Chris, Author at Total Steelers » Total Steelers

Chris

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Deebo is back…and back for good?

While I was busy watching my March Madness bracket explode in a fiery ball of flame at Hooters this weekend, the Pittsburgh Steelers were busy re-building their aging and ineffective linebacking corps. How did they do this? Why, by signing 36 year old James Harrison of course! Rest easy, Steeler Nation, this won’t be any one and done either as they inked their 2008 Defensive Player of the Year for two whole years!

Forgive my sarcasm but after drafting two straight first round linebackers then Franchise tagging a third, I find it somewhat comical the Black and Gold have ended up right back where they started.

I don’t blame them for signing Deebo. He was clearly the team’s most effective pass rusher at outside linebacker last year. First round pick Jarvis Jones has been an utter bust thus far to the point GM Kevin Colbert basically said both OLB spots are in open competition come training camp. With Jason Worilds retired (still can’t believe I’m typing that) our current depth chart reads Jones, Arthur Moats, and a bunch of nobodies. At worst Harrison provides insurance and with his deal being worth a shade under $3 million, it’s not like the team is in trouble cap-wise if he hits a wall this year.

Still, for a defense that had  a terrible time pressuring the quarterback last season, it’s not very encouraging that their rebuilding efforts have consisted of bring back Deebo and pray Jones magically morphs into a capable NFL player. The draft is coming up but since they haven’t done anything to address the secondary – if anything, it’s gotten weaker – it’s not like they don’t have other holes to fill. Big Ben and the offense better gear up to score 30+ point every game next season otherwise it could be another long year for the Steelers.

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They sure don’t have any of those in Carolina.

With the Ben Roethlisberger deal out of the way, the Pittsburgh Steelers can turn their attention to other areas of the roster. Yesterday, they made their second big move of the off-season by signing former Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams to a two year deal. Williams is coming off his worst season as a pro – injuries limited him to six games and only 219 yards in 2014 – although he has two 1,000+ yard rushing seasons, led the league with 18 rushing TDs in 2008, and made one Pro Bowl during his six year career. He should provide quality (and much needed) depth for superstar back Le’Veon Bell.

Let’s just hope this veteran running back works out better than the last one we tried. Last year’s signing of LeGarrette Blount to fill the same role ended in disaster when Blount left the team, apparently disgruntled over lack of playing time, and was subsequently released so he could go win a Super Bowl with the Patriots.

In his introductory press conference, Williams seemed to not only understand his role but completely embrace it. He told reporters he’s willing to do whatever the team asks of him, “whether that means me coming off the bench, giving the offensive line water, making sure Ben Roethlisberger’s towel is dry so he can wipe his hands and throw the ball better – whatever it takes for us to win a Super Bowl, I’m willing and able to do it.” He also promised fans his tank still has gas left so when he is called upon to do his actual job – carrying the football – he should provide quality carries in place of useless scrubs like Dri Archer or Josh Harris.

Assuming he does have something left, Williams gives the Steelers valuable insurance in case Bell gets banged up and to provide him a much-needed breather once in awhile. It also frees up the draft as the team need not worry about expending a premium draft pick on a back-up back – not that they couldn’t do way better than Archer and Harris even in later rounds. While the team’s defense still needs a lot of work, the Blount fiasco in many ways was the catalyst for the Steelers season ending loss to the Ravens so I’m very happy to see DeAngelo Williams in Black and Gold.

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Better late than never.

I’ve seen some grumbling over the Pittsburgh Steelers utter inaction during the initial days of NFL free agency. The team certainly has a lot of holes and only so many chances to fill them. After yesterday’s announcement, however, it will be hard for me to judge this off-season too harshly. The Black and Gold signed their best player, their cornerstone, to a long term deal on Friday which makes it an automatic win.

Ben Roethlisberger is going to stay in Pittsburgh for what should be the remainder of his career after signing a brand new five year deal. Continue reading »

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Mar 112015

Jason Worilds

So, who saw this one coming?

Last night, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds announced his retirement from the NFL. When the season ended against Baltimore, we all knew the team leaving the field was going to look different from the one that takes it in 2015. Some guys would leave via free agency, some would be cut, and some would (hopefully) retire gracefully. After the Steelers declined to use their franchise tag on Worilds, I think most of us expected to see him fall into category number one.

Surprise.

Clearly the Steelers knew something all of us didn’t. It doesn’t appear this sudden retirement is related to any physical ailments. Worilds has missed exactly one game in the last three seasons, leading the team with 8 sacks in 2013 and finishing second with 7.5 this past year. The rumor is Worilds has recently undergone a spiritual awakening and simply feels his life’s work doesn’t involve professional football. If true, I admire his willingness to walk away an easy $10+ million free agent pay day because his heart is no longer in the sport.

I don’t know where Worilds goes from here but whatever he may chose to do with the rest of his life, I wish him well. Some may call him a “quitter” but to me it takes more courage to chose your own path than take the road laid out before you.

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brett-keisel-beard

Been awhile, huh?

With roughly an hour to go before the official start of the 2015 NFL free agency period, I figured it was about time to check in with an update on our Pittsburgh Steelers. To say our team has some work to do would be an understatement. The offense was incredible last season while the defense, well, the defense needs nearly a complete overhaul. With brand new defensive coordinator Keith Butler set to take the reins this upcoming season, it would behoove the team to give the man some actual talent to work with.

Not surprisingly, the first major moves of the off-season revolve around the D. Veteran Brett Keisel was released yesterday, all but ensuring an end to his career in Black and Gold. While Da Beard was a solid contributor last year, he was once again lost to a season ending injury as his age make counting on him for a full season impossible. Keisel wants to continue playing and I’m sure he’ll find a home either with Pittsburgh West (Arizona) or Pittsburgh South (Tennessee) as we finally move on to rebuilding the defensive line. Continue reading »

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Pittsburgh West meet Pittsburgh South.

Back in 2007 the Arizona Cardinals hired then Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt as head coach. Whiz embarked on a six year mission to import as many ex-Steeler players and coaches as he could. When ex-Steelers weren’t available, former Pitt Panthers would also suffice. It reached such a level of absurdity that “Pittsburgh West” became a trendy – and accurate – nickname for the Cardinals.

When Whisenhunt was fired in 2012, he was replaced by yet another former Steeler offensive coordinator, Bruce Arians. Arians has continued his predecessor’s habit of populating his team with guys who once wore the Black and Gold so much so that the Pittsburgh West nickname continues to be relevant. Meanwhile, Whisenhunt spent a year as an offensive coordinator before the Tennessee Titans gave him a second opportunity as head coach. As he’s set to enter his second season down in Music City, it appears Whiz is trying to give Arizona a run for their money. Continue reading »

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So anybody watch that little football game last night?

The Pittsburgh Steelers last second victory in Super Bowl XLIII has officially been unseated for the title of craziest ending ever thanks to the insane final minutes of Super Bowl XLIX. Beginning with Tom Brady‘s touchdown pass to put the New England Patriots ahead 28-24 with a little over two minutes left, the final sequence of events will live in Super Bowl folklore for decades to come. The Seattle Seahawks received a miracle via a crazy juggling catch that set them up at the goal line only to go and flush it all away with the WORST CALL IN NFL HISTORY. I’m not football genius but when you’re at the one foot line and your running back is nicknamed “Beast Mode,” I think it’d be prudent to GIVE HIM THE DAMN BALL. Continue reading »

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Good-bye, Coach Dad.

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has “resigned” his position with the team in the wake of end-of-season meetings with head coach Mike Tomlin. No replacement has been named but it’s almost a foregone conclusion his protege, linebackers coach Keith Butler, will be taking the reins next season. The Steelers have blocked Butler from interviewing for defensive coordinator positions in recent years with the idea he’ll be LeBeau’s heir apparent. Well, looks like it’s time to see what the student has learned from the master.

At least this time the Steelers didn’t laughingly call LeBeau’s exit a “retirement.” Continue reading »

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Steeler Dog

Two important things were learned from the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs.

1 – The Steelers high-powered offense is a collection of burned out light bulbs without running back Le’Veon Bell.

2 – Whatever concussion protocols the Steelers have in place, they might want to look into changing them.

The second point became extremely apparent when Ben Roethlisberger‘s head bounced off the Heinz Field turf during the last of the Ratbirds five sacks. Ben went to the sideline while Bruce Gradkowski came in and calmly converted a 3rd and 21. After three plays from the Polish Rifle, Ben returned and promptly threw a game-ending interception into triple coverage in the end zone. I have to think he wasn’t playing with all his marbles when he made that pass because otherwise I have no idea why he’d throw that ball into a crowd of Ravens with literally nobody open. Continue reading »

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The Baltimore Ravens.

Of course it had to be the Baltimore Ravens.

After a two season absence from the NFL Playoffs, the Pittsburgh Steelers return this Saturday night when they host the Ratbirds at Heinz Field. If you’re going to return to post-season, why not make it another chapter in what is undoubtedly one of the best rivalries in football. This will be the fourth time since 2000 that the Black and Gold have faced the Ravens three times in the same season. The first time, they were quarterbacked by Kordell Stewart in his last grasp at greatness, the last two they were led by Ben Roethlisberger on his way to a Super Bowl appearance. Continue reading »

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