PDA

View Full Version : Steelers report:



fordfixer
03-13-2009, 10:56 PM
Steelers report: Inside slant March 13, 2009
The Sports Xchange

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/teams/report/PIT/11493103

Pittsburgh's offensive line next season won't look much different than the one that helped the Steelers to a victory in Super Bowl XLIII.

In fact, it will remain intact. The starting line of, left to right, Max Starks, Chris Kemoeatu, Justin Hartwig, Darnell Stapleton and Willie Colon in the Super Bowl last month should remain the starting lineup when they open the 2009 season.

It did not come cheaply. The Steelers made Starks their franchise player at nearly $8.5 million for one year. Colon will earn $2.2 million with his RFA tender. Kemoeatu signed a five-year, $20 million contract with a bonus of nearly $4 million.

That line was not a very good one last season, but the Steelers hope it can mature together and improve with experience. Kemoeatu and Stapleton started for the first time, Hartwig joined them in 2008 as a free agent, and Starks was a former right tackle pressed into service on the left side when Marvel Smith was hurt. Colon was the only holdover starter from the previous season.

What the Steelers need now is offensive line depth. They have been trying to re-sign Trai Essex, an unrestricted free agent who can play guard and tackle and has started a handful of games. If they do, he would be their No. 1 backup at both positions. Tony Hills, their fourth-round draft choice last season, will be in the mix, as will Jason Capizzi, a 6-foot-9 tackle who has been on and off their roster and practice squad the past two seasons.

That's it. They're not expected to pick up any free-agent offensive lineman capable of starting. They will likely draft one or two and sign some rookie free agents.

The line was the most criticized aspect of the Steelers in 2008, especially because quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sacked another 46 times and their ground game ranked just 23rd in the NFL, the second-lowest ranking for Pittsburgh since it joined the AFC in the 1970 league merger.

But there were extenuating circumstances. Chief among them were injuries to running backs Willie Parker and rookie Rashard Mendenhall, Roethlisberger's tendency to hold onto the ball longer than most quarterbacks and an evolving change in offensive philosophy under coordinator Bruce Arians.

Bottom line: they won a Super Bowl with that offensive line, and they have kept it together and will try it again in 2009.

"I think we played with a chip on our shoulders all year," guard Darnell Stapleton said. "It may not look that way and it wasn't always pretty with our unit but that's no excuse to be sub-par. We came into work every day and we fought to get better."

steeler_george
03-14-2009, 11:00 AM
What the Steelers need now is offensive line depth. They have been trying to re-sign Trai Essex, an unrestricted free agent who can play guard and tackle and has started a handful of games. If they do, he would be their No. 1 backup at both positions. Tony Hills, their fourth-round draft choice last season, will be in the mix, as will Jason Capizzi, a 6-foot-9 tackle who has been on and off their roster and practice squad the past two seasons.


That is the key to this years 2009 OL we need depth. Need to sign Trai or another quality reserve at T or G. Look at last year Starks and Stapleton got the start due to injuries.


Bottom line: they won a Super Bowl with that offensive line, and they have kept it together and will try it again in 2009.

"I think we played with a chip on our shoulders all year," guard Darnell Stapleton said. "It may not look that way and it wasn't always pretty with our unit but that's no excuse to be sub-par. We came into work every day and we fought to get better."

Yes, they did improve during the latter part of the season and the play offs, but did they over perform , max out their abilities...? Kudos to coach porn...?

ramblinjim
03-14-2009, 11:36 AM
Unless we pick up a guy in the first couple of rounds, we are probably stuck with these guys next year. It will be very interesting to see if they do indeed get better working together as a unit or if Ben is black and blue by week three and we are the worst running team in football.

I don't have the answer, I thougth the line stunk last year, so did most of the others on this board, obviously the FO sees things that we don't.

frankthetank1
03-15-2009, 11:33 AM
does the fo really believe since they won the sb with this o-line then they are good enough? its depressing, i just wish they would have signed one decent o-lineman in fa. now they will probably draft one or two lineman in rounds 3-5 that will be a "project" player and will never pan out. there are at least a couple good wr's that could fill the #3 spot left in fa so hopefully they will at least fill one need

RuthlessBurgher
03-15-2009, 12:20 PM
does the fo really believe since they won the sb with this o-line then they are good enough? its depressing, i just wish they would have signed one decent o-lineman in fa. now they will probably draft one or two lineman in rounds 3-5 that will be a "project" player and will never pan out. there are at least a couple good wr's that could fill the #3 spot left in fa so hopefully they will at least fill one need

Where were these free agent linemen you wanted us to sign, though? Jordan Gross and Vernon Carey were re-signed by their teams before free agency began. Tyson Clabo and Donald Penn received RFA tenders that would have required high draft pick compensation, essentially taking them off the market. What is left? A bunch of guys in their mid-30's who are shadows of their former selves, like Orlando Pace, Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas, etc. Would you rather have guys that are on their last legs and prone to injury, or keep our own young guys that already know are system and improved as the year went on as a result of working together? I am definitely of the mindset that our o-line needs improvement (in my mind, we should use at least 2 of our first 4 picks on the o-line for sure, especially since we have no real depth there right now), but the pickings were so slim in free agency this year that re-signing our own was the most pertinent thing to do.

True Fan
03-15-2009, 03:19 PM
enjoy last year's superbowl, it looks as tho' it will be awhile before the next one.

pittpete
03-15-2009, 04:00 PM
enjoy last year's superbowl, it looks as tho' it will be awhile before the next one.


Did u feel this way after 2005 also? :roll:

True Fan
03-15-2009, 08:42 PM
enjoy last year's superbowl, it looks as tho' it will be awhile before the next one.


Did u feel this way after 2005 also? :roll:


actually no. that team was poised to repeat and i thought they had a chance, but cowher took the year off. of course when i said that cowher mailed it in, i was not a 'true' fan :shock:

skyhawk
03-15-2009, 10:04 PM
It's a matter of when, not if, Ben gets hammered enough times he will be down and out for the season.

He is not getting any younger and his body will begin feeling the effects.

buckeyehoppy
03-15-2009, 11:16 PM
It's a matter of when, not if, Ben gets hammered enough times he will be down and out for the season.

He is not getting any younger and his body will begin feeling the effects.

And this is where I think the real problem lies.

Granted, the bright spot is that the same guys who were here to win it are back...and I've always said that there is something to the idea of unit cohesion when you have a unit that relies so much on it like the OL. If these guys can improve by being together one more year then so be it. Problem is, we lose three of these guys as UFAs after next season.

When Ben is getting clobbered with the regularity he has been the last couple years AND the team stands to lose three of these blockers next year, that is a potential problem.

Championship teams recognize areas of need and address need before it becomes a problem. That is especially true in the FA market. If you draft three or four OL guys, it gives you a chance to give a good look at a wide array of players and you can choose the best out of the lot. If the Steelers do draft 3 to 4 OL, that will give them options they won't otherwise have.

This off-season is where the OL needs to be addressed. It's just like it was with the LBs a couple years ago, and we really haven't needed to do much else but tweak the position since. If the FO does this in this draft, they may have to come back and get one or two more in 2010. But it won't be nearly the federal case it is this season.