Labriola On

Labriola on replay, Jarvis, L vs. 50

Ready or not, here it comes:

  • The NFL Owners Meetings are over. There again will be 12 teams in the playoffs. Dez Bryant's catch still wouldn't count. As of now, the point after touchdown play will continue to come from the 2-yard line. In-season rosters will not be expanded beyond the current 53 players. And game day rosters are to stay at 46 players.
  • There were things accomplished at the meetings, but nothing that really moves the needle in the average fan's eyes. Unless, of course, the owners allow instant replay to get away from them.
  • It should surprise no one that the most passionate advocate for expanding the scope of instant replay is Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, because coaches by nature are control freaks and Belichick takes it to a whole other level.
  • Of course Belichick wants to "get it right" and doesn't care how long it takes or how convoluted it becomes. He's a coach. That's the perspective of a coach. He can't help himself. He wants Ed Hochuli to gather his crew and talk about it, and then go under the hood and watch various angles of video for a while, and then get some counsel through the headset from NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino in New York, and then come out and provide an explanation that sounds a whole lot like a judge charging a jury before sending it off for deliberations.
  • What has been lost over time is the sense of balancing "getting it right" with too many of the kinds of delays in the action that turn excitement into tedium.
  • It's bad enough to have tedium infect a fan's enjoyment of the game when that fan is sitting in his living room, but it's a whole other level of unacceptable to do that to a fan who's sitting in a stadium, where he could be exposed to inclement weather.
  • No sporting event translates to television quite like football. According to the Nielsen ratings, 48 of the top 50 shows in terms of eyeballs on the screen during the last year were NFL games, and the league's relationship with its broadcast partners cannot ever become something that's taken for granted. But the same should be said for the ticket-buying public, because the in-stadium experience remains a critical element of football's overall appeal.
  • Respect the paying customer. That's always a good thing to remember.
  • In the immediate aftermath of the Steelers bringing back James Harrison, there were questions about whether this move was going to create an either-or situation at right outside linebacker. As in James Harrison or Jarvis Jones.
  • I don't see it that way. I believe the Steelers realize they need a statistically significant contribution from Jarvis Jones in 2015, and that cannot happen with him splitting time with James Harrison.
  • I also understand that Jarvis Jones is going to show he deserves more than to split time with James Harrison.
  • If Jones doesn't show that early and often, it's going to be a long season.
  • The NFL released its complete draft order for the 2015 Annual Selection Meeting. That's the official name for the NFL Draft, by the way, and the Steelers will have three of the top 87 picks. Figuring that 50 percent of the guys drafted play offense, that should mean the Steelers have a chance to get three of the top 44 defensive players available.
  • They better do just that.
  • Just yesterday, the Steelers announced they had signed Darrius Heyward-Bey to a one-year contract that almost certainly was for the veteran minimum salary. The signing added a player who is the anti-diva as an NFL receiver, a guy who is team-first all the way, happy to contribute on special teams covering kicks if that's what is needed.
  • My next move would be to sign another player with the same attitude. Will Allen.
  • The Steelers have two games on the West Coast in 2015 – a game against the Seahawks in Seattle and a trip to San Diego for a game against the Chargers. It came to light at the NFL Owners Meetings that the Steelers have requested these two games be scheduled on consecutive weekends so the team can stay out there and cut down on time spent in airplanes.
  • Team President Art Rooney II admitted there is no guarantee the Steelers will have their request granted by the NFL, and in fact the Baltimore Ravens have made a similar request.
  • The Ravens play in Oakland, in San Francisco, and in Arizona. The Bengals play the same three teams on the road. So it'll be interesting to see which, if any, of the AFC North teams get back-to-back games on the West Coast.
  • Speaking of the upcoming season, the NFL is planning a grand celebration in connection with 2015 being the season that culminates in Super Bowl 50. It's going to be such a grand celebration in fact that the NFL is dispensing with the use of roman numerals for this particular Super Bowl.
  • Apparently, Super Bowl 50 has more cachet than Super Bowl L.
  • Anyway, part of the grand celebration provides for some special ceremonies to be attached to all regular season games matching teams that previously had met in Super Bowls.
  • Just for the record, the Steelers will be involved in four of these "ceremonial" matchups. There's the Hall of Fame Game against the Minnesota Vikings as a rematch of Super Bowl IX, the home game vs. the Arizona Cardinals as a rematch of Super Bowl XLIII, and the road games in Seattle as a rematch of Super Bowl XL, plus the one in St. Louis as a rematch of Super Bowl XIV, even though the Rams franchise was located in Los Angeles at the time.
  • What this means – besides the fact there will be none of these involving Cleveland – is that this now eliminates the possibility for Steelers-Seahawks to be anything but a prime-time kickoff. How could it be anything else? The only franchise with six Lombardis vs. the franchise that would have gone back-to-back if its offensive coordinator had called a play on second-and-goal from the 1-yard line to win the game instead of to show everybody how tricky he was.
  • Steelers-Seahawks. What a day it will be. Hey, maybe Mike Holmgren even shows up to cry about the officiating in Super Bowl XL for the Lth time.
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