Wednesday Apple Pie

Reading the Bill Cowher Press Conference transcript, two things can be easily deduced. The media wants to see the young guys play and Cowher doesn't want to admit the media is correct. Oh, what reindeer games these guys play.

Consider, Stan Savran's question:
Would replacing some of these veterans necessarily weaken your lineup?

And now Cowher's answer:

Stan, again, we're going to play the players - I'll monitor it. If a guy I feel isn't playing up to the level he's capable of playing at, and if we have an option to put somebody else in, we'll do it.

So, based on those words by the head coach, what is the reasoning for playing Jason Gildon, whose play at this point wouldn't merit him starting for most teams in the NFL? The answer is quite simple. Read the quote carefully again and focus on the highlighted word:

Stan, again, we're going to play the players - I'll monitor it. If a guy I feel isn't playing up to the level he's capable of playing at, and if we have an option to put somebody else in, we'll do it.

Oh, that Cowher is such a sneaky guy. Obviously the staff feels Gildon isn't capable of playing up to a very high level this late in his career so they're convinced that he's simply playing as well as he's capable. Okay. Fair enough.

In essence then, Cowher is saying that as long as his veteran guys try hard, he'll continue to play them. Or as long as they don't make highlight reel mistakes (a la Dewayne Washington), their jobs this season are safe. Forget that the knowledgeable media (different from the glamour media), know better and understand the game, Cowher is intent or protecting his veterans until he can ditch them after the season.

That's the definition of a player's coach. That's why players hold him in high esteem. He's loyal to the player unless that player shoots himself in the foot by making repeated mistakes that are seen on national television.

See, Cowher knows that the media knows what's wrong with the team and his coaching inabilities. He's too much of an egotist to admit, but he's also got common sense. The problem is he's getting to the point in his career where he's turning into an older coach; where the players are kids and he's the "father" figure. When he started coaching, he was one of the "guys." But, now he's matured as a coach, and his fire has become more of someone who would rant over a beer rather than go and egg a car.

Simply, he's different. He's lost his previous identity, especially with the weight of big game losses. Cowher is searching for his own identity. He's no longer the brash, young guy who could lose the big game, but was still loved because of his emotion and energy. But, he's not the old warhorse, with an eye for the bold move or chess-like maneuver.

But at least Cowher still understands enough about himself to protect his own self-interests and his team's national pride. He can't talk about the future, not with a season left to play. He can make actions, but he can't talk about the future. Why do that? Why implode like Jim Mora? Why show a mental meltdown in front of cameras, especially when fever for a regime change is so strong?

Cowher is playing the media game like a pro, too bad he can't coach it with the same shrewd approach.

Apple Pix-Six: Week 15 Review

1. Philadelphia 34 Miami 27: This one was over after the first quarter. The Eagles had torched the Miami defense (which always tires out in December) for 24 points and the rout was on, except the Dolphins did make things interesting in the end. But really the game wasn't ever in much doubt. This should seal Dave Wannestedt's doom in Miami, while the Eagles are one step closer to home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

2. St. Louis 27 Seattle 22: The Seahawks made this one close after being down early by 11 points. Still, the Seahawks proved that they can't win away from home and the Rams proved that they are capable of winning the close games in a different style from previous seasons: UGLY.

3. Oakland 20 Baltimore 12: As if anyone thought Anthony Wright was a capable NFL quarterback. One should just look at this game as proof positive that he's absolutely awful. With only 12 completions, one touchdown and a pick, Wright will ultimately be the demise of the Ravens, if not now then at least in the wildcard round.

4. Dallas 27 Washington 0: The Cowboys sweep the Redskins with a shutout thrashing. Now that Wannestedt's a goner in Miami, the big rumor may end up being Steve Spurrier fired from D.C. and ending up in South Florida. It could happen. The Cowboys are one win away from a wildcard berth.

5. Denver 23 Cleveland 20 (OT): The Browns sure gave the Denver public a huge scare, but worse yet the Broncos fans would get a bigger horror when Mike Shanahan inexplicably continued to run Clinton Portis while already well into field goal range during the overtime period. Portis went down with injury and the field goal unit trotted out to win the game. This absurd coaching move comes from the same coach who holds out his stars during training camp so as to not suffer injury before the season starts.

6. Tennessee 28 Buffalo 26: Regardless of how they finish, the Titans will have a short trip in the playoffs if McNair doesn't get healthy really soon. This team, already short on talent, can't rely on Eddie George and the defense every week. The Bills end their faint playoff hopes after blowing what looked to be an upset.

Apple Pix-Six: Week 16

1. Denver at Indianapolis (GOTW): Last year, Mike Vanderjagt killed the Broncos with an overtime 51-yard field goal off the snowy field in Denver. This season he'll be domed, but with Peyton Manning playing like the best quarterback in a generation, the Colts may not need any late heroics. The Broncos meanwhile most likely be without Clinton Portis for the rest of the regular season due to a high ankle sprain. Mike Anderson better be ready to pick up the slack because Jake Plummer can't carry the load.

2. Cincinnati at St. Louis: The Bengals got an early gift when the Raiders beat the Ravens. Now the Bengals need to win out and they will win the AFC North. The Rams meanwhile can rest the wounded and enjoy the fact that they will at least have the bye.

3. Kansas City at Minnesota: At one point this looked like a possible Super Bowl matchup. Well, the Chiefs are still a favorite for the big game, but the Vikings are fading away after last week's loss to the Bears. The Chiefs should hand the Vikings their walking papers at the hands of Priest Holmes.

4. San Francisco at Philadelphia: The Niners are virtually out of the playoff race now and can play spoiler to the Eagles' chances at home field advantage. This is another matchup that looked really sexy earlier in the season. The Eagles with a win and a Cowboy loss will win the NFC East.

5. NY Giants at Dallas: The Cowboys can earn a wildcard birth with a win, and a Packers or Vikings loss and Seahawks loss. The NY Giants are playing for absolutely nothing at this point. Jim Fassel is playing for resume purposes only.

6. Green Bay at Oakland: If the Packers win out they win the NFC North. If the Vikings lose on Saturday, the Packers win the NFC North with a win on Monday night. If the Packers don't win the NFC North they could still win a wildcard berth due to tiebreakers over the Seahawks, but they'll be watching long and hard at that Saints/Cardinals matchup on Sunday.

The Playoff Power Core Rankings: Week 16

This is not a prediction of how the playoffs would break down if they began today.

1New England – The Pats still on top St. Louis – Survive Seattle
2Indianapolis – Manning is MVP Philadelphia – Kicked Miami out of playoff picture
3 Kansas City – Easy win over Detroit Dallas – Back on track after beating Skins
4Tennessee – Volek out for season Green Bay – Caught up to the Vikings
5 Denver – Portis going to be okay Carolina – Clinched NFC South
6 Cincinnati – Has tiebreakers Minnesota – Moss versus Holmes this week

Fruits of Labor (stock is rising)

  • None - No player's stock rose this week.

Rotten Produce (stock is falling)

  • Jeff Reed Chip shots or long drives, it doesn't matter because Quadzilla can't aim.

Missed Point Opportunities (MPO)

TeamPittsburgh NY Jets
Drives1st Drive (Missed FG) 1st Drive (FG inside 10)
5th Drive (Missed FG) 8th Drive (Fumble)
6th Drive (Turnover on Downs) Extra Point for 5 or more punts
Extra Point for 5 or more punts

Season MPO Record: 5 – 9

Wisdom From the Girl Apple

Girl Apple: That sure was a lot of snow on Sunday.

Apple: Yeah.

Girl Apple: Is it tough to play football in the snow.

Apple: Well, yeah, especially when the snow turns to sleet and ice.

Girl Apple: So not only was it cold but it was also slippery….or shall I say slippy.

Apple: Yes. Pittsburgh people say "slippy".

Girl Apple: But, the Steelers had their chances.

Apple: Like all season, they haven't capitalized on chances.

Girl Apple: Right. I thought that in the past they always had a reliable kicker to get some points to stay in the game.

Apple: They haven't had a reliable kicker in 4 years.

Girl Apple: So, three points aren't a "gimme" anymore? Isn't the field goal the biggest weapon in Bill Cowher's offense? Seems like he's lost his best weapon.

Apple: I see your point. More wisdom from the Girl Apple.

Super Pappy Fried Chicken's Keys To The Game

  • It was a dark, cloudy day with a constant snow which later turned into a light rain. A perfect day for football! Steeler football!! So how on God's white, snowy earth did they lose!?! Another thing. Jets fans should be ashamed of themselves and how poor the turnout for this game was. Also that "famous" cheer they have-J! E! T! S! bla bla bla! It is a hoax. It was all about the P.A. system. I'm just bitter.
  • This week the Chargers come to town and this one should be a gimme, but it's not. After the way the Steelers played, I wouldn't trust them to beat my friends in a pick up game. Sure there was a lot of bad weather. I know, I was in it. But this week things have to tighten up if we don't want to become the laughing stock of the AFC.
  • Tommy is still my quarterback. He did not have a good day. His throws were off and he was less mobile in the snow than he normally is, just a bad day all around. He will rebound this week, but he will continue to lose support until the buffoons who think it's his fault instead of the offensive line's fault start thinking while drinking.
  • Drew Brees is not good. If the defense can get any pressure they could have his mother calling him to make sure he is wearing clean underwear by half time. Don't rely on the DB's to unleash the front seven.
  • Finally, Mularkey needs to stop over-thinking his play calling. If you have a first and goal on the six and a future Hall of Famer in the backfield (I know he was getting treatment, but this has been a running theme all year), don't throw the ball in the snow against a team that hasn't been able to stop the run all season. Mularkey needs to remember that the obvious call is sometimes the best call.

Thoughts Assisted By Yuengling

  • Again I ask what is wrong with Jeff Reed. Don't give me any lip service about the snow hindering his kicking ability because Doug Brien nailed both of his attempts.
  • 1st down and 10 from the Jet 16 yard line and the Steelers throw four straight passes.
  • The problem with the Steelers cover two defense is that using Gildon or Porter as a pseudo defensive end is killing the rushing defense.
  • Curtis Martin finished with 174 yards rushing. I don't think this Steeler rushing defense can be called a strength of the team any longer.

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