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Gosselin: Cowher looking like a genius

Discussion in 'NFL Zone' started by LaTunaNostra, Nov 2, 2004.

  1. LaTunaNostra

    LaTunaNostra He Made the Difference

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    Rick Gosselin: Cowher looking like a genius

    Rookie QB could put Cowher, Steelers on path to Super Bowl


    11:29 PM CST on Monday, November 1, 2004


    PITTSBURGH – Mike Shanahan was widely regarded as a coaching genius when his Denver Broncos were winning back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997-98.

    It didn't hurt Shanahan that he had a Hall of Fame quarterback taking his snaps. But when John Elway retired in 1999 following that second Super Bowl, Shanahan fumbled away his genius tag. He hasn't won a division title or a even playoff game in the five years since then.

    Mike Holmgren was another perceived coaching genius in the mid-1990s. He took the Green Bay Packers to back-to-back Super Bowls in 1996-97. Holmgren had Brett Favre as his quarterback. But Holmgren left the Packers – and Favre – in 1999 and he too hasn't won a playoff game since then.


    A franchise quarterback buffs the perception of a head coach. Jimmy Johnson won two Super Bowls with Troy Aikman, Bill Walsh won three with Joe Montana, and Chuck Noll four with Terry Bradshaw. Vince Lombardi won five NFL championships with Bart Starr.

    Make no mistake about it: Shanahan, Holmgren, Johnson, Walsh, Noll and Lombardi were good coaches. But having a franchise quarterback is like having a toll tag – you never need to slow down. His presence puts you on the super highway of playoff contention.

    Which brings us to Bill Cowher, who is one of the most underappreciated coaches today.

    Cowher ranks 18th on the NFL's all-time coaching list and fifth among active coaches with 128 victories. He's won seven division titles and fielded eight playoff teams in his 12 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Yet Cowher invites criticism because of his failure in big games. He has lost three AFC championship games, all at home. He also lost his only Super Bowl.

    Disregard the fact that Cowher had Kordell Stewart, and New England coach Bill Belichick had Tom Brady in that last AFC title game loss in 2001. Or that Cowher had Stewart, and Shanahan had John Elway in that 1997 title game loss. Or that Cowher had Neil O'Donnell, and Cowboys coach Barry Switzer had Troy Aikman in that Super Bowl loss in 1995.

    Cowher has never had an elite quarterback. He's been a victim of his own success. The Steelers were regular winners in the 1990s, so they were always drafting low in the first round. It's difficult to find a franchise quarterback when you're picking 28, 29 and 30th every year.

    Only once in Cowher's first 11 seasons did the Steelers even bother selecting a quarterback in the first day of a draft. That was Stewart, who was taken in the second round with the 60th overall pick in 1995.

    So Cowher has always had to compete with less at the quarterback position – O'Donnell, Bubby Brister, Mike Tomczak, Stewart, Jim Miller, Tommy Maddox. ... And he's succeeded, winning almost 60 percent of his career games.

    But if you want to judge Cowher as a coach, start now. He finally has a franchise quarterback. Does he ever – rookie Ben Roethlisberger has won his first five NFL starts.

    Roethlisberger completed 14-of-18 passes in the first half with two touchdowns Sunday to send the Steelers off on a 34-20 romp over the New England Patriots, ending the longest winning streak in NFL history at 21 games.

    Franchise quarterbacks give you a chance in games against defending Super Bowl champions. Roethlisberger also engineered victories over the Dolphins in Miami and the Cowboys in Dallas. He plays with no awe.

    The Steelers caught a huge break with Roethlisberger. Some NFL teams had him rated as the top quarterback in the draft last April, ahead of Eli Manning of Ole Miss and Philip Rivers of North Carolina State.

    Roethlisberger is bigger, stronger, faster, more athletic and had a better arm than either Manning or Rivers. But he played at second-tier school (Miami of Ohio) in a second-tier conference (Mid-American). He also left a year of eligibility on the table to come out early.

    The feeling was that five years down the road, Roethlisberger might be the best of the three. But he wouldn't have the instant impact on a team that a Manning or Rivers – big-school players with four years of college experience – could have. It might take Roethlisberger a few years to figure the NFL game out.

    So he slid to the Steelers at the 11th overall pick of the first round. And Cowher now has his franchise quarterback. Roethlisberger ranks fourth in the NFL in passing with a 104.7 efficiency rating, and the Steelers hold down the top seed in the AFC with a 6-1 record.

    What a difference a quarterback makes. Ask Cowher. Ask Shanahan.

    E-mail rgosselin@dallasnews.com
  2. Smith22

    Smith22 Well-Known Member

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    Can't argue with any of that. I will be happy if Henson can develop half as quickly as big Ben considering how long he has been away from the game.
  3. mr.jameswoods

    mr.jameswoods Active Member

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    This may sound crazy but I'm not ready to annoing Big Ben as a franchise QB. I think he has played well but he is also has the luxury of playing on a complete team unlike his colleagues. The Steelers have a running game, an outstanding offensive line and great receivers who are known for making circus catches. Aside from his record, he doesn't look anything like Dan Marino who he has been compared to. To me, a franchise QB is one who can lead his team to a winning record or even a playoff birth when the supporting talent isn't great. And they win Superbowls when the supporting cast has been elevated.

    I don't know how successfull Ben would be if he played for weaker team. This isn't taking credit away from Ben but to compare him to Montana, Elway etc. is a bit farfetched at this point. It will be at least another year before we can officially label Big Ben a franchise QB.

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