I'm one & I will take this head on.
I do watch the games. At least twice. Once as a fan like everyone else and then other times to evaluate. I will tell you this, after the season ended I went back and watched every game from Blatimore 2 to the end. All intensions were to look at our front seven because 4 of them are coming to the end.
Harrison just got stiff. His body doesn't have the ability to flex to be an edge rusher. Back & knee injuries combined with a stout maxed out frame at 35 has caught up to him. Your body has to be able to get into a proper angle to use your leverage to gain the upfield shoulder of the LT and rip. If you lose your ankle deflection, strength in knees to power through force at an angle, and the back strength to maintain leverage when engaged...It goes downhill fast. Harrison is a blunt downhill pass rusher right now. If a LT gets his punch in on Harrison's shoulders and moves his feet upfield, Harrison folds and is re-routed. He loses the leverage battle before he could rip under. He has become more of a motor rush and hoping he can out quick the LT by showing him enough inside counters & bull rushes. I luv Harrison and what he did for the Steelers. The arrow is pointing in the wrong direction on him.
I keep hearing the "He had a sack in 5 of the last seven games, with two strip fumbles created." "Defense terrible in the begining and better when he came back." Harrison was coming on at the end of the season.' "Best OLB the Steelers have." Steelers defense always comes on stronger as the year goes on. Troy came back for the last 5 games...Maybe it was him. (That was sarcastic.) We will stay with that theory. That theory is what shows the truth. Woodley had a horrible year. He will have to rebound. So Harrison was better than Woodley..I agree. That's it and is that really an accomplishment given the way Woodley played? Is there anyone else you could truley say he was better than when the next OLB started 3 games and got 27 TT & 5 sacks with 30% of his snaps compared to 13 games started 70 TT & 6 sacks? No...You can't.
So to stay with the coming on strong at the end of the year and a sack in 5 of his last 7 games theory. In week 13, end of season where Harrison is Coming on, the Steelers pull out a win over the Ravens without BB to get themselves into position to make a run. Harrison has a good game pitching in 7 tackles, 1 sack with a FF on the sack. The Steelers sit 7-5 and still alive. They put themselves in must-win-control-your-own-destiny-playoff-mode. So over the next 3 games, 2 home & 1 on the road against SD, DAL, & CIN....Harrison goes 10 TT 1 Sack 1 FF in 3 straight losses. Anyone else hear crickets? He has a sack but if I am correct he got credit for 1 sack for 0 yards in the Bengals game. I believe it was on the FG miss drive at the end of the game where Troy blitzed fee and Dalton ran out of shotgun and got tackled at the LOS to stay in FG range. Regardless...10-1-1 in three must win games. Is that "a beast" or coming on strong? You witnessed a break down of a soon to be 35 year old LB. It is a young mans game. If you don't agree with that...The other option would be lack of effort. It's James Harrison, I don't think that was the case.
7-8 as a result going into a meaningless game against a non playoff team who is 5-11. You can't use Harrison's stats in this game as any indication of where Harrison is at in his career. Where was he the last three games when the games counted? The body just wouldn't go. Harrison was in career survival mode against a team who has been the epidemy of underachievers. Everyone on that field was going to their complexes the next day and getting ready for the exit meetings & the offseason. 5 sacks in his last 7 games doesn't sound so good anymore.
This Harrison issue is about production, age, cap hit, and what the risk is on losing young players. It isn't about how much we luv the guy or what he did for the Steelers. Harrison isn't going to get this team to the SB. The ceiling for 2013 is in the hands of the coaches, BB, the young guys next in line, and the draft class. Moving on from some of the older vets may be the difference of 2-3 games on the bad side but it very well could be an parallel or upgrade...We don't know. I think more importantly is we do something that has to be done anyway in the near future if it allows the Steelers to hold on to players that will be a big part of the future.
One of the best write ups in a very long time. I totally agree, the arrow is pointing the worng direction and hoping to cattch lightening in the bottle "just one more season" is what got the team into the mess we are in. That's exactly what we tried to do with Aaron Smith (about three times), Casey Hampton, etc. It is time to move on and complete the generational change we started last season.