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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Patience with Despres

CLEVELAND – Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My Monday column from the Mistake is about the Steelers’ offense and

beating Tim Tebow even if they don’t have one.

>> Don’t read too much into Simon Despres’ demotion, other

than that it’s a clear sign Paul Martin is set to return. He was going to be the odd

man out almost regardless of his play, and there’s a little more to his play than meets the eye.

I spoke extensively the other day with Despres, assistant coach Todd Reirden and GM

Ray Shero about Despres’ performance. The coaching staff loved what it saw talent-

wise, as well as Despres’ increasing confidence. But what you might not have noticed is that Despres

was matched largely against opponents’ third and fourth lines, smartly putting him in the best

position to succeed. There are times Despres strayed from what the Penguins wanted, times when he

struggled, but he was mostly good.

Time in the minors will only serve him well. He’ll be back, and he’ll be really good.

>> A source told me over the weekend that Root Sports suspended one of its

producers for two games for allowing Dan Bylsma’s swear word to air before a game

last week. That’s pretty tough. They call those segments “all access” for a reason, and there are

risks inherent in airing them.

Root’s energies would be far better invested in better camera angles for hockey, as well as being sure

not to miss key moments such as Sidney Crosby’s return faceoff, a winning goal by

Detroit’s Johan Franzen and the Max Talbot tribute.

>> Want to forget about how awful Pitt basketball has become

Here’s a visit from Steven Adams. Silent, but still noteworthy.

>> I tallied up your votes from those six columns here last week. My point to that exercise,

which I didn’t make all that clear at the time, was for the purpose of submitting for contests. It’s

something all reporters are required to do at newspapers.

These are the results, based on three points for a first-place vote, two points for second, one point

for third:

1. Put away the Sharpie: 67 points, 15 first place.

2. Pirates’ resilient fans rewarded: 43 points, 11 first place.

3. At Penn State, all must go: 34 points, 3 first place.

4. Baseball sticks it to Pirates: 23 points, 4 first place.

5. Crosby ‘magnifique’ right away: 20 points, 2 first place.

6. Big Ben’s big stand: 11 points, 1 first place.

Thanks again for your participation. It helps. I really didn’t think much of No. 2 in particular.

>> My weekly segment on TribLIVE Radio is

today at 11:30 a.m.


  1. Skip says:

    I swear myself – probably too much. But it seems kind of strange to me that Bylsma apparently thinks it’s somehow effective to use the F-word as some sort of motivational tool in a pre-game speech to his team. It sounded so high-schoolish.

  2. JAL says:

    7 Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Spring Training Tracker


    8—Pirates Prospects

    Pirates Quiet During 1906-07 Off-Season

    A Recent History of the 82nd Win – 1983

    9 Rumbunter

    An Interesting Look at Why Pittsburgh Pirates Shouldn’t Be Done Yet

    10 McEffect

    New Year, Same Pirates?

  3. JAL says:

    11 Bucs Dugout

    Happy New Year


    12 Ny Post

    It’d be heaven for these deserving seven

    13 Sporting News

    Ryan Braun’s 50-game suspension unlikely to be overturned

    14 Wilke Barre Times-Leader

    Fondly remembered, Rose touched so many


    15 Through the Fence

    Paul Maholm would be a solid addition to Padres staff

  4. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    -Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers Gut Out Win at Cleveland, Clinch 5 Seed in AFC Playoffs, Will Travel to Denver

    Steelers at Broncos Scheduled For 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8

    -Steelers Depot

    Mike Tomlin Postgame Press Conference

    -Steelers Gab

    Steelers Heading to Mile High; End Regular Season with 13-9 Win in Cleveland

  5. JAL says:

    WVU Blogs

    Metro News

    Tackling an All-American

    WV Illustrated

    WVU Practices, Holgorsen Addresses Arlia Accident

    WVU Football Interviews from Orange Bowl Practice



    So I took a little road trip …

  6. Eric Bowser says:


    I think your column was good but one key element/point missing, this offensive line can’t block long enough or consistently to have a deep passing attack, especially with Roethlisberger’s ankle injury.

    And if the stats are right from what I’ve seen posted on twitter by @SteelersCrash, 28 plays, 180 yards, 13 points on 3 straight drives with just Heath Miller in at TE. No other TE saw the field during those drives.

    If that is right, seems to me like Arians is having a problem reconciling fact (those numbers) versus his system (2-TE sets).

  7. JMB says:

    I wonder if we will see the same outrage about an 8-8 team hosting a 12-4 team.

    IIRC, when the Steelers hosted the Jags a few yrs back, all hell broke loose (talking head-wise) about the “travesty” of the scenario.

  8. JAL says:


    Probably will have some outrage–people complain but nothing ever happens.

  9. LikeaBugonaRug says:

    It’s not a travesty to me. Teams deserve something for winning their division. The better team more often than not will end up winning the game.

  10. Mike Adams says:

    Dejan, I disagree with your comment on Root. The guy should have been suspended. Remember, that segment of Bylsma was recorded. There was no reason they couldn’t have edited it out. yeah, it was a short turnaround, but that’s what they’re paid to do.

  11. JMB says:

    Denver gets into the playoffs for winning their division, so they get something. If it was just the six best records in the AFC, Tenn. would be in instead,

  12. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    Sorry for the brief blog outage there. Techies fixed it in short order.

  13. January 2

    47 days until Pirate Spring Training
    69 days until clock is correct on Dejan’s Blog
    58 days consecutive the time has been incorrect

  14. WHOA!!!

    I stand corrected!! I am wrong——the clock is RIGHT!!!

    Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hal–le–lu–jah!

    Thank you, Dejan and your techie friends.

  15. Karen22 says:

    HAHA, G2M2…!! I was wondering why the blog’s been down today, but apparently, your daily pestering (rightly so, I might add) on the time “lapse” has finally reaped rewards. Cheers for Standard Time (not really—I like DST), and Happy New Year to everyone!

  16. Naje says:


    The line blocks plenty well enough… it’s up to the qb and the receivers to get open and make catches. Roethlisberger has had this problem before… especially when he misses practice time. With the balky ankle, the line can only do so much… Roethlisberger has to get rid of the ball.

    But getting rid of the ball to an open receiver in rhythm is not his forte. He’s done it rarely in his career for prolonged stretches. His game is eschewing the 9 yard out for scrambling, buying time and finding a big play down the field.

    He can’t do that right now. And it is fairly important that he alters his style somewhat to protect himself and to produce some offense.

  17. scapper says:

    The key factor that will send the Steelers packing in the first or second game is Suisham’s erratic leg.

  18. CWalton_67 says:

    The Steelers are simply not very good. Struggling to beat the Browns. Should I say that again? I won’t be surprised a bit if they lose at Denver. I don’t think they will, simply because Tebow is so bad, but I honestly would not be surprised if they did. Another horrendous coaching decision by Tomlin could have cost them this game. How does he decline a penalty and allow Cleveland to kick a field goal?

    Will you be covering the game, Dejan? I’ll be there, as we managed to snag some tickets when they went on sale this morning. Know you’ll be busy if you are at the game, but would love to meet you and say hello if the opportunity presents.

    Believe the Pens are handling Despres very well. His talent and skill set are evident. It will be interesting to see who are the odd men out on Pens blue line over the next couple of years. A ton of talent there.

    Surprising that an organization as first class as the Pens is associated with an organization as incompetent as Root. Suspending a guy for allowing on air profanity? Bush league.

    Happy New Year to all.

  19. JAL says:

    C walton

    If the Steelers are not very good then most of the league are worse a 12-4 record is pretty good. They are not pretty but they win a lot more than they lose.

  20. Eric Bowser says:

    @Naje – Well yeah, I would prefer the passing style to be more about rhythm and short routes with those deep passes sprinkled in but Ben just flat refuses to buy into it, thus Arians isn’t forced to change his offensive game plans.

    Since Ben’s style change doesn’t seem to be an option, it forces your offensive linemen to protect better, if not longer than the average line needs to do. But still, I have seen countless times where Ben has less than 2 seconds to drop back, plant and throw. If you can’t block for 3-4 seconds, you won’t win in the NFL.

  21. CWalton_67 says:

    @JAL–agreed, they have won, and there are many worse teams. And they beat most of those worse teams on the way to those 12 wins. They beat one good team, (Patriots) and one other playoff team (Bengals), who are actually a bigger fraud than the Steelers. They are minus 11 in turnover ratio, and they have struggled to beat some pretty poor teams. They will beat another bad team this coming week, and then their travel plans following the next game will be to head home for the off-season.

  22. scapper says:

    Re: Brief Blog Outage

    Please don’t let that happen again! I was forced to work for one wholly uninterrupted hour!

    Not that I check in on this blog too much or anything….

  23. LikeaBugonaRug says:

    CW – Steelers lost 4 games all season. All 4 of those losses were to teams that won their division. As someone else pointed out, they gave up the fewest points in the league. Means they must be doing something right. They may not be great, but they are in the playoffs and once you get there anything can happen. Hopefully Redman just had a bad game and wasn’t exposed as a fumbler because he had to carry the load and got more carries than usual. If the O line can be somewhat healthy, I like our chances.

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