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Loose Slag From The Still Mill (July 6th 01)

July 06, 2001 by Still Mill


Loose Slag From the Still Mill (July 6th, �01)

- Here's a recent AP article that I found interesting:

PITTSBURGH (AP) - As Kordell Stewart approaches a crossroads season in his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he has a little more help available to him. "Having a quarterbacks coach has helped my routine more than anything else," Stewart Tuesday. "I have a coordinator teaching me the offense and a coach keeping an eye on my fundamentals." The Steelers hired Tom Clements last January to become their first quarterbacks coach since Babe Parilli in 1973. He had a Hall of Fame career in Canada before coaching quarterbacks the last four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints. "Without a quarterbacks coach, it was almost like I was on my own," Stewart said. "Based on how I feel right now, and with the tutoring I've received up until this point ... I can honestly say my thought process is 10 times greater than what it has been the last couple years combined."

Every time one reads these articles, it should reinforce the Billy Cowher "pound the square peg into a round hole" method of doing things. Stewart came into the NFL with quarterbacking skills roughly comparable to that of an undrafted free agent. His mechanics were poor, his passing was erratic, and his ability to "read a defense" was comprised entirely of how to read & run the collegiate option play. The offense he played in at Colorado was about as intricate -- passing wise -- as the ones used in high schools across America. Once O'Donnell left, the "starting" QB was Mike Tomczak, hardly a master technician and one of the last guys on earth you'd want to tutor your young QBs. In Jan-March of 1996, a QB coach should have been hired to bring along young Jim Miller and young Kordell Stewart. But Cowher stubbornly flailed about for 5 years before finally succumbing to sanity and sensibility.

- Riddle yourself with this classic Stiller paradox: How is it that the Stillers are insisting on rushing out and extending, by way of paying top dollar, their punter, all in the name of "field position", but are perfectly willing to have a guy KICKOFF (Kris Brown) who generally boots the ball to the 15 yard line and therefore gives the opponent GOLDEN field position? Seems to me that if you plan on winning "the battle of field position", and if you plan on kicking off more than the obligatory ONCE per game, then you would address the kickoff problem as well. Of course, the highest paid punter in the NFL happens to be a man who CANNOT kickoff worth a rat's behind. Go figure.

- Just wanted to clarify my thoughts on the "power running game". First off, I actually love a power running game. I grew up cheering for the USC Trojans -- Student Body Left, Student Body Right, etc. Anthony Davis. Ricky Bell. Charles White. Marcus Allen. When asked if he was ever worried about his tailback getting tired of carrying the ball, Trojan coach John McKay dryly replied, "Why? It doesn't weigh that much..." Many Stiller fans will now jump on my case and exclaim, "Charles White, Marcus Allen...that's not power football...!!" And therein lies the fallacy: Power football does not have to be conducted by a large-bellied RB weighing in excess of 275 pounds. Stiller fans have been hypnotized into this ridiculous line of thinking for a few years now. I even checked the NFL rulebook, and nowhere does it state that "power football" must be performed by dough-filled RBs who weigh 275. When a RB carries the ball 25 times in a game, and averages, say, 4.2 yards a crack and jams the ball down the throat of a defense, that is power football, regardless of whether the back weighs 182 pounds or 275. I have no problem with power football, be it the "power football" conducted by Franco Harris, or Allen and the Raiders, or Emmit Smith and the 'Boys. (It's truly a shame how quickly Stiller fans forget how nimble, quick, & agile Franco was, and yet, at 230 pounds, he could pound defenders with the best of 'em.) My problem resides with the Stiller version of power football, which relies on a tubby, barrel-bellied RB who does nothing for the passing game, a stonefooted TE who does nothing for the passing game, and a FB who does nothing for the passing game. On top of that, the Stiller version of "power football" relies almost exclusively on a preponderance of slowly developing plays that require the blockers to move laterally as much as several yards to meet the defender, and then hold their blocks for an eternity until the whaleshit play can develop and Bettis can hit the hole. Of course, against a decent defense, Bettis is typically strung out wide, and with his shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage, is dropped as easily as a sack of potatoes. I could partially tolerate this offense if the Whaleshit Counter were scaled back and replaced with more quick-hitting dive plays, but Cowher and Bettis have developed this love affair with the Whaleshit Counter -- a love affair that shows no sign of diminishing. People forget that the Broncos won 2 consecutive Super Bowls on the backs of their power running game. But, in contrast to the Stiller version of the power running game, the Doncos had a back perfectly capable of turning the corner on a sweep or slashing off-tackle and then making a tackler miss, and also chipping in as a threat in the passing game. The Doncos also had a TE who was equally competent in blocking and receiving, and was a key contributor and threat in the passing game.

- For general info... My understanding is rookie Justin Kurpeikis showed ability as a long snapper at the combine and his workout before the draft at Penn State. He did not long snap in games at Penn State. Would I give him a long look at snapping at camp? Absolutely. Will Cowher? Don�t bet on it.

- Remember this, if you think the '01 version of the Stiller offense will be a more high-revving machine than its three predecessors...On 3rd down and 9 & the ball at midfield, a conservative team with a conservative head coach who has just influenced the contract extension given to his punter, is probably more likely to run the screen or the draw play than going for the sticks.  Just a hunch.

- Only a couple more weeks till the opening of training camp! What a great time of year !!


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