Steelers Report Card/Week 13: Paging Shanahan! Paging Mike Shanahan!

Paul LadewskiCorrespondent IIDecember 6, 2009

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 6: Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers watches his team in the first half against the Oakland Raiders during the game on December 6, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Here's my take on the Steelers' 27-24 defeat against the Oakland Raiders (the Oakland friggin' Raiders?!) on Sunday afternoon:


1. So the Steelers embarrassed themselves once again. Is anyone surprised? A loss against the sorry-butt Raiders is as bad as it gets, but this has been an uninspired bunch since the first game of the season.

The real question is, what to do with Mike Tomlin, ol' Mr. Unleash Hell himself?

Actually, the answer is pretty simple. Rather than give Tomlin a contract extension and a fat raise after the season, you show him the door hire Mike Shanahan, a brilliant offensive mind who has forgotten more about football than Tomlin remembers. When I spoke with Shanahan before the season, he sounded like a guy who had much respect and admiration for the organization. If he listened to what the Buffalo Bills had to offer recently, do you think he would be all ears if the Steelers called him?

(For what it's worth, Shanahan picked the Steelers to repeat as AFC champions because of their defense more than anything.)

Face it, the Steelers have underachieved in two of the three seasons that Tomlin has been around. And if not for Dick LeBeau, the d-coordinator whose coattails he rode to the Super Bowl last season, the guy would be 3-of-3 probably. As a motivator and problem-solver, the guy has yet to prove that he can cut it at this level.

Tomlin has one year left on his contract, so it would take a fair amount of testosterone to pull the plug on him. But the market for free-agent coaches is as good as it will ever be, so it would be wise to make the move now before it's too late.  

I guarantee you, if Shanahan came aboard with a handpicked offensive coordinator, Steelers World would see a real, live NFL-caliber offense for a change.


2. Several Raiders players said they were motivated by the words of Tomlin, who made a silly promise that his team would "unleash hell" this month.

Great. Now the Steelers have to beat 12 guys -- the 11 across from them and their own head coach.


3. Of all the questionable moves, the decision to attempt a 53-yard field goal with a four-point lead in the fourth quarter made the least sense of all. Jeff Reed could kick from now until next happy hour and not make one of those. Better to pin the other team inside the 10-yard line and hope for the best.

Although I have to admit, to have recently concussed Ben Roethlisberger stick his head in the pile on four-and-short in the first period was a close second on the dumb list.


4. The defense allowed one of the worst offenses in the league to score 21 points in the fourth period. The Raiders hadn't scored more than 20 points in any game, for godsakes.

What this latest meltdown tells me is that LeBeau has finally lost his magic. The guy had a great run, but he's 72 years old now. It's time to pat him on the back, hand him a gold watch, and wait for his Hall of Fame induction. This team needs some fresh ideas at that side of the ball.


5. Cornerback should be a top priority in the next draft. William Gay has regressed so badly, it's clear that he's not good enough to start for a playoff contender.

In fact, Gay has been burned so many times that I refer to him as Toast now.


6. Where have you gone, Bryant McFadden?


7. The season hasn't been at total waste. At least the Steelers discovered that not only can feature back Rashard Mendenhall play at this level, but he can do so at a high level.


8. You have to feel good for Bruce Gradkowski, who is a Pittsburgh guy. The Raiders quarterback had a career day: 308 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions.

Or was that Daryle Lamonica dressed up as Bruce Gradkowski?


9. Now that the Steelers have four meaningless games left on their schedule, it's time to sit Roethlisberger and give third-stringer Dennis Dixon some experience behind center. It makes no sense to put Big Ben in the line of fire and risk another head injury, or worse.


10. As for injured safety Troy Polamalu, he can take an early vacation, too. You know, sort of like the defense does every week.


The Grades


Offense regulars


WR Hines Ward: B

          Weekly grades: B/B/C/B/A/A/D/A/C/B/B/B

          Season average: B


LT Max Starks: B

          Weekly grades: B/F/C/B/C/C/C/A/C/D/B/B

          Season average: C


LG Chris Komoeatu: C

          Weekly grades: D/C/B/A/B/B/B/C/D/B/DNP/C

          Season average: C+


C Justin Hartwig: C

          Weekly grades: F/C/B/A/B/B/B/A/D/B/B/C  

          Season average: C+


RG Trai Essex: B

          Weekly grades: C/B/C/B/D/D/C/C/F/C/C/B  

          Season average: C


RT Willie Colon: B

          Weekly grades: D/B/C/A/C/C/A/A/F/D/B/B

          Season average: C+


TE Heath Miller: D

          Weekly grades: A/B/B/A/A/A/A/C/C/D/C/D

          Season average: B


WR Santonio Holmes: A

          Weekly grades: A/D/F/C/B/A/C/A/B/B/A/A

          Season average:  B


WR Mike Wallace: C

          Weekly grades: B/C/A/B/B/B/A/A/D/D/D/C

          Season average: C+  


QB Ben Roethlisberger: A

          Weekly grades: A/B/A/A/B/B/B/B/D/A/DNP/A

          Season average: B+


RB Rashard Mendenhall: B

          Weekly grades: C/B/INC/A/A/D/D/A/C/A/B/B

          Season average: B


RB Mewelde Moore: C

          Weekly grades: B/C/C/A/B/B/B/B/B/C/D/C

          Season average: C+


RB Willie Parker: C

          Weekly grades: D/C/B/DNP/DNP/D/INC/INC/INC/B/C/C

Season average: C



Defense regulars


LE Travis Kirschke: DNP

          Weekly grades: C/B/C/C/B/B/B/DNP/DNP/DNP/B/DNP

Season average: C+


NT Casey Hampton: B

          Weekly grades: B/B/B/C/B/A/C/A/B/A/D/B

          Season average: B


RE Brett Keisel: B

Weekly grades: A/B/C/B/B/A/A/A/B/B/C/B

          Season average: B


LOLB Lamarr Woodley: A

          Weekly grades: D/D/D/D/C/B/B/B/B/A/A/A

          Season average: C+


LILB James Farrior: C

          Weekly grades: B/A/C/B/C/A/A/B/B/C/B/C

Season average: B


LILB Keyaron Fox: C

          Weekly grades: A/A/C/C/B/D/A/A/F/C/B/C

Season average: C+


RILB Lawrence Timmons: B

          Weekly grades: DNP/B/B/D/B/A/B/DNP/B/A/A/B

          Season average: B


ROLB James Harrison: A

          Weekly grades: A/B/A/A/A/B/A/A/C/A/B/A

          Season average: B+


LCB William Gay: F

          Weekly grades: C/C/B/B/B/C/D/C/B/D/F/F

          Season average: C


RCB Ike Taylor: D

          Weekly grades: C/B/A/A/B/D/B/C/A/A/C/D

          Season average: C+


SS Tyrone Carter: C

          Weekly grades: C/B/B/D/A/D/D/A/B/B/B/C

          Season average: C+


FS Ryan Clark: C

          Weekly grades: B/B/A/B/A/B/B/DNP/A/D/C/C

Season average: B


Special teams regulars


PK Jeff Reed: B

          Weekly grades: B/F/C/A/B/B/D/B/C/B/A/B

          Season average: C+


P Daniel Sepulveda: A

          Weekly grades: A/A/A/A/B/B/B/A/A/B/B/A

          Season average: B+


KR Stefan Logan: A

          Weekly grades: B/D/A/C/B/B/B/C/C/B/C/A

          Season average: C+


PR Stefan Logan: F

          Weekly grades: C/C/C/F/C/INC/C/B/B/B/B/F

          Season average: C




HC Mike Tomlin: F

          Weekly grades: B/C/D/A/C/B/B/A/D/F/C/F

          Season average: C


OC Bruce Arians: F

          Weekly grades: C/D/C/A/B/A/C/B/F/C/C/F

          Season average: C


DC Dick LeBeau: F

          Weekly grades: A/B/C/B/B/A/B/A/A/A/B/F

          Season average: B