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Thread: Are we witnessing the fall of the House of Colbert?

  1. #1
    Hall of Famer SteelCrazy's Avatar
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    Are we witnessing the fall of the House of Colbert?

    Over the past three years, the Steelers have lost all three season opening games by a combined score of 82-35; over the past three opening games, the Steelers are minus 8 in turnovers; over the past three openers, the Steelers have lost five starters to serious injury; over the past three seasons, the Steelers have made five major coaching changes.

    Who is responsible for the coaches charged with getting the team prepared to open a season? Head Coach Mike Tomlin. Who is responsible for drafting and signing players for Tomlin to prepare? Kevin Colbert.

    Kevin Colbert is the General Manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a title he has held since 2010. Before then, he was the Director of Football Operations since 2000, essentially the same thing. The Rooney family still controls the organization, and given their ownership style of allowing the people they hire to operate using the skills and knowledge that led them to be hired in the first place, the current Steelers are for all intents and purposes a house that Colbert built.

    When Art Rooney II publicly said the Steelers needed to "...run better..." the owner's message made it clear there was disagreement between factions within the organization over how the rushing game was being utilized. When the Rooneys declined to extend Bruce Arians' contract and "retired" him, it happened shortly after the head coach said in the media that Arians would return.

    We don't know how the decision making process on draft picks is structured within the Steelers organization; there is no clear indication how much input Tomlin has, or how much credence Colbert gives to the head coach's opinions on specific players, but the fact of the matter is there are no players on the Steelers' roster from the 2008 draft class; there are only two from the 2009 class. These two draft classes should be providing a bulk of the backups if not the starters; instead there are but two, Ziggy Hood and David Johnson.

    We don't know if the decision to implement an outside zone blocking scheme for the O line to use was part of a larger master plan developed by Tomlin and Colbert to utilize the offensive line players he and Colbert drafted together, or whether it was done to compensate for the offensive line players Colbert picked for Tomlin; either way, Sunday afternoon proved it is not working.

    Colbert traded Adrian Robinson to the Philadelphia Eagles for running back Felix Jones, whose price tag was half of either Jonathan Dwyer's or Isaac Redman meaning one of those two backs was expendable, and Jones was already well versed in running behind an outside zone scheme. Who wanted Jones, Colbert or Tomlin? Did they work together or did Colbert tell Tomlin he was trading Robinson, or did Tomlin ask Colbert to get Jones?

    Dwyer was cut in favor of Redman amidst rumors the coaches were not in agreement with the decision; Redman had an atrocious game Sunday and now Dwyer has been re-signed purportedly due to the injury to LaRod Stephens-Howling. Yet if Dwyer and Redman were duplicative backs, why wasn't some other back more in the vein of Jones signed? Was it primarily due to Dwyer's ability to provide pass protection in addition to his knowledge of the Steelers' playbook?

    While the Steelers defense played adequately enough in the loss to the Titans, the offense was an embarrassment. Yes the loss of Maurkice Pouncey early in the first quarter was a blow that will be felt all season, but injuries happen. As was documented in a previous article, since 2007 the Steelers rank 19th in terms of AGL (Average Games Lost, as calculated by Football Outsiders)

    More: Are the Steelers Injury Prone?

    As shown in that article, the Steelers are slightly worse than average in terms of suffering injuries. So why is it they are unable to field a consistent and effective offensive line? The offensive line's inability to open running lanes or protect the QB after the injury to Pouncey speaks to a lack of foresight by those responsible for the makeup of the final 53 man roster. Pouncey missed the 2010 Super Bowl due to an ankle sprain, but his replacement Doug Legursky filled in adequately, yet Legursky was not re-signed and left to join the Buffalo Bills in free agency.

    Tomlin is responsible for the coaches who are teaching the players, and Colbert is responsible for the players the coaches teach. So who is to blame for what Steeler Nation witnessed Sunday?

    Kelvin Beachum replaced Pouncey against the Titans, but Beachum started the game as the second tight end, reporting in as an eligible receiver. He was in at tight end as a means to buttress an offensive unit that proved incapable of establishing a running game or adequately protect its quarterback through 16 quarters of pre-season games. Beachum started ahead of a regular tight end, David Johnson. Beachum was drafted in the seventh round as a guard in 2012 and in 2013 we have a second year player as our No. 1 backup for five different positions on the O line and starts starts ahead of a tight end kept for his blocking abilities?

    A seventh rounder is first man up to back up all five O line positions and play tight end?

    Who made that decision and other roster decisions like that?

    Beachum to his credit has practiced and played in every position on the O line, but he is one man. Given that injuries are a part of the game, to call relying on one man to be the sum total of the depth chart for six positions (OL and TE) negligent is to be charitable.

    The offensive line is the foundation upon which the effectiveness of a franchise quarterback is built upon; without adequate protection, Roethlisberger cannot excel at what he does best. Without an adequate offensive line, there is no running back who could "run better" under any type of scheme. The offense produced ZERO first downs rushing and gained only 32 yards on 15 attempts (2.1 yards per attempt) with Redman contributing a whopping 9 yards and two fumbles to that total; the same Redman who was selected for the final 53 man roster of instead of Dwyer.

    Who made that decision and other roster decisions like that?

    Why is it that after four years worth of draft picks culminating in an offensive line made up of two No. 1 picks and two No. 2 picks, we have an UDFA in Ramon Foster starting at left guard and we get a seventh round guard playing tight end as the best player available to replace Pouncey?

    Who advocated for the selection of Marcus Gilbert who had an abysmal game on Sunday at right tackle, a position he has made clear he does not like to play, especially since he was drafted to play left tackle?

    There is disarray in the house that Colbert has built, and he needs to fix it before that house completely falls down around the Steelers franchise quarterback, ending any hopes of his claiming a seventh Lombardi for the team. If the blame resides in the scouting department that identifies and ranks prospective draft picks, Colbert is the man who oversees the scouting department.

    If there is disagreement between the GM and the head coach over which player to draft or keep, their disagreements are now showing up on the field.

    If there is a fundamental flaw in the coaching staff when it comes time to evaluate players in camp and train them to execute the plans the coaches have devised, either Tomlin's choices in coaches is flawed, or they don't know how to teach, or what they're teaching isn't compatible with the players they have.

    As Abraham Lincoln once said, "...a house divided against itself cannot stand..." What became apparent last year as each game went by, and was quite apparent last Sunday is Colbert's house is divided; there is a huge divide between the rhetoric and platitudes Colbert and Tomlin espoused in the off season and training camp and the quality of the product they showcased on the field last Sunday.

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com...use-of-colbert

  2. #2
    Administrator steelz09's Avatar
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    Our o-line would be instantly upgraded with signing Starks. You potentially improve 2 positions with 1 signing. LT and RT (Adams moves to RT). However, even if Starks doesn't start, he provides depth at both tackle positions. It's a win win. Instead, we continue to watch Gilbert suck and have Guy Whimper as our backup. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?

    This isn't Haley's fault. This isn't Colbert's fault (Colbert drafted Starks). This isn't the OL coaches fault. It's CLEARLY Tomlin's fault.

    Tomlin has been trying to get rid of Starks for years now! Before Haley was here.... before the zone blocking scheme was implemented. Each time, he's failed to replace Starks. What is his problem with Starks? Starks clearly isn't an all-pro but he's a servicable LT and a very solid backup.

    Cowher had an ego but Tomlin's ego is just as bad. His ego is definitely impacting his decision making in regards to the Starks situation as well as other roster moves.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by SteelCrazy View Post
    What an excellent article, SteelCrazy. It's the answer to a post I made just a few minutes ago asking who was responsible for choosing our players. I don't see how anyone can read your post and walk away saying they know where the blame lies.

    I wish I knew someone who worked at the NSA ... now THAT would be a proper use of said technology!

    PS - My latest theory is that the blame is lies with the conditioning coach. He's a secret Ravens spy, and he's repainted all the weights in the Southside to look heavier than they actually are. My story and I'm sticking to it.


    We got our "6-PACK" - time to work on a CASE!

    HERE WE GO STEELERS, HERE WE GO!

  4. #4
    Actually we can know a little. During Cowher/Colbert times they always drafted players that fit the 3-4 system. For some strange reason When Tomlin/Colbert got together they started drafting more 4-3 type players. Timmons, Hood, and Heyward come to mind. Obviously the HC has a lot of influence over the draft. Tomlin went personally to Timmons pro-day and at the draft they run the card to the podium. He was obviously a Tomlin pick.

  5. #5
    Pro Bowler
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    Couple of points...

    First, you question Tomlin because he let go of Starks - who couldn't make the Chargers as a back-up & has yet to be signed, yet you think he can single-handedly save this O-line? Okay...

    Second, you want to indict Tomlin because of the choice of Timmons...the most consistent LB the team has & that played at a Pro Bowl level last year? That would be one way of looking at it I guess...

    Don't let the fact that there's Colbert & his assistants, all the scouts, the coaches & the players themselves are contributing to this predicament - just keep ignoring the facts, continue being an alarmist & keep blaming Tomlin for all of it.
    Last edited by Steel Life; 09-09-2013 at 11:38 PM.
    It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust & sweat & blood...

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Vader View Post
    Actually we can know a little. During Cowher/Colbert times they always drafted players that fit the 3-4 system. For some strange reason When Tomlin/Colbert got together they started drafting more 4-3 type players. Timmons, Hood, and Heyward come to mind. Obviously the HC has a lot of influence over the draft. Tomlin went personally to Timmons pro-day and at the draft they run the card to the podium. He was obviously a Tomlin pick.
    Heyward WAS a 3/4 defensive end IN COLLEGE. He ABSOLUTELY projected to the position as a pro. Ziggy was a DT that many projected as a 3/4 end.
    A Smith and Kiesel were long lanky 4/3 defensive ends that each went about 270 when they were drafted. They looked like 4/3 ends. They DID NOT look like 3/4 defensive ends at all. They added A LOT of beef to their frames, Smith rather quickly but Kiesel took several years. Same draft as Timmons we also picked Woodley a prototypical 3/4 LBer.

    My issue with the defensive ends is that we drafted the POSITION way too early.

    Our defense allows us to draft guys later because they are not big time playmakers in our system. Look at what McLendon has grown into, look at Al Woods preseason.
    If we went Wood's, Fangupo, McClendon next year, how much worse would we be? I contend that our Dline would be STRONGER even if a little less quick.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Lemming View Post
    Heyward WAS a 3/4 defensive end IN COLLEGE. He ABSOLUTELY projected to the position as a pro. Ziggy was a DT that many projected as a 3/4 end.
    A Smith and Kiesel were long lanky 4/3 defensive ends that each went about 270 when they were drafted. They looked like 4/3 ends. They DID NOT look like 3/4 defensive ends at all. They added A LOT of beef to their frames, Smith rather quickly but Kiesel took several years. Same draft as Timmons we also picked Woodley a prototypical 3/4 LBer.

    My issue with the defensive ends is that we drafted the POSITION way too early.

    Our defense allows us to draft guys later because they are not big time playmakers in our system. Look at what McLendon has grown into, look at Al Woods preseason.
    If we went Wood's, Fangupo, McClendon next year, how much worse would we be? I contend that our Dline would be STRONGER even if a little less quick.
    Missouri played a hybid 3-4. He was a 2 gap DL. The Steelers play mostly a 5 technique. OSU lined Heyward up in both a 4-3 and a 3-4. He played both 2 gap and 5 technique. The problem is that Heyward never had a good motor and struggled against mauling OL. He still has flash back from playing Gabe Carimi of Wisconsin. So the idea they were automatic 3-4, 5 technique players is not true. They took a risk and failed. IMHO they'd both be better in a 4-3 playing a 2 gap.

    Also Keisel was picked in the 7th round and was hurt early on. He missed the entire 2003 season. He also played 13 games in 2004 and 16 games in 2005. Weight wasn't his issue. He could play but he was playing behind Kimo. He started as soon as Kimo left. Both he and Smith were drafted when few teams at all played a 3-4 in college. Also Smith was 6'4 300 while Hood is 6'3 300. I don't think one inch makes one "lanky". I don't think a great 3-4 end has to be round. JJ Watt plays the 3-4 for the Texans and looks a hell of a lot more like Smith than he does Hood.

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