Found February 18, 2013 on SteelBlitz Steelers Blog:
After Ryan Clark’s comments on NFL AM this morning there are some big questions surrounding the Steelers camaraderie as well as the level of leadership on the team. This isn’t a new issue, however, before the 2012 season that was one of the issues that concerned me most. In fact, I wrote this article almost a year ago: Time for Roethlisberger, Timmons, and Woodley to Lead “When Ben Roethlisberger took over two games into his rookie season the Pittsburgh Steelers they had little concern in terms of offensive leadership, even with a rookie quarterback. In front of Roethlisberger were All-pro linemen Jeff Hartings and Alan Faneca, behind him, at times, was Jerome Bettis, and out wide he had Hines Ward. Over the past seven years, however, the Steelers have watched countless veterans leave and be replaced with youthful players. Now that Ward has been released Roethlisberger finds himself as the most veteran starter on the offensive side of the ball for the Steelers. It will be up to him to be the emotional leader of the offense in 2012. Roethlisberger is prepping for the best year of his career already and is hoping he is just coming into his prime. On the defensive side of the ball the Steelers have lost lone time leader James Farrior. After coming to the Steelers in 2002 from the New York Jets as a free agent Farrior immediately became a crucial part of the Steelers defense. Farrior was a leader and play maker throughout his Steelers career and leaves a large gap to be filled. Lawrence Timmons, who has lined up next to Farrior for most of his career, will be entering his sixth season and will be looked upon to take over as a leader in the middle of the defense. Along with Lamarr Woodley, who was drafted one round after Timmons, it will be his job to help lead the Steelers defense. Youngsters Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward will see much more time on the defensive line; the Steelers are also expected to have contributions at nose tackle and middle linebacker from rookies picked in during the 2012 NFL draft. These players will look towards veterans for leadership and help on the field. Timmons and Woodley may not have been the leaders before, but in 2012 they will need to lead in the locker room and on the field.” Timmons played in every game, one of the few Steelers who were able to do this, and it may have been the best year of his career so far. Timmons is just entering the prime of his career and with the loss of Farrior last off-season and the potential loss of Larry Foote this off-season they’ll need him to continue to lead on and off the field. This is also the reason I placed Manti Te’o into the top slot on my most recent Steelrs mock draft. The Steelers need leadership and Timmons and Te’o would be a very productive duo and would bring a high level of leadership to the defense. Roethlisberger was unhappy with the “forced retirement” of Bruce Arians and it was well documented. When Todd Haley took over there was concern that Roethlisberger would not buy into the short passing game. Roethlisberger did make some comments about the offense at times during the 2012 season and the biggest problem is that if the quarterback isn’t buying in then the players around him probably aren’t either. Heading into the 2013 season the Steelers need Big-Ben to go all-in on Haley’s offense. What many don’t realize is that through the first nine weeks of the 2012 season Roethlisberger was considered an MVP candidate and was having one of the best seasons of his career. The short passing game was working well and the offense was performing at a high level even with the lack of a running game. However, after Roethlisberger’s injury the Steelers struggled and when he returned he was not the same. It was obvious that his shoulder injury was causing issues with his passing ability and those issues showed in his statistics. Through the first ten games of the season (including a partial game agains the Kansas City Chiefs) Roethlisberger had thrown for 2287 yards, 17 touchdowns and only four interceptions. It was the best start of his career and he was on pace to have one of the best years of his career. However, after injuring his should Roethlisberger was only able to play in four more games. In those games he threw nine touchdowns which was impressive, but he also threw four interceptions matching the amount he’d thrown in his previous ten starts. Two of those interceptions may have cost the Steelers games (against Dallas and Cincinnati). In 2013 Roethlisberger needs to buy in to Haley’s system and get his shoulder back to one hundred percent because if he can continue to play the way he did during the start of the 2012 season the Steelers will have a very good offense. If they can also add a more productive run game to Roethlisberger’s passing game the Steelers offense will be one of the best they have had in recent years. When it comes to Woodley 2012 was a second straight disappointing season. Before he injured his hamstring in 2011 he was on pace to be the defensive player of the year, but he hasn’t recovered since. Woodley’s 2012 season was once again plagued by injuries and questions about his off-season condition have erupted. Yesterday the following comments were made public and were allegedly made by one of Woodley’s teammates: “He was awful,” an anonymous Steelers player told Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He tells us he works out, but we didn’t see it. He wasn’t in shape. That has to be a reason why he was always hurt.” Now although this isn’t the first time someone has called out Woodley about his performance in 2012 and his conditioning it does bring up one very good point. The Steelers are paying Woodley to be a defensive force and a leader on the team and it’s time for him to get himself in shape and conditioned well enough this off-season that he can put his hamstring issues behind him. If he can do that we all know just how good he can be. 2013 will be an interesting year for the Steelers. They will be coming off an 8-8 season, their first non-winning season under Mike Tomlin, and they will also be without some veterans once again due to cuts that will have to be made this off-season. That means some leaders will have to step up and Roethlisberger, Timmons and Woodley are three guys that fit the bill. The other player that I’ll add to the list this off-season is Antonio Brown. When Wallace turned down a new deal with the Steelers during the 2012 off-season they decided to turn their attention to Brown and lock him up long-term. In doing so Brown became the highest paid receiver on the team and was expected to play like it. However, Brown saw almost all of his stats decrease from the year before and he fumbled the ball four times in 2012 after not fumbling a single time in 2011. Two of those fumbles were turnovers and both may have cost the Steelers wins. One of those fumbles came in week 3 against the Oakland Raiders and the other against the Dallas Cowboys and both changed the momentum in the game. Had Brown not lost those two fumbles and if the Steelers had won both those games they would have finished 10-6. That would of put them in a three way tie for the division and they would have been AFC North Champions. Not to mention the fact that the actual AFC North Champions, the Baltimore Ravens, went on to win the Super Bowl.   The post It’s Still Time for Roethlisberger, Timmons, and Woodley to Lead the Steelers appeared first on SteelBlitz Steelers Blog.
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