Inside Conditions…Baby Steps

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Hey there friends, I was once part of an ABA (American Basketball Association) ownership that included introducing the ‘Carolina Cats’ to the world of professional basketball.  Last Saturday shortly after the “crack of noon” I was watching the Pitt Panthers men’s basketball squad being barbecued better than a slab of Carolina ribs by North Carolina State.

N.C. State had a 17-2 advantage within the first five minutes I think; it was all such a blur. At that point that I began to channel surf.  For the next 10 minutes I began to view a political program on Fox News and they had the whip out for President Obama so I moved on from there.

Suddenly without any warning whatsoever, one of my former colleagues from “North Cackalackee” gave me a ring-e-dingee with gloating being the first thing on his agenda.

“See I told you and I kept tellin you and tellin you Pitt should have stayed put in the Big East.  The ACC is just too strong.  Look at ‘em, they look like boys’ against men trying to stay with N.C. Yaw’ll better call and beg the Big East and pray that they allow Pitt to come back. Pittsburgh is in way above their heads.”

Pip, said the rabbit, pap, pap said the bear, well it looks as if Pitt ain’t going nowhere.

AS I said previously, Pitt fell behind 17-2 and trailed by eight at halftime, but dominated the second half by shooting 63% to build a double-digit lead that caused the “cat” to scratch the tongues of the many of the “tea party” crowd.

Pitt faced a 34-28 deficit but planted a few “trees in the paint” scoring  26 of their 34 points in the second half.  N.C. State  however could only shoot a measly 30% (8-for-27) in the second half after a sizzling first half.

Pitt's Lamar Patterson (21), Talib Zanna (42) and James Robinson (0) react towards the end of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C., Jan. 4. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Pitt’s Lamar Patterson (21), Talib Zanna (42) and James Robinson (0) react towards the end of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C., Jan. 4. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

I called my “boy” back when it appeared that Pitt had the game in hand.  “Maybe” I said, “just maybe, N.C. State should be the ones calling the Big East begging them to force Pitt back into competing in their former conference.

Where there’s smoke, there may be fire.

On January 3, 2014 the Pittsburgh Steelers announced the termination of the contract of offensive line coach Jack Bicknell, Jr. With the numerous injuries and inexperience it is my opinion that Mr.  Bicknell didn’t do such a bad job but when you flip the coin, someone has to go and “dats the name of dat tune.” Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin issued a statement saying;  “I have decided to go in a different direction with respect to the coaching of our offensive line. I want to thank Jack for his contributions during the 2013 season, and I wish him well in the future.”

ittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, left, watches from the sideline in the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

ittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, left, watches from the sideline in the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

First the Steelers Nation was hoodwinked into thinking that Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin was the problem.  When that notion was dispelled, the yoke was placed around the neck of the Steelers Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley.  Finally the yoke was placed around the neck of the perfect “scapegoat” that could be “sacrificed ” without much fuss and that was Offensive Line Coach, Jack Bicknell.

The offensive production of the Steelers increased significantly not because of better coaching by the staff, it became more productive because the players executed the plays correctly.

By the very nature of the “no huddle” offense the quarterback can get rid of the ball faster and the defense often reacts slower because they don’t have the full complement of time to set up an adequate defensive scheme that will be fully effective.  If this was not so then there would be a “no huddle” defense. There may be fewer blitzes, game playing and stunts by the defensive line, linebackers and secondary’s because oftentimes new calls from coaches “upstairs in the box” cannot be relayed to defenses on the field in a timely fashion to affect the offensive calls and plays. Unless a wide receiver is “wide open” any quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers should be penalized if a ball thrown more than 40 yards is intercepted.

Todd Haley’s playbook is just not tailored for downfield, low percentage pass plays.  This offense is not equipped with jet engines to be “air Roethlisberger.”  The only vehicles that the Pittsburgh Steelers offense should be using in route to the end zone are trains, trucks, busses and maybe a few “puddle jumping” twin engine propeller aircraft only to be used in “extreme emergencies.

Again, Todd Haley has the perfect offense for the sometimes slow reacting, even slower defense reading Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.  If you hand off the ball faster and throw passes even faster; it is my guess that there will more than likely be less turnovers because defenses will not be as close to the ball or the action as they would normally be.  Who says? “Dr. Peanut” says, dats who!

All the friggin pundits seem very happy, even almost giddy that Ben Roethlisberger has finally “bought in” to the Steelers “new,” well almost new offensive philosophy.  “Big” Ben has turned over a new leaf, but as far as 2013 goes, it is too little and maybe too late; well at least as far as the Steelers current personnel grouping is concerned.  Pittsburgh is on shaky ground as far as their wide receiver corps is concerned.  don’t forget that wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders will be an unrestricted free agent this year.  Will he be back? Only the creator knows whether the “crik” is going to rise. You digg.. One thing is for certain and two things are for sure.  Will the Steelers be issuing a statement in 2014 or 2015 about the terminations of any of their current  coaches? Well as far as I am concerned and I am not really concerned; the only thing will sometimes and I do mean sometimes guarantee continuity in sports coaching is winning….period.

Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com or 412.583.6741

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