The Bus goes to Canton
As Steelers fans, the one unalloyed piece of good news to come out of Super Bowl weekend was Jerome Bettis' selection for the 2015 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We have a record of the moment when Bettis received the good news. Bob Labriola provides some insight on how the selection process went down. Teammates Willie Parker [here] and Larry Foote [here] give their reactions to the selection. The Bus joins a relatively rare big back in the Hall, Franco Harris. He will be honored this season at Heinz Field It would be hoped that Bettis is the pioneer of another wave of Steelers HOFamers that have played post 1990. The most likely to be next selected might be defensive end LC Greenwood, whose lack of inclusion to this point is considered a bit of a scandal by some, Guard Alan Faneca who becomes eligible for 2016 and Hines Ward, whom Bettis is beginning to push already and is viewed by some to be something of a harder sell.
After being honored by the Pittsburgh City Council, ageless Dick LeBeau landed a position with a former coordinator colleague. However, it was not with Bruce Arians and Arizona, but rather as an assistant head coach under Ken Whisenhunt at Tennessee. With that move the Titans have surpassed the Cardinals as the home away from home for former Steelers personnel. Back in Pittsburgh, as expected Jerry Olsavsky and Joey Porter were both promoted to inside and outside linebacker coaches respectively. There is an expectation that there will be a new addition to the staff, with some speculating that Deshea Townsend will be that person.
Art Rooney II
It doesn't always manifest immediately, but when the Steelers' president makes a pronouncement that some area of the team needs improvement it ends up happening. In a conference call with Steelers fans, Rooney the priorities for this season being improved pass rushing and secondary play on the defensive side of the ball and better performance in the red zone on offense.
Figuring out off season priorities
As free agent season approaches history will prove that some will become enamored with major acquisitions that cuts against the grain of normal practice for the Steelers. An area where speculation has become rather robust is in the area of wide receiver. It began with word that Lance Moore was seeking his release from the team. This is reasonable. Its highly unlikely that Moore could rise above the fourth position on the depth chart. Less remarked upon, but perhaps just as important, the notion that a special veteran presence is needed in the receivers room is now obsolete. There is nothing that anyone can bring that exceeds what can now be provided by a mature Antonio Brown.
Then there is Santonio Holmes and Larry Fitzgerald. If you don't think too deeply about it, Fitzgerald is an intriguing possibility. Highly talented, Pittsburgh roots, just won the Art Rooney award for sportsmanship. Two problems just off the top of the head. Receiver is not an area of need, and even in accepting a pay cut Fitzgerald would a far too expensive proposition. Holmes would seem the more plausible possibility, but even that would seem to be unlikely. We can expect more of these good ideas over the coming weeks.
And if you were wondering what the Steelers position is generally on free agents, this piece on draftees might give some hints.
Some good news and tying up some loose ends. Bell is getting recognition as an emerging star in this league; winning the FedEx Ground Player of the Year and the NFL Fantasy Player of the Year. Bell also appears to be getting a handle on the political side of things lavishing praise on his offensive line, fullback and tight ends. On the other hand he was given 15 months probation on his DUI charge. The league is likely to levy at least a one game suspension, with that very possibly being the league opener against (if speculation is correct) the Patriots. Not the best opening scenario.
Its unclear whether some Steelers veterans may find a safe landing place in Tennessee with LeBeau. James Harrison, who could be in the Steelers plans for 2015 or not could take the decision out of the team's hands by choosing to follow his coach to the Titans. The same could certainly be said for Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor. Brett Keisel also continues to fuel speculation of a possible return. The direction the team takes with personnel is one of the legitimate mysteries under a new defensive coordinator. But it wouldn't take much to imagine a scenario where none of these players would be welcomed back.
The Super Bowl
Hard to imagine that many in Steelers Nation were pleased with the outcome and the aftermath. To be honest my very first reaction after that interception was "Thank God that wasn't us!" It really would have been Fire Everybody. The words of the late Bill Nunn echo. He said that coaches are being paid so much these days that they feel pressure to do something. In this case do something besides putting the ball in the hands of your best player (Marshawn Lynch) or your second best player (Russell Wilson). Hell, anybody can do that.
Anyway, in the records were made to be broken department, the coach/player combination of Belichick and Brady have now tied Noll and Bradshaw. However, the dynasty talk runs into a speed bump when there is a ten year gap between wins. On another front, any claims that Seattle had of being placed in the same defensive category as the seventies Steelers or 85 Bears is diluted by being unable to defend a two score fourth quarter lead. The eclipse of the Noll Steelers has yet to be accomplished.
Foote on Lynch
Foote came down rather hard on Lynch on the matter of being a role model for the kids that he serves.
Two major question marks here with the big unknowns being who will man the outside linebacker slots besides Jarvis Jones in 2015. Arthur Moats is one possible part of the answer. There are fewer concerns on the inside, but a big one is whether Ryan Shazier can deliver on the promise he showed in the 2014 preseason.
Long snapper Greg Warren has signed a one year contract.
Shear Da Beard
Keisel's charity event to benefit Children's Hospital was another big success, with surprise appearances from James Farrior and Casey Hampton.
Best franchises and Super Bowl odds
In spite the best efforts of others, the Steelers still manage to remain on the top of the list of best franchises. And, if you were wondering, here are the Super Bowl odds for the team moving forward into 2015.
Other peoples sorrows
Will be undergoing an expansion this year