The decisions will not be easy for G.M. Kevin Colbert over the next couple of offseasons. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIRE

The Steelers Defense, Impending Reconstruction, Potential Roster Moves, and the Future


Personnel issues on the Defensive side of the ball are never an easy task to deal with for any N.F.L. franchise.  As difficult as personnel issues are to fix, it never helps a franchise when the scheme employed by the Defense begins to become predictable and largely ineffective.  Yet as troublesome as these aforementioned issues are, a franchise is truly in an unenviable spot when it turns out that the money dedicated to the team’s already under-performing Defensive players has essentially “hand-cuffed” the franchise from a salary cap perspective.  Unfortunately for the Pittsburgh Steelers and their Front Office, they are not “lucky enough” to face just one or two of these problems at the moment.

They have to deal with all <*bleepin*> three!

To repair the absolute “casserole of monetary and personnel madness” known as the Defense, a significant “Extreme Make-Over: Steelers Roster Edition” must happen sooner as opposed to later.  To do this, I believe that General Manager Kevin Colbert and the rest of Pittsburgh’s Front Office must (and likely will) be proactive in their efforts to rebuild their roster and restructure their payroll accordingly in the very near future.  I hate to be “That Guy,” but like it or not “Steeler Nation,” if this Defense is going to get any younger, let alone any better from a talent perspective, some roster purging and difficult decisions could definitely do this team good in the short and long runs.

 

Chopping Block After This Season (UFA’s)

Casey Hampton, Ryan Mundy, Keenan Lewis, and Larry Foote

It will break my heart the moment that “Big Snack” is no longer a member of the Steelers.   As one of the best 0-Technique Nose Tackles to play during the ’00′s, Hampton has been a model of consistency and effort out on the football field for 13 seasons.  Unfortunately for “Snack,” his age (36 next season), the cheap depth already at the Nose Tackle position (Steve McLendon and Alameda Ta’amu), and his upcoming status as a UFA could all be working against him come this offseason when his contract expires.  Thus, the cash-strapped Steelers will be unlikely to afford Hampton next season unless he accepts an enormous pay-cut.  Yet even if Hampton is willing to accept a lower salary, one must question whether or not Pittsburgh will carry three Nose Tackles on their roster in 2013..

Keenan Lewis’ Pro Bowl rhetoric before the season started seems like a distant memory after the first three weeks.  It also has not helped that Lewis has been inconsistent over the course of his career in Pittsburgh, and done little to completely win the starting Cornerback job opposite Ike Taylor outright (only 1 INT in 3+ seasons) by his 4th season in the League.  To me, if this team did not re-sign William Gay last offseason, the odds are they will not re-up Lewis come 2013 if he is looking for a new or expensive deal deal.

In addition to Lewis, Safety Ryan Mundy has been inconsistent at best over his five year career with the team, and has done little during his opportunities to start (especially the Denver Wild Card Game) to illustrate that he deserves to be resigned to a long-term deal once the season ends.  The “#1 Backup” at both Safety spots might be out of the job in 2013 due to his poor performances during the first three Weeks of the 2012 season, and will/should be allowed to walk when the offseason begins for more cap space.

I am not necessarily on the “Cut Larry Foote” bandwagon like some people currently are, and have been over the last two years.  At least to me, Foote has done a more than adequate job replacing James Farrior this season (23 Tackles team-lead, and 1.0 Sack), has chipped in on Special Teams, and probably has the best understanding of Dick LeBeau’s Defense of anybody currently on the team.  Foote’s overall performance in 2012 has indicated two things: a) he has produced when out on the football field, and b) he has actually played like he wants to wear a Steelers uniform for another season or two.  The soon to be 33 year-old UFA is earning a $3 million dollar base salary this season, and will probably not be offered that kind of money by the cash-strapped Front Office.  Regardless, the Steelers might be willing to re-sign him for another year or two at a lower rate, and that would be an acceptable and sensible move if he took a pay-cut.  If not, Foote could and probably will be on his way out of town after this season ends.

 

Possible Trades

Ziggy Hood and Jason Worilds

Both Hood and Worilds will be UFA’s after the 2013 season, and both have yet to truly make the impacts that most 1st and 2nd Round picks usually do over their first four seasons in the League.  Hood, the team’s 2009 1st Round selection, has done an adequate job over his career and even started 19 games.  Yet Hood’s productivity (5.5 Sacks and 67 Tackles) has shown nothing to indicate that he is worthy of a second contract with the club, and a long-term starter at the Defensive End position.  Worilds on the other hand has been nagged by injuries for most of his N.F.L. career, and has yet to realize the full potential (6.0 Sacks and 47 Tackles) the franchise thought he had when they selected the former Hokie in the 2nd Round of the 2010 Draft.

As inconsistent as Worilds and Hood have been, they are still young players (Hood 26 and Worilds 25 in 2013) and could generate some interest from teams willing to take a gamble on them.  Hood (a better fit for a 4-3 Defense anyway) could be sought after by teams in need of a 3-Technique, which can play a 1-Technique in a pinch.  There might even be some teams interested in adding a spot-starter and solid 5-Technique for their 3-4 rotation as well.  If there is any team willing to give up a 4th or 5th Round pick on Hood, the Steelers would be wise to at least consider a trade.  Worilds could find a potential home with some teams looking to bolster their pass-rush and are in need of depth at the Outside Linebacker position.  New York (Jets), Indianapolis, Miami, Arizona, or San Diego all could be willing partners, and could even be coaxed to spend a 5th to 6th Round pick on the Rush Linebacker.

Personnel-wise, the Steelers would be able to “bite” the monetary and performance “bullet” if Hood departed before the 2013 season began.  In Hood’s absence, 2011 1st Round pick Cameron Heyward would take over at one Defensive End position, veteran Brett Keisel would play out the final year of his contract, and another Defensive End on the roster would hopefully be able to develop as the Steelers would have the money left over they could have used on Hood for other uses.  As for Worilds, Chris Carter would be able to gain another year of experience to prove himself at Outside Linebacker, current UDFA Adrian Robinson would receive some reps and continue to develop, and a hopefully high draft pick (or two) could compete for playing time until they are ready to contribute.  If the offers do indeed exist for one or both of these guys, and one or multiple offers are agreeable, Pittsburgh could be best served by receiving something in return for their services as opposed to letting them walk for free come 2014.  With extra draft picks as compensation, the Steelers could go right to work next April and begin to plug the numerous holes remaining on the Defensive side of the ball.

 

Chopping Block in 2014, 2015, or Even After This Season?

In addition to the players I mentioned above, the Steelers will also need to make some big decisions after the 2013 season ends (or even after this season) on even more of their veteran players.  While these guys are veterans and are signed through the 2014 season, their contracts and the allotted amounts of money and time they extend over, will put Colbert & Co. in some very difficult positions in the future.

Granted, these numbers (via spotrac.com) below only take into account the player’s contract, roster bonus, and signing bonus values.  They do not fully discuss how much each player would fully count against the salary cap if they were released, and when they are inevitably released, traded, or allowed to finish out their contracts with the Steelers.  Furthermore, these numbers have not taken into account the future restructuring and possible offseason work by the “Restructuring Wizard” Omar Khan.  Nevertheless, I thought it would be not only interesting to illustrate how much money is/has been dedicated to some players on the Defensive side of the ball, but also show which players’ could be victims of a “salary cap purge.”

 

2014 UFA’s

While the players I discuss below will be UFA’s after the 2013 season, their price tags might be too high for the Steelers to keep if they are unwilling to negotiate or their play drops off significantly this season.  While the Front Office does have valid reasons to keep both players until they become UFA’s, it would not shock me if they were gone before next season started in an effort to save money and get younger on Defense.  What I can say though is that it is almost a certainty that both players will not be members of the “Black & Gold” come the start of the 2014 regular season as their current contracts will have expired and probably will not be retained.

 

Brett Keisel

2013: (Due $2.825 Million Base Salary, $1.675 Million Sign. Bonus)

As I discussed above, the team would be better off trying to trade Hood and keeping Brett Keisel for one last go around with the team.  Especially since they could possibly receive in return for Hood, as opposed to nothing if they kept keeping both around for the duration of their deals and letting both walk for free.  In spite of his age (35 in 2013), Keisel would be a nice bridge to build the gap from “old” to “new” along the Defensive Line.  5-Technique “bridge” aside, Keisel’s play and recent injuries have to be taken into account in regards to him sticking around after the 2013 season if his contract demands are not within the Steelers’ price-range during said period.

 

Ryan Clark

2013: (Due $3.5 Million Base Salary, $750,000 Sign. Bonus, $500,000 Misc. Bonus)

To be perfectly frank, I was against the Steelers’ decision to bring Ryan Clark back after the 2009 season ended.  He was exposed at times when Troy Polamalu was injured in 2009, has been a 15-yard penalty machine at times with his hits, can be a sloppy tackler, and has had his fair share of issues with his ball-skills.  Now that the contract I alluded to above is nearing its expiration, the team will have to yet again make another decision on Clark’s future after the 2013 season ends.  By the time the 2014 rolls around, Clark will be nearing 35 years of age, and who knows what kind of productivity the team will get from him then.  Thus, even if the Steelers do decide to keep him after this season and do not cut him, Colbert & Co. might want to consider either drafting a Safety or two early, finding an under-the-radar and cheap Free Agent option like Clark was back in 2006, or giving a player like Robert Golden a shot.  Still, like Keisel, from a depth perspective the Steelers would be wise to wait and just let Clark’s contract expire after next season ends and go from there.

 

2015 UFA’s

In spite of the fact that both of the players I discuss below will be UFA’s in 2015, reasons exist why Colbert & Co. might be willing to part ways with these veterans before their contracts expire due to health and monetary reasons.  While the cap hits could be large, the Steelers might save some money and cap space in the long-term by parting ways with these two players sooner as opposed to later.

 

James Harrison:

2013: (Due $6.570 Million Base Salary, $2 Million Sign Bonus, $1.465 Misc. Bonus)

2014: (Due $7.575 Million Base Salary, $1.465 Misc. Bonus)

Like “Snack,” I will hate to see James Harrison leave, but at this point in his career it might be finally time to let go of one of the best pass rushers in franchise history.  Hindsight is 20/20, but if the Steelers were smart, they would have cut Harrison after the 2011 season due to his mounting health issues.  Now it appears they will have to keep him on until 2015 unless they want to take a large cap hit and end the marriage after this season.  In Harrison’s defense, I am sure that the former UDFA would not have been out on the field lolleygagging like some of the higher-paid players on this Defense have done over the season’s first three weeks.  Over his entire career, Harrison has absolutely “brought it” on a weekly basis, and will always be revered in this fanbase for his tenacity and ferociousness.  From an economic and a football perspective though, it would be an unwise venture if this team kept Harrison around after this season without a monster pay-cut from him.

 

Ike Taylor:

2013: (Due $6 Million Base Salary, $1.8125 Million Sign. Bonus, $1.641666 Million Misc. Bonus)

2014: (Due $7 Million Base Salary, $1.8125 Million Sign. Bonus, $1.641666 Million Misc. Bonus)

Ike Taylor’s contract situation is completely indicative of why I thought the team should have franchised him last year and let LaMarr Woodley test the Free Agent waters and subsequently walk in the Summer of 2011.  The Steelers instead gave Taylor a deal through the 2014 season.  What they should have done was re-up Taylor on for one more season with the franchise tag, assessed how well he performed last year, and saved a boat-load of money by letting Woodley walk. While I am not “Screamin’” A. Smith, and will thus not constantly harp on Taylor’s performance against the Broncos in last season’s Wild Card Game, I think we can all agree that Taylor has definitely seen better days before the last two seasons.  Granted, Taylor might be the #1 Cornerback on this team, but he will be 33 when next season rolls around and making $6 million in just his base salary.  If Taylor’s play declines, the Steelers might be encouraged to part ways with Taylor to create some cap space for the future.

 

Final Thoughts

While not all of these moves I discussed above will happen, it would not shock me if at least 70% of the guys I discussed above were not wearing the Black & Gold by the start of the 2013 season.  Furthermore, I would not be surprised if 90%-100% of them were gone by the time the 2014 season rolled around. In addition to rebuilding the Defense though, money must also be saved and cap space must increase.  And I am sure that the Steelers could use some extra cap space saved to spend to re-sign their better and younger players (especially on Offense), multiple Draft Picks on the Defensive side of the ball, or even some Free Agents during these “rebuilding years.”  So while Khan’s job is to play “Salary Cap Tetris,” the idea of waiting for the Salary Cap to go up over the coming years is a “prolonging the inevitable financial doom” type of strategy if proactive steps are not taken.

I understand that many of you readers might not agree in the event that Pittsburgh’s Front Office decides to purge veterans on the Defensive side of the ball at an alarming rate over the next few seasons.  And yes, I have heard the argument that it might not be wise to start younger or less than experienced players.  But for one to currently say that “Oh, well the Steelers are playing with the best they have at every position, it would only get worse if some of the backups on Defense played…blah, blah, blah,” I must respectfully disagree.

If those of you espousing the “playing with the best they have” argument did not care to pay attention, Pittsburgh’s Defense did not force one punt in the Second Half of both the Denver and Oakland games.  Plus, they were given the gift of a 10+minute drive, and a significant Mark Sanchez blow to the head in Week 2.  In my opinion, How can things be possibly any worse or less effective if others played?

At least with the new guys gaining more game experience, the Coaching Staff can properly gauge the talent on their roster.  With actual analysis in front of them, the Coaching Staff can make informed and actual decisions on players instead of “developing” them for three to four years with hardly any game experience and gambling they turned out alright (a la Ryan Mundy).  Other N.F.L. teams are able to start Rookies with success and are not completely shackled by the notion of “veterans are first in line” or “the LeBeau system is too complex.”  I for one believe that 2012 will be a lost season anyways if the team loses to Philadelphia in Week 5.  At this point, Pittsburgh’s Defense would have issues stopping a Lingerie League team at the moment, and there are no signs that things will get any better.   Thus, it could serve this team best in the long run to put some backups on the field with either potential or desire, or some sort of combination of both to at least get a better feel of what sort of depth this team has before they head into the upcoming offseason before decisions are made.

Do not kid yourselves readers, a reconstruction effort by this Front Office will not be a quick-fix task, and the play on the field during said reconstruction will not be easy to watch at times either.  Still, if the Steelers are going to get any better and field a competitive Defense during the prime seasons of Big Ben’s career, the Defensive issues must be seen to and eliminated.  Luckily for the franchise and us fans, the Steelers have the correct people in their Front Office to make some positive moves and return this Defense to glory.

 

Figures and Stats Courtesy of: Spotrac.com and Pro Football Reference.com

 

 

Share your thoughts readers:

Should the Steelers bring down “the hammer” on multiple veterans this offseason?  How many should be purged for salary cap purposes?  Will the rebuilding process go smoothly?

 

 

For all your Steelers news and discussions follow us on Twitter @nicepickcowherC, follow me on Twitter @DominicDiTolla, and like us on Facebook.

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Tags: Kevin Colbert Pittsburgh Steelers Rebuilding Years Steelers Defense Veteran Free Agents

  • http://www.facebook.com/jake.lewis.9634 Jake Lewis

    Your analysis is premature after only 3 games in. But what I really disagree with your mercenary approach to building a team. t’s a business, but it ain’t all about money. I like the find young talent, and grow them in the system approach. Lewis, Hood, Heyward, Allen, Mundy…I think will be major contributors to a helluva Defense over the next decade or so. There will be growing pains for fans to pick at if they choose. But if you really want to build something substantial for the long term, you have to accept the fact there will be some…we just hope to keep them to a minimum. So far, these guys, overall have not been bad, once we figure out the pressure problem they may turn out to be special.

    • Dom DiTolla

      First of all, I apologize for the length of this, but here we go. This team will need to make significant roster decisions, and do a bit more purging at the end of this season because of their salary cap issues. Don’t you remember all the restructuring that had to go on last off-season just to get under the cap? Like it or not, the N.F.L. is a business, and a multi-billion dollar business to be exact. Call me a “mercenary” if you want to, but if a player has enough time to develop but still fails to produce, the franchise must cut its losses and replace them to help to put a winning product out on the field (i.e. Bruce Davis, Alonzo Jackson, Scott Shields, Joe Burnett, Ricardo Colclough, etc.).

      For instance, the “young” talent you referred to which deserve a chance to “grow,” have already had chances to shine and played a decent amount of football for this team. Mundy (4+ years), Lewis (3+), Hood (3+), Worilds (2+) will have played out their Rookie deals (or will be in their last years of their Rookie deals) after this season. How you can say that these players have shown anything to warrant sticking around beyond this season makes about as much sense as you referring to my analysis as “premature.” Especially because this group would take up valuable cap space for other more important players already on the roster, and younger and more talented upgrades at their positions. They have had more than enough time to “grow in the system.” As for Heyward and Allen, I said nothing about them leaving or deserving to be traded or cut. I am still waiting for both to come around and crossing my fingers they will work out.

      As for “figuring out the pressure problem,” that will be way easier said than done for this group. I mean, what good is pressure if the Defensive Backs cannot cover well or are off the ball 10-15 yards against an intelligent Quarterback? What good is pressure and how can it be created if the Defenders are hurt all the time? What good is pressure if the tackling is sloppy? What good is pressure when the Defensive schemes are predictable and can easily neutralize the unimaginative blitz schemes? Finally, what good is pressure if the talent on the Defensive side of the ball is simply not up to par? Maybe if these aforementioned players are off the payroll, the money left over can be dedicated to drafting a top-tier pass-rusher or some Defensive Backs?

      I agree with your notion that the Steelers should build something “substantial” and “long-term” on the Defensive side of the ball. I just believe there are expendable pieces on the team right now, and others which must be added over the next two tumultuous offseasons.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jake.lewis.9634 Jake Lewis

        Actually you made my point, all of those guys are contributing now, getting snaps. They haven’t been just lanquishing on the roster. Maybe you feel their performances haven’t been up to your exhalted standards, but by NFL standards they are more than holding their own. Ain’t got time to talk about each one, but lets take you favorite DB for example: Keenan Lewis, 4th year out Oregon ST. (PAC) 3rd round pick. 1st year he picked up a back inury on special teams and ended up on IR. 2nd year he had a great camp and preseason and was positioned to beat out Mcfadden for the start. He earned the start in the biggest preseason game and blew it early. Ended up in Tomlin’s or Horton’s dog house for the rest of the year, special teams and about 20 snaps the rest of the year. Year 3 he’s the nickelback on a highly successful pass defense. Because of his coverage skills, when he came in, he took the #2 WR and Gay moved to the slot. This year he’s your starter…and so far you have the #2 pass defense in the league. Now I think most people would say that’s a 3rd round pick that’s working out. Your standards and need for instant gratification is ridiculously high. You have to look at the body of work, that’s why the coaches’ decisions are so far off your analysis. Ever notice how many times QBs look his way and choose to go elsewhere?…I bet the coaches do. Now about the pressure thing. How well you defend the run affects the amount of play action passes you see, Pressure and sacks means less time to cover receivers, more bad throws, badly timed routes. Yes, more pressure and a stiff run defense will definitely enhance the secondary. I’m not understanding your rant, I mean, if you are forcing the ball dsout quicker, you can press the receivers more and better defend the short stuff, if your allowing 5, 6, 7 seconds you’re gonna get beat the question is whether its long or short. The secondary has no choice but short with minimal YAC. You want turnovers, it starts with the front 7, its all about pressure baby, it’ll burst pipes!

        • Dom DiTolla

          How did I make your point exactly? Lewis has received plenty of snaps
          over his career, has been in Tomlin’s doghouse before, and my point was that by the end of this season this team will have probably seen enough to know that they could use an upgrade. Also, Gay moved to the slot last season because he was better at
          playing the position as a smaller quicker Cornerback against the Slot pass catchers, and had more experience over the bigger Lewis. It was not because Gay was
          demoted to the #3 spot.

          The Steelers Pass Defense is not #2 in the
          League this season either, so I am not sure where you got that ridiculous
          statistic, but it is false. Sure, they might be ranked higher than they should, but the main reason their opponents haven’t been able to exploit them more is because the Steelers Offense possesses the ball for over
          35:00 min. per game.

          I will agree that the pressure needs to increase, and I have alluded to it many times in past posts if you cared to pay attention. But even when the pressure was working in years past, Lewis, Gay, McFadden Mundy, etc. were all being picked on even in press coverage. Or the opposing Offenses would recognize the scheme, and dink and dunk the Steelers to death when the Corners were 5 yards off the line. While it is not entirely their fault (LeBeau deserves some blame for not designing solid blitz schemes), the players have to make plays on the field.

          And why exactly are my standards for gratification especially high? Because I expect the starters to make plays when they are asked to? If you want to temper your standards, go root for another franchise were mediocrity reigns supreme and expectations are below the norm.

          Help is needed all over this Defense,
          “these next guys in line” you continue to defend are not and have not gotten the job done on a consistent basis, and changes must
          be made. That was the point of this post. Obviously you did not understand.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jake.lewis.9634 Jake Lewis

            I’ll give you the last word on this, except to say this, my point was you are getting production out of these guys, they aren’t just being paid to practice. And you’re right, I looked it up and we’re not #2 we’re #5, wow how terrible. It has nothing to do with the offense. The offense doesn’t get to control time of possession unless the defense is getting people of the field. The pass D will be #1 before mid season.
            Sorry, can’t help it , one more thing
            You mentioned years past when they were getting pressure yet still getting picked on. With Lewis you could only be talking about last season, since that’s the only one he’s played, and I remind you again, they finished #1 in pass D.

          • Dom DiTolla

            I hate to rain on your parade, but the Steelers Pass Defense finished 1st last season mostly because of the fact that they played the likes of Tarvaris Jackson, Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace, Andy Dalton (x2 Rookie), Kevin Kolb, Kellen Clemens, Blaine Gabbert, Curtis Painter, a calcified Kerry Collins and Matt Hasselbeck.

            Their shining moment last season was the win against Brady, but that was thankfully due to LeBeau changing up the scheme after so many years of Brady picking them apart in soft-zone and exploiting matchups galore.

            Also this pass Defense will not be #1 by midseason even though they play the likes of Locker and RGIII. It will only get uglier from here on out as the Steelers face Vick, Romo, E. Manning, Flacco (x2), Dalton with weapons in his 2nd year (x2), and Philip Rivers. What sorts of logic do you have to back up that point?

      • Craig

        I also think your analysis isn’t premature – we’ve seen the trend building and entrenching itself for the last couple of years.

  • joey K

    should move Timmons to Harrison spot the pay check he gets he needs to be playmaker.then cut Harrison next year with Hampton and need to resign Wallace long term deal to keep the offense together will need it for couple of years with rebuilding defense

    • http://www.facebook.com/rick.aucoin Rick Aucoin

      Yes, because an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense is the same player, skill set, and physical attributes as an an outside linebacker in a 3-4.
      What in the world makes people think that it’s a good idea to take a very good inside linebacker and turn him into a mediocre outside linebacker??

      • Dom DiTolla

        Rick’s right. Timmons looked out of place last season and his production dropped off mightily (134 Tackles, 3.0 Sacks, 10 PD’s, and 2 INT’s in 2010 versus 96 Tackles, 2.0 Sacks, 5 PD’s, 1 INT in 2011). In fact, I do not ever remember Timmons recording as Sack from his Outside Linebacker position. Timmons is the future at the “Buck” when Larry Foote leaves, it’s best to keep him inside and see what the team has in the forms of Carter, Worilds, and Robinson.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/rick.aucoin Rick Aucoin

    It’s nice to read at least someone on NCP trying to do analysis, instead of “steelers d sucks whah” posts.
    That said, it is amazing to me how many writers here post up allegations and statements then just don’t bother backing them up. It’s clear that you think Ziggy Hood hasn’t done a good enough job to keep him around; he’s a first round draft choice but hey, we should trade him away for a 4th or a 5th, because, well, just because.
    Some actual analysis might be handy at that point, right? Let’s compare Ziggy Hood to Aaron Smith, who everyone around here would probably agree was a God at his position, Ziggy’s position. So if Ziggy is even within 10%-20% of where Aaron Smith was at this point in his career I think we could say he’s worth keeping around, eh?
    Aaron Smith, after three seasons: 72 tackles, 12 sacks
    Ziggy Hood, after three seasons: 59 tackles, 5.5 sacks
    Well, by that basic look at stats looks like Ziggy isn’t really all THAT bad, though he’s not all that awesome either. He’s no Aaron Smith in other words. As far as sacks and tackles go, at least. And in a 3-4 defense it’s absolutely the DE’s job to rack up sacks and tackles.
    Oh, no, it’s not? It’s his job to take up blockers and double teams on the O line so that the linebackers can perform?
    Then we’d need to look at how the linebackers behind Aaron Smith did over three years and then compare them to how Ziggy Hood’s backing-linebacker has done. Who’s Ziggy’s guy? Lamarr Woodley. Last time I checked, Lamarr Woodley was the BEST LINEBACKER we have.
    So Ziggy really *is* doing a good job?
    My point is, people like to write articles saying Ziggy Hood performs at a 5th round draft choice value (really???) and Keenan Lewis is not worth keeping around (and how does he compare to Ike Taylor after Ike was with the team for three seasons? ANALYSIS would be good there, don’t you think?), but these statements are just thrown out there by authors around here like they are self-evident facts of life and you know what? They aren’t.
    If you guys are going to write about how Player A sucks/disappoints/isn’t worth keeping, maybe it would be super friggin’ awesome if you could back up that statement with some real analysis, compare Player A to the guy he replaced maybe over the same period of *his* career so we can get a sense of *why* Player A is a disappointment and deserves to be traded away/cut/not resigned.
    But you know what, if you actually did that? You’d probably find you’re full of crap about Player A’s sucktitude and he’s actually doing pretty well with the opportunities he’s been given, especially on a team that’s done such a poor job of getting players consistent playing time at a consistent position so that they can actually *master* that job. Contrary to what our coaching staff things, every position along the O Line isn’t plug and play, each side of the D line isn’t swappable, inside linebackers can’t just move to outside linebacker and kick ass all of the sudden.

    • Dom DiTolla

      Keenan Lewis: 2009-2011, 42 Tackles, 1 INT, 6 PD’s,
      Ike Taylor: 2003-2005, 139 Tackles, 2 INT’s, 2 important Postseason INT’s (AFCG & Super Bowl XL), 27 PD’s, 1,074 KOR Yards. Yeah, I would say Ike was a bit more productive and more meaningful to the team during those years.

      To your second point, you’re absolutely right, and I should have mentioned why I decided on the values I did forget, and I really appreciate you the reader calling me out for forgetting although I did keep all of this in mind, as I assumed most readers would know why I chose the values for each player.

      Recent DT’s and DE’s:

      Adam Carriker (13th overall in 2007) (2.0 Sacks, 63 Tackles in first two seasons) was traded from the Rams to the Redskins after both teams swapped their 5th and 7th Round picks. Defensive End Quentin Groves (2nd Round Pick) was recently traded after his 2nd season with the Jaguars (38 Tackles, 1 INT, 2.5 Sacks) for a 5th Round selection, Jarvis Moss (17th overall), Jamaal Anderson (8th overall), and Amobi Okoye (10th overall) were simply cut by the Broncos and Texans after an injuries (Moss) and poor play (Moss and Okoye) (Moss: 3.5 Sacks in less than 3 seasons, Okoye 8.0 Sacks and 104 Tackles through 3 seasons, Anderson 83 Tackles 2.5 Sacks through three seasons), and Gerard Warren (12.5 Sacks, 122 Tackles in first 3 Seasons) (4th overall pick in 2001) was traded for a 4th Round selection in his 5th season in the League.

      Like it or not, but like a regular car, the value for a player decreases no matter how expensive they once were. Like it or not, but a 4th Round selection appeared to be in the neighborhood of what the Steelers might/would receive. My point was that the Steelers could consider unloading Worilds and Hood if they wanted something in return if they deemed them not in their long term plans due to their current production, and needed some necessary cap space if they were deemed too expensive. Because as opposed to the older players that will be unloaded soon, Hood and Worilds do have at least some trade value as I alluded to in the post. That was all.

      Also, I am right on with you in terms of the Defensive players not getting consistent time at every position. I’ve been on that bandwagon for years. Thank you again though.

      Thank you again though for allowing me to explain.

      • http://www.facebook.com/rick.aucoin Rick Aucoin

        Thanks for the reply and additional information.
        I don’t know that I necessarily agree with your points (mainly about whether a 5th round pick is worth a known quantity of Ziggy Hood, since so many 5th round picks aren’t’ even good enough to start, anywhere, for any position, at all and Ziggy is), but still, it’s nice to get some analysis using fact instead of hyperbole. :)

  • dan belvin

    the author is clearly a Cleveland Browns fan.