Climbing the stairway to SEVEN

Well the ascent has not started yet, but Tomlin is already looking up the stairwell.  I’m sure he’s paying close attention to the steps immediately in front of him, but he knows there are many steps in this journey.  I’ve seen many posts already talking about the first steps which include free agency and the draft.  I want to take a little more time to reflect.  We will be ascending that stairway to Seven soon enough.  While the questions about that journey are being thrown around, I want to look at some of the answers from the year of the 6-pack, as well as some random info for you thinkers out there. 

I will do this in my signature bullet format.  You may ask why I do this.  Ok maybe you don’t, but I’ll tell you anyways.  It comes from having to write performance reports in the military in bullet format and writing résumés.  You know what I mean about résumés right?  White space is good for easy reading.  It works well if you are reading a speech as well.  Anyhow on with the post.

1.      A big question early in the season was; why pay Starks 7 million who is a backup?  I think the answer was; because it was money well spent. Looks like they knew he wouldn’t be a backup all year.  Not only that he doesn’t cost anything on this year’s salary cap.  They also still have the option to offer him a contract or go a different route in free agency.  It was a pretty smart move. 

2.     I remember people wondering out loud if Santonio Holmes was worth a first round pick.  My thought early in the year was that most receivers in the NFL don’t reach their full potential until their 4th year.  Holmes has shown flashes of his game breaking skills in his first two years already.  In my mind he was right on time.  He really grew up in the postseason this year. Ben’s confidence in him really blossomed as well.  This bodes well for us.  Don’t sleep on Sweed either.  You might think it’s easy to catch a football, but when you add the speed of the NFL it can translate to a loss of focus due to brain overload.  Some can handle it early and some need to get comfortable. 

3.     When Mewelde Moore signed there were only ripples of conversation.  By midseason those ripples became a tsunami.  There was also the Fox signing that triggered some feel good posts but nothing more.  These acquisitions were small blurbs in the Manifesto of Steeler nation.  They were both declarations that the quality of special teams will improve.  Little did we know, but Mewelde Moore would stop the bleeding when Willie and Mendenhall went down.  Oh and the special teams did improved.  They would probably have improved even more if we didn’t lose our long snapper and two punters.  Great job of maximizing every single spot on the roster.

4.     Many said we couldn’t win a Super Bowl with the line that we have.  We lost an All-Pro, in Alan Faneca to free agency from a line that was already described as porous.  Then it lost it’s starting left tackle and right guard in Marvell Smith and Kendall Simmons, respectively to injury.  You add on the disbelief from fans that Larry Zierlein can even coach and it manufactured a huge question mark hanging over the Steel City.    Can we win a Super Bowl with this line?  I think the resounding answer spoke for itself.  By the way I am disappointed that people booed Willie Colon at the parade.  That’s like booing the reserves at a “welcoming the troops home” parade.  They are a band of brothers that set out together to win and did it: all are equally deserving.  Tsk Tsk.

5.     Ryan Clark’s return was much anticipated, but did anyone think he would come back the way he did?  He was truly a force to be reckoned with.  Earlier in 2008 he was 170 lbs.  He had two surgeries in 2007 to have his spleen and gall bladder removed.  In less than a year he went from the 170 lbs to 205 and a dangerous projectile for NFL receivers in the middle of the field.  In numerous games he was always around the ball.  He made big plays that made me take notice.  He made a huge difference in the Giants game.  As a matter of fact after he left, his void allowed the Giants to score the game winning TD.  He may have played in Polamalu’s shadow, but Polamalu couldn’t do what he does if Clark wasn’t there.

6.     Tell the truth.  Did you really think that we would win the Super Bowl this year?  I have to tell you, I made a prediction in August last year and posted it in my office.  It said Steelers and Eagles in Super Bowl, but didn’t say who would win it.  I think I didn’t pick a winner because it was my heart saying that.  My head was trying to catch up.  I really didn’t start to fully believe we’d get there until we won that second Baltimore game.   

7.     How many teams do you know of that have fans that call for the heads of coaches when they just won the Super Bowl?  Amazing…..I’ll leave it at that.

8.     Did you know the Steelers didn’t cut any of their 2008 draft class? Don’t close the book on them.  It’s funny I have to say  that.

9.     Remember these guys?  Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley, Matt Spaeth, Daniel Sepulveda, William Gay and Dallas Baker?  That’s the 2007 class players left on the roster/practice squad/IR.  Gone are Ryan (Steely) McBean (Broncos) and Cameron Stephenson (Jags) (round 4 and 5 respectively).  Ok we will see how it all pans out but I think Tomlin (and Colbert) has (have) done well his first two years drafting.

10.   Here’s 2006 Santonio Holmes, WR,  Anthony Smith, S,  Willie Reid, WR, Willie Colon, G, Orien Harris, DT, Omar Jacobs,QB, Charles Davis, TE, Marvin Phillips, C and Cedric Humes, RB.  Just in case you were wondering. 

11.   One reason the Steelers are successful is they get the most out of their first rounders.  Take a look at our last 8 first rounders.

First rounders since 2000:

a.     2000 – Plaxico Burress

b.     2001 – Casey Hampton

c.       2002 – Kendall Simmons

d.      2003 – Troy Polamalu (got Ike in the 4th round)

e.     2004 – Ben Roethlisberger

f.      2005 – Heath Miller

g.     2006 – Santonio Holmes

h.     2007 – Lawrence Timmons

12.   It will be nice when we get to the twelve pack.


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