2007 Steelers Obituary

The 2007 Steelers season came to an end this past Saturday night at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags are a team that I am really starting to dislike due to their continual thrashing of the Steelers. I believe that this is now 4 in a row, with three of them in Pittsburgh. Other than that, I kind of like the Jags. It's my guilty pleasure. They are probably my second favorite team in the AFC. Although a young franchise, they are relatively similar to the Steelers in many respects. I liked Jack Del Rio the first time I saw him coach, and I knew there would be several times I would be crying into my beer due to his teams.

On the final game: The Steelers were out-coached Saturday. Plain and simple. Of course, as always, there were other factors contributing to the demise. However, critical in-game decisions looked like the results of somebody rolling the magic 8-ball. The most egregious of these bone-headed errors was the decision to run some type of quarterback sweep to Ben's LEFT side behind a 3rd STRING BACKUP Essex. Jax had been stopping the run ALL NIGHT. Now, at the critical juncture, when Ben, Hines and Heath Miller have been lighting up the scoreboard in the second half, into the turtle shell we go. I can't even imagine an upside-down fantasy world where Brady, Manning, Favre, anyone, would not be asked to throw in that situation. Granted, Ben had thrown 3 costly picks in the 2nd quarter. However, with the help of some key turnovers, he was playing lights-out in the second half. Not to mention that we have one of the best clutch receivers in the history of playoff football in Hines Ward. Oh, this play cannot even be defended from the perspective of "if it would have worked, it would have been a good call." It was total BS, and I hope Tomlin, Arians, et. al. hear the angst of Steeler Nation and use it as a learning experience.

On Special Teams: An utter disaster. Need evidence? Witness any game film from the entire season. This year's version of the comedy show did not lead to as many direct turnovers and outright game losses. Instead, it was constant mediocrity punctuated with jaw-dropping expressions of "WTF Was That!", and "Not Again!" There is very little to defend, and if the two special teams coaches are not gone by the end of February, I'm going to lose some faith in Tomlin. The lone bright spot was Jeff Reed, who made all but two field goals this season. His two misses? A 65-yard attempt that would have been an NFL record, and a short miss from the flood-game at Heinz Field where the ball was plugged 1/3 way into the so-called turf.

On Ben: One of the classiest guys in sports. Also, an excellent athlete and a true competitor. This guy fits the Steelers mould to a T (whatever that means.) It's hard to believe that next year will be only his 5th season. Most QBs are not even starting until this time in their career, and Ben already has 4 seasons under his belt, not to mention a Super Bowl championship. His contract will be extended this off-season, and I fully expect to be celebrating many victories under his leadership in the years to come.

On Tomlin: A pretty solid first year. I mean, his team exceeded nearly every one's expectations. However, it was weird watching a Steelers team that started out hot and then played their worst football the last month of the season. Recent history has been exactly the opposite. I think injuries had a lot to do with this, and I was always impressed with Tomlin's refusal to make excuses, even though he had numerous key players sidelined. I'm not sure his tactical, in-game decision making was the best, but what do I know? I do know that he missed on most of his replay challenges. Some of them were just plain bizarre. However, I'm sure he will improve, and I think he will be the Steelers coach for a long time.

On Faneca: I don't know much about evaluating offensive lineman. I've read good and bad about Faneca this year. I think that his experience would be sorely missed if the Steelers lose him in free agency. The prevailing thought seems to be that the Steelers will not pay him, but given all of the problems of the line this year, they just might come through with a contract to his liking. There is also a spattering of talk about moving him to center. It will be an interesting off-season.

On the Heinz Field so-called playing surface: An embarrassment.


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