July 18, 2019
The weekend is approaching and so are the NFL training camps. My team the Pittsburgh Steelers will open up with much optimism about the coming season after ridding themselves of two locker room cancers, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.
These days in sports sections of newspapers and on the internet across NFL sites everywhere are writing about the 2019 season and the preparations that go with it. Below you will find some articles that mention the Black and Gold.
Every AFC team's biggest question entering training camp
theScore Staff, theScore.com
NFL training camps are right around the corner and it won't be long before football season is upon us again. Every team reports for summer workouts between July 17 and 26, and then rejuvenated scrutiny of the issues plaguing all 32 franchises returns, too. Let's examine the biggest question for every AFC team entering training camp:
Who will lock down the No. 2 wide receiver role?
The Antonio Brown era is over, so the Steelers need a receiver to step up next to JuJu Smith-Schuster. Veteran Donte Moncrief appears to hold the early lead, but head coach Mike Tomlin surely hopes sophomore James Washington emerges after a quiet rookie campaign. Eli Rogers and Ryan Switzer are solid slot options, and don't be surprised if rookie Diontae Johnson - a talented route-runner - earns meaningful snaps out wide in 2019. For Pittsburgh to remain a contender in the AFC North, the Steelers must give Ben Roethlisberger a dynamic secondary option.
In that same article, here’s what they said about the two cancers mentioned above playing for their new teams:
New York Jets
Will Le'Veon Bell be rusty or ready?
Not only did Bell sit out all last season, but he also skipped most of the Jets' voluntary offseason program after signing a four-year, $52.5-million contract during free agency. For the Jets to make a legitimate playoff push, their prized tailback needs to be in top form when the season starts, rather than spending a few weeks shaking off rust. The 27-year-old will have to build chemistry with his offensive line and young quarterback Sam Darnold at a faster-than-expected pace. Bell's patient running style makes cohesion up front that much more important.
How will all the big personalities mesh?
What happens when you put Jon Gruden, Mike Mayock, Antonio Brown, Richie Incognito, and Vontaze Burfict under one roof? How will they gel with each other and their new co-workers? Find out on this year's "Hard Knocks," premiering Aug. 6. Usually, there isn't much to glean from the annual HBO show. However, the Raiders are betting big on players who have a history of dividing locker rooms, and if the cracks are already there, we'll get front-row seats. Just make sure your popcorn is ready.
Believe you me…the combination of A.B., Incognito, and Burfict is a disaster waiting to happen. As Mike Tomlin prepares for yet another season on the bridge as the captain of the Pittsburgh Steelers ship, there can be no argument to the level of success he has attained in his very first job as an NFL head coach. But while he has been heavily criticized over the years he does own one Super Bowl triumph and made it to another only to lose. So where would you rank Tomlin among active coaches?
2019 NFL head coach power rankings: Bill Belichick still No. 1
By Elliot Harrison, NFL.com Analyst
Just about everyone agrees Bill Belichick is the premier head coach in pro football today. But who comes after him in the pecking order? Overall record is usually the primary metric when judging these coaches. That's not always the case in the actual job interview, though (and it's not the only measuring stick in this exercise). We saw hires this offseason where, in some cases, the new front man's win-loss record was either poor or nonexistent (six of the eight teams that made a change this offseason hired men who had never been an NFL HC). All of which makes ranking the non-Belichick's a strenuous exercise. Check out the parsing below for the 26 guys who have experience in the role, with my thoughts on the first-time NFL HCs below them (that group is listed in alphabetical order).
#1. Bill Belichick, Patriots
#2. Pete Carroll, Seahawks
#3. Sean Payton, Saints
#4. Andy Reid, Chiefs
#5. Doug Pederson, Eagles
#6. Sean McVay, Rams
#7. John Harbaugh, Ravens
#8. Anthony Lynn, Chargers
#9. Mike Tomlin, Steelers
Tomlin is one of the more difficult coaches to rate. He won a title, lost a Super Bowl in a close game, and has led his team to the playoffs far more often than not. Last year was a "not" for Tomlin's group, as it seemed internal feuding distracted the Steelers just enough to have them in the unusual position of sitting at home in January. It's not hard to understand how the late-season implosion took place, given the considerable ego of Antonio Brown, as well as the personality of the team's QB1. Then again, each are great players, and in previous years, Tomlin handled both en route to a Super Bowl appearance and multiple postseason entries. Maybe some fans would like to see Tomlin be more of a strict disciplinarian or an X's-and-O's wonk. Although, no one associated the latter with either Chuck Noll or Bill Cowher. Tomlin has reached two Super Bowls, like his predecessor, and while he hasn't approached Noll's success, it's not like the legendary coach didn't endure his down seasons.
Belichick is a given. Carroll is an excellent coach. Sean Payton is also very good. Andy Reid? He can’t get his Chiefs anywhere near a Super Bowl. Doug Pederson? Come on. Sean McVay? Is this based on last year’s Super Bowl appearance which he lost? John Harbaugh I believe while a solid coach is more a product of the talent he has had. Then Harrison puts Anthony Lynn above Tomlin? That’s a joke. So that leaves us with Tomlin. Tomlin is a far better coach than the #s 4,5,6,7, and 8 above in my opinion anyway.
Tim Benz, sportswriter for the Tribune Review in Pittsburgh posted the article below which I thought was a really cool subject matter.
If you could bring back any Steeler from any era, who would it be?
Tim Benz, TribLive.com
One of my colleagues at SteelersWire.com is Neal Coolong. He posed a great question on Twitter recently:
“Bring back one former #Steelers player (played at least one season with the team) to play just for the 2019 season. You're paying him up to the cap ceiling. Who is it?”
My answer is Chuck Noll. Unfortunately, the question specifically said “player.” So, I’ll adjust. Here’s my top-5 list.
5. Gary Anderson: Who would you rather have kicking on this team? Chris Boswell? Or Anderson and his 538 field goals? Anderson was 60-62 on place kicks in 1993.
4. Antonio Brown: Not the temperamental jerk of the past few years. Give me the Antonio Brown of 2015. That A.B. had 136 catches for a career-high 1,834 yards.
3. Troy Polamalu: Polamalu was the best safety in Steelers history. Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert think they have two young players with potential at the position this year in Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds. But they aren’t sure. I am sure, however, that Polamalu is a Hall of Famer. He was an impact player who created nine turnovers in 2010. Last year’s Steelers team totaled just 15.
2. “Mean” Joe Greene: If “Mean Joe” played today, he’d be a taller Aaron Donald. Would you play him as an end in a 3-4 or would you play him inside as part of the 4-3? The answer to that question is … yes. Who cares? Either way works. Play with 10 men on the field. And give the opposing offense 12. Play a 3-3-4 if you want. If one of the three upfront is Greene, you are better than the other team. God bless Cam Heyward, Javon Hargrave, and Stephon Tuitt. They are all good players. But someone sits for Mean Joe, or the scheme changes on his behalf.
1. Mel Blount: Or Rod Woodson, as a 1-A option. Despite Greene’s greatness, I’m going to go with Blount or Woodson here because the question is who are you bringing back “for 2019?” The position where the Steelers need the most help is the non-Joe Haden cornerback. And few played that position better than those two. That’s my list.
As a 1977 graduate of North Hills High School in Pittsburgh, football fans at the school used to live for Friday nights at Martorelli Stadium. That’s when our Indians’ football team took the field. We had some solid teams that competed in the W.P.I.A.L. which is the division they played in at the time and Steve Fedell may have been the biggest star of my era. Fedell would go on to star at the University of Pittsburgh as a linebacker and then had a tryout with his hometown Steelers only to have his career cut short because of an injury.
Former Buffalo Bills cornerback Mark Kelso came along as a freshman the year I graduated. Then there is linebacker LaVar Arrington who came along much later and was one of the NFL’s best while he was playing for the Washington Redskins. But as an alumnus of North Hills, I still follow how they do each fall and 10 years after I graduated from the school, the football team had their ultimate season.
In 1987, USA Today named the Indians as the nation’s best team. A number one ranking that Ross Township has made it known they are proud of that squad. That 1987 team dominated their opponents to the tune of a record of 13-0 obviously winning the WPIAL Class AAAA division. The Indians put up 435 points on the board in those 13 games while the defense allowed an incredible low total of 20. That’s an average score of 33-1 ½. If you can believe it, they shut out 11 of their 13 foes. 11!
To emphasize that defensive effort, the defensive starters for the Indians had a full season shutout. Those 20 points yielded came against the second string or the other backups. Legendary North Hills Head Coach Jack McCurry led that team on the sidelines and he is quoted as saying about the ’87 squad: “I don't think anyone even got inside the 20-yard line on our first team.
On offense the Indians rushed for 280 yards per game while the defense allowed just 73 by opponents. Four North Hills running backs finished the season with 500 yards rushing more and they were Duane Hitchcock, Greg Morris, Pat Carey, T.J. Schmitt. The running game was the bread and butter given that only 48 passes were thrown in 13 games. Reflecting back to that team here was their offensive and defensive starters:
As for the victims?
WPIAL AAAA playoffs
In 1993, McMurray’s team would lose just one game and then cruise through playoffs and win the Pennsylvania state championship (PIAA). Here’s the breakdown of that season:
The year North Hills was rated the best high school team in the country (1987), the top five teams were:
The state of Pennsylvania has a rich history of producing future NFL stars (Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Tony Dorsett, Jim Kelly, Joe Montana just to name a few) but do they produce the best talent of any state in America? Not according to the following.
Florida Leads The Way With 13 Teams In High School Football America Preseason 100 High School Football Rankings
The Sunshine State leads the way in the High School Football America preseason rankings with 32 teams in the Top 250. Florida had the most teams, thirteen, in the Top 100, three teams On the Bubble (No. 102 through No. 126) and sixteen teams on our Honorable Mention list.
As for teams from PA that were in those rankings, they were:
#4 St. Joseph’s Prep (Pennsylvania)
#83 Coatesville (Pennsylvania)
#96 Harrisburg (Pennsylvania)
The top five?
#1 Mater Dei (California)
#2 St. John Bosco (California)
#3 St. John’s College HS (Washington, DC)
#4 St. Joseph’s Prep (Pennsylvania)
#5 Duncanville (Texas)
As for just the east region, Pennsylvania ranked a little better.
East Region Preseason Top 25 High School Football Rankings
Now that are High School Football America Preseason 100 national rankings are out, it’s time to start breaking things down into our seven regions — East, Mid-Atlantic, South, Midwest, Southwest, Mountain and West. Heading the East Regional, which consists of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, is St. Joseph’s Prep from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Hawks are the defending Class 6A champs and are ranked No. 4 in our Top 100 national rankings.
Falling in behind the Hawks is New Jersey Non-Public Group 4 state champ St. Joseph Regional (Montvale) at No. 2, followed by St. Edward (Ohio) at No. 3, Bergen Catholic (New Jersey) at No. 4 and Pickerington Central (Ohio) rounds-out the Top 5.
Ohio leads the way with twelve teams in the Top 25, followed by Pennsylvania with seven teams and New Jersey with six.
East Region Preseason Top 25
No. 1 St. Joseph’s Prep (Pennsylvania)
No. 11 Coatesville (Pennsylvania)
No. 12 Harrisburg (Pennsylvania)
No. 19 Cathedral Prep (Pennsylvania)
No. 21 Pine-Richland (Pennsylvania)
No. 22 Penn Hills (Pennsylvania)
No. 24 Manheim Central (Pennsylvania)
Let’s talk a little baseball. In the NFL only four teams in the league have yet to reach the Super Bowl. They would be the Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Detroit Lions. All the other teams have either been there and won or reached the pinnacle and lost.
I bring up the fact above because in Major League Baseball, somewhat related is how many teams have had a pitcher or combination of pitchers toss a no-hitter in their club’s history? The answer is EVERY ONE except ONE.
Last night the San Diego Padres came close to registering their first no-no in team history. In 1969 San Diego entered the leagues as an expansion team with the Montreal Expos. Montreal got their no-no in their very first season while playing the Phillies. But for the Padres, they are still waiting on their first 50 years later. Last night it was a rookie who almost pulled the feat as Chris Paddack took his opportunity into the bottom of the eighth only to lose is on a home run by Starlin Castro of the Miami Marlins. The 50 year stretch covers 8,071 games.
The UFC is on display again this Saturday with fights on ESPN and the main bout being a matchup between Rafael dos Anjos and Leon Edwards. I’ll have my predictions on the major fights tomorrow. In the meantime, while we await the return of Conor McGregor, UFC President Dana White says it’s coming but the opponent won’t be Jorge Masvidal who would like nothing more than to break the face of the former Irish Champion. Said White:
“I think he will be back this year or early next year. Jorge Masvidal's too big for Conor. McGregor shouldn't have fought at 170. I hated that he did it. Not only did I hate that he did it once, I hated that he did it twice. There's plenty of fights for Masvidal in his weight division without Conor. He's too big for Conor. Conor doesn't belong at 170. He's got the balls to fight at 170, but he doesn't belong there. Hell no.”
That’s nice Dana make excuses for this loser. He got whipped by Khabib Nurmagomedov plain and simple. It had nothing to do with size. I contend as I have for a while now that McGregor will not be returning. I think he’s done and he knows it and is avoiding a return to the Octagon. He hasn’t fought since losing to Khabib back in October 2018. His only fight before that was in 2016. I’d be very surprised if he does come back.
With that said, another excellent fight is on the horizon signed this week. It pits Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone against Justin Gaethje for the main event of a card on September 14 in Vancouver. As for Saturday, here’s what you are getting:
Yesterday was the opening round of what used to be called the “British Open” but now is referred to as the “Open Championship.” All eyes of course are on Tiger Woods but as of this writing, he’s off to a horrendous start shooting +6 after 13 holes. Let’s see if he even makes the cut.