Steelers Today - A Pittsburgh Steelers blog


Archive for January, 2010

Give new coaches a chance

January 25, 2010 By: Admin Category: Players

Fans can be tough sometimes.  And Steelers fans in particular are a very demanding bunch.  So I wasn’t surprised when I started getting messages from Steelers fans complaining about some of their new coaching hires.

“Why did the Steelers hire a coach who got fired by the Buffalo Bills?  The Bills suck!”  That was a pretty typical comment when the Steelers decided to hire Sean Kugler as their new offensive line coach.

“Al Everests coached one of the worst special teams units in the NFL last year!  Why would the Steelers hire him?”  Fans didn’t seem to be too happy after the Steelers hired Everest as special teams coordinator.  Everest was fired by the San Francisco 49ers after his special teams unit ranked near the bottom of the NFL in punt coverage and kickoff coverage.

“Why the @#$&%# did the Steelers promote their wide receivers coach to be the new quarterbacks coach??!!  Couldn’t they even find a guy who was a quarterbacks coach?”  That was a typical response when the team chose wide receivers coach Randy Fichtner to be their new quarterbacks coach.

QB coach Randy Fichtner

My comment would be “Give the guys a chance”.  If you stick around long enough, you’ll probably eventually get fired in the NFL.  It’s just what happens.  Sometimes it’s the coach’s fault, and sometimes it isn’t. 

Remember, Bill Belichick was a failure in Cleveland.  Now he’s considered to be a genius.  Brian Billick was hired as the Baltimore Ravens’ head coach because he was perceived to be an offensive guru.  Yet throughout his tenure, the Ravens were a defensive team, and the offense was mediocre at best.

Players also play a big role in a coach’s success or failure.  What if you were the quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders, and your future was in the hands of JaMarcus Russell?  Prepare to be fired.

Sean Kugler was let go by the Buffalo Bills, but actually the entire staff was let go.  That included Bobby April, who is considered to be one of the best special teams coaches in the NFL.  Kugler is considered to be a capable offensive line coach.  His Bills team gave up a lot of sacks this past season, but that was primarily because they had so many injuries that he had to use a different line-up for almost every game.

Al Everest was fired because he used a reverse on a punt return without getting Head Coach Mike Singletary’s approval.  That play resulted in a fumble that contributed to a loss to the Seattle Seahawks.  But prior to last season, Everest’s 49ers special teams units have always been excellent in their coverage.  Moreover, he is considered to be a master motivator.  In 2002, when he was with the Arizona Cardinals, Everest was voted NFL Special Teams Coach of the Year when his team had 3 touchdown returns, and 5 blocked kicks.

Fichtner has no NFL experience as a quarterbacks coach, but he has served in that role at the college level.  He was quarterbacks coach at Memphis from 1990 - 93, Arkansas State from 1997 - 2000, and back at Memphis from 2001 - 2006, where he also served as offensive coordinator.

Lets remember that these guys aren’t unknowns.  They have experience.  Moreover, Coach Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, and the Rooneys think they are the right men for the job.  So let’s give them a chance. 

Besides, can they be any worse than what we had last year?


(If you enjoyed this article, please consider leaving a comment below. Also, please subscribe to our blog by pressing the orange button below. You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter by clicking the doohickies at the bottom of the right column of this page.  Thanks.)

Subscribe in a reader

Top NFL Fan Sites


Natural enemies

January 19, 2010 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

Now that the Steelers are no longer playing, Steeler Nation is left watching other teams battle in the playoffs (am I the only one who finds himself thinking “we could have beaten that team?”).

In discussing the playoffs with fellow Steelers fans, an interesting topic has come up.  I have had disagreements with several fans over which teams it is okay for Steelers fans to support in the playoffs.

I always assumed that Steeler Nation was pretty united about who our enemies are.  But now I see that that is not true.

For example, I said on my Facebook page that I was happy to see the Colts destroying the hated Baltimore Ravens in this past weekend’s playoff game.  But to my surprise, quite a few fans came back at me and told me that they hated the Colts more than the Ravens.

Personally, I was shocked by this.  How could any Steelers fan hate any team more than they hate the Ravens?  Steelers and Ravens are like Superman and Lex Luthor, or Spiderman and the Green Goblin, or Casey Hampton and Nutrisystem; they’re natural enemies.

Not only did I think that it was inappropriate to hate any team more than the Ratbirds, I also questioned whether the Colts are even a natural enemy to the Steelers.

So I started assembling a list of the teams that I believe are natural rivals to our beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.

Firstly, I believe that all of the other teams in the AFC North are our natural enemies.  Thus, the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, and Cleveland Browns have to be on the list of the Steelers’ natural rivals.  Among these division opponents, I believe that the Ravens have earned a spot at the top of the hate list.

The Ravens are brash and arrogant.  They have historically had a very strong defense, just like the Steelers, so there is a natural rivalry each season to see which team has the best defense.  The two teams play one another twice each season (sometimes more).  Moreover, over the past decade (with a few notable exceptions), it has always been the Steelers and Ravens who have fought for AFC North supremacy.  I’m not sure if there is any rivalry in football that is as physical as Steelers versus Ravens.  When you add in the fact that the Ravens actually put out a bounty on Hines Ward, I don’t think that there is any question that the Baltimore Ravens are enemy #1.

Public enemy #1

After the AFC North opponents, I think most Steelers fans will agree that the New England Patriots are a natural enemy of the Steelers.  The Steelers and Patriots may not be in the same division, but they have had some classic battles in the playoffs.  Too often, it was the Patriots who knocked the Steelers out of the AFC Championship picture.  Twice they did it right in our own stadium.  Belichick’s cheatin’ ways probably cost the Steelers a Super Bowl trophy.

In truth, the Patriots may rank higher on the “hate list” than the Bengals or Browns.  Personally, I rank them at #2 behind the Ravens.  After all, which team prevented the Steelers from being the team of the decade?  And they didn’t even do it fair and square.  I hate them!

Next on the hate list is the Dallas Cowboys.  Like the Patriots, I rank the Cowboys higher on my hate list than either the Bengals or Browns.  The Cowboys are like the anti-Steelers.  They are glitzy and glamorous while the Steelers are blue collar and down to Earth.  The Cowboys have the title of “America’s team”, even though everyone knows that the Steelers are really America’s team.

No two teams have met more often in the Super Bowl than the Steelers and Cowboys.  The Steelers have won twice, while the Cowboys won once.  Of course the Steelers would have actually won all 3 times if it hadn’t been for a certain former quarterback whose name shall not be mentioned.  His untimely interceptions cost the Steelers yet another Lombardi Trophy.

The historic nature of the Steelers-Cowboys rivalry puts them high on my hate list, even though we don’t play them very often.  Moreover, the Cowboys are the team that is most likely to match the Steelers’ total of 6 Super Bowl championship.    More than anything else, that is reason for Steeler Nation to want the Cowboys to lose every game they play.  We all want the Steeler to stand alone in their number of Super Bowl championships for a very long time.  Frankly, I hope the Cowboys will still be stuck at 5 Lombardi Trophies in the year 4078.

Upon further review, maybe I hate the Cowboys more than I hate the Patriots.  They’re at least tied.  Maybe one is 2A and the other is 2B.  Regardless, I hate them both.

Some would argue that the Raiders are a natural enemy of the Steelers.  I tend to disagree.  There was a time when this was clearly true.  But Ken Stabler, Dave Casper, Otis Sistrunk, Art Shell, Ray Guy and Fred Biletnikoff are a distant memory.  The Raiders have been so bad for so long that it’s hard to hate them.  In fact, it’s hard to do anything but pity the poor Raiders fans who have had to deal with Al Davis for all of these years.

Several  fans argued that the Colts are also a natural rival for the Steelers.  I just don’t see it.  We don’t play the Colts very often.  We haven’t had many games of historic proportions against them (like Super Bowls or AFC Championship games).  They’re not in our division.  I just can’t count them as a natural rival.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t hate them.  You can hate any team you like.  But I don’t think the majority of Steeler Nation feels that the Colts are in the same category as the teams that I listed above.

Some have even argued that the reason we should all hate the Colts is that they intentionally lost their last regular season game and prevented the Steelers from making the playoffs.  Well if you use that logic, then do you hate the team that lost to the Jets in week 3?  How about the team that lost to them in week 7?  They each had as much to do with the Jets making the playoffs as the Colts did.

In my opinion, the only team that is responsible for the Steelers not making the playoffs is the Steelers.  If they had won just one of the gimme games against the Chiefs, Raiders, or Browns, they’d be in the playoffs.  So casting blame elsewhere is unfounded.    So in my opinion, the Colts do not qualify as a natural rival to the Steelers.

So now that all of the natural enemies are officially out of the playoffs, the remaining teams are neutral territory for Steeler Nation.  Feel free to pull for any team that you like.  Besides, no matter which team wins, we all know that the Steelers probably could have beaten them.


(If you enjoyed this article, please consider leaving a comment below. Also, please subscribe to our blog by pressing the orange button below. You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter by clicking the doohickies at the bottom of the right column of this page.  Thanks.)

Subscribe in a reader

Top NFL Fan Sites


Bobby April signs with Eagles

January 15, 2010 By: Admin Category: Players

After the Steelers fired former special teams coach Bob Ligashesky, many believed that former Steelers special teams coach Bob April might replace him.  April had opted out of the final year of his contract with the Buffalo Bills after the Bills informed their entire coaching staff that they should begin searching for new jobs.

April, who coached the Steelers special teams from 1994 - 1995 is considered to be one of the best special teams coaches in the NFL.

Most observers thought that the Steelers and the Washington Redskins had the inside track on obtaining April’s services.  However, the Philadelphia Eagles quietly slipped in and stole April away from his other suitors.

The Steelers are interviewing San Francisco 49ers special teams coordinator Al Everest today for their still vacant position.

Other Steelers coaching moves

The Steelers did land another former Buffalo Bills coach.  Sean Kugler has been hired as the Steelers new offensive line coach, replacing Larry Zierlein.

New OL Coach Sean Kugler

Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler turned down the defensive coordinator job that had been offered to him by the Miami Dolphins.  Many believe that Butler is the heir apparent whenever current Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau decides to retire.


(If you enjoyed this article, please consider leaving a comment below. Also, please subscribe to our blog by pressing the orange button below. You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter by clicking the doohickies at the bottom of the right column of this page.  Thanks.)

Subscribe in a reader

Top NFL Fan Sites


Are you a REAL Steelers fan?

January 13, 2010 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

Now that the season is over, I have time to touch on some subjects that I didn’t have time to get to while the Steelers were still playing.

I know that some of you want me to talk about the draft, but we have months until the NFL draft, so there will be plenty of time to deal with that.  Rather, I want to talk about an issue that has bothered me all season.

This has been a very difficult season for Steelers fans.  After winning Super Bowl XLIII, most fans probably thought that 2009 was going to be a very good year for the Steelers.  Most of our players were back, the team had a good draft, and we had a much easier schedule than we had in 2008.  Visions of a repeat championship danced in the heads of Steeler Nation.

And then 2009 actually happened.  Instead of a repeat championship, Troy Polamalu went down with an injury in the very first game.  Then the Steelers lost to the Bears.  And they lost to the Bengals (gasp!).  And they struggled against the Detroit Lions.  And for some reason, the defense seemed to disappear during the 4th quarter of every game.  And then Aaron Smith was lost for the season too.  And then that disastrous 5 game losing streak happened.  Heck, we even lost to the Chiefs, Raiders, and Browns.  Murphy’s Law was striking the Steelers with a vengeance.

In the midst of this debacle, Steelers fans started asking questions like “When’s Troy coming back?”, “What’s wrong with the Defense?”, and “Where’s my heart medicine?”

But as the losses accumulated, the questions turned to emphatic statements.  “We need Troy!”  “William Gay sucks!!”  “Fire Bruce Arians!!!!!”

After each game, fans would analyze what was wrong with their beloved Steelers.  This was to be expected, since most fans expected 2009 to be a very good year for the Steelers.  What wasn’t expected was the stream of Steelers apologist who would inevitably enter the conversation with accusations that “a REAL Steelers fan wouldn’t criticize the team”.  They would denounce those who questioned or criticized the team.  Moreover, they’d usually label them as “bandwagon fans”.

I saw this behavior repeated over and over on my own blog, on my Facebook page, and on Steelers message boards throughout the internet.

“A REAL Steelers fan wouldn’t question the coaches!”  “A REAL Steelers fan trusts the Rooneys!”  “A REAL Steelers fan wouldn’t complain about losses!”  “Those of you who complain need to leave Steeler Nation and become Ravens fans!”

I know that I’m going to take grief for saying this, but nobody has the right to tell other Steelers fans how they should behave.  There is no rule book on “How to be a Steelers fan”.

The only criterion needed to qualify as a Steelers fan is that you love and root for the Steelers.  How a fan chooses to exercise their fandom is up to them.

The fan who buys season tickets is not necesarily a better fan than the fan who watches the game on TV.  The fan who wears Steelers gear 7 days a week is not necessarily a better fan than the fan who doesn’t own a single Steelers item.  The 70 year old fan who has been following the Steelers since before the Chuck Noll era is not necessarily a better fan than the 9 year old fan who has only been following the team for a few years.  The fan who lives in Pittsburgh is not necessarily a better fan than those who live in Texas, or California, or  Georgia, or Alaska.  After all, that’s why they call us “Steeler Nation”.  Our members reside in every state of the Union.  Moreover, they exist in countries throughout the world.  Calling us Steeler Nation is now inaccurate.  We should actually be called Steelers Planet, because we are located throughout the globe.

The reason that a fan complains about Bruce Arians play calling is that he thinks the Steelers would have a better chance of winning if they ran the ball more.  The reason a fan complains about the Steelers’ draft picks is because they think the team would have a better chance of winning if they had chosen a different player.    The reason that fans complain when the Steelers lose to the Chiefs, or Raiders, or Browns, is because they believe that the Steelers are superior to those teams, and that they SHOULD beat those teams.

The very fact that these fans take the time to analyze the play calling, or to study potential draft picks, proves that they ARE fans.  They care about the team.  They’re passionate.  They want to see them do well.

Steelers fans come in all shapes and sizes.  They come in all races and all genders.  Some of them are Democrats and some are Republicans.  Some are Protestants and some are Catholics.  Some are Jews and some are Muslims.  We won’t agree on everything, but the one thing that we DO agree on is that we love the Steelers and we want to see them win.

As far as how we express our love…….well, let’s just agree to disagree.


(If you enjoyed this article, please consider leaving a comment below. Also, please subscribe to our blog by pressing the orange button below. You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter by clicking the doohickies at the bottom of the right column of this page.  Thanks.)

Subscribe in a reader

Top NFL Fan Sites


Steelers don’t re-sign Shipley

January 08, 2010 By: Admin Category: Draft/Free Agency, Players

The Steelers signed nine players to their off-season roster.  Seven of the nine players were expected, since they were on the Steelers’ practice squad this past season.

The practice squad members who were signed are RBs Justin Vincent and Isaac Redman, TE Eugene Bright, WR Jason Chery, S Tuff Harris, DT Steve McCLendon and CB Trae Williams.

The team also signed defensive tackle Scott Paxson.  Paxson spent time on the Steelers practice squad and active roster from 2006 - 2008.

Lastly, they signed kicker Piotr Czech.  Czech was at Steelers training camp last year, but lost the competition with Jeff Reed.  Reed is now a free agent.

However, one player who was expected to be re-signed was not.  The Steelers did not sign center A.Q. Shipley.  Shipley is a local kid, who played at Moon High School and Penn State.  The Steelers selected Shipley in the 7th round of the 2009 draft.

With the problems that the Steelers have had with their offensive line, it is surprising to see that they didn’t keep one of the young players that they’ve been developing.  Perhaps this means that the Steelers have determined that Shipley does not have the potential to contribute to the team in the future.

Steelers center A.Q. Shipley

I was at every day of training camp this past season, and I must admit that I can’t remember a single play that Shipley impressed me on.  He seemed small and weak compared to the other Steelers offensive linemen.

Coming out of college, many scouts said that Shipley’s arms were too short for the NFL.  However, the Steelers felt that his heart and work ethic made him worth giving a shot.

It’s not clear where Shipley will end up.  It’s still possible that he could end up with the Steelers.  However, I wish him well wherever he may end up.  He was a tough kid from Pittsburgh who made us all proud.  Good luck, A.Q.


(If you enjoyed this article, please consider leaving a comment below. Also, please subscribe to our blog by pressing the orange button below. You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter by clicking the doohickies at the bottom of the right column of this page.  Thanks.)

Subscribe in a reader

Top NFL Fan Sites