Friday, June 13, 2014

Chuck Noll - The Immaculate Coach

updated 6/14/14
Never has Friday the 13th had such significance or weighed so heavily, for a member of the family has died. 

"I could not have had a better coach as a young beat guy covering the #Steelers than Chuck Noll. I learned football & much more from him." - @EdBouchette via Twitter

"If you're picking the greatest coach/manager in Pittsburgh sports history, Chuck Noll should be at the top of the list." - Alan Robinson (@arobinson_Trib) via Twitter

It was announced Friday night that the architect of the 1970's dynasty, Charles Henry Noll has passed away. He was 82.

Chuck Noll won more Super Bowls than any other head coach in NFL history, winning four titles in six years (1974-1980). He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. 

Noll is not as highly recognized a sports figure as many because of his humility. He deflected attention and praise, giving his players platforms instead. In actuality, he made good players great and great players iconic. 

He is on the Mt. Rushmore of coaches and should be readily mentioned with George Halas, Don Shula, and Vince Lombardi. -

Chuck Noll took over a team that had played in one playoff game by their 40th year and turned them into a juggernaut that won four Super Bowls in the 1970s, barely missing out on a fifth. He is, in fact, the first and only coach to win four Super Bowls. 

From 0 and 40 (years) to 4 and 0 in championships. 

The story I remember most about Coach Noll was when he was hired to turn the team around. He assembled all of the players from the team (1968 roster) on Friday and told them he was going to go over all of their game film and get back to them on Monday as to what was wrong. 

When they re-assembled after the weekend, he revealed the problem: "Half of you just can't play football."

Noll began to remedy that immediately. He was hired on January 27th, 1969 and drafted "Mean" Joe Greene on January 28th.

The cornerstone had been laid. The next year, 1970, brought Terry Bradshaw and Mel Blount. Then 1971 brought Gerry Mullins, Larry Brown, Mike Wagner, Ernie Holmes, Dwight White and Jack Ham - maybe the second greatest draft in NFL history. Franco Harris then arrived in 1972, but it was 1974 that solidified the dynasty. 

And solidified his legacy. 

Not only did he draft well, but he taught the game. He was a great coach, yes, but he was a great teacher as well. One that many feel was incredibly under-recognized.

In fact, as the Tribune Review's Alan Robinson again states, "There was not one subject you could ask Chuck Noll about and he wouldn't have some knowledge. Brilliantly smart."

Even coaches from other sports greatly respect the man. 

"Although I never met Chuck Noll," Indian Hoosiers head coach Tom Crea (@TomCrean) tweeted, "he set a standard for all coaches at teaching technique and the details of fundamentals. The total teacher."

Noll had great players and made them even better. He helped transform the Steelers from dead to deadly, from a travesty to a dreadnought. 

Maybe the late broadcasting icon Myron Cope was right when dubbing him "The Emperor." But, for a certainty, Hamlet's words ring appropriate and true regarding Coach Noll. 

"He was a man. Take him for all and all. I shall not look upon his like again." - Hamlet, Act 1, scene 2

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Time For The Landry Jones Era To Begin; The Devil Went Down To...

by Jayden Matthews

Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers have signed most of their draft picks and have also now signed center Maurkice Pouncey to an extension, they're faced with a bit of a dilemma. That being the getting of their franchise QB Ben Roethlisberger extended. 

With the contracts for quarterbacks skyrocketing here lately at a fierce pace, should the Steelers pay big money to Big Ben in order to keep him? I

If Big Ben wants to play hardball and demand all that money that Colin Kaepernick, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan and others have gotten, then let Big Ben ride the big bench and ring in the Landry Jones era. 

Many thought the Steelers wasted a draft pick on selecting Landry Jones, but I say it's time to see what this kid's got. Why not just throw him in the fire and see if the barbecue smokes?

Move over bacon, there's somethin' meatier!

If Ben wants to be overpaid like the rest of these guys, show him who the boss is!

I mean, it isn’t like that last season Ben really did anything to help the Steelers. He had a horrendous start where he himself had nine of the team's 20 turnovers before the bye. Sure, he ended with a QB Rating of 92.0, 28 touchdown passes, 4,261 passing yards and a completion percentage of 64.2%, but he had nowhere to go but UP! 

Plus, who in tarnation who wants a QB who plays every snap, sets records for completions in a season (375) and had a 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio while becoming the franchise's career leader in TD passes (219)? Why would we pay this guy??? Let him be a Divo!

Even if he did lead his team to three Super Bowls while winning two of them, that still doesn’t warrant a big contract, does it? 

If I've got a guy like Landry Jones on the bench that could potentially step right in and take over, why wouldn't I use him? I mean, we are in rebuild mode anyway. So why not? 

When Landry was at Oklahoma, he accounted for...well, he threw for...uh, he won...well, he did a lot! This guy really brings something to the table! He could be the next Bobby Douglas or Craig Morton for all we know, so we have to give him a shot!

Why are we even thinking about giving Big Ben an extension when we have this guy on the roster already and have him for the next three years?  

Let's not even bother getting a deal done fo...oh, forget it. I can't do this anymore... My eyes hurt from reading this hogwash. To everyone that made it this far without busting their computer and cussing us to no end, enough with the foolishness. 

Anyone who thought for one second that If It Ain’t Steel would actually entertain the thought of sitting our beloved Big Ben for one snap, unless it was due to injury, for Landry Jones must be so dumb that if you went bobbin' in a barrel of boobs, you'd still come up suckin' your thumb. This obvious SATIRE!

Y'all know we have to do this every once in a while to keep you on your toes. By the way, we said his whole name, Landry Jones, each time because they will have the only times you'll hear it all season. ;-)



The devil went down to Pittsburgh, he was lookin' for a soul to steal. 
He was in a bind 'cause he was way behind. He was willing to make a deal
When he came across this young scribe writin' down her latest thoughts
And the Devil sidled up next to her and said "Girl, let me tell you what."

"I guess you didn't know it, but I'm a writer, too.
And if you'd care to take a dare I'll make a bet with you.
Now you write a pretty good blog, girl, but give the Devil his due.
I'll bet a Mont Blanc of gold against your soul 'cause I think I'm better than you."

The scribe said, "My name's Jayden, and it might be a sin,
But I'll take your bet; and you're gonna regret 'cause I'm the best there's ever been."

The Devil opened up his case and he said, "I'll start this off."
And fire flew from his fingertips as he brushed his shoulders off.
And he started crackin' his knuckles and flexin' his wrists.
And a band of demons joined in and it sounded something like this.

"As I reported earlier...I'm the devil incarnate,
To overload with meaningless stats, I stay up late,
No sleep do I need, just Xanex and weed, 
And on a coffee IV will I feed. 
In eight short bars I'll prove I'm the best, no reason
To question. I'm all you need all through football season. 
I'm the best, and if you ever challenge me, bright eyes, 
I'll stomp and scream and claim you plagiarize."

When the Devil finished, Jayden said, "You ain't even pretty good ol' son,
So just sit down in that chair right there and let me show you how it's done."

"I'm a lyrical miracle, you can call me the pinnacle
Proper breathing is critical, take a breath and now here I go! 
I could fly the TARDIS like The Doctor all through time
And never find anything weaker than that so-called rhyme.
Battling you, son, ain't even worth the hassle
When ya think your filet mignon but ya ain't even White Castle.  
Now lemme put it so you understand - I'm LeGarrette Blount: I rumble!
You're Rashard Mendenhall...fumble., retire."

The Devil bowed his head because he knew that he'd been beat.
And he laid that gold Mont Blanc on the ground at Jayden's feet.
Jayden said, "Devil, just come on back if you ever wanna try again,
I done told you once—you son of a bitch—I'm the best that's ever been."

And she played:

"Fire on the Mountain." Run, boys, run!
The Devil's in the house of the rising sun;
The chicken's in the bread pan picking out dough.
Granny, will your dog bite? No, child, no."
original lyrics by Charlie Daniels

This wasn't *ahem* about anyone. It was purely *cough* a fictitious event. Any representation of resemblance of anyone, dead, alive or who subsists on Xanex and coffee, is purely coincidental.  

Maurkice Pouncey Leads List Of Steelers Signings - Was It The Right Move?

Contracts are being signed on the South Side. 

On Monday, June 9, fourth-round draft pick Martavis Bryant signed his rookie contract - a four-year deal worth $2,659,220, with a signing bonus of $109,805. 

The 6'4", 211-pound Clemson product "appeared in 37 games with 13 starts" in college, "registering 61 receptions for 1,354 yards with 13 receiving touchdowns. Bryant’s career 22.2 yards per reception average is an NCAA FBS record, an ACC record and a school record, and his 13 receiving touchdowns are the 10th-best total in school history." -

ESPN's Field Yates has now also reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers have signed 3rd-round running back Dri Archer, though terms have yet to be disclosed. At the time of writing this, Stephon Tuitt remains the only draft pick left unsigned. 

But the news that has social media buzzing is the signing of former All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey. 

Per Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette, Pouncey's new deal, a 5-year, $44 million extension at its base, is a "6-yr, $48 M deal" that "includes total bonuses of $20.25 M, $13 M for signing..."

At the Steelers press conference announcing the extension, Pouncey said "It seems like five years all over again...I'm excited for this new adventure."

As mentioned, the deal pays Pouncey a signing bonus of $13 million. That’s more than the signing bonus paid last week to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The guaranteed money is about half of what Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack (5 years, $42, $26M reportedly guaranteed) received, but the new money he’s receiving makes him the highest paid center at $8.8 million per year (Mack is at $8.4M). - 

The real money in the contract is three years and a total of $26.5 million. Pouncey will also get $17.75M next year and $23M in 2016 per whatever provisos are set forth in the terms. 

Bouchette also said that the Salary Cap hit would be $3.6M, but has it at $5.514M. If Over The Cap is correct, the Steelers sit at $6.36M under their Cap with regard to the Rule of 51 numbers. 

Regardless of the particulars, Pouncey is very happy with his new deal. He said that free agency was "never on my mind." Especially after his injury last season, walking was his main priority. -

"It's really unbelievable. I'm so thankful for this moment right now," said a Pouncey when speaking on the loyalty the organization showed him after being injured again last season. "I am so thankful for this moment right now. It's really awesome....I'm just glad to be a Pittsburgh Steeler."

Loyalty that is well deserved. 

Despite what I may have said on social media Thursday morning, or how I may have been misconstrued, the signing of Pouncey was a must. It was the right move. Once I saw the real numbers also, after having flashes of LaMarr Woodley go through my head, I was completely in agreement with the contract. 

If you just go by statistics and listen to the "he's always injured" crowd, it could be easy to knock Pouncey. The truth is that Pouncey was on the field more than any other offensive lineman. 

Per a stat offered up by the Tribune-Review's Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib), "Pouncey played in 86% Steelers snaps first 3 yrs (not counting freak injury last yr). To compare, next highest OL is Foster at 77% over 4 yrs."

Pouncey is just 24-years old and was an All-Pro and a Pro Bowler in his first three NFL seasons. Though he has never been higher than 12th in Pro Football Focus' center grades, the game isn't played on paper. 

Pouncey is strong and very athletic for his size. Though he has been handled at times by a couple of the behemoth-like nose tackles in the league, he still holds his in that instance. But, to be blunt, he would be pretty damn good in the outside zone and the other things OLine coach Mike Munchak has in store. 

Feisty, mobile and respected, he's a true leader to his peers - his teammates named him an offensive captain at just 24 years old. 

Respected by teammates as well as ownership. A teary-eyed Pouncey hugged Dan Rooney after the brief press conference.

"There's a lot of love here." 


TIDBITS: Steelers using Ryan Shazier all over the field - 


"@MarkKaboly_Trib: #Steelers' Will Johnson is working at fullback and at tight end. Tomlin said he is goes to both RB & TE meetings" - #WVU


"@MarkKaboly_Trib: #Steelers fans are going to have to get used to a lot of inside handoffs to Dri Archer from the shotgun in the red zone."

Friday, June 6, 2014

LeGarrette Blount's Presence Will Help Steelers Pass Game Too

It was a balmy Miami night in November of 1996 when the Pittsburgh Steelers visited the Dolphins on Monday Night Football. Jerome Bettis was the star that night as he rushed for 119 yards on 27 carries. 

There is a visual that stands out most memorable in my mind from that night - as Mike Tomczak led the offense down the field for the game-winning touchdown, "The Bus" just kept battering the Dolphins defense causing the defensive backs especially to get slower and slower after tackling him. 

On the deciding play, Tomczak perfectly executed the play action, the defense bit and wide receiver Ernie Mills caught the 20-yard touchdown pass. Steelers win: 24 - 17.

The defense bit so hard that Tomczak stood back there for what seemed like minutes and Mills was so open that he had time to tie his shoes before catching the ball. 

The object lesson here: sometimes the best defense is a good offense. 

The Steelers have had their problems over the last few years with holding leads. Obviously, the majority of that is directly on the defense itself. But, not all. Allow me to explain. 

Granted, giving up leads is giving up leads. That is solely a defensive deficiency, one which has also been addressed in the draft and free agency. 

But not being able to hold on to the ball once you get it back means the defense gets little rest. A tired defense gives up big plays and surrenders more points. 

Whether via the play action or in the no-huddle, keeping them off of the field keeps them fresh. Their being fresh means their being alert enough mentally and physically to stop the opponent. Tight end Heath Miller understands this as well. 

"[The no-huddle] is good," Miller said in an interview with Dale Lolley. "We're getting a lot of work with it. We're going to continue with it. The last period is good for it. We're tired and we can take the defense and make them tired. It can be a weapon for us." (Brackets and italics ours) -

Blount could weigh heavily, no pun intended, in this, both in play action and in the no-huddle offense.

By all means, Bell aids in this also. But where Bell can definitely punch it up the middle, he can bounce it outside just as well. Blount, on the other hand, just pounds and pounds. 

...and pounds. 

“That's my running style,” Blount said. “That's how I run the football, and I feel that Le'Veon is a big, tough running back, too. This is how this team is run with a physical run game, and that's what we are trying to get back to.” -

To get back to controlling the clock.

The Tribune-Review article linked above points out that eliminating negative plays is paramount in this. It brought out that it "was most notable in short-yardage situations last year where they ranked 21st in power ranking (percentage of runs on third or fourth down with 2 yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown), according to Football Outsiders. They were only successful on 60 percent of such plays."

Can't control the line of scrimmage, can't control the clock.

That's where Blount has excelled in his career, in using "his big frame to his advantage as 65 percent of his career yards have come after contact," partly from averaging 5.47 yards per carry on first and ten alone, and a career 4.7 YPC average. 

That kind of production would aid Big Ben in the play action as well, considering that no QB used play action less than he did in 2013, utilizing it just 11.6% of the time, per Pro Football Focus. 

Blount may only receive "six to eight carries a game," but his presence and potential threat may just get an opposing defense to bite on the play action in 2014, also, allowing Big Ben to cleanly hit one of his receivers for a game winner.


TIDBITS: Via Mark Kaboly: Steelers OTA 6 -- tight end goal line drills where I almost get run over -

Steelers OTA 6 -- What a catch by Lance Moore - 

Steelers OTA 6 -- OL drills with a Sushi kick - 

Steelers Sign Shazier, Now Must Sign Roethlisberger Sooner Rather Than Later

by Jason Robinson and Jayden Matthews

"Shazier's 4-year contract with #Steelers is for $9.5 million, $9 million guaranteed including $5.23 M signing bonus" - Ed Bouchette via Twitter (@EdBouchette)

On Thursday, the former Ohio State standout became the sixth of nine Pittsburgh Steelers draft picks to sign a rookie contract, and the first to be signed with the new cap room money freed up from LaMarr Woodley's release. 

The versatile linebacker with blazing speed, or as one scout put it, "He's a blur," can play any of the four linebacker positions in the 3-4 defense and could likely make an immediate impact for the Steelers.

In college, Shazier played in 39 games at weak-side outside linebacker as well as inside. He totaled 316 tackles, including 101 tackles in 2013 when he was a first-team All-American, 14 sacks, 44 1/2 tackles for a loss, nine quarterback pressures and nine forced fumbles. 

Considering those numbers and his skill set, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Mark Kaboly from his Twitter (@MarkKaboly_Trib) account, "The Steelers are going to use Ryan Shazier in sub packages to rush from the outside. Not exclusively, but there will be a package for that."

Speaking of prodigious numbers and skill sets, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger brings his gaudy career numbers back to OTAs with an, as was put by the NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala, "awfully instructive" and an excited demeanor, but without a contract extension. - 

The news that Big Ben has risen to a new level of leadership is the best news to come out of OTAs. Shouldn't that be rewarded or at least acknowledged by the front office? 

Big Ben has said many times that he doesn't get involved with the business side of things, that he just wants to worry about football. But that doesn't mean he isn't aware of what's going on around him. 

In the midst of those post-OTA interview questions, he congratulated San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick on his six-year, $126 million contract. The real numbers, however, being just a two years for $28 million and "only $13M guaranteed." After year, however, it starts to turn in Kaepernick's favor. -

Some believe Big Ben is headed for a franchise tag that will earn him in excess of $19 million. His Salary Cap hit is set to be $18.895 million this season and $18.395 million in 2015. The Steelers should want to avoid this Cap hit and make sure Big Ben ends his career in Black and Gold. 

It's a process which only gets harder the longer they wait. Not only because of Kaepernick's deal, but because of what's to come. -

“Word around NFL is that when Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson get new deals next year, they will come in between $24-$25 million per year.” - Adam Schefter via Twitter (@AdamSchefter)

There is definitely a way to avoid this, however. If It Ain't Steel has actually covered it before, and it came hard upon the New England Patriot's Tom Brady's contract extension. 

"Rip up his current contract and redo it overall, which in effect turns his old agreement into a new one, and of course extend him....The New England Patriots did that very thing with Tom Brady, doing away with his old contract and its liabilities and most of his salary was paid as a bonus which doesn't count against the Cap. -

"In doing this the Steelers would not only save money but it would also allow them two years to clear up other money issues, freeing up money under the cap allowing them to re-sign their free agents and possibly sign other players....He is all about the team and will do what is needed to help the team. -

"The only drawback is the possibility of a per year salary being around $20 million." At the same time, though, the Cap numbers would be lower, which is the main objective here after all. 

That and to keep one of the best QBs in the NFL "excited." 


TIDBITS: Antonio Brown's 1,499 yards receiving in 2013 were by far the most in NFL history for a sixth-round draft pick.


OLB Jason Worilds has missed five of the first six OTA practices because of a calf injury. He has been running and riding the stationary bike.


“@jimwexell: Don't buy this nonsense about the #Steelers' no-huddle looking like all that. It was awful Wednesday, as it should in June.”


Sean Spence participating in Steelers offseason workouts 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Darrius Heyward-Bey: Prove Me Wrong.

Monday morning, Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review posted an article regarding the "new Steelers receivers," Lance Moore and, specifically for the sake of this, Darrius Heyward-Bey, "deep on NFL experience." 

In the piece, Kaboly wrote that "what Heyward-Bey offers (even more than his 4.2 speed)" is "experience." 

Granted, he does have experience in the way of 63 starts in 72 career games. He has 169 receptions in those games for a total of 2,380 yards, and he can play both the X- and Z-receiver roles.

“They think I am fast....If that is what they need me to do — to be the deep threat — that's what I will do. If they need me blocking, then sure. If they need me on special teams....I am a team-first guy,” said Heyward-Bey. “....I know a lot of different places to play on the field. Some guys are handcuffed to one spot, where I feel like I am intelligent.” -

To my knowledge no one ever questioned his intelligence. For that matter, neither were his heart, his work ethic nor his speed (which, by the way, is actually 4.3/40). 

In a recent blog post, If It Ain't Steel wrote that "speed alone won't get Hermes to Mount Olympus. Nor does it get an NFL player gridiron success."

Remember Clifford Franklin? As Jimmy McGinty said about him: "Great attitude, great desire, and THE fastest son of a b**ch I've ever seen." With the reply to that being, "Yeah, but can he catch?" (Ok, that was from the movie The Replacements. But it's a damn good segue.)

Last season, Football Outsiders had Heyward-Bey with a -24.5 DVOA for the season and a -63 rating - 83 out of 90 eligible receivers - and only a 45% catch rate. -

Comparatively, Pro Football Focus had Heyward-Bey graded at -9.4 on passing plays, worst among qualifying receivers. Heyward-Bey so bad that he was pulled at halftime of the November 14 Tennessee Titans game last season. 

Why? His hands. Or lack thereof. 

Digging deeper into Pro Football Focus showed that Heyward-Bey dropped an average of 14.18% of the catchable targets in his final three years with the Oakland Raiders. But he was even worse last year, dropping over 23.5% of catchable targets, five per game average, and ranking next to last of qualifying receivers. 

So "experience", 'intelligence' and speed are all well and good, but they mean nothing if they don't translate into catches. 

Richard Mann and the rest of the Steelers' offensive staff believe they can work with him and make Shinola out of...well, you know. 

Where Heyward-Bey has found success in the past is when he got the ball in space, targeting him on slants, curls, screens, him the opportunity to get yards after the catch. 

Can he do that for the Pittsburgh Steelers? Yes, offensive coordinator Todd Haley can certainly design such plays, but Lance Moore and Dri Archer both can perform in those capacities. 

Can he use his speed and fill the role of the X receiver vacated by Mike Wallace? Yes, but that would be akin to breaking up with your girlfriend...and getting with her twin sister. At least in this scenario it would be. Not only that, but that was why Markus Wheaton was drafted last season. 

Can he also defy the odds and move up the depth chart to secure a spot on the final 53-man roster? Yes, it is possible - possible, but not probable. Not probable in our estimation with Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, rookie Martavis Bryant, Derek Moye and Justin Brown all in front of him, with the latter of whom having impressed the coaches in OTAs thus far. 

Add Archer as de facto wide receiver and it gets harder and harder to find a spot for him. 

Can he? Yes. Will he? Likely not. The numbers say no. History says no. I say no. But, hey, prove me wrong. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Steelers Secondary Should Be Improved; June 1st Salary Cap Info

Updated: 1850 hrs, June 1st
"We have more numbers there than people realize. We may have great players in building and they haven't had chance to show us."

Those words by Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau summed up why the team did not select one of the top-level cornerback in the first round of this year's NFL Draft that many expected them to select. Especially when Darqueze Dennard, about whom we wrote as our favorite going into the draft, was sitting there as a fully-ripened fruit ready to be picked. 

The Steelers' coaches, however, simply didn't feel that their secondary was as dire a situation as it seemed on the surface. Defensive backs coach Carnell Lake agreed with LeBeau that CB wasn't as pressing a need as perceived. He specifically said that Brice McCain and Antwon Blake will help Steelers. 

Add to that, CB Deion Belue, an undrafted free agent out of Alabama that the Steelers claimed off of waivers (Dolphins), and Devin Smith and Isaiah Green and you have those who will be battling for a backup role. 

Blake, a UTEP product, falls into the "he's not small, he's short" category in which head coach Mike Tomlin placed rookie running back Dri Archer. He's 5'9", 198 LBs but did 21 repetitions of the 225-pound bench press at his 2012 Pro Day. He also ran a 4.32/40, and is the gunner on Steelers special teams. Rather than a player expected to get snaps in the Steelers' defense, that's where his greatest value is. As for McCain, we wrote about his potential when he was signed back in April. -

Belue (5'11", 182 LBs) had a turf toe injury which hindered his senior season, but he played well in the 2012 National Championship game against Notre Dame. He's wiry, strong for his size and has good enough speed (4.47/40). A slot man who can occasionally line up out side, Belue has a chance at the practice squad.

Devin Smith and Isaiah Green should be familiar to Steelers fan as the two CBs who were on and off of the practice squad all of last season. 

The Steelers finally did address the need for depth at cornerback, though, by selecting Arizona's Shaquille Richardson (6'0", 194 LBs) in the fifth round. 

The former Wildcat has versatility, length and a good frame. He looks mainly to be a right CB, but also played a safety/rover position and in the slot in some subpackages. He's also fast (4.43/40), quick and agile, but not physical. He'd rather cut a runner rather than wrap him up, and also tends to squat to much which can affect his backpedal. 

Lake's familiarity with Richardson, having helped recruit Richardson to UCLA, is intriguing and he could very well be a diamond in the rough with Lake's guidance. 

“I remember Coach Lake being someone I can look up to,” said Richardson, who was also a teammate of Robert Golden at Arizona. “I'm happy to be learning from him and being a Pittsburgh Steeler. It's crazy.”

Lake praised Richardson as well.

“He's a smart, young corner who can come in and contribute,” said Lake. “He gives us good size out there and somebody that has the ability to put a lot of pressure on tall receivers that have been drafted in the last few years.”

Then there are your starters and main substitute, Cortez Allen, Ike Taylor and William Gay, with Gay receiving praise for his play last season. -

Taylor's play was the expect opposite last season, rated by PFF as 107th out of 111 CBs. Something of which is keenly aware. 

“I feel after these last two years,” Taylor said, “especially after last year, that I have lot to prove. I feel like I have more to prove than ever.”

Tez Allen had a similar season to his 2012 campaign. He didn't play much of the first half of the season due to injuries, but made his presence felt late in the season. Starting the final seven games, he finished the year with 51 tackles, two interceptions and a touchdown. 

Also, one of the most important things to remember is that Taylor isn't following the opponent's best receiver. That responsibility has fallen more to Tez. That disallowed the top WRs from having career days on Taylor and saw a slight increase in coverage, causing the Steelers' pass defense to finish 9th in the NFL giving up 222.1 yards per game. 

Free agent acquisition Mike Mitchell will help complement the rest of the safeties, plus an expected improved pass rush from the front seven, as pressure on the quarterback throws off timing (routes) and helps create turnovers, will lead to improving the pass defense.


Per, the Steelers have $357,896 under the Salary Cap as of Sunday, June 1st, a day when there is no loss of compensatory picks for free agents signed. -

As of Monday, June 2nd, the $8 million freed up by the release of LaMarr Woodley will be available. Displacement dictates, though, that his release will be closer to $7.5 million in cap space. 

Still, that will be more than enough to sign the remaining four selections from the draft. Sixth-round draft pick DL Daniel McCullers and seventh rounder TE Rob Blanchflower were signed on May 19th, fifth-round draft pick Wesley Johnson and sixth-round pick Jordan Zumwalt on May 27th and fifth-round draft pick CB Shaquille Richardson on May 29th. All were signed to a four-year deals. 

None of these picks actually counted against the Cap because of said displacement and the Rule of 51. The top four picks will even displace four players currently counting against the cap out of the top 51. 

So, expect the amount used to sign those top four to be less than $3 million (at least $750,000-$1 million less than the amount first reported that we previously covered). That leaves well over $5 million to be spent on another free agent or two with plenty left afterward. 

UPDATE: I've since come across more exact numbers brought to light by fellow scribe Neal Coolong of Behind The Steel Curtain. The Cool One wrote that the exact number Woodley's release frees up after displacement is "$7.505" million and that the Steelers' Cap cost for the aforemetioned rookies is "$2,018,643." So, as The Cool One wrote, "let's call it $5.48 million in Cap space after the remainder of the rookie class is signed."