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Morning Java: Half-yard to nowhere

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

BALTIMORE – Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Friday column looks anew at Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley and, yes, I wish the topic would go away, too, but it doesn’t. It keeps coming up without any help from anyone on the outside.

The game story, by Alan Robinson.

Game breakdown, by Mark Kaboly.

News and notes, by Ralph Paulk.

Here’s a bit of what Roethlisberger had to say afterward …

And Emmanuel Sanders

And Antonio Brown

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

Here’s Ravens news from the Baltimore Sun.

Here are official game highlights from

Random randomness from the scene: Ben is a smart enough guy to know what he’s saying. He considers his answers carefully, rarely flat-out misspeaks. Just something to consider when reading the column. … Sanders genuinely didn’t think he had other drops in the game. I kid you not. Markus Wheaton needs to at least get involved soon. … The special teams have been awful under Danny Smith. That’s generally not great for job security. … It’s not just Ike Taylor getting torched out there. Really isn’t. But there also can’t be any doubt anymore that he’s not the same player. Wasn’t so long ago teams wouldn’t even throw his way. Tim Tebow changed that. … Did Mike Tomlin interfere? I don’t know. That’s kind of a tall order when looking the other way at the Jumbotron. … All those offensive linemen down. Four in total. Wow. Good time for a 10-day break. … Jason Worilds was spectacular yet again. No way — none — he won’t stay on the left side now, regardless of LaMarr Woodley’s status. … One important point not to be forgotten here: This is one of those 50/50 games that even a good team can lose. The problem with this team is that they blew games against the Titans, Raiders and Vikings, and now these are all do-or-die.

Finally on the NFL front, here’s our Steelers photo gallery by Chaz Palla and Chris Horner, including this Horner shot of Tomlin’s accidental-or-not sidestep of Jacoby Jones


>> Reconstructing Simon Despres, by Josh Yohe in Tampa, where the Penguins will open a weekend Florida set with a matinee today.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here’s Lightning news from the Tampa Tribune.

Here are official game highlights from

>> Jason Hendricks talks about his passion for Pitt football, by Jerry DiPaola. The Panthers have their Heinz Field finale today against Miami.

>> Penn State’s run defense braces for Wisconsin, by Chris Adamski.

>> I’ll cover the City Game tomorrow for the Sunday column. Hope you had a wonderful holiday with family and friends. I’m looking forward to doing exactly that on a one-day delay with my own today! Because of that — and the drive home from Baltimore — there will be no chat this week.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.


  1. Ghost says:

    The helmet rule may have cost Bell a touchdown (which we got a few plays later, anyhow). But it is the RIGHT rule to have. You can’t have the play still be live with helmetless players still being targeted by helmet-wielding defenders until the play is completely “stopped.” Then we get into a game of determining “when” forward progress is stopped, or when a player’s knee hits the ground, all the while said player is actually completely unconscious and defenseless, with 260-pound men torpedoing into his lifeless, helmetless form.

    Helmet comes off, play is OVER. Why are we ridiculing such a sensible concept?

    DK: Speaking only for myself, the context is what’s ridiculous. That Baltimore can have another player use his helmet as a missile to knock off the Pittsburgh player’s helmet and negate a touchdown is insanity. For sure, how the helmet comes off has to become a factor. This rule will be adjusted, you’d think, after this.

  2. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Sensible concept?….Like two thugs dressed in black that double-helmet-to-the-head a RB that is about to go over the goal line?
    I guess that rule was tossed for another day…..

  3. Leeroy says:

    Once again, the clock management at the end of the game was appalling. Blowing the first timeout necessitated the onside kick, and later, anyone who has ever played Madden knew the Steelers needed to run some clock at the goal line to limit Baltimore’s time in case we tied it up. Instead, they pick then to be the first time all game to snap the ball with more than a second left on the play clock.

    As Tomlin and Haley and Roethlisberger don’t know (or don’t care to learn) basic clock mgmt, it is incumbent upon Colbert to teach them. The weekly incompetence in this regard is unacceptable.

  4. Scott says:

    I also agree with the rule, although I wonder if there should be a common-sense exception for situations like this. If a player’s helmet comes off as he is being tackled, the play should not magically stop mid-tackle; he should be allowed to keep the forward progress he would normally get as he falls to the ground.

  5. Scott says:

    The stats geek in me has to point out that the Steelers are still technically in the playoff hunt. It’s very unlikely that any of those other mediocre teams will win out and get to 10-6, which means 9-7 will be enough to at least tie for the wild card. But losing all those offensive linemen could be what really buries this team for good.

  6. pattonbb says:

    1. Helmet to helmet calls are, and always will be, a joke until they start calling it on offensive players that initiate the contact.

    2. Jarvis Jones reminds me of Huey Richardson.

    3. Tomlin disappoints me more than Sanders ever has.

    4. Can anyone think of a more dysfunctional OC – QB relationship?

    5. Welcome to the starting line up Jason Worilds. The job is officially yours. To keep.

    6. I heard a rumor that somebody turned 50 this weekend. Happy birthday, Milo. Hope nobody asked you to blow out all of those candles.

  7. 21sthebest says:


    Absolutely ridiculous to not rule that a touchdown.

  8. theplanisworking says:

    After last night’s loss, I talked to some friends who offered many different reasons why the Steelers lost. One said it was the defense, especially the secondary. One said it was the botched FG………… which I dont blame that at all. It occurred in the 1st half, and was such a goofy play, it is hard to pinpoint that as the reason for the loss. Another friend said the injuries were the reason.

    This game was lost in the 1st half, with the 1950’s style, conservative “turtle” offense that was employed. Steelers first series, 3 runs and punt. Ravens first series, 45-yard bomb to Smith, 3 plays later TD. Why was the no-huddle not used from the beginning of the game? Or at least after the first series? And, listening to Ben after the game, he said that was the coaches decision. Which coach? Haley or Tomlin? And, if it was Haley, why didng Tomlin tell him to open it up after he saw the offense was in a “turtle” shell?

    The benefit of the no-huddle is that the opposing teams defense doesnt get to substitute. It means fat gasbags like Ngata cant come off the field, and by 3rd down, he is worthless. But no, lets allow Baltimore to substitute, and along with awful play calling, lets fall behind 10-0, THEN do the no-huddle.

    Just awful coaching, from play-calling, to clock management.
    The standard is indeed the standard.
    And that standard stinks!

  9. theplanisworking says:

    2 big things from last night………..

    What on earth was Tomlin doing on that kickoff last night? He uses the Jumbotron to see the play better? Thats fine, but since when did a coach have to get on the filed of play to see the Jumbotron? You can see that thing from most of the stadium. It would have been the height of irony if that would have resulted in a penalty, or worse, a TD. Was going to DVR that coachspeak after that one.

    Second, the refs were “obviously” clueless last night. From Oher false starting on 90% of Baltimore’s plays (not called), to the obvious pass interference penalty on the 2-point conversion (face guarding), they just were awful.

    And the Bell hit.
    I understand the rule is in place to protect players, but why were 2 Ravens allowed to lead with their helmets? That just re-inforces that style of play for the next time. Just simply unreal watching that play. Common sense says that the forward progress should have been given to Bell on that play, as he was not trying to move further downfield, he was just simply falling to the ground.

  10. JAL says:

    Full Moon Sandy Denny 1978 Clarinet solo by Acker Bilk whose Stranger on the Shore, 1962, was only the British single to hit number 1 on the Hot 100 chart, the first was a 1952 Vera Lynn song. .

    JAL’s Full Moon Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 MLB Important Dates

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    Winter Leagues: Gregory Polanco Triples in Win

    5 IS Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Fans thankful for MVP Andrew McCutchen

    6 Rumbunter

    The Pittsburgh Pirates Bargain Shopping Spree Begins

    7 Jackson Sun

    No doorbusters here: MLB free agency heats up

    8 CBS Sports

    Nine baseball reasons to be thankful on Thanksgiving

    9 Beyond the Box Score

    Holiday shopping: Baseball books

    10 Bleacher Report

    5 Signs Baseball Contracts Are Spiraling out of Control

  11. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 The Missourian

    Gordon Craig enjoys challenge of finding rare baseball cards

    12 KC Kingdom

    Negro Leauges Baseball Museum: A Kansas City Treasure

    13 Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise

    Red Sox take wise path to baseball supremacy

    14 Baseball Nation

    Yes, Ricky Nolasco really is worth (almost) $50 million

    15 Baltimore Sun

    Will Rafael Palmeiro fall off the Hall of Fame ballot?,0,587470.story

    16 Comcast Sports Net

    Why every MLB team should be thankful this Thanksgiving

    17 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Mozeliak on PED question: Cards not ‘morality police’

    18 NY Post

    A classic MLB clash — and no one to root for


    19 Sweetspot

    Ryan Braun’s latest ‘apology’ pretty lame

    20 Fangraphs

    BBWAA Releases Ridiculously Crowded HOF Ballot

  12. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers vs. Ravens final score: Baltimore tops Pittsburgh after bizarre finish

    Winners and Losers from Pittsburgh’s 22-20 loss to Baltimore

    22 Steelers Gab

    Tomlin On The Ravens Loss: “Not Enough On Our Part”


    23 Soccer America

    Altidore and Wambach take Athlete of the Year honors

    24 World Soccer Daily

    the stories you need to read – November 26, 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Minor Distractions – AHL 1st Quarter Results

  13. Jandy says:

    I went to bed middle of the third. I’m very glad I did.

  14. theplanisworking says:

    Actually, the 4th quarter was the Steelers best!
    Ya missed it, Mom T !!

    Hope you had a wonderful Turkey day with your fellow turkeys. ;)

  15. theplanisworking says:

    And, with this loss, hopefully the silly playoffs talk will die down. Even if the Steelers win out (I see losses to Cincy and Green Bay), at 9-7, the Steelers will need a tremendous amount of help. Tennessee would have to lose 2 games, as they hold the tiebreaker. When a team starts 0-4, they wont make the playoffs.

    I understand the hopefulness of some fans, and the goal every year is to make the playoffs, but the Steelers do not have enough talent, or good enough coaching to make it. Add the 6 injuries from last nights game, in addition to Woodley missing almost every game, and it just wont happen.

    Time to move on to the crucial decisions that will be necessary in the offseason.

  16. Jandy says:

    I did have a wonderful day…turkeys and all ;)
    lol ya nut :P

  17. theplanisworking says:

    Random thoughts from JAL’s links……………….
    (I didnt eat turkey yesterday, thats why I am not sleeping on the blog) ;)

    — Cool article on the Negro leagues museum. I now have another item for my bucket list.

    — I could only hope Palmiero and other cheats never get elected to the HOF. They dont deserve it. And please spare me the argument against “greenies”, and amphetamines from the 70’s. If they were that effective, players would never have left them for other PED’s.

    — Classic MLB clash ……….. no. Its 2 camps of idiots fighting each other.

    — Hard to say Bell and Beachum were winners last night. Yes, they played well, but now are injured, and may miss games.

    And, no thanks to the scheduling gods today, but Pitt and the Pens play at the same time. Cant remember the last time the Pens played a matinee on a weekday.

  18. Drew71 says:

    I need someone to kick around.

    Where’s BrianTheDogCrack?

  19. Jandy says:

    Where’s Thunder?

  20. Jandy says:

    I HATE the Pens playing at 4pm yuck

  21. theplanisworking says:

    Yeah, you will miss being able to drool til you get home. ;)
    My remote is gonna crash one day.

  22. Jandy says:

    Hey I’ll drool if I wanna :P

    I need to get on the roll and get some stuff done…get tree up and decorating for Christmas.

    Get some shopping done…but not today, I don’t do Black Friday.

    I hate winter.

  23. theplanisworking says:

    I hate winter also, but thats when college BB and the Pens play!

    Happy decorating !
    Or is that decordrooling?

  24. Jandy says:

    decorating, dude. I don’t drool ALL the time :P

  25. Brandie says:

    Where’s Waldo?

  26. BillyBaduka says:

    + 1

  27. Jandy says:

    If he’s Black Friday shopping, he’s toast! ;)

  28. Brandie says:

    Internet! That way Waldo stays safe. I will get to watch the Pens play. No real work til Monday!

  29. Wild Bill says:

    Last night was disappointing on so many levels. Fully agree with Hippo that the first half offensive plan was unbelievable. Biggest game of the year, and it looked like we were going to play for the second half from the opening kickoff.

    If you’re a kicker, how do you start moving forward to a ball that hasn’t been snapped yet?

    Why do we kick off directly to a dangerous returner on a night the cold isn’t going to allow for touchbacks?

    Would like to see again the play where Ngata hurt Velasco.

    DK is right on; two YEARS in, and the qb and coordinator can’t see eye to eye.

    A hugely disappointing squandering of a great opportunity in a year where the league is down in general.

  30. Jandy says:

    true dat!

    Glad you have some time off, I am working today!

  31. DJ says:

    The dreaded “I’ll take full responsibility for that” from Sanders. Have heard that line too many times from too many players and coaches this year.

    And if Sanders thinks that last play was his only missed opportunity, he’s dreaming. As I posted on the game thread, a little football savvy on that last play and he gets a flag. All he needed to do when the ball was in the air was to stop . . . and wait. The d-back, who never had his head around, would have drilled him before the ball arrived.

    One draft need is a big body WR who can both catch balls in traffic and get deep . . . a Plaxico but with better hands.

  32. Arriba Wilver says:

    Bell gets better every week.

    That’s all I got.

  33. hockeymonster says:

    Good morning all…hope you’re having a splendid turkey weekend.

    Just jumping on to say I hope Bell is ok after that scary hit. Totally silly that he couldn’t get that TD but when i saw the replay was more concerned for his head n neck. Hope he’s doing well today.

    Someone stole my thunder on game thread comparing saunders to limas smeed…can someone get that dude some stickem or something…please. Man is he brutal.

    Should be entertaining game in tampa today.

  34. Dom says:

    Anyone else disgusted with that Jacoby Jones/Mike Tomlin play?

    I mean, Tomlin was just standing there, minding his own business when Jones out of nowhere, nearly runs into him!!!

    What type of society do we live in?

    Any word on the fine we can expect Jones to incur after that incident?

  35. wally says:

    I with you. Thought I was maybe seeing things, but yeah- he was coming up early ALL THE TIME ! And the helmet- o-helmet-head-shot-lead-with-the-helmet hit on Bell was so obvious. Weird showing by the refs.

    God, I wish we would not have matched NE’s offer on Sanders….

  36. Thundercrack says:

    I like him but I hope Mike Tomlin gets fined by the NFL.

  37. hockeymonster says:

    Oh ya…one more thing. Didn’t raven defender lead with his helmet on that play? Isn’t that a penalty these days?

  38. DJ says:


    Frankly, I think he is going to be a very good to great player for us. A back you never need to take off the field, saving at least one roster spot for another player instead of the running back by committee approach we’ve had for the last few years.

    With offenses skewed to passing, Bell has great hands and can make DBs miss once in space. And what DB is going to want to tackle him when he lowers the shoulder? He’s a load. Saw a couple Baltimore DBs and LBs getting up very slowly last night after he lowered the boom. We haven’t had that since Bettis.

  39. Excellent and timely sarcasm.

  40. Drew71 says:

    That’s true. But here’s what EYE got.

    Ben was not sharp over the first three quarters.

    I’m not worried about him. But when your best player has an off game in a road game against an evenly matched rival, you are likely going to lose.

    That’s my game take.

    (Notice i DIDN’T focus on the secondary, which has been questionable all season. I mean, what else should we expect?)

    Playoffs are a long shot but not QUITE lost. If/when that train sails, blame the first four games. Not this game. Not a season split against the ravens.

  41. Drew71 says:

    I hope Haley gets fined.

    BTW. What are YOU doing here? I thought Family Guy, um, you know.

  42. rob says:

    Nobody should be surprised special teams are atrocious under Danny Smith. His previous employer, the Redskins, had the worst special teams units in football for three years under him.

  43. Jim S. says:

    I said the same thing last night, DK. Baltimore was REWARDED for a H2H hit.

  44. DJ says:

    From Day 1, it’s always been real easy to love Heath Miller. Just a beast.

  45. Jim S. says:

    Which followed a shot to our QB’s knees 2 plays earlier. That was what happened on the pass by Ben to Heath for the apparent score.. No call on that, either. Oh, I forgot. It was Roethlisberger. So, none of the normal penalties set up to protect QBs are admissable.

    Somewhere, Drew Brees is laughing his *ss off.

  46. JoeyBats says:

    1. Special teams are AWFUL. (a) THAT was F- on onside kick execution….(b) Steelers score & Jacoby Jones negates THAT with huge return, right after that, (c) Suisham is trying “to draw people offisdes” by early run up on FG attempt ? —WHAT WAS THAT?!!

    2. Manny Sanders will NOT be missed next year. 3 drops yesterday. …and yes, that 2 pointer was catchable. Manny has dropped too many this year — including, going all the way back to the very first pass of the year streaking don the field against Tennesse. :-( Hines Ward MAKES that catch with the game on the line for a tie.

    We need to DRAFT more TARGETS for Ben to throw to in the RED ZONE next year; the smurfs just don’t make it!

    3. Jason Worilds has become a BEAST. Too bad he will probably leave because our BLOATED CAP can no longer afford signing him. Keisel, Clark & Woodley are TOO OLD , TOO SLOW and INEFFECTIVE & need to be jettisoned. Heck 2 of the 3 can’t even get on the field anymore. Steelers need to draft well this coming year.

  47. They don’t fine people for being stupid, Drew, or half the league would be fined every week.

  48. Jim S. says:

    If we had made the 2 pt conversion, Leeroy, we would not want time left on the clock. You have to be thinking tie game there, not trying to save time after you blow the 2-pointer. At least, that is my thinking.

  49. Arriba Wilver says:

    Fined? Somebody wanted him fired last night.

  50. Arriba Wilver says:


  51. Drew71 says:

    No fines on the blog. Lucky, um, for me.

  52. Drew71 says:

    In the middle of the game? That would be cool. Just to see.

  53. Drew71 says:

    That’s what I thought about my wife.

    Doesn’t work the same way with wives.

  54. DJ says:

    If I didn’t know better, I would have thought the first half play-calling and sparse use of the no-huddle was the result of Haley exerting his influence because Ben was getting just a tad too much credit for the offense in the last few wins.

    I guess I don’t know better.

    Haley has to go.

  55. Jim S. says:

    The face guarding, the double H2H, the attempted knee cap of Ben … none of it called – all in the space of a few plays. I watched the late SportsCenter, and Sal Pal was on hand to let us know that all that mattered was Tomlin’s gaffe. I found what Tomlin did to be embarrassing to our team. He looked like a fool on that. I have no idea whether he did it on purpose or what, but get your wits about you, coach. Please figure out how to stay on the sideline and watch the play on the field. Is that too much to ask? And, if he actually did that on purpose, as Baltimore is convinced he did … well, I don’t want to go there. I don’t think he would. But, his dumb smile when it was caught on video just added to the embarrassment of it all. Tomlin gave John F’ing Harbaugh the satisfaction of saying after a win, “Did he get credit for that tackle?” Meanwhile, we had Sal Pal reciting the NFL rule about stepping on the field over and over. The only mention of the face guarding I saw was Stan Verett (sp?) during the highlights. No addressing of that by Sal Pal. Nor, did he address the H2H. It wasn’t Tom Brady, after all.

  56. Jandy says:

    +1000 DJ

  57. Jim S. says:

    Tomlin also used the “I take full responsibility” defense for his careless wandering on the field escapade. Nice way of shutting down the conversation for that gaffe. Yeah, we know you have to take responsibility, Coach. You did it in front of the whole world. But, I guess that’s accountability. There are some things that you don’t get to explain away. Some things are so stupid that they don’t get forgiven the first time.

  58. Jim S. says:

    Correct, Arriba. But, I don’t think we’ll see him in Game 13. He has 10 days to recover. But, he sure looked woozy.

  59. Drew71 says:

    Boltonacevic just called.

    Stopped on his way back from Baltimore.

    Black Friday. Walmart.

  60. Jim S. says:

    He’s definitely getting fined. Did you see Sal Pal organizing the angry mob last night after the game?

  61. Jim S. says:

    Boy, he lost 2 very close TDs last night. Even without his legs, the guy just produces any way he can.

  62. Drew71 says:

    I told him I was walking along the ocean, enjoying the salty morning breeze.

    He musta thought that was perfect.

    Said something about pounding salt.

  63. theplanisworking says:

    If any of that happened against brady and the Vheatriots, there would have been so much yellow laundry on the field, that Coyne Laundry Services would have been needed to pick it all up.

    Yet another reason to dislike ESPN, and their NE/DEN/DAL apologists.

  64. Naje says:

    You didn’t even blame the coaches….all of them… for how awful they are.

    ’bout time someone says what was true: No. 7 wasn’t very sharp for three quarters.

    Must have been the bad blood between him and Haley.

    Has to be. Seems that’s the only answer for everything bad with this offense.

  65. Jim S. says:

    We really need to find speed at the skill positions. Actually, I think we need speed everywhere. But, I’ll start with the skill positions.

    * Balt has burners at WR. We have a pretty fast guy in Brown, who can get open deep. After that, nada. What Ben does with the speed he has at receiver is amazing.

    * Ike has been a warrior forever. But, he can’t cover fast receivers on Balt or other teams. William Gay is not fast.

    * We have Emmanuel Sanders and Jonathon Dwyer returning kicks, while Balt has … well, you saw it. Their returners are so fast our Coach had to act as the last line of defense. How we end up with no one with speed returning kicks amazes me.

    * Troy is not helping this defense much. They can keep calling him a genius all they want. I guess that is how it is when you have done as much as he has for about 10 years. I love Troy for all he has done. But, teams have figured his freelancing act out. Veteran QBs use his being out of position to burn us quite often. Does anyone really think it bothers Brady or Flacco that Troy will be anywhere on any play? It isn’t as though he is invisible. They see him lining up, and I think they take advantage. Ask Rodney Harrison and Tony Dungy.

  66. Cobra39 says:

    I see DK’s personal vendetta against Haley continues unabated again this week. It’s tiresome and annoying, but when you don’t know much about football and it’s something that’s a popular sentiment with the fans, sure, might as well go with it. I’ve always been agnostic on Haley. I thought Arians should go, and I thought there were better replacements than Haley, but the man had a record of offensive success with several organizations by calling offenses that fit the strengths of the team. Clearly the fact that the “franchise” QB has a dysfunctional relationship with his OC will result in Haley being let go in the offseason. I’m fine with that and hope the Steelers hire an OC that can get along with the star QB. Knowing the Steeler Way, it will come from inside the organization. Whatever, just fix the problem.

    Aside from that, though, Ben has not earned the right to be in control of the offense. He is no Peyton Manning or Tom Brady and should never be confused with those players. They’ve put in the time in the film room and in offseason workouts with their receivers that they’ve gotten to the point that they know the offenses they run better than their coordinators. With Ben’s physical gifts fading, allowing him to run the offense when he still has problems reading coverages in his tenth year in the league won’t yield better results. But if it placates the Yinzers, then I guess that’s what it’ll be.

    The problem with the Steelers is a very simple one — they lack talent. They lack talent not only on the player side but also on the coaching staff and in the front office. They are an aging team heading in the wrong direction and haven’t replaced those vets with adequate players from the NFL Draft, which is the primary method of talent acquisition for this franchise. Their cap situation has been mangled and there isn’t much relief in sight for next year on that front.

    The problems are deep and will take years to sort them out, but hey, fire the offensive coordinator and everything will be fine and dandy next year. It’s a very simple-minded outlook on the Steelers but one that’s come to be expected from a fickle fanbase and a bunch of “experts” that don’t have the the football acumen to grasp the larger concepts of why this team is plunging into a sustained period of mediocrity.

  67. Drew71 says:

    I wonder if the SEC has an extra special teams coach. And maybe an OC.

    Just not Florida’s.

  68. Jandy says:

    Uh-oh I think Dejan just got snakebitten. And maybe a lot of us too.

  69. DJ says:

    On Troy, I really think it’s about how he has been deployed in some games. Against Baltimore, I would have preferred more base defense. The ball to Torrey Smith ended up being a killer, leading to their only TD.

    Last night, and in a couple other games (like New England), they had him in a glorified LB role. Too many blitzes and then swallowed up at the line. Pretty much a non-factor the entire game but maybe much of it due to the scheme and his use within that scheme.

  70. Jim S. says:

    Mike Adams actually grabbed the facemask of an onrushing defender right in front of him. I just laughed at the utter stupidity of that. The Raven was directly in front of Adams, and the facemask is where Adams chose to grab.

  71. Drew71 says:

    He’s a lot of things, but Thunder is not a snake.

  72. Jandy says:

    I wasn’t referring to Thunder, Drew Dahling, as you well know, but I appreciate your attempt at humor just the same :*

  73. Jim S. says:

    My understanding, DJ, is that Troy has earned some special honor where he gets to decide on a lot of plays what he is going to do. I don’t get it. He’s healthy, and he is wandering the field instead of impacting pass plays down the field. It works great against the Clevelands and Buffalos of the world. Not so much against real QBs. Just my opinion. Plenty disagree with me. But, Dungy and Harrison seem to agree.

  74. Cobra39 says:

    Right, that’s what it was all about. Haley didn’t want to actually come up with an offensive gameplan to maximize the Steelers’ opportunity to win the game, he just wanted to put Ben in his place. It was just a simple pissing contest on his part.

    I guess the position of “columnist” entitles writers to set aside common sense and logic and come up with popular conspiracy theories.

  75. theplanisworking says:

    Jim, the standard is the standard.

  76. Jim S. says:

    That’s Oher’s M.O. Last night was not the first time we have found ourselves discussing his false starts.

  77. Drew71 says:

    I can’t believe I’m gonna write this.

    pitt may now have city’s most exciting football team.

  78. DJ says:

    Funny thing but virtually every point you make up above has been raised in the last few months by others who post here as a factor in the team’s predicament.

    But thanks for enlightening all of us.

  79. Jim S. says:

    Tomlin was fortunate to escape injury there, Dom. :-)

  80. Drew71 says:

    But not TOO much. Evidently.

    You little snake charmer, you.

  81. Drew71 says:

    Let’s see how they do in THEIR big game.

  82. Dom says:

    Would anyone release Ike Taylor after the season? We’re in dire need of cap room but if he’s gone, who will be able to replace him? Would anyone feel comfortable knowing we could be going with Willie and Cortez to start the season at CB in 2014?

  83. Jim S. says:

    I used to like that standard, plan. Now, not so much.

    This team is tough enough, gritty enough, and has a good enough QB and a few other players to remain competititive. But, they are not going anywhere.

  84. Jim S. says:

    I don’t even know his cap situation. Didn’t we just extend him out and make it harder to cut him? I can’t kep track of all of the “extensions.”

  85. Bizrow says:

    How many days till Spring Training??

  86. DS says:

    RGIII and Kyle Shanahan ?

  87. Steelkings says:

    Tomlins little sideline act was so embarrassing. Name one other head coach that would do something like that. Dont say Cowher either. He was not on the field. Tomlin laughed seconds afterwords. Completely classless.

  88. DJ says:

    Jim: Harrison’s comments I take with a grain of salt. I think he’s always had an anti-Steelers bent. And I believe he views himself as “the standard” insofar as safety play.

    You’re right about the extra freedom Troy enjoys, but it just seems to me that, this year in particular, the schemes they are putting in place have him in a “super LB” role and very odd spots on the field. Earlier on I thought it was attributable to our LB play, but that’s gotten much better once Worilds started coming on, so it’s hard to explain.

    Right about here we might ask DK, if he only knew anything about football.

  89. Rbilak says:

    Here, here and that is why the Haley discussion needs to continue. Giving away a possesion is stupid. Red Zone offense stupid. Heath, Brown, Cotch, and we target Sanders, stupid.

  90. Jandy says:

    Hey, waittaminnit!
    You don’t even know what day it *IS*

  91. Jandy says:

    Well, Alosi wasn’t a head coach…

  92. Cobra39 says:

    I’m glad I could contribute.

    And just because certain topics have been brought up and touched on doesn’t mean they have been given the proper weight into explaining why the Steelers, as currently constituted, are a very mediocre football team.

  93. Jandy says:

    Seems no one here knows anything about football ;)

  94. Jandy says:

    well, at least we all agree they’re extremely mediocre…

  95. Milo Hamilton says:

    I laughed too, it was pretty funny.

  96. Bizrow says:

    Must be Monday, Steelers played yesterday?

  97. DJ says:

    Never said anything about a pissing contest, but I see below that’s the little tact you like to take with others’ knowledge bases or views.

    I happen to believe Haley’s ego/stubbornness has been a major factor in where we are. And I could rattle off 25-30 examples this year alone where “common sense and logic” dictated one course of action, but the OC proceeded with another.

    But I guess both you and Haley are “the experts,” so who would ever deem themselves worthy to question either of you, right?

  98. Dom says:

    If we do release him, we’ll save $7million but $5 million will be in dead money. Still might be worth it.

  99. Jandy says:

    ha! You’re getting warm ;)

  100. Jim S. says:

    I think we agree that Troy is not playing a normal Safety position, DJ. Whether that is Troy or Coach L’s thinking, I have no idea. I thought I read that Troy was given a bunch of freedom to read plays. I even read a quote that was from Coach LeBeau, I believe, that said Troy is a defensive genius on the field and you just have to let him be himself. I’m just saying I think it is not effective against good QBs any more. Flacco has figured out how to look off Troy.

  101. Jim S. says:

    Hey, I resemble that remark!

  102. Tim says:

    I respect you as a writer…. your output is very impressive and cognizant. You seem to really hussle to get interviews with people who necessary. But you offset this with the need to find needles in haystacks. I can’t quite figure it out. In no particular order you claimed:

    A) the anarchy in the Penguins dressing room over Sid’s captaincy.
    B) the special forces training the Pirates use
    C) Jet lag in London
    D) Simon Depres being out of shape and in the doghouse fortraining camp
    and now
    E) Haley and Ben

    You are adament and impassioned by all of these, but I can’t figure out if it’s more on hunch than on actual facts. I search around for answers, but it’s either a non-issue or direct rebuttal. And then, swoosh, as fast and hard as you bring them forth, they are gone. I must say that is probably what separates me from most of your readers. Plus, in fairness to you, I have issues with blind faith. There was only one man who didn’t make mistakes.

  103. Milo Hamilton says:

    Still waiting for something he made up. Go ahead.

  104. Tim says:

    For all: Let go of MT being a half step on the field during the punt. Please. Moving on………

  105. Jim S. says:

    Remember when the Steelers were about the last team in the league to avoid “dead money?” They never agreed to contracts where they did not expect to pay the guy the full amount?

    I will say, though, that from an owner’s financial standpoint, if you want to maximize profit, getting to the salary cap limit without actually having to pay out a bunch of that money sure helps the bottom line. You sort of lock yourself into a healthier bottom line, and there is nothing you can do to change it. I’m not suggesting the Steelers are doing that. In fact, I think their issue has been plain old mismanagement of the cap in several areas the last few years. But, a team could do that if it wanted.

    I know a lot of these Steelers issues have been that they have tried to make one more run the last few years. But, it seems like most of the fan base knew it was plainly obvious continuing to hold on to some guys and extend contracts was not a good decision after a certain point.

    I see a lot of dead weight, and I don’t know how much of it they can shed.

  106. Jim S. says:

    Nope, Tuesday. That was Monday Night Football, Biz. Go back to sleep. We’ll wake you when it gets interesting. :-)

  107. JAL says:

    Thunder is with lightening

  108. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Tomlins little sideline act was so embarrassing. Name one other head coach that would do Tomlins little sideline act was so embarrassing.

    I could name many….But I’ll start out with two.
    The Harbaugh brothers.

  109. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    It had better be alot because Neal Huntington has yet to do anything but dis-mantle a playoff team.

  110. Drew71 says:

    “I must say that is probably what separates me from most of your readers.”

    I thought it was arrogance.

    You think you’re the ONLY one to question Dejan at times?

    There are maybe four or five others who have done so more than occasionally on the blog this morning. Maybe more.

    Just make your points. All of them are at least valid. I agree with some of them.

    But that doesn’t separate me.

  111. Jim S. says:

    Blind faith? You don’t come on here often, do you Tim?

    Dejan takes heat from regulars here. But, those same people generally also give credit where it is due. That’s not blind faith. It is being fair.

    He points out what he thinks are issues, but I don’t think he acts as though he never gets anything wrong. And, I don’t think he acts as though his is the only viewpoint. We all get stuff wrong here. All of us, at one time or another. But, our mistakes don’t go out for mass consumption.

  112. Jim S. says:

    It won’t be that easy … not with the national media. This story has legs to them.

  113. Jim S. says:

    Stop making sense, Drew.

  114. Milo Hamilton says:

    I think I hear the snow melting. Son of a gun, the sun did come up after all.

  115. Jim S. says:

    I see Micah is out 4-6 wks. That kid can’t catch a break.

  116. DJ says:

    I guess not Jandy, I guess not.

  117. JohninOshkosh says:

    Really like what the NHL is doing today with the mass of matinee games. Strong marketing campaign to go along with the national telecast on NBC as well. Nice attempt to capture the Thanksgiving weekend away from football. The Flutie Hail Mary pass occurred on Thanksgiving Friday and made a generation of college football fans with kids across the nation.

    I give the NHL credit when credit is due. This is a win win for the NHL. A lot of families will spend time together on Black Friday.

  118. DJ says:

    Who said anything about it being “proper”? Ha!

  119. Milo Hamilton says:

    Luckily, he’s strong between the ears. And he’ll be ready for the conference schedule.

  120. DJ says:

    On cap management, maybe Omar Khan hasn’t been paying close attention. Too many job interviews — ha!

  121. DJ says:

    I second this.

  122. Jandy says:

    Tim: why?

  123. Jandy says:

    what? Drew, you’re in a league all your own, dahling ;)

  124. Jandy says:

    26 degrees here in PA right now….heat wave…

  125. Jandy says:

    Tampa bay?

  126. Scott says:

    If three or more teams are tied for the wild card, unless one team has swept the other two, head-to-head record goes out the window and it comes down to conference record. So if the Titans and Steelers both finish 9-7, it is not necessarily true that the Titans would get in. The Steelers are still very much mathematically alive – at least until they lose one more game.

  127. jefft says:

    Not that it means much, but…
    1) The NFL will absolutely fine Tomlin for being on the field for that kick return. Every coach from youth level up knows there’s that wide, white border is there for a reason: to keep the team out of the LINESMAN’S way, let alone the play on the field. In fact, the official will probably be reprimanded for not throwing a flag (not that we’ll find out about that). And the fact that it happened on national TV will be taken into consideration.
    2) Lardarius Webb absolutely should have been penalized for the H2H hit on Bell (who I really hope is OK). Heck, Webb may have given himself a concussion on the play. Don’t be surprised if he is not fined as well.
    3) The NFL has begun an initiative with youth football to try and reduce head injuries, even introducing a new way to tackle (Heads Up). It will go absolutely nowhere and mean nothing so long as this type of thing is not dealt with severely.

  128. That’s the spirit. Stick with ‘em until at least loss number 8, if that ever comes.

  129. Thundercrack says:

    Did DK describe it as anarchy in the locker room or just as a players’ meeting?

    Didn’t the Steelers have jet lag from London. And I believe other journalists have written that players haven’t been happy with the team’s travel plans for the past few seasons.

  130. Thundercrack says:

    Didn’t resign Marlon Byrd and cut Garrett Jones.
    Are there any other players from the playoff team that are gone for sure yet?

  131. Jandy says:

    Well, TC, I guess it all depends on one’s “perspective’ and if that perspective is negative of this blog, then that’s how it looks. or something like that…

  132. Vinny Giardina says:

    To invoke the helmet rule in the replay is what’s ridiculous. Obviously, the intent of the rule is to protect the helmetless player. Once they’re at the point of reviewing the play, why should it still apply?

  133. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    I’m giving Huntington the benefit of the doubt for another week or so.
    But to answer your question….(And I’m not saying it’s the wrong move) I believe AJ Burnett is probably gone.
    IF the correct moves are made to compensate….Fine.

  134. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Let them fine him!
    If Jacoby Jones was affected by Mike Tomlin standing at the edge of the white sideline zone….He’s dumber than I thought (and that’s pretty dumb).
    The Ravens are self-proclaimed tough guys…..Run him over!

    If anyone should be fined it’s those two thugs that double-helmeted Bell at the goal line.
    They head hunted AND got the call.
    That’s quite a combination in an NFL that claims safety-first.

  135. Thundercrack says:

    Well the Winter Meetings don’t start until December 9.

    I’ll give Huntington the benefit of the doubt too…but probably closer to the end of December, early part of January.

  136. Thundercrack says:

    Over Thanksgiving I stick up for DK.

    Over the Christmas Holiday is when I stick up Drew.

    All other time of the year those two are on their own.

  137. Jandy says:

    I’m glad you set me straight, TC!

  138. theplanisworking says:


    Thats your buddy GODell, Daq.

  139. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    AKA….The worst commissioner in the history of sports…

  140. theplanisworking says:

    Being all 4 sports commissioners are awful, that is a powerful statement.

  141. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Very true….But Roger Goodell is more than iron-fisted.
    He’s changed the NFL game into a rougher version of flag football.
    Those that “barely” go against it are placed on the weekly “fined” list…..(such as Willie Gay today).
    It’s literally a bonanza inside of a bonanza.
    I hate the sight of Roger Goodell…..

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