A Few More Thoughts on Hartings Signing�.
I received some legitimate grumblings via email, and wanted to expound on my thoughts on Hartings, as it related to improving the entire team.
First off, I'm not saying Hartings is a putz or a slouch. He's a solid, good guard.
I'm looking at the WHOLE picture. We've not made the playoffs the past 3 years. Let's look what we've done to "improve" our team:
1. Signed Doughboy Bettis, the same two-down slowpoke that has found yardage against the Ravens and Titans to be as scarce as a dollar bill lying on the floor of Rooney's office.
2. Signed Hartings to play center. He replaces Dawson, who was PERFECTLY healthy in 1998 when our ground game stunk and sputtered the ENTIRE season. While Hartings is solid, I'm trying to envision just how wide of a hole he is going to open up against that EIGHT- MAN, run-blitzing front of the Ravens. Will the hole be 6 feet wide, or just 5 ??
3. Cut Levon Kirkland, and unless a stud LB is drafted (and remember, even if the rookie is a stud, he'll most assuredly ROT under the auspice of rookie-hater Billy Cowher), we will start 235-pound John Fiala at ILB. Anyone who thinks this is an upgrade in the run-stuffing department probably thinks Courtney Hawkins was an upgrade at WR when Thigpen departed via free agency back in March '98.
So, let's see ---
We've kept the same pot bellied, slowpoke RB who, armed with a new, fatty multi-year deal & no incentive to workout, most assuredly will arrive in Latrobe with a mammoth girth.
We've replaced a Hall of Fame center with a solid guard who has played exactly zero downs in the NFL at center.
We've replaced a big, sometimes brutal-hitting & solid-in-run-stuffing, experienced ILB with a frail, 235-pound special teamer that has exactly zero NFL starts under his belt.
And remember, EVERY year, Cowher and his coaches piss, bitch, and moan the ENTIRE preseason about "The O-line needs time to gel....all these new people...it takes a lot of time for a new guy to learn the offense, the linemen have to take a while to get used to each other, blah blah blah...."
Now, someone please tell me how this OVERALL team is improved from the past 3 years of pitiful mediocrity. Mind you, I was all for cutting Tub Kirkland, but my thoughts were that his salary would be used to procure a stud DE or a Dexter Coakley or Mike Jones kind of LB, not a guard. We spent a few bucks after the '97 season, signing UFAs Steed, Bruener, Kirk and Gildong. As it turned out, not a one was worth a tinker's damn. My fear is that Hartings will be a solid contributor but nothing more. I don't recall the Rams uprising in '00 being due to a new center. As I recall, it had a whole lot more to do with a new QB, RB, and so on. I don't recall the Ravens rising to SB contender merely because of their center. The list goes on and on�.a center in the NFL is no more an impact player than a 4th line mucker is in hockey or a backup catcher is in baseball. On a team severely lacking impact, I'm really wanting some impact, and thus far we haven't improved at all in that area.
The Still Mill