IX- When maryrose fashioned an open letter to Bruce Arians there was a lot of balanced and level-headed arguments on both sides of the debate within the comments of the article. Many people questioned Tomlin's decision making and the level of Ben Roethlisberger's involvement. Well, does it make you feel any more comfortable that Rooney has come out and "defended" Bruce? In an interview he said:
We talked about every member of the staff. Mike [Tomlin] was comfortable that we needed to make some changes, but that wasn’t a change we need to make. And I’m certainly comfortable with that. I think we’ve had good success under Bruce.
Some people may question Tomlin because of his youth, but it has to make you more comfortable that Rooney was on board with Arians retaining his coordinator position.
X- Steelers.com did a very interesting interview with Mike Tomlin recently. As always, the man with the puffy jacket impresses with his wit and wide-ranged vocabulary. Anyway, the most intriguing response, in my opinion, was when he was questioned about the lack of interceptions by the Steelers defense over the last few years. On BTSC this year, there was a lot of debate whether it was the players we had or the schemes we employed on defense that prevented interceptions. When asked that very question, Tomlin responded:
I think it’s a little bit of both. Some of the pressure packages that we employ are done with coverages that are not conducive to tracking the ball and seeing the quarterback. There are a lot of man-under concepts and principles, where the safeties have an opportunity to intercept passes but the people underneath don’t have good vision of the quarterback. ... And lastly, guys have to take advantage of opportunities. I would say that in both 2007 and 2009, we’ve had a number of dropped opportunities as well.
Tomlin, quite wisely I might add, specifically avoided talking about Polamalu. However, it is quite clear that these numbers have a direct correlation to His Hairness missing games in '07 and '09. I really hope that Kevin Colbert looks at getting a guy to minimize some of our secondary's dependence on Troy.
XIII- Well Free Agency is upon us (March 5th) and the final date to tag a player is Ferbruary 25th. Its no news to you that the Steelers have a couple of key FAs, most importantly Casey Hampton. Much of the talk has fallen on Hampton and very little on Jeffrey Montgomery Reed. Reed has been a tremendous kicker for the Steelers, regardless of his off the field antics and tackle attempts that resemble a ballerina attempting to tackle a train. Anyway, Reed is not the only kicker who was up in FA this year. Another great kicker, Sebastian Janikowski, of the Oakland Raiders just signed an absurdly large deal of 4 years and 16 million smack-a-roos (9 million guaranteed). No surprise here, but that is the largest contract for a kicker in NFL history. If there was ever a franchise the Steelers should model themselves after it is the Oakland Raiders. I smell a 4 year $18-20 million deal for Reed. Seriously though, I hope the Steelers can work out a reasonable deal with Skippy.
XIV- Another coaching staff move (the last for now) has been made as the Steelers signed Scottie Montgomery as their Wide Receivers coach. I am probably the worst person to ask about the signing, considering Montgomery's previous coaching residency was Duke and I am a Maryland alumnus and die hard fan. It will probably take me awhile to warm up to him, but hopefully he can help out with the development of Mike Wallace, Limas Sweed, and others while learning things from veteran Hines Ward and previous WR coach (now QB coach) Randy Fichtner.
XL- Have you ever sat back and wondered who the best quarterback combos in a Superbowl were? Well I never did, but NFL writers have to find something to write about in the off season. Doug Farrar wrote an article about the Superbowls he thought had the best QB combos. Terry Bradshaw did not make the list, but Big Ben Roethlisberger did with Matt Hasselbeck in Superbowl XL. Ironically, both QBs had bad games in that game. Also, I'd say Kurt Warner is better than Matt, and that Ben is a lot better at this point in his career. Anyway, I have soft spot for meaningless lists, so I would recommend the read.
XLIII- I would like to take this last bottle in the pack and fill it with bit from the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Every year I find myself getting more and more invested in the Olympics, specifically the winter games. Over the long snow-induced weekend I was overly engaged in my television, watching every event I could. It is very impressive to watch the precision and skill of athletes traveling 70 mph (or more) with only tight spandex between them and impact with ice and snow. However, as I found myself getting invested in the extreme speeds and risks in the winter games the focus switched over to figure skating. I respect the amount of time and effort these skaters put into their work, but for me it seems uncomfortably sandwiched between the extreme sports. What do you all think?
Also, be sure to watch the snowboarding tonight. Shaun White is the Michael Jordan of snowboarding half pipe and is guaranteed to wow you.