James Harrison Archives - Total Steelers » Total Steelers

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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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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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Suck It, Haters!
“Suck It, Haters!”

The Pittsburgh Steelers ended their unbearable two year post-season drought in emphatic fashion, clinching a spot in the 2014 NFL playoffs with a convincing 20-12 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. I’m not sure I’d call this their most impressive win of the season although it was easily the most solid. In my preview I talked glowingly of the Chiefs which, truth be told, was based almost entirely on their impressive stats. Going by what I saw yesterday, KC is certainly not the highest caliber opponent we’ve faced this year.

I call this win solid because for the first time this year, the Steelers performed well in all three phases. Nobody on offense put up huge numbers and there weren’t any memorable splash plays but as a group they moved the ball almost effortlessly against what was billed as a superior defense. Ben Roethlisberger was an efficient 18/25 for 220 yards, Le’Veon Bell had 63 yards on 20 carries and both Heath Miller and Antonio Brown caught 7 balls for 68 and 72 yards respectively. All this added up to scores on four of their six drives. Continue reading »

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brett-keisel-beard

As I’ve mentioned before, I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my family down in Florida. I tried keeping up with any important news concerning the Pittsburgh Steelers but between food hangovers and travel woes, some things fell through the cracks. Most notably, I missed the news that defensive end Brett Keisel suffered a torn tricep that will officially end his 2014 season.

Well, I didn’t exactly “miss it.” I just didn’t report it here. Watching the game at a Steeler bar, as soon as I saw the Diesel walking off holding his arm I figured he tore his bicep/tricep. Meanwhile, the Steelers waited until before game time to announce James Harrison would also be sitting out with a balky knee so that one’s on them. Continue reading »

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james-harrison-conf-cincy

The Pittsburgh Steelers are hot right now. Their offense is on absolute fire but the oft-criticized defense has also come around in recent weeks. They’re not shutting people out like in days gone by although I’m not sure in today’s NFL such a thing is even possible. With all the current rules where basically scowling at a receiver results in a flag, I’m not sure it’s even possible to have a shut down unit anymore.

Good teams still play good D, it’s just a different kind of defense. They don’t give up the big plays, make the other guys work for the scores they do get, and above all generate splash plays by sacking the QB and forcing turnovers. Those are all areas the Steelers struggled mightily in for going on a two season now. They’re also areas the team has steadily improved in over the past few weeks. Perhaps not coincidentally, that improvement has coincided with the resurgence of one player in particular.

James Harrison. Continue reading »

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Stonecold Shaun Suisham

Back in week two, the Baltimore Ravens humbled the Pittsburgh Steelers with a one-sided butt whuppin’. Last night, the Black and Gold got sweet sweet revenge thanks to yet another record-setting performance from Ben Roethlisberger. A rivalry once known for close games has now become a series of knockout punches. This time the Steelers were left standing at the end, owners of an epic 43-23 smackdown over their hated rivals.

Oddly enough, the first quarter seemed to imply doom for the hometown team. Ben was getting the bejeezus beat out of him, culminating in a late hit that left him checking if his jaw was still attached. There were actually two personal fouls called on that one play, which is just about the most Raven-y thing ever. Prior to that drive, though, the Steelers were stuck in neutral, going almost the entire first quarter without a single first down. Their first decent drive ended after Ben was sacked on three consecutive snaps and it really looked it was going to be a herculean struggle to get the ball in the end zone. Continue reading »

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coke-mean-joe

In the aftermath of Sunday’s epic curb-stomping of the Colts, I was looking over my feed for any stories concerning the Pittsburgh Steelers. One immediately jumped out at me. It was titled, “Steelers LBs Smash Weight Room After Big Victory” and I won’t lie, my first thought was “Uh oh, they demolished the training facility celebrating after the game?” Those kind of things leap to mind when you follow a team with a habit of launching into obnoxiously long choreographed dance routines after every halfway decent play.

No, the Steelers didn’t party by causing mass destruction to team facilities. The story was about James Harrison and Jason Worilds, who evidently came in bright and early Monday morning to get in a light workout by deadlifting 450 pound barbells. I’ve kind of scoffed at the idea of “veteran leadership” – to me, being able to play is much more important than being vocal in the locker room – but I’m coming around that one of the Steelers problems in recent years was the loss of so many established leaders.

I don’t know Jason Worilds but I do know nobody works as hard or has as much heart as Deebo. And I can’t help but think some of the linebackers recent uptick in play directly coincides with #92 being back in Black and Gold. Continue reading »

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s090810_6harrison

So anybody else hear that Derek Jeter is retiring?

Of course we’ve had nauseating tributes to Jeter crammed down our throats all season long. While I couldn’t care less about the Yankees or the glorification of their overrated players, Jeter’s story is notable in one regard. He’s walking away of his own free will. When it comes to professional sports, more often than not athletes have to be dragged away from the game kicking and screaming.

I’ve been alive for all six of the Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl victories but I’m too young to remember the majority of the Steel Dynasty years. What I do remember quite vividly is a KDKA interview with Terry Bradshaw, who told this story of waking up feeling like a million bucks and then asking a ranch hand to run twenty yards down to the fence and button hook back towards him as he threw a football. The part I particularly remember most vividly is Terry saying how as soon as he let the ball fly his balky elbow told him it was time to retire. A few guys leave voluntarily like Jeter but many – most – are forced to go.

Which brings us to James Harrison. Continue reading »

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bengalspunter

If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas…

The Pittsburgh Steelers laid a mighty whuppin’ on the Cincinnati Bengals, temporarily keeping their slim playoff hopes alive with a 30-20 victory on Sunday Night Football. The final score doesn’t accurately reflect how one-sided this game actually was. The Black and Gold roared out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and basically coasted the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Cincy never seemed to get on track, repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot with mistakes or ill-timed penalties. As Cris Collinsworth, a former Bungle, said after one of their players got flagged for taunting down while down 20 points, “Well, it’s the Bengals.” Continue reading »

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BRCFJu7CcAAC7ZN

Hard Knocks featuring the Cincinnati Bengals premiered on HBO on Tuesday night. For those cheapskates out there who don’t get HBO, Hard Knocks is their yearly reality series chronicling behind the scenes of an NFL training camp. At best, the program exposes the major underlying issues facing the featured team. At worst, it exposes players as obnoxious self-promoters or serial impregnators and management as clueless putzes. Continue reading »

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