February 11, 2009

Time To Put Your Kevin Colbert Hat On [Day 2]...


Well, it appears day one of free agent watch 2009 went swimmingly. Good thing I haven't been paying attention enough to know that Byron Leftwich wants to be a starter again. Not like that was any kind of well kept secret or anything. It's just, to be honest with you, news about Byron Leftwich's life isn't very high up on my list of things to follow. But, you know, good for him. And when he can't find a decent starting job, I'll be happy to welcome him back with open arms.

So anyway, yesterday we covered the two QBs and Jeff Reed's life partner.

Today, I feel like the universe is trying to tell me something, but I just can't quite figure out what it is. It's like it's calling out to me...

Hmmmm...weird.

Right, so if that was a little too cryptic for you, I'm saying today we should talk about the state of the O-line, specifically the Tackles.

From where I stand, while I appreciate the way the line turned it on in the playoffs, I can't really accept that as the norm considering Ben was still sacked 46 times during the regular season. And eight times in one game against the Eagles at that! You can argue until you're blue in the face that they aren't that bad, and maybe they're not. But 46 sacks, countless false starts, untimely holding penalties, unsportsmanlike conduct penalties [thy name is Kemoeatu], I mean, none of that is indicative of a solid unit.

Still, for most of the season we had two first year starters at guard and a "backup" at Left Tackle (a $7 million dollar backup, mind you...looks like a smart decision now, though, doesn't it?). Plus, Hartwig was new to the team. And then there's Willie Colon. I really don't have anything to say about that guy that I haven't already said about going to the Dentist. Put a little Kenny G on in the background of a game and watching him is pretty much the same thing. I don't see how he hasn't lost his job on that side other than the fact that we have jack shit for depth at Tackle beyond Max Starks. Well, ok, not EXACTLY jack shit - Trai Essex, Jason Capizzi and Tony Hills - but close enough.

So, I can see where you might think this is a serviceable unit, a fact I will not deny. I mean, we did just win a Super Bowl with them. I just frankly don't think they did a satisfactory job overall, even with Ben's tendency to hold the ball longer than one mountain of a human being blocking for him might like.

Wherever you come out on this whole thing, let us all know in the comments. For now, allow me to present to you the free agents of the 2009 Steelers Offensive Line, beginning with...

Max Starks - I think you almost have to re-sign him?

I mean, at this point, it's either Starks, Marvel Smith (see below), Trai Essex (also see below), develop Tony Hills and/or Jason Capizzi or draft a Tackle in April. Y'all may know that I'm a Max Starks apologist. I really never thought he was that bad. But since Mike Tomlin disagrees, I have to defer to his judgment.

Still, which would you rather have - a guy who's started in two Super Bowls and done alright, a guy who's 30 and coming off multiple seasons cut short by back injuries, a guy who's probably a career backup, or either of two unproven current practice squadders? Money is obviously an issue, since Starks apparently ranks among the most attractive free agent tackles. But I feel like the Steelers ought to seriously consider bringing Starks back AND starting him at Left Tackle.

Then there's...

Marvel Smith - Just like when it comes to drugs, I gotta say no.

I don't want this. You don't want this. But like I said above, the guy's 30 and just had his second straight season cut short by back problems (and potentially needs a second back surgery, though I haven't heard anything about this in a while). Remember, you're protecting a $100 million dollar QB back there. Max Starks is no Jonathan Ogden, but he's battle tested and isn't a complete dunce.

That said, I'm not going to throw a hissy fit if the Steelers decide to bring Smith back over Max Starks. So long as the discs in his back can stay in place, he's still a solid Left Tackle. I just worry about the injury sitch, which you may have gathered from the first 15 references I made to it.

Next, you've got...

Willie Colon - Can I defer?

I don't even know what to say. Needless to say, I make no secret about the fact that I'm not a Willie Colon fan, but what are the alternatives? We have no other natural Right Tackles currently on the roster. Sure, you could go with Trai Essex or one of the practice squadders I mentioned above, but I'm not sure I like Essex as a potential 16 game starter, and both of the practice squadders are still young and have no experience even in limited action. So, I really just don't know. I guess keep him? God, I can't believe I just said that...

And finally, there's...

Trai Essex - I say go for it. If you blow chunks and she comes back, she's yours. If you spew and she bolts, then it was never meant to be. Or something like that. He's a sold backup Tackle. No two ways about it. And no doubt you can get him on the cheap. So where exactly is the debate here? PS - Do I want to spend my time photoshopping something for Trai Essex? No, I don't.

And now that I've said my piece, what do y'all think about all this?

8 comments:

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

Two words: Jordan Gross.

Cotter said...

Right, not to completely ignore free agency. You don't think he'll want too much money for the Steelers?

Marc said...

That is the oddest photoshop the FA one. I love the Colon one though.

We need linemen who don't blow ass. Who cares if they played together last year?
We need two tackles, I wouldn't mind seeing Harwig and Starks come back. I wouldn't mind Colon as a guard, I think Simmons is overpaid, Kemo is a beast but can't get his head on straight. I guess that Stapleton was pretty decent for his first year starting, we'll have Hartwig and Simmons back, so that leaves us with a desperate need at the two tackle spots, Starks woudln't piss me off as long as he doesn't get too much money. I would love a draft of all O and D line at this point. Hampton is overrated b/c he got so fat, Hoke is old.

Noah said...

Why don't we just (as a way to save money) just screw the line and have Ben just throw screens the whole time.....Ben could just chuck it really far after he snaps to himself and have Holmes catch it. It would really work....

But seriously, we don't utilize FAs enough to begin with. We're a drafting team. But hopefully there'll be both... Spend that money Rooney.

domski43 said...

Jordan Gross would be awesome.

I hope that free agents around the nfl, especially offensive linemen, want to come to the Steelers and play at a discount. Blocking for Ben is a bonus as well because of his mobility and desire to throw outside the pocket.

marc said...

I might be wrong but I think his mobility and desire to throw outside the pocket is harder for the lineman. Also, these guys are fat, they don't want to have to "block" (to describe this year) for 10 seconds while Ben runs around.

domski43 said...

marc - you're right about the o-line having to block longer, i guess the point i was trying to make was that ben makes offensive linemen look better than they really are...

stats say that ben was sacked 46 times, but how many times did ben fall forward for a gain of 1 foot, which cannot be counted as a sack?

how many times did ben shake defenders hanging all over him and make a play?

i can see the benefits of having a conventional quarterback that gets rid of the ball on time, but playing for a proven winner in ben should attract some better talent for the steelers o-line in '09.

Steve Braband said...

excellent Waynes World line.

We need more of those......everywhere.