Loose Slag from the Still Mill
Today's update is on one, and only one, topic. I find it tiresome, and amusing, that we Stiller fans are being bombarded with the "well, the talent just isn't there" lines of baloney.
I'll readily admit that the talent is not first-class. I vociferously ridiculed Tom Dumbahoe and Rooney, for tightly clamping their fists on the checkbook in the off-season, an asinine move made more appalling after the new stadium had been approved. The new stadium approval gave the team GUARANTEED windfalls of extra profits, beginning in 2001/2002. Knowing they had these massive profits guaranteed (and they are GURANTEED; otherwise, the team bamboozled the entire city and state governments, etc., with their pleas that they needed a modern stadium with luxury boxes to remain competitive.), the team REFUSED to invest a tiny fraction of that windfall on 1 or 2 key free agents who could have been given large signing bonuses AND kept us below the salary cap. Dumbahoe's idea of a "big move" in the off-season was to re-sign mediocre veterans Bruener, Witman, and Emmons, and trade for superstar WR Alex Van Dyke.
That being stated up front, this team is not bereft of talent. There's enough talent to play better football than the lethargic slop we've seen ever since the opening-game laugher at Cleveland.
Many are crying in despair, sobbing over our WR corps, offensive line, and so on. Funny, that on the same day we could pass for only 137 yards, other teams were throwing the ball quite well.
Jim Miller, making his 2d career start, threw for 422 yards against the Vikes. Miller is blessed with an all-star corps of receivers in Chico, with Marcus Robinson, Marty Booker, Bobby Engram, and Ryan Wetnight. Miller is also backed by the superb ground game of Curis Enis and an offensive line comprised entirely of multi-millionaire Pro Bowlers.
Then there's Jason Garrett -- WITHOUT Emmit and Irvin --- tossing 199 yards and 2 TDs over GB. He's got a host of pro-bowl receivers, led by Ismail, Ernie Mills, David Lafleur, and Jason Tucker.
How about Rich Gannon, a man considered to be as mediocre as any QB in the NFL?? 254 yards, and 4 TDs, in a win over SD. Besides Tim Brown, he has the underachieving James Jett, and Jon Ritchie. Even Tyrone Wheatley, a man considered a bust and a leper-like castoff, had 2 grabs for 33 yards.
Billy Joe Tolliver?? 242 yards in a win over SF. His all-star cast of receivers includes Eddie Kinnison, Keith Poole, Andre Hastings, and Scott Slutzker. I can't even make up stuff this good --- Scott Slutzger.
I'm sure many will jump up and say, "But look at those soft defenses these QBs played against!" Yes, indeed. We, too, played San Fran, and could muster only 139 yards passing. We played Cinci, and threw for a whopping 134 yards. Atlanta?? We marched up and down the field, to the tune of 127 yards passing. You can't use the excuse that these other WOEFUL teams, with WOEFUL QBs and shabby offensive lines, ran up the stats against softee defenses, when we ourselves haven't done jack-shit against the same, or very similar, cream puffs.
Does the Saints offense have better talent than we do?? How about the Cowboys --- without Troy, Emmit, and Micheal?? How about the Raiders? How about Da Bears, with Jim Miller, Curtis Enis, and company??
It's painfully clear that the coaching staff --- Marty Jr. and Kevin Gaypride --- have NOT gotten anywhere near the maximum production out of this offense. The reasons are almost too numerous to count, but here's a concise list:
- An imbecilic and overly complicated passing scheme that relies on a plethora of split-second decisions, something Stewart clearly is not capable of doing. I re-watched the video of the entire game (as I always do, of course). The 1st INT was a classic case of Stewart getting happy-feet, even though no defender was within 10 feet of him. He impatiently threw the out-pass, instead of giving Edwards the extra second to break upfield. This INT was a classic, hasty mis-read by Stewart. We're essentially asking a 5th grader to master quantum physics, and clearly it's not happening. In fact, it was OBVIOUS that it wasn't happening AT ALL in preseason, but some folks claimed that either Gilbride was "saving some of the offense for the regular season" (indeed, hilarious), or Stewart was merely taking it slow & easy in preparation for the regular season , when he'd crank it up a notch or 2. The job of a coach is to ensure each player is capable of his assignment; otherwise, the play will falter. Gaypride and Cowhead refuse to grasp this axiom.
- An asinine refusal to start the team's most dangerous playmaker, Troy Edwards. Sure, Edwards makes rookie mistakes. So does Tim Couch, Edgerrin James, and Kevin Johnson. So did Earl Campbell. So did Randy Moss. We continually see Edwards making spectacular plays --- like his dynamite punt return on Sunday --- but he continues to sit behind Courtney Hawkins (the epitome of a veteran journeyman possession receiver), and Hines Ward, who is still unpolished.
- A bizarre fetish with screen passes, and any play that is well short of the 1st down-marker, thus requiring the ball carrier/catcher to make a super-human effort for the 1st down. If Elias Sport Bureau kept the stats, we surely must be on pace to set an NFL record for a.) screen passes in a season b.) number of 3rd down plays in which the ball had to be literally hand-carried upfield to get the 1st down. The overabundance of screen passes is absurd. You know it's ridiculous, when Gandy tells us that the Brown's safety was screaming to watch for the screen pass, on the late INT. The asinine insistence of making our skill players lug the ball to the 1st down marker, is equally ludicrous. On 3rd down, Kevin Gaypride LOVES to either throw dinky passes well short of the sticks, or have a RB lug the ball on a ground play. In either instance, the player must make a near-superhuman effort to get the 1st down. Only rarely does this team toss the ball PHYSCIALLY BEYOND the marker, in which the WR or RB merely has to grab the ball and fall down.
- An equally bizarre fetish with splitting-out, or running in-motion, Bettis, Witman, Lyons, and Bruener. On Sunday, Bettis went wide in-motion 3 times, as did Witman. Furthermore, Witman TWICE went in motion, and then stopped nera the sideline & came to a set position as a split-out WR. Considering that neither of these men have:
- above average hands
- above average speed
- above average route-running skills�.
WHAT is the purpose of this??? How about Bruener going in motion on the 3d & 9 play from the Cleve. 14-yard line, in the 3rd quarter?? Does Kevin Gaypride think he's going to FOOL an NFL defense by running some lumbering slowpoke out wide in motion?? We have a REAL multi-purpose player in Hines Ward, but he's never used at all in any sort of "slash" role, but we'll waste time running Witman and Bruener wide in-motion. This is sheer manure.
5. An offense that is so predictable, that any 4th grader can predict it. Throwing deep on 1st down?? Fuhgetaboutit. Using Ward and Stewart in Slash roles?? No chance. Using Huntley more and more as a FB?? No way, not with the "do it all" wonderboy Witman. Here's a quiz question: What play do you defend against on 3rd down and 7, if facing the Steelers?
- Screen pass
- Draw play (RB or QB)
- 4-yard slant
- 5-yard hitch
- 6-yard out
- 2-yard toss to FB
- 2-yard toss to TE
- 18-yard post to WR
- All of the above
If you answered "I", you're close, but dead wrong. You would NEVER have to defend against "h". You simply would have to stick 10 men within a 6-yard area of the line of scrimmage, and sit on any and all short stuff. That's NOT a talent problem; that's coaching.
6. An offensive philosophy that mirrors that of an underconfident boxer. Our offense is like an underconfident boxer who stands back, and dances around, and only jabs and paws from afar, in hopes of barely out-pointing his foe for the victory. There are very, very few set-ups (like Flutie's play-action pass for a long TD vs. Miami); many plays have NO PURPOSE at all; and we're overly content to keep calling plays pulled out of a grab bag, rather than stick a dagger into the heart of a defense. Given the choice -- with a terrorist holding a gun --- of either scoring a TD in an aggressive 3-plays-or-less to save one's life, or running a continuous sequence of halfhazard plays pulled from a grab-bag in hopes of 'eventually' scoring a TD and saving one's life, Marty Jr. and Gaypride would inevitably choose the latter.
Yes, our QB is a joke, the receivers have blundered at times, and the OL struggles at times. But, when you look at the big picture, and you look at our passing game week in and week out (134, 127, 139, and 137 passing yards the past 4 games), there's considerable problems that go FAR beyond mere talent. It's called COACHING. It's called "using all the resources at your disposal". It's called "getting the most out of what you've got." Clearly, Marty Jr. and Kevin Gaypride have failed miserably. It's doubly-shameful for Bill Cowhead to be doing this, since we went thru this exact same crap last year. History is bound to repeat itself for those who are too foolish to learn from it.
The Still Mill