Not much going on in the Steelers world. I got sick of CBA talk a month or so ago. Just waiting for it all to end.
Anyway, we spent some time this weekend and got the beginnings of a new section on Blitzburgh Blog up and running: player profiles and salary information. For now, we've just added in the salary information for the Steelers current roster. We're working on putting together some profiles for the entire roster as well. You can find the new section anytime on the main navigation menu.
If you find any errors in the salary data, feel free to fill out the contact form and let us know.
Not much going on in the Steelers world. I got sick of CBA talk a month or so ago. Just waiting for it all to end.
I had this nice recap all typed up about how the Pittsburgh Power's inagural game went (hint: they lost). I was gonna make fun of Ron Jaworski, give some outsiders' insight about the Power, but that's hardly going to be the big news on the blogs. Here's the quick recap:
- Arena football is fun to watch.
- The Soul's receiver, Donovan Morgan, is a showboat. You're playing arena football, don't act like you're a talented athlete.
- Paul Edinger made a sweet field goal to tie it with no time left.
- Bernard Morris was pretty streaky, but he showed some fire and leadership late in the game.
- Ron Jaworski sucks, Philadelphia sucks.
See, without a CBA in place, it seems that all NFL facilities are off-limits to players. So, Troy Polamalu couldn't rehab his injured Achilles tendon at the Steelers' training facility (even though he spends his offseason in southern California, that's besides the point). Minicamps won't happen. Training camp can't start. There is no scheduled season this fall.
Of course, this is all pending a settlement in court. There will still probably be football in 2011, but now it has to go through court before it does.
If you want to see the owners' side of it, NFL Network has been airing gratuitous viewpoints from the owners' representatives, which are little more than name-calling and whining that the players planned to go to court all along because they could get more in a court ruling than in direct negotiations (oh wow, are you serious? I can't believe they'd try to get more than the owners want to give!). Right now the owners are just mad that they have to take this to federal court, where they will be required to disclose their financial records.
Records which, presumably, show how Jerry Jones can afford a multi-billion dollar stadium with a double-sided 70-yard HDTV, and yet the owners aren't making quite enough money. I'm really pro-player here, and while some idiot would love to chime in, "Hey, what about the fact that minimum wage is only half a million dollars for every player! They don't have it so rough!" well, you're kind of wrong. The players that come to mind when you think of football players making money are Tom Brady or Albert Haynesworth; guys that are making a ton of money. But for every multimillion dollar contract in the NFL, there are eight guys on special teams trying to make enough to live on. What do you think Tyler Grisham makes? Or did you ever wonder what happened to Arnold Harrison? Not everyone is rolling in cash in the NFL.
Plus, I refuse to align myself with a group that includes Jerry Jones.
In any case, we now begin the often long and arduous legal process. Until there's a decision in the courtroom, there's no more NFL football.
I'll leave you with good news though. The NFL draft actually doesn't have any player participation, including the draftees. The NFL Draft is the owners getting together and deciding amongst themselves who gets the rights to what players coming out of college. So while the legal squabbles rage on, clubs will still choose players that they'll try to sign once a new CBA gets worked out.
So until the end of April, we've at least got some stuff to talk about.
As the NFLPA and the NFL owners meet to determine the fate of civilization argue over what percentage of the billions of dollars we the fans provide (and TV networks too, but since we pay our cable bills, it’s really just us) that each side gets, it gets tedious quickly. There is no actual football, even personnel moves (except the draft, I guess), until they come to some decision. Fortunately, there is another Pittsburgh football team starting their season tonight! Unfortunately, you might not know a lot about it.
I could explain Arena Football, or just link to the Wikipedia page…fine…It’s 8-on-8 (typically 3 OL, 3 WR, a QB, and a RB/FB on offense, 3 DL, 2 LB, and 3 DB on defense) with a 50-yard field. The same 4 downs/10 yards rule applies, and the general game is the same. The only other differences are: the goal posts are closer together and closer to the field of play, drop-kicked FGs/XPs are worth one extra point, there’s no punting, and any ball that hits off the net in the back of the end zone is in play. To get a taste of the style of play, I did a YouTube search and found a highlight video. Watch, if you can stand the music.
I personally think Arena Football is the future of the NFL. It’s almost all passing and almost no running (the leading rusher last year only had 21.8 yards per game, though the leading rushing scorer had 26 TDs). The Colts and Patriots have been prepping the league for this style of play for years (Peyton Manning would be an unstoppable Arena Football QB, so would Ben Roethlisberger, really). It’s not “typical Steeler pound the rock football”, but the Steelers themselves haven’t been that way the past few years. Now that doesn’t mean there aren’t any hard hits that would make Roger Goodell want to ask for a check: here are some.
Having said all that, jump it for the preview of the Pittsburgh Power roster, so you know who the guys are when you watch or listen to the game tonight (against the rival Philadelphia Soul!) no comments
Nowhere in our website's title does it say we are exclusively a Steeler blog. The only thing it really implies is that we talk Pittsburgh football. Or maybe some weird spin-off of the famous German war tactic applied to Western Pennsylvania.
But tonight Pittsburgh's newest football team, the Pittsburgh Power of the Arena Football League, will play the first game in franchise history against the Philadelphia Soul, who we assume are scumbags. The game will be aired on the CW at 8:00 PM. I will be recapping the game, mostly for entertainment value, due to the fact that I have never seen an Arena Football game and I will have close to no idea what's going on.
I figure the same applies to most people in the area, so if you're looking for analysis from someone who knows just as much as much as you, stay tuned.
The year is 2026. You're about to sit down to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers play the London Knights in an NFL playoff game on your HD3 television. That's what your iPhone 24 sends a pulse to your brain and you get a message with the sad news. Hines Ward, your all-time favorite Steeler has passed away. You think back to his Hall of Fame career...his Super Bowl MVP and the 3 rings he won with the team. You think about his hard work and his electric personality. You aren't surprised he's dead though. After he retired, things went downhill fast. Ward suffered from amnesia, dementia, depression, and acute bone and muscle pain. He didn't live in a house and instead lived in an old camper that he wondered around in throughout the east coast. His own kids had to watch out and care for him. He was only 50 years old.
It's a disturbing and shocking scenario to think about, but it is exactly what happened to another Steeler: Hall of Fame center Mike Webster. I'm only 22 so I never got to see Webster play, but I've seen the highlights and heard the stories of his greatness on the field. I've also read about his troubling life after football and the chronic traumatic encephalopathy that ended his life after just 50 years. I struggle somewhat to really grasp Webster's story because I missed seeing him in his heyday. But imagining something like that happen to Ward or James Harrison or Ryan Clark is a terrible thing to even think about.
But it is going to happen. It might not be a Steeler, but several players who you and I grew up watching are going to suffer from neurological ailments and suffer an early death. It's the reality of sports right now. Webster. Dave Duerson. Andre Waters. These are Pro Bowl players, Super Bowl champions, Hall of Famers. This cycle has got to stop, but it is going to take some serious change in the NFL and sports landscape.
-B- After a week or so of speculation, the Steelers hired former defensive back Carnell Lake to become the team's new secondary coach after Ray Horton accepted the defensive coordinator position in Arizona. Short of Rod Woodson or Mel Blount taking the job, this is easily the most press and hype the hiring of a secondary coach will ever get in Pittsburgh and it at least gives us something fun to think about during the doldrums of the offseason. Lake was a 5-time Pro Bowlers and an amazing player but he doesn't have much in the way of coaching experience so I'm looking at this as an experiment of sorts. Lake was a coaching intern a couple of summers ago with the Philadelphia Eagles and coached the defensive backs for UCLA in 2009 but that is it. The knowledge is certainly there and I'm sure he'll be able to relate to the players well. It will be something interesting to watch this training camp and into the season.
-B- Our boy Gene at Favre Dollar Footlongs delivers the must read post of the day -- he offers a rebuttal to Bill Simmons' latest post on how greed is good in NFL labor talks. Epic stuff.
-B- More and more mock drafts are floating around now. CBS has the Steelers taking Texas CB Aaron Williams and Draft Countdown thinks it'll be Florida OL Mike Pouncey. I've written before that I'd like the see the Steelers select a cornerback, but I'd also take Pouncey over any of the CBs that are likely to be left late in the first round. My guess is Pouncey won't last that long either.
Much has been written in recent days about the Steelers and Kevin Colbert beginning contract talks with CB Ike Taylor. Both side seem eager to get a deal done, but there is some concern that enough money isn't available to go around as the Steelers have also expressed a desire to work out deals with Willie Colon and LaMarr Woodley.
I believe signing Taylor to a new deal, however, should be the Steelers top priority this offseason.
Opinions on Taylor, like most cornerbacks, are wide-ranging. I'm one of the Steeler fans that believe Ike is one of the elite cornerbacks in the NFL and has been for the past 2-3 years. Other fans are firm believers that the best move the Steelers could make is cutting Taylor tomorrow.
Probably the biggest reason that there is such a wide range of views on Taylor is because of his poor hands. There isn't a stat line out there that people can look at and say a cornerback ranks 3rd overall in this number, therefore he must be the 3rd best cornerback in the game. Interceptions are always what people try to use to compare cornerbacks, but it isn't a good metric at all. Taylor is not good at catching the football and has only posted 4 interceptions since 2008.
Interceptions are great and all, but the best quality a cornerback can have is coverage skills, not elite hands. One of the other reasons Taylor's interception numbers are low is because the ball is hardly ever thrown his way. His man is usually blanketed in coverage. And it is not like he is matching up with weak competition. Ike is one of the few cornerbacks in the league who still follows the other team's top receiving threat all over the field.
It is also important to consider who has played alongside Taylor in recent years. In 2010, a hobbled Bryant McFadden or William Gay started opposite of him in every game. Troy Polamalu was injured for large stretches of the season and Ryan Clark is not good in any type of man coverage. Taylor has been on an island during much of the Mike Tomlin Era in Pittsburgh and he has performed admirably. He's an elite cornerback in this league and will be for the next 3 or so seasons. The Steelers absolutely need to sign him to a long term deal and hopefully give him some help in the secondary through the draft.
I’m a numbers guy, as you can probably tell from reading my stuff. So, anything that analyzes sports using numbers, especially in a new way, is something I have to check out. Scorecasting, by Jon Wertheim and Tobias Moskowitz, is the latest in a long line of these types of books, and I definitely recommend it, especially if you’re a fan of all sports.
The piece of analysis in the book that I found most interesting in its simplicity was in the chapter titled “Thanks, Mr. Rooney”: before the NFL implemented the Rooney Rule, named of course after Dan Rooney, one could tell there was discrimination against black coaches. However, Janice Madden, the analyst Johnnie Cochran hired to look at the issue, didn’t use salary, or number of coaches, but the coaches’ performance.
Black coaches performed much better, as a whole, than white coaches. For example, 71% of black coaches made the playoffs in their first season, as opposed to 23% of white coaches. This was a sign that not enough black coaches were given opportunities, since there weren’t enough failures. A second try adjusting for team ability (since perhaps better teams were hiring black coaches) produced similar results.
Doing a similar study of teams after the Rooney Rule was implemented showed that black and white coaches were performing at the same level, which is exactly what you would expect from equal opportunity.
“If African-American coaches don’t fail, it means that those with equal talents to the failing white coaches are not even getting a chance to be a coach,” Madden explains. “Seeing African-American coaches fail means that they, like white coaches, no longer have to be superstars to get jobs.”
For every Mike Tomlin, there is a Mike Singletary, and that is good news, since it means both Eric Mangini and Romeo Crennel can be given chances by the Browns to be awful head coaches
Among their other findings of note to Steelers fans:
Referees generally try to allow the players to decide things on the field. Calls that are judgment calls in the fourth quarter of close games go way down.
A lot of home field advantage comes from referee bias toward the home team, and this is amplified the larger the crowd is. So those Terrible Towels aren’t really distracting the players, but they might be subconsciously affecting the refs’ call on close judgment calls
The authors go into a detailed history of the famous “point value chart” that many NFL teams use to value draft picks
If you’re interested in purchasing Scorecasting, the Amazon link is here. There may be other Offseason Reading Material posts in the future, depending on whether there’s a lockout and on how bored I get during what will surely be another below .500 Pirates season.no comments