#Steelers sources expect Big Ben to ask them to explore trade options after 2013. They fielded offers for him last offseason. Could again
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 10, 2013
On the NFL’s Sunday morning pre-game show, so-called “insider” Ian Rapoport reported on the above posted tweet. Who is Ian Rapoport? I have no idea. He’s certainly never broken any notable scoops like ESPN or Fox NFL “insiders.” Whoever he is, he certainly did his job by “breaking” a story that even got ongoing updates from the crew covering the Bills-Steelers game.
Before we go into the analysis and denials, we should start with Rapoport’s tweet. He’d later whine he was being misquoted or that the Pittsburgh Steelers were denying things he never said. Rapoport’s scoop actually is two scoops in one. First, he alleges Ben Roethlisberger is going to ask to be traded this off-season. Secondly, he alleges the Steelers already contemplated parting ways with Ben by soliciting trade offers last spring.
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The NFL’s newly revised trading deadline is scheduled for 4:00 this afternoon. One of the benefits of pushing it back from it’s previous date is teams now have a better idea of where they stand in relation to being contenders. There were a flurry of rumors yesterday involving several big name players stuck on dead end teams. Whether or not any of these deals actually come to fruition remains to be seen.
One team that should be active today is the Pittsburgh Steelers.
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I suppose this is a step in the right direction…
Over the course of my blogging career, I’ve had occasion to witness some things I’d prefer to permanently scrub from memory. First, there was the groupie website where some chick saw fit to post a pic of Santonio Holmes in the shower, his giant horse dick right there for the world to see. Then there was Milledgeville and the accounts of Ben Roethlisberger‘s “grey penis.” Not to mention the immortal crime scene photos of Big Ben’s baby batter splattered all over the side of a dingy bathroom stall.
Why us? Why can’t the Pittsburgh Steelers have a decent sex scandal? Something like Rob Gronkowski banging a super-hot porn star or a sexy slutty Bengals cheerleader deflowering the luckiest dude in his high school?
Well, ask and we shall receive. Sort of.
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When Todd Haley was hired as offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the first question anybody asked was, “Who will be the first to lose it?”
Haley has a long storied history of making some of his players extremely angry. When he coached for Dallas, he didn’t get along with Terrell Owens (not that many could). In Arizona, he infuriated Kurt Warner to the point the normally mild-mannered quarterback snapped. As head coach of Kansas City, running back Larry Johnson outright refused to play for him.
With that in mind, Steeler Nation figured it was only a matter of time until Ben Roethlisberger would inevitably lose his cool with his new OC. Well, a member of the Steelers finally blew his stack but it wasn’t Ben.
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I avoid ESPN like the plague. I know it’s cliche to hate on the Four Letter but their virtual monopoly on the televised sports world never ceases to depress me. There is no player their hype machine can’t make me sick of, no team their smothering coverage can’t turn me against. If excess were a virtue, that network would be as pious as their man-crush, Tim Tebow.
One particularly irksome trend involves Pittsburgh sports teams. Since we’re a small market, the Four Letter deems us beneath their notice. The Pirates are the story of the year in MLB yet they’d rather put the 30 game out Phillies on Sunday Night Baseball than our Battlin’ Bucs. And hockey, well, even when they owned the rights to the NHL they barely covered hockey.
And then we have the Pittsburgh Steelers. Being one of the NFL’s premier franchises, ESPN couldn’t exactly ignore the Black and Gold like they do our other teams. However, they did certainly tried their best. While the Steelers were going to three Super Bowls in six, all they wanted to talk about was the Dallas Cowboys. It was infuriating but typical ESPN.
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The Pittsburgh Steelers suffered several injuries in their 16-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Zoltan Mesko is not listed among the casualties. I’m sure he spent the better part of the evening icing down his foot, though. Poor Zoltan did more punting yesterday than he did all last season for the New England Patriots.
I can safely say the Black and Gold put on the worst display of offensive football I’ve seen in my thirty odd years of yinzer-hood. Worse than when they had a guy named Walter Abercrombie lining up in the backfield. Worse than when they were being quarterbacked by Bubby Brister. Worse than the glory days of Mark Malone.
Words cannot describe how inept the Steelers appeared on offense. When Ben Roethlisberger hit Jerricho Cotchery for the team’s lone touchdown with a minute and a half left in the game, I actually saw people on Twitter posting “Nice of the offense to finally show up.” That’s insane. The offense never showed up yesterday. NEVER.
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When Jerome Bettis retired after Super Bowl XL, he was immediately snapped up by NBC to be a featured analyst on their flagship Sunday Night Football franchise. The Peacock was so invested in the Bus, they even gave him a bit part in the underrated TV series Chuck in a bid for cross-promotion. Unfortunately, Bettis isn’t an arrogant, self-serving loudmouth like Shannon Sharpe, Keyshawn Johnson, or Rodney Harrison so he quickly found himself unemployed. Because no ex-athlete stays unemployed for long, ESPN recently announced that the Bus was coming aboard the Four Letter to make the occasional appearance on NFL Live and Sportscenter.
The only memorable moment during Bettis’s entire tenure at NBC was revealing that Bill Cowher had also intended to retire following the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ fifth Super Bowl victory. That comment raised a lot of ire amongst the Black and Gold, who like to keep their secrets in-house. Well, looks like the even more secretive Mike Tomlin regime has their very own Edward Snowden to deal with.
Retired quarterback Charlie Batch is working as an analyst on the Steelers’ radio pregame show. And like any good analyst, he decided to reveal state secrets. A couple days ago, Batch revealed that offensive coordinator Todd Haley wouldn’t allow Ben Roethlisberger to call audibles last season.
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And never brought to mind?
The more quickly the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns is forgotten the better. I have to confess, I lost interest in this game about ten minutes in and started flipping to Red Zone in order to watch games that actually mattered. Considering nearly 15,000 fans attended yesterday’s season finale at Heinz Field disguised as empty seats, I have to think I’m not alone in my crippling apathy.
Pittsburgh is a football town. I would be insane to deny it. At the same time, Pittsburgh also backs winners. Oh, we still support our Pirates or Penguins when they fail but not nearly with the same fervor or in the same numbers as we do teams that win. The Steelers first meaningless game in six years and 15,000 people opted to skip it. The Rooney family, and by that I mean bungling meddler Art II, better not take this town’s support for granted or we’ll be seeing a lot more Pitt size crowds in the near future.
As I said, I didn’t watch every minute of this titanic confrontation but I’ll give some thoughts on the bits and pieces I did see. The reason my will was broken early on had much to do with a mind-numbing first quarter which saw Todd Haley‘s stunningly inept offense piss around while rookie nobody Thad Lewis drove 70 yards on Dick LeBeau‘s top ranked defense. The Browns’ drive came to a screeching halt thanks to a Troy Polamalu interception.
Well, at least Troy made one play this season.
Speaking of finally making a play, Ziggy Hood finally made an impact himself. Unfortunately, it came in the form of taking out the knee of teammate Brett Keisel, who will undergo an MRI tomorrow due to fears he may have injured his MCL (which may or may not require surgery). On the plus side, with Diesel out, Mike Tomlin was forced to play Cam Heyward. Young guys on defense, what a crazy concept!
The defensive standouts, if you can call them that considering they were playing against a guy who has been cut from three different teams’ practice squads, were Lawrence Timmons and Cortez Allen. Timmons put the cherry on top of his break out season with two sacks and a fumble recovery. It only took 5 years but LT is finally playing like a mid first round draft pick. So I guess we should expect next year’s first to finally make an impact some time around 2018.
Meanwhile, Allen continues to make me look like a genius for tabbing him as a future starter – and a high-level one at that – in the secondary. Last week he caused three turnovers (2 INTs and forced fumble), this week he added another two FFs, one of which he recovered himself. Five turnovers in two weeks. That’s nearly more than the rest of the defense combined. Keenan Lewis played well this year but I don’t see how they can possibly limit Allen to a nickel role next year.
Lewis, by the way, is going to be a free agent at season’s end. The balky knee which limited him the past month acted up so if this was his last appearance in the Black and Gold it was a brief one. I imagine the team will try to keep him although they’d be foolish to overpay for a guy destined to be a #3 corner. Lewis’s probable exit will likely be part of a roster purge that made last year’s Veteran Armageddon look tame by comparison.
Casey Hampton was replaced for almost the entire second half by Steve McClendon. McClendon even got some good pressure on young Thaddeus begging the question why he sat on the bench for 16 weeks while all the old immobile guys stood around like their feet were stuck in mud. Even though the team doesn’t have a legit heir apparent at NT, it seems certain we’ll go into next year with McClendon and (provided he doesn’t kill anybody over the summer) Alameda Ta’amu.
The linebacking corps will also be undergoing a bit of an overhaul. Reports on NFL.com are that yesterday’s game was James Harrison‘s swan song in Pittsburgh. If so, Deebo made sure to get one final late hit cheap shot in for old time’s sake. Guess he’ll have to sit out his first regular season game as a Dolphin due to suspension. Ironically, that hit came on the very play where Thad Lewis threw his first (and only) career TD pass. While it looks like Jason Worilds will step in opposite the chronically injured LaMarr Woodley, the Steelers will have to use the draft or *gasp* free agency to find another ILB to pair with Timmons when they part ways with veteran Larry Foote.
Ben Roethlisberger – making sure to clutch his ribs in crippling agony after every throw so we knew the Big Drama Queen was TOUGH~! – played to the bitter end. Ben, who threw for only 134 yards but 3 TDs, managed to put together a couple nice drives in the fourth quarter, including his 23rd and final TD pass of the season to Plaxico Burress. Eight years, three Super Bowl championships and a prison stint later, the season ends with Big Ben to Plax for a TD. Fitting.
The only drawback to yesterday’s win (besides Keisel and Kelvin Beachum getting hurt. Since when did playing Right Tackle for the Steelers become the equivalent of wearing a red shirt on the USS Enterprise?) was the victory dropped the Steelers all the way to the 17th overall pick in the 2013 draft. That’s still plenty high to get a quality player, one who may be counted on to contribute a lot faster than rookies have in recent years. Whoever they take, this is going to be among the most important off-seasons in Steelers history.
Will Art II admit the Todd Haley experiment has been an utter failure? Or will Boss Todd be given another year to electrify us with his vast array of bubble screens and end arounds? Who will replace the aforementioned losses on defense? Likewise, what will the team do with Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Wallace? Assuming both are gone, do they stick with what they got or introduce some fresh faces to the mix? Remember, every back except Chris Rainey is a free agent along with Manny Sanders. And for the love of pete, will they please fire special teams bungler Amos Jones? He’s so bad, the name “Bobby April” was actually trending locally when the team failed yet again to correctly defend a fake punt.
On a personal note, I want to thank my readers for allowing me to vent this season. It’s been a maddening year but being able to express my frustrations here certainly does my blood pressure a world of good. Even though you guys seldom comment, I appreciate all of you reading, from the old timers who’ve been with me since NPC to the newbies who stumbled upon this blog this season. I’ll still be updating whenever Steeler news dictates (and as I’ve said, we should be making a lot of moves this off-season) although not on a regular schedule. I hope you check in from time to time.
Thanks for reading. Hope you all enjoy a very happy New Year. And Let’s Go Steelers in 2013!