as was originally reported because the Cards have not even requested it yet.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Big Ben Played Super Bowl with Rib Fractures

As if his performance in Super Bowl XVIII wasn't amazing enough, Peter King of CNNSI.com reports today that Big Ben played the Super Bowl with at least two fractured ribs. We're all used to questionable injuries to Big Ben (his self-proclaimed broken toes in a New England play off game come to mind), but these injuries were supported with an MRI that was taken after the Super Bowl. There was nothing that could have been done to treat the rib fractures and they were small enough to escape a not-so-secret X-ray done before the game. The injury didn't appear to affect the way Roethlisberger played. There were numerous times that Ben scrambled around defenders trying to make plays.

Roethlisberger likely suffered the injury in the AFC Championship Game on a hit by Ravens safety Haruki Nakamura.

Big Ben had this to say about the injury:

"Luckily, in the game, I didn't take any big hits to make 'em hurt. But I knew all along there was something wrong. There wouldn't have been anything they could have done about fractured ribs anyway. It was just suck it up and play.''
UPDATE: Turns out Big Ben could be making up another injury. ESPN reports that the Steelers had no knowledge of the alleged rib fractures. This could be another case of prima donna Big Ben trying to add to his own legend. Or it could be that the team is covering for Mike Tomlin's denial of Big Ben receiving x-rays before the Super Bowl.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pictures from Super Bowl and Parade

Click here for some awesome pictures...

Rooney Turns Family into Business

In all the excitement of Super Bowl week, I missed this article about Dan Rooney in the New York Times. It's a great look into the way our beloved owner operates his historic franchise.

Rooney walks to the Steelers’ home games, on a broken sidewalk, past an abandoned gas station and underneath the overpass for Route 65.

For away games, he travels with the players. “I wasn’t used to the owner flying on the plane,” said the backup quarterback Charlie Batch, recalling his surprise when he arrived to play for the Steelers after leaving the Detroit Lions. “And not only was he on the plane, he was sitting in the seat that doesn’t recline, in front of the bathroom.”

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Steeler Football is 60 Minutes

"Steeler football is 60 minutes. It's never going to be pretty. Throw style points out the window, but these guys will fight to the end. We didn't blink." - Mike Tomlin

It seemed like every week Mike Tomlin made the same statement. The Steelers play for 60 minutes. The Steelers don't care about style points. Steeler players fight to the end. So it should come as no surprise that the youngest coach in Super Bowl history shared the same sentiment after Pittsburgh became Sixburgh. But of all Tomlin's cliches, this one was completely accurate. Week after week Pittsburgh played tight games and almost always came out on top.

I've been trying to figure out who should get the most credit in Pittsburgh's Super Bowl season. All year, I've focused on the flaws of the team that I thought would result in a playoff loss. And despite winning the Super Bowl, this team had some major flaws that few teams in history could overcome. Nearly all of them showed up in the Super Bowl and turned a rout into a historic game. (1) The offensive line was bad all year. It was bad in the Super Bowl. Darnell Dockett dominated. The running game was non-existent. Big Ben was running for his life nearly all game. The line had at least three holding penalties (one on a safety, one on the most important drive of the year) and a false start. NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes said that it was the worst offensive line to ever make the Super Bowl. (2) Due in large part to the O-line, the Steelers could not run the ball consistently and were a terrible short yardage running team. In the Super Bowl, the team couldn't score a touchdown when it had first and goal from the 1 (first quarter) and first and goal from the 3 (third quarter). It couldn't run out the clock in the 4th quarter to prevent Arizona from making a late game comeback. (3) Inability to score touchdowns. The Steelers ran 13 plays inside of Arizona's 10 yard line and came away with 13 points. (4) The poor play of special teams. When your game plan is based on time of possession and playing solid defense, special teams play is especially important. The Steelers were terrible kick and punt returners. Mitch Berger was consistently bad and nearly lost the AFC Championship with his poor performance. (5) Bruce Arians - For most of the year, the play calling and game planning on offense was terrible. Big Ben had more success calling his own plays and running two minute drills, than operating the regular offense. (Note: Arians called a good game against the Cardinals).

But while I was busy identifying weaknesses, the Steelers were busy solidifying their strengths. The team played one of the hardest schedules in the league and finished 15-4. To put that in perspective, of the teams that played one of the seven hardest schedules, only Pittsburgh had a winning record. Not only did it have a winning record, the team was 11 games above .500. The defense was incredible throughout the season. The offense struggled at times, but always came through when it was needed. By playing a difficult schedule and lots of close game, the 2008 Steelers developed the one trait that allowed them to become champions - mental toughness. After losing a couple close games against the Giants and the Colts, Pittsburgh learned how to win. Big Ben led late drives against San Diego and Baltimore. The offense came back from a 10 point deficit against Dallas and the defense closed it out with a pick six. Troy Polamalu killed the Ravens with a pick six in the AFC Championship game. And after the defense faltered against Arizona, Big Ben led a historic, game winning drive. Partially by design, and partially because they were in so many tough games, the Steelers always played the full 60 minutes.
If I were to pick three reasons the Steelers are Super Bowl Champions, they would be (in no particular order):

1) Mental Toughness / Team Unity - In several articles this year, NFL writers marveled at the chemistry of this team. Peter King opened his MMQB column writing about how much these players cared about each other. Caring about each other resulted in personal accountability. Personal accountability resulted in success. Success led to mental toughness. Mental toughness led to the Super Bowl. I give Mike Tomlin the credit for creating an atmosphere of team unity and personal accountability. The standard never changed after wins. It never changed after losses. It never changed after injuries. Tomlin set the tone and this team bought it hook, line, and sinker.

2.) Dominant Defense - This was a special defense. One of the best of all time. It had two dominating players in James Harrison and Troy Polamalu. A breakout star in LaMarr Woodley. A huge hitter in Ryan Clark. A defensive quarterback in James Farrior. An unsung hero in Aaron Smith. And a number of other stars. But, most importantly, the unit played as one. James Harrison's 100 yard interception return was a perfect example of how this defense merged individual and team accomplishments. Harrison had the instincts to jump Boldin's crossing route, but as soon as he made the interception, there were at least six Steelers defenders sprinting down field to make blocks. Harrison's int. and return were incredible individual efforts, but it never would have gone for a TD without the help of his teammates.

3.) Ben Roethlisberger - He is the only quarterback in the league that could have won the Super Bowl with this offensive line. He got hit hard every game. He separated his shoulder multiple times. He suffered rib injuries. He suffered a spinal cord concussion. He had a terrible offensive play caller. In spite of this, he led six 4th quarter comebacks this season. He has more wins in his first five seasons than any quarterback ever. He is 8-2 in the playoffs. He has two Super Bowls in five years. He just led one of the best drives of all time to win the Super Bowl. He is elite.

"Our defense gets a lot of recognition for what they're capable of, and rightfully so," coach Mike Tomlin said. "But what you saw from our quarterback and our offense at the end of the game is what they've provided for us all year. When we've needed it most, they've done it and done it big."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Super Bowl Pictures

Above are the Steezbros the night before the game. Below are some pics from the Superbowl weekend and the victory parade. What a season! It hasn't sunk in yet. I am just relieved. Enjoy the pics. Congrats to all of Steeler Nation. Being in the 'burgh for the past two weeks has been incredible. Congrats to all the Steelers' players and coaches.

Superbowl Baby!



Absolutely awesome game. I’m going to try to stay off the emotional high and my biased opinion and not say that this is the greatest Super Bowl ever. But wow. Hats off to the Cards. They put us onto the canvas and almost put us out for the count but Big Bungy and ‘Tone led an amazing Championship winning drive. Here are some more random thoughts.

- If there was a prop bet in Vegas on how many trick plays Arizona would run and the line was 1.5 or under I would have been willing to put my entire bank account (which is practically nothing except I did win $190 on the future bet of the Steez at 18 to 1) on the over and I would have lost everything. Correct me if I’m wrong but not one person has mentioned this in the aftermath. Everyone thought they would before the game and they didn’t take one shot at a trick play after they won Whiz a Super Bowl in Pittsburgh and got him to another with the hapless Cardinals. Interesting and I still feel I am the only person to talk about it.

- Which Super Bowl do you like more XL or XLIII?

- The chimp was finally wrong with his Super Bowl pick.

- Only three weeks until the DVD comes out and then I will have a decision to make on a down day of which DVD to put in to turn my day around.

- Did Willie Parker or any of the Steez runningbacks play in this game? Or for that matter did any Arizona runningbacks play either?

- Larry Fitzgerald is more of a beast than Dave Megget (after breaking in and raping a 21 year old) I loved him at Pitt for the same reason as what he did in the playoffs this year. He killed people and us included. But don’t discredit Ike. He played an awesome game against him. If you take away the one big play which was more Troy and Ry Clark’s fault than his. He holds him to about 50 yards and an unbelievable TD grab in which Ike had pretty good coverage. Fitz’s first TD is not getting the credit it deserves mainly because people have just come to accept Fitz making unreal catches. Going back to Ike he held Fitz to 12 yards and one catch in over 3 quarters.

- Let’s hope we sign McFeezy and Nate. We take them both for granted and hopefully the league hasn’t really noticed them. XLIII doesn’t happen without them.

- Woody and Silverback. Enough said. Woody continues his postseason streak of multiple sacks to four games. He has played in four postseason games. Silverback was cut by the Steez twice and the Nevermores once and now has two Super Bowl Rings, a Defensive Player of the year, and the greatest play in Super Bowl History. What a kick in the balls for the Cards who had at least the game tied and probably the lead until Silverback’s 100 yard Pick Six, the longest play in Super Bowl history. I still think he might deserve MVP. If the three holding penalties he drew counted as sacks as which they should, he would be the MVP. Ben and ‘Tone deserved it as well but Silverback killed people all year and it was about time finally a Ref recognized he gets held on every play. Great execution by the Steez D on the pre-snap of the pick six. Warner had no idea who was going to come and who was going to drop into coverage. He hurriedly threw the slant to Boldin where Silverback was right in the lane in his drop into his zone coverage. Without the perfect deception by the D and the immediate pressure, Warner doesn’t force the throw or might see Siverback and throw it away. Great run back too. I thought he was for sure going to get pushed out of bounds or run down from behind. Great job by the troops to lead the convoy down the field. Great blocks by DeShea, Timmons, and Antrelle Rolle. I hear people complaining about that he got in his way but if he doesn’t would the refs have thrown the flag on the illegal contact? A player cannot run out of bounds and be the first player to touch the ball or the ball carrier. A ref watched Fitz run out and be in on the tackle at the goal line and for some reason didn’t throw the flag.

- I almost cried when Fitz scored. I apologize to Ben for not trusting in him.

- I don’t remember a single commercial.

- Where does our D go down in history?

- Foote wants to play for Detroit?

- Harrison needs a new deal.

- Screaming and high fiving everyone in the street before the game was awesomely fun and really helped the time and anxiety pass.

- Riots in Oakland were unbelievable. DeJuan Blair lit a dumpster on fire on Forbes Ave. Elliot burnt my ex’s neck with his cigar. I inhaled 7/8 of my cigar. I lived even though there were many gigantic horses everywhere. No EpiPen was used either. I was by myself for almost the entire thing somehow. The crowd loved the WWF Belt but not the one Pitt football player or several police officers. A couple officers did touch it though and one pushed me with his nightstick not once, not twice, but three times and I was going the direction where he wanted to go. My friends flipped a car and lit another one on fire. Unfortunately I did not participate. Over 100 people were arrested, The O, Bruegger’s, Boomerang’s and the library had windows smashed, a bus stop was completely demolished and a great time was had by all especially girls making out above the O and except for the one dude I saw get wrecked by a cop and the other kid who got suplexed by a cop and his nightstick.

- ‘Tone was unbelievable. What an amazing drive and TD catch. Kids I hope you learned your lesson—It pays off to smoke weed.

- I can’t stop listening to the PopRocks and the Yinzer Anthem or get them out of my head.

- The parade was so sweet. Tomlin looked as if he couldn’t get enough of it and was loving every second. James Harrison is scary but looked really happy. Rev. Sea Bass (formerly Big Snack but I recently found out he doesn’t like being called that) is gigantic
and looks like Biggie. Troy is nuts. Him and Ry Clark jumped into the fans and crowdsurfed. Clark had some pretty gnarly boots on. There was definitely more people on Grant and Stanwix than at the Inauguration a couple weeks ago. By far. The people at the parade were much more happy than those in DC as well. Big Play Willie gay was sweet on the mike and warned Barack that the team was coming. An awesome by rendition of Renegade by the players on stage although they don't seem to know all the words and I think every player was hammered. DeJuan Blair also made an appearance in the parade. Elliot should have a link with a bunch of pictures soon.

- I’m so excited for the DVD

- I’m still not sure if I like the Super Bowl hats but I will inevitably buy one along with a shirt, the DVD, towel and probably a shitload of other stuff that I don’t have the money for.

- Is there anything better than winning the Super Bowl? Especially with your family and friends in the city that you love? What an amazing weekend from getting my White coat (be prepared to call me Doc G in a couple years) with everyone there to see it to drinking all weekend to capping it off with another World Championship to rioting.

- Does Mitch Berger have to get a ring? I guess I’ll give him one because he actually did play well on the world’s biggest stage. Bruce Arians too, I guess… sigh.

- Heath Miller is sweet and so is Ry Clark.

- Quotes of the day today, Ry – “All we did all year was smash faces” Rev. Sea Bass (Casey Hampton or RSB)- “It’s goin’ down baby all off season we gon’ party and tear the city up.”

- RSB took his shirt off at the parade. He is so great and a beast.

- Where does Bungy rank all time? Does he have Hall of Fame numbers yet? Unbelievable poise and drive by still a young kid. He proved he deserved the cool $102 million.

- Farrior and Nate played most of the game pretty hurt but refused to come out of the game.

- There is a Troy Polamalu FatHead with my name on it.

- Don’t remember the half time show either

- Were the 3-D commercials cool?

- I feel like Dan Marino gets pissed every time any quarterback wins the Super Bowl.

- Thank you to everyone who reads and gave us support in our virgin season. Hopefully you all enjoyed it as much as we did. It paid off don’t you say?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Expert Predictions and Enjoy the Big Game

Happy Super Sunday everyone! It's been two weeks of non-stop talk, analysis and opinion regarding our team, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals. Today is what it's all about. It's why we watch every game, buy jerseys and read endless articles, blogs etc. I keep telling myself to try to enjoy this experience and enjoy the game. However, I have been a nervous wreck all week and as we get closer and closer to the game, the level of anxiety increases exponentially. I am to the point where I am fearful of making any predictions so I will just link to all the so called expert picks. Cheer hard Steeler Nation and enjoy it the best you can. HERE WE GO! STEELERS, HERE WE GO!


ESPN expert picks. Complete with video of current and former player picks.

Gene Wojciechowski's prediction

CNNSI expert picks.

Why the Steelers will win.

Why the Cardinals will win.

Another Bill Simmons epic chat. His picks are at the end.