Posted: Tuesday May 15, 2007 1:25PM; Updated: Tuesday May 15, 2007 2:36PM
STEELER NATION MAY SIDE WITH FANECA. From Melissa Pust of Pittsburgh: "Great story on Mike Tomlin -- enjoyed hearing that he is ready to work and think he'll bring a freshness to the Steelers. That being said, don't be too surprised if the fans here support Faneca. You'll recall that when Hines Ward was redoing his contract the fans were vocal that the team pay him more money. Do you think they can get a deal done or is Faneca already packing up his locker for greener ($$$) pastures?"
After spending time with Tomlin, I found it extremely interesting that he has this "what-me-worry" attitude about Faneca's contract situation. Tomlin told me that when you've been a position coach in pro football for a while (and for five years he was Tampa Bay's secondary coach before moving to Minnesota as defensive coordinator in 2006), you constantly hear players moan about their contracts. He told me he listened to Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly, Bucs cornerbacks, complain about being underpaid for two years and it's just a way of life in the modern NFL.
Regarding Faneca, he simply feels there's no need to create a problem before one surfaces. If Faneca isn't there at the start of training camp, that's when Tomlin is going to start worrying about it. Not before then. This is a good attitude for a coach in 2007, because there's nothing Tomlin can do to make Faneca happy other than to pay him $7 million. Maybe the Steelers will, eventually. Faneca is a great player. But every contract impacts every other contract. And with Troy Polamalu and Ben Roethlisberger deals to be made in the next year or so, the Steelers are going to have to be picky about who they make gazillionaires.
SKEPTICAL ABOUT THE MERGING OF DEFENSES. From Tim of Harleysville, Pa.: "I am extremely excited about the Tomlin era in Pittsburgh, but I am just a little uneasy about how this defensive structure is going to work out. Will Tomlin play the "head coach" role and allow Dick LeBeau to run the 3-4? Will he micro-manage, cause problems and then switch to his beloved 4-3? Can you realistically merge the two into some kind of cohesive and effective package? Something in my gut tells me the defensive schemes at the onset could cause problems."
For now LeBeau is going to call the defenses and the Steelers are going to stick largely to a base 3-4, capitalizing on LeBeau's blitzing tendencies. Tomlin is open-minded about using the 3-4 and having it morph into his 4-3, depending on down and distance. I think the future will depend on how the Steelers are playing on defense. If Pittsburgh is a top-10 defense, Tomlin's going to give LeBeau the freedom to play defense his way.
DON'T READ IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN LAST WEEK'S SOPRANOS YET. From Bryan Peterman of Upper Moreland: "For the first time in a long time, Sopranos didn't disappoint. What do you think?
I would heartily disagree. I think the Sopranos has been terrific this year. The 2007 Sopranos season is an awful lot like a Super Bowl. No matter how good the show is, some people are going to be disappointed. That's because it's been one of the most hyped shows in television history and there were almost two years between the end of the last season and the beginning of this one.
Getting back to the events of this week, I was sitting with Tomlin last week and talking about the show. He's a huge Sopranos fan. He thought that the climax of the show was going to center around the unraveling of Christopher Moltisanti. In a way, it did, but not quite in the way Tomlin thought. He figured, as I did, that Christopher the zombie would try to whack Tony in the last show, or something like that. But Tony beat him to it. Kind of a shock, wasn't it? It was to me.