Thursday, July 19, 2007

Memo to Alan Faneca:
It's a Young Man's Game

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that Alan Faneca "said he will play for another team in 2008" because of the lack of progress in contract negotiations with the team.

Pittsburgh Steelers Fanatic has been reticent about jumping on this issue, after all a lot of the bluster and hyperbole of contract negotiation is just that and is soon forgotten once a deal is reached. However the whining of the Steelers' greatest offensive lineman -- ever -- was motivation enough to look at the numbers that underlie this controversy.

Using information available on the 119 offensive guards listed on the respective NFL team's depth charts (rookies excluded) have an average of 5.08 years of NFL experience (the median number of years of experience is 4). Moreover only eleven of the 119 offensive guards (9.24%) have ten seasons or more of NFL experience. Clearly, NFL coaches and personnel managers seem predisposed to younger, and less expensive, interior offensive linemen. However, the question is should they be?

Here is a look at those offensive guards with ten years of NFL experience, and the number of games they started in 2006:

TeamPlayerNFL Experience2006 Games Started
HoustonSteve McKinney106
JacksonvilleChris Naeole1116
MiamiKendyl Jacox108
N.Y. JetsPete Kendall1214
PittsburghAlan Faneca1016
San DiegoMike Groff1016
TennesseeBenji Olson1015
CarolinaMike Wahle1013
ChicagoRueben Brown1316
San FranciscoLarry Allen1411
SeattleChris Gray1515

Other than Houston, Miami, San Francisco, and Tennessee the teams for which these elder statesmen play are playoff caliber (and the 49ers and Titans seem poised for a resurgence), and the average number of starts amongst these players is 13.28 so it isn't a case a veteran players hanging on for a paycheck. Is it possible that offensive linemen on the wrong side of 30 years of age can still contribute? In special cases -- much like Alan Faneca's case -- it seems quite plausible. While he may not garner Steve Hutchinson type money ($49 million, $16 million guaranteed), barring injury Mr. Faneca can certainly be expected to make a significant contribution to his team (whatever team that ends up being) for an additional 3 to 5 seasons.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Polamalu Ready to Sign?

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that Pro Bowl strong safety Troy Polamalu is close to signing a contract extension that "likely will put him near the top among the Steelers' best-paid players." According to the report, Mr. Polamalu may sign the extension as early as Monday.

Mr. Polamalu tied for the team lead in interceptions (he and Bryant McFadden each had three), but a sore knee and adjustments in offensive planning by opponents limited his effectiveness during the second half of the season (e.g. Mr. Polamalu did not have another interception after the October 22, 2006 game versus Atlanta).

The imminent signing of a key player follows the signings of Aaron Smith and Chris Hoke to extensions, and contract controversy with Pro Bowl offensive guard Alan Faneca.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Predictions Begin

With training camps beginning next week, predictions are being released on just what the 2007 NFL regular season holds for the teams. According to ESPN Robert Walker, the sports book director at the Mirage, has set the over/under for wins and losses. Without further adieu, here they are:

AFC North
Pittsburgh: 9 wins
Baltimore: 9 wins
Cincinnati: 9 wins
Cleveland: 5.5 wins

Las Vegas is hedging its bets in a big way here and who can blame them -- over the last three seasons the division has had three different champions. Assuming that the divisional race will be as close as Vegas thinks (and when are they wrong?), the winner will be the team that wins the head-to-head battles.

AFC East
New England: 11.5 wins
New York Jets: 8 wins
Miami: 7 wins
Bufalo: 6 wins

New England is predicted to lead the NFL in wins in 2007

AFC West
San Diego: 10.5 wins
Denver: 9.5 wins
Kansas City: 7.5 wins
Oakland: 5 wins

San Diego is a good team with a mediocre coach -- bet the under! Oakland is predicted to be the NFL's worst team in 2007 (thank goodness the Steelers don't play them this season).

AFC South
Indianapolis: 10.5 wins
Jacksonville: 9 wins
Tennessee: 7 wins
Houston: 6.5 wins

NFC North
Chicago: 10 wins
Green Bay: 7.5 wins
Minnesota: 6.5 wins
Detroit: 6 wins

NFC East
Dallas: 9 wins
Philadelphia: 9 wins
New York Giants: 8 wins
Washington: 7.5 wins

Daniel Snyder's desecration of a once proud franchise continues -- nice career move Antwaan Randle-El.

NFC West
Seattle: 9 wins
San Francisco: 7.5 wins
St. Louis: 7.5 wins
Arizona: 7 wins

NFC South
Carolina: 9 wins
New Orleans: 9 wins
Atlanta: 7.5 wins
Tampa Bay: 7 wins

With the start of training camps Pittsburgh Steelers Fanatic returns from its sabbatical. Look for regular updates, team overview, season preview, and much more beginning soon!

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