Mark Madden: Steelers' problems might be too big
Steelers' problems might be too big
Ryan Clark holds his head in frustration as he sits on the sideline during the final seconds of the fourth quarter during the Steelers' 13-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on Sunday, December 23, 2012.
Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
By Mark Madden
Turmoil didn't cause 8-8; 8-8 caused turmoil.
But the fact remains that the Steelers locker room appears lousy with malcontents, laggards and tattletales. Which is worst? That's in the eye of the beholder.
Such malaise is common with most NFL teams. Localization thereof is just another reminder that the Steelers are no longer a "special" franchise - if they ever were.
So, who's at fault?
Coach Mike Tomlin is hardly blameless. He seems to cede a bit more control and lose a bit more discipline every year.
Linebacker LaMarr Woodley is the founder of the latest tempest. Critics like Ryan Clark may characterize the unnamed Steeler source as a rat, but no one is calling that unnamed source a liar.
It's common knowledge that Woodley was out of shape, overweight and lacked dedication. The proof was in his season: Just four sacks and a level of invisibility the Steelers can't afford from an edge rusher.
Clark and Antonio Brown are right when they say the matter should have been kept in-house. But, given that, why did they keep discussing it publicly?
Oh, right: Got to get on TV.
What's a bigger sin: Tanking a season due to lard and laziness, like Woodley? Or calling Woodley out anonymously after the fact? Stinking, or snitching?
Going 8-8 suggests the former. Gangsta culture dictates the latter.
Hines Ward knows where things went wrong: He retired. Humility lives.
"When you lose so much leadership in the locker room, that is where things present itself like that," Ward told the NFL Network.
The Steelers don't lack leadership. They lack followers. The Young Money Crew and the Florida Gators posse (known collectively as the No-Ring Mafia) seem to believe they got NFL life figured out. So shut up, Troy.
The Steelers also lack self-awareness. The Steelers, as an organization and as individuals, are rarely made to experience an unpleasant moment. As a result, they seem to believe they shouldn't. They run this town, and they know it.
But when you go 8-8 and miss the playoffs, you don't get treated like immortals coated in Teflon. Punks, loafers and lousy performances get called out.
Humiliation isn't always bad. It can motivate. Woodley's problems weren't sorted out internally, or privately. So tell the outside world and see what happens.
The idea of a player currently without a contract or team purchasing a car that costs $500K is dumbfounding, isn't it? Wallace is in a temporary profession making temporary money. But someday he'll be a TV star: Wallace will be the primary protagonist on ESPN 30 for 30's "Broke 2."
So, how will the Steelers straighten out their locker room?
Winning is generally a cure-all. It's also easier said than done.
The Steelers' biggest problem has traditionally been when they don't recognize there's a problem. But perhaps the Steelers' current problems are too big. Perhaps too many bad actors populate their roster. Perhaps there are insufficient replacements for the broken parts that need to be replaced.
Only one thing seems certain: The Steelers are a lot closer to a losing season than they are a Super Bowl.
On the field, the Steelers' best bet is turning their hopes over to Ben Roethlisberger, one of football's top five quarterbacks. But tradition dictates the Steelers strive for balance on offense and hard-hitting defense. Don't let Roethlisberger win the game in the first quarter. Ask him to bail you out in the last.
Didn't work in 2012. Won't work in 2013. Between inferior weaponry and outdated philosophy, the Steelers are wasting their $102 million quarterback.
You think 8-8 caused turmoil? We might see what 6-10 produces.
If we only averaged 21 points a game last season, what will we do without Max Starks, Wallace, and Miller for a portion of next season ?
Then we lose Foster and Colon who will be our backups to the starters in 2013 if an injury occurs?
Ben is our best chance to get back to the playoffs, can we trust Gilbert, Beachum, and Adams with protecting him?
An article awhile back stated there are more questions than answers, looks to be right on.
Kovacevic: Hard calls for Steelers? No, not one
The Steelers’ Keenan Lewis (right) will become the team’s top free agent priority if Mike Wallace decides to leave for another team. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)
By Dejan Kovacevic
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Next week marks the one-year anniversary of the Steelers' cutdown beyond compare, the cumulative release of James Farrior, Aaron Smith and Hines Ward over three days. Just like that, three players who helped forge two Super Bowl titles, three powerful presences ... all gone.
One can only imagine how hard - no, excruciating - those calls must have been for Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin to make.
So one can further imagine their relief at having nothing of the kind this time around.
For all the fuss in these parts that more big names might soon be booted, that James Harrison and Casey Hampton could be next, here's what seems to be escaping notice: The Steelers won't really have much to do with any of these calls.
Bearing in mind the deadline for Colbert and Omar Khan to slash roughly $14 million and meet the NFL's salary cap for free agency is March 12, and that contract restructuring already in motion will mostly take care of that, let's take a personnel inventory:
• If one assumes, as I do, that Mike Wallace will take his talent - that's singular - to South Beach, then Keenan Lewis will be the biggest ticket at hand.
I got the sense from Lewis near season's end he genuinely wants to stay, but he just as genuinely wants to be paid. Thus, he, like the rest of the Steelers' pending free agents, should be expected to test the open market.
This is about as close as the Steelers will come to a hard call. Lewis had a strong first season as a starter, and he'll deserve what he gets. But the top 10 corners in the league made $8 million or more. If Lewis is offered anything in that stratosphere, I'm backing off. The Steelers need to pick a number, then hold to it.
That's no dig at Lewis. Rather, it's a two-pronged consideration that Cortez Allen showed late in the season he can handle corner, too, and that Allen - unlike everyone else on this defense - could take the ball away more than once per lunar cycle.
It would be wonderful to have Lewis back, but the Steelers can't - and don't need to - overpay.
• Rashard Mendenhall, Max Starks, Ramon Foster, Larry Foote, Wallace and the rest of the pending free agents will test the market, too. Mendenhall won't be - and shouldn't be - welcomed back, but the Steelers surely would retain Starks, Foster and Foote at the right price.
Trouble is, that's realistic only with Foote. Teams need offensive linemen. Starks will get paid, and Foster will get his wish for a starting role. If Foote returns, it will be at a far lower rate than his 2012 cap hit of $3.6 million. Maybe even the NFL's minimum of $940,000.
The market will dictate all this far more than the Steelers.
• Hampton played better than most seem to realize this past season, but he'll turn 36 in December. Just as significant, Steve McLendon made enough splash plays at nose tackle that he eminently deserves to start. If Hampton gets a two-year offer somewhere or is promised a starting role, he should grab it and run. But if all he hears is one year, he'll likely stay.
With all respect to Hampton's achievements, the Steelers would be crazy to offer more.
• Harrison's play steadily improved right through season's end, but he'll be 35. If the Steelers were to cut him and the two years left on his contract - that's $6.57 million in 2013, $7.58 million in 2014 - they'd save $5.1 million in a cap hit for 2013.
That's attractive, sure, but is it worth it?
No way. Not with a wobbly, brittle Jason Worilds next in line. And most especially not with a glaring need for someone, anyone, to rush the passer until the real LaMarr Woodley rematerializes.
Harrison's agent, Bill Parise, has squawked about how his client shouldn't take a pay cut. The Steelers, naturally, would prefer a pay cut to a restructuring. But they're also smart enough to realize another team will pay Harrison at his existing terms.
Here's betting all concerned will wait for other matters to be settled, then work out a deal that helps the team manage the cap and protect itself against injury. This might linger until Latrobe.
Even here, the Steelers really don't have much of a call to make.
If Harrison wants to stay with the team that gave him a chance as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State, the one with which he was the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year, the one with which he pounded out 100 yards for the greatest defensive play in Super Bowl history, it'll get worked out.
If he wants to be stubborn, well, then we will see another big cutdown.
We just need to realize that 2013 is a readjustment year and we won't win the Super Bowl. You can rant and rave about every year's goal being the Super Bowl but you have to face reality. We took a chance by hanging onto veterans with high salaries for as long as we could to get "one more." Therefore our cap situation is a mess and as we now see restructuring just kicks the can down the road. It didn't happen so now we have to complete the shift to the next generation and lay the base for the next 8-10 years.
We can start with a solid base on offense of young players and an established QB. I think the defense will be more of a challenge because of the transition time (unnecessary IMO as you all know) it takes for us to get new talent onto the field.
I'm expecting two down years and we make a run starting in 2015 for Ben's last 2-3 years as our QB much like Denver did with Elway.
BTW--if Harrison won't take a paycut I would try to trade him for like a 3rd round pick.
Mark Madden might be too big...
Yeah, he was fired from a show he hosted because of his big mouth. I remember him calling Bettis out quite often on his show calling the Bus a fat wasted RB, meanwhile The bus hoisted the Lombardi that year and led the team in TD's.
Originally Posted by Slapstick
Madden was just pissed that Bettis was a no show on his program, so like a child he started name calling on the Bus.
Mark Madden...... a message board troll with a megaphone.
Last edited by supersteeler; 02-27-2013 at 12:29 PM.
Hall of Famer
And yet, if you look at Las Vegas, their odds for winning SB 48 is like 18-1. Which is one of the top 10 teams out of 32.
Ah, I don't think they will have any let downs. This sky is falling mentality that the fans seem to have is getting old. We'll be fine, and I for one, will be expecting the B&G to make the playoffs and even win the division in 2013...
6- Time Super Bowl Champions......
IX X XIII XIV XL XLIII
2012 MNF Executive Champion
About the only insightful thing I've ever seen MM write. Good catch on his part.
Originally Posted by hawaiiansteel
Amen to that Brother!!!!:
Originally Posted by supersteeler
a very good analogy!
Originally Posted by supersteeler