Cowher's defense wasn't pre-built. He built it.
The same goes for the QB, the same goes for the HOF WR.
I think it's concerning to fans that watch a lot of football (not just the Steelers) and see teams developing and fielding talent faster than the Steelers. One happens to be a biggest rival. The Ravens.
I didn't realize that Tomlin was supposed to develop talent. I thought that was the position coaches job.
Clark / Hope - Cowher
Polamalu - Cowher
Ike - Cowher
Farrior > Timmons - Cowher
Foote - Cowher
Woodley > Haggans - Tomlin
A. Smith > Hood - Cowher
Keisel > Heyward (so far) - Cowher
Lewis - Tomlin (although it took years to replace McFadden, another Cowher guy)
Hampton / Hoke - Cowher guys
Harrison - Cowher
So basically, Tomlin has only drafted and developed 1 defensive player that is superior to Cowher's players. All other players are either Cowher's or Cowher's players were better.
Over time, this problem gets more noticeable as players are replaced by lesser players (i.e. Hood < Smith) or players that haven't been replaced start aging.
Our defense is a perfect example of this coming to light.
Hmm... Chadman thinks that the very essence of this argument will always divide a group into the pro & anti Tomlin's. If you are pro-Tomlin, you'll see he has introduced a number of 'ascending' players that haven't maxed out yet. If you are anti-Tomlin these same players have not, and will never likely meet the expectations we placed on them & are, therefore, busts.
Chadman is slightly torn on the issue. He inherited a good team. An established team. A team with few, if any, major holes. It was also a team heading into it's 'latter prime' years- in other words, peaking or peaked with their abilities, and closer to getting 'worse' than getting 'better'. Now this put Tomlin & Co in an awkward position- do you squeeze the orange dry & wring out as many years from this elite group as you can? Or do you start systematically replacing the pieces with younger guys?
As an example- let's look at the current state of the LT position. Currently Max Starks- a 'peaked' player holds the position. Mike Adams, an 'ascending' player is his back-up. Going into the season, the Steelers were a very good chance of competing for a SB. So now you face the situation- do you try & wring another year out of Max? Or do you throw Adams into the fire & harden him up for future years? You'll get better play from Max NOW, but this might hinder the development of Adams for LATER. What is more right?
How many times has Tomlin & Co been forced with this situation? Heyward, Hood, McLendon, Worilds, Cortez Allen, Curtis Brown.... sound familiar? Look at the guys in front of them over the years- established guys that still had something to offer... but declining. Would they be better players NOW if they had been starting for the last 3 years? Probably. But would the Steelers have been as good over the last 3 years if these guys had been playing?
Now, Chadman isn't saying that Tomlin's drafts & draft strategies have been stellar. The distinct lack of any Safety depth still rankles Chadman's chains. The time it's taken to take an OLD DL & change it into a YOUNGER group has, in Chadman's opinion, hindered the defence for the near future. But guys that constantly get bagged in here for being 'bad' draft choices, like Worilds for example, are not BAD draft picks- just young players that are held back by experienced older guys that don't deserve to lose their spot yet (Harrison).
A lot of other teams look like they develop young players faster- which might be true to some degree. But that is largely due to their young players stepping into a position where there simply isn't the quality of player in front of him on the Depth Chart that the Steelers have had for the last 5 years.
Face the facts people- the Steelers have had a VERY good team for the last 10 years. Cowher, Colbert & now Tomlin have been responsible for this. Things change through time, however, and right now we are seeing what is PROBABLY the tail end of the 'transition period' as guys like Aaron Smith, James Farrior, Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel, James Harrison & Troy Polamalu ride off into the sunset. Because their departures have all, roughly, come at the same time- we WILL suffer growing pains as young players that haven't been as exposed as players of the same age at poorer teams have been, are suddenly thrust into the spotlight.
There will never be a better time than now to change, schematically, the Steelers style of play- as the newer guys can be adapted into new schemes without the 'transition issues' that older players might face. Losing someone as important to the organisation as LeBeau has been would be made easier if done this offseason, before he starts trying to implement the newer guys into his systems.
We have been equal parts cursed & blessed by a great group of Steelers. We never wanted to see the end of them, but time is now dictating to us. We still hold the same expectations as we always have, but now we need to see how these new guys can become our newest crop of Steelers- with the growing pains we will experience thrown in for our entertainment!!
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