Okay, I know it’s a little bit late, but I came across Santa Clause’s naughty and nice list for all of the Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowlers, and I’m reprinting it, even though I might end up on the naughty list for doing so.
Ben Roethlisberger – Nice
With one last regular season game to go, he’s already beaten Terry Bradshaw’s previous record for the most Steelers touchdowns in one season, and his quarterback passer rating (104.1) is second only to Tom Brady. And if you need any more evidence, just watch the games. Ben has lifted Pittsburgh up on his back and dragged them to a win more than a couple times this season, and without him at quarterback, I can’t imagine this team in the playoffs. For that matter, I don’t think the Steelers will get very deep in the playoffs this year, but if they do, it will be on Ben Roethlisberger’s back. Incidentally, some national writers were saying that Derek Anderson of the Cleveland Browns should have gotten the pick instead of Ben, but after Anderson threw four interceptions on Sunday, I haven’t seen any more talk about that.
What to get him – A new center to protect him and allow him to do his job better-that Sean Mahan is definitely naughty.
Willie Parker – Nice
Fast Willie was leading the NFL in rushing yards prior to his season-ending injury, and when you’re the number one running back, you should go to the Pro Bowl. By the way, as unfortunate as his injury is, it does allow Fred Taylor to go to the Pro Bowl, and the voters were definitely naughty for leaving out Taylor, particularly since his team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, is playoff bound. Can you go to the playoffs without a single Pro Bowl caliber player? Santa says no, but the Pro Bowl voters said yes.
What to get him – A Power running back to take some of the pressure off of him next year, as well as a speedy recovery.
James Harrison – Nice
James Harrison went to the Pro Bowl largely on the strength of his performance in the Monday night game against the inept Baltimore Ravens. But don’t be mistaken, it was a great performance, with Harrison racking up nine tackles, 3 1/2 sacks, one interception, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Harrison’s play the rest of the season has been solid, but not spectacular. But the people vote on who goes to the Pro Bowl, so sometimes one spectacular performance in a single nationally televised game is enough to sway the voters. Santa says what the heck, there’s no one else out there who seems like they were head and shoulders above Harrison, so call him nice.
What to get him – A couple more games as good as the one he played against Baltimore, so he really deserves the Pro Bowl spot next year.
Alan Faneca – Naughty
The offensive line has been terrible this year, and despite Faneca’s veteran status and belief that the Steelers owe him a big payday, he’s played as badly as anyone else on the line. The Steelers have allowed 47 sacks this year so far, one more than in 2006. The line seems to be getting worse as the season goes on, allowing four or more sacks in four of the last six games. No one associated with the offensive line this year has been anything but naughty.
What to get him anyway – A contract with another team like he desires. He was a distraction before the season, and he hasn’t played well anyway; it’s probably best for all involved for him to go.
Troy Polamalu – Incomplete
Troy hasn’t played much this year, and when he has played, he’s played hurt, and even early in the season when he wasn’t obviously hurt, he wasn’t playing well. He plays such a reckless, physical style of football that I’m not sure he’ll ever have a year where he’s not plagued by injuries. He goes to the Pro Bowl solely on reputation this year.
What to get him anyway – A speedy recovery and some adjustments in his style of play that allow him to continue to make big plays with less risk.
By the way, even though Santa sees everything, I’ve been kind of busy lately so I could be wrong on this one, but I heard that the Steelers approached Corey Dillon about signing on to replace Willie Parker, but Dillon wasn’t interested.
I hope you all had a great Christmas, or whatever other winter holiday you choose to celebrate.