Monday, February 20, 2012

AS THE BURGH TURNS (starring Haley, Big Ben, Mendenhall and Colon)

Or, "like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our black and gold lives." Starring Todd Haley, Ben Roethlisberger, Rashard Mendenhall and Willie Colón. I thought about an "All My Children" opening, but Teresa Varley is nowhere nearly as hot Susan Lucci. (Yeah, I said it.)

Like my friend Lee, @phxsteeler on Twitter, asked me earlier, "When is this Ben vs. Haley soap opera going to end? LOL This can't be healthy start to that relationship."

I had to agree, it's not a great start.

When you're dealing with one successful and confident guy who is being stubborn and one successful and confident guy whom we know is arrogant, it isn't a great start at all. I do believe they both have phones. I know Ben does. How did he put it?

"I've received texts (first hint: you need a cell phone to receive a text message) from guys about him, good, bad and indifferent."

"I've talked to a lot of his former players (second hint: he obviously didn't talk to them all face-to-face) and just everybody and he does have a reputation that precedes him but I'm not going to jump to any conclusions until I have a chance to sit down and talk with him and see how the thing plays out."

There was also a report that Roethlisberger said he wanted to reach out to former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, who played under Haley, (third hint: he ain't talkin a Cam session on NFL Network) to get his thoughts.

I can't vouch for Haley's having a phone, so I'll simply say this: it's 2012 and the T-Mobile girl is so hot that I'd buy a phone despite their horrible service.

When Ben today said "he hasn't called yet", referring to Haley, one could make the leap that Ben has no intention of making the first move. But, with Ben being the leader of the offense, I do think it would go along way if he'd take the initiative and reach out to Haley first.

I will say this, though, as long as it happens by the time he and Haley are permitted to have their "mandatory" on Apr.16, per the CBA, schematically we'll be ok. The two should, though, still have informal talks before then.

The website produced this article on the Mexican Standoff, as well, just today: Roethlisberger still hasn't heard from Haley

What will or should the Steelers do if they don't have Mendenhall next season? While it's too early to assume we won't have him at all next year, we can safely assume he'll be on the Active PUP list to start training camp and, most likely the Reserve PUP list to start the season. The bottom line there is that we could see him as early as week seven or as late as week 13 because of how those rules work. So, that means there are a few options in front of the Steelers.

They could very easily stick with Redman, an exclusive rights free agent, maybe re-sign Mewelde Moore, keep a hopefully healthy and in-shape Jonathan Dwyer (I'm a fan of Dwyer when he has the ball in his hands. He just seems clueless otherwise), or also continue to see what John Clay has to offer. And we can't forget all the "wow"s that Baron Batch was showing in training camp last year before his injury. So, there are a lot of potential answers to that question.

Speaking of running backs, it was recently reported that Roethlisberger checked out of running plays "20% of the time last season. The Steelers, though, still ran 55% on 1st down for a 4.61 YPC average. Comparatively, the Patriots ran just 45% on 1st down and the Giants ran only 43% on 1st. Should we fire Arians again for that?

Willie Colon doesn't want to take a pay-cut. Good for him, I wouldn't either.

Colon is getting vilified from virtually everyone because of this report. If it's true, again, good for him. Because of the uncapped year of 2010, he missed out on a potential big payday. For that reason I have to side with him in this.

Now, those who know me know that my nickname for him is Willie Colon Cancer because of his many false starts and holds. But, in his defense, he still grades out pretty well.

With a minimum of 1,000 pass-blocking snaps over the last four seasons (2008-2011) there were 57 tackles that could be graded. The findings make good reading for those looking for some good football geek reading. (I have no life...) Four of the top 15 are hitting free agency. One of those four, even if he did miss all of 2010 and 2011, is Willie Colon.

With Colon missing the last two years, the Steelers were without a guy who, over the previous two years, had given up only 43 QB disruptions, and the team finished among the worst pass protection units in the league. By contrast, 2010 saw Flozell Adams give up 46 in 578 snaps in pass protection.

2011 was a more difficult year to gauge because Marcus Gilbert was just a rookie, but showed real signs of being very good...even if he will be protecting Big Ben's blindside from this point forward. Plus, he wasn't at right tackle the whole season. Jonathan Scott also...AARGH!!! Sorry...that tends to happen with the mention of his name. Regardless, I'm giving Marcus Gilbert a pass.

So, that means, a team who is in need of a sound pass protector on the right side, believe it or not, might do well to look to keep Colon. Injury wiped him from the memory of many twice now. Let's hope that no third is a charm.