I’ll be totally honest about my feelings on the Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl victory over the Seattle Seahawks that concluded the 2005 season, this past February. I think the Steelers were fortunate to find so much favor from the referees on several calls that could have gone either way and a couple they should not have gotten at all.
Having said that, I am going on record right now to say that the Steelers will not, repeat, will not, win consecutive Super Bowls.
I’ll also be honest and say that, at least, on paper, the Steelers should at least come close to duplicating the kind of success they experienced last season, when head coach, Bill Cowher finally won the elusive Vince Lombardi trophy that he was chasing for over a decade.
My feelings on the Steelers undoing in 2006 are more of a gut feeling than anything. The Steelers have already gotten off to a dubious start with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s unexpected motorcycle accident, which he miraculously walked away from and more recently, Cowher’s failed contract negotiations at securing an extension on his current contract. Besides, everyone knows that the champion has a bullet on their backs all season long. However, as the old saying goes, ‘this is why they play the games.’
Here is my breakdown on the Pittsburgh Steelers for 2006.
I don’t think Roethlisberger is going to suffer any on-field effects from his close call, however, you never know what’s between a guy’s ears when a near tragedy occurs.
I like Roethlisberger, simply because he seems to have a knack for not making the costly turnover and carries himself with a poise that belies his youth.
I think he will once again produce numbers similar to those of last season when he threw 17 Td’s and only 9 picks.
If the Steelers can run the ball effectively, which they always seem to do, then that will only serve to make Roethlisberger even more effective. Charlie Batch returns as the backup to “Big Ben” and rookie Omar Jacobs should be No. 3.
Well, no one will be catching “The Bus” in Steel Town anymore. With the retirement of Jerome Bettis, the Steelers rushing chores will be handled by starter, Willie Parker and backup, Deuce Staley, both competent runners who know how to get the job done.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Hines Ward is one of the best wide receivers in the entire league and the best blocker in the league at his position.Veteran, Cedrick Wilson will start on the other side and speedster, Santonio Holmes should see plenty of action this season as well, along with second-year man, Nate Washington and veteran Quincy Morgan.
Tight end Heath Miller is a huge target and is only going to get better with each passing game.
The Steelers, who generally field very good offensive lines every year, are returning every member of this unit from last season.
All-Pro guard, Alan Faneca, can be downright overpowering and center Jeff Hartings is coming off of two consecutive Pro Bowls as well. Marvel Smith, Max Starks and Kendall Simmons round out the rest of this unit that is the foundation for everything the Pittsburgh does on offense.
Youngster, Brett Keisel will have some on-the-job training as he replaces the departed Kimo von Oelhoffen. Nose tackle Casey Hampton is coming off his second consecutive Pro Bowl honors. After missing an entire year after with a torn ACL. Aaron Smith plays the other end and veterans, Travis Kirschke and Chris Hoke finish out the rotation.
This is another unit that the Steelers seem to always have success with. Although I’m not a fan of Joey Porter, he is a playmaker (albeit a loud-mouthed one) who is coming off his third Pro Bowl after leading all NFL linebackers with 10.5 sacks last season.
Clark Haggans is no slouch either and recorded nine sacks himself in 2005 (all against the Indianapolis Colts in last season’s playoff matchup). James Farrior and Larry Foote round out this unit that should once again, be a strength for the Steelers.
While the Steelers certainly don’t have a corner in the class of the greatest cornerback ever, Steelers Hall of Famer, Mel Blount, safety Troy Polamalu is downright incredible and is possibly the best safety in all of football right now.
Cornerback Ike Taylor is quickly entering Pro Bowl territory as well and veteran, Deshea Townsend, is competent, if not spectacular. Bryant McFadden, Ryan Clark, Chris Hope and Anthony Smith round out this improving unit.
I like, kicker Jeff Reed and punter, Chris Gardocki. Both are reliable veterans who perform nearly as well outdoors as inside domes.
The Steelers will however, miss the departed Antwaan Randle El immensely.
Ricardo Colclough and Quincy Morgan will handle the punt and kickoff return duties until one or the other falters.
For the third consecutive season, head coach Bill Cowher’s entire coaching staff returns. I’ve always been a huge fan of Cowher’s and although I had some problems with several questionable calls in their Super Bowl victory, I must admit it was nice to see Cowher finally get his championship.
The Steelers have one of the best staffs in the entire league – and they will certainly need it to repeat as Super Bowl champions in 2006.