Hannibal�s 2000 Outlook
Camp is over and, since the starters will only go about a quarter tonight, the exhibition season is effectively over too. Given that, now is as good a time as any to offer some thoughts on the season to come.
Mr. Rooney expects progress and so should we but I don't think that we ought to measure in wins. 7 or 8 victories is probably not realistic and, even if it happens, may not indicate real progress. As I recall, the 89 team won 9 games but didn't contend again until 92. Let's look for:
1. Elimination of pre-snap penalties in all phases whether offense, defense or special teams. This would suggest discipline, good coaching and some sense that players are accountable for their acts on the field. Those qualities have been absent for the past two seasons.
2. Attack in all phases but especially on defense and special teams. The last might shorten the field for the offense and it seems that, from the exhibitions, the field can't get too short for that group. For at least two years and, maybe since the powerhouse of 1994, the Steelers defense has played not so much to win but to avoid losing. This has made for boring football and, for the last two seasons, has been an exercise in futility. On offense, if we have playmakers, let them try to make plays.
3. Play the young guys; cut the marginal vets or keep them only for depth purposes. The team is probably several seasons from contending; it makes sense to find out now who on the current roster might contribute in the future. This suggests that marginal 4-8 year guys give way to younger players and that the younger guys play.