At least they won’t have to worry about getting rusty…
The Pittsburgh Steelers were already set to usher in the upcoming preseason by playing in the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton. Turns out they’re going to kick-off the regular season as well. The Steelers will play in the 2015 NFL Season Opener against the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots on Thursday night September 10th. I can only imagine Tom Brady‘s girlish squeal when he found out his team drew one of the league’s worst defenses right out the gate.
Not that the rest of the schedule looks any easier. Broncos, Chargers, Colts, Seahawks…the Steelers are set to face a murder’s row of elite offenses this year. If the defense is as bad as we all fear it appears to be on paper, well, this might be a long long year for Steeler Nation. Then again, the year they had what was statistically the hardest schedule of any team in NFL history, they ended up going to the Super Bowl.
One interesting side note – evidently the Thursday night season opener doesn’t count as a prime time game. Teams are limited to four prime time games per year but as you can see, the Steelers have four others scheduled in addition to the opener against the Pats. So you out of towners who don’t wanna pony up for DirectTV are in luck as it appears there will be plenty of national exposure for what is shaping up to be a fascinating trainwreck of a season.
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This has certainly been a memorable off-season for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Not sure it’s been a *good* off-season but it’s certainly been memorable.
It started when long-time defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was gently but unmistakably booted down to Tennessee. Free agent to be linebacker Jason Worilds then became the first – and most improbable – Steeler to announce his retirement. Troy Polamalu recently followed in an announcement that was far less shocking than it was bittersweet. And now the Black and Gold have lost their Swag.
Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor has retired after 12 seasons in the NFL. Yep, he was drafted the same year as Troy and evidently his longtime secondary partner’s decision influenced his own. “We came in together so I wanted to leave together,” he said in a interview for ProFootballTalk. Not that he was expected to be in Pittsburgh come training camp regardless.
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We kinda saw it coming. Doesn’t make it any easier to hear.
Former Defensive Player of the Year – and future Hall of Famer – Troy Polamalu has reportedly told the Pittsburgh Steelers he intends to retire. Thus ends perhaps the biggest ongoing storyline of this tumultuous off-season. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion Troy wouldn’t be back next season, how that came about was the question. I’ll post a more proper farewell to one of the all-time greats to wear the Black and Gold once the team schedules a formal send-off but in the meantime here are just a few quick thoughts.
Strange as it sounds, I’m glad Troy is retiring. He’s coming off his worst season as a pro having intercepted no passes and registering zero sacks for the first time in his career. It’s clear his skills had diminished to the point the most damning thing I can say is there was little to no drop-off in the defense when Will Allen took his place. He had a brief resurgence during the first half of 2013, since then he’s been either injured or a shadow of his former self. It’d be sad to see him muddle through one last year playing for the Titans or Cardinals.
There is no doubt this was the ideal scenario as far as the Steelers were concerned. Troy was due a $6 million pay day on June 1st which the team had no intention of picking up. At the same time, they wanted to avoid the clumsy way Hines Ward ended his storied career, being released then sheepishly returning to declare his retirement after no other team would have him. This way Polamalu goes out like he was meant to, on his own terms and as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I’ll have more to say soon but for now I’ll leave it with a simple thank you, Troy.
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The wheels of NFL justice may not move swift but at least they always get it right.
Wait, what? Three games? What the fu…
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has been suspended for 3 games for the DWI drug arrest last August. Or one game more than Ray Rice was originally suspended for cold-cocking his fiancee back when he pleaded guilty to assault after the first tape surfaced. Graphically beating a woman = two games. Getting pulled over while smoking joints = three games.
Yep, that Roger Goodell sure knows how to make the tough decisions lemme tell ya.
Idiocy from the office of the Ginger Dictator aside, Bell certainly deserves some punishment if only for abject stupidity. He’s appealing his suspension which leads me to believe they’ll knock it down to two games in order to appear “fair.” Considering the Steelers defense is currently bowling shoe ugly with real potential to be the worst in the league – not yinzer hyperbole, go through position by position, it’s garbage – the only realistic shot they have to win games next year is to score early and score often for which they’ll need the best all-around running back in the league. Newly signed DeAngelo Williams should be serviceable enough in a pinch but he’s no Bell.
Hopefully Bell’s absence doesn’t cost his team too dearly although after watching last year’s Wild Card game, to say this is a different offense without him in the line-up would be a colossal understatement.
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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 there’s gas left in the tank 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.
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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.
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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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.
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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.