Tear it down

We have heard the line for weeks: &quot;We have no margin for error.&quot;<br> <br> It has come from head coach Bill Cowher. It has come from his assistant coaches. It has come from the players.<br> <br> But it should now become obvious to the Steelers. They had a margin for error and they have filled it with error after error on a weekly basis.

The fact the Steelers play in the ridiculously soft AFC North has continued to give this team hope - perhaps more hope than any 3-7 team in league history.

But the bottom line is, even if the Steelers do somehow manage to win their final six games - or even five of six since 8-8 just might win the division "crown" - what good is it going to do?

The best three or four teams in the NFL all reside in the AFC, so the winner of the AFC North is going to be nothing more than playoff fodder for the likes of Tennessee, Kansas City, Indianapolis or New England.

So what will they really accomplish?

Save Cowher's job.

Cost themselves valuable drafting positions.

Covered up the fact they are a lousy football team.

All of the above.

Cowher and his staff are still going to keep pushing this team to win games. That first aforementioned achievement guarantees that.

"You can't lose the effort and the attention to detail. You have to keep preparing each week," Cowher said Tuesday. "The opportunity we have is real in regards to where we are in this division. It is an uphill struggle, no doubt about it, but it is there. We have to seize that, one week at a time."

But there is no Carpe Diem to be had here. This team does not seem willing - or able - to seize the day.

Sometimes you have to admit that you have a bad mix and start over. Maybe it is the players. Maybe it is the coaches. Maybe it is a little of both.

The bottom line is that this team has had some key players get old fast, some young players not live up to their potential, and gotten very few of the breaks needed to pull out many games.

Rather than play for a 9-7 or 8-8 season, Cowher should start the rebuilding now.

Why play for mediocrity today when you can possibly achieve greatness tomorrow?

Linebacker Jason Gildon, safety Brent Alexander, running back Jerome Bettis, tight end Mark Bruener and center Jeff Hartings are not in the Steelers' future plans. So why are they still playing?

Because Cowher feels they give the team its best chance to win.

Guess what, Bill? They are not winning.

Meanwhile, we remain unsure whether younger players like safety Chris Hope, running back Verron Haynes, center Chukky Okobi and linebacker Alonzo Jackson are building blocks of the future or bench fodder.

Cowher made a move two weeks ago, moving Deshea Townsend and rookie Ike Taylor up in the cornerback rotation and benching Dewayne Washington.

Why stop there?

"We are in this thing together," said Cowher. "We will continue to work and try to get out of it. They have done everything I have asked them to do. When you look at the results the buck stops here."

The veterans on this team have done everything Cowher has asked them to do except the most important thing - win.

The time has come for wholesale changes.

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