At Least Jeff Reed Looked Good

Because the game on FSN was blacked out in D.C., I just got a chance to see yesterday's preseason finale, and for a game in which the starters left with the lead and the team eventually won, there weren't a ton of positive signs.

Who looked good

Jeff Reed - Not losing the accuracy even with the rampant partying. (Okay, he had a rare miss, but still - he hit four others from decent distance).

Anthony Smith - I'm as shocked as you are. But he was at least laying the wood to people, which has never really been a problem for him. But at least he looked decent in coverage as well.

Willie Parker - Had a couple nice runs, including one long scamper off the right end.

Troy Polamalu - Okay, he didn't really do shit, but he was on the field. Good enough for me.

Who didn't

Rashard Mendenhall/Limas Sweed - I mean, I know you're rookies, but you have to constantly remind us of that fact? Drops, fumbles, running backwards. Luckily the early part of the Steelers schedule is a least a little softer than the stretch run so they have some time to get their shit together.

Justin Hartwig - Granted Ben was partially to blame, but he launched a shotgun snap over Roethlisberger's head on the opening drive.

Byron Leftwich - Ye gods. Ben cannot got hurt.

Paul Ernster - Shanked a 22-yard punt in the first half and revealed that he has retarded back-arm tattoos. Mitch Berger is the new clubhouse leader.

Rush D - Starting unit looked soft in two series against the Panthers' second team offense. At least Week 1 opponent Houston is starting Ahman Green or I'd be concerned.


And here...we...GO!

We all know the NFL preseason is as helpful as an extended dry-hump. Perhaps the league is finally coming to their senses. As we move toward games that may actually legitimize my alcoholic binges, questions remain:

QB Situation: Are we really keeping all four? I like Chuck Batch as much as the next guy, but how many clipboard holders do we need? Shit, don't answer that.

FWP: Is Willie all the way back? Is he mentally ready? I just threw up in my mouth.

O-line experience: Jesus-tap-dancing-Christ

Defensive durability: Overweight coming into camp? Torn bicep(Smith), ruptured spleen(Clark), fuck up your knee(Polamalu) last year? WE HAVE A STARTING ROSTER SPOT FOR YOU!

Young Guys: Is Mendenhall really as good as he's looked? Can he and Sweed HOLD THE FUCK ON TO THE GODDAMN FOOTBALL? Are Woodley and Timmons good enough to justify my raging hard-on?

Special Teams: I would rather be raped by a bear with AIDS than have our season decided by special teams play.

Now that's DEFINITELY enough reason to start sippin the cough medicine...I'm off to Heinz.

Neil O'Donnell: Turf Salesman

"Sure, I blew the season, but at least I did it on such nice turf."

Sorry to invoke the bane of every Steelers fan's existence, but I ran across this amusing article detailing the new career of this irredeemable cockgoblin. Apparently Neil is hawking FieldTurf to sucker universities around the country.

Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Neil O'Donnell may not be making plays with his arm anymore, but his new-found career still impacts the game on which he made his mark for 14 NFL seasons.

O'Donnell is making things happen with the field instead of on it as a sales representative for FieldTurf, a company that has developed a synthetic grass surface for athletic fields.

The 42-year-old said his time with the Titans was a perfect ending to his career.

"It was not a Super Bowl ending like Michael Strahan, but I had a clear mind, and I was ready to compete in something else."

O'Donnell was a color commentator for CBS at the time, but said he was not fully satisfied in his new job.

After the NFL consumed 14 years of his professional life, O'Donnell said he doesn't follow the league closely anymore.

"I usually have it on in the background while I do stuff with my kids," O'Donnell said. "I watch more college and high school football.

Hey, if Neil's the one selling it, no wonder the Steelers haven't converted Heinz Field to the stuff. I'd rather them play in the muck and the mire for a few more decades than buy anything from that prick.

(P.S. - Yes, I know O'Donnell attended my alma mater, Maryland, so don't bother pointing that out. His Steelers jersey is displayed in one of the local bars and I stopped going immediately after I saw it.)


Site News: New DCSN Writer

Because I'm too lax to update the blog as often as I'd like, I'm welcoming a second writer to D.C. Steeler Nation, a man who goes by the handle Dixie Normess. Try not to blush.

Granted, he actually lives in the 'Burgh and not in the D.C. area, hey, c'mon - it's a blog. We're kind of loose on the rules. Anyway, he's a season ticket holder to the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates (really? them too?), making him roughly a thousand times better fan than I am.

Like myself, he's a graduate of the University of Maryland, so you'll have to excuse thwe occasional bout of paint-huffing dementia and the nonsensical posting that follows. But unlike me, Mr. Fancypants here has a graduate degree from Robert Morris University. Well la di da, guy.

'08-'09 Schedule Circle Jerk

You Can Shove Your "Most Difficult Schedule" Up Your Ass

I can't speak for everyone, but I know I shit a solid Brick Tamland when I saw the Steelers' 2008-2009 schedule. Initially, the fact that we are matched up against both the NFC North and AFC South this season, not to mention "bonus games" against the Pats and Bolts, convinced me that Roger Goodell has a personal vendetta against us. But Oh, how a few pre-season developments/injuries can change things. I know there are quite a number of NFL franchises out there whose fan bases are comprised almost entirely of delusional assholes (SEE: Arizona, Oakland), but one of Steeler Nation's collective strengths is to take a realistic attitude about each upcoming season...we keep our shit grounded.

So let's take a look at our scheduled opponents. Because the rationale, "Screw Vegas, I make my own odds!" is so sound, I've taken the liberty of assigning my completely arbitrary "% Estimate of Victory" after each game:

HOUSTON - Schaub. Green. A couple of receivers named Andre. Luke-warm piss in a bottle. 80%

@Cleveland - A lot of peoples' "sleeper" to make the Super Bowl. Then again,
a lot of people apparently need to be told not to eat their boogers. LOVE travelling here early before Anderson can get back in the swing and their D figures shit out. 70%

@Philly - McNabb does look prime for a rebound, but with Curtis still out his receivers are piss. Westbrook = overrated. 65%

BALTIMORE - What a train-wreck. When you're pinning your season on Troy Smith's infected-ass it's time to start snorting them WMD's, Yo. 90%

@Jacksonville - Wish this was at home. Garrard only had 3 picks last year. The fuck? 40%

@Cincy - 4th road game out of the first 6 is definitely a pit-fall waiting to happen. But signs point to Lewis already having lost the clubhouse and possibly his job by then. 55%

NYFG - Umenyiora is out for the season with an in-grown pube, Strahan's gone, Plex is being Plex...I think we got a shot at The Champs, especially at home. 50%

@skins - Campbell is better than people realize and Portis is a top 5 back when healthy and not playing Dolemite Jenkins. 50%

INDY - "Pay-Tons" over-commercialized ass appears to be another bit by the bug...or at least his center is and that's just as good sometimes. Like the Giants, playing these guys away from the turf and in the elements is great. 50%

WHALE'S VAGINA - Ignoring the advice of the nation's top 4 knee specialists seems reasonable (SEE: Terrapin Logic) and ought to land Merriman's ass in the studio by this point. I can't wait to watch Rivers shit out his eye sockets while being chased by Woodley and Harrison. 60%

CINCY - You're trying to trade Rudi Johnson a week before the season starts? How do Cincy fans rationalize their perpetual mediocrity? I'd rather take a cheese-grater to my taint than root for Chad Johnson. 65%

@New England - By now the Pats fans will be whining because THEIR DEFENSE IS ANCIENT. Boots and walking casts for all. 30%

DALLAS- Maybe it's just the "Hard Knocks" talking, but I think the Cowboys are scary as hell. I hate Jerry, Pac-Man and Felix Jones. Shit. 45%

@"Ballmore" - Their D is capable of winning games outright against anyone. Their O isn't capable of producing a coherent sentence. 80%

Syphillisville, USA - This team is under everyones radar. Their D is stacked and they have three capable backs in White, Johnson and Henry. Vince Young is also an interception machine. 45%

BROWNIES - Perfect way to end the season: Dashing the hopes of an 8-7 Browns squad and sending Crennel on his way...see you next year Quinn. 70%

A lot of key games laid out the way I'd like with this schedule, surprisingly. That three game home stand and Pats/'boys combo that follows ought to determine my hard liquor budget for next fiscal year. By my count, that gives us a total season percentage of 60% with 9 games at better than 50% shot and a bunch of ones that could go either way. I know, I know: That's why they play the game. Basically, we handle our business in the division and we SHOULD be dancing.

"Hallelujah. Holy shit. Where's the tylenol?"


Oh Thank God

Please don't suck

Been out of pocket the last few days, so I missed updates on the offense's bed-shitting in Minny and the Program-inspired Rashard Mendenhall fumble cure (maybe he should ask Willie Parker what he did in 2006 and do the exact opposite).

The wondrous all-too-expected-yet-still-somehow-drawn-out news is that Justin Hartwig was finally named the starting center, not that he or really anyone on the O-line has earned much in the way of plaudits this preseason, especially the way they got pushed around by an (albeit formidable) Vikes' defensive front.

Meanwhile, in other weak '07 fronts, the Steelers nixed Jeremy Bloom from the returner sweepstakes. We'll just have to go back to relying on Jeff Reed for shirtless pics. Color me shocked that Eddie Drummond survived the initial ax. I mean, that doesn't mean he's gonna make the team, does it? DOES IT!?


The Steelers Do Right By Potsie

Five years, $18.75 million for a 33-year-old linebacker
sounds like a bit of a risky proposition, but the front-loaded deal ($10 million of that comes the first two years) the Steelers struck with James Farrior keeps a still-vital veteran presence in what is a shifting linebacking corps for the next few years.

With Lawrence Timmons on the ascent, projected to take Larry Foote's job sometime in the middle of the season, three of the four starting backers in the Steelers starting base set will have been starters for less than two seasons. That makes experience come at an even greater premium.

Obviously, this is no Joey Porter situation with a player on the brink of decline. Farrior had one of the better years statistically of his career in 2007: a team-leading 111 tackles and six and a half sacks. Its a rarity that one of the stout Steelers linebackers gets to finish their career in Pittsburgh. Even more odd is that it happens for the one that they didn't develop themselves. But Farrior's quiet, steady leadership over the last six years has made him entirely deserving.


Very Funny, Redskins

I just got my ticket today for the Monday night game here in D.C. Landover, Maryland, and lookie who the 'Skins decided to stick on the ticket.

Oh, it's on, assholes.

Ravens Fans: Still Dumb

I try to eschew as many ESPN polls as possible, but it was amusing to see what some of the more inconsequential teams around the NFL decided was their singularly iconic player. For the Saints, it's Bobby Hebert. Ouch.

But for an even bigger belly laugh, you have to look at our laughable AFC North rivals, the Ravens, who picked a kicker as the greatest player in franchise history. Sure, Stover is fine kicker, but he's still exactly that: a fucking kicker. What gets me is Jonathan Ogden, the franchise's first draft pick and perhaps one of the best left tackles in history, and he comes in with less than five percent of the vote. You could argue that offensive lineman isn't exactly a glamor position, but then kicker is?

God I hate Ravens fans.


I'd Rather Have Troy Than Orpheus Roye

Hey there, Orpheus. Welcome back. Enjoy your eight years in Cleveland? Didn't think so. Please wash yourself thoroughly before coming in contact with teammates.

I will say that after the debacle late last year after Aaron Smith went down, it's good to have a little more depth at the end position. Of course, the more encouraging sign is the return of Troy Polamalu to practice tomorrow. Word is there's a good chance he'll see some action in the game Saturday against Minny and thank the gotts for that. Troy hasn't been consistently healthy since the '06 season and hopefully pulled hammy he's dealing with isn't going to hamper him like it did a large chunk of last year.

Much was made about his off-season conditioning with Marv Marinovich rather than with the team. If he's noticeably lagging at the start of the regular season, I imagine he'll catch some heat for that. The defense is more reactive than attacking when he's out of the lineup and fuck knows we don't need Anthony Smith to be getting any more PT than he already is.


Some Encouraging Signs (On Offense At Least)

The Ben-to-Santonio deep threat looked impressive yet again, which is a nicer takeaway from last night's game than the first-team defense allowing the Bills to march for two scores on them. Granted, it's the preseason and they were missing Troy, but it's usually a good baseline for a defense to be good enough not to let Trent Edwards move the ball at will on you. That said, Harrison and Woodley generated some nice pressure from the edges, so there's some heart to take. And, little as I was buying the hype, this Timmons replacing Foote business might have something to it.

The O-line and special teams were in their usual head-shaking form. Justin Hartwig had a disconcerting near-Mahanesque performance, while Mahan had a full-on fuckup going. Even though it was littered with reserves, seeing the coverage team give up a second half scoring return to Leodis McKelvin bring back flashes of the terrors of the recent past.

In Rashard Mendenhall had a pretty middling 30 yards on 11 carries, but an encouraging scoring scamper in the red zone, something that comes to at least moderate delight to a running TD starved team. Limas Sweed, well, he at least blocked well on Dennis Dixon's big TD run. The hands, though - Ugh. Hopefully they won't be an issue going forward.


Suddenly The Steelers Are Hoarding QBs Like The Bucs

Two posts in about seven months. Yeah, I'm a bit down on myself for that. Heartfelt apologies to the six or so readers of the site. When I'm not writing for about 18 different blogs, I'm working on a book, so DCSN has taken a bit of a hit content-wise. But, hey, the season approacheth, so I don't have any more excuses.

I've in L.A. covering some stuff related to the new Madden game for Deadspin, so I missed the PA-Parlay preseason opener, but by all indications (save the Batch injury) there was a lot of positives to take away from it, especially from the first-team offense. Glad to read that Mendenhall was running effectively and that Ben didn't get sacked twice on the opening series. The return team and the coverage team sounded like they played decent. Limas Sweed got a few catches. Pretty auspicious stuff.

In the wake of that comes reports that the Steelers signed both Byron Leftwich and Daunte Culpepper, which makes about as much sense as that rumored Kevin Jones signing (thank fuck that didn't go down) a few weeks back. I'm not really sure who to pull for out of those two to take Batch's place while he's on the mend. Culpepper would probably make more sense in the Steelers' offense, since his size and scrambling ability to comparable to Ben's, an asset necessary with a shaky offensive line.

Anyway, I'll getting back into the thick of things with the season approaching and hope to have more as the Stillers have to head up to the untamed land of Canadia to face the Bills on Thursday.