#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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Some people think the Pittsburgh Steelers 0-4 start was the product of a poorly constructed roster, some lousy coaching, and injuries to key personnel. They would be wrong. The Steelers simply decided to postpone winning until after the Pirates season was over. They were polite enough to give them spotlight.
Good manners are the Steeler Way.
With the Bucs done for the year, the Black and Gold wasted no time getting off the schneid by defeating the New York Jets 19-6. The highlight of this game was Bill Cowher, the greatest coach in Steeler history, in the booth calling the game with the normally unlistenable duo of Nantz and Simms. Not only did CBS make sure to work in a plug for Cowher’s mid-life crisis, er, leather-clad rocker babe, the Chin’s near orgasmic joy with every field goal attempt made an otherwise dull game seem exciting.
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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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Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had his weekly press conference yesterday in which he described his starting quarterback as being “angry” over the team’s poor performance. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also spoke about the team’s 0-2 start, first in a post-game interview and later during his weekly appearance on a local radio station where he acknowledged being “frustrated.”
I try not to pick on Ben because nobody ever accused him of being a deep thinker. He’s a tough ‘ol sumbitch who gets the job done through a combination of talent, guts, and sheer moxie. That said, he played particularly poor on Monday Night, throwing the ball erratically on a number of occasions. Granted that is bound to happen to any quarterback after he gets hit so many times it’s impossible to plant his feet and deliver the ball with confidence because you know you’re about to get walloped.
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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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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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When the season ended for the Pittsburgh Steelers a couple months back, I wrote that it appeared we were in for an off-season filled with upheaval. I said that because with something like a dozen unrestricted free agents, a half dozen restricted free agents and a number of overpaid veterans, it seemed a pretty safe bet the roster was going to see significant changes. I never thought those changes would extend to the coaching staff as well. Looking back, change was probably inevitable coming off such a massively disappointing season.
We knew the Steelers were losing offensive line coach Sean Kugler since he announced during the season he was leaving to become head coach at his alma mater (UTEP) at year’s end. Kugler might be the most significant loss as he’s done a tremendous job with the Black and Gold’s offensive line since replacing the awful Larry Zierlein in 2010. Every year we talk about the team’s “new look” line and every year one player goes down almost immediately with several more falling as the campaign marches on. Last year, the team used a different starting O-line combination nearly every week. The line didn’t exactly remain steady no matter who they plugged in – the run blocking, for example, fell apart when Willie Colon was lost – but the fact they could throw an untested undrafted rookie like Kelvin Beachum out there and watch him hold his own speaks well of Kugler’s coaching ability.
Kugler is being replaced by Jack Bicknell Jr. That name probably means more to college football fans than those of us who follow the NFL. Bicknell is the son of longtime Boston College head coach Jack Bicknell. Bicknell Jr. was a starting O-lineman for his dad during the Doug Flutie years before moving into coaching himself. He’s been a career OL coach with the exception of a seven year head coaching stint at Terry Bradshaw‘s alma mater, Louisiana Tech. In recent years, Bicknell Jr. was an assistant OL coach for the Giants for a few seasons before moving on to the Chiefs last season. I don’t pay attention to KC but the G-Men have had some really good lines so let’s hope he was a big part of that.
The Steelers most recent loss was wide receivers coach Scottie Montgomery. The official story is Montgomery left to become offensive coordinator at Duke. However, Uncle Eddy Bouchette at the P-G in his role of unofficial PR man has floated the story (no doubt fed to him by team officials) that the team actually booted him out the door. It sounds a lot like the Bruce Arians story where instead of straight out firing BA, they encouraged him to “retire.” And like the Arians situation, word is the reason Montgomery fell out of favor with Steelers brass as they saw him as too buddy-buddy with the Young Money crew. I’m not enamored with Art Rooney II‘s idea that coaches should be hard on their players but those idiots definitely need someone who will put boots to asses.
The new WR coach is Aliquippa native Richard Mann. Mann is a 30 year veteran of the NFL coaching ranks although he has been out of the league the past three years, working as a consultant who prepares college guys for the draft. Mann prior job was as the WR coach/assistant head coach for the Tampa Bay Bucs under Raheem Morris. Mann spent 8 seasons in Tampa, several of which saw him coaching on the same staff as Mike Tomlin. During his tenure, the Bucs won a Super Bowl and had at least one 1,000 yard receiver every year except the last. He’s known as a very detail oriented guy so let’s hope he can bring some discipline to that group of underachievers.
Now, I’ve saved the best for last. The Steelers special teams were an absolute joke last season yet ST coach Amos Jones was inexplicably brought to Arizona by his old buddy Bruce Arians as the ST coordinator down there. I don’t think a single member of Steeler Nation lost sleep over that development. After reaching out to a number of candidates, the Black and Gold finally hired Washington Redskins ST coach Danny Smith. Smith, who started his coaching career at Central Catholic, has bounced around the league since then, coaching ST for the Eagles, Bills and Skins while also enjoying short stints as TE coach for the Lions and DB coach for Philly.
Interestingly, Smith was the team’s first choice back in 2010 but Washington wouldn’t let him go so we ultimately settled on Al Everest. Also, as this comprehensive look at Smith’s eight year stint in Washington mentions, he was the man in charge when Shaun Suisham endured one of his notable meltdowns. Suisham has revitalized his career here in Pittsburgh so it’ll be interesting to see if his resurgence continues under the man who oversaw one of his biggest failures. To be honest, I’d almost be willing to trade a slight drop-off in accuracy if it means a kickoff unit that doesn’t get flagged for holding on every return.