PITTSBURGH - A few random thoughts while watching the NFL playoffs:
n As disappointing as the Steelers' season was, they're not that far away from being back in the postseason. They need to fix the defense, and they can't possibly get all the help they need in the draft.
That means free agency. They're going to have to make some big decisions with the salary cap, but they can reload. Pittsburgh is an attractive destination for NFL free agents.
The offense, as currently structured, can win 10 games. With Emmanuel Sanders likely to leave as a free agent, they'll need another receiver.
But things aren't nearly as bleak as they were at 0-4 and 2-6.
n The Steelers' 6-2 finish obviously represents progress, but how did they lose a home game to Miami in a snow storm?
n Interesting that offensive line coach Jack Bicknell was fired after one season.
He was brought in to install a zone blocking scheme that was pretty much discarded after Maurkice Pouncey was injured in the opening game.
The sack total decreased as the season progressed, but that may have been a product of finding ways for Ben Roethlisberger to unload the ball quickly rather than improved blocking.
Was Bicknell held responsible for Mike Adams' lack of progress?
n Are you excited about that Pro Bowl draft? Didn't think so.
The Pro Bowl is an albatross for the NFL. There's no real way to make the game competitive. Even the incentive of a Hawaiian vacation doesn't mean much.
With the money players make now, they can fund their own trips.
How about the if NFL selects a Pro Bowl squad, but doesn't try to stage a game?
n For those of us who enjoy football played in the elements, this is an ideal playoff field.
Indianapolis is the only dome involved in the postseason, and most of the teams are in cold weather places. Denver and New England are added next week, along with Seattle and Carolina.
Remember, this is the year they're playing the Super Bowl in New Jersey.
n It's true more than ever: You're not going anywhere without a pretty good quarterback.
That's why the Steelers still have a chance as long as Roethlisberger is still playing.
n Does this mean those Michael Bolton holiday commercials have finally gone away?
If so, it's the best news so far in 2014.
Today's projected frigid temperatures in Green Bay are a reminder of the classic line Jack Buck had when he broadcast the original Ice Bowl on CBS: "I'm going to take a bite of my coffee."
The year-end edition of the Pirates' Alumni newsletter had a couple of interesting updates provided by former players.
Adam Hyzdu: "Own an RV dealership - Auto Corral RV. No kid has ever grown up dreaming of selling RVs for a living, but life takes us on some interesting rides."
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