I asked someone who's been in the media for a long, long time if he could remember the last time the Rooney-in-charge stuck his nose in the huddle. He said at least 20 years. So, yes, judging by today's great story by Ed Bouchette, Art II is already more involved, more vocal, than his father, and I love it.
Steelplate: Were there any stipulations to Bruce Arians returning? All I want is better red-zone production, the ability to go to a power offense when needed, and better means of protecting Ben Roethlisberger.
I realize this question was asked a few days ago, and we all saw the answers this morning in the Post-Gazette, that, yes, Bruce Arians is under fire to produce a viable running game. What we saw this past season is a two-year-old issue that was dealt with very poorly this past off-season, so I was happy to see ownership turn the heat up. As for "the ability to go to a power offense when needed," it's not a switch. It's a commitment. That's how the defense toughens up, too, by stopping a committed running game in training camp.
26Rod: Is Mike Tomlin truly happy with the offense? Does he understand our issues we have with it? And does he think Matt Spaeth is a good player to have on the team?
I really don't know if he's happy with it. If on one hand you can publicly blame a season on Joe Burnett, and then turn around and support the third-and-1 call in Kansas City and the game plan in Cleveland, I have to believe that is Tomlin being honest as well. So, yes, from his public statements we can assume he's happy with the offense. But, of course, I doubt it because I believe he does understand the issues that those of us "squeaky wheels" have with it. As for Matt Spaeth, he does surprise you every now and then with his blocking (check out the screen in the last game with the two tight ends getting out in front), and he did fill in ably for an injured Heath Miller as the pass-catcher. I just think they need a better blocking tight end over there. Until Tomlin makes a change, I have no choice but to assume he's happy with Spaeth.
Stillerfreak: Do you need a hobby? I could get you in our APBA league if someone drops out.
Yes. I used to coach American Legion baseball. Now I coach 10-year-old girls whenever I'm asked. We went 3-2-1 in a boys flag football league and won all the softball hardware available. So that stuff is really fun, and I'm finding it necessary for my mental well-being. You're pretty perceptive there, freak. As for APBA, I used to play, but didn't have the patience to stick with it. Besides, I always took my '69 Cubbies: Kessinger, Beckert, Williams, Banks, Santo, Hickman, Cardenal, Hundley, Jenkins, Holtzman, Hand etc.
Irongut: Would Tom Clements come back to Pittsburgh to be the quarterbacks coach? Or would he have to be the offensive coordinator?
He'd have to be the coordinator. He's in Green Bay with, I presume, one of his old hometown buddies, Mike McCarthy, and the rest of that Pittsburgh cabal. He's also doing a great job as QB coach of Aaron Rodgers. Can't see him coming here to catch Ben Roethlisberger's warm-up passes.
Steelmann58: Do you see James Farrior becoming a two-down linebacker next season?
Good question. We shall see, because it's about time for Lawrence Timmons to live up to his potential as a three-down linebacker. But Farrior is so smart and in tune with coordinator Dick LeBeau. Would they take him off the field on the most important down? My gut tells me no, and my gut also tells me the plays in which Farrior covered his man on fourth downs have gone overlooked. As LeBeau said, too much was made of the Brian Leonard and Ray Rice plays.
Steelmann58: Who are your picks for OL, ST and QB coaches? Could we see the return of Tunch Ilkin, Bobby April and Mark Whipple for these jobs?
Again, sorry to get to this question after the fact, because we already know the new OL coach is Sean Kugler. I'm excited for him and don't see any reason why he won't succeed – if they do for him what they didn't do for Larry Zierlein and draft some blue-chip talent.
Just to let me go off on my own personal tangent: I wrote an article Nov. 2 called "A Motley Crew Shall Lead Them" which had to do with the Steelers using an economical approach to building their O-line, and I praised the plan because it allowed the team to draft star skill players, and because they were 6-2. Well, they went 3-5 in the second half. Obviously, a motley crew could not lead them. So it's time for some blue-chip talent, and I believe this is the year where value fits the biggest need. I do like the tackles in place, but the interior needs work, as does the depth at tackle.
As for April, my guess is the Steelers wouldn't pay him what he wanted. I've heard in the past that April commands a big buck, as his reputation would suggest. As for Whipple, he's the offensive coordinator for the Miami Hurricanes. Coming back to play catch with Ben before games would be a step back in my opinion.
Mineola: You joked earlier about trading the entire draft to move up for Ndamukong Suh. Do you see anyone worthy of such a move? I think we need a few difference makers, and our undrafted free agents usually turn out better than our draft picks anyway.
This is such a deep draft that I'd probably rip myself for saying that today. Thanks for calling it a joke, my friend. While Suh is the best college player I think I've ever seen, the Steelers have too many holes to do such a maneuver. They can really help themselves with a great draft this year. Other than Suh, I don't see anyone worthy of a trade up, although OT Bryan Bulaga really impressed me against the best DE in the draft, Derrick Morgan, in Iowa's bowl game. My gut tells me Bulaga will now go too early, so perhaps the Steelers will focus on Oklahoma LT Trent Williams, who actually would fit better at RG than would Bulaga. There's also that move with Willie Colon they could make, since Williams is probably a natural RT. Yes, he had a disappointing season with the move to LT, but he's so very strong. He'd help the run game immediately and Trai Essex could go back to No. 3 OT.
Choltzeakin: Have you looked at Mike Iupati again? He's intriguing.
Yes, I watched a couple series of his bowl game and the Idaho LG looked much better than he did in the game I watched vs. Colorado State early in the season. I still worry that he lunges too much in pass pro, but he is a massive specimen who could certainly move some people in the run game. I'll be more certain after I finish that tape.
Casteelerdude: What are your top five Seinfeld episodes?
This is the toughest question of the day. This will just be off the top of my head: 1.) Master of my Domain; 2.) Kramerica; 3.) Festivus for the Rest of Us; 4.) Library Detective Bookman; 5.) Soup Nazi; 6.) George Does the Opposite; 7.) Smelly Car.
Right now I'm stuck on "The Office" when I'm not watching bowl tapes or listening to records.