At 6pm EST the Steelers will embark on a journey - a 23+ game season without a legendary coach, and with a horrible past season under their belts. 2007 will be different than last season - that I know. It will definitely be more intense, more successful and a lot more fun. 2006 was a bit complacent after winning a SB in a season that the Steelers were not the best team until the last 4 of the season. 8-8 in 2006 is hardly something to brag about - especially with the talent on the team and winning a SB the previous season. We have something to prove this season - that we weren't flukes.
The Hall of Fame Game against the Saints will be the start - the start of Tomlin's long coaching career and the start of a new regime in Steelers football. Tomlin is a no-nonsense kind of coach that the Steelers had gotten used to in Cowher, but had forgotten in Cowher's last couple seasons. Tomlin is a defensive genius and a ST wonder coach and I think we will see some new faces on the defense become superstars. Drafting two big LB type players in round 1 and 2 was a sign. Adding a TE and a punter in round 3 and 4 is also a sign of a changing of the guards. A 4thr ound punter was brilliant - especially one that was a walk on LB at Baylor and that hits harder than half our secondary. A freak TE in round 3 was priceless. 6'7", good blocker and freakish quickness and length will cause nightmares for LBs this season. Most importantly it will open up Heath Miller for more one on ones. I'm excited.
I'm guessing 11-5 this season, since we have an easier schedule than prior years. Our division has gotten weaker - with Baltimore getting a year older and no way of reproducing last seasons perfect storm. Cincy will always be our toughest competitor and the will compete for the division, but another year of distractions, legal issues, and injuries should do them in quite nicely, plus, Mr. Lewis is about done with the teams antics and I wouldn't be surprised to see him fly the coup at the end of the year. The Browns are still the Browns - 6-10 is about where they average. They will beat one great team this year, 2 good teams this year and the 3 bad teams this year. Romeo will be history by December and the Browns will be struggling for an identity again - it's like clock work every season.
I'm guessing SD and NE in the AFC game, that is if Norv Turner doesn't kill that team (which he probably will). Unfortunately someone has to play the NFC in the SB, that conference is a joke. If I had to guess the best team in the NFC I would have to go with...Saints or Dallas. The Saints have a year to build on and are very talented. Dallas, Romo is the big question mark - but their D is stellar. But does it matter? Seriously the AFC has 4 or 5 better teams than the NFC's best team - any of those 5 could kill the NFC in the SB.
But we do have our question marks as well - our defense doesn't have any stars besides Troy Polamalu. Young LBs and an average secondary could be taken advantage of. We ahve a strong D line and consisent young LBs, but they will be tested. Our O-Line is a mess as always. How much is Faneca going to be into playing this season without a future with the team? We could have a new starter at the other 4 OL positions - which can be tricky. We need grittiness and anger up ther and I'm not sure Simmons, Colon, Mahan, Smith , Starks or Okoby have that. Our #1 draft pick next year HAS to be an investment in the OL.
Well, I'm praying for a great season, and I'm especially hoping that the stars remain healthy all year - especially Ben, FWP, Ward, Troy, Smith. GO STEELERS!!