After The Tape Winds Down

Jim Wexell has some contrary thoughts on Bill Cowher, Ben Roethlisberger, Chris Rainey and Kelvin Beachum, plus draft talk, and Who Was That Moron?

Just a couple of notes to pass the time on deadline day for underclassmen to declare:

* I watched Houston coach Gary Kubiak try to win with QB Matt Schaub and I couldn't help but think of Bill Cowher trying to win with Neil O'Donnell, Kordell Stewart and/or Tommy Maddox. Whenever Cowher's many supporters talk about how he won with average quarterbacks, I can't help but argue that he chose to take that path. He chose to keep beating average teams with Casey Hampton as the new nose tackle as opposed to making the difficult transition to Drew Brees.

* That was just one example of how Cowher did it to himself by sticking with those mediocre quarterbacks for the sake a solid won-loss record, but a record that couldn't end with a championship until he stopped filling other holes in 2004 and drafted Ben Roethlisberger.

* Even then Cowher had settled on guard Shawn Andrews before Dan Rooney stopped by the war room on draft day to tell Cowher the story about how he suffered so many sleepless nights by passing on Dan Marino.

* Houston is doomed to a similar storyline, only without the happy ending because of Schaub, and it doesn't appear the Texans will be drafting in the top 10 or 11 anytime soon.

* And then there's Peyton Manning. At least he's won one championship, but even that's appearing to be an aberration. Manning once again looked like that college quarterback who kept losing to Florida every year when he a.) handed off on third-and-7 near midfield in trying to turtle a 7-point lead with two minutes left; b.) took a knee at his own 20 with two timeouts and 31 seconds left after the Ravens had tied the game; and c.) threw across his body and back over the middle for the Ravens' game-winning interception in overtime. Manning may as well have been Matt Schaub taking playcalls from Bill Cowher at the most important point of the Broncos' season.

* Speaking of taking the knee with 31 seconds left, that's what Ben Roethlisberger didn't do at the most important point of the Steelers' season. In a tie game against Cincinnati, with a first down at his own 11 with 44 seconds left, Roethlisberger moved the Steelers to their 29 before throwing an interception just past midfield. The Bengals kicked the game-winning, playoff-clinching field goal two plays later.

* Should Roethlisberger have done what Manning did and taken a tie game into overtime? That's what one reporter doggedly tried to exact from Steelers players after the game. I had one conversation interrupted with that question. Ryan Clark looked sternly at the reporter and said, "My job is to play free safety." The reporter left and I assumed he was off in search one a player to second-guess his coach. Must not have found one because no such story appeared the next day.

* In my opinion, the Steelers did the right thing and the Broncos did the wrong thing. Don't give the other team a chance to win in overtime if you can help it.

* Speaking of reporters, does anyone remember the moron who wrote before the 2011 draft that the Steelers should draft UCLA safety Rahim Moore in the first round?

* Well, in my defense, the story was a spoof on a March 1 mock draft written at the combine, from which I quoted Moore about joining the Steelers and reuniting with his college DB coach, Carnell Lake.

"I was telling the DB coach from the Saints how much (Lake) helped me, changing me from a boy to a man and also showing me the way to watch film," Moore said from the combine podium. "He told me, ‘Rahim, don't just watch film or take a few notes. Kind of visualize yourself in that position, making this play or making this tackle or taking on this block.' When I'm watching film sometimes, I'd be in my living room and actually going through the steps of making plays. And I'd end up making those kinds of plays on Saturday."

* Let's hope Moore didn't visualize giving up the game-tying 70-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones. Moore let Jones get behind him and then fell down with 31 seconds left.

* For the record, I didn't include Moore as a candidate in my pre-draft odds column a month-and-a-half later. Cameron Heyward was my favorite at 3-1.

* But I was still a moron.

* Then, not now. I'm much smarter now.

* First Craig Wolfley and then the Answer Man reported to me over the last couple of weeks their favorite choice to replace Willie Colon at left guard, if Colon can't get his weight down, would be Kelvin Beachum. Can't say I agree. I just don't know how the Steelers could plan to use last year's 7D draft pick at guard after watching him finish the season at right tackle.

* Yes, Beachum did a credible job as the replacement for injured tackles Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams, but his lack of strength was clearly an issue. Sure, he's smart and should absolutely be promoted to swing tackle (or with his brains backup tackle AND guard while learning center), but to consider him the starting left guard (and cutting Colon for a measly $1.2 million) makes little sense.

* Then again, I'm the guy who once suggested drafting Rahim Moore in the first round.

* That play by Moore was so bad, future DB coaches will use his name as a verb.

* I must be the only writer in Pittsburgh who could not care less about the cutting of Chris Rainey. I viewed him as a hindrance to finding a real speed back and a potential kickoff return specialist this off-season. I thought that Rainey's speed would continue to tease the coaches, but that he would always be too light to ever become a real threat. The guy just goes down too easily.

* One of many mid-round running backs who can replace Rainey will be on display Saturday in the Shrine Game: Ray Graham from Pitt. And there will be so many others available, guys like Stepfan Taylor, Andre Ellington, Johnathan Franklin, Kenyon Barner, Joseph Randle, Mike Gillislee and Cierre Wood.

* Of course, Michigan QB Denard Robinson would make a great second-round pick at the position.

* That list doesn't include the bigger, all-around backs such as Eddie Lacy, Montee Ball and Le'Veon Bell, or my favorite mid to late-rounder, Rex Burkhead.

* I haven't watched redshirt sophomore runners Giovani Bernard of North Carolina or Jawan Jamison of Rutgers, but they're also highly regarded by scouts.

* Today is the final day for underclassmen to declare and it doesn't look like another of my favorite mid-round backs, Silas Redd of USC, will make the jump.

* Just re-watched most of the Alabama-Notre Dame tape and have come to the conclusion the Steelers won't draft Alabama NT Jesse Williams. Absolutely can't see it in the first round. He's just not that dynamic. Now, Johnathan Hankins, if he lasts to pick 17, would be worth considering. He's not as stiff as Williams and is almost two years younger.

* I see little chance of the Steelers drafting Manti Te'o or Chance Warmack, either. Neither will make my first odds board. Warmack would be the better fit, but I just can't see the Steelers drafting another offensive lineman in the first round.

* Speaking of first-round left guards, anyone watch Mike Iupati dominate Green Bay on Sunday? What a beast. At least I did have him as a top three finalist for the Steelers' 2010 draft (along with another playoff star, Earl Thomas, and the predicted Maurkice Pouncey.) I must have been kind of smart that year, too.

* But I Rahim-ed myself in 2011.

* And to end on a positive note, word out of New York is that former Broncos GM Ted Sundquist impressed the Jets during a recent interview. I say let him deal with Rex Ryan and the New York media and let Omar Khan get back to work on the cap problems in Pittsburgh.


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