Loose Slag From The Still Mill (June 13th '01)
- As you may have seen, the Stillers signed XFL wonderboy Toomy Maddox and released undrafted FA rookie QB John Turman. Interesting move. I haven't seen the financial data yet on this deal, but assuming it's cap-friendly, this may not be a shabby signing. Maddox can't throw the ball any worse than the Stillers' dynamic duo of Stew/Graham did in '00, right ? My main concern is if we're looking at taking all 4 QBs to camp. If so, this is a disaster that has already occurred and need not be repeated. Back in '96, the Stillers went to camp with Prozac, Miller, and Stewart all in contention for the starting job. The result was an offense that was in total chaos. Sure, Stew apparently is "entrenched" as the starter, but having 3 veteran QBs vie for the #2 job is a bit too much of a logjam. There's simply not enough practice time with first & 2nd stringers --- nor enough game-time with those competent 1st & 2nd stringers --- for 3 QBs to get a look for the #2 job. If Graham will be cut before camp, then the logjam is obviously eradicated, but otherwise -- "Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it�."
- If this doesn't excite ya, nothing will -- the Stillers are talking to former Patriot OLB Chris Slade. Yes! Dadgummit --- I'll go dancing in the streets if he can be signed. Admittedly, I personally didn't observe Slade's play much in '00, but this is in a man who not only can HIT, but enjoys HITTING, and has true FOOTBALL INSTINCTS in reading plays and getting to the ball. Doughboy Bettis can tell you all about Chris Slade, because Slade has personally helped stuff Bettis in no less than four games, including 2 playoff games in which Bettis did jack squat. Unless Slade has physically atrophied, he is unquestionably a superior OLB than Jason Gilldong. In fact, this is the one factor that could preclude him from being signed�.Cowhead may very well be afraid that Slade would embarrass GilDong in both practices and games. Then again, Cowher would refuse to sit Gildon down anyway. At any rate, Slade would be a superb acquisition. The man would be a strong, veteran sub, and could assume the starting job in '02 if Gildong leaves. And perhaps Gildong might actually exert some effort, energy, and grit if he knew he was legitimately being pushed for the starting job. No football player in the entire league has been handed the starting job on a silver platter, and then had such FEEBLE competition for FIVE CONSECUTIVE years, as has Jason Gildong. Ideally, Slade could be signed, and then Gildong could be sent packing in a trade in which we'd fleece someone for a #3 draft pick.
- Kudos to the Colorado Avs for winning the Stanley Cup. Give credit to the Avs for seeing the window of opportunity and seizing it. The Avs, you may recall, acquired greybeard defenseman & legend Ray Borgue late last season, and then, in Feb. of this season, traded power forward Adam Deadmarsh for blueliner Rob Blake. Blake, as you may know, was the classic "rent-a-player", as his contract is up after this '01 season. Deadmarsh was no slouch; he was generally considered one of the NHL's top power forwards, and was a trusty member of the '96 Avs Cup championship team. Let this Avs team serve as a superb example of how you go about putting the final piece onto a championship caliber team. First off, the Avs began this season with a slogan that was emblazoned on banners and so on: "One Team, One Goal". This was a team that, from day one at training camp, was focused and determined on winning the Stanley Cup. Their goal wasn't to limp into the playoffs, or to "play solidly" in the playoffs. Their goal was to win the "President's Trophy" as the #1 regular season team, and then win the Stanley Cup, and anything LESS would be considered an abject failure. The Avs KNEW they had several key players due to become FAs after the '01 season -- most notably Joe Sakic and all-world goalie Patrick Roy, plus several others -- so they knew that this particular collection of players was in its last hurrah. Parting with Deadmarsh was a very tough decision, but the Avs apparently felt that they were strong enough at forward and weak enough on defense to trade a strong forward for a top-flight blueliner. The Avs didn't add cheapo bit players; they added a guaranteed Hall of Famer in Borque and one of the games finest d-men in Blake. Sure, the NHL has no salcap like the NFL, but the price for Blake was particularly steep, since the Avs had to depart with a splendid power forward like Deadmarsh. Additionally, the Avs got stellar production from two youngsters, Tanguay and Hejduk, both of whom starred as rookies in prior seasons in large part because they were simply given the opportunity to do so. There's not much difference between what the Avs did, and what the Ravens did. Both teams recognized the window of opportunity, and both added STUD &/or true-impact players, not simply bargain-basement scrapheap pickups. The Stillers are not within any window of opportunity, but were in '96 and '97 -- just as Carnell Lake has publicly alluded to -- yet myopic and miserly thinking prevented the team from adding that last piece to a championship-caliber puzzle.