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Thread: Starkey: Steelers must rebuild 'Stained Curtain'

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    Legend hawaiiansteel's Avatar
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    Starkey: Steelers must rebuild 'Stained Curtain'

    Starkey: Steelers must rebuild 'Stained Curtain'

    By Joe Starkey
    Published: Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014

    If you think of it Thursday, take a moment to reflect on the three-year anniversary of a most lamentable passing: the death of the Steelers defense.

    Nothing has been the same since Feb. 6, 2011, when Aaron Rodgers tore apart a once-feared unit on his way to Super Bowl XLV MVP.

    A lot of us — notably the Steelers themselves — lived in denial the next few years. We should have listened to Warren Sapp, who identified the body after the first game of the following season.

    Sapp analyzed the Steelers as such, focusing mainly on their defense: “Old, slow, and it's over.”

    The Steelers haven't won a playoff game since. Their defense has faded and frayed like an aging tapestry. By this past season, it had decayed to the point where a new nickname seemed appropriate: The Stained Curtain.

    This team has participated in one playoff game since 2010. It didn't go so well. Tim Tebow passed for 316 yards in what surely will go down as the most prolific performance of his brief and sorry NFL career.

    The Steelers and many of their fans spent the two post-Super Bowl XLV years hiding behind the NFL's bogus yardage standard for “total defense.”

    “We're still No. 1!”

    Thing is, they weren't flipping fields or quarterbacks anymore. They weren't scaring anyone. Not even Matt Flynn.

    The truth no longer can be denied. The numbers are painfully revealing:

    • After leading the NFL with 48 sacks in 2010, the Steelers slipped to 17th, 15th and finally 25th.

    • After finishing fifth in interceptions with 21, they have totaled 31 in three seasons.

    • After finishing tied for fifth with 14 fumble recoveries in 2010, they have not finished above 15th.

    • Their once-impenetrable rush defense plummeted to 21st in the league in 2013. It couldn't even keep up with Ryan Tannehill.

    Other than yardage-based figures, the only thing the Steelers have led the league in lately is complaints about the rules changes. The implication being, how are we supposed to play our intimidating brand of football if the league keeps cracking down on head shots?

    Here's how: Watch the Seattle Seahawks. That defense is now the one by which all are measured, and it is so far ahead of the Steelers' that you'd need the Hubble Telescope to see it.

    The Seahawks are fast, deep and violent. They have role players who'd start for most teams, including the Steelers.

    So what happened? What or whom killed the Steelers defense?

    The ill-informed want to indict coordinator Dick LeBeau. But you can't blame the chef when the food's gone stale.

    The culprits are poor drafts, poor talent evaluation, age and injury.

    Start with the drafts. General manager Kevin Colbert, coach Mike Tomlin and their scouts have failed. It's that simple. Their charge was to rebuild an aging defense through the draft, and once you sift through all the Thaddeus Gibsons, Alameda Ta'amus and Crezdon Butlers, you find precious few real players.

    The Steelers have no defensive players left from their 2012 draft, save for injured linebacker Sean Spence. The jury remains very much out on last year's first pick, Jarvis Jones, who was brought in to harass quarterbacks but finished with one sack. Twenty-nine rookies had more.

    The minute I saw Jones in a jersey, I had one thought: Where's the rest of him?

    Another first-round pick, Ziggy Hood (2009), could safely be designated a bust. Depth everywhere is scarce. Things have gotten so bad that the Steelers routinely recycle below-average Arizona Cardinals cornerbacks.

    Now look at some of the personnel decisions. Colbert and Tomlin allowed cornerback Keenan Lewis to walk without an offer while retaining Ike Taylor and his exorbitant cap hits. Nose tackle Steve McLendon was signed to a three-year deal before anybody realized that Lloyd McClendon probably has a better body type for the position.

    The list goes on.

    Is the worst behind them? Nobody can say, though the Steelers could begin to reverse the trend by making the right decisions with the likes of Jason Worilds (keep him), LaMarr Woodley (cut him), Ryan Clark (bye-bye) and Taylor (take less or leave) and by finding some immediate impact players in the draft.

    Has anybody told them that rookies are allowed to contribute to NFL defenses?

    No, really, it's legal and everything. New England Patriots rookies accounted for 11.5 of their sacks and seven of their interceptions.

    The Steelers' cupboard isn't bare by any means. Lawrence Timmons is great. Cam Heyward is on his way. Troy Polamalu can still play.

    Jones showed flashes. Worilds showed more than that, although he could become another Lewis-type casualty, which would leave the Steelers stuck with Woodley, who only plays about calf — I mean half — the time.

    Best case, they're a long ways from Seattle.

    What a sad anniversary.

    http://triblive.com/sports/joestarke...#ixzz2sRNkKDUv

  2. #2
    Hall of Famer SidSmythe's Avatar
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    DEAD ON ARTICLE. Don't need to elaborate, just read what is there.
    Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go...
    Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go...
    Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go...!!!

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    No comment.... smh

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    Someone else see the three years trend
    Last edited by Oviedo; 02-06-2014 at 08:59 AM.
    Playing Fantasy Football does not qualify you to be the in the front office or on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are professionals and you are not!

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    Declining performance year after year and no answers. Any coach can be a "genius" if he has great talent, but the truly great ones do more with less. Sorry guys, but our current DC has no longer has answers.

    Starkey like everyone else tries to give LeBeau a pass by blaming the drafts on Colbert and Tomlin...REALLY? Like LeBeau has zero input in either the talent evaluation or who gets picked for the defense? If that is the case they must not think much of him after all.
    Playing Fantasy Football does not qualify you to be the in the front office or on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are professionals and you are not!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oviedo View Post
    Any coach can be a "genius" if he has great talent, but the truly great ones do more with less.
    This right here ^^^^

    Everyone says Seattle has a bunch of talent but they have a bunch of late rounders and cast offs who abused Denver because the D was simplified and they were able to play ball instead of learning a defensive matrix.

    curb the thinking and let them do what made them stand out in college... some will still fail but at least you will evaluate at a faster rate and move on to new players instead of "hoping" they catch on in year 3.

  7. #7
    The big difference in opinion seems to be whether the Steelers played up to, above or below their talent on defense this year. I think that Lebeau was able to get an average performance out of a below average group. When you also throw in all of the early turnovers from the offense this year, keeping the defense even league average was actually rather remarkable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phillyesq View Post
    The big difference in opinion seems to be whether the Steelers played up to, above or below their talent on defense this year. I think that Lebeau was able to get an average performance out of a below average group. When you also throw in all of the early turnovers from the offense this year, keeping the defense even league average was actually rather remarkable.
    Nope... sorry but the Miami games was far from remarkable.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by feltdizz View Post
    Nope... sorry but the Miami games was far from remarkable.
    The Seahawks performance against the Colts also left a lot to be desired. You can cherry pick a bad game or a bad play - we all can, and it means very little. Overall, a defense with subpar talent played as a league average defense.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by phillyesq View Post
    The Seahawks performance against the Colts also left a lot to be desired. You can cherry pick a bad game or a bad play - we all can, and it means very little. Overall, a defense with subpar talent played as a league average defense.
    Read the OP again... it's more than one game.

    We definitely have some sub par talent in 2 or 3 spots but every team has that. No team has beast across the board. I'm not asking for perfection but a few more sacks wouldn't hurt... nor would a few more INT's and stops on 3rd and pick a distance longer than 8 yards.

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