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Idle Thoughts- Reed's Departure Leaves Big Hole In Kicking Game

I'm not one to share my opinion, but since you asked...
  • After missing a chip shot FG on Sunday Night against New England in the Steelers 39-26 loss, Kicker Jeff Reed was heard spouting off to the media about field conditions, fans and anything else rambling through his head.  He said he would not make excuses for his less than stellar play, but did just that in a five-minute rant that played all over talk radio, print and TV.  To some people's surprise, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin released Reed on Tuesday, signing journeyman kicker Shaun Suisham.  Now Reed may have been kicking poorly this year, in addition to having a bad year off the field as well, but if anybody thinks the team is better now in the kicking game with Suisham, guess again.  Let's see how happy fans are when this ham & egger needs to make a big kick in late December into the open end of Heinz Field and misses like he has in key situations in the past few seasons.  There's a reason Suisham was unemployed before Tuesday...he stinks.  The Steelers downgraded their team when they cut Reed.   
  • I hope Dave Wannstedt has an answer for what was a horrible performance last Thursday in Storrs when his defense was shredded by Connecticut's Jordan Todman for 222 yards.  South Florida is riding a three games winning streak and features QB B.J. Daniels who serves as a dual run/pass threat.  I was very cautious regarding Pitt's recent winning streak as a reason to embrace the Panthers.  Pitt may still sit at the top of the Big East Conference alone in 1st place, but one more slip and the thrill of getting that coveted BCS bid is all but toast.
  • I'm shocked that Bob Nutting and the 'Best Management Team in Baseball' went outside the organization and hired former Colorado Rockies manager Clint Hurdle to become the next Pirates manager to fail miserably.  Hurdle said one of the reasons he took the job was for the 'challenge'.  Brother, you have no idea how much of an understatement that is.  Granted, the Pirates have young talent to work with like Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata, but let's get real.  This team has no chance to sign any real big-name free agents.  I give Hurdle three years before he gets fired or disappears into the FBI's Witness Protection Program. 
  • I want to tip my cap to Mark Lyons and Central Valley HS as they prepare for their semi-final game on Friday in Class AAA.  At the beginning of the year, I predicted this team would go far and would be a team to watch.  And if you don't believe me, check it out right here   He has done a great job of taking kids from the old Monaca and Center High Schools, putting them together and forming a winning team.  I am sorry to say however their wonderful ride comes to an end tomorrow when the 800-pound Gorilla of class AAA known as Thomas Jefferson comes a calling.  Bill Cherpak has created quite a program for himself and will make yet another appearance at Heinz Field next week. 
  • I'm still confused as to why the Steelers chose to run the ball on 1st down last Sunday vs. New England so much.  Against the Bengals, Bruce Arians did a wonderful job of allowing Ben Roethlisberger to get into a rhythm early by passing early and often.  It freed up Rashard Mendenhall to have holes to run through, as the Cincinnati defense had to play against the passing game.  The end result was a 20-7 halftime lead.  New England was susceptible to the pass, yet we ran the ball on 1st down 8 of 12 times, prior to the last drive of the 1st half, averaging less than 3 yards per attempt.  Does anybody else think we need to run the ball more on 1st down still? 
  • Jeff Reed was in a slump this year, no doubt about it, but was cutting him at this point of the season was the team's best option?  Granted, his two misses vs. Baltimore (49 & 45 yards) in week 4 cost the Steelers a win.  And Reed could have made life easier vs. Cincinnati 10 days ago had he made a 46-yard attempt late in the 4th quarter with the Steelers up six points.  His comments during training camp about being 'lied to' by Steelers management don't help, nor did his off field activities with a towel dispenser, but replacing him with Shaun Suisham is a better option?  God help this team & its fan base when Suisham misses a big kick on Sunday vs. Oakland. 
  • The Pens are currently on a nice streak, having won three of their past four games.  Marc-Andry Fleury has been in the nets for each win, posting a save percentage of .933 during that span.  As I've said before, this and Goals Against Average are the two best ways to calculate how your netminder is doing.  If he can keep this up, the Pens will continue to climb in the Eastern Conference Standings, where they currently sit in 4th place as of today. 
  • Does anybody really think Pitt is going to run through the remainder of their Big East football schedule to finish 8-4 and go to a BCS game?  I'm willing to take bets against it.
  • The Pitt hoops team is off to a nice start and get's a good test tonight at the World's most famous arena when they play Maryland.  The Terrapans have graduated several key players from last seasons team that went to the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament, but still employees one of the best coaches anywhere in Gary Williams. 
  • Is anybody shocked that Woodland Hills is in the Quad-A semi Finals yet again?  I'm not.  Despite a rough regular season, George Novak has his Wolverines right where he wants them.  North Hills stands in the way of another trip to the title game.  This might be the best game on Friday night and if you have free time, a trip to Pine Richland would not be wasted on this one. 
  • I wonder if Cam Newton is going to play another down of college football after this season?  With the FBI looking into the allegations of his 'pay for play' recruitment, this may be the only season he gets in an Auburn Tigers uniform.  There is no way this kid stick around for another year. 
  • Now that Joe Paterno has won #400, can he please retire?  Is it too much to ask? 
  • My gut tells me the Steelers will have one more kicking tryout before the end of the year, as Suisham will miss at least one important kick, costing this team a win.  When that happens, do you expect Jeff Reed may be smiling somewhere watching with glee? 

- John Phillips is the author of this article and a former member of an elite crime-fighting unit based in The Netherlands.  Recently, Phillips has been found hosting a weekend talk show for 93.7 The Fan.  You can catch him this Sunday from 9-11 AM.

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