FanPost

Fly's Ointment - Surviving the Blitz Edition

In June 1940, as Great Britain was still marvelling at the miracle at Dunkerque - The maritime pullout of almost all of its troops, if not heavy materiel, from France - its leaders, chief among them Prime Minister Winston Churchill, knew what was in store for them.

After witnessing what the Luftwaffe did in Spain while they did nothing, they had seen what Hermann Goering's aviation had done to Poland, the Lower Countries and to France in war. They knew what was next: the Teutonic Knights were about to attempt to bomb London - and British civilization - into oblivion.

So, who will be the Pittsburgh Steeler's Churchill? From what I read here, and elsewhere, Art Rooney II may not be it. When it does happen, his is not the kind of hands-on involvement that evokes the Great Winnie. While no Neville Chamberlain, Art II does not seem to inspire the kind of admiration and hope that his father did, or that his grand-father, the Chief, did even more, in this fandom.

Is Dan Rooney still able to step back in, if his son cannot? I do not expect him to act out of his Chairman Emeritus role, and thereby disavow his own 10 year succession plan (started in 2003).

It is too bad: for now is the time for decisive, long-term thinking action that is willing to admit that we're in for a pasting. Steeler civilization as this generation, and one from the 70's have known it, may indeed be in peril.

Any stiff-upper-lip insistance that everything will work out OK, that the team is just recharging, is naive at best, and at worst, likely to prolong, not shorten, the 2013 Blitz.

What is required, then? Well, after much saber-rattling whenever things got bad, that The Standard is the Standard, Mike Tomlin needs to accept the fact that stronger signals need to be sent to players who pay lip service to it, but do not appear to fear for their jobs yet. If he cannot, then he needs to be told by his boss, Mr. Colbert, to do so. To fire Mr. Tomlin, however, would be the worst kind of mistake this organization could do at this time.

Speaking of the architect, he also needs to concede that this team will not be able to reload on the fly. While much panicked thought has been given in these pages to talks of tanking for the draft, what difference would tanking make if the same types of mistakes are made in the 2014 draft as those à la 2008 draft? We need to hear some form of mea culpa for the underwhelming high draft choices since that one, to believe Mr. Colbert is indeed the right architect to rebuild a team, or if he was only the type to get it over the hump when he initially got the job.

Speaking of right types for the times, and I will get crucified, no doubt for this crime of lèse-majesté (lèse-Coach Dad), but will Dick Lebeau leave us with this kind of ignominous performance by his 2013 defense as a lasting memory? If the succession planning is already in place, isn't it the time to suggest very politely that he leave, either now or at the end of the season, so that we don't lose his successor to another organization (although I doubt Butler's stock will get any higher)?

This is the kind of carefully whispered suggestion that only a Churchill could succesfully pull off.

I've written here before that the strengths of the Lebeau defense are up the middle, starting with a stout NT, great MLB and strong safety play. While I like Steve McLendon, it's painfully obvious that he has next to no support from Hood, while Heyward is taking the customary three seasons to develop behind a last hurrah from The Beard. We are transitioning our middle linebacking and it shows: a freewheeling Lawrence Timmons may indeed be a DC's dream, but while Troy is still here, this defense cannot afford to have two freelancers. Speaking of the safeties, they have too much to do, obviously, and cannot do any one thing well enough to shine, anymore. While Troy is making singularly spectactular individual plays again, he cannot shoulder that entire defense anymore, if he ever has.

All this points to is, to me, evidence that the Lebeau defense, and its corollary (only trusting veterans, and veterans only grow into this system after 3 seasons or more) is a luxury this team cannot afford, anymore.

Let the Blitz begin, and let's all head down to safety.





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