Charlie Batch Cannot Be Stopped

 Posted by at 4:28 am  Charlie Batch, Roster Moves  Comments Off on Charlie Batch Cannot Be Stopped
Sep 042012

Fans of horror movies know that the end is never really the end. Usually the baddie will look like a goner only to pop back up and scare the bejeezus out of you several times before the film actually ends. No matter what you throw at them, Jason and Freddy keep coming back for more.

Add Charlie Batch to that list.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have tried to put ‘ol Chaz out to pasture for years now. They drafted guys like Dennis Dixon and Brian St. Pierre hoping to eventually groom them as the top backup. They’re all gone. They brought in a veteran like Byron Leftwich to unseat him. Lefty still hasn’t started a single game for the Black and Gold. Batch has started three since he arrived, coming within two botched Jeff Reed field goals of going 3-0 over that span.

Not even the NFL can stop Charlie Batch.

There was some talk that time had finally run out on Charlie because of the NFL’s new rules regarding back-up quarterbacks. If you were watching on Friday as teams cut players in order to get down to their final 53 man roster, you may have noticed an interesting trend. Many teams, such as the Patriots and Bears, cut their third string QB and are carrying only two QBs on the roster. Rumor had it the Steelers were going to do likewise.

As usual, the NFL’s desire to fix something by changing a rule ended up only making it worse. Before last season, teams had to designate an “Emergency” third string QB who could only come into the game in the fourth quarter or if the first two QBs were hurt. If he came in before the fourth, the other two QBs could not return. What the NFL discovered was a lot of 2nd string QBs absolutely suck. Unfortunately, teams couldn’t switch to their 3rd option until the last minute because of those goofy rules.

This all came to a head during the NFC Championship game between the Bears and Packers where Chicago was pressed into using their back-up only to discover his attempts at playing quarterback were more comical than Tino Sunseri‘s. They were forced to play their 3rd string guy before the fourth quarter, thus setting into motion what ended up being a farce of a championship game.

So the NFL changed the rule last season. The “Emergency” third string QB could come in at any time and without preventing the return of the other guys. This also helped teams who ran the WildCat because now they could keep a running QB on the roster for their gimmick offense while also having a more traditional back-up. The thought was teams would now be able to carry three QBs with all three dressed and ready to play come game day.

What ended up happening was this. Teams figured out that since you didn’t have to designate an “Emergency” QB who had to sit on the bench until the fourth quarter, anybody could be your third stringer. If disaster struck and you lost your first two signal callers, chances are the game was out of hand anyway so who cares who takes snaps at that point? Teams began going with only two QBs on game day with a position player serving as the disaster option.

The Steelers carried three QBs last year but only dressed two for the majority of the games. That’s why Dixon, who was on the 53 man all season but was only active for a handful of Sundays, was able to be signed to the Ratbirds’ practice squad. It surely wasn’t because he could give them some inside info on the Steelers. Everybody knows he only learned a half-dozen plays the four years he was here.

So the thought was the Steelers would forgo the formality of keeping three QBs and cut Charlie Batch. But as he always does, Chaz survived. And when Leftwich blows out his ACL taking a knee during garbage time in week 4, he’ll be Ben’s back-up once again. It’s fate and you simply can’t fight fate.

The rest of cutdown day was pretty uneventful. The only surprising cut made by the Steelers was releasing OL Trai Essex. Essex is mediocre but he’s that rare super-sub capable of playing all three OL positions. Rumor is the Steelers plan to re-sign him once they sort out whether DeCastro should go on permanent or 8 week IR (plus if they wait until after week 1, his 2012 salary is not guaranteed, gotta save those pennies!). There weren’t any other notable names among the cuts with the team keeping all their 2012 draft picks except 7th rounder CB Terence Fredrick, who was beaten out by undrafted free agent Josh Victorian. 7th rounder WR Toney Clemons, who was cut along with every other WR outside of Young Money & the Cotch Rocket, was signed to the practice squad along with speedster David Gilreath. Also of note is the Steelers’ revolving door at punter continues this season with rookie Drew Butler winning the job by default as incumbent Jeremy Kapinos never recovered from back surgery.

Max Starks Has Come To Save The Day

 Posted by at 12:30 pm  Offensive Line, Roster Moves  Comments Off on Max Starks Has Come To Save The Day
Oct 052011

That’s not a gun in Ben’s pocket. He really is happy to see you.

The [intlink id=”23″ type=”category”]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] re-signed former starting left tackle and Franchise player [intlink id=”85″ type=”category”]Max Starks[/intlink]. Max was released during the off-season after suffering a season-ending neck injury late last year. According to several sources, Starks’ release was not unexpected when he showed up at Ben Roethlisberger’s sham wedding weighing a reported 400 pounds. Since an offer from the WWE to be the new King Kong Bundy didn’t materialize, Max has been hard at work shedding some of those excess pounds and getting back into game shape.

Starks recently worked out for the Vikings which signaled he was in much better physical condition. Barring Kevin Colbert and company’s pigheadedness in admitting their roster needs help, I expected Max to get a call sooner or later. Too bad it took Big Ben getting beat like he stole something to make it happen. Backup tackle Chris Scott was released to make room further indicating they feel Starks is ready to go.

Let’s hope so. Trai Essex was a complete and utter disaster at left tackle while Jonathan scott was only slightly less awful before getting injured. Rookie Marcus Gilbert played left tackle at Florida so perhaps the Steelers will move him over to his natural position and ease Starks back into the line-up at the less demanding right tackle spot. It worked out well for them last season with former Pro Bowl left tackle Flozell Adams, whose age and declining skills were a liability on the left but were more than adequate on the right. At this point, can they be any worse?

Big Ben Isn’t Dead (Yet)

 Posted by at 4:49 am  Big Ben, Injury Report, Offensive Line  Comments Off on Big Ben Isn’t Dead (Yet)
Oct 042011

The good news:  [intlink id=”14″ type=”category”]Ben Roethlisberger[/intlink]’s foot isn’t broken.

The bad news:  If he continues playing behind the [intlink id=”166″ type=”category”]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] offensive line, it soon will be. Along with his arms, legs, back and neck.

The Post-Gazette is reporting the MRI on Big Ben’s foot revealed no broken bones. The ultra-secretive Steelers aren’t revealing the exact nature of the damage, though. ESPN’s Chris Mortenson is saying it’s a sprain which really doesn’t tell us much. A Grade I sprain is fairly minor. Ben mummified his foot and played with such a sprain for most of last season. However, a misleadingly named Grade III sprain is actually torn ligaments which could sideline Ben for several weeks.

Ben has said he will do whatever he can to play on Sunday. I hope his sham wife is smart enough to hide all sharp objects and lock the medicine cabinet at the Roethlisberger estate. This man clearly has a deathwish.

A fully healthy Ben has been running for his life all season and he’s still taken a beating. Last Sunday was the most vicious pounding I’ve seen since that one Sasha Grey movie. I don’t even want to contemplate what kind of abuse a hobbled Ben would endure. The Titans are mediocre this year, exactly the kind of team [intlink id=”99″ type=”category”]Charlie Batch[/intlink] is still capable of beating. I would rather Ben sit  out a week or two until his mobility is at least partially restored rather than heroically take the field and possibly suffer a season-ending injury by acting as a sitting duck.

I’d also encourage Ben to sit out in silent protest. I know it’s not his style to whine and complain like Tom Brady or Michael Vick but I have no such morals. [intlink id=”23″ type=”category”]Kevin Colbert[/intlink] should be brought up on charges for what he’s allowed to happen. It is absolutely criminal that the Steelers are blessed with a top five NFL quarterback and they just throw him to the wolves behind a patchwork offensive line. Why would you bring in an offensive coordinator who runs a Flying Circus, assemble a fine young receiving corps  and invest $100 million in a franchise quarterback to run the whole shebang, then wreck it all by cutting corners along the [intlink id=”85″ type=”category”]offensive line[/intlink]?

It’s like buying a Porsche then pulling out the engine and replacing it with one from a Volvo.

Week 4 Recap: Down And Out In Houston

 Posted by at 3:58 am  Antonio Brown, Big Ben, Cameron Heyward, James Harrison, Maurkice Pouncey, Offensive Line, Rashard Mendenhall, Recaps  Comments Off on Week 4 Recap: Down And Out In Houston
Oct 032011

The [intlink id=”21″ type=”category”]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] ain’t drinkin’ wine.  They’re still stompin’ grapes.

The Black and Gold shook off a first half grape-stomping by the Houston Texans to make it a game before ultimately falling short 17-10. I feel like a broken record saying this but the final score does not accurately reflect what happened in the game. The Texans had not one but two touchdowns wiped off the scoreboard because of boneheaded penalties. Shaun Suisham’s Miss of the Week was of the blocked variety but Daniael Manning blocked Dan Sepulveda in the back nullifying the TD. Well, despite Dierdorf’s asinine hollering, the Dreamy One did play linebacker at Baylor. Late in the fourth, a pick six was wiped out for roughing [intlink id=”14″ type=”category”]Ben Roethlisberger[/intlink].

If not for the Texans self-inflicted wounds and a gallant defensive effort in the second half, this would have been one of the most one-sided ass-whuppins’ in recent memory. I’ve seldom seen the Steelers dominated in all three phases of the game like they were yesterday. Arian Foster had 90 rushing yards in the first quarter. The Texans began the game by driving 114 yards for a touchdown. ONE HUNDRED FOURTEEN YARDS. How is this possible? Houston started at their own 5 and took two 10 yard holding penalties along the way.
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Know Thy Enemy: Seattle Seahawks

 Posted by at 5:25 am  Big Ben, Game Preview, Mike Tomlin, Offensive Line, Secondary  Comments Off on Know Thy Enemy: Seattle Seahawks
Sep 162011

The last two times the [intlink id=”20″ type=”category”]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] have gone to the Super Bowl, they failed to make the playoffs the following year.  I’m inclined to give Bill Cowher a pass for 2006 considering his franchise quarterback nearly died during the off-season and was a mere shadow of his former self during the regular season.  There is absolutely no excuse for what happened to [intlink id=”45″ type=”category”]Mike Tomlin[/intlink]’s squad in 2009, however.  The defending Super Bowl champions featured a nucleus near or in their prime while boasting a roster with no significant changes from the year before.

The most frustrating aspect of the 2009 season wasn’t that the team kept losing, it was who they lost to.  Every week we’d look at the schedule, see an opponent who record-wise and talent-wise didn’t nearly match up with the Steelers, then watch in horror as they’d go out on Sunday and seemingly find a way to lose.  The five game death spiral which tanked the season featured losses to two teams that would go 5-11 and one that would finish 4-12.

Which brings us to this week’s opponent, the Seattle Seahawks.  Yes, technically the Seahawks were a playoff team last year although it’s hard to take that credential seriously when you win your division with a record of 7-9.  They did acquit themselves well in the playoffs, highlighted by Marshawn Lynch going into BEAST MODE against the defending champion Saints.  Regardless, Seattle is clearly not in the Steelers’ league.  If the Black and Gold want to quiet all talk of a “Super Bowl Hangover,” they can start by winning a game they should win.
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Steelers Choose Timmons Over Polamalu

 Posted by at 10:35 am  Lawrence Timmons, Mike Wallace, Roster Moves, Troy Polamalu  Comments Off on Steelers Choose Timmons Over Polamalu
Aug 232011

After a two week break in handing out new deals, the [intlink id=”23″ type=”category”]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] returned to form earlier today by announcing linebacker [intlink id=”114″ type=”category”]Lawrence Timmons[/intlink] has agreed to a six year $50 million contract extension.  Timmons, Mike Tomlin’s first ever draft choice, was in the final year of his rookie contract.  A first rounder out of Florida State, LT was the 15th player taken overall, one spot later than superstar cornerback Darrelle Revis.  In fact, the sneaky Jets traded their first, second and fifth round picks that year to cut ahead of the Steelers because they knew we had our vacation plans booked for Revis Island if he was still on the board.

Timmons played sparingly his rookie year, as is usual with Dick LeBeau’s complex defense.  After seeing a gradual increase in playing time in his second year, the Steelers parted ways with veteran Larry Foote paving the way for Timmons to take over one of the starting ILB spots in year number three.  He battled a high ankle sprain and struggled noticeably in run support.  Last year, he finally experienced his break out season, leading the team in tackles while forcing two fumbles and snagging two interceptions.  It is this ability to play all over the field, in a sort of rover role normally reserved for [intlink id=”57″ type=”category”]Troy Polamalu[/intlink], which finally made people sit up and take notice of Timmons’ superior athletic ability.
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