Rollback prices, bargain basement, lemon laws, all of the aforementioned can be used to describe the flurry of activity to describe the so-called wheeling and dealing of the Pittsburgh Steelers in regards to the juggling of players during the past month or so. The actual 2010 draft will end up secondary in regards to who steps on the field to compete for the Black and Gold.
The Steelers “dun” good by selecting junior center Maurkice Pouncey from Florida in the first round. They finally got it but as I have previously stated they should have concentrated on the offensive and defensive line starting with the 2008 draft. That year, (2008) Pittsburgh drafted a slightly above average running back, Rashard Mendenhall in the first round and a projected slightly above average wideout Limas Sweed in the second.
They needed to draft someone like Pouncey in the first or second round in 2008 so the running backs, including Willie Parker, could have had a few more running lanes to dance through and Big Ben Roethlisberger and his backup crew would have had better passing lanes when they were throwing the pigskin. At this point the Steelers could have been two years into a great offensive line rejuvenation if management had decided to shore up their offensive and defensive lines.
They knew offensive lineman Alan “Big Red” Faneca was preparing to break camp so getting a first or second rounder to fill his slot should have been a crucial part of their rebuilding strategy. The best available athlete should be the best man to fill your “immediate” needs. Big Ben was operating from a pocket that was collapsing faster than Zeke Kwasniewski’s accordion bellows at a Polish social but management went out and drafted a running back, whose shoulder was injured when “big play” Ray Lewis, the ageless and soon-to-be Hall-of-Fame linebacker from the Ravens met Mr. Mendenhall just after he crossed the line of scrimmage, shoulder pads to shoulder pads with the pads of Mr. Lewis winning the confrontation, hands down.
Of all the “prodigal” Steelers that have returned, Antwaan Randle-El, Larry Foote and Bryant McFadden are considered steel that may be a tad rusty but are being prepared to be thrown in “Steely McBeam’s” furnace to be recast just in time for the upcoming season. I can understand why the Steelers allowed Randle-El to depart to the green pastures of free agency, otherwise known as the land of Daniel Snyder. The Steelers were not prepared or even remotely interested in shelling out the amount of clams that Randle-El required to line up on the Black and Gold scrimmage line. However, I do not, cannot, or will not ever comprehend how they would allow Larry Foote and Bryant McFadden to depart the shores of the Monongahela knowing how thin and inexperienced they were in their linebacking and secondary corps.
The bling-bling ringtone of the Arizona Cardinals “red phone” had to be on the highest volume level when all of a sudden, out of the clear blue, the Steelers came-a-calling. When ex-Steeler, ex-Cardinal and now current Steeler Bryant McFadden was asked whether he was shocked at being back in a Pittsburgh, he said, “It was kind of unexpected. I got a couple of phone calls yesterday, but it wasn’t anything definite. And that’s when my eyes kind of got open to the situation. My agent called me—he was texting me today—giving me the situation about it, that if nothing drastic happens throughout the course of the draft. Neither team selected a corner. So with that being said, I thought that maybe nothing was going to transpire. Then, he hit me with a “it looks like you might be going back to where you started.” It was kind of like “wow,” a situation of transition and moving, and family getting settled, and now you have to up and move. The best part about it is that I know a lot of the guys that still are there from when I was there, so relationships are still open.” Well, obviously the relationship was still sort peachy as far as management was concerned because they didn’t hesitate to break their necks to re-acquire McFadden, especially in light of the bloodletting that left corner William Gay was experiencing on a weekly basis. There were times when a significant percentage of the opponents’ offensive passing game planning was centered around Gay, who was probably, at least from an imagery standpoint, one of the most beleaguered defensive backs in the NFL in 2009.
Pittsburgh had better be thankful that Bryant McFadden was available and had a kind heart. I also hope they learned a lesson in regards to finger pointing. They should realize that they have to venture to higher elevations when they are looking for a scapegoat as opposed to running to a chicken coop.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 421-583-6741.)