• Zone Blitz: Week Ten Open Thread



    From: Brian
    Sent: Mon 11/04/13 12:37 PM
    To: Amy



    Coaching Regulations?

    Amy,

    Lots to get to this week, but let's start with the situations that have developed over the past couple of days in both Denver and Houston. Most importantly, we send our thoughts and prayers to both John Fox and Gary Kubiak for a speedy recovery, and a clean bill of health. As we all know by now, John Fox was taking advantage of his bye week, felt light-headed, and appears to be headed into surgery to replace his aortic valve. Meanwhile in Houston, Gary Kubiak collapsed on the field while heading into the locker room for halftime of the Texans' game against the Colts. While the cause of Kubiak's collapse is unknown as of this writing, Houston GM Rick Smith said after the game that Kubiak was "light-headed and dizzy", but that all of his vital signs are good. To those of us who watched the game, it certainly appeared as if it was more than just a bout of dizziness, as Kubiak certainly appeared to be in a great deal of pain. Some footage from prior to his collapse showed that he was holding his head while grimacing, and then went to the ground.

    I'm not going to speculate on the specifics of Kubiak's situation since I'm not a doctor, but no matter the specifics, I think there's an interesting point that needs to be raised. Wade Phillips, who took over for Kubiak in the 2nd half, mentioned at half-time that staying up late-nights, and a lack of sleep "caught up to him". Hopefully Kubiak and Fox are going to be ok, and quickly able to return to their normal life-style. But the NFL has been adding rule after rule in regard to player safety over the past few years. Is it time that we start to consider the possibility of the NFL adding regulations for coaches, and their in-season work schedule? Dick Vermeil and Jon Gruden are two that had legendary work habits, staying up all-hours, sleeping in the office, etc. Maybe there's nothing that can be done, but should the NFL at least consider coaching regulations to try and help control stress-related incidents from occurring?


    Off-The-Field

    Over the past couple of days, we've also seen a couple of players hit the headlines. First, we have the sad tale of another athlete who's dealing with the struggles of addiction. Hopefully, this indefinite suspension will be the necessary final step in cleaning up Justin Blackmon for good. Too often, we see people continue to struggle with addition, no matter how many times they've reached "rock bottom". It's a shame that it took a suspension for Blackmon to get himself into rehab, but I'm sincerely hoping he's approaching his rehab in the right manner. Just admitting that you need help isn't enough, but it's certainly a much better first step than going in not believing that you actually have a problem. Hopefully, Blackmon leaves a changed man, and is able to properly restore his life, and his career.

    Next, we have an interesting development out of Miami regarding a case of "bullying". Jonathan Martin left the team last week, and I think the initial thoughts of many upon hearing the story was that he was being too sensitive. The media has since run with the story, leading to the revelation of texts by Martin's teammate Richie Incognito, and his eventual suspension. Incognito, in a move that only someone as stupid as him could make, decided to respond to the revelation of these texts by threatening those that have been reporting on his situation. Incognito is suspended indefinitely, pending further investigation.

    The real point that is brought up here involves the term "bullying". I know that some don't like the use of that word, and would prefer to use a word such as "hazing", but I'm going to continue to refer to it as "bullying". Mainly, I feel like "hazing" is a softer word that makes an act seem like it's acceptable. When we use the term "bullying", it's intentionally meant to be an uncomfortable term, usually with students, so that they can properly understand that their actions are wrong. As a teacher, I see the anti-bullying banners on full display in my schools, but we don't usually associate bullying with the real world. Inn sports, "bullying" seems to be a prevalent, and almost accepted way of life, often passed of as "hazing", or a common form of machismo in an overly masculine environment. And therefore, we have a tendency to accept it. But as I said, there's a difference between hazing a bullying. Hazing, in its own way, is meant to bring a team together. Sometimes, players go over-the-top with their hazing. It seems clear that what Incognito did went over-the-top, and effectively became incessant bullying. Which should not be a surprise if you've followed the career of this clown. Now, the Dolphins have officially declared him incognito from their team. Bullying may be deemed a childish "buzz" word, but that still doesn't excuse those who act in the way Incognito did. I'm sure many have, and many will continue to be able to get past the bullying, and many likely now consider it their rite of passage. But we live in a day and age where we are aware of many emotional-related issues, including depression, that we should no longer simply write off this type of behavior simply as "boys being boys".


    Burying the Steelers

    Moving back to actual game events, congratulations to your Patriots for not only securing a big win, but for also officially slamming the door shut on the Steelers' season. I know we're only halfway through, but NBC threw up a graphic last night regarding the difference between 2-6 and 3-5, and the impact each record has on making the playoffs. Only one 2-6 team in history--the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals--has ever started so poorly, only to rebound with a playoff berth. That Bengals team, coached by Paul Brown, actually started 1-6 before running the table behind a weak-armed QB named Virgil Carter. Bill Walsh was a member of that staff, and the limitations that Carter had as a QB is what inspired him to create the innovative offense that is now known as the West Coast Offense. Back to the Steelers, there's no amount of innovation that's going to save this team. The offense looks ok, despite the continued injury concerns on the OL, but always runs more smoothly when Ben is in the hurry-up, and is calling his own plays. The defense looks old and lost, and quite frankly, looks poorly coached. Whatever scheme LeBeau has used in the past with this team is clearly not working this year, but he and Tomlin have failed to adjust for the fact that their personnel just can't handle the same defensive responsibilities anymore. The only bright spot I can point to is Cameron Heyward, who flashed all game, and is becoming a star on the DL.


    Chiefs Still Undefeated

    The Chiefs are now 9-0, somehow, despite gaining only 4 yards per play on offense, and allowing 470 yards of total offense, including nearly 250 yards rushing, to the Jeff Tuel-led Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs were aided by a few explosive defensive plays that gave them 14 points, but appear to be playing on borrowed time right now. Next week, they have their bye week prior to traveling to Denver for a Sunday night affair on the 17th. Frankly, I'm expecting their bubble to burst that night, and it wouldn't surprise me a bit if the Chiefs begin a free-fall from there.


    Eagles Rebound

    After combining to score 3 offensive points in consecutive losses to the Cowboys and Giants, I think it's safe to assume that we were {all expecting the Eagles to put up 49 points yesterday, including an NFL record-tying 7 TD passes from Nick Foles}. With the injuries to Vick, and Foles now likely securing his 2nd player of the week award of the season, I think it's pretty safe to assume that, barring an injury, Foles is your new starter in Philadelphia. The talk shows last week were buzzing in Philly about the Eagles not having a future answer on their roster at QB, but despite some inconsistent play, I think it's safe to say that the still-very-young Foles has shown enough flashes of brilliance to make us believe that the Eagles may not need to look for a QB in the off-season.


    I know I've only hit on a few of the storylines from this week's action. I'd like to hear your take on the bullying issue in Miami, whether or not the NFL should consider adding regulations to the working hours for coaches, and also anything else from week 9 that I have yet to touch on. The floor is yours.



    From: Amy
    Sent: Mon 11/04/13 5:37 PM
    To: Brian


    Coaching Regulations: Regarding Fox and Kubiak, I will disagree. The NFL does not need to make rules for coaches. Coaches are supposed to be mature, adult, leaders. They need to make good decisions, including decisions on diet and rest. If they choose not to, that is a choice they make. I know this might sound cold, and I hope both Coaches are fine, but I don't think the NFL needs to play Mom for Head Coaches.

    Miami: Like you, I dislike the term bullying here. Hazing does not work for me, either. I would call it outright harrassment, and it likely violates a whole lot of labor laws, My husband is a teacher as well, and our youngest has been bullied, in the past, in a place we no longer live, so I have a very very dim view of such activity as you might expect. What Incognito did was well past hazing or bullying, and I hope he severely punished - and by the IRL authorities, not just the NFL.

    That said, I am sure that there are more people involved than Richie 'the Thug' Incognito. After all, no one has refuted the report that the final straw was a 'prank' pulled by the whole offensive line. And, let is not let Miami off the hook - they were trying to send this off until they got formal complaints. They tried to bury it, and if both the NFL and NFLPA had not started investigations, they would have. If Philbin, and the GM, and the Owner do not pay substantial fines, then the NFL will have failed. Take a Million from Ross and he'll darn well make sure this does not happen again.

    Steelers: Ben looked good (I hate saying that), and Bell is the real deal. The WRs were not bad either. The D needs work, it's old. I'm not at all worried that you guys won't reload and fast. However, I am still elated we were the ones who put the stake in. The Steelers are the Steelers, and putting 55 on them is something to revel in. I do want them back in the mix next year., The NFL is better when they matter. So, I'm not at all sad for them, but I want them back and relevant ASAP. You also have to note they did take advantage of our typical lousy 3rd quarter.

    KC: It's not the NCAA. Style points don't matter. 9-0 is 9-0. All the people that say 'Oh, KC doesn't deserve it' forgets that Seattle should have 3 (at least) more losses than they do. The reality is that KC is 9-0, and they are the last undefeated team in the NFL. I think they split with Denver, and go 15-1, and keep the 1 seed. They're not flashy. no, but they just win. It seems to be we've seen teams that do that before, and they don't suddenly become bad. I'm not saying they'll go to the Superbowl, but I don't think they'll go 9-7. KC is for real, this year at least.

    J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets! Can i say this? YAY Jets! Except for the Pats, this was my fave win of the weekend. I like that the AFC East made Rob cry twice. I like the Panthers gained a game on the Saints. I think the Saints are whiny crybabies and it makes me happy when they lose. Take punishment like men, ya know. The Pats did in 2k7. Take it, don't cry, so, I'm on the root against the Saints wagon .

    Choking: Can we give the choke award to the Tampa Bay MRSA Bucs? At least for this week. They really gave that away. Unfortunately. I would have loved to see that upset. I suppose you could give it to the Texans, but they had the Kubiak situation, so we can give them a pass.

    Back to you!


    From: Brian
    Sent: Mon 11/04/13 10:31 PM
    To: Amy


    I'm sure there are still a number of people who don't feel the NFL should play mom for the players either. But the fact of the matter is, the NFL has been erring on the side of caution, regulating hits, full-contact practices, two-a-days, etc. With health concerns now cropping up among their head coaches, even if it's an overreaction, it wouldn't surprise me if the NFL decides to take a proactive stance, and starts to limit the number of hours a coach is allowed to spend in his team's facility.

    Make no mistake, KC deserves to be 9-0. I'm not questioning their record by any stretch. But to say that they'll finish 15-1 is a bit ridiculous. This is a defense that just allowed a Jeff Tuel-led offense to gain over 450 yards. Yes, they made plays to win that game, but there are some chinks in the armor that are starting to unveil themselves. Plus, Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers are not Jeff Tuel. With 4 games still to play against Denver and San Diego, as well as games vs. the Colts and @ Washington, I'll put their over/under at 12.5 wins. Push come to shove, I'm probably taking the under.

    Toxic Avengers > Insane Unicorns : )

    Week 10 Quick Hits

    I bet the NFL Network was looking forward to RGIII vs. Adrian Peterson prior to the season. Now? Not so much. At least there is some great college football scheduled for Thursday night to occupy our time. Unfortunately, there won't be any college options on Monday night to divert us away from the Miami-Tampa Bay matchup.

    Denver's trip to SD should be an interesting matchup. I'm also looking forward to seeing how Philly and Nick Foles follow up their masterful offensive performance from this past week, traveling to Lambeau to possibly face the Rodgers-less Packers. And speaking of the Rodgers injury, if he's out for any extended period of time, then this Bears-Lions game on Sunday will take on an even higher significance. Jay Cutler is already saying that he plans on playing this weekend. That's probably a pipe dream, but don't be surprised if Cutler returns sooner than expected.

    However, to me, the game of the week will take place in San Francisco, where the Carolina Panthers come rolling into town, winners of 4 in a row. The 49ers, meanwhile, have won 5 straight, following their 1-2 start. The Panthers have been destroying their opponents of late, winning their last 4 by an average of 20 points per game. The 49ers will provide their firmest test by far. After Sunday, we'll know a lot more about the potential staying power of Carolina, and whether or not Cam Newton is officially turning himself into one of the top QBs in the league.

    With the Patriots on a bye this week, what will your attention be focused on as we head toward week 10?

    Comments 49 Comments
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      So if I put the over/under at 12.5 wins for KC, what side are you on? Amy says they end up with 15. I'm going 12. What say you?
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Trumpetbdw View Post
      So if I put the over/under at 12.5 wins for KC, what side are you on? Amy says they end up with 15. I'm going 12. What say you?
      Under. 12-4.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      The Doppleganger for this Chiefs team is probably the 1990 team. Some of the stuff is uncanny from the good backs to the average QB to the dominant defense to Andy Reid coming off a long stint in Philly and Marty being in his second year removed from Cleveland. The next hot DC coaching candidate might be Bob Sutton. The DC for the 1990 Chiefs? Bill Cowher.

      I said weeks ago that I saw 13-3 in their future and I am sticking by it.
    1. Nancy's Avatar
      I don't like Denver's chances against San Diego. Romo tore up that defense, Luck tore up that defense, and so did RGIII and Alfred Morris to some extent. Phillip Rivers will likely do the same. The Broncos offense has been shaky early the past few weeks, and San Diego's defense is not the tub of warm margarine that's been calling itself the Redskins' defense lately, so if the Broncos might be in trouble if they get off to another slow start. Also, Peyton Manning has a long tradition of not playing particularly well against the Chargers.

      I have a "who the heck knows???" attitude on Panthers-Niners. My Panthers have looked great lately, but they did get trampled by Arizona, the last semi-respectable team they played.
    1. Hoser's Avatar
      I know there was much gnashing of teeth about the Panthers the other day. I'll say this...this game has me worried. For whatever that's worth in regards to their realness.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/99...-walks-away-1m

      The Broncos gained and lost a lineman today. I think I'll listen to those first few John Moffitt podcasts if I can find them.
    1. vancemeek's Avatar
      Interested in your thoughts, Trumpet, on how quickly the Steelers can rebound. They'll get healthier of course, but salary cap issues, as much as age, hurt this year. Will next year be any better, or is the constant restructuring of Ben's contract coming due? I don't know the money situation beyond this season.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Nancy View Post
      I don't like Denver's chances against San Diego. Romo tore up that defense, Luck tore up that defense, and so did RGIII and Alfred Morris to some extent. Phillip Rivers will likely do the same. The Broncos offense has been shaky early the past few weeks, and San Diego's defense is not the tub of warm margarine that's been calling itself the Redskins' defense lately, so if the Broncos might be in trouble if they get off to another slow start. Also, Peyton Manning has a long tradition of not playing particularly well against the Chargers.
      I think there's a good chance Denver will play better defense this week. The by week gave them time to better integrate Von Miller. He may also be in better shape. I'm not sure what Champ Bailey's condition is, or if he's playing well enough to matter these days.

      I like San Diego's fight and I think they're good enough to stop Denver from setting the week's high score. But with better defense and a Peyton Manning who's had two weeks to prepare, I think Denver wins.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      ps guys, I really like how you've broken your writing up into segments. Much easier to read and enjoy!
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by vancemeek View Post
      Interested in your thoughts, Trumpet, on how quickly the Steelers can rebound. They'll get healthier of course, but salary cap issues, as much as age, hurt this year. Will next year be any better, or is the constant restructuring of Ben's contract coming due? I don't know the money situation beyond this season.
      Vance, I know you asked this question of trumpet, but I'll answer it as best I know how. Trumpet may have a completely different view than I do. I suspect we are pretty close in opinion.

      It's time for tough good byes and even tougher cuts. Were already over the projected cap with 40 something guys signed. This points to our superstars getting re done, and other older guys getting cut or not resigned.

      Here are the vets who are a lock for the roster, and all likely to get redone to clear cap space. Ben, Timmons, Woodley, and heath. All are highly productive and necessary pieces. Ben gets a whole new deal, one I suspect he gives the team a discount on. IMO he won't demand 20 mil a year plus. He's made plenty, I think he wants to win more than getting paid. He will get good coin, but he will give back to ensure a solid base. Timmons and Woodley are already getting paid, they will gladly convert salary to signing bonuses for cap space. Not sure what miller does. He's the only one who makes little sense to restructure, and he's no spring chicken. That's the only tough choice among the best 4 on the team who make big money.

      Clark will not be resigned. He will retire and work as an analyst. Diesel will retire and go live in the woods and hunt big game.

      The truly tough decisions come on two of our stalwarts, Foote and troy. Troy either takes a lot less, or he's done. He's not worth 10 mil. Foote is affordable, but his advanced age, and the fact he's coming off a major injury gives much pause. Is he better with smarts than the young guy is with physicality?

      IMO this draft was solid, and the players from it need to step up. We also need another draft like this one, along with some semblance of synergy from the ol.

      Were also likely facing a changing of both coordinators. Lebeau to retirement, and Haley to being fired. That along with the infusion of young guys point to a chance to be very good next year (our coordinators have been awful in our losses this year. The team has enough talent to win everywhere but the o line.) We likely get a top pick, and that guy is a LT in a qb heavy class. A class those who suck more than we do desperately NEED a qb..

      It's another cap stapped year we rely on what we have and what we draft. Coordinated right we could be in the sb mix, eventhough we are light on depth.

      Just own humble opinion, but we limp a bit next year too. We shed ike's contract and Millers after helping us limp along... The new kids get it better. We draft a stud high that helps us. We don't waste our money on pouncey, we sign velasco to a very friendly deal along with hood and build our bench with the draft picks build back the depth we've always had. We actually have some room to breathe vs the cap... We can try to sign FA's like we did with farrior and Clark. Spend market money for guys that were key pieces..

      In 2015 with that depth, and better play calls we compete for a Lombardi. It might happen in 2014, and I hope it does, but a year for the coordinators to pick their guys sounds more credible to me...

      I know I'm setting way to high measurement points for my squad. Steelers fans aren't used to losing, and we're used to ignoring league trends. Forgive my homer.. my assessment of our expenditures is pretty cut throat as to who we cut and don't resign...

      Where am I off base trumpet? What did I miss? It's late and I'm not posting enough concrete #'s... I'm speaking off the cuff...
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      FP 2013 Pick'em Challenge

      Collinsworth's Perfect Fantasy Challenge

      FootballPros I (NFL.com league)

      FootballProsAuction League

      FootballProsDynasty League
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Andy Freeland has regained the top spot in the CC Perfect Fantasy Challenge. I swear I was not coerced into noting this. Yes, Andy, I will take out the trash on time this week. No, I don't know where the flamingo is. Is this voice recognition software still on? Hey, .........................
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Competing games on TV tonight.

      The NFL, the big dog in sports entertainment, has Redskins-Vikings. ESPN is hosting a college game, Oregon-Stanford.

      I would think that tonight, college football ratings dust the NFL's.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
      Competing games on TV tonight.

      The NFL, the big dog in sports entertainment, has Redskins-Vikings. ESPN is hosting a college game, Oregon-Stanford.

      I would think that tonight, college football ratings dust the NFL's.

      of course they will. ESPN's viewership obliterates the NFL Networks'.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
      of course they will. ESPN's viewership obliterates the NFL Networks'.
      True, although the NFL Network's distribution isn't far behind ESPN's. I think they now claim upwards of 72 million households. I think NFLN is probably a premium channel for many, if not most, of them though.
    1. vancemeek's Avatar
      Thanks Mike. Good info there. I'm interested to see how it works out.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by vancemeek View Post
      Interested in your thoughts, Trumpet, on how quickly the Steelers can rebound. They'll get healthier of course, but salary cap issues, as much as age, hurt this year. Will next year be any better, or is the constant restructuring of Ben's contract coming due? I don't know the money situation beyond this season.
      Sorry I took so long to respond, but I wanted to sit down and think about this. Other than some quick hits, it's been a pretty busy few days. In the mean time, mike hit on a lot of good points, but there are a few I can add.

      I'm pretty optimistic they can generate a pretty quick turnaround, but the coordinator situation next year is going to be very interesting. Like mike, I expect that both coordinators will be replaced following the season. Keith Butler has been the obvious replacement for a few years, and is very well-versed in the Dick LeBeau system. However, as Mike has recently mentioned to me, the Steelers' personnel may be better suited for a 4-3. Tomlin, of course, is a 4-3 disciple. I wonder if he'll even consider the possibility of hiring a new DC from outside the organization, and completely revamping their scheme. Meanwhile, on offense, I have no idea in what direction they'll be heading. Roethlisberger made his name in Arians' Air Coryell derivative, but the current crop of WR are probably better suited for a WCO. I also hope they continue to employ the ZBS, as it usually takes about a year for an OL to fully grasp the concepts, and Le'Veon Bell seems like a perfect fit.

      What I'm about to say is not easy. Mike has made known that his favorite Steeler of all-time is James Harrison. For me, that player is Troy Polamalu. I feel like Polamalu was the most unique safety in the history of the game. He's not the GOAT, but at his peak, he very well may have been the most dynamic. But he is now officially killing this team. He can't play his accustomed style of play anymore, but neither he nor Dick LeBeau have been able to account for the fact that he's no longer the player he was in 2008. Honestly, I don't even want them to restructure his deal at this point. I just think it's time for him to move on.

      An under-reported issue for the team this year has been the loss of Sean Spence. He was a rookie last year, and missed all of last year, plus all of this year with an extremely severe knee injury. They drafted him with the intent that he'd be the future next to Lawrence Timmons in the LB corps. Without him, they were forced to rely on an aging Larry Foote this year. However, Foote got hurt, and they've been left with starting a 6th rd rookie.

      I'm a believer in this year's draft. Shamarko Thomas and Jarvis Jones are both going to be impact players for this defense as soon as next season. But right now, they're paying the price for poor drafts in 2010 and 2011.

      Beyond the players mike mentioned as locks, I'd add Cameron Heyward, who is blossoming this year. His play has moved Ziggy Hood to the bench. I don't think it's likely Hood returns, unless the Steelers consider a switch to the 4-3, where he'd be a much better fit. But I think Heyward has proven this year to be in their long-term plans.

      I'm with mike on Pouncey. I'd rather see them save money with Velasco, who has been very good, and more importantly, reliable. Pouncey can't stay on the field, and as I've said a number of times, health is a skill. That said, I think Pittsburgh finds a way to keep Pouncey around, for some reason. But I think I hope I'm wrong on that.

      I trust management. Since Chuck Noll left, they've never been down for more than 2 years, and I think this is no different. At this point, I'd love to see them finish 4-12, or even worse, and secure a top pick. LT makes the most sense, but it also wouldn't shock me if someone like Sammy Watkins is on their radar, especially if they end up with a pick closer to the 10-12 range, as opposed to the 5-7 range. But no matter what happens, it's hard for me to believe that they won't be back in the mix next year.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
      True, although the NFL Network's distribution isn't far behind ESPN's. I think they now claim upwards of 72 million households. I think NFLN is probably a premium channel for many, if not most, of them though.
      I posted this within the tailgating thread, but over the past few weeks, the NFL has generated roughly a 2-2.5 rating. College football on ESPN has been around 0.5. NFL is destroying college football on Thursday night. Tonight is a significant test, since the NFL game is between 2 struggling teams, and Stanford-Oregon is one of the premier games of the season. I'm very curious to see the ratings results from tonight. If the NFL still wins by a healthy margin, I think it's a strong sign that major conferences should simply put all of their focus on Saturdays.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      If I am Mr. Rooney, I walk down to the practice field and tell Mike Tomlin 2014 Steelers training camp is officially open.. This is a lost year. Take advantage of the practice time & game reps.

      In 2014 it's on like Donkey Kong.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Sullivan View Post
      If I am Mr. Rooney, I walk down to the practice field and tell Mike Tomlin 2014 Steelers training camp is officially open.. This is a lost year. Take advantage of the practice time & game reps. In 2014 it's on like Donkey Kong.
      He may do that. Based on the new rules , it's a near lock the Steelers will be on Hard Knocks , so we may see documented evidence of that meeting.