Monthly Archives: July 2017

Steelers Training Camp Report—Day 1


Obviously this isn't one of my patented Training Camp Diaries, because the first open practice isn't for five more hours as I write this. (But who's counting?) This is just a quick note on some things which caught my attention in the swirl of reporting around the beginning of camp, in sort of a live-post format. Please excuse any wonkiness, as I've been having a lot of problems with WordPress recently…

The most interesting part about it is that those who aren't there threaten to overshadow those who are. Read more

Meet the New Steeler: RB Terrell Watson

I suppose this should be called “Meet the Semi-New Steeler,” because Watson was signed back in March after being cut by the Browns. Go ahead if you must and insert the obligatory remark, and then please continue to read about what turns out to be an extraordinary young man.

Terrell Watson’s life is rather like something out of a Victorian novel. He was left in a basket on a doorstep as a two-week-old baby—yes, really. The birth mother was the 15-year old daughter by an earlier relationship of the husband of the couple behind the door, and it was she who so unceremoniously left the child on the doorstep. Read more

Steelers Training Camp for Fans, Part One: The Myth of the ‘Knowledgeable’ Fan

by Ivan Cole


Editor’s note: This is a republication of one of the first articles ever published on our site.  Ivan has written many thousands of words in his “Training Camp for Fans” series over the past few seasons, and I thought that rather than expecting him to come up with even more of them, it was worth revisiting some of the older articles, especially as I suspect many of the visitors to the site aren’t familiar with the older content. I personally think this is one of the better pieces he’s written. I hope you enjoy it, and that my occasional editorial comments, all in italics, don’t hinder that enjoyment…

We assume without question that preseason training for players is absolutely essential to any hope for team success. Why not apply the same logic to fans? Read more

All I’m Going to Say About Le’Veon Bell

UPDATE:Sources” (which usually turn out to be more or less correct in such matters) say that Bell was offered a contract which would pay $42 million in the first three years, $30 million of it in the first two years. [I don’t think the total length of the contract is known, but it was clearly at least three years.] Financially it would mean he would get an addition $3 million in 2017, some additional pocket change in 2018 (the second franchise tag for 2018 is estimated to be around $14.5 million or so,) and still be paid $12 million in 2019 if a new deal isn’t negotiated, or he isn’t pretty much done, which seems more likely. As it it, the $12.1 million he’s getting this season is $3.5 million more than any other RB in the league. The speculation is that there might have been provisions about suspensions and suchlike in it, which might have been a deal-breaker for Bell. None of this changes what I wrote previously…

Wayyy too early this morning (I’m writing this on Tuesday) my husband asked me a most unusual question. He came back upstairs from breakfast, where he had read the newspaper as usual, and said “So explain to me what the fuss is over Le’Veon Bell.”

The ususual part of the question is that he would even ask, as long-time readers know he’s not a sports fan. At any rate, I explained the situation, and as I did I started realizing just how well this works out for the Steelers, at least in theory, and conversely what poor judgment it would seem Bell and his agent exercised. Let me explain, and please feel free to disagree!

Read more

What If the Steelers Weren’t Around?


The Steagles—photo from Temple University archives, via Philadelphia Eagles

By Ivan Cole

The inspiration for this came after it was announced that Justin Gilbert was given a year-long suspension by the league. We have become accustomed to players being unavailable for numbers of games, and even entire seasons. But what if that happened to an entire team? What if for some circumstance that is currently unforeseen the Steelers would not be playing for a season or more while the rest of the NFL continued?

This is not as foreign a concept as it might appear at first glance. In the days when the Steelers were, well, terrible, it was common practice for many fans to adopt a more competent, competitive team to root for. No doubt, this is how in current times many people may have come to be followers of the Steelers. Read more

Keys to the Super Bowl: Defensive Backs Coach Carnell Lake



It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Carnell Lake. Back in 2011 or so I went to a Ladies Training Camp, and Lake was one of the speakers. (I suppose as a newbie he got one of the assignments nobody else wanted.) I was so impressed at the time with the way he took us through some film and talked about working with some of the individual players.

Fast-forward to 2016, and there were more than a few people calling for his head. It was entirely understandable. The Steelers had drafted defensive backs—a lot of them—and the results just weren’t there. It’s certainly reasonable to look to the coaching as at least one of the causes when a given position group has disappointed.

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Training Camp for Fans 2017: A Championship Tutorial


By Ivan Cole

What does a championship season look like? The bet here is that the correct answer is likely to be this: different than how we remember it. All’s well that ends well. Though less remarked upon, the opposite is true as well. How we characterize a journey, what aspects of it that we choose to remember and emphasize is influenced by the ending.

2008 and 2010 were both great Super Bowl seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the endings were different so our memories dwell lovingly on the former, not so much on the latter. I recently wrote about narratives that evolve going into new seasons and how often the pundits get these things wrong. I believe that a good portion of the reason for this (as well as for similar misperceptions by fans generally) is the focus on the end. Perhaps we would be better served if we devoted more attention to the journey. Read more

Keys to the Super Bowl: Quarterbacks

IMG_1824.JPGIvan Cole made a perhaps unexpected point in his recent post:

The player to watch here is Landry Jones. I am already on record in declaring Joshua Dobbs the likely camp darling. And there is the possibility that Dobbs has the talent and the smarts to leapfrog over Jones. But for that scenario to be a positive one, Jones would have to push Dobbs hard. Otherwise, you have to rooting hard for Jones to improve and retain the number two position.

As Ivan went on to point out, this is not a popular position, as Jones is one of those players who for whatever reason fans generally aren’t pulling for.

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Knowing What We Don’t Know: Getting the Narrative Right



by Ivan Cole

There are two major truths about NFL football that must be reconciled if we want to anticipate a new season’s narrative in a manner that accurately represents the real potentialities and challenges a team faces.

The first is that each season is, to a great extent, a stand-alone event. Care must be taken to not assume a team will just pick up where they left off the previous season. However, this obviously does not mean that there are not developmental arcs at play that reflect evolution (or devolution) that transcends the particulars of a single season. Read more

Keys to the Super Bowl: Inside Linebackers



Mark Kaboly, is a local sportswriter covering the Steelers who has now moved from the Trib to DK on Pittsburgh Sports, a pay-only site run by former Trib and Post-Gazette writer Dejan Kovacevic. Kaboly does a series of Q and As, and in the last one got the following question:

When Shazier or Williams get hurt, who do you see as the number 3 inside linebacker?

His answer:

Somebody who is not on the roster. And way to be positive there, but I get your point. That’s been the biggest fail by the Steelers in this offseason — depth at ILB.

Read more