Playing Catch

<p> Will this year's team be like that of past Cowher-coached teams? Offensively, probably not. Not since the likes of Swann/Stallworth and Stallworth/Lipps were wearing the black and gold have we seen this much talent at the wideout position. </p>

Typically a Cowher team would attempt to run the ball down the throats of the opponent. Last year, they did it with tremendous success, until the AFC Championship game. What New England did to the Pittsburgh offense will be studied by every opponent they face this year; no arguments here on the special teams' contributions to the loss, but the Patriots did stuff the running game. Teams will run-blitz the heck out of the Steelers offense. The best way to beat the run blitz is with quick dumps over the middle. That will keep a defense honest very quickly. The best part of this is, the Steelers now have the weapons to combat this scheme. Included in that arsenal are some dangerous toys.

Randle El's play has made those who had originally questioned this pick forget about whatever questions they had. Plaxico's leaping ability is now being used to his advantage, and Ward is still the best blocking receiver in the NFL, period. Plus, he is a really solid receiver. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And he has delivered for the Steelers.

This gets me to the point I wanted to make about this offense. They have a passing game. Mularkey will use it this season. Make no doubt about it.

Teams that use the New England recipe against the Steelers will be quick to see the error of their ways. The Steelers will continue to use this new weapon throughout each game. Teams will be hesitant to stack the line in preparation for a running play once they get burnt by the passing game. They will be forced to play the Steelers more honestly than they care to.

Yes, the Steelers will continue to run the ball and control both the clock and flow of the game. However, not as much as last year. Not even this coaching staff can refuse to play with their new toy.

Schedule

Living in a mixed football community, Eagles, Ravens, Steelers, I have been inundated with criticism of the so-called easy schedule the Steelers have this season. How can a schedule be called easy? Each contest still has to be played, and you can not take any team lightly. The first time this happens, it will be a guaranteed loss.

Besides, the schedule is pre-determined by the final 2001 records of each team. If this is the schedule that we get by finishing with the best record in the AFC, so be it. I just know that I do not take any team lightly, nor should this coaching staff allow the players to approach any scheduled opponent as a gimme.

Camp Cuts

Cuts are coming soon enough, in fact in just six days. While I can wait until they are announced, there are two I am expecting from the scrimmages -- Tee Martin and Troy Edwards.

Tee, only because he has looked lost out there. Perhaps he is tired from his European vacation, but he has not progressed since he was a rookie. That just is not allowed at this level.

Troy, because of his misuse of his brain during games. You all have read about how good a camp he is having. He just has not had good games. Mental errors and dropped passes have hurt all of the good things he's done in camp. You would expect better from a third-year first-round pick.

-- George Boyd


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