Rossi: No arguing Colbert's impact on Steelers
Hanging in there is hard. That's how the Steelers work, though. History has shown they are better off for having ...
“Patience,” safety Troy Polamalu said.
General manager Kevin Colbert is Pittsburgh's least-talked-about architect, though he's arguably its most successful. He has built a legacy that will stand forever, one that has not been witnessed in this region for decades.
He built Super Bowl champions. Nothing matters more in the landscape of Pittsburgh sports.
If not for the 1970s, when the Steelers won four Super Bowls and played in six conference title games, the first 12 years of Colbert's era would rate as the greatest in the city's sports history. From 2000-11, Colbert's teams won two titles and played in three Super Bowls and five conference championship games. Heinz Field was host to 10 playoff games and graced by two likely Hall of Famers Colbert drafted: Polamalu and Ben Roethlisberger.
Look, there are reasons the Steelers are equally lauded and envied by those who hold power within the Pirates and Penguins. It's the same reason Pittsburghers who were born long after the 1970s hold the Steelers dearest even when the other teams are blessed with MVPs.
We're in a fifth decade of the Steelers being the best team in Pittsburgh. Not always, but more often than not.
The Steelers remain the best bet to bring a big parade to Downtown, although their current playoff drought is longer than that of the Penguins or Pirates. The reason for that is Colbert, who has the trust of an ownership that never overreacts to a couple of disappointments.
Missing out on the last two postseasons has hurt Colbert. It's a different pain than the one that afflicts his swollen left knee. It's not “devastating” like the one that lingers from a Super Bowl loss to Green Bay. It's not disheartening like the one that sets in when a player fails to “become a good person.”
Missing the playoffs hurts because Colbert never takes for granted that his current season could be his last with his hometown team. His job might seem safe given the Rooney family's famous belief in stability, but Colbert never looks at it that way — and losing this job would hurt.
Three seasons without a playoff appearance shouldn't, and won't, stand for the Steelers. Colbert knows that.
He was raised on the North Side, schooled at North Catholic High School and Robert Morris (when it was only a college). He was soaking up the 1970s glory along with the Pittsburghers who lost themselves in those dynastic Steelers of Joe Greene, who is now Colbert's friend.
Colbert has been here for six Super Bowl celebrations. He is smart enough to know those high times are the exception, but he also believes his job is to give the Steelers a chance to be celebrated every winter.
He has failed on the job the last two years.
His friend, Ray Shero, was recently fired by the Penguins for failing a lot less. Another friend, Neal Huntington, takes a lot more heat when the Pirates are winning than Colbert does when the Steelers disappoint.
At age 57, Colbert could take an early retirement or a less-stressful role with the Steelers. The fact that he hasn't — and won't — has nothing to do with needing to stay in the game but rather what he has witnessed on the St. Vincent fields during training camp.
His franchise quarterback is throwing like one. His difference-making tight end is healthy. His interior offensive line is locked in. His small No. 1 wide receiver is showing signs of taking another big step toward All-Pro status.
It's the defense, though, that has Colbert thinking a seventh Super Bowl is “attainable.” Not quite yet because some parts (cornerback, defensive line) need tweaking, but this Steelers defense is getting there.
What Colbert's been watching the last couple of weeks are defenders with closing speed, the type of which is generated by players with young legs.
The greatest Steelers defenses of Colbert's tenure were infused with younger players who did things faster than veterans who better understood the zone-blitz scheme. Quietly, maybe subtly, Colbert has built one of those defenses for coach Mike Tomlin and coordinator Dick LeBeau to mold.
The defense might not be ready to rock to “Renegade” quite yet, but Colbert has time to get the unit to that point. That's because hanging in there isn't hard for the Steelers.
It's how they win.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- For Steelers, a fight to finish for playoff berth
- Play of nose tackles could have impact on Steelers’ stretch run
- Steelers’ Wheaton embraces expanding role
- Rossi: As Blount walked, Porter called
- Steelers notebook: Heinz Field not in play for Bills-Jets
- Steelers’ Mitchell banned from social media
- Cut by Steelers, LeGarrette Blount joins Patriots
- Lack of experienced backup means more work for Steelers RB Bell
- Steelers Film Session: Sticking with what works
- Steelers notebook: Gay, secondary brace for Saints QB Brees
- Steelers rally past Titans for key win