Watch Tower: Did the Steelers Drink the “Baltimore Breeze” Kool Aid?

Bill Cowher was almost as famous for his clichés as he was his chin. An apt one in the wake of the debacle in Baltimore is:

“Never spend too much time reading your own press clippings.”

Cowher should know. Over confidence was his teams’ Achilles heel during the ‘90’s.

Although “trap games” bedeviled Mike Tomlin in ’07 and ’09, I don’t know if strictly speaking, over confidence was an issue.

That may have been part of the equation leading to the total breakdown in Baltimore.

First, consider the narrative leading into the game:

  • The Ravens couldn’t beat Roethlisberger
  • Flacco couldn’t beat the Steelers
  • The lockout = minimal roster turnover good
  • Ravens had lots of roster turnover (think bad)
  • Ravens had serious upheaval on their offensive line
  • Ravens so desperate that they had to pull left tackle Bryant McKinnie off of the scrap heap

The Watch Tower feels confident in pronouncing that none of this, not an iota, made its way into Mike Tomlin’s consciousness.

IF there is an NFL coach who cares less about what the opinions, interpretations, and pronouncements of the media than Mike Tomlin I don’t know who that person is.

But Tomlin is only one employee. Consider that:

  • He’s got 12 coaches on his staff
  • The Steelers 2010 Media Guide lists bios for 22 other scouts, assistants and other front office personnel
  • 53 players plus 8 practice squad players
  • The same Media Guide also devotes two compelte pages of small print listing other team employees

Did any of them imbibe on the breeze through Baltimore Kool Aid inspite of the best wishes and intentions of their head coach?

Social Media and Pro Football Press Coverage

A mere ten years ago an objective observer from outside the organization could only say “You know, you raise a legitimate question, but there’s no real answer to that question, only speculation. Thanks for playing.”

Today in 2011, by virtue of social media, things are a little different.

For starters, the Pittsburgh media bought into this story line hook line and sinker. Some in the Steelers Press Corps stopped just short of openly deriding Baltimore’s personnel moves and subsequent situation.

Particular attention was heaped on the Bryant McKinnie pick up. None of this is new, but a curious Tweet caught my attention just before kickoff. It read:

The word in Baltimore is that LT Bryant McKinnie’s weight “is in the 360s.” He didn’t played a snap all preseason.

Had Ed Bouchette, Scott Brown, Dale Lolley, or Jim Wexell tweeted this they’d just be using the new media to pass on a factoid.

But the Tweeter didn’t originate from the main stream press nor a blogger.

It came from the Steelers Digest, the in house publication. The Digest has been in publication since the late ‘80’s, and yours truly has subscribed since 1990. Its generally a good publication and more objective than it is given credit for.

But the Rooneys sign the paychecks of the paper’s editorial staff. And while 140 characters don’t leave room for a lot of subtexts, this tweet was not meant to complement McKinnie.

This at least raises that possibility that at least some portion of the Steelers organization jumped on the Bash Baltimore bandwagon.

That in and of itself is pretty thin evidence, even if it is drawing on some “hard” information Steelers Nation would not have had a mere decade ago.

But something in Ed Bouchette’s post-game summary on PG Plus also raises an eyebrow:

Troy Polamalu had an interesting line after the game. I did not hear him say it but it was on one of those quote sheets they pass out in the press box after the game. So, I’ll just have to take it how it reads (they tape record player interviews and type up their comments) without any voice reflection or context.

He said this: “It’s incredibly humbling which, obviously, we needed at this point . . . It’ll be interesting to see how we perservere. [sic] This is a big step towards humility.”

They needed to be humbled? I need to remember to ask him why next time I see Polamalu. Were they too cocky, too confident, too full of themselves as the reigning AFC champs? I thought the Packers might have knocked that out of them. Remember the nameplate from the Super Bowl losing locker room that Ben R. said he hangs next to his bathroom mirror so it reminds him daily of that loss?

Bouchette’s pretty clear that he cannot give this quote any context, and Polamalu for one is the same guy who said the Steelers defense would improve with Tyronne Carter starting in his place and didn’t think he deserved the 2010 team MVP honors.

At the end of the day this all still amounts to speculation, albeit speculation support with a modicum of factual evidence.

But one must suppose that such “they were over looking them” explinations make such a horrendous loss just a little more palatable.

Thumbs Up for “After Further Review”

Scott Brown is getting some help on the Tribune Review’s Steelers beat in the form of regular articles and posts by Mark Kaboly.

One of Kaboly’s regular features is “After Further Review” posted on the site’s “Steel Mill Blog,” which breaks down the video tape after each loss.

It was a welcome feature during the preseason for those of us who could not see the games.

His breakdown of the Raven’s game in “After Further Review” was excellent, and confirmed a lot of things that had occurred to me watching the game. Its quite common for bloggers to go back and TiVo Steelers game and return with all sorts of analysis.

We’d love to do that here on Steel Curtain Rising but simply do not have time.

After one game, Kaboly’s “After Further Review” serves as the perfect substitute.

In keeping with Steel Curtain Rising’s policy of not stealing another writer’s thunder I won’t go into details about his analysis, but I will say that those looking for scapegoats would be wrong to focus soley on Jonathan Scott and Doug Legursky (and yes, yours truly singled both of those men out.)

Thanks for visiting. To read more analysis of the media that cover the Steelers, click here to read more from Steel Curtain Rising’s Watch Tower.

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