I wasn't happy when the Steeler's schedule came out. My knee-jerk reaction focused around playing the entire AFC South 4 games in a row, playing the Pats again after a bye and general anger at the inability of the NFL to get the labor situation fixed. Thus, I vented and sulked. I thought the Steelers might even not make the playoffs, succumbing to the infamous Super Bowl loser's curse and the injury bug that seems to have descended over Pittsburgh, biting Troy and the entire Penguins organization.
However, watching the NFL draft has lifted my spirits. Other teams are selecting their players of the future. Many of these players are quarterbacks and the Steelers with Coach Dad's defense have the opportunity to welcome these new starters to the NFL next season. Somewhere in his lair, I imagine James Harrison humming happily to himself, lifting weights while staring at a picture of Rodger Goodell.Steeler fans, our beloved team could be playing up to FIVE first time/rookie starting QBs next season.
Seattle (week 2) traded for Charlie Whitehurst last season. He took over from Matt Hasslebeck for a game late last year. This will be his first season as a starter in the NFL. As I write this, Seattle hasn't picked in the third round and many draftniks list QB as a position of need, dismissing Whitehurst as a "journeyman." In addition, Seattle drafted a tackle in this draft, giving Coach Dad and the OLBs somebody to ......... target. That's holding rookie. Again. But the penalty was declined because Harrison got through and got the sack. Again.
Tennessee (week 5) drafted Jack Locker in the first round. Pressure to start the prized rookie will be huge. After all, who else could start for the Titans? Rusty Smith? An ancient Kerry Collins? Good luck reading the zone blitz, kid. No, there are only 2 DLs on the field and one just dropped into coverage, so the corner might be coming (SPLAT). Yeah, that's what happened again, kid. Willie Gay just got his 3rd sack of the game. Try to be a little faster, kid.
Jacksonville (week 6) drafted Blane Gabbart with the 10th overall pick. If the Jags stumble out of the gate, the pressure to replace David Gerrard with "the future" will be immense from Jacksonville's dozens of rabid fans. Jax's schedule isn't horrible to start, with difficult games only against the Jets and New Orleans, but a surprise loss or two to Cincinnati or Carolina might give James Harrison a nice, fresh, wide-eyed rookie for brunch.
Arizona (week 7) is a grease fire at the quarterback position. Poor Larry Fitzgerald. I can only imagine how frustrating life must be after Kurt Warner retired. Pittsburgh west hasn't gotten the position solidified and has passed on QBs in the first two rounds. Coach Whiz went through just about everyone on his depth chart last year and currently lists two second year players who never started a season as the #1 ahead of Derek Anderson. Wow, what a mess. For them. Good for us. UPDATE: Third round passes and the Cards picked a TE over Ryan Mallett or any other QB. A stubborn man, Coach Whiz. Must really think he's got something already.
Cincinnati (week 10 and 13) is in a staring contest with Carson Palmer, trying to lure him back with the pick of AJ Green in the first round. However, in case Mr. Palmer truly will retire rather than play another down for Mr. Brown, the Bengals drafted Andy Dalton from TCU with their second round pick. I'm sure Jordan Palmer (Carson's little brother) was quite thrilled with such a vote of confidence and is wondering why he doesn't just join his brother on a beach somewhere and let the rookie or Dan Lefevour (who?) throw another pick-six to Troy because Mr. Green ran the wrong route. Again. Yeah, Troy likes to score. Just like he did a few weeks ago. Don't worry, kid, Carson Palmer never really figured out that defense either.
San Fransisco (week 15) added to their stable of QB busts with Colin Kaepernick joining Alex Smith and David Carr. Troy Smith ended the season as the starter. Confused? I'm sure whoever taking the snaps for the 49ers will be more confused. You see, sometimes 43 will look like he's coming then drops to the deep middle. When you slid your protection that way, you let the ILB that was playing outside come free and.....kid? You listening to me? Just go get a concussion test, will you?
I haven't included Colt McCoy and the Cleveland Browns to this list, as the youngster played most of last season with predictable results (2TD-5INT) against our Steelers. I believe he earned some respect around here after he kept getting up when under constant attack. However, I like our chances against a young second-year starter whose team didn't add any offensive talent until late in the second round. Cleveland won't be a pushover next year due to a lot of talent added along their defensive line and the future looks better for the Browns 2.0 as they stole a bunch of picks from Atlanta this draft.
So, 6 total games against first time starters (weeks 2,5,7,10,13,15) with the possibility of facing a rookie Jax QB as well. Somewhere, Coach Dad is smiling. And I'm smiling too.