Photo: David Hague – Inside Pittsburgh Sports
Over the last few weeks a debate has cropped up about whether or not the Steelers should keep Stefan Logan on the roster.
Why this is still a debate is beyond me. Logan should be on the team.
Only in Pittsburgh could we over-think a debate about football and look so stupid in the process. Yes, we do love our Steelers in this town. Sometimes we love them so much we fear the most obvious answer to a question is not the right one.
Well, in this case it is. Anyone who has watched the Steelers this pre-season has walked away thinking: “Boy, that little #41 who was returning kicks should make the club.” Let’s all go with our guts on this one… shall we?
The former BC Lion is averaging more than 22 yards per return after 12 chances in two pre-season games this summer. Those who argue against Logan making the team suggest he can’t make the 53-man roster because he doesn’t do anything besides return kicks. So why “waste” a roster spot on a guy that can only do one thing.
Well last time I checked, doesn’t Jeff Reed only have one job? How about Dan Sepulveda? Or Greg Warren? Does Willie Colon do anything but block on the offensive line? And how about that waste of space Ben Roethlisberger? I mean, he just plays quarterback! When is he gonna man up and cover a kick or try to block a punt?
Yes, it’s true; Logan doesn’t appear to be an NFL capable running back like he was in the Canadian Football League. And, no, making him into an NFL wide receiver seems like too big of a task. By his own admission, the 5’6” Logan is really struggling to pick up the basics of that position.
Well…. so what?! Big deal. Who cares if Logan only returns kicks and punts. That’s a pretty clear function and task. And an important one at that.
Returning kicks is something the Steelers haven’t done well since Atwaan Randle El left for Washington after Super Bowl XL. I know the organization felt burned because it “spent” a roster spot on Allen Rossum, a guy who was just a return specialist. But maybe they would’ve felt less burned if Rossum was any good at the job he was hired to do while he was here.
Granted, it’s true that if Logan makes the team as strictly a return specialist, then somebody else won’t make the roster. And maybe that somebody is a guy who is actually good at stopping the other team’s kickoff guy.
Like…say… an Anthony Madison or Patrick Bailey, for instance. Or maybe the Steelers can’t dress three extra O-linemen on game day. Or maybe they won’t have the luxury of a TE/FB hybrid such as Sean McHugh.
But which luxury would you rather have: an exhilarating return man? Or a good blocker?
My guess is another H-back type is easier to find than another return specialist who can do some of things Logan has shown us so far in the pre-season.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no idea if Logan is ever going to be any good when the regular season starts. He could be a total bust. A washout when the opponents put out their real players. It’s possible. Logan has a lot of shake. A lot of wiggle. He’s elusive. He’s quick. But he hasn’t shown any breakaway speed.
That said, the shifty Miami native looks great when it comes to making the first wave of would-be tacklers miss, and picking up a crucial 10-15 yards other Steelers return men have left on the field in recent years. Heck, if Logan even secures the ball consistently and makes good decisions fielding the ball he’d be an upgrade on what we’ve seen since in Pittsburgh since Randle El left.
And one thing is for sure, none of the other guys who are in the mix to secure the return job have distinguished themselves at all compared to South Dakota product. Joe Burnett has fumbled. Mike Wallace just runs straight. And Mewelde Moore has been hurt or just goes out there when a fair catch is needed.
The only other dynamic option at the position is Santonio Holmes. But the organization seems to think he’s too important at the wide receiver position to risk injury returning punts and/or kicks.
So that leads us back to the original argument about the importance of the position on the roster doesn’t it?
If returning kicks and punts is so unimportant that you don’t want to risk injury to somebody who is good at it, but multifaceted such as Holmes (who had a couple big late season punt returns against Baltimore and San Diego), then you might as well put somebody out there who is disposable. Right? And the Steelers have nothing else invested in Logan.
So why not? Either the position is important, or it isn’t. If it is important, let Holmes do it. Judging by what we saw from him last year, Holmes is good at it now after all his struggles returning punts his first two years in the league. If it’s not important, then just put Moore back there for every kick and let him call fair catches all day.
Or give the job to Logan. He’s an allegedly unimportant guy playing an allegedly unimportant role who may pick up some very important yards here and there.
For an offense which allows a sack or a negative run once or twice every other series, an extra 15 yards before 1st and 10 could come in awfully handy. And Logan has shown he’s more likely to provide that aid than anyone else Mike Tomlin currently has at his disposal.
I keep hearing that Logan’s flashy return play has created a “roster problem” for Tomlin and Kevin Colbert. If that’s the biggest problem this team faces all year, then I’ll see you on the Boulevard of the Allies for the Super Bowl victory parade in February.
Stefan Logan’s arrival on the scene isn’t a problem for this roster, it’s a blessing. I just hope the Steelers are smart enough to avoid looking the gift horse in the mouth