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Insider Only Steigerwald: Cluelessness Aside with QB decisions months ago, Defense ruled the day



Mike Vick stinks.

Sorry for starting two columns in a row with the same sentence, but it’s even more true today that it was last week.

How’s this? Mike Vick really stinks.

Or this: Mike Vick should never take another snap in the National Football League.

Mike Tomlin would never buy that last line. He watched the same game you did yesterday and he said he only took Vick out because he was hurt.

Vick had completed three passes for 6 yards when he saved the game for the Steelers by pulling a hamstring. If he has attempted 12 passes longer than 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage in his three appearances – and I’m not sure that there have been that many – at least nine of them have been close to being intercepted.

Few quarterbacks have looked worse than Landry Jones looked in the preseason and that’s why, when number two quarterback Bruce Gradkowski went on injured reserve, the Steelers decided they couldn’t live with Jones as Ben Roethlisberger’s backup.

Every once in a while, the smart people in charge of running major sports teams show themselves to be as clueless as the most clueless in the media and even the fans.

The Steelers saw Jones practice for two years, They saw him play in three preseasons, including this year when, as Tomlin said, he set a record for playing time in the preseason.

The Steelers have scouts who watched Mike Vick last season with the Jets. They have access to video of every snap that Vick took last season. They saw Vick’s workout when they called him off the street in August.

Then they signed him.

And now Mike Tomlin has seen Vick play two of the ugliest games ever played by a Steelers quarterback and he says he wasn’t going to yank him and he won’t commit to starting Jones if Vick is healthy?

Why? Because Tomlin and Vick are from the same hometown.

There is no other logical explanation.

And, while we’re talking about cluelessness, if, after three training camps, the Steelers coaching staff and management team still had no confidence in Jones, why was he on the team?

For that matter, why was he drafted in the fourth round?

There’s a long list of quarterbacks with NFL experience who could have been brought in at the end of training camp to replace Jones before Roethlisberger got hurt.

If you’d rather go get Mike Vick, who doesn’t know your offense, to be the guy who’s one snap away from being your starter instead of using Jones, who’s spent three training camps learning your offense, why is Jones still on your roster?

Vick should be gone from the roster before the weekend, hamstring notwithstanding.

Meanwhile, it’s too bad most of the discussion following the win over the Cardinals is about the quarterbacks, because, if not for the defense, it wouldn’t have mattered if Tomlin started taking snaps in the second half.

The Cardinals had scored 190 points in their first five games – the fifth highest point total for five games in NFL history.

They scored 13 at Heinz Field Sunday even though Carson Palmer threw for 441 yards.

This is the defense that was going to require the Steelers to average 40 points if they were going to win 10 games.

It’s given up an average of 16.5 points in its last two games.

That gives an offense “led” by Mike Vick or Landry Jones a chance.

(By the way, Phillip Rivers threw for 503 yards against the Packers on Sunday with no interceptions and the Chargers lost 27-20. That makes him 0-2 the last two weeks with 865 yards passing. So, maybe passing yards aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.)

sprongDaniel Sprong is proof that hockey experts can be clueless, too. He is 18 years old and already one of the Penguins’ best offensive players. NHL scouts, general managers and coaches passed on him 45 times before the Penguins took him in the second round.

How many of the 45 players taken ahead of Sprong will be playing against 16 and 17-year olds in Chicoutimi this winter?

How many of them will never be heard from again?

Sprong is five games into a nine-game tryout before the Penguins have to decide whether to send him back to junior hockey.

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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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