Steelers Today - A Pittsburgh Steelers blog


Steelers sign Hampton, tag Reed

February 25, 2010 By: Admin Category: Draft/Free Agency

First I want to thank all of my readers for being patient while I was on hiatus.  Writing this blog takes a lot of time, so I usually take a vacation from the end of the season until the start of the NFL Scouting Combine.  The Combine starts today, so Steelers Today will officially start our 2010 coverage.

The most important news coming out of the Steelers organization is the signing of Casey Hampton.  I was certain the Steelers would use the franchise tag on Hampton.  After all, Hampton will be 33 years old this coming season, and he has struggled with physical conditioning at times.  Because of this, I thought the Steelers would place the franchise tag on Hampton to get one more year out of him.  In the meantime, I thought that they would draft a nose tackle to become Hampton’s long-term replacement.

But instead of doing what I anticipated, the Steelers have signed Hampton to a 3-year contract that is worth more than $21 million.   ChaChing!

Nose tackle Casey Hampton

By signing Hampton, the Steelers were left with the option of using the franchise tag on Ryan Clark or Jeff Reed.  The team chose Jeff Reed.

Reed’s agent was probably looking for a huge payday for his client, since the Oakland Raiders reset the price of kickers when they gave Sebastian Janikowski a ridiculous four-year, $16 million contract with $9 million guaranteed.  That’s waaaaaaaaaaaay too much to pay a kicker.

By franchising Reed, the Steelers will have to give him a one-year contract at the average of the highest 5 salaries at his position for 2009.  That will be much cheaper than matching the Janikowski dollars that will now become the asking price for decent kickers.

By making Reed the franchise player, the Steelers get a first-refusal right to match any offer sheet given to Reed by another team.  If the Steelers choose not to match the offer, they would receive two first-round draft choices as compensation.

With Hampton and Reed both locked up, Ryan Clark becomes the only veteran free agent still to be signed.  Word is that the Steelers have not even started negotiations with Clark’s agent.  This may be an indication that they may be considering taking a safety in this year’s draft.


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Some advice for Jeff Reed

November 19, 2009 By: Admin Category: Players

After failing to make a critical tackle on Cincinnati return man Bernard Scott’s 96-yard touchdown run, Jeff Reed took a lot of criticism from Steelers fans.  Reed apparently disagrees with the criticism, and had this to say in his own defense.

“I just look at those people like they don’t know what they’re talking about.  I’m coached to do certain things, and the No. 1 reason I’m here is to kick kickoffs the best I can and make field goals. When it comes to making a tackle, people like [punter] Dan [Sepulveda] kind of ruin it for me because he’s so athletic.”

Titans Steelers Football

Ummm, is it just me, or does that statement sound completely ludicrous.  Yes Jeff, you are here to kick field goals, but you also have to make a potential game-winning tackle when the opportunity presents itself.

Do you remember that play a few years ago when Jerome Bettis fumbled the ball near the goal line and the opposing player was sprinting for a potential touchdown that would have ended the Steelers’ season?  Ben Roethlisberger was the last line of defense.  So guess what he did?  He made the tackle.  It was an ugly tackle for sure, but he made the tackle.  He didn’t say, “I’m paid to pass the ball, not tackle people”.  He didn’t make excuses about how James Farrior and Troy Polamalu are better at tackling than he is.  Nope, he just made the play that needed to be made.

You, on the other hand, were within a few feet of the kick returner on kicks that were returned for touchdowns by the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals.  In the Vikings game, you did tap the runner with your hand, but against the Bengals, you just looked at Bernard Scott as he came so close that you could probably smell his breath.  You didn’t reach out your hand towards him.  You didn’t dive at his legs.  You didn’t do anything except watch him run for a touchdown.

Excuse me for disagreeing with you, but I think you could have done just a bit more.  Moreover, I think most of Steeler Nation agrees with me.

But apparently Reed feels that he did exactly what he was coached to do.  He went on to express further disagreement with the fans’ perception.

“That was about a 50-yard sprint for me, and my job is to make him cut back inside and he went inside of me.  Looking back at the play, if I’d have slowed down a little bit I maybe could have dove in his path a little better. For me, that was fast, and I was cutting him off.  I thought we had a chance to get him, and we didn’t get him down.”

It’s great to know that you have a specific assignment on that play, Jeff.  But there are times when you just have to do a little bit more than your assignment.

When Big Ben made that tackle, he was doing just a little more than was expected.  When Hines Ward continues to block until the whistle blows, he is doing just a little more than is expected.  When 6 Steelers escorted James Harrison into the endzone during Super Bowl XLIII and made sure that no Cardinals players touched him, they were doing just a little more than is expected.

You see, that’s the point that you’re missing.  We EXPECT you to do more than is expected.  Pittsburgh is a tough town, and Steeler Nation is a tough audience.  We expect excellence from you, even when it’s not your job.  Do it anyway.

We expect Steelers players to be tough.  That’s why we don’t like it when Steelers running backs make half-hearted attempts to block pass rushers.  You’re all football players.  More importantly, you’re Pittsburgh Steelers football players.  We expect you to be tough.  Every one of you.  Even the kicker.

But of course you disagree with all of this.  Your toughness only comes out when you are in a drunken stupor.  And it is reserved for towel dispensers, and police officers.

Jeff Reed

Jeff Reed

According to you, we fans “don’t know what we’re talking about”.  Okay, maybe we don’t.  But next time make the #$^%&  tackle, even if it’s not your assignment.


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What have we learned so far?

November 03, 2009 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

The NFL just finished week 8.  That’s the halfway point in the season (although the Steelers have only played 7 games).  With the Steelers coming off of a bye week, it seemed like a good time to reflect back on the season so far to see what we’ve learned so far about the 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers.

These are in no particular order.  But as I think back to what has occurred so far this season, these are some thoughts that come to mind.

1.  The Steelers could easily be 7-0.
The Steelers find themselves with a 5-2 record.  However, the two losses could have just as easily been wins.  In the loss to the Bengals, the Steelers dominated just about every statistical category.  From yards of offense to time of possession, the Steelers were dominant.  Yet, a dropped touchdown by Limas Sweed, a missed field goal by Jeff Reed, and poor 4th quarter defense somehow led to a loss.

Similarly, in the 17-14 loss to the Chicago  Bears, the Steelers led in most statistical categories.  Most viewers would probably have thought that the game was a blowout in the Steelers favor.  But untimely turnovers, and two missed field goals by Jeff Reed led to yet another unexpected Steelers loss

If not for two poorly played 4th quarters, the Steelers would be right there with the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts as the last remaining undefeated teams in the NFL.

2. The Steelers are a passing offense
I know that that is anathema to some Steelers fans.  After all, the Steelers have ALWAYS been a power running team.  In some fans’ minds, the Steelers SHOULD always be a power running team.  But the reality is that this offense is a passing offense.  Just ask Big Ben.

The Steelers’ passing attack is ranked #5 in the NFL, and they actually average more yards per game than the potent New Orleans Saints offense led by Drew Brees.  Chew on that for a moment. 

The Steelers have 3 receivers among the NFL’s top 30 in total number of receptions.  They have 4 receivers among the top 40 in the NFL in receiving yards.  Are these the Steelers that we’re talking about?

While the Steelers have the #5 passing attack in the NFL, their rushing attack is ranked #18.  The Steelers don’t have a running  back in the top 15 in the NFL in rushing yards.

3. Big Ben still takes too many sacks
This is becoming a broken record.  I am not even going to try to ascertain whether the fault lies with the offensive line, or with Big Ben himself.  But suffice it to say that Ben spends far too much time on his back. 

Roethlisberger has already been sacked 20 times.  He’s well on his way to another 40+ sacks season.  I’m no doctor, but that can’t be good for his health and longevity.

Roethlisberger is sacked....again.

Roethlisberger is sacked....again.

4.  The Steelers pass defense has still not played to their full potential
While the Steelers’ run defense is ranked #1 in the NFL, their pass defense is ranked #17.  That’s a big departure from last year’s defense that was ranked #1 against the pass.

The biggest contributor to the decline has been the absence of Troy Polamalu.  Now that Polamalu is back, I expect to see the Steelers pass defense show a marked improvement.

5.  Limas Sweed is not the answer to the Steelers’ #3 receiver need
Drop.  Drop.  Drop.  ‘Nuff said.

6.  Mike Wallace IS the answer to the Steelers’ #3 receiver need
I’m starting to feel like a broken record, but I’ll say it again; I love Mike Wallace.  The kid doesn’t play like a rookie.  He’s got dependable hands, and he’s got speed to burn.  That’s a deadly combination for a #3 receiver.  Because Wallace is the #3 receiver, he’s usually matched up against the opponent’s #3 cornerback, or against a safety.  Wallace’s speed would pose a challenge to a #1 cornerback.  A #3 cornerback or the average safety has absolutely no chance against the kid.

Steelers WR Mike Wallace

Steelers WR Mike Wallace

7.  It’s still too early to assess Rashard Mendenhall
I know that some fans want to anoint Rashard Mendenhall as the next great Steelers running back.  And Mendenhall’s 5.4 yards per carry average is compelling evidence of his potential.  But Mendenhall has to do a better job of protecting the ball before he can truly be trusted to carry the load for the Steelers. 

8.  Jeff Reed’s antics may have insured his exit from Pittsburgh
I have always been a supporter of Jeff Reed.  When he missed those field goals that cost us games against the Bears and Bengals earlier this year, I stood up for Reed.  When he had his little incident at Sheetz, I also stood up for Reed.  However, Reed’s antics are growing tiresome.

Reed has been one of the most dependable kickers in the NFL during his time with the Steelers.  However, Reed is also the player who is most likely to embarrass the organization off the field.  He doesn’t seem to understand that Steeler Nation takes great pride in the fact that the Steelers are excellent off the field, as well as on the field.  We know that guys like Terrell Owens, De’Angelo Hall, Jeremy Shockey, Tank Johnson, or Randy Moss could never play for the Steelers, despite their considerable talent.  So if we wouldn’t bring in guys with that type of all-world talent, why do we continue to tolerate Reed’s misdeeds?

So there you have it, Steeler Nation.  Those are some of the things that we’ve learned so far this season.  Are there any other observations that we’ve forgotten?  Do you disagree with any of the observations that we’ve made?  What have YOU learned about the Steelers so far?  We’d love to hear your thoughts.


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10 reasons to feel optimistic about the Steelers

October 01, 2009 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

October 1, 2009
By Donald Starver

The Steelers have lost two games in a row, and just as quickly as that, Chicken Little has come out of hiding.  The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!

The Steelers are 1-2, and some are quick to point out that the Steelers have the same record as the Detroit Lions and the Oakland Raiders.  But is that really so bad?

Statistics can be often be misleading.  Sure, the Steelers have more losses than wins.  They are also in third place in the AFC North, and trail the Baltimore Ravens by 2 games.  Despite this, I am not the least bit concerned about the Steelers.  In fact, I feel quite confident.

Let’s look at a few facts that leave me feeling extremely optimistic.

1. The Steelers have outgained their opponents 704 yards to 563 yards in their two losses. That’s right, the Steelers had significantly more yards than their opponent in both losses.

2.  Willie Parker was the leading rusher in each of the Steelers’ losses. Some have overlooked this statistic.  Sure, Willie hasn’t had any 100+ yard performances, but he’s outperformed the opposing running backs in both games.

Willie Parker

Willie Parker

3.  The Steelers led in time of possession in each loss. Usually, when you control the time of possession, you win the game.  It is rare for a team to control the ball for a full 10 minutes more than their opponent and still lose.  But that’s exactly what the Steelers did against the Bengals.  Despite the loss, I’m still happy to see the Steelers dominating the time clock.

4.  The Steelers punted a combined 5 times in their two losses compared to 11 total punts by their opponents. Any team that punts half as often as their opponent is very likely to win the game.  Unfortunately in these two games it didn’t turn out that way.  But if the defense can continue to force the opponents to punt, good things will happen.

5.  The Steelers dropped easy touchdown passes in both losses. Santonio Holmes dropped a sure touchdown against the Bears, and Limas Sweed dropped one against the Bengals.  Both of those touchdowns would have meant victory.

6.  The Steelers lost the two games by a combined 6 points. That’s all.  They lost by 3 points to the Bears, and by 3 points to the Bengals.  That’s much better than losing by a large margin.

7.  Jeff Reed missed 3 out of 5 field goal attempts in the two losses. Both games were lost by 3 points, so those missed field goals proved to be disastrous.  Despite the missed field goals, I truly doubt that Reed is going to continue to hit less than 50% of his field goal attempts.  The 3 missed field goals were an anomaly, not the norm.

Jeff Reed

Jeff Reed

8.  After 3 games, the Steelers are only one game behind their pace during their last two Super Bowl seasons. In 2005, the Steelers started the season 2-1.  They went on to finish 11-5, and won the Super Bowl.  Last year, the Steelers also started off 2-1, and finished the season 12-4 before going on to win the Super Bowl.  So after 3 games, this years’ team is only one game off of their recent Super Bowl pace.

9.  The Steelers haven’t played the Baltimore Ravens yet. Remember, we beat them 3 times last year.  Two wins over the Ravens this year will completely eliminate the current deficit.

10.  Troy Polamalu will be back soon. Do I really need to say anything more?


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Jeff Reed is innocent

February 15, 2009 By: Admin Category: Players

February 15, 2009
By Donald Starver

There are certain things in this life that just require action.  It would be inhuman to not act under these circumstances.

One such occasion is if another man hits your wife, mom, or sister.  If that happens, then it’s on.  There is a man law that says that violence is the appropriate response.  And if you bust a cap in that man’s @$$, then nobody is really going to blame you.

But there is another crime that is equally as heinous, equally untenable, that is seldom discussed.  The mere thought of it makes our blood boil.  That’s why it is so seldom spoken of.  Yet speak of it we must.

The situation that I am referring to is one that most of us are familiar with.  We’ve all been out at 3:00AM driving our cars in a state of semi-intoxication, and stopped at a public restroom to relieve ourselves, only to discover that the lazy, no good, convenience store attendant has failed to refill the paper towels in the restroom.  Gasp!  The horror!

Pittsburgh Steelers’ kicker Jeff Reed recently found himself in that situation, and he did exactly what any of us would have done.  He resorted to violence.  He first took out his frustration on the paper towel holder.  After all, an empty paper towel dispenser deserves to be destroyed.  After that, he proceeded to give the guilty store attendant a verbal bludgeoning.  Would any of us have done any less?

Because of the heroic actions of Jeff Reed, I can rest assured that there will be paper towels in the local Sheetz the next time I am heading home from the strip club in the middle of the night.

Way to go, Jeff.  You’re both a hero and a role model.  NOT!

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