View Full Version : Stupidity breaks up Steelers’ dynamic duo

04-16-2010, 01:17 AM
Stupidity breaks up Steelers’ dynamic duo
Jason Cole
http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=A ... snap041310 (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=Ar9phLgcwb6gi1W0Y83SjA1DubYF?slug=jc-directsnap041310)

By Jason Cole, Yahoo! Sports Apr 13, 5:04 pm EDT

Less than 15 months ago, it would have been easy to imagine quarterback Ben Roethlisberger(notes) and wide receiver Santonio Holmes(notes) producing great stats and highlight-reel plays year after year, many of them in the playoffs.

The great throw and catch they combined on in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl XLIII win against the Arizona Cardinals last year should have been the beginning of the best friendship since Rick Blaine and Captain Renault.

Instead, through their combined stupidity, they are no more. Both are on their way to New York this week, but hardly to take in a show. Roethlisberger is going to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and get a serious warning to stop embarrassing the league and his team.

Holmes is on his way there to play for the New York Jets after being discarded for a fifth-round NFL draft pick (or roughly the equivalent of a bag of used jockstraps when it comes to real value in the NFL). Of course, Holmes won’t play until he’s also done with the four-game suspension Goodell gave him for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, but that’s beside the point.

The point is this: From a pure football standpoint, Roethlisberger and Holmes were great together. Truly great. Their talents were great complements to one another and to an extent that few observers really understand.

As good friend, Steelers fan and statistical analyst Dutch Wydo pointed out shortly after Holmes was dealt Sunday, Holmes was one of the best receivers in the league at truly moving the chains.

Last year, Holmes accounted for 63 first downs out of his 79 receptions. That 79.7 percent mark of creating a first down was the second highest among the NFL’s top 50 pass catchers (the San Diego Chargers’ Vincent Jackson(notes) was first at a stunning 85.3 percent of his 68 catches).

Even if you take away Holmes’ five touchdowns (touchdowns count as first downs), he was a master of creating a fresh set of downs. To break that down further, there were only seven of the top 50 in the league who topped the 75 percent mark. By comparison, the NFL’s leading receiver, Wes Welker(notes), created 71 first downs. But Welker did that on 123 receptions, meaning that only 57.7 percent of his catches went for first downs.

Of course, Holmes and Welker serve different purposes in their respective offenses. Holmes, particularly when combined with Roethlisberger, was more of a downfield threat. Welker is more of a de facto element of the New England Patriots running game.

Still, Holmes was clearly better at what he did than highly regarded teammates Hines Ward(notes), who turned only 58 percent of his catches into first downs, and Heath Miller(notes) (48 percent). The Steelers do have up-and-coming receiver Mike Wallace(notes), but to say that Wallace will easily replace Holmes is being generous. Plus, it just means that someone will have to step into Wallace’s role (suddenly Antwaan Randle El(notes) is more important than most Steelers fans thought).

What Holmes provided was a quick receiver who never quit on plays even as they broke down. His willingness to work to get open all the way to the last moment can’t be overstated. When combined with Roethlisberger’s pump-faking, extend-the-play-to-the-last-second style, Holmes’ ability was maximized.

Holmes, who turned his catches into 1,248 yards last season in his best year to date, was also well on his way to taking over for Ward, who just turned 34 and is playing on borrowed time. In other words, Holmes was soon going to be in a position to catch 100 passes a year or more from a quarterback who suits him extremely well.

Ultimately, Holmes has some qualities that make him a truly elite player. Sadly, his penchant for irresponsible behavior is undermining what could be a great career. The other sad part about this is that Roethlisberger may have indirectly forced the Steelers to part with Holmes, who is going into the final season of his five-year contract, faster than they wanted. While it is impossible to quantify, the fact that Roethlisberger got in trouble just before Holmes’ latest shenanigans, it’s hard not to believe that Steelers management is getting a little weary of bad publicity these days.

Since winning the Super Bowl, the Steelers have had to deal with two sexual misconduct allegations against Roethlisberger and Holmes’ recent incident. This is on top of missing the playoffs last season.

In other words, bad news eventually begets a reaction. In this case, Holmes’ lengthy history of silliness away from the field was no longer tolerable, even if his play on the field was outstanding. Had there not been other issues, perhaps he would have survived that.

04-16-2010, 01:38 AM

04-16-2010, 09:33 AM


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