´ Steel Curtain Rising: Watch what they do, not what they say?

What position(s) should be the Steelers highest priorities in the draft?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Watch what they do, not what they say?

In the course of making his off season press rounds, Kevin Colbert recently made a jaw dropping statement. Colbert, as quoted by the Post Gazette, went on record saying “To say you need that position and that it is a glaring need, I don't think it's really fair to that group of guys. That being said, sure you want to add depth….”

Excuse me? This is the same unit that gave up 47 sacks in 2007, on the heels of giving up 49 sacks in 2006…. About the only reason why Ben wasn’t sacked more was because he did not start the last game of the season. And for all of Colbert’s bravado about “this is the same line that blocked for the league’s leading rusher through 14 games…” we consistently failed to run the ball inside the entire year.

Colbert is delusional right?

That was the first reaction here, a reaction no doubt shared elsewhere.

Yet, while Colbert’s words do raise the eyebrow, take them with the proverbial grain of salt.

Case in point, the 2002 season. The Steelers opened the year getting trounced by Oakland and New England. Oakland, with Gannon throwing to Tim Brown and Jerry Rice, tearing us up. As for New England, they don’t even run the ball. It’s good that Tommy Gun had his day in the sun then, because our secondary had become a sieve. (Who can forget the painful image of the once proud Lee Flowers running with all his might – and getting burnt – in the playoffs.)

The secondary was as weak then as the offensive line is now. Right?

Following the 2002 season Kevin Colbert declared that the Steelers were happy with their secondary as it was….

Although “Steel Curtain Rising” did not exist then, this writer roundly criticized Colbert for that statement one year later, when the Steelers secondary was shredded like Swiss Cheese in route to a 6-10 record.

And therein lies the lesson.

In the 2003 draft, the Steelers first three picks went SS, LB, CB. We also picked corners in the second round of the two successive drafts.

Alonzo Jackson and Ricardo Colclough were busts, but Tory Polamalu, Ike Taylor, and Bryant McFadden made substantial contributions toward bringing home one for the thumb.

In 2003 Colbert dismissed the Steelers needs to the press, then promptly acted toward filling them at the first chance he got. Ed Bouchette suggested in his on-line chat that Colbert was just being politic, and Colbert’s history suggests that that is exactly the case.

Let’s hope this is one case where past performance is an indication of future results, as we need to improve the offensive line in the worst way.

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