Nov 10, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Jerry Hughes (55) sacks Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) during the fourth quarter against at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

How to rebuild the Steelers part one


 

Seems odd that I should contemplate how to rebuild the black and gold only 2 days removed from possibly their most complete game, especially defensively. However, I still think the Steelers are destined for a 7-9 season, 6-10 at worst, so my rebuilding process isn’t too absurd a thought.

Now, before I continue, let’s realize most of this is hypothetical. Many of the moves I am going to suggest are contingent upon the Steelers doing things a little differently as they have in the past, namely GETTING INVOLVED IN FREE AGENCY. Today I will take a look at how to rebuild the team offensively and tomorrow I’ll rebuild the defense.  So, without further ado, here we go:

 

OFFENSE:

I don’t quite know what to make of the reports that QB Ben Roethlisberger wants out of Pittsburgh after this season. Ben has said he wants to stay a Steeler forever, but I don’t think Ian Rappaport’s story came out of thin air.  I know Ben’s frustrated at the direction of the team, and he’s still unhappy over the hiring of Todd Haley as OC last year, so part of me feels there is some substance to this story. However, since one of the first moves in rebuilding this team is to gut the entire offensive coaching staff, including HC Mike Tomlin, keeping Ben happy might be a little easier.

In my opinion, Mike Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert deserve all the blame for the Steelers decline. Neither has done a good, consistent job of finding and developing talent so both should be fired right off.  Since I am playing the role of GM, I go looking for an intense, offensive minded coach who will bring some proper balance to the offense: Jon Gruden. I know Gruden is going to put every fiber of his being into the job, he’ll be at the office at 3am, and probably will sleep there on occasion. I want a guy who’s going to scream and get in players faces and not have that deer caught in the headlights look that has been a Mike Tomlin staple. Gruden is plan A.  Another choice, albeit a sleeper might be Stanford’s David Shaw who has done a brilliant job building the Cardinal into a national contender. But Gruden is my first choice.

My next move may be a bit shocking, especially since I dumped Haley, but if the Steelers are ever to trade Roethlisberger, 2014 would be the year to do it. Yes, I am well aware of the $14 million in dead money, but maybe if I find the right trade partner (yes, I’m looking at you Arizona), some of that money could be picked up by his new team. I still think Ben is a top 10 QB so this pains me to do, but he could finish out his career (if it is Arizona) with his friend and former OC Bruce Arians and throw to a bona fide WR in Larry Fitzgerald for a season or two. I’d want at least a second and fourth rounder for him, and while that may be slightly steep I think Pittsburgh west, aka the Arizona Cardinals would do it. Besides, they owe us for Levi Brown.

The other reasons as to why trading Ben at this point makes sense is twofold: first Bruce Gradkowski can hold down the fort while a young guy develops. If Charlie Batch and Byron “shotput” Leftwich are still here, there’s no way I make the deal. Second, the 2014 draft has one of the deeper, better QB classes in a long time.  I think the Steelers could grab a starter in round two, I really like Fresno State’s David Carr (although they may have to deal back into the first to get him),LSU’s Zach Mettenberger or Georgia’s Aaron Murray. A sleeper pick would be San Jose State’s David Fales, but he doesn’t have superior arm strength and has struggled at times. This way you let the rookie sit and learn for a year while Gradkowski holds the fort and then in 2015 take the reigns. I know Landry Jones is still on the roster, so giving him a shot isn’t out of the question, but this year’s draft is just too deep in quaterbacks to pass one up. The team cannot let another long period go by before landing their next franchise QB as they had between Bradshaw and Roethlisberger (think of this list:Mark Malone, David Woodley, Scott Campbell, Todd Blackledge, Bubby Brister, Neil O’Donnell, Mike Tomczak, Kordell Stewart,Tommy Maddox). See what I mean?

 

Running Back:

Somewhere in the mix of Le’veon Bell, Felix Jones and Johnathan Dwyer there is a running game. If the Steelers want to go back to their running roots, they need a lead fullback. I’m not a fan of either David or Will Johnson, so I’d dump them both. Gruden had a great FB at Tampa in Mike Alstott, so he’d appreciate a big ugly leading the way. If he’s still in shape, I’d give former Pro Bowl FB Michael Robinson a call and I’d look to address the position somewhere in the middle of the draft, perhaps with LSU’s J.C.Copeland, a 270 pounder who can run a 4.8. Oklahoma’s Trey Millard is another possibility, but something about a 270 pounder leading the way gets me giddy.

I’m still not totally sold on Dwyer, nor can I depend on Jones to make it through a season injury free, so I’d make a run at pending free agent RB Ben Tate of Houston. With Arian Foster’s injury history the Texans will probably try to re-sign Tate, but there’s nothing wrong with making a run (no pun intended) at him. A Bell- Tate backfield with Robinson and Copeland leading the way and  with Jones as a change of pace could spring the team back into a top 15 ground attack.

 

Tight End:

Heath Miller isn’t going to play forever, so depth is an issue at TE. Baltimore’s tandem of Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson will both be free agents and it’d be fun to pluck one (Pitta) from them, but I’d  turn to the draft and look at Georgia’s 6’5 Arthur Lynch or Iowa’s 6’6 CJ Fiedorowicz  instead. Both have soft hands and are good blockers and each has faced good competition in their respective conferences.

 

Wide Receiver:

We all know Emmauel Sanders is gone after this year so let him go and get a compensatory pick for him. Jerricho Cotchery has proven to be way too valuable to let go, so keeping him is a must.  Markus Wheaton’s rookie campaign has been a washout so he’s still an unknown commodity. Derek Moye has had his moments and he’s worth developing. There’s not much on the free agent market (Eric Decker is out of their price range), so I’d look to draft one with one of my two second round picks (ours and the one I got for Ben) and I’d look to Penn State’s 6’3 playmaker Allen Robinson or Vanderbilt’s 6’5 Jordan Matthews. Both posses nice hands and can pick up large chunks of yards after the catch. Robinson  especially has great footwork and drafting one will make up for passing on Cordarelle Patterson this year.

 

The Offensive line:

What can we say about this group that hasn’t been said? They are amongst the worst in the league, have been for some time. The last good Steelers OL had Alan Faneca, Jeff Hartings, Marvel Smith and Kendall Simmons as its mainstays. So where to start with this bunch? Well, I’d keep David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey and Fernando Velasco. That’s it. The rest I’d send packing, right along with OL coach Jack Bicknell Jr and his failed blocking schemes. Personally, I’d keep Velasco at center and move Pouncey to the other guard spot and as long as those three stayed healthy, the Steelers would be set. To fortify the tackle spots, I’d have to hope and pray that Texas A&M’s stalwart Jake Matthews would fall to me, since he can play either tackle spot. My other choice is the Michigan mauler Taylor Lewan, although he has struggled the last two games. If I’m unseasy about Lewan I may look at Florida State’s Cameron Erving who doesn’t have a ton of starting experience but does have nice upside. To help on the other side, I dip into free agency for Oakland tackle Jared Veldheer, who at 26 has a lot of football left. Yes, I know he’s hurt, but he’s good and young and could come at a reasonable price, especially coming off an injury season. Perhaps I’d bring back Kelvin Beachum for depth and only depth, but this is the one unit I’d completely overhaul.

So that’s my grand plan for rebuilding the offense. Most of it is wishful thinking, but its high time the Rooney family looks to change with the times. Yes, consistency is a nice thing, but there is a difference between consistency and complacency.

If you like (or don’t like) part one of my rebuilding, wait until you see what I do to the defense.

follow me on twitter @scott8871

 

 

 

Tags: Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Javier Borges

    pouncey velasco move have been on my mind for three weeks

  • Kimmy

    Jon Gruden is the answer for the Steelers coaching problems LOL!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for the laugh buddy! I needed that!

    • scott sinclair

      No problem! I thought about Billick, but I couldn’t go that route

      • Kimmy

        Stop! You’re killing me! My side! I almost spit my coffee out. You’re on a roll this morning :)

        • scott sinclair

          Mangini? Lane Kiffin? I could go on all day!

          Truthfully, I think Tomlin is proving to be a bad choice. I know he has a lot of fans and supporters out there whom I’ll hear from (they’ll point out the two Superbowls and the playoffs and that this is his first losing season, etc), but his combination of bewildering press conferences, blank stares on the sidelines and his lack for developing what talent there is on this team is troubling. He’ll get a pass for this year because the Steelers don’t fire their coaches and such, but when the purge of vets comes (Polamalu, Keisel, Clark, maybe Woodley (if not for the dead money)), who will step up? They’re really the last holdovers from Cowher, so it will be interesting to see next year how this team looks and how they play

          • Dom DiTolla

            You mean the same Eric Mangini who is 33-47 and only made the postseason once in five years as a head coach?

            Also, there’s no way that the Steelers part with Big Ben for only a 2nd and 4th round pick, if they even do it at all. Bengals got a 1st and 2nd for Palmer, and Rams received two firsts and a second from Washington for the rights to draft RGIII.

            Keep dreaming.

          • emf

            Wow, relax, if you look above I think he was kidding about Mangenious and Kiffin. And I believe he said AT LEAST a second and a 4th. Personally, I’d want a 2n, 4th, 5th and Michael Floyd, after all what’s one more disappointing first round pick on our team?
            I think these articles are fun, but also pretty good. Why not dare to dream that the Steelers can change a little and dip into free agency or depart with a bad coach? Why should we be happy to be mired in crap right now?
            I don’t think Ben is going anywhere, he said he’d rather retire than be traded. Personally, I think he wants to be traded but is backpedalling since the story got out.

          • Jamie Morrow

            I agree a 2nd and 4th is nothing for a good starting quarterback. They need to keep Ben. Finding a quality starting quarterback through the draft is difficult even if they are a first round pick.

          • scott sinclair

            mangini and kiffin are only in jest by the way

  • Steve Reeves

    I stopped reading after Gruden.

    • Nine

      Thank you. Idiotic article.

  • Thumper833

    These articles are fun but why not write one that sticks to the realm of possibility? Tomlin is here at least through his contract, and they will not trade Ben.

    • scott sinclair

      Never say not! I think publicly Ben is saying the right things, but this story about wanting to be traded didn’t come out of nowhere. He still has value at this point which is why trading him makes sense, if that’s where they chose to go.
      As for Tomlin, one more season like this and he’s gone. He doesn’t have the locker room behind him and both of his coordinators will be gone after this year. I know the Rooney’s love and adhere to consistency, but even they can’t be blind as to how this guy can’t coach or develop talent on his own.

      • Nine

        How do you know Tomlin doesn’t have the locker room behind him? Unless you’re in that locker room, you can’t know that.

        Wow, what experts appear from every crack and crevice!

  • RMEG12

    I noticed in your choice of QBs to replace Big Ben that you didn’t mention AJ McCarron as a replacement. Heck, the guy is deadly accurate, his TD to INT ratio is outstanding, and he’s definitly a big game QB. Why not draft him, along with his “go to” receiver Kevin Norwood who would be a good replacement for Sanders. Norwood isn’t the fastest WR but he has great hands, runs good routes, and often comes up with clutch catches. In other words, he has Hines Ward characteristics. If you’re going to rebuild an offense, those are the guys I would go with.

    • scott sinclair

      I like McCarron, the guy’s a winner and a leader. No argument with that! Only issue with Norwood is the speed.

  • Ronk25

    Interesting & thought provoking article. BUT, it all must begin with dumping the people who got them into this mess – Colbert – Tomlin – Haley & Bicknell all must be sent packing. I wouldn’t even wait until the end of the season to dump Haley – i would do it now. Even if I had to have Daffy Duck to replace him. As a matter of fact, one of the few coaches I would keep out of the entire staff is Carnell Lake – who I believe has done an incredible job.

    • scott sinclair

      I have thoughts on Lake (keeping him and making him DC)

  • bk

    In my fantasy life a lot of what you said makes sense and would be nice…reality is another story…so here is my take: Lebeau retires, Lake is moved to DC. Hailey/Tomlin return.
    Ben goes nowhere. Clark is gone, Sanders is gone, maybe Cotchery too…No way to get rid of Woodley and his salary, Ike..same, Troy..same. Kiesel gone, Hood gone.
    So that takes us to the draft… we win enuf games to slide near middle of the draft again..
    Lewan drops or we take Erving/Richardson/Kouandjio.. whichever of these 4 are there..
    Second round hope WIll Sutton drops, but doubtful..even with the bad year he is having..so maybe a cb falls.. either of the Florida guys or Roby/Fuller/Dennard.
    No 3rd rounder and due to our lost free agents laying eggs, (Wallace) no supplemental pick here.. 4th rd.. maybe find a NT/ILB (Skov? Bullough? Borland?)
    5th..(O’Leary (jack NicKlaus’s grandson) Jensen (fresno)
    6th…take a shot at any OLmen left…Ikard, Miller (VT), Norwell (OSU) Watt (ND) etc… see if we can find a gem…7th rd…Wr depth…I really like this Matt MIller from Boise.. big, good routes, great hands..watch him play. decent speed.. just has aknack for finding open spaces..
    Find some cheap FA’s, maybe a punter…HAHA

  • Benny Largo

    You lost me at Gruden.

  • lannylog

    first of all trade big ben, absurd. should be able to get a 2nd and a 4th, cause he’s still a top 10 qb. he is better than a top 10 signal caller, and not getting at least a 1st rounder for him if they did trade him makes you about the dumbest person I’ve ever heard, you said it yourself, remember some of the quarterbacks we’ve had in the past, they are responsible for us not having 8 maybe 9 super bowl wins