It’s Time for a Youth Movement

Shamarko & WheatonFollowing Sunday’s loss to the Patriots, the Steelers are now sitting at 2-6 on the season. They are three and a half games behind the Bengals for the division, and are looking up at a number of teams for the last wildcard spot (it’s almost guaranteed at this point that the first wildcard will go to either Kansas City or Denver). Usually, you need at least 9 wins, just to have a chance at the post-season, meaning the Steelers would need to win 7 of their next 8 games. I don’t know about the rest of Steeler nation, but I’m not extremely confident that happens with Detroit, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Green Bay, Miami, and yes, even Cleveland (twice) on the schedule.

So this raises a big question for the Steelers. At what point do you accept that this season’s goal isn’t to win a championship, and just start trying to improve the team in the future? I understand that publicly, Mike Tomlin can’t say that they’re giving up on the season and holding live try-outs for next season. He can, however, start getting young guys on the field and start going through those growing pains now, when it’s not hurting the team. Not to mention, that this team could sorely use a top 10 draft pick to help infuse some more young talent. As SteelDad mentioned in his lastest write-up, Tomlin is dealing with players quitting on him. Playing the young and hungry also works to send a message to the vets that their spot isn’t going to be handed to them. This past offseason when asked if the Steelers were re-building, Kevin Colbert said “We’re not at a crossroads. We’re not in the rebuilding stage. The best way to put it is we need to re-tool.” At the time I thought it’s just something he has to say, but desperation moves like the trade for Levi Brown and continuing to push cap dollars into the future with restructures makes me think maybe he really believes that.

It’s very likely that Shamarko Thomas will be starting at one of the safety spots on opening day next year, so why not get him all the game action right now that you can? Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review had a great piece last week about getting Jarivs Jones on the field even if he’s struggling, and he’s absolutely right.  Jason Worilds had a nice 2 sack performance against the Patriots, but playing him over Jarvis Jones is only earning him money from some other team this offseason (and the same goes for Emmanuel Sanders). Jones will definitely be starting next season. When Markus Wheaton gets healthy, I think he should definitely get snaps over Jerricho Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders.  Cotchery looked great against the Patriots, but you know what you have in him. I personally would like to see Ziggy Hood get a new contract this offseason, assuming he doesn’t demand too much, but if you think that he’s not in your plans long term, get Al Woods out there to see if he has what it takes to be a part of the future.

Look at Vince Williams, and the progress he’s made this season. He’s only seeing the field because the Steelers coaches were forced to put him there after Larry Foote’s injury. In a very short time Williams has gone from 6th round pick just trying to make the team, to starting inside linebacker and even wears the headset to call the plays. It looks like the Steelers have a legitimate long term solution at that spot, and never would’ve known that if they hadn’t been forced to put Williams in there. Not that he’s a rookie, but Cam Heyward has also thrived since being put in there over Ziggy Hood. The Steelers need to do the same across the board, to see what their future holds.


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14 comments on “It’s Time for a Youth Movement

  1. I originally had hoped we wld have just had a respectable showing against the Patriots, but that could not be. There is nothing respectable about letting someone kick your butt into oblivion …. This was an embarrassment to anyone who ever donned a Steeler uniform, Dick Shiner and Kent Nix included.

    I would seriously consider firing GM Colbert and Tomlin. At the beginning of our downslide, I thought Tomlin should keep his job, but now having seen this debacle of a game, it is clear that these coaches on this team are not motivating their players to do anything. There is a breakdown of every kind, communication being the primary one. Start anew…. Make some definitive changes! Another course needs chartered, the Steelers are on a rudderless journey right now…

  2. The problem with a youth movement is that they have not done a very good job drafting over the last 5 years [there is no guarantee the current draft class is any different] . I have stated in prior posts that i believe that many of the players that will be winning playoff games in the future are not on the roster yet.

    • I’ll agree that they haven’t drafted well lately, but I have a lot of optimism with our latest draft class.

      However, even if you disagree on that, my point is what does it hurt? The veterans obviously aren’t getting the job done (our record shows that) so why not gives the young guys a chance? I’d rather lose with young guys in there learning than lose with more seasoned guys that will just be gone soon (Clark, Worilds, Sanders, Kiesel).

      I probably failed to really hit on this in the write-up, but it also gives you an idea of what you have long term. You say that you don’t think our current players are the guys of the future… Even more reason to get them out there. Maybe right now the front office plans to start Shamarko Thomas next season… If you start him the rest of this year and he looks like he’s never going to be an NFL safety then you know that now, and can try to address it in the offseason, versus finding out he stinks next year with no real backup plan.

  3. Being a true die hard Steeler Fan. Looking at how my beloved team performed yesterday was painful. Normally after a loss I don’t follow any sports news because I don’t like hearing bad things being said about our team. Today I broke that tradition and like I thought it’s painful. I really do believe that it needs to be a complete overhaul with our team. We know it’s bad when you hear talk that The Browns….yes The Browns are better than Our Steelers. The team as a whole played poorly and the coaching staff game plan was questionable. Dick Labeau is one of the best if not the best and I really feel sorry for him. I with the idea of playing the younger players because the vets are as they so well say isn’t playing within “The Standard”. But you have to ask by doing that have they quit on the season?? Playoffs is what we expect every year. The problem is with that salary cap issue the team have, poor scouting, and relying on players that was on the team when Cowher left and Tomlin being hired. No upgrades on the defensive side of the ball especially at cornerback. They players on the offensive line playing out of positions. I know everybody goes through some rough patches and the organization might be at point now.

    • Charles,
      I feel your pain, but we’re spoiled as Steelers fans. They can’t win the Superbowl every year. As far as your question on if they’re quitting on the season, I chose my words carefully because I didn’t want to say anything like tanking the season, because that just won’t happen. I am suggesting that their goal change however. This team simply doesn’t have the talent to compete for a Championship right now, and the hole they’ve dug is just too deep to get out of. I’m not suggesting the players quit on their team. I’m just suggesting that instead of players worrying about winning, they worry about learning their position and getting better as a player. Markus Wheaton doesn’t need to catch 8 balls a game and win the game for us… He needs to learn how to run a good route, how to get open in the NFL, how to beat a jam at the line of scrimmage. If he can learn those things then he’ll win games for us down the road.

    • I just think when you look at a championship roster, not every position is going to be filled by a star. We got by with guys like Clark Haggans and William Gay.

      Ziggy knows the scheme, and is a very hard worker. He’s not a playmaker, but I think he’s good enough to start when Kiesel is gone. With so many holes, it’d be nice if there was one position we can say is good for now… Ziggy could start while we look at Al Woods and Brian Arnfelt.

      This is ALL assuming that Ziggy realizes he’s not a superstar, and would need to come at a very reasonable rate.

    • Ziggy Hood is less than average at best, never understood why they drafted a d-linemen from Missouri. I can’t ever recall missouri having that great of a defense in recent history. Poor decision by Tomlin and Colbert to waste a first rounder on Ziggy Hood.

  4. Been a steeler fan since before the immaculate reception, yes I watched that game…Go back to the glory days of the real steel curtain and I remember Teryy Hanratty, and Joe Gilliam fighting for the starting QB job with some first round draft pick out of Louisana State named Bradshaw. I know something about Steeler Football and how the team became the greatest football dynasty ever and I can tell you that there needs to be significant change in the organization starting with the GM and Head Coach. Tomlin inherited a great team from Cowher and has run it into the ground. He has not made the team better at any position since taking over and made it worse at several that I can think of right off the top of my head, the RB, O-line and D-line have all declined rapidly with no end in sight. The drafts have been terrible and he must share the blame with the GM for not identifying any talented players over the last 5 or six years. I love Dick Lebeau and he has been great for a long time, but it is time for a new approach to defense. The Offensive ( o-fens-sive) coordinator haley is a joke and never should have been hired and we let a great o-line coach , Russ grimm slip away…. what ever happened to the patented Steeler trap blocking scheme? Why do we always draft big, slow, fat and lazy O-linemen now ( except pouncey)? we used to have the best O-line in football, but that is now a distant memory…As a football fan I believe in the theory that you build a great team from the center out on both sides of the line, Offense and defense, be strong up the middle and the rest will take care of itself…the steelers are anything other than that and it is sad. They were always the model organization for others to imitate, not they are a poor imitation of themselves……

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