No, no, James… A BLACK eyepatch…
The [intlink id=”23″ type=”category”]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] began to address their offensive line woes with the signing of [intlink id=”85″ type=”category”]Max Starks[/intlink] yesterday. To give you an idea how poor they’ve been playing, Starks ran with the first teamers on his first day back. Not shabby for a guy the team released because they thought he was washed up. Or maybe he is and a has-been is still a helluva lot better than never-was like Jonathan Scott.
Now let’s get to work on that defense.
Last year, the Steelers allowed the lowest average rush total per game (around 60 yds/gm) in the past fifteen years. This year, they’re getting gashed to the tune of over 120 yards per game. The last time the Steelers run defense fell apart that suddenly, defensive end [intlink id=”41″ type=”category”]Aaron Smith[/intlink] suffered one of his innumerable season-ending injuries and the team had no adequate back-ups to take his place. The Black and Gold put those numbers up last season with former first round pick [intlink id=”44″ type=”category”]Ziggy Hood[/intlink] taking Smith’s place. This year they have both in addition to another first round pick, [intlink id=”39″ type=”category”]Cam Heyward[/intlink].
So what’s the problem?
According to James Harrison, people ain’t doing their jobs. See, the Steelers defense is a very complicated piece of machinery. Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau has constructed it so each player has a certain role to fill. By successfully doing your job, you allow somebody else to do theirs. That’s why you’ll occasionally see the defense give up a big play in an ugly fashion. When everybody does what they’re supposed to do, it’s a thing of beauty but all it takes is for one guy to screw-up and it all goes to seed.
In other words, the LeBeau says Know Your Role and Shut Your Mouth. If you smellllll…
Silverback ain’t no snitch (’cause snitches get shanked, I learned that on Oz) so he declined to name names but it isn’t hard to figure out who he was tossing under the bus. There are already whispers the disappearance of [intlink id=”70″ type=”category”]LaMarr Woodley[/intlink] is due to the ineffective Aaron Smith playing in front of him. Makes sense. Smith’s job is occupy blockers and create gaps for Mister Woodley to shoot through. The way Smitty has been manhandled this season, poor LaMarr has probably felt like Wile E. Coyote running headlong into a brick wall on more than one occasion.
The Steelers knew this day was coming. Their opening day starting D-line had an average age well north of 30. Last season, Bret Keisel had a career year while Ziggy finally became the player everybody expected him to be. This year, the Diesel has been broken down, Smith has been ineffective when he hasn’t been injured and Casey Hampton has been increasingly handled one-on-one instead of drawing double teams. The team has no options at nose tackle but they can insert Ziggy and Ironhead Jr. into the line-up and see what happens.
To repeat a line from yesterday, at this point it’s not like the run defense could get any worse.