Well, that sucked…
The Pittsburgh Steelers promptly took any optimism gleaned from their modest two game winning streak rolled it into a tiny little ball and tossed it in the trash with a 21-18 loss to the Oakland Raiders. Yesterday’s sloppy mistake-filled game set football back twenty years. There were nine penalties, five turnovers, two missed field goals, numerous dropped passes, and a blocked punt. Oh and let’s not forget four different left guards.
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In my recap of the Pittsburgh Steelers embarrassing defeat by the Titans, I made a joke about punter Zoltan Mesko being sore. Turns out, I inadvertently spoke some truth. No, he’s not hurt. And, no, he didn’t punt more times in a single game than he did all season. He did punt more times in a single game than he ever has in his career, though.
Considering the state of the Steelers offense, that mark may be in jeopardy next week.
While Zoltan is fine and dandy, his fellow non-football player is not. Lost in the team’s disastrous performance was news that kicker StoneCold Shaun Suisham sprained his hamstring and is expected to be out about a month. And you wonder why I make fun of kickers. Dude made three kicks, THREE KICKS, and got hurt?
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I don’t even know where to begin with last night’s debacle.
Might as well start with the positives I guess. The Pittsburgh Steelers pulled out a 16-13 win against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football after Lawrence Timmons intercepted Matt Cassel’s first pass in overtime. One play later, Stonecold Shaun Suisham booted a 23 yarder to end the misery. And that’s about all the good things I have to say about what happened last night.
Ben Roethlisberger left the game in the third quarter with what preliminary reports are saying is a “sprained” throwing shoulder. I’m so glad we brought in Todd Haley‘s boring dink and dunk offense to protect him from getting injured. That’s sarcasm by the way. Of course, Ben has been remarkably healthy all season so it totally makes sense he’d suffer a serious injury a week before the Steelers play the Baltimore Ravens.
Ben wasn’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard before the injury. If not for a circus catch by Mike Wallace in the end zone, Ben would’ve departed with two FGs to show for his efforts. All week, fans and talking heads alike were calling this game Boss Todd’s shot at revenge against the team that canned him last season. What we failed to take into account is that familiarity is a two way street. Teams practice against each other all week for months on end meaning the Chiefs defense probably has taken hundreds of snaps against Haley’s offense during his tenure there. The result, as Max Starks later told reporters, was that KC’s D recognized practically every play they called last night.
Let’s not make excuses for the offense, though. The tone was set early when they went three and out on their first two possessions and Willie Colon was flagged for “cussing.” Swearing is a crime? What the f#ck?
Any questions about Antonio Brown‘s worth to the team were answered as Manny Sanders repeatedly failed to step up in his absence. The running game was absolutely atrocious the entire game. Isaac Redman was pathetic, fumbling the ball to gift wrap a FG early then getting stoned on a crucial 4th and inches early in the second half. Jon Dwyer relieved him and only did slightly better, averaging 2.9 ypc to iRed’s sad 2.6 ypc. Dwyer had a couple decent runs and he was running into a 7 man box after Ben got hurt but it still was far from an acceptable performance.
Let’s talk about the post-Ben offense. For whatever reason, Steeler Nation seems to have turned on Charlie Batch, mocking him as a broke washed-up bum. Well, if you’re comfortable with Byron Leftwich after what we saw last night then I don’t know what say. The guy plays quarterback like he’s trying to win a stuffed giraffe for his girlfriend at Kenneywood.
Okay, this was Lefty’s first action in like three years. Back-ups are rusty enough since they only get a handful of snaps at practice. And when he gets a nice clean pocket and about five seconds to wind up, he does throw a pretty ball. At the same time, he looked even more immobile than the last time we saw him. Leave it to Mike Tomlin to sign the only immobile black quarterback in NFL history. Lefty took about four or five vicious shots in about a quarter and half of work. He’s never going to survive if he has to play a significant stretch. What’s more, his goofy throwing motion and lousy accuracy is all wrong for an offense that relies on timing and accuracy.
Gotta love that with Ben under center, Haley went deep twice all season, then Leftwich comes in and his first pass is a bomb to Wallace.
I haven’t yet mentioned the Steelers defense. On paper, it looks like they had a good game. In reality, Kansas City’s incompetence was the only thing which saved them from a horrible loss. While we’re on the subject of terrible games, Ziggy Hood played like absolute shit. The Chiefs ran Jamaal Charles (23 carries 100 yards) right at him time after time for big chunks of yardage. Only when Dick LeBeau started switching up Hood and Bret Keisel did the bleeding stop. How bad does Ziggy have to play before Ironhead Junior gets more than a handful of snaps?
Did LaMarr Woodley play yesterday? How about James Harrison? You didn’t hear either name at all. If KC had receivers who didn’t fall into the fetal position when faced with contact and stopped shooting themselves in the foot with stupid penalties, this game wouldn’t have been close. In fact, the key series of the game occurred early in the third when a 22 yard TD to Dwayne Bowe was wiped out on a ticky-tack holding penalty then the KC kicker missed the ensuing FG wide right.
Late in the quarter, the pitiful Steelers offense was going nowhere fast when pass interference and roughing the passer penalties let them drive for the game-tying FG. Even at the end of the game KC tried their damnedest to snatch defeat from the jaws of
victory mediocrity. Cassel hit Bowe for a nice gain but Bowe lost the ball when Ryan Clark concussed himself while dislodging the ball. Then TE Tony Moeki got flagged for offensive PI which took them out of FG range and left them with 4th and 15. Of course, Ike Taylor played it too loose and let them convert a 27 yard pass play.
The Chiefs came in having never led during regulation all season. They led for almost half the game. The Chiefs came in leading the league in turnovers. Until Cassel threw the pick to Timmons in OT (which was tipped by the Diesel, btw), they had zero giveaways. Yeah, they were a desperate team. Yeah, maybe this was a trap game. Injuries, Haley, their Super Bowl, yadda yadda…
No excuses. Any good feelings from last week’s game against the Giants are long gone. This was an abominable effort that would’ve resulted in a loss against any halfway competent team. And now an offense which has already been average at best needs to find a way to score points with their back-up QB. On top of all this, two of the next three games are against the Ravens. Suddenly this season isn’t looking so promising.
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Now it’s time to panic.
The Tennessee Titans defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-23 on Thursday Night Football. I repeat, the 1-3 Titans starting a 37 year old backup QB defeated the Steelers. Where do I begin?
I suppose I’ll start by saying this is a total team loss. Anybody pointing to one specific area as “the reason they lost” has no idea what they’re talking about. The defense, for all their struggles, only gave up one legit TD with the other being a gimme from the 1 yard line after a blocked punt. The offense, despite a 363 yard passing day from Ben Roethlisberger to move ahead of Terry Bradshaw as the team’s all-time yardage leader, made some plays but they also missed a lot of chances. And the special teams, well, the blocked punt was just the latest miscue in a season full of them. Maybe Mike Tomlin shouldn’t have ousted Al Everest so he could give his buddy the job.
Regarding the special teams, Stonecold Shaun Suisham is one guy who can leave Tennessee with his head held high. Nobody has been more critical of him than I so trust me when I say making every field goal up through a 52 yarder early in the 4th quarter is all anybody can ask of him. It would’ve been nice for him to hit the 54 yarder at the end but that’s hardly a kick you automatically expect ANY kicker to make.
Right here is one of the problems with the Steelers. I’m talking about field goals instead of touchdowns. Once again, the offense moved in fits and starts, sputtering around for large stretches and failing to put the game away by scoring TOUCHDOWNS instead of settling for field goals. Twice the Steelers got inside the 15 and twice they came away with 3 instead of 6. You let teams hang around, even bad teams like the Titans, and bad things happen.
The receiving star was Isaac Redman. Wait, WHAT? Yes, for all we talk about Young Money and the best receiving corps in the NFL, it was our running back that caught 4 passes for 105 yards. Our TE, Heath Miller, chipped in with 6 catches for 67 yards. Antonio Brown? A measly 20 yards. Manny Sanders? A whopping 43.
Then we have Mike Wallace. Wallace had 94 yards and a TD on two, count’em two, catches. He scored doing pretty much the only thing he knows how to do: run fast straight down the field. I don’t want to hear any more bullshit about how Wallace is “a complete receiver.” Complete receivers catch many balls on a variety of patterns. Wallace is the ultimate all or nothing guy.
Unlike last week when the receivers dropped a ton of passes, this week much of the blame rests with Ben. He makes some great throws, like the bomb to Wallace, but then he’ll turn around and miss plays he needs to make. Suisham’s 52 yarder only happened because Ben made a terrible throw when he had Sanders wide open down the seam. Earlier in the game, he had Heath in the end zone and threw it behind him. Then there was a costly pick as time was running out in the half which probably cost the Steelers at least a field goal.
Like it or not, Ben needs a running game. When they run, they win. When they don’t, they lose. And last night, they couldn’t run at all. Much was due to having no running backs. Rashard Mendenhall played a couple series before leaving the game with what habitual liar Tomlin described as “some sort of Achilles problem.” Then iRed, who wasn’t carrying the ball well but has emerged as a great screen guy, left the game after taking a helmet to the knee. With Jon Dwyer in the doghouse, Baron Batch did his best in relief, even scoring his first career TD, but he’s not a starting caliber running back.
The other problem with the running game was the offensive line. As if losing our top two RBs wasn’t enough, we also lost 2/5 of our line. I think Maurkice Pouncey is way overrated but there is one huge difference between him and Doug Legursky. They’re about the same in pass protection but Pouncey is a much better run blocker. Ditto with Marcus Gilbert, who was replaced by rookie Mike Adams. Adams is fine at pass pro, perhaps even better than Gilbert, but he doesn’t run block very well.
Now let’s talk about the defense. Specifically, Ike Taylor. The Steelers only had 4 flags thrown on them yesterday, two of them went against Ike for pass interference (he had a third which was declined). When he wasn’t getting flagged, he was letting receivers run past, through, and around him. The Titans’ first FG was set up by a penalty on Ike. Their game tying drive was prolonged by a third down penalty on Ike. Their game tying TD was scored on Ike. Hasselbeck threw for 290 yards (and would’ve thrown for about 50 more if his receivers could catch the ball), about 50% of which was on Ike alone.
In summation, Ike sucks. Instead of making pornographic rap songs, he needs to start figuring out why he sucked against Denver and why he’s sucked ever since.
Keenan Lewis…KEENAN LEWIS is now our best corner. And yes, people are going to point out he dropped a crucial interception late in the 4th that could’ve altered the game. How many of those has Ike dropped? At least Lewis is actually covering people and making plays. Cortez Allen, pressed into duty as a safety when Will Allen got hurt, did his best although messed up several times. Ryan Clark led the team in tackles as he continues to be our defensive MVP. Lawrence Timmons continued his strong play, coming up with a big interception on a play that was positively Polamalu-esque.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the D held strong for three quarters, holding Tennessee to only 9 points (as I said, the blocked punt TD shouldn’t be held against them) while the offense dicked around. Then they totally collapsed in the 4th. Why Tomlin made the insane decision to try a 54 FG instead of punting and playing for overtime, I don’t know. Dick LeBeau making the asinine call of asking James “Missed the first month of the season because of a bum knee” Harrison to drop back in pass coverage instead of, oh say, SUPER SPEEDY LAWRENCE TIMMONS was equally perplexing.
I’ve avoided dire predictions and grand statements thus far this season. Well, that time is done. The Steelers, with about 12 starters on the disabled list, get 10 days off before facing the Bengals. That has now become a MUST WIN game. I don’t care if it’s still early in the season, I don’t care that neither Cincy nor the Ratbirds are setting the world on fire, you can’t start 2-4 and expect to go anywhere. It’s time to sink or swim.
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The Pittsburgh Steelers squeaked by the Philadelphia Eagles 16-14 thanks to a walk off field goal by Stonecold Shaun Suisham. The good news is the victory evens the Steelers record at 2-2. How crucial was this win? Only 15% of the teams who start the year 1-3 end up making the playoffs.
The bad news is the Steelers have yet more injuries to deal with, starting with All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu. Troy played a couple series then hobbled off to the sidelines never to be seen again. Last week, I faced the wrath of my buddy Hennessy for suggesting James Harrison‘s days may be numbered. I may have just picked the wrong Steeler. I love Troy but he’s quickly turning into another Bob Sanders.
And since Harrison is back and the Football Gods have mandated the Steelers cannot have both Deebo and LaMarr Woodley on the field at the same time lest they cause too much destruction to opposing quarterbacks, Woodley left the game early with what appears to be a re-occurrence of the hamstring problem which plagued him last season.
Even without Woodley and Troy, the Steelers turned in by far their finest defensive effort of the season. I’d prefer to have them both but forced to make a choice, I’d definitely trade Woodley for Harrison every single time. For whatever reason, the D plays much better when Deebo is there. They generated more pressure on Vick than in the first three games combined. And their run defense improved vastly, holding Shady McCoy to only 53 tough yards.
If you didn’t see the game, allow me to repeat some of Joe Buck’s first half play-by-play. “Timmons, Timmons, Timmons, Timmons, Timmons…” Lawrence Timmons was in absolute beast mode. He led the team in tackles, dropped into coverage, recovered a fumble, forced a fumble, and chased Michael Vick like a dog chasing a bone (sorry, I had to). It’s these rare moments of brilliance where you look at him and think, “Why can’t he do this all the time?” When he’s on like he was yesterday, he’s basically the linebacker version of Troy Polamalu.
The Steelers held the high-powered Eagles offense to only 250 total yards, 80 of which came on a grinding third quarter TD drive which took two fourth down conversions and eight minutes off the clock. It would’ve been nice for the Steelers to get off the the field on one of those fourths, and I’m sure human troll Mark Madden will go on about how they suck because they couldn’t (Timmons shot the gap on the first one but Shady made a nice move and then escaped Keenan Lewis’s decidedly Deion Sanders-esque tackling attempt), but if you’re going to let the other team score, at least make them earn it. It’s big play/quick scores which kill you.
Other than that drive, the Eagles did a whole bunch of nothing. They had two other scoring opportunities although neither one was earned. Early in the game, Philly had first and goal from the Steelers 3 which ended with Ryan Clark, the Steelers Defensive MVP thus far in 2012, forcing a Vick fumble which LT recovered in the end zone. That drive went 49 yards but 31 of them were on a bogus pass interference call on Ike Taylor. The second drive, which did end in a touchdown, covered 80 yards although this time they were gifted 30 yards in penalties thanks to two personal fouls, only one of which was legit.
Which brings me to the referees. Man, I’m begging some intrepid fan to track down their Facebook pages to see if they have pics wearing Iggles gear or chowing down on diarrhea inducing cheesesteaks or something. The zebras called this game like they bet the mortgage on Philly. It was unbearable. At one point, even Steeler haters Buck and Aikman noted there was a flag on every play. EVERY PLAY. The Steelers finished the game with 9 penalties for 106 yards.
A HUNDRED AND SIX YARDS IN PENALTIES?!?!?!
Bring back the Lingerie Football refs.
Worse of all, the atrocious calls did not go both ways. This is not Pittsburgh Paranoia talking, either. I seldom blame the refs because I think yinzers get too worked up over every perceived slight but yesterday was truly an exception. Mike Wallace was getting molested like an altar boy on practically every play yet not a single flag was thrown. Meanwhile, ten yellow hankies went flying when a Steeler so much as breathed heavy.
Not that I am excusing Wallace for only catching two passes. Yes, he was getting grabbed, held, shoved, and sodomized on every play. So what? Elite receivers find a way to get open. One of the things I don’t like about Wallace is he doesn’t work. He doesn’t get dirty. Wallace runs his pattern and if he gets bumped he just throws up his hands and begs for a flag. The Steelers are paying you $3 million to catch footballs, not whine to zebras.
Nor am I excusing the offense for their poor play. Ben Roethlisberger was decidedly off yesterday. His numbers aren’t horrible and he made some clutch plays, particularly a 20 yarder to Antonio Brown (who does the dirty work to get open and works hard on every single play) on the game winning drive, but he also missed a lot of throws. He overshot Heath Miller, who was wide open for a TD, on a drive early in the 4th that would’ve effectively put the game away. Ben’s receivers also did him no favors, what with Wallace not getting open and both he and Manny Sanders dropping passes they ordinarily catch. Then there was some plain bad luck such as when Jerricho Cotchery caught a short slant at the 5 with time running out in the half but tripped and fell two yards shy of the end zone.
The offensive star was undoubtedly Rashard Mendenhall. It’s pretty clear the Steelers piss-poor running game the first few weeks was because of inept backs and not lack of running lanes. Mendy only had 81 yards but he averaged an excellent 5.8 YPC. He showed the burst through the hole and cutback ability which makes him the big play threat the other guys simply aren’t. Todd Haley smartly used iRed in short yardage, the one thing he’s good at, but Mendenhall was clearly the featured back with none of the other clowns even getting off the bench. The final drive to set up Suisham’s game winner was a thing of beauty, with Mendy and Redman alternating carries and chewing up both yards and time.
Despite having to overcome two opponents, one in green, one in black and white, the Steelers managed to pull out what was almost a must-win. It wasn’t pretty but they got the job done. With a short turnaround to the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football, that’s really all that matters.
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He may look like Private Pyle but he plays like the Terminator. And just like the T-1000, David DeCastro will be back. The only question is when. While the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to guard injury information like it’s nuclear launch codes, reports are that DeCastro’s knee injury may not be as bad as initially feared.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s bad. He’s undergoing surgery today and faces significant rehabilitation time. However, word is the team is not putting him on the Injured Reserve list, meaning they must think there’s an outside chance he’ll be ready to return before the end of the 2012 season. Once you’re placed on IR, your year is officially done. That’s why Rashard Mendenhall and Casey Hampton, two players coming off major off-season surgery who aren’t expected to be ready for the first portion of the season, aren’t on IR either.
Fans of the Steelers know this as a Woodson Situation. Rod Woodson tore his ACL in the opening game of the season back in 1995 but the team kept him on the active roster hoping he’d make it back. Rod would eventually become the first (and to my knowledge, only) player to return the same season in which he suffers a torn ACL when the Steelers dressed him for the Super Bowl. He had a pretty good game, too.
The Steelers tried to recreate the Woodson Situation a couple years ago when Aaron Smith tore his triceps tendon but vowed to return. Despite again making it all the way to the Super Bowl, Smith never recovered well enough for the coaches to put him back in. Although much of that was likely due to his replacement, Ziggy Hood, playing very well in his stead.
Obviously the drawback to keeping DeCastro off the IR is that the Steelers will basically be playing with one less sub on the bench. That wouldn’t be a huge deal since the 53rd man usually seldom sees the field anyway but the Steelers will actually be playing with three less players. As mentioned, Mendy and Big Snack are in various stages of recovery meaning that’s two more guys they’ll have to carry on the active roster who can’t play.
With DeCastro out, Ramon Foster returns to the starting job at RG. With Foster back, the line basically returns to what we had at the end of last season, the only change being Willie Colon at LG in place of the Big Legursky. Left to right, are starters will be Max Starks, Willie Colon, Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster, and Marcus Gilbert. I’m not sure how I feel about this combo although Starks at LT rather than the inept Gilbert is comforting and anybody in place of Kemo at LG is an improvement.
Speaking of the 53 man roster, with the third preseason game in the books, teams had to cut their rosters down to 75 men as of Monday. No real notable names except LB Mortty Ivy, a Monroeville kid who made the team last season but was hurt this year and S Myron Rolle, the Rhodes Scholar from FSU who skipped a year to study abroad. Kicker Daniel Hrappmann was also among those let go as I try to resist the urge to yell I TOLDYA SO, I TOLDYA SO.
I hate preseason games but going on Twitter during them to watch people tweet that some third string linebacker is going to replace James Harrison because he got a sack in the fourth quarter against the a bunch of undrafted free agent OLmen does make them more tolerable. I enjoy laughing at dummies. Look, the guys who play in the second half are marginal NFLers and/or training camp fodder, nothing more. Hrappmann was never going to unseat Shaun Suisham, even though if anybody should have to earn their job it’s ‘ol Miss’em.
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As a wise man named Theodore Logan once exclaimed, “Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers fired special teams coordinator Al Everest yesterday afternoon. It’s strange because teams don’t normally boot a coordinator two and a half weeks before the start of the season. It’s also strange because this firing came out of nowhere with no real explanation as to why subsequently given. Local reporters literally saw Everest leaving Steelers HQ with his belongings in a box moments before Jay Glazer of FOX sent a tweet confirming he had been dismissed.
This sent the Trib’s Steelers beat writer into a mini-hissy fit over Mike Tomlin‘s veil of secrecy. I don’t know what team Kaboly has been following the past few years but I have no idea why he’d be shocked or surprised that a national guy trumped the local beat writers. As I’ve mentioned before, the Glazers and Schefters of the world always beat the local guys to the punch. That’s because the local media are all deep in the Rooneys’ pockets and instead of digging around trying to find stories like they do in other cities, our media types basically run with whatever bones the team throws their way.
As such, I don’t expect we’ll be hearing why Everest was fired any time soon. Tomlin only released a nonsensical statement that he was being let go because they wanted “to go in a different direction.” This is ridiculous because Everest coaches special teams, it’s not like offense where you can emphasize several different methods of attack or defense where you can be a disciple of any number of different base formations. Punting and kicking are punting and kicking. The only areas which need coaching are returns and coverage and there are only so many ways you can scheme “run down the field and tackle the guy with the ball if he comes at you, bro.”
I can’t imagine what Everest did to get himself fired. Some people have speculated that perhaps he was unhappy because he was unable to make personnel decisions. In other words, some are thinking maybe he wanted to keep rookie kicker Daniel Hrappmann over Miss’em Suisham and was overruled by the higher ups. I don’t buy that because I doubt any special teams coordinator gets to pick his own players. Besides, I don’t even think Tomlin has much say over who the team keeps/cuts, there’s no way a lowly special teams coordinator is going to pull a power play.
I also doubt Everest was fired because of anything performance related. Special teams coordinators are basically at the mercy of the guys they employ. Get a kicker that booms kickoffs into the first row on the reg and you look like a genius. Put Skippy out there and tell him to pooch every kick so your lousy coverage unit might tackle somebody before he gets to mid-field and you get fired like Everest’s predecessor, Bob Ligashesky. Good special teams coordinators can add wrinkles like fake punts or concoct gimmicks which sometimes lead to blocked kicks but you’re talking about trick plays that a team runs maybe a couple times a year. It’s hardly something that’ll have a major impact on a season.
Everest’s special teams have done pretty well past couple seasons. Suisham is what he is and the punters have been around league average. The coverage unit has been mostly excellent since his arrival. During Ligashesky’s final year, the team would give up ridiculously long returns left and right to the point starters James Harrison and Ike Taylor once begged Tomlin to let them cover kicks because they were sick of watching the other team start every drive at mid-field. The return unit has also been quite good with Antonio Brown making the Pro Bowl last season as a returner.
Everest was almost certainly not fired over performance. Why he was given the boot we don’t know and may never find out. In the meantime, assistant special teams coach Amos Jones will take the reins. The schemes probably won’t change and the talent (or lack thereof) is still in place so I don’t expect much upheaval over this last minute switch.
Which begs the question, why was Captain Kangaroo let go in the first place?
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I’m a Yinzer. I was born in Pittsburgh, raised in Pittsburgh and I’ve lived my entire adult life in Pittsburgh. That being the case, my musical preferences favor the same things the average Yinzer tends to enjoy: Skynard, Donnie Iris, and Styx. I couldn’t name a Justin Bieber song if you offered me LarryFitz money.
What I am familiar with are internet memes. When you spend approximately 29 hours per week surfing the net when you’re supposed to be working, it’s impossible to miss whatever current obsession is burning up the interwebs. I’ve seen so many McKayla Maroney Is Not Impressed photoshops, her snotty scornful face haunted my dreams. Thankfully, I didn’t think about it when I was taking a shower.
The other big internet meme of the summer has to do with a song entitled “Call Me Maybe” by some Canadian singer named Carly Rae Jepsen. Evidently, the Biebs liked it so much he got a bunch of his teenybopper friends together to make a video of themselves lipsynching to the song (known in internet shorthand as a lipdub). There’s been approximately seventy five of these posted to date, created by everybody from James Franco to the Harvard Baseball team to the USA Olympic Swimming Team.
I confess, I really can’t stand the song so as clever as they may be, the only one I’ve seen is the one starring the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders. The song may be annoying as hell but I’ll suffer through if it features hot blondes with big fake tits in skimpy little bikinis.
In what qualifies as something I would’ve never expected in a million years, the Pittsburgh Steelers became the first (only?) professional football team to get in on the Call Me Maybe action. Posted above is the video for you to enjoy. I bet Mike Wallace is going to be pissed he missed out on taking part in this. Actually, to be fair, the video is pretty fun as far as seeing some Steelers goofing off and there are some nice highlights of their time up in Latrobe.
I don’t know for certain but if I had to wager I’d bet doing a lipdub was the brainchild of LaMarr Woodley and Ike Taylor, who appear throughout the video (Woody is the dude playing broom guitar while Face Me Ike has the toy phone). They somehow convinced several of their teammates to participate, including James Harrison, who still looks extremely threatening when mouthing the words to bubblegum pop songs. You also get a shot of Charlie Batch looking incredibly jacked for a senior citizen and Shaun Suisham doing his best to convince Steeler groupies that he’s as doable as his predecessor. You also get a rare look at the team’s training staff and I must say the Steelers have a couple tremendously attractive women employed as ankle tapers.
If any of you read this, call me maybe?
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The Pittsburgh Steelers also signed 13 undrafted free agents following the conclusion of this weekend’s NFL Draft. I’m not going to give a thorough scouting report for each one since my fingers are still sore from yesterday’s Kiper-riffic breakdown and the fact they’ll all be extreme long shots to even make team. I will highlight a handful I think may bear watching when those intolerable pre-season games begin.
First we have punter Drew Butler. Butler was the second ranked punter in this year’s draft but, thankfully, the Steelers learned from past mistakes and didn’t waste a valuable draft pick on a non-football player. Trust when I say doing so not only would’ve sent Rich Eisen into another epic meltdown but I’d likely need a new television. Butler is the son of former Bears kicker Kevin Butler, who I recall being one better kickers in the league during the late 80s/early 90s. I won’t bother with statistics since the bottom line will be who kicks better in pre-season although Jeremy Kapinos won’t have the advantage of being a
mistake Kevin Colbert doesn’t want to acknowledge former draft pick ala Daniel Sepulveda so if Butler performs well, I imagine he’ll make the team. The Steelers also signed a kicker from Missouri, Grant Ressel, but he’s probably just training camp filler. Teams always bring multiple punters and kickers into camp just so the non-football players have somebody to drink coffee and hang out with while the actual athletes get into football shape. Ressel had outstanding accuracy his first couple seasons, missing only 3 FGs out of 46 attempts, but a hip injury last season caused him to go down the crapper (9 for 16) and fall off the NFL’s radar. Even though Shaun Suisham absolutely sucks, I can’t see the Steelers going with a rookie kicker unless he makes multiple 60 yarders.
Now let’s talk some real football players, the Steelers also signed Marquis Maze (WR Alabama), Desmond Stapleton (G Rutgers, and, yes, he’s Darnell’s younger brother), Ryan Lee (G Furman), Ike Igbinosun (DT South Connecticut State), Jake Stoller (DL Yale), Adrian Robinson (OLB Temple), Robert Golden (CB/S Arizona) and Terry Carter (CB Louisiana Tech). Of local interest, they also signed wide receiver Connor Dixon from my dad’s alma mater Duquesne and Brandon Lindsey from Pitt. Dixon is a big (6’4 200 pounds) target who originally went to Michigan State as a QB. Lindsey was a fairly productive DE for the Panthers but he’ll be converted to OLB ala LaMarr Woodley in the Steelers scheme. Our depth chart is littered with young linebackers so it’ll be a uphill climb for Lindsey although remember James Harrison was once on the practice squad. As far as the non-locals, Maze and Golden seem to be the most likely to open eyes in camp. Maze is really tiny (5’8 186) which is probably why he wasn’t drafted but he’s considered something of a return specialist (think Stefan Logan). Golden bounced between corner and safety at Arizona but at 5’11 210 pounds and a natural hitter, he’ll be a safety in the pros. The Steelers don’t have much depth at safety besides the mediocre Ryan Mundy so if Golden plays well and contributes on special teams, I can see him making the squad out of camp.
Perhaps the most interesting signee was a young quarterback from Division III Monmouth named Alex Tanney. Tanney is most known for the above trick shot video he posted on youtube. He has no chance to make the main roster with Charlie Batch, Troy Smith and newly re-signed Byron Leftwich in camp but I’ll be rooting for the kid to at least make the practice squad. He may be raw and those tricks may have nothing to do with football but, man, he has a cannon for an arm. If JaMarcus Russell can fool the Raiders into picking him first overall because he could throw the ball 50 yards from his knees, Tanney should at least earn a spot on the practice squad. He may not be polished as the vets or even fellow camp invitee Jerrod Johnson but he already throws a better deep ball than Big Ben.
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Sometimes it’s hard to be a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel blessed to follow the greatest franchise in NFL history. I realize how lucky we are to watch a Super Bowl contender seemingly year in and year out. I do not for one second take our six Lombardi Trophies for granted. Even after the most heart-breaking of losses, I never for a moment question my allegiance.
There are still times when the Steeler Way can be immensely frustrating. While it works eight times out of ten, the two times it fails, it fails spectacularly. We all play armchair GM from time to time but I wouldn’t pretend I could do a better job than Kevin Colbert. At the same time, many of his player personnel decisions continue to puzzle me.
The last two and half minutes of the Steelers-Ravens game were an absolute mess. People rightly focus on the D’s epic bed-crapping in letting Joe F’N Flacco drive 92 yards on them for the game winning touchdown. Others focus on Ryan Clark and Will.i.am Gay, both of whom played miserably all night long. However, lost in the wash, was the comical Chinese Fire Drill on the Steelers final possession where they got the ball down to the Baltimore 30, called a time out to discuss their options, sent their field goal unit out but fooled around too long and got called for a delay of game which left them with no choice but to punt.