Loose Slag From The Still Mill (Oct. 19th)
* Let's see --- Shar Pourdanesh had a pretty solid training camp and preseason� not once during preseason did I see him commit any egregious gaffes. And according to all accounts, Larry Tharpe had a strong camp, apparently impressing the coaches so much that they proclaimed he was the best technician on the team, and his play allowed the staff to cut Farris. Both Tharpe and Pourdanesh have been around the block a few times in this league, and combined have started dozens of games prior to '00. Meanwhile, Marvel Smith was a greenhorn rookie at camp, trying to master a position -- TACKLE -- in which the player is often left on his own island with no help whatsoever. While Smith performed adequately in preseason, it wasn't like he was steamrolling defenders like a human bulldozer. So, can anyone explain WHY Billy Cowher started Smith the 1st 2 games, effectively throwing not only Smith to the wolves, but the entire offense??? Seeing Shar and Tharpe more than hold their own, after Smith got abused, manhandled, and bitchslapped in the season's first 2 games, has to make the decision to start Smith right from the season opener one of Cowhead's dumbest moves of all times. It would have been fine to gradually wean Smith into the starting job, but to throw him out onto the field as a starting tackle was sheer asininity.
* While scouring the tape of the Cinci win, I concentrated on Fu's work at FB after Witman got hurt. Fu actually did a solid job. Unlike Witman, Fu is physically built like a blocking FB --- and Fu gets better leverage and power into his blocks than Witman. Along the same lines, Kreider impressed me during preseason. Kreider has both the build and the mentality to be a solid blocking back. It says here that the running game will suffer NO drawbacks from the play of either Kreider or Fu. If the ground game does stumble, as it apparently will at Baltimore in 2 weeks, it will be because of a passing game that punishes no one for stacking 8 men on the line of scrimmage.
* If Fu does play well at fullback, should we re-name his position "Fu-back" ??
* After watching another Pres-debate, I feel that choosing between Bush and Gore for President is roughly equal to trying to decide between JaLame Stephens and Chris Conrad at RT.
* Let's see -- Kordell Stewart has now been brought in to play QB on 2 separate 1st-and-goal-on-the-1 series, totaling 6 plays. Of those 6 plays, 5 were simple handoffs to Bettis, which could have been conducted by anyone from Sophie Maslof to the 1-legged pirate from Treasure Island. And one play was a short rollout and pass to the 3rd string TE, Geason. This is a classic case of Kevin Gaypride trying to outsmart himself with his overt cleverness --- "If I send in Kordell, the defense will be looking for a sneak or a bootleg. So, I cannot use Kordell for any of his athleticism�.I'd better just send in Kordell & plunge Bettis up the gut, so that I can fool the defense�"
* The Cinci tape-scrub reinforced what I'd seen while watching the broadcast the first time --- DeWayne Washington had one helluva football game. He said prior to the game, that the Stillers would "destroy" Cinci. While he may have overcalculated what the Stiller offense would do against a woeful Cinci defense, he more than backed up his words with some superb DB play. His run support was unquestionably the best by a Stiller CB since Ron Woodsdon's heyday. Time after time, DeWayne aggressively and purposefully came up and stopped a Cinci run dead on. Plus, DeWayne's tackling of receivers after-the-catch was top shelf, too. It's kind of nice to see some outgoing confidence & little bit o' swagger, backed up with strong play, from a Stiller defender. Not too many years ago, this actually used to occur on a weekly basis.
* Did anyone notice the Cinci defender deliberately laying on top of Shaw, late in the 1st half, after a Shaw reception? The boneheaded reffing crew actually had the gumption to throw a flag for delay-of-game, but then waived it off by saying, "Pgh. had called a timeout; therefore the flag is picked up." A deliberate delay-of-game infraction, in which a defender is obviously laying on top of a receiver, should be marked off just like any other post-whistle penalty.
* With all the crying and sobbing Cleveland GM Dwight Clark did, you have to think that Cleveland will try to rough up our punter in retaliation for Porter's legal but rugged hitting of Gardocki a few weeks ago. With Josh having to punt so often, and with good success, Josh has emerged as our most dependable offensive weapon. Question: Should we insert Shields to punt early in the game, in order to get this punish-the-punter nonsense out of the way?? This would serve two purposes. One, it would save our best offensive weapon (Josh) from getting hurt. Two, and no less importantly, it would cause the hapless, defenseless Shields to get abused and beat up, which should be a joy to watch.
* Quote of the Cowher press conference: Thor Bolo asked, "Coach, do ya think Dwight Clark talks too much�?" Replied Cowher, in a rare fit of quick-wittedness, "That's a great quote by you, Thor�"
The Still Mill