Ed Bouchette @EdBouchette:
Rooney said he likes the direction his offense is going but the defense needs to get better, particularly vs. the run
I am almost certain that the majority of us here understand and respect that,... no matter how much we debate and attempt to impose our respective wills.
And with that said i will not presume to speak for everyone that opposes your vision when i say,...it just appears that it would not be as difficult and or unreasonable to bring three exceptional defensive players into the family as it would be to change the Family philosophy itself.
Would that even require sacrifice and resolve,....certainly. But if your foundation is solid,...ya always at the very least,....have a "puncher's chance".
Let's be honest. The recent success with LeBeau's defense was the result of a player cut four times by two different teams turning into the Def Player of the Year, do you really think we will get that lucky again? Really think we get another Farrior through free agency? A 4th Round pick like Aaron Smith becomes as dominant as he did. Let's be honest, we had the perfect storm between 2005 and 2011 (when signs of the cracks became clear to anyone who wnated to see them).
My concerns with our defense has always been predictaed on two factors: ability to keep talent flowing into the system and ability to get young player playing early so allow us to have an adequete sample before their second contract time. It has always been my opinion that there is very little margin for error to achieve what LeBeau wants to do. Too many moving parts with players learning new positions, complexity of the defense, etc. IMO that is not smart risk mitigation in a structure constrained by a salary cap where the flexibility is reduced to the poiint that you have very little margin for error. I think that is exactly why we are in the situation we are in now with the defense.
Your right, lots of challenges and while we are unlikely to change I hope the front office and coaching staff don't discount it out of hand without serious assessment.
Last edited by Oviedo; 01-09-2014 at 06:39 AM.
2.58 CB Artie Burns, Miami, 511 189
3.89 OLB, Alex McCalister, Florida, 66 240-Jarvis Jones replacement
4.123 S Jayron Kearse, Clemson, 64 216-hybrid type we could use in 3-3-5 defense
6.220 OT Stephane Nembot, 67 322-raw talent with ton of upside
7.229 CB Brian Poole, Florida, 510 210
7.246 WR/KR Ed Eagan, Northwestern State, 5 10 185-need WR depth and returner
Offense passes inspection, not defense
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Even though the Steelers have strung together 8-8 seasons and not made the playoffs two seasons in a row for the first time in the past 13 years, apparently there is 8-8 and then there is 8-8.
One year ago, Steelers president Art Rooney II expressed frustration with an 8-8 record that included five losses in the final seven games.
Wednesday, Rooney talked about his excitement for the 2014 season and how coach Mike Tomlin did a "very good job" as the Steelers went 6-2 in the second half of the season to finish 8-8 again.
"I certainly liked the way we finished," Rooney said in a 20-minute interview. "We, as far as I'm concerned, should be in the playoffs. The other side of it is we made our bed, unfortunately got off to a slow start. But I like the way we finished, I like the fact we got better as the season goes on, which is what you want. You want a team that's playing its best at the end, and I think, for the most part, that's what we did.
"It leaves me excited for next year already. We're looking forward to getting started and prepared for next year."
Rooney credited Tomlin for keeping his team in the playoff hunt right until the last game after losing the first four games for the first time in 45 years, and then going 2-6 at the halfway point of the season.
"I thought Mike did a very good job in the sense that, even through we created our own situation, I think that our team continued to play hard through adversity, and that's not always easy to do.
"They continued to fight, they continued to believe in themselves, and I think most of that is a tribute to Mike and the type of coaches and players we have here. They fought hard all the way through and, in the end, we came pretty darn close to being in the playoffs. I think we were playing our best football at the end, which is what you want to have happen, and I think that's largely due to coaching."
Rooney cited several reasons for his optimism heading into 2014:
* The improved play of a number of young players which he said shows the "arrow points up."
* The direction the offense took in the second half of the season.
"I thought we were pretty effective on offense coming down the stretch ... I would say offensively we made a lot of progress and I think that is something we want to try to build on."
* Ben Roethlisberger's play in the second half of the season, particularly getting sacked just seven times in the final seven games.
"He got better as the season went on, and that's certainly what we were hoping for. You have to like the fact that he stayed relatively clean in the second half of the season, and there's no doubt that's what we like to see. We'd like to see him last another 5, 6, 7 years, whatever it is, and, in order to do that, we have to protect him and he has to protect himself. I do think the way he performed over the last, let's say, three-fourths of the season, is what we were hoping for, yes."
* The play of rookie halfback Le'Veon Bell who "really looks to be the kind of player who can be a big contributor."
At the same time, Rooney noted the decline of the defense as a concern.
"Obviously, we want to get better. We slipped on defense in some areas this year, particularly in terms of stopping the run; we're not anywhere near the top of the league, which is where we've typically been and where we want to be. There's no doubt there's room for improvement there.
"We gave up too many big plays, there's room for improvement there. Whether it's getting younger or what other strategies we might use, we want to get better there. And that will be part of what we look at as the weeks and months go by here."
Among other topics broached by Rooney Tuesday:
* Roethlisberger might not receive the traditional quarterback extension this year. Rooney cited the team's salary-cap issues and then said, "The only thing I would say about Ben and his situation is I certainly expect that at some point we will do a contract, whether it's this season, or after next season or after the season after that, but I think Ben will be playing here beyond the current contract."
Roethlisberger's contract runs through 2015. Traditionally, the Steelers have extended their starting quarterback's contract when it has two years to run, as it does now. Rooney said that, while they've done that on a few occasions, it is "not set in stone ... it's not something that's automatic."
* Rooney is happy with general manager Kevin Colbert and the players he has acquired.
"We're not disappointed at all in the roster," Rooney said. " I think we have a lot to build on, and we're looking forward to adding to it in this year's draft."
* The Steelers informed the NFL that if they are hit with any more discipline because of Tomlin's sideline snafu in Baltimore they will appeal it. There were widespread reports that the NFL will dock the Steelers a draft pick even after fining their coach $100,000.
"I would disagree strongly if something like that were to happen to us," Rooney said.
* He would not comment on the fate of any more assistant coaches because "Mike is still going through the process." Tomlin continued to meet with players individually in his "exit" interviews Wednesday and has not yet met with his coaches. He fired offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. Friday.
* Rooney also said would not discuss individual players contracts or status when asked about linebacker LaMarr Woodley.
* Despite criticism from many venues that the Steelers have mismanaged their salary cap, Rooney said it is not in "dire" shape and "I'm satisfied we handled the cap" properly and that is a reason they've remained competitive. Our goal is to put a competitive team on the field and, by and large, we've been able to do that."
* He does not expect the Steelers to diverge from the path they've followed recently in free agency. In other words, they won't be major players, but "we're always opportunistic."
* The Steelers are going ahead with adding a second scoreboard on the north end of Heinz Field for 2014, but, while they continue discussions with the city to add approximately 3,000 seats, even if they reach an agreement it won't be soon enough for next season.
DL: McClendon - (New Guy) - Heyward
At linebacker, hopefully the Steelers bring back Worilds. If they do, you are set outside with Worilds and Jones. Chris Carter is gone. The Steelers will need depth - either a low level FA or a later, developmental pick. This is a lot easier than trying to find pass rushing 4-3 DEs. A DE is the second highest paid position, behind only QB. They are so highly paid because of scarcity.
At ILB, Timmons would benefit greatly from a NT. He is not great fighting through blocks, and if the NT occupies blockers, Timmons should be clean more often and better able to make plays. I'm not sure that Vince Williams is the guy, but he got better as the year went on. If not Wililams/Spence (as a passing down guy), then you add a thumping middle linebacker. This system has worked with Earl Holmes and Larry Foote - both 4th rounders. You don't need to have two elite ILBs. You can either sign a veteran FA ilb (there always seems to be somebody available) or draft a mid round thumper. Or, you draft an ILB high and a NT in the mid rounds.
In the secondary, you need to replace Clark regardless of the system. The need to get younger in the secondary doesn't change.
If we move to the 4-3, you need to find at least one DE if not two. And the most effective teams have a rotation of guys they through out there. And most DEs don't tear things up as rookies. Look at the guys in the pro bowl this year. Who did anything as rookies outside of Watt and Mario Williams, both very high draft picks? Nobody. Most of those guys did nothing as rookies, and some didn't do anything in year 2. There is a transition time regardless of system.
And you still need a DT. Woods, Arnfelt, McClendon - they are just guys. You don't want to build a defense that features them. You still need a linebacker. And the needs in the secondary don't change.
By Neal Coolong on Apr 28 2014
Loni Fangupo is following a very similar path that Steve McLendon did from 2009-13. That path was also followed by Chris Hoke, a long-time Steelers veteran nose tackle.
The Steelers' 2013 draft netted them four players who filled significant roles last season. They aren't the only ones to focus on, however. Several players from the past few drafts have been developing over the last few seasons, and this is look at those players.
First, there was Casey Hampton. Then there was a bunch of chaos.
The Steelers paid little to no attention to their depth at the nose tackle position from 2001 until about 2012. The position had been locked down by Hampton and Chris Hoke, with one of the two having participated in every Steelers game for more than a decade. When Hoke retired and Hampton was released, Steve McLendon took over after a few years of internship.
McLendon runs the show now, and third-year man Hebron "Loni" Fangupo is following that internship path.
Fangupo has a size advantage on McLendon, and while not the athlete the starter is, he's worked his way up the Steelers depth chart since joining the team after Seattle released him as an undrafted free agent.
He hasn't played much, but very much like McLendon, he came from nowhere to even get where he is now. The team obviously sees something in him; he beat out former fourth round draft pick Alameda Ta'amu - a player the Steelers traded up in the fourth round to get in 2012 - for a roster spot last season.
The depth of the nose tackle position isn't exactly back to the Hampton/Hoke days, but an improving Fangupo could help the Steelers get near that point again, or at least get to a spot where McLendon's athleticism could be used on the edge in passing situations. Defensive end Cameron Heyward proved to be an effective interior rusher in sub-packages last season, but using Fangupo's size opposite another interior rusher would create interior chaos while the edge rushers can feast on the single blocks that come with a collapsing pocket.
Certainly, Fangupo isn't likely to make these kinds of scenarios come true the second he steps on the field, but the team has been working to develop him over the last two years. Perhaps 2014 is when he breaks out.
Lets get more offensive players..that will show em.