´ Steel Curtain Rising: Tomlin's Options at Tackle Appear Thin.... But Max Starks Just Became Available Again....

Who deserves the game ball for the Steelers victory over the Carolina Panthers

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tomlin's Options at Tackle Appear Thin.... But Max Starks Just Became Available Again....

I have great patience. We'll continue to work and get better as long as I see belief and effort and continued improvement in detail because that's what's going to change the outcome of these games. Those who don't, they won't be a part of it, whoever it may be. It's just that simple. – Mike Tomlin after the Vikings loss
Those are strong but hardly surprising words from an 0-4 NFL head coach.

While there are a number of players to whom this might apply, none seems more obvious than beleaguered left tackle Mike Adams. Adams has not played well all season, and looked hopelessly lost vs. Jared Allen. On the Steelers first goal line sack Adams almost appeared to get out of Allen’s way.
That’s not what happened, but it looked that way.
  • But here’s the problem:  Tomlin has an itchy trigger finger, a clear target… but does not have any ammunition.
Kelvin Beachum would be the obvious replacement. But there are two problems there. First, he’s the primary backup across the line. Second, he may need to continue to play for Ramon Foster, while Foster recovers from a sprained pectorial muscle injury he sustained in the loss to Chicago and worsened vs. the Vikings.

Guy Whimper? The Steelers tried to move heaven and earth to replace him during training camp and preseason. Joe Long? Are you really going to activate a guy from the practice squad and start him at left tackle?
  • The Steelers have been here before.
It happened in during the dark days of 1999. At right tackle Anthony Brown and Chris Conrad alternated starts in a quest to see who was worse.

Late in the season the Steelers secondary became a sieve. Bill Cowher promised change unless he saw improvement. The problem was that rookie Scott Shields was as bad if not worse than starter Travis Davis, who stunk.
  • Tomlin’s threat is seemingly made an empty one by the fact that you can’t just go out and find a starter-capable (or even back up capable) offensive tackle walking the streets.
Or can you?

Could Starks Return to Steelers for One Final Swan Song?

There is one out there, one who has even started and won Super Bowls at right and left tackle.
What’s more the Steelers are familiar with him.
The Steelers have tried, and tried, and tried to part ways with Starks. Yet they kept getting back together like that couple you knew in high school.

The Steelers appeared ready to end things for good by letting Starks go in the spring and then passing on the opportunity to bring him back after he got cut by San Diego. That door appeared to close for good when the St. Louis Rams signed him in mid-September, but now Starks has been cut again….
  • So Starks is out of a job again and his wife is from Pittsburgh….
Will it happen? Who knows?

Starks bailed out the Steelers in 2008 and then bailed them out again in 2011. But he’s two years older now and no one ever confused him with Anthony Munoz when he was in his prime. Bringing Starks back would be another step backward of sorts for the organization – similar to the decision to cut and then bring back Jonathan Dwyer.

The fact that Starks best days are behind him is pretty much established. He’s now been cut by two teams in less than a month.
  • But the key questions are: Is Max Starks is he better than Mike Adams at this point, and can the Steelers afford him even at the veteran minimum?
If the answer to both questions is yes, then the Steelers strongly need to consider bringing him back because Ben Roethlisberger’s body can’t absorb too many more 5 sack games….

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