Loose Slag from the Still Mill�� (Aug. 28th, �01)
Some loose slag after the Lions game...�
- Before the Pittsburgh media burns up any more computer keyboards fawning over the play of Kordell Stewart in the Detroit game, allow me to splash a bucket of cold reality onto the situation.�� Yes, I am glad that Stewart seems more comfortable with the simplified offense.� Yes, I liked his read and completion to Breuner under duress.�� Yes, I liked the 96-yard march.�� But let�s hold off, if we may, for at least a couple of weeks, before proclaiming that Stewart has �turned the corner� and is now fully at the top of his game, etc.� We�ve been teased before with these decent flashes of genius before from Stewart...only to be quickly let down with sub-par play.� Unfortunately, Stewart will probably play only 2 series this Thurs. versus Buffalo, so we won�t get much of a read on his play from that game.� I still have grave concerns over Stewart�s willingness �- or lack thereof -� to go downfield in the passing game, and his ability to deliver the ball with crispness, arc, distance, and confidence.�� He threw downfield just twice in the Lions game.� One was a flag route to a wide open Troy Edwards, but Stew�s pass was a short lollipop that was caught by a diving Edwards, thus negating any RAC yardage.�� The other downfield pass was the go-route to Burress, which was woefully underthrown, and worse, had little more arc than a Randy Johnson fastball.�� Stewart�s had the luxury these past 3 preseason games to face not only softee, inept defenses, but also defenses that are playing the usual preseason-vanilla with very little of the elaborate blitzing schemes that Coughlin�s Jaguars will show on opening day.� I think I�ll wait at least 2 regular season games before proclaiming that Stewart is The Savior.
- Humorous articles in the PG and TR on the tubby tailback, Jerome Bettis, especially for those folks who claim I�ve been �too hard� on the tubby tailback.� Said Cowher, and I quote, "This whole off-season he was more involved," Cowher said. "I always thought he let his weight get out of hand in the off-season, and he'd come back and try to lose it real quick before camp, and he had those little injuries.��� I can�t make up stuff this good.�� First you have Cowher, who openly admits, �I always thought he (Bettis) let his weight get out of hand�.�� Funny -� the same thing happened with Tub Kirkland, who was quoted as saying, amidst a hearty laugh, �Coach Cowher tells me every year to get down to a certain weight, but I just kind of ignore it and do my own thing...��� Uh, ha ha.� Some will argue that, with guaranteed contracts, a coach has no control over these players.�� Absolute horse manure.� A Bill Parcells has no problem getting a fat boy into shape, and if the guy refuses to listen, Parcells would take appropriate action.� In the Bill Cowher school of leadership, the �action� is to simply do nothing at all, except turn a blind eye to the obvious.� Some will also argue, �But Bettis was productive anyway.�� Sure, he was. �But the enemy of the best is the good.� While Bettis produced �x� number of yards, could he have produced more if he would have had his fat ass in shape?�� Absolutely.� And that is why Bettis deserves at least half the blame.� He�s a pro athlete, and he�s getting paid a handsome salary to be IN shape and ready to go the moment camp opens.� Real leaders and real professionals, like a Woodson, a Lloyd, a Walter Payton, et al, came in to camp already in shape and ready to hunt bear.�� Bettis can rationalize and make feeble excuses and cry about his knee, but he has only himself to blame for spending his offseasons doing strenuous workouts at the bowling alley and munching down all the free chow he gets from Giant Eagle.� And, similar to the fawning over Stewart, let�s hold off on lavishing the tubby tailback with praise for his �quickness� and �being in shape�.� First off, he�s run against 3 of the softest defenses in the entire NFL -� Atlanta, Minn., and Detroit.�� Those 8-foot wide holes that Bettis has looked so �quick� running through, simply ain�t gonna be there come the regular season.� Let�s see how �quick� the tubby tailback looks versus Baltimore.� Or Tennessee.� Or Tampa. �Or any defense that run-blitzes 80% of the time.� 2nd, it�s easy to remain in shape in the Spartan environment of training camp at St. Vincent College.� Let�s see how well Bettis maintains his current weight of 265-pounds as the season progresses.� Let�s see if Bettis, free from the confines of training camp, can avoid bloating to 270 or 275.
- By the way, let the record show that this web site was undeniably the very first to report on Bettis� burgeoning belly, way back in 1999.� We�ve gotten a lot of flak for it...not that we mind, of course, because we�re here to analyze and report on the Stillers, not hold hands and sing �Koom-bye-ah�.�� If it comes to our attention that a Bettis or a Kirkland is grossly fat and overweight, we�ll report it, regardless of how many cries of �You�re being too hard on him� and �Bettis weighs only 255 -- it says so in the media guide� we get.�
- Allow me to elaborate more on my feelings on Cowher�s 2 favorite 3rd down plays -� the screen and the draw.� First off, both of these plays can be effective -� when they are used economically and are SET UP against a defense that is not expecting it.��� The problem with the Nickel-Dime Offense is that 98% of the passing plays occur within 8 yards of the LOS.�� Just the other day, in fact, on a 3rd and 5, Troy Edwards caught a pass literally 3 inches past the LOS, and managed to squirm for a 3 or 4 yard gain, and we punted.� So, you have a problem when facing defense that are sitting on anything within 5 yards of the LOS, and defenses that are downright expecting the draw or screen.� Draws and screens are, by design, successful when opposing LBs dash away from the LOS in order to help in zone coverage and cover TEs and RBs.� Obviously, with the 15-cent offense that rarely throws downfield; rarely uses its oafish TE; and has a running QB that causes teams to assign a �spy�, the opposing defense is more often than not in decent position to stuff the screen and force the punt.� The other problem, is that neither Atlanta, Minn., nor Detroit has the skill on defense, combined with the savvy knowledge of our offense, as does Balt., Tenn., and even Cleveland.� (Remember, back in �99, it was Cleveland that smelled out a 4th quarter screen, got the INT, and thereby got a late, cheap TD that helped them win the game.)� That gaudy yardage we�ve gotten in preseason against teams that are poor defensively and ignorant of our offense, will be hard to replicate in the regular season.� And lastly, I like Amos on those screens and draws, but come the regular season, you�ll see much more of the tubby tailback and a lot less of the fastest, most elusive back on the team.��
- Nothing too noteworthy on the first round of cuts.� It�s pretty blas� when the �biggest name� on the cut list is Nakia Codie.� The next round will obviously be very critical.�
- Can anyone tell me what the 4-headed QB routine has accomplished?�� Martin has played in only 2 games thus far.� Funeral or not, he was going to get very little, or no, PT versus Detroit.� �Martin has looked only so-so.� He was victimized by some drops, but on the flip side, he�s been a little erratic and has been facing a lot of players who will be joining Codie and company at the unemployment office.� It would have been nicer to see him get more work, but then �- that takes us back to the problem of too many QBs and not enough game-time.� Ditto for Maddox, who most likely won�t get much PT, if any, this week against Buff.� If Graham ends up being cut -- and I believe he will -� this entire camp and preseason has done exactly nothing in terms of providing the maximum development from the 2 inexperienced backups.�