250 Reasons to Be Proud of Pittsburgh

Steel Curtain Rising has an (almost) strict policy of “Steelers Only” when it comes to content.

And, this video commemorating the 250th Anniversary of Pittsburgh does mention the Steelers, so I guess that counts. Its about 7 minutes long, but worth the watch.

The Steelers and Steelers Nation have brought the city of Pittsburgh fame and notoriety far beyond what the city’s population or size would imply. And the Steelers are a rightful source of civic pride.

But there are so many reasons for Pittsburghers to be proud, even those of us such as yours truly who never actually lived there, and this video serves as a pleasant reminder.

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Pittsburgh Chapter of PFWA Honors Bailey, Clark

Steelers linebacker Patrick Bailey was honored by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association as the team’s 2008 rookie of the year.

While Bailey’s certainly distinguished himself on special teams, his selection underlies the fact that thus far the Steelers 2008 draft class has been very, very short on results. Rashard was lost for the season in the four game of the season, Limas Sweed only has six catches, and the rest of the picks have played little, are on IR, or the practice squad.

The association also honored Ryan Clark with its “Cheif Award,” which they present to the member of the Steelers organization who best embodies the spirit of cooperation with the media as established by Steelers founder Art Rooney Sr.

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Steelers Make Moves Ahead of Free Agency

The Steelers have begun bracing for free agency by making two moves. First, they resigned Travis Kirschke, then the slapped the transition tag on Max Starks.

Signing Kirschke is a safe move. He’s is clearly a step down from Aaron Smith and Bret Kiesel, but he’s a body, and he knows the system. They also gave him next to nothing in bonus money, so he can be cut easily.

Moving to keep Max Starks in the fold is a much bigger, much more important move. When the offensive line play got shaky one of the first things that occurred to me is “why in the hell did they bench Starks?” as Willie Colon did not seem to be an upgrade. And Starks really, really played well when Marvel Smith went down.

Assuming we keep him, he helps shore up the offensive line. I’ve heard various combinations, such as moving Colon to guard, putting Starks back in at tackle, and perhaps even moving Stephenson to center. Keeping Stakers does not make up for losing Fanaca, but it’s a start.

Will we keep him? I don’t know. According to the Post Gazette, the transition tag gives the Steelers the right of first refusal. Now a team could structure the deal so as to screw the Steelers, and that may happen. The Steelers also have to offer him an average of the to ten tackles in the league. That’s got to come to a pretty big number.

Is Starks really worth that? Possibly not. But he was good enough to start on our Super Bowl team. He bounced back from a difficult demotion, and we desperately need offensive lineman, so this is the right move.

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Watch what they do, not what they say?

In the course of making his off season press rounds, Kevin Colbert recently made a jaw dropping statement. Colbert, as quoted by the Post Gazette, went on record saying “To say you need that position and that it is a glaring need, I don’t think it’s really fair to that group of guys. That being said, sure you want to add depth….”

Excuse me? This is the same unit that gave up 47 sacks in 2007, on the heels of giving up 49 sacks in 2006…. About the only reason why Ben wasn’t sacked more was because he did not start the last game of the season. And for all of Colbert’s bravado about “this is the same line that blocked for the league’s leading rusher through 14 games…” we consistently failed to run the ball inside the entire year.

Colbert is delusional right?

That was the first reaction here, a reaction no doubt shared elsewhere.

Yet, while Colbert’s words do raise the eyebrow, take them with the proverbial grain of salt.

Case in point, the 2002 season. The Steelers opened the year getting trounced by Oakland and New England. Oakland, with Gannon throwing to Tim Brown and Jerry Rice, tearing us up. As for New England, they don’t even run the ball. It’s good that Tommy Gun had his day in the sun then, because our secondary had become a sieve. (Who can forget the painful image of the once proud Lee Flowers running with all his might – and getting burnt – in the playoffs.)

The secondary was as weak then as the offensive line is now. Right?

Following the 2002 season Kevin Colbert declared that the Steelers were happy with their secondary as it was….

Although “Steel Curtain Rising” did not exist then, this writer roundly criticized Colbert for that statement one year later, when the Steelers secondary was shredded like Swiss Cheese in route to a 6-10 record.

And therein lies the lesson.

In the 2003 draft, the Steelers first three picks went SS, LB, CB. We also picked corners in the second round of the two successive drafts.

Alonzo Jackson and Ricardo Colclough were busts, but Tory Polamalu, Ike Taylor, and Bryant McFadden made substantial contributions toward bringing home one for the thumb.

In 2003 Colbert dismissed the Steelers needs to the press, then promptly acted toward filling them at the first chance he got. Ed Bouchette suggested in his on-line chat that Colbert was just being politic, and Colbert’s history suggests that that is exactly the case.

Let’s hope this is one case where past performance is an indication of future results, as we need to improve the offensive line in the worst way.

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