June 10, 2008

Just A Bad Rap?

"Starks earned the job for two seasons -- one of them ending with a Super Bowl victory -- before a new coaching staff removed him in favor of Colon last season."

- Ed Bouchette
As I remember it, there were significantly fewer Max Starks haters before last August. That was when he was supplanted at Right Tackle by young'n Willie Colon. Of course, to be fair, most days I have trouble remembering my own name. That lack of mental acuity aside, is it possible that Max Starks was simply marginalized because Tomlin didn't like him?

Now, before we go any further, I'd like to offer one disclaimer. That being, I really don't know. I'm not an insider. My name isn't Ed Bouchette. I don't, "have access," as Buzz Bissinger would say. I am merely offering a topic for discussion.

So let's discuss.

Starks was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2004 draft. He then earned a job as Big Ben's right hand man (literally) in 2005, just in time for Super Bowl XL. The next year, Starks maintained his position through 14 games until he went down with an injury. And although the team went an underwhelming 8-8 that year, I don't remember anyone laying the blame at Starks' [enormous] feet.

Yet, by August 2007, new Head Coach Mike Tomlin had anointed 2006 4th rounder Willie Colon the new starting Right Tackle.

Starks was relegated to the bench. Only to remain there for the better part of the season, until the team had to shelve Marvel Smith when he threw his back out backdooring Steely McBeam suffered what became a season ending back injury. Then, of course, Starks went down himself in that meaningless joke of a game he probably should never have played.

But that's not all. Oh no, friends. We all know the best is yet to come.

Earlier in the offseason, the Steelers decided - rather than lose TWO offensive lineman to free agency - they would bitch slap Starks with the transition tag and subsequently offer him a cool $7 mil (or close to it...are we going to split hairs here?). Starks of course did what any respectable backup Tackle would do in the situation - he said, "easiest $7 million I ever made" and promptly bought himself a pony. Ok, he didn't really do that. But I'll bet if he did, it would have been a mini pony (cue Tecmo).

So that brings us to the present. Currently, Starks is expected to compete for, but not necessarily re-assume, the starting Right Tackle position. How the team could justify giving Starks all that coin to pick splinters out of his ass is beyond my comprehension. But again - what do I know? I write a Steelers blog.

Now, you guys tell me. Am I, as the man who slings BS just as well as he does a baseball says, "misremembering" the facts? Certainly he's not on the short list for next year's pro bowl, but can Starks win a starting position? Is it possible that Tomlin just has a bias toward Willie Colon? And last but not least - How tall do you think Starks really is, counting the afro?

Oh, and here are some fun facts you probably didn't know about Starks - he likes Basketball and Swimming and aspires to someday have a second career in TV or radio...you listening, Tunch?

Comments now, please.

Starks Hopes to Make Big Impact [Post-Gazette]


marc said...

I think the consensus on Max losing his job as RT was that he came into camp too heavy. He was having a hard time with speed rushers. If he is in shape and shows that he has a good work ethic I'd like to keep him, but if he's fat and out of shape screw him.

domski43 said...

Starks is not worth this kind of cash flow, but he just caught the Steelers in a position where they have no other choice. The free agency market for offensive linemen was unimpressive this year, the offensive linemen choices were non-existent for the Steelers @ #23 in the draft, and the bottom line is Max knows the Steelers system.

The competition between Colon and Starks will be interesting to watch and can only bring about positive impacts to the protection of Ben.

Lets hope that last year's performance lights a fire under each offensive lineman's ass (as well as the offensive line's coach).

BTW I think Starks is 6'9" with the afro.


tecmo said...

Regular ponies probably look like mini ponies to Max.

I say put Starks back in as a TE like Cowher used to when he wanted the ball run to a certain side. The notion would make Bruce Arians' head asplode (Max is not 6-6 and white), but why wouldn't you put a massive guy in on the end of the O-line near the endzone. Maybe get Willie a few more TDs.

Cotter said...

marc ~ I agree. He's been given a golden opportunity here to show he can be an asset to the O-line. So I think my advice to him would be - don't screw it up.

domski ~ I'm with you, man. The draft didn't particularly fall our way with respect to lineman. But that doesn't mean we can't whip the ones we've got into shape. I sincerely hope that the additions of Hartwig and Kemoeatu will help. Maybe even Starks. I'd hope.

tec ~ Good call on putting the pony to Max Starks size ratio into context. I think you might be right about the TE thing. Though obviously that'd be contingent on him being in shape enough to wreck dudes at the second level.

tecmo said...

Meh, I don't think you necessarily need him at the second level. Cahhr would only use him within 2 yards of the goal line or what have you. As a right tackle, he's constantly backing up and bracing for impact. As a goalline TE, all he has to do is fall forward and take a guy or two with him. Voila...running/diving lane for Fast Bill.

I was saying it mostly as a joke, but now that I think about it, maybe Cahhr's way of inserting Starks as a TE was a way of keeping Max ready to play at all times, hence, in better shape. He'd be in at RT for a bit, maybe sit for a play or a few, then go in as the goalline TE. If Tomlin is that worried about Stark's shape, he should consider this as a true possibility.

Although Arians would rather have a white TE to catch TDs at that range.

tobiathan said...

I could rant about white guys and black guys in the NFL, but i'll leave it at this:

The whole league has, either intentionally or unconsciously, decided not to allow white guys to be running backs anymore. Allstott was the last one, and the Bucs did their best to keep him from being a feature back. Owen Schmitt could be the next Larry Csonka but we might never get to find out.

Race should never be a factor, either way. Period.

As for Max: i like the guy, and i think he could be Pro Bowl caliber if given the chance. I wonder if last year wasn't a kind of motivator for him, not being used much.

I agree with everybody else about his weight; if he ain't in football shape- cut him.