The Pittsburgh Steelers have concluded training camp and the preseason, the roster has been trimmed, the waiver wire scoured, and the Steelers 2013 roster has been set, meaning that the time of the year when the media enjoys its most unfettered access to the Steelers players, coaches and front office staff is winding down.
With all of that access, what do they do with it? Let the Watch Tower take a look.
Kovacevic Gets to the Bottom of of the Steelers 2012 Discord
As the Watch Tower was critical of Pittsburgh Tribune Review Writer Dejan Kovacevic last season and it is only just that the Watch Tower now recognize Kovacevic for penning on of the top stories of this preseason/training camp.
Locker room discord was a major under current to the Steelers 2012 8-8 season, and since then there’s been plenty of dirty laundry aired – you know, critiques of LaMarr Woodley’s commitment to training, comments from Antonio Brown about players more focused on stats than winning.
And while the issue has been discussed by the press, Kovacevic went right to the leaders of the defense, Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu and addressed the issue and got both men to speak candidly about the dissension that infected their ranks in 2012.
- If you haven’t read Kovacevic’s column yet, do so.
The role of the credential press in the digital age has been a focus of the Watch Tower lately, and its lights have not shied away from exposing some of the Steelers press corps recent failings.
But Kovacevic’s column shows once again just how fundamentally important it is to have seasoned reporters who have the relationship and the credibility to get straight talk out of players. This bud’s for you Dejan.
Another Piece of the Todd Haley Puzzle Falls into Place
By now, for all of the talk in 2012 to the contrary, everyone knows that Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley had a rocky relationship last season.
- But apparently the Steelers signal caller wasn’t the only one on the outs with the new offensive coordinator.
And Steelers Nation has Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to thank for adding another key variable to the equation.
In writing about the maturing of the Roethlsiberger-Haley relationship, Ed Bouchette offered this:
Relationships with fellow offensive coaches and players never warmed up, and neither did the offense. Things seem to have changed a year later. Ben Roethlisberger, who called it “growing pains,” opened training camp by saying he and Haley see more eye-to-eye. [Emphasis added]
One of the question marks that surrounded Haley’s arrival in Pittsburgh was his ability to work and play well with others. So the fact that he might have rubbed coaches the wrong way is nothing extraordinary.
But this is the first time that the Watch Tower is aware of that any journalist has reported that Haley had difficulties with his fellow coaches, and Bouchette deserves credit for reporting this fact.
A Word on Contracts
Kevin Colbert told KDKA News during the Steelers preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers that there were no on-going negotiations for contract extensions.
That fact in and of itself might not mean much, because the Steelers, while not negotiating contracts during the season since 1993, have been known to make 11th hour signings days before the first game.
- The question of who is eligible for an extension has been banded about greatly during camp and preseason.
But Dale Lolley of the Observer Reporter went out on a limb and predicted that the two most likely players to get extensions were Brett Keisel and Ryan Clark. Kudos to Lolley for having the guts to take a swing at a ball that’s barely within the strike zone.
Steelers Radio Goes Live in LATAM
Ed Bouchette shared some important news for Steelers fans in the very corer of the world where Steel Curtain Rising is written:
As Bouchette explained on Shuila, the Steelers began broadcasting their games live on the radio in Spanish via their website.
The team has a huge following in Mexico and their games have been broadcast in Mexico for at least a year.
- But now radio broadcasts will be carried throughout Latin American cast via the Steelers website.
The broadcast team does a good job and is clearly knowledgeable of the game (which is a plesant treat, during the Steelers 2010 road victory over Baltimore, one of ESPN’s Spanish commentators confused Dante Stallworth with John Stallworth. Several times he claimed that Dante was a former Steelers, until Raul Allegre finally corrected him.)
One element which the production can improve on is filling in the commercial gaps. During the Steelers loss to the Giants, instead of airing commercials there was dead air time – leaving anyone who stopped by the site at that time to wonder if they were indeed broadcasting the game.
- Absent commercials, they could have provided additional commentary, or provided free publicity to American football clubs in Latin America, such as the FAA (Argentine American Football league).
Listening to a football game on the radio doesn’t compare to baseball on the radio, but this is a wise marketing move for the Steelers.
Are the Steelers Injury Problems Really Worse?
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been ravaged by injuries during the last several seasons. But its been an open question as to whether the Steelers are better or wrose off than the rest of the league.
Basic statistics such as starter games lost to injury are not available to the public, leading Art Rooney II to cite one number and a columnist of the Dallas Morning News to calculate another.
PA-VA Steeler from Behind the Steel Curtain took the matter into his own hands (full disclosure, I also writer for BTSC). Using the best available research, the BTSC scribe compiled the Steelers injury totals for the entire Mike Tomlin era and compared them with the rest of the league.
- Steel Curtain Rising’s editorial policy is not to steal the thunder of another writer, so you’ll need to check the piece to see the conclusion.
But the Watch Tower doesn’t need to spill the beans to call out BTSC for sedding light on dearly deserves it. And again, the Watch Tower asks, why has the credentialed press not pursued this story more aggressively?
Bragging Rights for a Paper Champion?
BTSC also earns kudos for its film analysis of Brian Arnfelt. No one on the press talked about him, but as their film review reveals, he is one kid who really took advantage of his time on the field.
While Brian Arnfelt did not survive the Steelers final cut, he did make the practice squad. Scott Brown, whom ESPN recently poached from the Tribune Review, made mention of Arnfelt after he’d made the practice squad.
But BTSC singled this kid out first, and if he develops into to another one of Kevin Colbert’s undrafted rookie free agent steals, BTSC will have “bragging rights.”
Watch Tower Gets Some Competition?
Again, the Watch Tower finds space to single out BTSC, this time for doing a Watch Towerish piece of their own. While not strictly Steelers related, Christopher Carter, rightly called out the NFL for pressuring ESPN to pull out of a documentary on concussions.
- The NFL has gone on the offensive regarding concussions this off season, which they have a right to.
- Steelers.com has in fact published many well researched articles on the subject.
But the NFL’s only fooling themselves if they think that pressuring broadcast partners to kill projects like this will some out make the concussion issue “go away.”
For Whom the Bell Doesn’t Toll
Finally, without a doubt, the hottest Steelers story in July and early August was the emergence of second round draft pick Le’von Bell. Both the professional press and fans making a pilgrimage to St. Vincents have been at a loss to describe how good Bell has looked.
Mike Tomlin has long been loathe to anoint starters, but there was little surprise when Gerry Dulac reported 3 days before the Steelers preseason opener vs. the Giants that Bell would run with the starters.
On the morning of the game, Ed Bouchette declared:
A new era that harkens back to an old one could begin at Heinz Field tonight when the Steelers play the New York Giants in their first exhibition game.
- Bouchette then went as far as to compare Le’Veon Bell’s preseason debut to that of Franco Harris….
…By the time it was all said and done, it was the debut that never was, as Mike Tomlin made Bell a scratch due to knee soreness.
The Watch Tower does not want to single out Bouchette on this one, as the entire Pittsburgh press crops was caught flat footed on this one, in spite of the fact that these reporters are living, working, eating, and sleeping along side the Steelers franchise while at St. Vincents.