Friday, February 13, 2015

An Open Letter to Mr. Rooney, Coach Tomlin, and the Rest of the Steelers' Organization

Dear Steelers' Leadership,

I've been a Pittsburgh Steelers fan since I was old enough to know what a football was, so my support of the team is nearing the 40 year mark. Terry Bradshaw was, and still is, one of my heroes. I had the privilege of meeting him once many, many years ago. I'll never forget that day.
Terry Bradshaw (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last few years have been, to say the least, frustrating to be a Steelers fan. We missed the playoffs in both 2012 and '13 and then were one and done this year after getting man-handled by the hated Ravens at HOME. One playoff game in three years is unacceptable. Furthermore, if we take a look back to 2011, we went to Denver and were one and done, too. So, we've played TWO playoff games in the last five seasons and lost both of them. Once again - unacceptable.

When Todd Haley was brought in as offensive coordinator starting with the 2012 season, my immediate initial reaction was, "What the ...... heck?!? His Kansas City teams were sorry with him as head coach, so why do the Steelers want him in charge of the offense? I felt sure it would be a disaster, and 2012 and '13 were pretty much just that as we struggled to finish .500 each year and lost to some of the worst teams in the NFL.

Haley's offensive prowess has been far less than stellar. Four of the Steelers' five losses this year were to teams with losing records. In two of those, embarrassing losses to the Browns and Jets, Haley showed exactly how inept he is as the offense was completely discombobulated scoring only 10 points against the Browns and only 13 against the lowly Jets. Pathetic and completely unacceptable. So, what do you guys do? You reward him with a contract extension. Yippee!! Seriously?

Now, I would agree that Big Ben had the best year of his career this year, but I would chalk that up to the young talent Ben has around him, including Leveon Bell and Antonio Brown. Those two guys are beasts and fun to watch. Heck, I could be a successful offensive coordinator if I had those guys to get the ball to. Haley did not deserve the extension.
English: Dick Lebeau with Mr. and Mrs. John Mi...
English: Dick Lebeau with Mr. and Mrs. John Mitchell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The thing I really don't get is why does Haley get an extension and yet the legend and Super Bowl winning defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau, gets the ax? Seriously? Has the organization's leadership been smoking pot with Leveon Bell and the departed problem child LeGarrette Blount? LeBeau's defenses were the best in the league for years. The last two years have been down years, but Lebeau's been working with players that in NFL years are nearly old enough to draw Social Security. For instance:
  • Brett Keisel - 36 years old, just completed his 13th NFL season
  • Troy Polamalu - 33 years old, just completed his 12th NFL season
  • James Harrison - 36 season, just completed his 11th NFL season
  • Ike Taylor - 34 years old, just completed his 12th NFL season
Of the four players listed above, only one, James Harrison, was healthy and contributing at the end of the year. Why? Because they're old in terms of their NFL career and old players seem to get injured easier and then take longer to heal. Lebeau was expected to turn out a Top-5 defense every year and do it with antiques. For years, the Steelers have been needing to draft younger players for the secondary, in particular, and haven't done it. That's on Mr. Rooney and Coach Tomlin, not Dick Lebeau. Shame on you guys for making Lebeau the scapegoat.

So, Haley gets an extension, Lebeau gets the ax, and Keith Butler is promoted from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator to take over for Lebeau. Bet that's really gonna help things a lot - promoting the longtime linebackers coach who will likely run the same schemes with the same antique players. Puh-lease. Yep, the Ravens are gonna kill us again next year, too.

I've been thinking. Since kicking Lebeau to the curb, promoting Butler, and giving Haley an extension seem to imply a youth movement is taking over the Steelers. Please allow me to make some suggestions about how to continue "the movement."

First, the four geezers playing defense I mentioned before, Keisel, Polamalu, Harrison, and Taylor, should be released. Then, the focus of the 2015 draft needs to be defense. Cornerbacks and safeties should be the first priority. Forget about high-priced free agents that will bust the salary cap. Go get new blood and go get it now. You guys have already waited too long. I know the fans will have a duck letting these guys go, but afterall, it's nothing personal - it's just business. Right? Isn't that the line you guys in the front office always give us?

Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsbrgh Steelers d...
Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsbrgh Steelers during an NFL game in 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Second, Big Ben Roethlisberger is currently in contract negotiations. Reports are that he's looking for a mega long term deal. Fugedabboutit. In 2008, you guys gave him an 8-year $102 Million deal. I say, "No mas!" He's already had his big deal. That ship has sailed. Ben has been an asset to the franchise winning two Super Bowls for us. However, he's gonna be 33 years old shortly, and he just completed his 11th season. Once again - geezer. And this geezer has lost more than a few steps. All the hits he's taken the last 11 years are piling up. His mobility is now more like immobility. It was obvious last year. It won't be long before he'll need a Lil' Rascal to get away from Terrell Suggs.

So give Ben a 3-year deal worth $10 Million a year or so, maybe even $15 Million to say thank you for the two additional Lombardi Trophies. Then, in the 2015 draft, get a quarterback. Heck, trade up and get a good one, and during the next three years Ben can teach and mentor him as his successor. If Ben doesn't like it, he's been there long enough to know where the door is. Just remind him he still has one year left on his contract, and we expect him to earn every dime.

Now the question is, "who do we draft"? I'm so glad you asked. It's simple. Go get Jameis Winston. The kid's got a rifle for an arm, is big, and can move. On more than one occasion, I've heard the pundits compare him to Big Ben. Yes, I know there's all those "issues" but didn't Ben have some of his own a few years ago? Ben then straightened his life out and has been a "good boy" since. Who better to mentor and guide Winston than a guy like Ben who's been there, done that, and come out of it smelling like a rose? Plus, Winston already knows what it takes to win a championship and has a ring to prove it. Jameis is your guy. Go get him.

Now, I know the things I mentioned above will be tough to do. Cutting Keisel, Polamalu, Harrison, and Taylor, as well as not giving Ben the contract he wants will not make the fans happy. Newsflash guys - WE AIN'T HAPPY NOW!!

And please, don't worry about how Brett, Troy, James, Ike, Ben, and other players feel about it. They're big boys - they'll get over it. Afterall, it's just business and the goal is the 7th Lombardi Trophy, right?

THE Pissed Off Steelers Fan

P.S. Mr. Rooney, while you're showing Brett, Troy, James, and Ike the door, please show it too Coach Tomlin, too. Two playoff games in 5 years ain't getting it. I mean, isn't that part of the reason Lebeau got shown the door? Fair is fair. See ya Tomlin. No hard feelings - it's just business. 

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