Before they rolled to a 15-1 record last year, Steelers' coach Bill Cowher was also feeling the heat. Remember when he signed that big contract before the season began? The Steelers took a little criticism for that deal considering the fact that they had been bounced out of three home playoff games under Cowher. Yeah, we're responsible for one of those. They would have lost the following season if Bailey had held onto that Hail Mary pass. This year, the Steelers have been everything you could ask of a playoff team thus far. As soon as they were backed up against the wall, they really bore down. Once they lost that fifth game, they realized they no longer had any room for error. Does this scenario sound familiar to you? However, unlike the Chargers, Pittsburgh found their swagger and backed it up on the field. They came out strong against Chicago in the snow and haven't looked back since. They won't have to worry about being bounced out of the playoffs in their own stadium since they haven't had a home game since the regular season ended.
Is Bill Cowher the reason for the Steelers' success?
If so, then who was responsible for Pittsburgh's inability to get out of the AFC in the playoffs? I feel a pit in my stomach as I write this considering the Steelers' disappointing campaigns at least ended in playoff berths. Even with our 12-4 record last year we couldn't take advantage of the home field in the postseason. I wrote at length last year on www.justiceiscoming.com about how winning is a cumulative thing. Sometimes the coach gets the team going and sometimes the team sparks him. No matter the cause, a good coach not only keeps things going but can push the ship in the right direction when the team gets pushed off course.
I bet you know why I'm writing about this. As the coaching carousel spins once again for teams that are no longer Super Bowl contenders, Marty Schottenheimer must feel bulletproof. For the second time during his tenure, he has had to fire coaches on his staff. This time it was Carl Mauck and Albert Lewis. Apparently our own Chris Farley was too aggressive for the rest of the staff (and the linemen). And yet, as all these coaches are jettisoned for teams that failed to live up to expectations, Schottenheimer is still employed.
"We didn't start fast and we didn't finish strong," he said of the 2005 season.
It has been said that no one wants to coach in New York due to the immense pressure and unreasonable expectations. Before A.J. Smith came along, The Organization didn't have very high standards. We had six Pro Bowlers and still failed to win ten games. A.J. Smith wants the Chargers to be taken seriously and distance themselves from the ten-year joke we were. I went to the Stones on Wednesday night at The Garden. I suppose I can take some solace from the words of Sir Jagger, "If I don't get what I want, maybe I'll get what I need" —the postseason in 2006.