Bus Stops: Three-step plan to fix Steelers; Moss needs some time
Steelers need to work on depth, offensive line, running game
Without high draft picks, the Bears are facing difficult offseason
Thoughts on where Michael Vick will play, N.D.'s new coach, more
Throughout the 2009 season, SI.com's Adam Duerson will work with Jerome Bettis to get the six-time Pro Bowl running back's observations about the previous week's games. Bettis retired from the NFL in 2006 after a 13-year career.
The Steelers need to be fixed. Here's what I'd do this offseason if I were Pittsburgh GM Kevin Colbert:
1. Get depth. Coming off a Super Bowl win, this team got arrogant about its starting talent. It lost some starters -- Aaron Smith and Troy Polamalu -- and couldn't sustain the integrity of the defense.
2. Spend some money on the offensive line. It might take a couple guys, and it'll cost a pretty penny, but that line needs work and it needs depth, too. Without a strong line, your whole offense changes. The running game disappears.
3. Make the running game a priority in training camp. The line play didn't help, but the running game really suffered most in training camp because it just wasn't made a priority. This team's mindset and philosophy has changed away from running, but you can't pass -- or win football games -- without a running game base, I believe. That lack of a running game accounts for all of the fourth-quarter losses.
I can think of at least one other team with a more daunting offseason looming ahead: The Bears. Think about it. This team has no first- or second-round draft picks. And now they have to figure out what to do with Jay Cutler, who I'm happy to call the biggest trade or free agency bust of this season. (T.O. is close, but Buffalo gave up nothing to get him.) The guy's reckless. Every two good plays come with one terrible play.
So they go into the offseason and they have to figure out how to work with a guy like this. To me, step one is limiting Cutler. Beef up that line. Get the running game going. Take away 10 passes per game from Cutler. And change that gunslinger attitude. The guy's volatile and he could be a coach-killer. If Lovie Smith makes it into 2010, he's got a coach-killer to deal with. What a headache.
Here's my take on Randy Moss's miserable Sunday: He bottomed out. Whatever's going on in his head, it didn't look pretty Sunday. But let's give this situation another week. I'm not ready to write him off. I'm reserving my judgment until I see how he bounces back from this. Is this a one-off? If not, New England can't tolerate that type of attitude. It breeds contempt.
I've been in the middle of a mess like this: Plaxico Burress and Bill Cowher did not see eye-to-eye on a lot of things when I was in Pittsburgh. To be honest, that stuff doesn't stress you out as a player until that person doesn't perform. And if that's where Moss is now, then expect a lot of guys in the Patriots locker room to approach him this week. I found that the only thing you can do to motivate those guys is simply to say, "We need you." Nothing else works, not bullying or coddling. You just have to make it clear: We're relying on you.
Now that we've finally seen Mike Vick unleashed the past few weeks, we have to start wondering: Where will he go next? You can bet it will be the team that most needs to drum up excitement. And from Mike's perspective, he'll choose the place where he's most guaranteed to start. I know people have suggested Oakland is a terrible fit simply because of the state of the franchise, but -- and I don't have any info to support this, just intuition -- I think that might very well be his next home. It's been proven lately that Oakland can win with smart QB play. And just imagine how quickly he flies back onto the national radar if he revives a franchise like the Raiders. Is it a challenge? Certainly. But it could gain him back some serious respect, and I think that's what he's looking for right now.
An implausible situation, but let's pretend I'm picking my team's playoff schedule. Here's who I want on the other side of the bracket: San Diego. Offensively, these guys do whatever they want to you. They have so much talent that has been around and seen it all, played and beaten almost every opponent in every scenario, that nothing can surprise this team. They've been together long enough that it's starting to feel like they have one coming, doesn't it? All I'm saying is, don't be surprised by this Chargers team.
Good move, Notre Dame. Of all of the reasons I like Cincinnati's Brian Kelly as the next head football coach at my alma mater -- his charisma, his ability to deal with the Irish alumni, his overall likeability -- this stands out the most: wherever he's been, he's succeeded without having the best talent on the field. Given the way the past decade has unfolded, Notre Dame might not be able to pull in the best talent for a while. And Kelly is a guy who can work with that. In my eyes, the school finally made a hiring decision founded entirely upon realism.
NFL Truth & Rumors