I said it once and I am going to say it again. Each draft pick in the NFL is vital. It might not appear so from the outset but two or three years later, if GM’s and player personnel directors are not careful; “the chickens may or may not come home to roost.”
Ex-Steelers wide receiver Limas Sweed was drafted by the Steelers in the second round of the 2008 draft, right after Pittsburgh signed the “great” running back Rashard Mendenhall in the first round.
I was called misinformed, mistaken and mislead when I had a very strong and vociferous difference of opinion with the Steelers concerning the future employment of Mendenhall and Sweed. To the best of my recollection; Mendenhall was passed over in the first round of the same draft by the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys. It is also known that for quite some time Ben Roethlisberger had been pining for a six foot four plus size wide-out along the size of ex-Steelers and current NY Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress who was his favorite guy to throw the “fade” to anywhere on the field but especially when the black and gold reached the ‘red zone’.
Why oh why would any team of the Steelers tradition draft a running back with far less than a Heisman Trophy mention especially when they had a running back (Willie Parker) who had proven that if you gave him a crack, he would give you a mile. Pittsburgh had also just lost offensive guard Alan Faneca to free agency and had some serious O-line discrepancies to address. My suggested draft sequence for the Steelers for the 2008 draft was; offensive line, first round, defensive line, second round, offensive line, third round. Ladies and gents please press your fast forward button and stop at the year 2011, buck, buck, buck, buck, bucka. The chickens have come home to roost.
The Steelers lost to the Houston Texans 17-10. The defense gave up 17 points on the road to a very good Houston team, 17 lousy points. Big Ben seems to hate “check downs” and short passes. Is he deliberately not calling the alternate plays just so that he may continue on the “road to glory?” Or is he leading the offense down the “road to gory?” Roethlisberger continues in many failed attempts to go “deep” and while doing so is slowly drowning the offense in the shallow water of his enormous ego. Does he have other play calling options and if so is he ignoring them? Something tells me that there is trouble in the Steelers camp and if there isn’t it should be. Was the team’’ plane ride back to Pittsburgh filled with turbulence that originated from sources beside the aircraft?
Head coach Mike Tomlin should have shouted so loud and sprayed saliva so wide that Bruce Arians and Roethlisberger should have been victims of ruptured ear drums and the “Cowher syndrome.” These are the risks of dealing with a pissed off head coach that occasionally require players and subordinate coaches to be on the receiving end of the headmaster’s wrath requiring them to wear hearing aids and gauze face masks.
Roethlisberger reminds me of an old story that my grandfather told me when I thought I was being “slick.” Once a farmer heard a ruckus in the chicken coop. He arrived at the chicken coop. switched on the light in the henhouse and heard a faint sound, he asked a question. He said, “hey is there anybody in here?” Nothing but silence. Then he heard the fox saying in a soft voice, “ain’t nobody in here but us chickens.” The farmer looked around, spotted the fox, walked up to the fox, put his shotgun in his mouth and said, “you ain’t no chicken.” The fox replied, “yes I am chicken, that shotgun got me scared as heck.”
The moral of the story is that Roethlisberger has raided the Steelers henhouse of millions, crowing like a rooster but really being a fox. I know, I know, this week and beyond everyone will be gushing on how courageous Big Ben is for taking a licking and keeping on ticking but the majority of the time the beating may be self inflicted. Big Ben is playing head games with the media and the public.
There is nothing courageous about sitting in the pocket for 3-4 seconds trying to complete a 25 yard or longer pass when you can complete a 10-15 yard pass in 1 ½ -3 seconds. There is no glory in short passes, but the chains keep on moving. When Roethlisberger gets sacked or throws a pick, the yellow finger pointing is directed at the offensive line. If he would get rid of the ball in a timely fashion, he could have O-lineman from the peewee leagues and still complete a significant percentage of his pass attempts if he would just take what the defense gives him.
Time and time and time again, I have said that there is some skullduggery jumping off in the Steelers camp but until someone speaks out, it will be business as usual.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)