If you're like most Steelers fans, your mantra this off-season has probably been: "Enough is enough!" An 8-8 season isn't acceptable anywhere in sports, and it's certainly not acceptable in Pittsburgh.
They say it's a time for transition for the Black and Gold, and I couldn't agree more. However, instead of a transitional phase, as a respected writer for BTSC, I propose a complete upheaval. I mean, after all, it's been four full seasons since a Super Bowl victory, two full seasons since a Super Bowl appearance, and one full season since a playoff appearance.
As a fan who accepts the occasional free ticket to a game, that doesn't sit well. Therefore, I think real change is in order.
The releases of James Harrison and Willie Colon were a good start. And the departures of Mike Wallace, Keenan Lewis and Rashard Mendenhall were a nice follow-up. However, REAL CHANGE should be the philosophy for next season and beyond.
I believe it all starts at the top. Head Coach Mike Tomlin has been unable to control the team for years. Sure, he made it to a couple of Super Bowls and even won one, but when a 28 year old starting NFL quarterback gets in trouble in a bar in Georgia in March, that's on the head coach. When a 33 year old linebacker makes disparaging remarks about the NFL commissioner during a magazine interview in the spring, that's on the head coach.
Tomlin has got to go! A career record of 68-36? Please! Tell it to the people who don't care about that 8-8 record. What have you done for Steeler Nation, lately, Coach?
Out with Tomlin, in with Rex Ryan. But you might be thinking, "Ryan is still with the Jets, Tony." I know that, and that's why I propose trading Pittsburgh's first round pick (17th, overall) to New York for Ryan's services. Sure, the team would be losing a potential high-end talent, but it would be gaining a first rate coach.
Ryan tells it like it is, and as everyone knows, people enjoy people who tell it like it is. Plus, he's really charismatic, and flashy, and we all know how much Steelers fans enjoy style over substance. Ryan would have Bill Cowher's intensity, Mike Tomlin's charisma and Chuck Noll's know-how. It would be like having the last three coaches all wrapped up into one.
I know what you're thinking. Yes, Pittsburgh has lost a great deal of key, young players, and the team is severely lacking in depth, so losing a first round pick (17th, overall) could potentially damage the future.
The future won't be damaged if the Steelers trade Ben Roethlisberger to Baltimore for Joe Flacco. Maybe you've heard of Flacco. He's only the most recent Super Bowl winning quarterback who didn't throw an interception all throughout the just completed postseason. How many INTs has Roethlisberger thrown? Way more than zero, I can tell you that much.
Besides that, Big Ben hasn't thrown a Super Bowl winning pass in four years, and much like the team he throws passes for, he hasn't been to one in the last 33 games that counted--kind of ridiculous.
Anyway, trading Roethlisberger for Flacco would be like trading a third round pick for a franchise quarterback, and Pittsburgh would be foolish not to pursue such a deal.
You might be wondering where the Steelers will find the cap room for acquiring such an awesome QB. After all, Flacco just signed a mega-deal with Baltimore.
It's simple: In addition to getting rid of Big Ben, in my proposal, Pittsburgh would rid itself of Troy Polamalu. I may not be a cap expert, but releasing the Tazmanian Devil would free up the necessary money to keep Flacco happy for years to come.
But I know what you're thinking: "Tony, what will the Steelers do without Polamalu?" It's quite simple: Darrelle Revis. Revis grew up in the Pittsburgh area, so it shouldn't be too hard to pry him away from the Jets in exchange for first round picks in both 2014 and 2015. Revis is the top cover corner in the NFL today, and Polamalu is an old safety. Forget No. 43! The best resort in the world right now is Revis Island.
The next three first round picks in exchange for Ryan, Flacco and Revis might seem excessive, but those three are the "now." Tomlin, Roethlisberger and Polamalu are the "before." Screw all three of those guys.
Again, I know what you're probably thinking: "Mr. Defeo, Flacco might be the most awesome quarterback since Joe Montana, but where are the offensive weapons?" Yes, I'm aware Mike Wallace signed with the Dolphins and Heath Miller will probably miss the beginning of the 2013 season due to a knee injury, but I have a two word elixir that should calm any fears: Santonio Holmes.
Holmes may have his eccentric ways, but he's damn talented. He's also a former first round pick and the hero of Super Bowl XLIII, thanks to his game-winning touchdown catch with 34 seconds remaining. Yes, Roethlisberger may have been the QB who threw that pass, but he's no Flacco, and Santonio will respond much, much better to a REAL signal caller, and not some has-been who hasn't been to a Super Bowl since shortly after the series finale of "Lost."
Holmes may cost a pretty penny--most likely the 2016 first round pick--but he'll be worth every cent if he can be paired up with Flacco, coached by Ryan and shadowed by Revis in practice everyday.
These are my proposals. I think they're fool-proof. What say you out there in Steeler Nation?