Posted on: March 30, 2010 1:43 pm

Being Prepared

This isn't about right or wrong, it's not my place to judge before the facts are known.

This isn't about jumping the gun, I have yet to hit the panic switch.

This isn't about saving face, the Steelers have as solid a record as any other team in the league when it comes to handling player issues.

This is about being prepared to win, period.

In the aftermath of Ben Roethlisberger's recent off the field conduct it makes me wonder as a Steelers' fan whether or not the Rooney's have looked into the possibility of moving forward without their franchise quarterback. If not, it's high time they did or else the consequences could be dire.

If Ben were to be charged Roger "the Hammer" Goodell would suspend him immediately. He's the face of the Steelers and a high profile player in the NFL. The Rooney's would be hard pressed not to take disciplinary action of their own and the Pittsburgh fan base would scream for his blood, or at least for his immediate release. The fans in Western PA are very passionate about the team and would rather suffer without Ben than have to cheer for him on Sundays.

This creates a huge problem in that the Steelers have no viable replacement for Ben on the roster and seemingly no interest in finding on this off-season.

Charlie Batch was resigned to a 2 year deal that if he was forced to start though I could only hope that he made it halfway in each healthy. He's aged and brittle which is a horrible combination. There was a point in time where Charlie coming onto the field meant the chances of winning were still solid. He has a great understanding of the offense but the scheme that Arians has implemented would require him to win by using his arm the entire game, something that Charlie cannot do.

That leads me to Dennis Dixon and the same dilemma. Regardless of what some fans want to believe Dixon will not be a starter in the NFL due to his throwing ability. He had some decent passing numbers in college but it was attributed to him being able to take off on opposing defenses with his awesome running ability. This kept the defense honest enough for him to get some wide open looks and be able to complete the ball with some ease.

Now before anyone jumps on the Ravens game from last season let's take an honest look at it.

The big pass plays he had were off of play-action and the first one that he completed was almost under thrown to the point that the play was dead. In the end Dennis threw the pass that cost the Steelers the game. He was a possible Heisman candidate because of his legs which is why the Steelers should have been using him in a slash role from day one. In the end he will be considered a waste of a draft choice not because he doesn't have talent but because of the Steelers reluctance to utilize his abilities since his acquisition.

As of yet I have not heard any interest from Kevin Colbert in trying to draft a developmental quarterback in the later rounds. After signing no free agent with any youth combined with at least limited starting experience the writing is on the wall. The Steelers are going to ride this thing out with Ben and hope for the best.

I'd feel a heck of a lot better if they prepared for the worst.
Posted on: October 2, 2009 12:50 pm

State of the Union - AFC North

I got a few questions, maybe you can help me out.

Before the season started how many of you had the Ravens at 3-0 going into week 4? What about the Bengals at 2-1? The Steelers are 1-2? Cleveland is 0-uh-oh, not this again.

For all the talk in the offseason about who was who and what was what it's hard to believe that week 4 could have a huge impact on the way the AFC North shakes out. If the Ravens go into New England and come out with a win it will be difficult to dismiss their winning ways as simply the benefits of a schedule that started off weak. For the Steelers it could actually be a must win in week 4. Pittsburgh could ill afford to see the Baltimore at 4-0 while they slip to 1-3. In a division where 11 or 12 wins might set the bar being down 3 games after 4 weeks creates a huge mountain. Cincy has positioned themselves to possibly have a 3-1 record after this weekend which would be an excellent catalyst to chase a playoff spot while Cleveland is going through the growing pains of a new regime. THe face each other this weekend with the Bengals looking to build momentum while the Browns are simply looking for a quarterback.

The Ravens came out this season swinging with an offense that seems capable of scoring in any fashion whether it be on the ground with Willia McGahee or through the air with the arm of Joe Flacco. It's hard not to like Flacco's skills and decision making and for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron it looks like another successful transition with an offense that no one seen coming. The surprise for me is the defense. After losing defensive coordinator Rex Ryan to the Jets I was impressed to see the Ravens defense playing the way it has. The secondary seems to found itself slowly over 3 weeks but everything looks to be coming together. Baltimore hasn't been in much of a dogfight so far this season with the only game of any value coming against the Chargers in San Diego but wins are wins. This weekend will be the most difficult test they have had thus far. The Patriots are far from being the shell of a team that some people claim and I look for the Pats to try and match the Ravens physically from the start of the game. Bottom line, if Baltimore comes out of Foxboro with a win then the rest of the North will take notice.

The Bengals were a footnote coming into this season. Although there were a few people around that had the Bengals as a sneaky pick to jump up and steal a playoff spot I would have to say that they were in the minority. Marvin Lewis has the defense playing with fire under their feet dialing up pressure and getting to the quarterback often. The secondary is playing up to it's potential making it difficult for the opposition to keep a balanced attack. Carson Palmer has still got it and the ground game has been resurrected with Cedric Benson eating up yardage. What does all this add up to? The Bengals have the potential to make a big impact on the postseason. We already know what the offense can do, with a defense Cincy's ceiling might not exist.

The Steelers are world champions, but if you didn't watch last season you might not know it. The running game? Non-existent. The passing game? Effective yet somehow ineffective. The defense? Great for 3 quarters, then fading to end the game. Pittsburgh's offensive line might not be the weakest link after all. In pass protection they have played very well and the Steelers have not pushed the ground game enough for me to know if the line has improved in that regard. Ben Roethlisberger has played well but if Pittsburgh is going to throw constantly he will need to take the next step, meaning he needs to get better reads at the line and make the changes that work. Santonio Holmes might have been the Superbowl MVP but his hands have been unreliable so far. As for the defense I see some things that make me nervous but it's still early in the season. William Gay plays soft in coverage and drives me insane with his lack of focus but maybe it's growing pains. I can't wait for the return of Troy.

The Browns just can't get it going on offense so Brady Quinn was yanked and replaced by Derek Anderson who quickly threw 3 interceptions prompting Cleveland fans to move to Baltimore. Ok, maybe not but if you're a member of the dawgpound you have to be getting that creeping feeling up your spine that tells you Cleveland made a mistake with Eric Mangini. Browns' fans need only to look at the Jets and see what Rex Ryan is doing with Mangini's old team. I would like to point out some positives, maybe James Davis if he was healthy? There's just not a lot there. I won't point out the negatives, I have carpal tunnel.

When you look at the importance of this weekend I think most Steelers fans downplay it but the reality is a loss this weekend would firmly put this team behind the 8ball. 1-3 at the end of the first quarter of the season means you can only have 3 or 4 losses the rest of the way to have a legit shot at the postseason giving you a 12-4 or 11-5 record. If the Ravens end up beating the Patriots a 4-0 start gives you the possibility of losing 4 or 5 games over the next 12 and still making the playoffs. With the Jets playing remarkably well, the Patriots always dangerous, the Colts forever in the mix and the a division winner in the West how many spots will be left open?

In my opinion the effects of this weekend's games will be felt the rest of the season.
Category: NFL
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