Watch Tower: Dissention in Pittsburgh Over Jonathan Dwyer? Plus Hail to the Chief, Art Rooney Sr.

Cut down day always brings a flurry of news around the NFL, this year things were more active than ever at the South Side as the Steelers 2013 Roster contained some surprises, giving the Watch Tower plenty to focus on. And it begins by shining its light on a story that wasn’t told.

Dwyer:  The Glory and Agony of 140 Characters 

The biggest cut that the Steelers made the release of Jonathan Dwyer. Dwyer was not only their season leading rusher, he was also the only healthy back.

  • Nonetheless, he got a visit from the Turk.

The fact that Dwyer’s roster spot was in jeopardy was not a surprise in Steelers Nation. On the blogesphere, (or at least at Behind the Steel Curtain) several articles and many fan exchanges rested on the premise that the numbers game would dictate that either Dwyer or Isaac Redman would be a goner.

But among the professional press, the conventional wisdom was that Dwyer was safe, esp. in light of the injury to Le’Veon Bell, as Jim Wexell’s tweet indicates.

This is why #Steelers wouldn’t have cut Dwyer. They can win with him as feature back.
— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) August 15, 2013

To be fair, the arrival of Felix Jones complicated the picture, but the move to cut Dwyer was nonetheless a surprise.

Shortly after the move became public, Mark Kaboly  of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review dropped a bomb via Twitter:

One last thing on Dwyer … it wasn’t the coaching staff that wanted him gone.
— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) September 2, 2013

In journalism speak, Kabloy had a scoop.

News of the front office overruling the coaching staff on a personnel selection, regarding a past and potential future starter, is a tremendous news coup for Kaboly. In fact, such a morsel literally screams for more.

  • Yet none was forth coming.

Not in the regular Tribune Review, not in the Steel Mill Blog (which still remains inaccessible from the Trib’s main Steelers site – yours truly had thought the blog had gone dark and needed to find it by Googling it), not anywhere else.

To make matters worse, Kabloy himself seemed to validate the need for more information in an additional Tweet.

24 hours later and it still makes no sense whey #Steelers released Dwyer.
— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) September 1, 2013

  • The Watch Tower agrees… or at least it makes no sense that a further explanation was given.

Kaboly obviously learned that Dwyer had supporters on the coaching staff, perhaps the entire coaching staff, but that they were overruled by someone else in the organization, and since you can rule out the business and scouting departments, that leaves the front office.

Which means that someone named Colbert and/or someone name Rooney spoke up on the issue. What happened?

  • Did the coaches split and Colbert/Rooney provided the deciding influence?
  • Were the coaches united, but a cap conscious Kevin Colbert, with backing from Rooney, overruled them?
  • Or did Art Rooney II just pull rank?

We know from Bob Labriola’s tweets that coaches had concerns about Dwyer, but no matter how you slice it there’s a story screaming to be told there, and one that goes far beyond the confines of Twitter’s 140 characters.

5 Bars of Hail to The Chief

August 25 marked the 25th Anniversary of the passing of a legend, namely the death of Steelers founder Art Rooney Sr.

The death of Art Rooney Sr. was a touchstone moment for me, as it coincided with my renewed following of the team (not very easy to do from suburban Maryland in the pre-internet era.)

And although his passing had little impact on the Steelers, clearly Pittsburgh lost some of its finest citizens then.

  • Credit the Post-Gazette for remembering the anniversary.

It was entirely appropriate to do so and the Tribune Review did not run anything on the Chief. Neither did ESPN, nor did any of the other major fan sites.

  • Yet the commemorative piece(s) were not without problems.

The article dealt with the way in which the five Rooney sons divided their father’s possessions, and then offered perspectives on how each of the five Rooney sons, Dan, Art Jr., Tim, John, and Pat, felt about that day and provided some insights into the relationships that the men had with their father.

  • The real issue was with the Post-Gazette’s presentation of the articles. There was one article which told the entire story. And then there were five other articles on each of the Rooney brothers.

The problem was that the individual pieces on the Rooney brothers were written as part of a single story, and not intended to be stand alone pieces. So if you clicked on one of the individual links, such as the story on Tim Rooney, the stories were disjointed, making references to events in other stories.

The Post Gazette did later provide some clarifying text and a link to the main story, but that was only after several people complained via Facebook.

PG Takes Shot at SEO?

One possible reason behind the Post-Gazette’s decision to publish multiple articles on the Rooney brothers is to catch more search engine traffic.

  • SEO, for those not familiar with the term, is the art of trying to get your pages to rank well on Google (and Bing, for what that’s worth) so that you get more visitors to your site.

While the Watch Tower has not (yet) done any comprehensive assessment of how the various major Steelers news sites fare in SEO, some cursoury analysis shows them lagging behind the competition.

Search rankings for major Steelers related stories are frequently dominated by the likes of Behind the Steel Curtain and the Bleacher Report.

The decision to break the Rooney stories up into multiple pieces, could be a step towards changing that, as could their decision to create a separate landing page for what has been a rather impressive series of regular season previews.

Post-Gazette Goof on Dwyer

While the Post-Gazette’s regular season preview coverage was generally very good, they did let one rather glaring error slip through in Ed Bouchette’s Five Keys piece as the screen shot reveals:

Jonathan Dwyer had been cut by the time this ran…
  • The problem with this piece is that Jonathan Dwyer had already been cut by the time this article ran.

Its normal (and highly advisable) to write stories like this in advance of publication, but going back and making these corrections is also necessary.

Steelers Today Goes Dark?

Finally, the Watch Tower notes, and laments, what appears to be the passing of a long established, well written fan site Steelers Today.

Steelers Today has been around for several years, dating back to about 2006 if memory serves. While the site was known for long periods of inactivity during the off season, it had been active up until the NFL draft.

However, attempts to access it now reveal that the domain registry has expired, seemingly signaling that the days one of the more prominent fan-based sites has unfortunately come to an end.

Thanks for visiting. Click here to check out the rest of Steel Curtain Rising. Or… Follow @SteelCurtainRis

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