Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Best Steelers Super Bowl Team Is...; Steelers Off-Season Questions

The Best Steelers Super Bowl Team...

As I sat at home today watching an awesome snow storm developing (can't help it---it's my ski patrol background), I pondered another lost Steelers season this year. Instead of dwelling on two disappointing seasons, I revisited the Steelers of the 1970's to lighten my mood.

I asked myself which 1970's Steelers Super Bowl  team was the best of the best. It's not an easy decision to make considering they won 4 Lombardi trophies in that decade. 

I know many Steelers fans point to the 1978 Super Bowl team. In 1978, the Steelers came off a disappointing 1977 season (9-5). Their defense was awesome holding half of their opponents to 10 points or less. And who can forget the performances of Stallworth and Swann combining for 20 of Bradshaw's 28 touchdowns.

While the 1978 team was awesome, the 1975 Super Bowl team (Super Bowl X)---in my opinion---was spectacular. 

I lean toward the 1975 team for several reasons. 

On a personal level, I was not much of a football fan prior to the early 1970's. I grew up in Manhattan and the Bronx. In those days a young lad like myself only followed one team---the New York Yankees. Football was not as popular as it is today. My interest in football was specific to only to stars like Unitas, Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Jim Brown and other greats rather than a team. Although as a New Yorker, I recall being engaged with the NY Giants to a small degree (I really liked Y.A. Tittle, Frank Gifford and Sam Huff).

But then in 1972, I attended grad school in Steeler Nation territory. Football became my primary interest in sports. The Steelers became my passion. 

The 1975 Steelers came off a 12-2 season.  But the most revealing statistic for that team was points allowed---162 points. They also featured 11 Pro Bowlers. It was in this Super Bowl when Lynn Swann recorded 161 yards on four catches---two weeks after suffering a concussion in the AFC title game against the Oakland Raiders. The Steelers beat the Cowboys 21-17.

Yep, I'm sticking with the 1975 Steelers
(And, no, I've never abandoned the Yankees. To do so would be a major violation. Yankee memories and moments became part of my DNA)

Several Off-Season Questions For The Steelers

  • What's Troy Polamalu's future with the Steelers?  Salary cap
  • What to do with LaMarr Woodley? He's owed a huge chunk of change and the investment has not turned out what many thought it would be.
  • What to do with Emmanuel Sanders? Watch for the Steelers to look for a replacement.
  • What system changes will emerge in 2014? With Le'Veon Bell in the backfield, Steelers might turn to its running game again. Defense has to make some changes. Turnovers and sacks were a disappointment last season.
Sources: Bleacher Report, Pittsburgh Steelers.com

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Steelers Players Like Playing For The Organization; Signings, Cammarata's "View From The Stands: 2013 Season Epilogue

Cody Wallace: "They Treat You Like A Man Here."

While most of the Steelers have no illusions about finishing 8-8 in the last two seasons, one thing is certain: they like playing for the organization. 

"They treat you like a man here," said C Cody Wallace. "They have that focus. Everybody's going for the same goal."

LaRod Stevens-Howling, who came from the Cardinals, added, "There's a great winning attitude around here...I love coming to work and seeing those {Lombardi} trophies upstairs. You know what you're fighting for when you come in...I love the organization. A lot of respect."

Steelers Announce Signings To Reserve/Future Contracts

Steelers understand they need to focus on adding depth to their roster. They did so this week with the signing of CB Devin Smith (Steelers + Dolphins practice squad), LB Don Molls (Chargers undrafted rookie), RB Miguel Maysonet (Redskins, Jets, Chargers and Colts) and WR Lanear Sampson (Cowboys practice squad).

View From The Stands: 2013 Steelers Season Epilogue

Here we are following the NFL Wildcard (my personal favorite football weekend) Playoff games and wild they were with three of the four games closely contested.

If these opinion pieces offered a theme throughout this football season, it focused on the lack of balance in the Steelers offense throughout the entire season. It focused on the misleading statistical and over-reliant nature of the Steelers offense regarding the formations and over use of a pass first offense that assisted in digging a deep hole in which we could not recover, even with the final ineptitudes of NFL officiating in the San Diego vs. Kansas City game. You say, he said "misleading statiscal"...how possible when our quarterback threw for more yardage than ever before, and not in just come behind efforts?  Well, let's look at the big picture considering stats, and incorporate even the most recently played wildcard games.

Of the eight starting quarterbacks playing this wildcard weekend only three of the eight threw over 300 yards, which has now become the media benchmark when evaluating a quarterback's success in any given game . Of those three performances where the QB's threw for 300 yards...only one came away as a winner, which was Andrew Luck in one of the greatest deficit combacks in NFL Playoff history. The three winning quarterbacks that threw for under 300 yards: Kapernick, Rivers and Brees...and yes...even the traditional pass happy offense of the New Orleans Saints finally recognized that ball possession with a solid run performance and a stout defense gave them their first road victory in the playoffs since forever. Philip Rivers name has been synonymous with 300 yard passing games throughout his career up until this season. Ken Whisenhut (remember him...an excellent O.C.) took control of the offense in San Diego this year, and even though a near .500 club they led the league in ball control drives and length of time of possession. That does not happen when a team lives in the world of empty-set formations, five-wide spread offenses on first down in the opponent's red zone.

Three hundred yard passing efforts in the Steelers scheme are also only a ruse. This stat was provided earlier in the year, and only increased throughout the season. Please feel free to research it on your own. But here it is again for the last time:: in the past 13 game when the Steelers have thrown for 300 yards or more...in the final analysis they are 2 wins and 11 losses (and not all were come from behind efforts). Whereas in the past 6 games where the Steelers have thrown for under 300 yards, but rushed for 100 yards or more, we are 6 wins and 0 losses. 

There is a media set in the Pittsburgh marketplace that views anyone that espouses the value of a balanced run/pass offense as part of the Paleozoic age of football, because in some way that devalues Big Ben and all his abilities. Let's hope that Coach Tomlin finally gets it come training camp at St. Vincent's next summer and begins to stress the fundamentals of run blocking no matter zone schemes or straight ahead power blocking mechanics...whomever the new offensive line coach. And more importantly, let's hope Ben (who is the on-field O.C.) at the age of 32 ingratiates the formula for long-term success by looking at the last portion of the 2013 season and the balanced offense we found, although too little, too late.

Ron Cammarata---Section 110, Row cc, Seats 9+10

Steelers.com, Bleacher Report