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Insider Only Monday Buzz Column: Stability at QB and with Head Coach vs a Franchise in constant Turmoil



I listened to some Cleveland Browns post game radio on Sunday and it wasn’t pretty.

Why would I decide to tune in 1100 AM on my car radio and subject myself to that?

I wanted to see how low the level of despair was in a great football town that deserves so much better.

I used to enjoy listening to Browns’ radio when driving home from Steelers games in Cleveland. The hysteria was hysterical.

I missed it in the years before the NFL returned in 1999 and never imagined that, after so many years, it could still be so bad and apparently getting worse.

On Sunday after the Browns 30-9 loss to the Steelers, the host was trying to get Browns fans interested in boycotting the next home game, which just happens to be a Monday Nighter with the Ravens on November 30th.

(ESPN has its best people working on promos for that one right now.)

He was imagining out loud how great it would be and what a great message it would send to Browns ownership if there were 50,000 empty seats.

It’s too bad because Steelers-Browns used to be one of the great rivalries in sports. There haven’t really been too many years when both teams were good, but there were enough of them to prove how much fun it can be when they are.

The two big differences between the Browns and Steelers are coaches and quarterbacks.

The Steelers have had three coaches since 1969, the Browns have had eight coaches in the 16 years since coming back as an expansion team.

I’m too tired to look up how many starting quarterbacks they’ve had.

I do know the Steelers have had one starting quarterback since the second week of the 2004 season when Tommy Maddox was injured and replaced by a rookie named Ben Roethlisberger.

And lets be honest. The Steelers got lucky with Roethlisberger.

Bill Cowher didn’t want to draft a quarterback in the first round in 2004. After going 6-10 with Maddox (possibly the most overrated quarterback in Steelers history) in 2003, he was perfectly happy to line up with him for one more year.

Dan Rooney said no.

He said the Steelers would pick a quarterback in the first round.

Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, neither of whom is better than Roethlisberger, were already taken when the Steelers turn came at number 11.

The Browns had the sixth pick that year and took Kellen Winslow Jr., who turned out to be a disaster.

What if the Browns had decided to pick the quarterback who played down the road from them at Miami of Ohio?

It would have been no guarantee of success but it might have prevented the almost total failure of the last 11 years.

And the Steelers might still be looking for a quarterback.

But there was Roethlisberger on Sunday torturing Browns fans again.

They thought they might have had a shot with Landry Jones playing for the Steelers and, since it was the Browns, Roethlisberger comes off the bench and puts up the best numbers ever by a quarterback who didn’t start a game.

Keep an eye on what the Browns do with Johnny Manziel.

That will tell you if there will be any reason to worry about a Turnpike Rivalry anytime soon.

The kid showed against the Steelers that he can play.

He was 33-45 for 372 yards with one TD and one pick.

At one point in the game he had thrown for 290 yards and only had five incomplete passes.

Word out of Cleveland is that the current coach waiting to be fired, Mike Pettine is doing what so many NFL coaches do. He’s insisting on putting a square peg into a round hole.

He should be fired yesterday.

You took Manziel with the 22nd pick. He is who he is. If you’re not going to let him use his mobility, cut him or trade him.

And if your coach is too stupid to design an offense around him, tell him to take a hike.

If you’re a Steelers fan, be glad that you have Ben Roethlisberger playing for your team and be glad that your team’s owner knew when it was time to get a new quarterback.

The Browns’ owner Jimmy Haslam used to be one of Dan’s co-owners. He better tell his coach to let Johnny Football be Johnny Football.

Mike Tomlin is only the third Steelers coach since 1968 because he not only inherited Ben Roethlisberger, he let Ben Roethlisberger be Ben Roethlisberger.

And, by the way, it says here that, if Manziel and Roethlisberger had switched teams yesterday, the Steelers still would have won.

No quarterback has a chance playing for that Browns team right now.


— So what about the Steelers after the bye week?

We’re seeing more reasons for never trying to put Ws and Ls next to games on the NFL schedule when it comes out in April.

The Steelers had one of the toughest schedules in the league based on what happened last season.

And when they were sitting at 4-4 after losing to the Bengals on November 1st and seeing their quarterback carted off the next week, making the playoffs looked like a long shot.

But who knew the Seahawks, who came within one play of winning the Super Bowl, would be 4-5 when the Steelers visited them after the bye?

Who knew Andrew Luck would be banged up and playing with a 74.9 passer rating three weeks before the Steelers played them on a Sunday night?

Who knew Peyton Manning would be benched a few weeks before the Broncos came to town?

And who knew that the Ravens would be out of the playoffs two months before the Steelers had to go to Baltimore for a Sunday night game on the second to last week of the season?

With a trip to Cleveland for the last game and a 6-4 record right now, the Steelers look like a good bet to win 10 games and not a long shot to match last season’s 11-5.

Of course, we are adding Ws and Ls in advance again, aren’t we?

Maybe we should have learned from the first 10 weeks of this season to, you know, take them one game at a time.

About The Author

John Steigerwald

TIOPS Columnist

John Steigerwald, a life long Pittsburgher, has been covering PITTSBURGH sports since 1977 as a TV anchor/reporter, columnist radio reporter/commentator and talk show host. He is also the author of one of the best selling local books in Pittburgh history, "Just Watch The Game."

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