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Morning Java: Thank you, Steelers fans

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Tuesday column from the Steelers’ breakup day lists a slew of questions and issues Mike Tomlin must tackle this offseason. And to his credit, he’s not starting out by pretending he’s got all the answers.

Would love to hear your thoughts on the many open-ended items in this piece.

Moving on, just for fun and only here on the blog, here’s my choice for most improved player on and off the field, David DeCastro, along with part of our talk yesterday …

Yeah, Cam Heyward and Jason Worilds made leaps. Not taking that away. I’m just partial in this case to a second-year guy having to step up so much with all the O-line injuries around him. And, as you can see from the clip above, he’s really opened up, too. Good speaker.

Random randomness from the scene: Don’t expect too many surprises among those players you think won’t be back. Guys like Ryan Clark, Ziggy Hood, Emmanuel Sanders all made it very clear they’ve had exactly zero contact with the Steelers to this point about sticking. …  I swear I’m not trying to stir something up, but I couldn’t help but notice how Tomlin described Worilds’ inactive status for the Browns game thusly: “We couldn’t get Jason Worilds to a level of comfort prior to the game to be able to play effectively.” All I’ll add is that Worilds had a rib injury, and it’s common in the NFL to play through those by one means or another. … Marcus Gilbert did something really stupid by tweeting right after Chiefs-Chargers that Kansas City kicker Ryan Succop was ‘shaving points.’ I asked Gilbert why he’d write that, and he replied he was ‘just joking.’ Something tells me the league office might not be laughing. … A couple of the guys on injured reserve were claiming there’s a rule that they couldn’t give interviews. Well, there is, but I hear it came from Tomlin about a month ago. And with all due respect to the coach, he isn’t allowed to be making such across-the-board rules. Those things are to be negotiated between the NFL, the union and the Pro Football Writers of America. … Funny, but there was no such rule until LaMarr Woodley went on IR. … Tomlin was asked to whom he is accountable: “The Rooneys.” … The near-universal sentiment that what happened in San Diego shouldn’t have mattered when Clark was asked how it felt to finish one ref’s call short of the playoffs: “How about one more win for the Pittsburgh Steelers?” Yep. Way too much fuss over the refs. Mistakes are made in the spur of the moment. Big flipping deal. … I tried to process that the Steelers carried two players on their 53-man roster who didn’t participate in a single play: Bruce Gradkowski and Landry Jones. Nice work if you can get it. … Cam, on 2014: “I want playoffs, and I want the Super Bowl. That’s what my career is about.”

The poor start buried the Steelers, by beat man Alan Robinson.

The San Diego refs didn’t help, by Robinson.

The final Steelers Film Session freeze-frames on Todd Haley, by Mark Kaboly.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

And before I sign off this portion of the blog for the winter, I’d like to take the opportunity here to say THANK YOU to Steelers fans for your voluminous, passionate and phenomenally widespread feedback. It was a bizarre season, to put it mildly, but from the military men and women who reached out when we were in London to the tailgaters who invited me to a BBQ in the Oakland lots, I was humbled beyond words that you’d trust what I write about your favorite team. Even when we didn’t agree.

This guy in London was my favorite …

I’ll tell you this, too: I enjoyed nothing more in 2013 than covering the Steelers. I’d set my mind on giving the NFL that much extra this year, in particular getting to know Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu and other key figures better, and feeling like that’s begun to be achieved represented by far my own high mark of the year. And I say that in the context of having also tremendously enjoyed covering the Penguins’ run to the Eastern final, everything related to experiencing more of Jamie Dixon and Pitt basketball, and the essential birth of professional soccer in our city limits.

This particular year, for me, nothing topped the Steelers.

So thank you and happy new year to the fans, to the Steelers’ many bloggers and fan clubs who reached out — a new one just yesterday from Mexico — and to the team itself, particularly Burt Lauten, Nate LoCascio and Ryan Scarpino of their media office.

Only 4 1/2 months until OTAs, right?

>> The Penguins and Devils have a New Year’s Eve matinee in fabulous Newark, pictured above. Send cards and flowers to Josh Yohe for drawing that especially short straw.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage, including interesting stuff on the possibility of resting Olli Maatta.

Here’s Devils news from the Ottawa Citizen.

Here are official game highlights from NHL.com.

>> Pitt closes its pre-ACC slate with Albany and a New Year’s Eve matinee of their own at the Pete. Kevin Gorman reports.

>> The latest on Bill O’Brien, by Chris Adamski.

>> The Pirates make a minor trade, by Travis Sawchik.

>> There will be no TribLIVE Radio show this week because of New Year’s Day, but it’ll return Jan. 8.

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.

Comments

  1. DK: Sorry for the comments being down for the first few minutes. I just found out how to fixed it.

  2. Karen22 says:

    Am I crazy or is it snowing on the Blog?

    DK: It’s festive.

  3. Karen22 says:

    :) – Thought for a minute my eye “floaters” changed color.

    Happy New Year, Dejan! Love your columns!

    DK: Thanks, Karen, for all that you bring here!

  4. JD says:

    I’ve got ask, why was experiencing more of Jamie Dixon’s basketball and the birth of professional MINOR league soccer in Pittsburgh so much better than covering the best Pirates season in 20 years?

    DK: In general, the next time I can connect a team’s success or failure to my enjoyment of covering that team will be the first. Has nothing to do with anything.

    This might surprise you, but that post up there makes no mention whatsoever of baseball. It had nothing to do with baseball or any of the other countless sports that weren’t mentioned.

  5. CWalton_67 says:

    I will respectfully disagree with your assessment of Tomlin. He demonstrates an inability to think critically or strategically at the required level (witness the endless clock management gaffes) and the Steelers will continue to operate at some level of mediocrity during his tenure.

    Obviously.

    Obviously.

    Ad nauseum …

    DK: Funny, but most arguments against Tomlin as an in-game coach begin with clock management … then end there, too.

    Why?

  6. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    DK … Nice Steelers info here.

    A couple things:

    * As I mentioned yesterday morning … Jason Worilds (with an assist from his agent) wasn’t about to see that playing field Sunday. He had done “enough” this year to solidify a nice pay day, and he wasn’t going to watch it go down the drain on a wet field.

    Let me say one more thing that most will disagree with … I’ve come to the decision that I lean towards the Steelers letting Woodley go AND letting Worilds walk. My thought has next to nothing to do with Worilds bowing out of Sunday’s game. It has everything to with the fact that Worilds had four years to do something (which included other stints during Woodley injuries), and he waited 3 1/2 to show anything. He can easily go right back into that shell when he’s the recipient of a large extension.

    This team needs cap space. Let both of these guys walk, and get someone younger and cheaper via the draft or mid-level free agency.

    I know it was the Browns…But the Steelers’ defense didn’t look too bad yesterday without the two W’s.

    * The issues of the Steelers not playing well in the first half of the season AND the two blown calls in SD yesterday are two separate issues. One does not justify the other. The Steelers blew it by playing like dopes in the first eight games. The refs blew it by not performing their job correctly yesterday, and it thwarted a Steeler appearance in the playoffs this weekend.

    DK: Feel the same about Cam as you do about Worilds? Took Cam a while, too.

  7. Ghost says:

    Enjoyed the “nothing to do with baseball” banter between one of us and you in above comment. All is well with the Blog as we come to the end of another year. :-D

    Watching the David DeCastro clip, I think of how much more comfortable he now looks in front of a camera — how his facial expressions behind his Keisel-ey beard begin to light up — two years into his career. He and Gerrit Cole used to sort of remind me of each other. Baseball!

    DK: Glad you watched the clip. I love doing those, but I often wonder how many people watch them since we can’t really track it precisely.

    DeCastro’s grown up a lot in a year.

  8. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    I feel great about Cam!

    Cam was slow to develop too, but he is now an established member of the Steelers’ defense in year three. I see a difference in the two in more ways than one.

    Let me also add that I seriously doubt the Steelers will let both Worilds and Woodley go. Myself…..I find it an interesting option.

  9. JD says:

    It doesn’t surprise me at all to see you fail to mention professional Major League Baseball while you find space to fit in professional minor league soccer and mediocre college basketball when mentioning your end of the year highlights.

    It seems to me that you are always trying to distance yourself from your days as the Pirates beat writer for the other paper. Even though, to me, it seems that many of your fans here followed you from that other paper.

    I enjoy your columns on all the sports now and I think you’re an excellent writer. I just think you need to get over whatever it is you have with some Pirates fans.

    DK: I appreciate the kind words about the columns and the writing, JD. Happy new year to you and yours.

    I meant what I wrote up there. Those were the experiences I enjoyed the most. Honestly, truly and for real. I could bore you to tears and cite for you tons and tons of reasons why I enjoyed all three. I really could. All were for different reasons. All were wonderful. Nothing else to it.

  10. Ghost says:

    This gives me my opening to bring up how I fault the defensive system for the late blossoming of player after player on our team, including Jason Worilds. I agree that we probably have to let him walk, though. The contract he’ll probably command would just perpetuate our cap space problems if we were the ones to pay for it. Let us get a championship caliber squad together again before we take on any more of commitments like that. Ben and Antonio have the only big contracts that are worth it, for a while.

  11. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Totally agree about DeCastro! I watched that video in highly impressed amazement. This guy has come a long ways in only his second year.

    DK: Two words to describe the kid: Alan. Faneca.

  12. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    DK…..No question.
    This is the kind of progression you love to see on your high round draft picks.

  13. Ghost says:

    Yes, indeed. As Cris Collinsworth once said about Ron Erhardt coaching the Steelers’ offense, “He’s started wearing bell-bottom jeans.”

    I scanned the above post, started up said video clip, then dashed off my thoughts down here. Only to see afterward I was essentially repeating what DK remarked, himself, on DeCastro. (Note: the Alan Faneca reference was good, however, how only *I* was able to tie in DeCastro with baseball. So take that, DK.)

  14. JD says:

    DK – Thanks for the reply to my reply. I can see what you’re saying. I guess I was trying to tilt it towards a different direction. I also wish you a Happy New Year!

  15. CWalton_67 says:

    Not sure why they end there. The clock management errors are simply the easiest to point out as they are one of the few times that the head coach should be involved at the tactical level. The coordinators are paid to think on the tactical level; the play or series at hand, giving the head coach the ability to step back and think on an operational level — influencing the outcome of the game as a result of the tactics taking place on the field during the course of the game. Tomlin should be the guy using a critical decision making process well ahead of the time clock management decisions — his responsibility — are required. He fails repeatedly, giving the appearance that he does not possess the ability for critical thought.

    Additionally, the head coach should be thinking between the operational and strategic level, he should have a vision of how to prepare to navigate his organization through the season, a stated intent for how to do so and a desired end state, all communicated clearly to every subordinate. The Steelers were clearly unprepared to begin this season, starting 0-4, and then 2-6, and a glaring indication of Tomlin’s inability to think critically was his failure to take the demands of intercontinental travel into account when planning for the game in London. This should have been done in the off season, well in advance of the actual game, but that simple error likely cost the team a win, and a playoff berth.

    I don’t know the guy, and I am sure there are things he does well as a football coach, and my impression is that he is genuinely good human being, but he’s over his head as head coach of the Steelers.

    DK: OK, so everything you just listed there as applied to in-game strategy — which was my point — was related to clock management. Everything else wasn’t.

    ” … does not possess the ability for critical thought.”

    Yikes. So he’s stupid? If you think that, say it. And support it.

    ” … over his head as head coach.”

    Never had a losing season. Made it to two Super Bowls, won one. But he’s in over his head.

    And please, spare me the tired line about winning with Bill Cowher’s players. Anyone with even the most rudimentary knowledge of football knows that a head coach carries an enormous responsibility regardless of the talent at hand.

  16. chethejet says:

    Never had a losing season. Made it to two Super Bowls, won one. But he’s in over his head.
    And please, spare me the tired line about winning with Bill Cowher’s players. Anyone with even the most rudimentary knowledge of football knows that a head coach carries an enormous responsibility regardless of the talent at hand.

    So did George Seifert and Switzer. That argument is meaningless. Bylsma won a cup. Tell me again of his cup success after that. Tomlin has made some obvious errors but more importantly, he seems to not understand that is the case. Recall his convoluted explanation for not going for two point to make it a three score game. Then during his press conference expanding on that nonsense. He has the Rooneys confidence but more importantly he has them on the hook for 18 million to 2016. That Dejan is the factor in his position as head coach the next two years. Two more non playoff seasons and he will be gone.

  17. CWalton_67 says:

    DK–poorly phrased on my part as I don’t think Tomlin is stupid by any stretch. My original post said ” at the required level”, which in this case is a very elite one.

    Never had a losing season? Thats good enough? And you say he won the Super Bowl? No help from the very talented players and coaches also in the organization?

    He certainly does carry a huge amount of responsibility, especially to do the planning and make the decisions at critical junctures to put his team in a position to win, and he makes glaring errors in those areas.

    Yes, I believe he is over his head as the head football coach.

  18. tpbco says:

    DK-

    In the previous post I listed, IMO, the reasons – not excuses – for the Steelers poor start. As to the remainder of the 8-4 record, I believe it pretty much equated to the talent level of the team that remained. The fact that these are humans, not robots, helps to explain a couple of the loses (Miami-AB’s step out, Oakland-missed FGs). Just disappointing that the season ended with the team peaking and having officiating incompetence being the final nail in the coffin. I’ve said for a long time, regardless of the sport, to be the champ, you have to play well, get the calls AND get the bounces – all 3, because the league, by design, is too equal and not all of that is controlable.

    That being said, there is nothing wrong with this coaching staff. Perfect no, list all the ones that are. Belechick was hit pretty hard in that game a couple of seasons ago when he went for it on 4th down in his own territory and failed. The Steelers of the 70′s couldn’t win in Seattle when Seattle was an expansion team – not prepared? Cowher lost to the Texans when they were expansion – not prepared? Of course Tomlin is sometimes held to a higher standard and I’ll leave it at that.

    Do the posters harping on Haley realize that it is HIS offense they are running the “no huddle” from? Yep, both the philosophy in general and the game plans specifically. Other inputs, yep sure are, but they are HIS. BBR does NOT want to start over win a new OC, again. Doubt AB or Leveon Bell do either. The only thing that makes me crazy(er) is going empty backfield in first and goal. Arian’s did it too.

    Daq was going in a interesting direction in his comments. Right now, no teams with a $100 million dollar QB has a great defense, you simply can’t spend on both sides of the ball. An option, would be to gut the D and spend it on O. This could be a pretty salty O if you added a big receiver, upgraded LT and had Beachem, Wallace and Velasco as backups. Would Steeler fans accept that? I dunno.

    My issue with Lebeau’s D, is the talent that’s required inconjunction with it’s complexity. Most of the issues seemed to be related with players trying to cover for the talent issues ie, Troy playing LB and being out of postion. Also if you gut the D, no need for Lebeau it WILL be a vanilla D. My answer for the D, is draft a NT (Kent Nix III?), need a ILB, Worlids, not Woodley and sign Keisel to one year at vet’s min. Let Clark and Hood go and try to restructure Ike or he goes…but that’s still some bucks.

    One of the things I’m finding as I gain “experience”, is I am more objective and less emotional…still passionate, but actually enjoy it more.

    JMO

    BTW want to mention how much I enjoy your writing and this blog. As an expat, I come here first.

    Cheers

    DK: And cheers right back!

  19. tpbco says:

    Would you say the same thing about Belichick as you do Bylsma? When’s the last time HE won a SB?

  20. tpbco says:

    Blysma has won the Stanely Cup. Fastest to 200 wins in NHL history (I’ll pause so you can reread that because that covers a lot of famous coaches). Won the Jack Adams award and was named US Olympic coach.

    Yep, Mario should do better.

  21. Drew71 says:

    I swear I’m not trying to stir something up…

    Dejan, in my opinion you or anyone is allowed to enjoy or NOT enjoy covering or following ANY sport.

    Those of us who regularly follow baseball – and since baseball is my second favorite sport and I have trouble listing my third favorite, I clearly put myself in that category – mostly don’t care whether you like covering baseball. We just want a forum to discuss. And yes. Discuss it…
    All. Year. Round.

    So. If I’m going to be completely honest. Your occasional, unsolicited comments about “baseball bloggers” (which by definition includes me)…and almost solely questioning the value of bloggers who follow baseball’s offseason, what has been known for generations as the hot stove league, but no such comments re other fans during other sports’ offseasons, strikes me as, um, unbalanced.

    PS. I am NOT hoping for get-a-life comments directed at OTHER sports’ fans. Especially as I will be greedily following my FAVORITE sport’s recruiting period this offseason, I hope for “peace” if I blog about it.

    Dejan, best wishes for continued growth and expansion of your sports reach. And beyond that…

    Enjoy the holiday. Enjoy your favorite sports. I plan to enjoy mine as well, whichever they happen to be, in season or not.

    DK: You, too, Drew. And for the record, every single time the Pirates have made a move this offseason, it’s been mentioned here, including with analysis of the couple of bigger moves. And I’m fairly certain I was the only one to take the initiative to contact Mark Melancon in South Africa for what I thought was a more interesting tale than anything generated by the team itself to date.

  22. bpn8pitt says:

    Troys situation could get interesting. Can’t really cut him, cause of the horrific cap situation. Don’t have any depth in the secondary. Their only hope is that he would be willing to renegotiate, right? What if he says no?

    I hear what you and others are saying about the offense, but defensively I don’t really know where to begin.

    DK: Amazing, isn’t it? Really a mess.

  23. JoeyBats says:

    Was pleased to see that Coach Graham’s team go out on a losing note yesterday evening 37-23 (to Texas Tech ==>

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/F/FBC_T25_ARIZONA_STATE?SITE=PAPIT&SECTION=SPORTS&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

    …..pointing fingers @ the ASU coaching staff for not having the team prepared to face & beat Texas Tech.

    PS: Texas Tech All-America tight end Jace Amaro had eight catches for 112 yards in the Bowl game last night. He set the FBS single-season record for yards receiving by a tight end with 1,352. ( a potential target for the Steelers next year …yes, toooo many needs ;-)

  24. Milo Hamilton says:

    Just to add to the fun, Mark May just killed Graham at halftime.

    I also like the big tight end at Washington – Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

  25. JMB says:

    I thought that was an alien landing like in Cloverfield. hehe

  26. I never could figure that out. Thought it was a government project. So it was an alien?

  27. Cobra39 says:

    JD, I think you’re way too accommodating. For me, DK is like a Disney Channel child star that is desperately trying to shed their sanitized image so they aren’t pigeonholed as that character for the rest of their life. In other words, DK is now Miley Cyrus.

    DK: See comment immediately below. Your myopic view of what you like is getting the best of you.

  28. JMB says:

    At the very end of the movie, they show a clip on the ferris wheel, and the alien can be seen landing in the ocean.

  29. JMB says:

    One positive is that none of the teams in the AFC north is on the train to juggernaut-ville.

    I do believe that with a few tweaks, this is a playoff team in 2014.

  30. Thundercrack says:

    ‘Yep. Way too much fuss over the refs. Mistakes are made in the spur of the moment. Big flipping deal. ‘

    You are certainly entitled to your opinion. But many people feel that the refs have stunk – big time – all year round.
    And I think it is fine for people to make a ‘fuss’ about it because it possible could have made a difference regarding who is playing next week and who is sitting at home.

    If Tomlin’s side line shuffle would have somehow affected the Ravens’ playoffs eligibility, I wonder if we would be telling them ‘stop making a fuss – mistakes happen’.

    ———-
    Happy New Year.

    DK: It has to get better, no question. What I wonder about, TC — and brought up on TribLIVE Radio yesterday — is whether it’s part of some actual trend, or if we’re just better equipped now through so many eyes to notice it.

  31. chethejet says:

    coaching is about results and it is how one achieves those results. Belichick is a great coach as he wins with different players each year. I may not think he is Mr. Warmth, but his record of winning is exceptional. I know one thing, give him more talent and he wins championships. I also know Bylsma is a beneficiary of of talent yet has underachieved in the playoffs. I also know the Steelers are not in the playoffs with a franchise QB for the second year in a row. My point was coaches who consistently win and have turnover of players are rare. Bylsma is not in that category and certainly Tomlin isn’t.

  32. Thundercrack says:

    It’s a shame. I think DK would have also tremendously enjoyed covering the 2013 Pirates and their journey on breaking the losing streak and playing in the playoffs.

    Maybe next year.

  33. Missed that. And I’ve seen that movie a couple times.

  34. DJ says:

    Tomlin’s comment about Worilds was interesting and, I believe, very telling. I was thinking before the game that he probably got a lot of advice from his agent. The fact that Worilds listened to it and did not make it onto the field suggests to me he is gone if the Steelers’ offer does not top all others. I respect that Sanders chose differently, despite some of his critical drops this year.

    Heyward is going to sign with us, however. Has the Steelers “attitude,” which DeCastro has in spades.

    Wasn’t terribly bothered that we did not make the playoffs because I did not see the Steelers winning more than one game. Was pleased they finished strong but the benefit might be offset by their draft order. Going 8-8 last year instead of 7-9 likely prevented us from getting Keenan Allen in the third round, the 6’2″ WR from California who is likely to be the rookie of the year, who the Steelers were said to be very high on. If that happened, we could have crossed one more need — taller WR — off our list for the 2014 draft. And THAT would have made for an excellent 2013 draft. We’ll see how Markus Wheaton develops, chosen three picks later.

  35. He did alright covering the Pirates when he did last season. His heart may not have been all the way in it, but he still gave great coverage.

    But they never let him hit or pitch. The Riverhounds let him score a goal. Hope he does some curling in Sochi, too. That was a great clip.

    ;)

  36. Tom says:

    Or maybe, because of factors such as the people he was covering, variety of the subject matter, access he was granted, etc., he just enjoyed working on the other sports more than the Pirates …

    DK: Access isn’t an issue anywhere. This really isn’t a negative thing. I have a ton of reasons for enjoying the Steelers coverage this year. Really do. And to be totally candid here, it’s actually amusing that people can’t accept that as the truth because it doesn’t match their own view of what the situation should be.

  37. NMR says:

    Very sad to read this morning about the bombings in Volgograd. Never said this before about a sporting event, but I’m truly worried about Sochi.

    Hope this doesn’t damper your excitement, Dejan. Please, be safe.

    DK: I didn’t say this before Athens, even, but I am, too, NMR. Not going to lie. Back-to-back bombings like that powerfully suggest a bigger picture at hand.

  38. likeabugonarug says:

    For all complaining about the refs, I wonder if you could go back this season and find any gaffes they made during a Steelers game that in the end helped us get a win?

    And I’ll state it again. There is absolutely 0% guarantee that Succop makes the rekick. Bad snap, holder drops it, good rush and it gets blocked, or he just plain shanks it. Lots of things could’ve happened.

    Last I checked, the refs are H U M A N! Get over it and quit whining about it. I’ll whine about it to a friend who is a SD fan, but that’s only to have fun with it.

    Kevin

  39. Sean says:

    Thanks for all of your work, DK. Have a Happy New Year!

  40. Jim S. says:

    I have to give Daq credit here. He is on the record as saying, in essense, Worild’s chose to sit out Sunday for selfish (future contract) reasons rather than health reasons. The Coach’s carefully chosen words yesterday seemed (at least to me) to imply that might have been the case. If that is not how Tomlin felt, he didn’t make much of an effort to defend his LB.

    At the very least, I believe Tomlin was signaling why the Steelers will not pursue an extension for Worilds this off-season. I feel he was “setting up the duck” so to speak.

  41. Jim S. says:

    10 years, I believe.

  42. TJA says:

    Dejan and Fellow Loonies – The very best wishes and prayers to you and your families as we turn the calender to another year. A fantastic 2014 to All!

  43. Jim S. says:

    That will make it tougher to get that Longhorns gig.

  44. Deb says:

    Clock management isn’t the only knock against Tomlin and his coaching. This year, more glaring than ever, the team has taken the field and looked unprepared. As Tomlin acknowledged, having a team prepared is on the Head Coach. Combine that with the stupid travel decisions Tomlin made, and it is reasonable to suggest Tomlin cost the team a playoff berth.

    DK: You’re unquestionably correct on both counts, Deb. But the specific focus of the points being traded here were in-game decisions. Only clock management gets mentioned.

  45. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl says:

    I always find it amusing when others insist on telling someone what he/she “should” enjoy, and when the person responds “Meh, it just didn’t make it to that level for me” the reason CANNOT be because it just didn’t make it to that level but rather the reason HAS TO BE because of some hidden (or not so hidden) reason that stems from the mind reading ability of the person doing the initial insisting. Pleasure and enjoyment are subjective constructs, unique and personal to each individual. [Stepping down from my soapbox now.]

    Anyway, I personally have enjoyed the seasons of all of Pittsburgh teams during 2013, each in their own ways. Each brought me joy, frustration and even indifference throughout the year. What I can say, without any doubt, is that the experiences and interactions I’ve had watching the games with friends and strangers (and the back and forth on social media while viewing some of these same games) made Pittsburgh sports in 2013 one of my favorite years, and I’m looking forward to see what 2014 brings.

    Have a wonderful 2014 everyone, and please be safe tonight if you are out celebrating.

    DK: Thank you for the overdue burst of logic here today. :)

  46. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl says:

    My apologies for the typo in interactions, but strangely, intereactions (although also misspelled) may be an appropriate descriptor as well (if it is even a word).

  47. JohninOshkosh says:

    Going to a wedding tonight so the happy couple can file 2013 joint tax returns (I’m such a romantic).

    Will be traveling tomorrow so:

    Happy New Year, everyone! This is a fun and informative place. Thanks for providing it, Dejan !

  48. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1

  49. TJA says:

    HA! Funny line, John…Best to you and to the new Bride and Groom, too.

  50. Sounds like fun, John. And, if you’re planning on having any kids, have them tonight for a full year exemption. My first grand child was born on January 2nd, 2009. No exemption there for 2008.

    You have a HNY, also, and watch the adult beverage level at that wedding.

  51. Jim S. says:

    The strange thing for me about that finger poke to the eye of Pirates’ fans above, and I don’t know how one could interpret those comments any other way, is that just about everyone on here who comments about baseball also comments on at least one other sport. Why do you seem intent on alienating and driving away people who not only root for the Pirates but also other Pittsburgh sports teams? If Pirates’ fans vacate this blog, they will also take their thoughts on other sports with them. That seems counterproductive to me to what you should be trying to accomplish.

    Baseball is the easiest sport to follow for me. It keeps my interest all year long because of the day-to-day nature of the regular season and the extensive off-season activities. The off-field part of baseball is more enjoyable to me than for other sports, and I’m pretty sure a lot of visitors here feel the same way. But, make no mistake, I will watch every NFL playoff game, followed by an unhealthy amount of coverage of the NFL Draft on two networks. I will sit on the couch in my basement with about 5 lists of the available players, by position, and cross them off as they are picked. I will agonize over whether the player I want will fall to the Steelers in each round. I will watch every single Penguins game on Natonal TV this winter and into the playoffs when I am available. I will also come to Pittsburgh at least once to see the Pens play in person. I will watch every televised Pitt basketball and football game with the same passion that I have for our 3 professional sports. That is how I operate every year, and how I have been my entire life. I honestly believe a lot of “baseball fans” here will do the same things.

    I am thankful for this forum, as I have said many times. It gives me a chance to interact with other Pittsburgh folks and non-Pittsburgh folks who happen to root for Pittsburgh teams. I like to agree and respectfully disagree with all of them on various sports topics. I can appreciate that you, DK, are not a fan of baseball at this point. That does not keep me from believing you are still a talented writer. It does not keep me from believing you are capable of excellent baseball writing, whether you personally care for the sport and its fans or not. But, I respectfully say that you are misguided if you feel that a sizable portion of the people on this blog are all baseball, all the time. The baseball conversations may delver deeper into the minutiae of the sport, but that is the nature of that sport. Baseball may be the favorite sport of many here, but I know of few for whom it is the only sport.

    DK: Or I really honestly, truly, no-finger-to-the-eye just happened to enjoy those things above, for various reasons, none of which have anything to do with anyone’s fans. This really isn’t all that mysterious or nefarious.

  52. Jim S. says:

    I believe Worilds was being advised by Andy Reid. :-)

  53. Dom says:

    I read that the Chargers have a 40-1 odds at winning the super bowl.

    Although that might seem high in comparison to the rest of the teams, I would have certainly expected better odds for them. They’d have to defeat the Bengals, which could certainly happen. But then they’d have to defeat the Broncos in Denver, then almost certainly go to New England to defeat the Pats, and probably face either the Niners or Seattle in the super bowl.

    Is it just me or should the odds for that be higher?

  54. Dom says:

    Have a good time.

    Anyone else have any big plans tonight?

  55. Higher. They had trouble with the Chiefs’ backups at home. For them to win in those 3 cities would be more of a miracle than the Steelers winning Super Bowl 40.

    The Steelers put it all together that season after the loss to the Colts, and SD played well over the last month, but they don’t have the stuff to put together a run like that. Plus, hidden vigorish enters in. They used all of the law of averages with that fiasco Sunday.

    I know less about odds than almost anything in the world, but 200-1 sounds better to me.

  56. Dom says:

    Exactly.

    The Steelers might have also been a #6 seed when we won SB 40 but we were a far superior team.

    We narrowly missed the division title and were still most likely a top 5 team at that point in time.

    The Steelers were just the worst seeded squad out of the best teams in the league back in 2006. The Chargers were this year’s just the lucky winners of the four contending squads who didn’t deserve a playoff berth.

  57. theplanisworking says:

    2000-1 sounds even better Reverend.
    Miraculous would be the choice word for SD’s chances.

    But, stranger things have happened in the NFL, on this blog, and in life.

    I wish you, and yours a Blessed New Year.

  58. Jim S. says:

    Don’t you love how the Niners have to go to Green Bay and, to a lesser degree, the Saints have to go to Philly? Both of those home teams made the playoffs by the skin of their teeth, and by virtue of playing in a weak division they get to host playoff games versus more deserving teams.

    Reminds me of the year the 12-4 Steelers lost in Denver to the 8-8 Broncos. I highly doubt we would have lost that game in Pittsburgh.

    The NFL really needs to get its head out of its *ss when it comes to playoff seeding. The goal should be to give advantages to the deserving teams, not the undeserving. Re-seed once the teams are set, Goodell and owners. The way you do it now is amateurish.

  59. theplanisworking says:

    Jim, I honestly think the baseball “fans” who give DK grief on twitter, and e-mails are the ones he is referencing. What is that number up to now, 38? 47? 63? 100?

    Until we have walked a mile in DK’s shoes (which for me would be impossible, as I wear 15W’s), I just let him blow off steam , then everything is ok for a while. Eventually, all is well with the blog.

    I also see many baseball fans say they dont come here when baseball season is done, or if they do, its the occassional “hello”, be back in ST. Nothing wrong with that, but those people do exist.

    For the record, I would like to see a bit more soccer coverage, being the RiverPuppies are ascending, the World Cup is upcoming, and would like to see another DK Goal attempt for giggles. But, I am just thankful DK provides this space for most other topics.

    DK: It’s 73.

  60. theplanisworking says:

    + many.

  61. Dom says:

    Thank you.

    If SD would win it all, I think they would be the biggest underdog to win the SB of all time.

    Even the 1968 Jets wouldn’t be close in my opinion.

  62. theplanisworking says:

    Actually, Jim, the current way reward division winners. 1 team cant help the whole division stinks. If you dont want to reward division winners, you would have to eliminate the divisions, and just seed 1-6.
    Other leagues reward division winners, so I dont understand.

    I would prefer to see the NFL address other things before worrying about playoff seeding. Rules enforcement on a consistent basis, refereeing, etc. would top my list………

  63. Dom says:

    It seems to be happening more and more frequently.

    Maybe the NFL should get rid the divisions altogether…

  64. Dom says:

    Maybe they should have five or six teams in three divisions as oppose to four teams in four divisions. This way it will lower the chance than an 8-8 team will be the winner.

  65. theplanisworking says:

    Thanks for thanking us regarding the Steelers DK. Nice touch with the snow also. :)

    Mr. Tomlin has many issues to deal with this offseason………. co-ordinators, players, etc. what he does this offseason could have effects for years to come regarding the salary cap, which is already a HUGE mess.

    As for Tomlin’s ability to coach, I feel he is a good coach, but not an elite coach. Too many times he has made personnel blunders, made questionable in game decisions, and of course, his time-mismanagement skills are legendary, and not in a good way. Maybe he needs to delegate the areas he isnt good in, so a fresh set of eyes looks at the situation? Have a clock-management coach? Just wondering.

    Tomlin isnt a bad coach…….. but too many times the past 2 years his teams havent been properly prepared, or have lost to inferior opponents. For the Steelers to get back into the playoffs, and back to SB contention, that has to change. Fast.

    DK, and everyone, have a Happy New Year. May we all have a better year than 2013. My we all get what is needed to do so.

  66. theplanisworking says:

    Thats an interesting thought about 5 or 6 team divisions.
    Wouldn’t that make scheduling tougher?

  67. Jim S. says:

    That’s my point, plan. They reward division winners, whether they are deserving or not. And they punish teams, like the 2013 Niners or 2011 Steelers, whose only failing was the misfortune of playing in a better division. That 2011 Steelers team lost the division on a tiebreaker, then got sent to the bottom of the playoff heap with the other Wild Card team. Denver won a horrible division, and should have been thankful just to be in the playoffs.

    I guess what I am saying is that, given the unbalanced schedules, I would re-seed based on end of season record. An 8-8 team hosting a 12-4 team is a travesty.

  68. theplanisworking says:

    Jim, the only way they could do that is to eliminat dicisions.
    Look at Philly. You say they dont deserve to host New Orleans. Then just eliminate the divisions. In that scenario, Green bay doesnt make the playoffs, Arizona takes their place.

    There is no easy solution to this. Either way, someone gets the short straw. Divisions make it easier for scheduling purposes. Like i said above, there are much more important issues for the league to tackle.

  69. theplanisworking says:

    WOW! Jandy struck again!

    Should be eliminate divisions.
    Sheesh,
    Hope I get better at spelling in the new year………

  70. Dom says:

    I suppose it would.

    A team wouldn’t be able to play everyone in their division twice and every team in one division probably wouldn’t be able to play every team in a division in the other conference.

    I’m sure Goodell likes it the way it is as it decreases the chances that the same teams make the playoffs year after year.

  71. Even Arizona missing the playoffs this season with a 10-6 record in a tough division. Just bad placement for this season. Like the 11-5 Pats missing the playoffs a few years ago. As much as I enjoyed that, it was still a travesty.

  72. Dom says:

    Maybe they can keep the divisions the way they are but the team with the better record host the division winner.

  73. Milo Hamilton says:

    Still 10,000 tickets left for Sunday’s playoff game in Cincinnati.

  74. Good column, Jim. And I agree with you on most of it. I would like to spend that kind of time on football and even hockey, but I don’t have it. Maybe when I retire from secular work and go back to full-time ministry, I’ll know who the Steelers should draft.

    Baseball, however, I make time. Even look at and follow minor leagues. That’s all we’ve got live around here.

    And, like you said, I will always make time for DK’s columns and Morning Java, even if us baseball-first fans are only a 7 share.

    ;)

  75. Like Jandy says ::Yawn::

    I could get there in 4 hours. I’d rather watch the frost melt, though.

  76. Dom says:

    Is Cinci a baseball town? Who reigns supreme in that city?

  77. Jim S. says:

    I appreciate your sentiment, plan, as always. And, I wholeheartedly agree with DK being frustrated by Twitter baseball fans with tunnel vision, if that is what this is about. If that is the case in point, btw, I feel he should tell it to them and not us. I think you go down a dangerous path when you tell your reading, listening and viewing public how they should think and comment because it conflicts with your own passions. As you say, though, I have not walked in his shoes on that subject.

    But, we’ve gone down the road here before where DK basically tells us where he believes we should draw the line on baseball talk. From my perspective, he is telling that to people, like you and me, who love baseball AND other sports in most cases. We prove it by commenting on all sports. That doesn’t make much sense in my mind, and that is what I find insulting. It would be nice if I could confine that insult to just my baseball fandom side, but it doesn’t work that way for me. Like most people here, I am a fan of baseball, football, hockey, basketball, etc. Heck, I’m even a defender of soccer on occasion. But, I recognize that is not the prevailing opinion here, so I don’t fight it. I respect it, and take it in stride.

    Maybe I have misinterpreted DK’s intentions completely. If so, it would not be the first time I have gotten things wrong here. When that is brought to my attention, I try to admit it. I would, however, like to know why DK did not find covering the Pirates in their turnaround season, where they were the biggest story in MLB, enjoyable enough to merit a mention. I imagine a whole lot more people than the few who mentioned it here today raised their eyebrows when reading that.

  78. If you walk a mile in DK’s shoes, you’ll have to go to the Andy Warhol Museum. Are you prepared for that experience?

    :|

  79. Jim S. says:

    Thanks, Lucky! I have no doubts your time is well spent.

  80. theplanisworking says:

    My feet are so big, I wouldnt get thru the door.
    No worries. ;)

  81. Jim S. says:

    I like the Campbell soup painting. Does that count? :-)

  82. Milo Hamilton says:

    Maybe Mike Brown wishes things had gone differently in San Diego ? There wouldn’t be any tickets left then.

  83. 21sthebest says:

    Trophies and ice cream for everyone! ;-)

  84. Jim S. says:

    Cincy is very much a baseball town, and has been for a long time, Dom. The Bengals have had attendance issues for a long time. It was not that long ago where some residents were trying to recoup some of the $$ provided by tax payers for PB Stadium because of the cheapness and ineptitude of the team.

    I would say, historically, they are sort of the reverse of Pittsburgh when it comes to the 2 sports. NFL is bigger here, and I think MLB is bigger there. Not unlike St. Louis as well.

  85. Jim S. says:

    Maybe has something to do with the economy in the country as well. Just a guess.

  86. No more than yours. I didn’t mean it like you wasted your time. I’m always excited to hear when you take your kids to games in Cincy, Chicago, Pittsburgh, etc. Some of my family’s greatest memories growing up are from Three Rivers and other venues.

    This 2-vocation thing is the strain on our time. I couldn’t do it while I was raising a family, although I did most of that time, too. Seemed easier when we were younger. Imagine that.

    I used to know all the information about the Steelers like I try to do with the Bucs, but I can’t keep up.

    :o

  87. Jim S. says:

    I would say winning the division can get you in the playoffs. But, after that, re-seed based on record. It would not eliminate all of the problems, but it would keep the Niners from having to go play on the frozen tundra vs. a team they are 7 points better than on a neutral field.

  88. Jim S. says:

    I didn’t take it that way, Lucky. So, no worries there.

    And, believe me, even if it seems like it, I don’t devote all my free time to sports pursuits. I probably just don’t sleep enough. I often watch re-plays of the games at odd hours because there is always a lot going on around here during normal hours.

    We do a fair share of charitable and religious outreach in our family. My wife would not have it any other way, and she’s the boss. Plus, my employer encourages charitable work as well. Hopefully, our kids will keep it up when they are on their own. My goal is to be able to eventually retire from work life with enough health and energy to focus heavily on those more important pursuits – while also keeping an eye on my sports teams of course.

    Happy New Year, Lucky! I hope 2013 was a great year for you, and I hope 2014 is even better!

  89. Ditto to you, brother.

  90. 21sthebest says:

    “I imagine a whole lot more people than the few who mentioned it here today raised their eyebrows when reading that.”

    Personally, I’ve come to expect it.

  91. Jim S. says:

    +++, Ghost.

  92. Joni says:

    I think Olli Maatta should get a rest, at least for tonight. Despres should step in.
    Regardless of who is on the ice, I’ll wear my new Maatta jersey/sweater. Thanks, Mom!

  93. JoeyBats says:

    HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone……and DK, thanks for all of your great coverage!

  94. Joni says:

    I’m watching the USA/Canada world juniors game. I am impressed. Skjei and Eichel are living up to the hype.
    Best last name on team USA is McCoshen. I don’t know why. It just is.

  95. Joni says:

    And then Riley Barber scores. Yay, Pittsburgh!

  96. pattonbb says:

    Winning spoils all of the fun.

  97. Bizrow says:

    Happy New Years Day fellow lunatics

    Pens down 1-0, 2 minutes to go in first period, btw

  98. DK, the human. Asleep at the “Pens’ Thread” switch.

  99. Bizrow says:

    I was gonna mention that, but I chickened out ;-)

  100. bpn8pitt says:

    Although I doubt the Steelers let both walk, I too, am not big on Worilds. If he had posted back to back double digit sack seasons id be more inclined. He’s done okay in Woodley and Harrisons absence but didn’t exactly light the world on fire.

  101. bpn8pitt says:

    I think since more teams are playing 3-4, the olbs are just harder to find, esp late in the draft like they used to.

  102. theplanisworking says:

    Both threads up.
    I already poked the bear.

    He was making snow angels with his children.

    DK: Sorry, guys. And yes, I was stone asleep.

  103. theplanisworking says:

    Its Ok, making snow angels makes one tired……….

  104. Cobra39 says:

    Actually, Troy is the most cut-worthy veteran player on the team. He would provide $8,250,000 of cap savings if cut before June 1st.

  105. Mark says:

    Consistently good, objective reporting during a less-than-consistent Steeler campaign. I do like how we finished the season. Happy New Year DK

 
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