For what it's worth, here's our two cents.
The following articles are listed in the order they were received (with the most recent entries at the top). This isn't a "guestbook" format... I read and manually insert every message, so you may not see your submission show up immediately. Thanks a million for your comments, people!
However, I want to make another point concerning Bill Cowher. This man proved from 1992 to 1997 that if you give him the tools to do his job with, he can and will get the job done! The past two seasons, Cowher has had virtually no tools to work with whatsoever! When Cowher had players such as Greg Lloyd, Rod Woodson, Kevin Greene, Carnell Lake, John Jackson, Will Wolford, Ernie Mills and Yancey Thigpen, he put a winning team on the field every year! Think about it guys... wouldn't you like to have had John Jackson as your left tackle this past season instead of referee abuser Wayne Gandy? Or how about Yancey Thigpen going over the middle making a circus catch instead of seeing Will Blackwell have a catchable pass bounce off his hands and fall in-complete.
The moral to this sad story is, very simply, the Steelers and Bill Cowher do not have the caliber of players now that they used to have. And all of that cannot be laid at the doorstep of Bil Cowher. Very bad front office decisions were made and this Steeler team is paying for it BIG-TIME! It doesn't take a damn brain surgeon to know that you can't replace a veteran pro bowl player with an average at best backup player and expect to keep playing at the same level that you played all along. Tom Donahoe and Dan Rooney must share in that blame. Donahoe in particular since he is in charge of all player personell decisions on the team! The bottom line is, there is enough blame to go around for everyone, but give the blame where its due and stop finding fault with one individual when everyone had a hand in the problem! Firing Bill Cowher will only make a bad situation that much worse. It will solve nothing.
First, we need a QB -- do "whatever it takes" to get Chris Redman, the 6-3 225-lb QB from Louisville!
Our next priority is CB, followed by T and WR.
I grew up in East Liverpool, Ohio; rooted for the Black and Gold throughout my 20-year Navy career. Saw them play in San Diego twice in mid-80's, against Dan Fouts, with Malone QB in one game, Woodley in the other.
Great web site!
Jim "J.C." Patterson
P.S. -- Sandy, you are gorgeous -- hope your hubby knows what a lucky guy he is!
I think that the defense was the biggest disappointment this year. It used to be we could always count on an excellent performance from them at least. Has Haslet seen his last days? I wouldn't look for him to get too many interviews this year for head coach. We need to get some quality safeties and corners. Keep Flowers, and I wouldn't care if the rest went. There is just so much that seems to need addressing in the off season, it's unbelievable for our beloved Black and Gold. It's just not a tweak here and a tweak there. It's going to be a long couple of years, I'm afraid.
We need help everywhere, and personally I think we could cut every starter with the exception of Lee Flowers, Levon Kirkland, Earl Holmes, and Joel Steed, and maybe Edwards (I don't consider Dawson a Starter since he missed so much time, but obviosly keep him) and replace them with rookies and I don't think we'd be any worse off.
Okay, an attempt to find something positive: Edwards is coming along nicely and Porter could be a big plus next year. No other reserves really stand out in my mind besides Bobby Shaw... he was a pleasant surprise (of course, his little Superman thing was a little less than appealing given the timing in the game). I'd like to see Amos returning kicks next year. Unfortuneatly, we won't see him much with the Bus and Huntley in there though. Well, here's hoping for a good draft.
AS YOU ARE WELL AWARE, A FEW KEY PLAYERS CAN DECIDE WHETHER A TEAM MAKES THE PAYOFFS OR NOT (WE NEED BOTH A QUARTERBACK IN PGH. AND TO RID OURSELVES OF THE RUN AND SHOOT SYSTEM OF KEVIN GILBRIDE).
WITH SALARIES BEING A MAJOR FACTOR IN ANY FREE AGENCY SITUATION, THE BEST IDEA I CAN THINK OF TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM IS TO LIMIT THE NUMBER OF TEAMS FRANCHISED BY THE LEAGUE - NOT TO EXPAND THE NUMBER. ALTERNATIVELY, A MAJOR AND MINOR LEAGUE SYSTEM MIGHT WORK - AS SEEN WITH AN INFLUX OF QUATERBACKS FRO THE EUROPEAN LEAGUE AND THE POSITIVE EFFECT PRODUCED.
WITH THE END OF A VERY FURSTRATING YEAR I MUST CLOSE WITH THE HOPE THAT WITH A NEW STATIUM THERE WILL ALSO BE A NEW FELLING; THAT OF PLAYING YOUR BEST GAME, EVERY GAME, REGARDLESS OF THE SCORE. GO STEELERS AND BRING BACK GREG LLOYD.
DAVID WINTERSGILL FOR KINGWOOD (HOUSTON) TEXAS
Stewart is an immature (though talented) athlete who simply does not have the mental toughness to play QB. Remember how SI hyped him in August? Obviously, Stewart was the only one who truly believed that crap. The Gold and Black need a QB and free agency looks like the only option. How many times do you have this many teams with two good QBs -- Minnesota, St. Louis, dare I say the Bengals, Detroit, among others. Go get one and put Stewart in another role or on the freeway headed out of Pittsburgh.
Get some help in the secondary and rebuild the damn offensive line! Spend some money! Cowher is a solid coach, give him some talent and let him get the team back on track.
Most of all, force the team to change its attitude and get rid of anyone who would rather point fingers or go through the motions.
Hey look, I may not get to see a single nationally televised Steeler game next year -- such is the lot of the unimpressive in the NFL.
Last thing... this is not the 1970s. The great Steelers of lore are long gone, and the current organization needs to get with the times and play the game the way others have done. Spend some money, bring in solid free agents, trade-up, around, and through the draft and get moving.
To McMillen and Wife: thanks for the great web site... you have truly been my link to the Steelers this year. Hope you keep it going for a long time. Of course, the pictures are a nice extra : )
I say we're looking to pick up a free agent QB, but a lower rung one. I'm not saying we SHOULD do this, I'm saying it's what we WILL do. :-) Then have a 4 way competition between Kordell, FA QB, Pistol Pete and Anthony Wright. I say that Pete gets cut. Frankly, I think Wright can be THE guy. His junior year he was projected as a 1st Round Draft choice, but then destroyed his knee. Playing for the SHITTY team he played for, he never got the exposure to raise him in anyone's mind, but his college numbers were impressive.
I think the Steelers don't want to cut Kordell because of the enormous cap hit they take this year if they do. But what about this....cut him and TAKE the hit all this year. Then no hit at all for next year, the first year in the new stadium with real money to spend. Develop the guys you have and get... the Steelers are generally young. One more year of good draft position and get the heck up with money for signing bonuses and the like. Just a thought.
I say we get a speed receiver, draft or trade. I don't think we need OL help, with Farris coming back, the Shar playing good, Jugs coming back for one more year. But if a speedy big receiver isn't there, we don't take another Troy Edwards. I like the guy and he'll be fine on the team, but we NEED a Randy Moss kinda guy. I wish we could get at Warrick. Won't happen.
First and foremost, what are the Steeler's going to to at QB? Are they going back to Kordell? If so, then he he better be moving in with Kevin Gilbride in the off-season and watching film every waking hour until next year's training camp! He had better work on fundamentals like knowing what jersey your receivers are wearing (at home it's black, on the road it's white), throwing the ball to those guys, hitting those guys in stride, and throwing into a their chests and not seven and a half feet above their heads! If Kordell can hit some receivers, then defenses have to start moving some linebackers out to respect the pass game, giving Bettis more of a chance to run.
If they decide that Kordell is damaged goods, then you trade up for a top QB. If Brees comes out this year, you do whatever it takes to get him. Maybe Ga Tech's Hamilton, but Brees is the best QB out there. If he comes, we must grab. That will determine the rest of the draft and the futures of many current Steelers.
Next, we have to address three problem areas on offense: blocking, running and catching. We have good RB's, but nobody opens up any holes. A lot of our guys are aging, and the a lot of the new guys (Brendon Stai?!?!?!?) aren't getting it done. Other than Edwards and a fairly impressive show by Shaw yesterday, what have the Steeler receivers done this year? OK, Ward is pretty good as well, and they don't get a lot of passes that are catchable. Still, overall we need better hands and we need a gamebreaking receiver! If we go QB first round, then we have to go receiver second round. If we stick with Kordell, we have to go receiver in the first round again. Overall at least two new receivers and a bunch of new linemen on next year's roster. We can also look to free agency for linemen.
Finally, the defense. We do need safety help. We really haven't been the same since Carnell Lake stopped playing safety. Get a quality safety, but we might want to do this in the free agent market for experience sake. See who is out there. Then we need pass rushers, especially from the outside. One of our biggest problems is the outside rush and contain on defense, and a good outside rusher would help immensly.
Final comment: This isn't a one year project. We've lost too much over the past few years to keep the ship going like it was before without having to refuel. Rooney and Donahoe have to be honest with themselves and admit that they screwed up by not paying pro-bowlers pro-bowl level salaries and then paying the money for unproven commodities. The real blame here lies at their feet, but they also have the power to clean it up. The question is whether they have to the courage and patience to do so, and will the Steeler's fans have the patience to wait for it to happen.
The guy in Hershey with the Black and Gold paper bag over his head!
Note to Dan Rooney: No, you DON'T have the talent! They try hard,most of them are just are not very good football players.
The salary cap does not apply to coaches!!!
Coach April & Coach Zook did a far better job than this year's Special Teams coach, the name of which, mercifully, escapes me! Not to mention many, many others! We need to keep Coach Haslet! Gilbride, what's new there? Injuries, blah, blah.
The one thing Kordell has to work on is ACCURACY!
The 1999 draft was a good one, as usual, but if you have a shoe commercial before you ever play a down in the NFL, something is wrong. I guess that 1994 Super Bowl video mistake didn't leave a lasting lesson with the front office. I know they can't control these guys, but PUHLEEEZ, enough SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION! Eat them cookies and talk about "one for the thumb" when you can get ONE YARD!
This team, even with the 99 draftees added to the 2000 roster, is thin and/or weak at every spot except running back.
Just a thought: Bettis for Batch. And don't ask, let, try to convince... MAKE Kordell the Special K player (just don't call him "/") that he should be!
Back to Bettis. Jerome is from Detroit and Detroit needs a running game. Charlie Batch is from Homested, PA, and in my opinion would fit in well in Pittsburgh.
Coach Cowher made many unsound football decisions this season... too many to name. However... most of the time he was trying to light a spark under this team's ice-cold collective asses.
MVP: Kirkland? Maybe, but if Josh Miller wasn't the MVP, it's strictly because you can't have your punter as MVP!
The fans: When you hear vicious rumors and gossip and then spread it, you need to ask yourselves why? Look in the mirror and grow up!
That being said here is a "Top Ten list"
Top Ten Potential Titles for the 1999 Steelers Highlight Video (apologies to David Letterman and his staff):
10.Killing Mecca: The Three Rivers Stadium Story
9.Steelers '99: Sorry Bout' That!
8.Opinions: Everybody Has One!
7.Enter Your Favorite Cliche' Here
6.Josh Miller's Punting Techniques (How to be an NFL Punter)
5.That Door is Back, and BOY, is It Pissed!
(this refers to the "we're knocking on the door" form letters from the early 90's)
4.Buy One, Get One Free!
3.Rumors, Lies, & oh yeah, NFL Football!
2.Year of the Cat!
And the #1 title for the 1999 Pittsburgh Steelers Home Video:
1.We Came, We Sucked, We Swallowed (not necessarily in that order!)
1) Kordell Stewert - After two consecutive years of the worst QB play in recent memory, its time to cut the ties and say goodbye.
2) Mike Tomczack - While he should be commended for coming in and providing a much needed spark to a lifeless offense, its time for Mike to start his lifes work as Chuck Noll used to say.
3) Wayne Gandy - this guy is a total stiff! Brought in to help solidify , all he provided was bonehead plays and the inconsistencies of a college playe!
4) Will "no thrill" Blackwell - This kid has done nothing from day one, it's time to get him out of here.
5) Anthony Brown - What in the hell were the Steelers thinking bringing in some stiff that wasn't even good enough to start for the lowly Bungles?
6) Nolan Harrison - the trainers room worst nightmare. Has done virtually nothing except stay in the wirlpool since he got here!
7) Carlos Emmons - a sometimes decent player with way two many inconsitencies to be a starter. Rookie Joey Porter should have had this position coming out of training camp! He has done nothing but produce every time he's stepped on the field! Bottom line - he earned it!
8) Travis Davis - We lose Carnell to Jacksonville and get an inconsistent backup player in return. Way to go guys! Gee, with personell moves like these, no wonder we went 6-10 and are one of the laughingstocks of the league!
More importantly, how about some new pics of Sandy???
As we all know, this has been quite a disappointing year for the Steelers. Many reasons have been given for this, some good, some not so good, other borderline idiotic. It is truly funny when you think about it. In 1997, after weíd already lost the services of (to name a few): Chad Brown, Leon Searcy, Neil OíDONNELL, Kevin Greene, Rod Woodson, Andre Hastings, and Ernie Mills. Greg Lloyd went on IR in early December of that year, just as he looked like he was getting back to his pre-knee injury form.
Yet we made it to the AFC championship that year. Bill Cowher was a wizard. He could take whatever team you gave him, motivate them, and turn them into winners. Likewise, Tom Donahoe was also a wizard. He knew how to draft to replace the inevitable free agent losses, knew how to find so-called ďmiddle classĒ free agents to replace departed stars. He knew how to target the players we needed to keep winning, and keep them in Pittsburgh.
Now, many of the same people who wrote that about Bill and Tom, are calling for their respective heads. Clearly, some serious questions need to be asked, but clearly, these two men didnít suddenly start taking idiot pills between 1997 and 1999.
The following are my thoughts.
In general, this was a very disappointing. I didnít think we had a good shot at the division title, or even the playoffs, but clearly, going into this year, anything less than 9-7 is less than satisfactory. And clearly, we should have beaten the Clowns, Bengals and Ravens at home, which gets us to 9- 7.
Thereís been a lot of talk about Cowher this year. Cowherís been the subject of a lot of speculation, and although I donít know the facts, my guess is that most of that stuff about his personal life is pure bull.
Clearly, Cowher didnít lead the team to six straight playoff appearances by accident. Still, for the second straight year in his tenure, heís had a team turn out a decidedly sub-par performance.
Why? The short answer is I donít know.
The one thing that makes sense that Iíve read is this. In 1998, Cowher (after waiting too long) benched Kordell in Tampa. Kordell, after crying, got in his face. Tomazck fumbled the ball away and then threw a pick. Cowher put Kordell back in.
I thought putting Kordell back in that day was a mistake.
One writer in Pitt. suggested that when Cowher put Kordell back in, he lost the respect of the players. (And indeed, with a few exceptions, they quit on him during the stretch.) Now Iím not in a position to assess if thatís true, but it makes a lot of sense. If nothing else, the sloppy play on defense in the latter part of this year, supports this contention. (Although overall, this team has not quit they way last years team did, why do I say that, well, up until week 15 or 16 last yearís team had something to play for. This year (realistically) we were never in it.)
The question then is, can Cowher win back that respect?
Again I donít know.
But he deserves another year to give it a shot. I donít think heíll resign unless heís pressured to do so, and I think Rooney would be making a mistake to fire him.
While our defiencies at wide out and Quarterback have gotten most of the ink, our offensive line I think is this units most glaring weakness. Neither Brown nor Conrad can start, and Wayne Gandy is a bust. (How many safeties did we give up this year?) Joe Gibbs knew that winning on the offensive side of the ball began with a solid line. We donít have that. Hopefully Kris Farris can be a starter. Still, we need to address this area in the off-season. You could have Jerry Rice, Steve Young and Emmit Smith in the primes of their careers, but behind the line we have now, weíd be an average offense at best. That is true.
At RB weíre solid. I still think that Bettis has the legs to go, I donít think heís lost a single step. Huntley is a good backup, and perhaps even more. Amos and F&M have a lot of potential, although F&Mís durability is in question.
Jon Witman is average. As he rookie he flashed potential both as a runner and receiver, but heís not been utilized in either role. You add up his average play, and his back problem, and again, this is an area where the Steelers need to start looking for a replacement.
At Tight End weíre in good shape. Mark Brunner, showed late in the year that he can still catch, and the others behind him have shown reasonable promise.
I actually think our receivers are better than many people give them credit for being. Hines Ward is growing into a good tough receiver, and Tory Edwards, if he can settle down and just play, will be a good NFL receiver. Bobby Shaw has a lot of heart, and Malcom Johnson has flashed potential. Will Blackwell is nothing special. A disappointment as a second round pick. Courtney Hawkins is a good number three WR, which is what he was signed to be. I would try to keep him, but only in that role. Heís average at best as an NFL starter.
At quarterback, well, thatís the issue isnít it? I admit, I thought the Steelers made a the right move when they extended Kordellís contract. But it looks as if that was a mistake. Still, it makes business, if not football sense to keep him, and Iím sure they will. I donít know if heíll ever regain that mental toughness that he had in 1997 Ė which is key, because thatís whatís missing from his game.
Tomzack is done. This will upset Todd, but I think if Pistol Pete showed promise in practice, theyíd have tried him in a game. Anthony Wright has a lot of potential, but heís not the short term.
If a Trent Green, Chris Matthews or Jim Miller can be had, then I say bring him in. Kordell needs someone to compete with him. I donít know much about the draft, but Iím told that thereís not much potential at QB this year. Still, if no free agent is found, you have to look for a QB in the first 3 rounds.
So what happened. At the mid-way point of the season, we were among the top four in the league? They we started getting TORCHED on a regular basis. And lets face it, at times it was ugly.
On the line Roye seemed to play well at the beginning of the year, and then it dropped off. Still, heís the best defensive lineman we have, and we need to keep him. Henry will never be in a pro bowl, but we could do worse. Harrison is done. I think Steed might also be too. His injuries are serious, and I think that as much as anything else is the reason for the drop off in run defense. (Yes, I really think this.) In a 3-4, you need an NT who can dominate in middle and set the tone. Steed might not be able to do that anymore, and we need to start looking for a replacement. (And Jeremy Stat doesnít look like heís the answer. Another disappointment.)
At LB weíre fine. Carlos Emmons played better than heís given credit for, but well, there are others below him.... Gildon started off on a good year as a pass rusher, then died down. He needs to play better.
At secondary, Flowers is the only above average player we have. Chad Scott still might improve, but Dwayne Washington has disappointed, and while only a rookie, Scott Shields didnít impress as much as he should have. Travis Davis is horrible. We need a quality DB. A secondary that gives up a 60 or 80 yard play EVERY game is simply unacceptable.
Among other things what weíve been missing a play maker. Thatís not to come down on Holmes, Levon, or Flowers, because the numbers and their play has shown that this guys have been busting there asses. But by play maker, Iím talking about an almost intangible quality, that can be learned or coached, that allows a player to come up, and come up big at a critical moment.
How many games can we all remember when were where in close games, at the wire, it might be a game with big playoff implications, or a game against a bottom feeder like the Bengals. It would come down the wire, the other time would be getting into scoring position, and Woodson, Lloyd, or even Lake would grab a pick, get a sack, or force a fumble, and then it would be all over. This year we were missing that big time.
But I think, based on what Iíve seen, we might have that play maker in Joey Porter. He seemed like he was in on ever special teams tackle, and when he got playing time, he seemed to make the most of it.
Josh Miller is the teams MVP, and Kris Brown was a good pick up.
As for coverage, and returns, after giving up a bunch of big plays, these units leveled out. Still, weíre average here.
This is a team with a lot of work to do. I agreed last year when the Steelerís brass decided that they werenít ready to rebuild. But that was a mistake. Weíve got some serious needs at many areas, and a first round pick at anything but running back or line backer would not be a bad choice.
The team needs to start taking a hard look at people who were not busting ass the way they should, and depending on the cap dynamics, start trimming salary, and gasp, start looking to bring in a free agent. The Steelers will never get a Reggie White/ Deion Sanders type free agent, but its been since 1996 that we got someone along the lines of Will Wolford, John L. Williams, or Kevin Greene. All three where high priced, but not super high priced pick-ups, that helped us win when they were on the team.
Iíd also, look at bringing back Rod Woodson. Heís shown that heís still got legs to play free safety, and heíd be an improvement over Davis, and might be a good tutor for Shields.
And heíd give the Steelers much needed leadership.
That said, I donít think the Steelers will even think about doing this.
Its going to be a long off season. The Steelers need to be realistic. The AFC Central, with the Titans, Jags, and emerging (WCWjr) Ravens isnít going to get easier. But weíre not going to turn this around over night either.
Well, this has been a long one, but what can I say, I love the black and gold.