2012 Redskins at Steelers Q&A and prediction with The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus

The Washington Redskins travel to the Steel City to face the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first time in four years. Western Pennsylvania native, Sam, also known as The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus

WFY: I was going to make a joke about how the Redskins usually beat the Super Bowl winner in the regular season (Giants and Packers are two recent examples) but the Steelers only have 3 wins, just like the Redskins. What in the name of Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala is going on at the confluence of the three rivers?

TMBCE: Technically, the Steelers are 3-3, but expect things to get worse very soon (spoiler alert!) Without Troy Polamalu, the Steelers are an average defense. Polamalu is out indefinitely, the defense has gotten older, and the younger defensive lineman they drafted haven’t stepped up. So in summary, the defense sucks. Add into the mix a crappy special teams unit, a team second in the league in penalties, a patchwork offensive line, and you have the recipe for a mediocre team. I expect them to finish 7-9. The only reason they are competitive is due to Big Ben.

WFY: Having until recently lived in Columbia, Md. area for about a decade and dealt with fanbases (Ravens, Redskins) regularly, how is it being just surrounded by Steelers fans? Has you perspective on Pittsburgh sports (or your native region in general) changed after being away for so long?

TMBCE: It is wonderful, although on days like today (Monday after a Ravens loss and a Steelers win), I miss being in Maryland and listening to a) how the referees stole the game from the Ravens, b) how the other team cheated and/or got lucky or c) its all Joe Flacco’s fault. The thing I miss the most is regularly listening to the Tony Kornheiser show (don’t flog me, I know you aren’t a big fan of his). My office has some non-Steelers fans as well (Raiders, Patriots and Eagles are all represented). I think I’m less of a homer than I used to be. When the team is playing bad, its easier to point out. Plus, the Steelers have been to 3 Super Bowls since 2005, so its hard to get too upset when they struggle. The main obvious benefit is not having to listen to Ravens fans when the Steelers lose, although I do miss the drama that always surrounds the Redskins.

WFY: What are the best and worst units on the Steelers?

TMBCE: The worst unit is obviously the defense, but specifically the secondary. The “best” cornerback is Ike Taylor, who either gets beat for a first down, touchdown, or holding call on just about every play. Without Polamalu to help cover up mistakes, they are extremely vulnerable. The offense is the best unit, but specifically the passing attack. We have a hall of fame quarterback in his prime, surrounded by 3 lightning quick receivers and a very underrated tight end (Heath Miller). The running game features Rashard Mendenhall (when healthy), but I haven’t liked him since he was at Illinois.

WFY: Who is the better coach, Mike Tomlin or Bill Cowher?

TMBCE: This is a point of serious contention in town. Right now, I would have to give a slight nod to Tomlin, but not by much. My Dad would vigorously dispute that, as he believes that Tomlin won a super bowl with Cowher’s players. I don’t dispute that, but Tomlin has gone to 2 Super Bowls in 5 years, while Cowher went to 2 in 15. Neither one strikes me as a great Xs and Os coach, as both seem to be more of the motivational “rah rah” types. For what its worth, both coaches had Dick LaBeau as the defensive coordinator, who is largely credited with being the brains by the exotic blitz schemes the Steelers run.

WFY: What Steelers gear do you own?

TMBCE: I have plenty of shirts, hats, sweatshirts, and memorabilia. But my two favorite Steelers possessions are my Hines Ward jersey, and the Terrible Towel. DOUBLE YOI!

WFY: Please order your favorite Pittsburgh teams for our readers.

TMBCE: Any discussion of my favorite Pittsburgh sports teams has to begin with the fact that I am a proud Penn State graduate, and they will always be first in my heart and mind. (Yes, I know they are in central Pennsylvania, but they are still #1). Ten years ago, the Steelers would be a clear second, followed the Pens and the Pirates bringing up the rear. Well, the Pirates are still in last, but I have the Steelers and Pens in a tie for second. Hockey mania has gripped this town, and most people younger than I seem to have the Pens 1st, and the Steelers 2nd.

WFY: Steely McBeam, discuss.

TMBCE: No Steelers fan takes Steely seriously, so he warrants no additional comments.

WFY: The turf at Heinz Field, best field in the NFL now or best ever?

TMBCE: The turf is awful, which I’m sure you know. I don’t understand why they haven’t called our alma mater for tips on a proper grass to use to build a better field. I’m sure doing so would irritate the Pitt faithful (which is an excellent reason to do it).

WFY: How is the Heinz Field gameday experience? I understand they have troughs in the men’s rooms. Is there anything you miss about Three Rivers?

TMBCE: I enjoy the game day experience, although I do not enjoy the beer prices. I usually take the shuttle boat over from Station Square to Heinz Field. It beats parking anywhere near the stadium and is much cheaper. I typically walk around the lower concourse and through the “Great Hall” exhibit, which is a must see for any Steelers fan (memorabilia, exhibits, pictures, Steelers history, etc). My goal is to see every NFL team play at Heinz Field at least once. (Note: I saw the Steelers beat the Redskins in a sloppy game in 2008), so I try to get to 1-2 games a year. Its worth noting that Quaker Steak and Lube wings and Primantis are sold at Heinz Field. The scoreboard is really nice, and from where we sit, you get a great view of the game and the river.

WFY: Who is Greatest Steeler of your lifetime?

TMBCE: Hmm….terrific question. There have been some great ones over the last 25 years (my timeline of watching Steelers football). I am not sure I could pick just one. The group would include Rod Woodson, Dermonti Dawson, Greg Lloyd, Big Ben, Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu, Levon Kirkland, Jason Gildon, and Jerome Bettis. If forced to choose…….I’d probably have to take Big Ben. The only super bowl victories they have since the 70s are due to him. Bonus question: You didn’t ask who is the favorite Steeler of my lifetime: Answer: Hines Ward.

WFY: What concerns you about the Steelers playing the Redskins?

TMBCE: The Redskins seem to have a pretty good offense, which is a concern because Troy isn’t playing and again, our defense sucks. (I am irrationally concerned and skeptical when it comes to the Steelers chances of winning any game that Polamalu doesn’t play). I think the best chance for a Steelers victory involves getting out to an early lead. The Redskins have just played two emotional games in a row, and may (I hope) come out a little flat. If the Redskins can stay in the game, they’ll have a shot to win in the end because our defense does not hold 4th quarter leads.

WFY: Last week our alma whipped Iowa Hawkeyes. I have noted a number of times that Iowa has better Steelers uniforms than the Steelers do at this point. Would you like to see them return to the classic block uniforms of the Chuck Knoll era? Also, the Steelers really need to wear black shoes all the time. Maybe the d-line can wear gold, but that’s it. Are you we going to see the throwbacks this Sunday?

TMBCE: We will be seeing the throwbacks this weekend, and I am not excited about it. The uniforms look like Bumble Bee, and are hideous in my view. I really liked the Steelers uniforms during the 90s, which are more similar to what they wear today. The 70s uniforms would be a better choice for a throwback then the striped uniforms they will wear Sunday.

WFY: Do you still listen with the sound turned down and the radio turned up (as Frank Herzog used to say during Redskins broadcasts) even though Myron Cope is gone?

TMBCE: No, those days are long gone. I enjoy the game on my flat screen tv. Plus, I flick over to NFL Redzone during commercials and get updates on all the game. (Note: I do not enjoy listening to Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, because the Steelers typically lose games they broadcast.)

WFY: Where do you get your Steelers coverage?

TMBCE: My favorite Steelers beat writer is Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, by far. However, I enjoy the overall coverage of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review better than the PG.

WFY: Would a Primanti Bros sammich and an Arn (Iron City) be the perfect accompaniment to a Steelers broadcast? Would “The O” be acceptable?

TMBCE: I am in a Sam Adams Octoberfest mood of late, so a Primanti’s sandwich with that would be ideal.

WFY: How much are the Steelers going to win by?

TMBCE: I do not assume that the Steelers will win. In fact, I am predicting a 34-31 Redskins victory for the reasons discussed earlier. The Bengals did not attack the Steelers secondary this week, but the Redskins will not make that mistake. It will be a high scoring game, but I just don’t think the Steelers defense will make the late game stop needed to win the game.

WFY: New feature!

In keeping with the spirit of Glenn Brenner’s original Guest Prognosticator series, I’m going to ask you to pick a winner of each NFL game this week (please just bold the winner).

TMBCE’s picks

Tampa Bay at Minnesota
Dolphins at N.Y. Jets
San Diego at Cleveland
Indianapolis at Tennessee
Jacksonville at Green Bay
Atlanta at Philadelphia
Seattle at Detroit
Carolina at Chicago
Oakland at Kansas City
N.Y. Giants at Dallas
New England at St. Louis
New Orleans at Denver
San Francisco at Arizona

WFY’s Picks

Tampa Bay at Minnesota
Dolphins at N.Y. Jets
San Diego at Cleveland
Indianapolis at Tenneessee
Jacksonville at Green Bay
Atlanta at Philadelphia
Seattle at Detroit
Carolina at Chicago
Oakland at Kansas City
N.Y. Giants at Dallas
New England at St. Louis
New Orleans at Denver
San Francisco at Arizona

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Redskins: The only thing worse than wearing the Steelers 1934 throwbacks would be losing to them

It is old news, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are wearing these on Sunday when they host the Washington Redskins:

Technically, those are “inspired” by the 1934 uniforms, back when they were the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NFL. To me, it makes them look like convicted bumble bees that broke out of prison and started running a 5K or something. Or this guy:


No te gusta indeed

Or is this just an elaborate homage to Christian glam metal band Stryper?


Still in rapid rotation on WDVE?

Of course, the only thing worse than having to wear that uniform or watch your team wear that uniform is watching your team LOSE to the team wearing those uniforms. So, don’t screw this up Redskins.

Q&A with guest prognosticator The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus coming up at 2 p.m.

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NHL Lockout: I’m blaming the owners, including Ted Leonsis; won’t buy any Capitals or Wizards tickets

Since I not expecting the NHL season to start on-time, I never did print out a Washington Capitals schedule and put it up in my cube, so I don’t know how many games have been lost by the latest lockout. I miss watching the Caps a few nights of the week and the hockey talk that we have had in my office. Until this year, there was more hockey talk than any other sport which is a bit surprising. I’ve always enjoyed having the regular seasons of baseball and hockey on the opposite ends of each other — they flow in nicely. When they have a season.

In terms of blame, I’m putting it on the NHL owners and commissioner Gary Bettman. This is the third lockout in less than 20 years, second in the last 8. The owners seem to want the players to take another salary rollback because owners can’t discipline themselves to stop spending so much, despite growing revenues. The NHL players already agreed to a 24% rollback after the 2004-2005 season was lost. Nothing but bad faith from NHL ownership, many of whom play in publicly financed arenas.

I’m including Caps owner Ted Leonsis as part of the blame. This is the second lockout of his Caps ownership tenure; third if you include the Washington Wizards of the NBA, which had a lockout last season. If owners like Leonsis don’t want to pay players they ought to sell their teams. I am disinclined from going to any Caps games or buy any merchandise during the season after the lockout ends. I’ll just watch the games on TV. I don’t want to directly reward bad behavior with my money. Furthermore, I think I’ll skip going to a Wizards game. I have tried to go to at least one game of the local pro teams (Nationals, Caps, Redskins, Wizards, DC United) but if he doesn’t mind not having games, I don’t mind not going to the arena he owns or buying team merchandise for me or my family when they return. That’s a drop in the bucket of course, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

MEANWHILE IN THE BOROUGH OF CHURCHES

Looks like the New York Islanders are giving up suburbia for the urbanized part of Long Island known as Brooklyn (The Times). Can’t say I’m surprised. I have not followed the Isles efforts to get a 21st century arena in Nassau County closely, but it seems like they tried. I figured when the Brooklyn arena was announced for the former New Jersey Nets that it would be a fallback option for the Islanders. Probably a gut punch for the season ticket holders on Long Island, but for the causal fan, not so much. They still get the Islanders on TV and can at least get out on weekends to Brooklyn and its transit accessible location. They have a bigger gripe than say, the Maryland Caps fans (who started the damn “O” during the national anthem at Caps games) who whined when the Caps left Landover for D.C. proper.

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