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Savran: Drops not product of new offense

Saturday, August 25, 2001

Sometimes, if you open your ears and close your mouth, you just might learn something. For instance, what causes a wide receiver to drop a pass. Just this week, a Steelers' pass catcher -- there's a misnomer -- suggested unfamiliarity with a "new" offense can be the cause of a dropped passes epidemic.

I must confess, I need a bit of clarification. Such as, what in the world does a new offense have to do with catching the football?! What possible difference does it make whether you were in the wishbone, run-and-shoot or single wing? He throws it, you catch it. I might be too thick to comprehend the intricacies of the Steelers' passing game, but they're going to have to manufacture a different explanation for handling airborne footballs like live grenades.

Quoth the Edwards, evermore. When questioned about balls clanking off his hands, Troy Edwards said, "They criticized Jesus Christ, too." Yep, when I think of the Savior, I simultaneously think of the Steelers' number one draft pick in 1999, don't you? Edwards actually seemed miffed that someone would question him about dropped passes. Hello! It's not like this is the first time he has looked like Edward Scissorhands out there. "Stan, Guy, first-time dropper. Love the show!" This is Steelers Held Hostage, Year 3 with this guy. Would someone please purchase a clue for this kid?

There is a faction opining that the Steelers should purge Edwards from the roster. Don't count me among them. The logic goes that he makes too much money for a fourth receiver, which he is currently. But, Chuck Noll believed you generally make a determination about a guy in his third year. They need to keep Edwards this season. He has never going to be a number one receiver, but there's still a possibility he could develop into something more than a four. Plus, is there any receiver who's performed well enough this preseason to push Edwards for the position?

Generally speaking, players in their fourth, fifth and sixth years should provide the nucleus of your football team. These players should be in -- or approaching -- their most productive seasons.

With that in mind, let's check the drafts that should have produced these core players, concentrating on picks from the first four rounds of each draft.

Among six-year veterans from the 1996 draft, only one player, Earl Holmes, has been a major contributor. That's it. Gone and easily forgotten from that class are the legendary Jamain Stephens, Steven Conley and Jahine Arnold.

From the '97 group, only Chad Scott has amounted to anything. Others from that class were Paul Wiggins and Mike Vrabel, both gone, and Will Blackwell, who might be soon.

Fourth-year players from the class of '98 are Alan Faneca, Hines Ward, and Deshea Townsend, certainly a better group than the two that preceded them. However, that draft also produced total busts Jeremy Staat, Chris Conrad and Carlos King.

We could go back another year or two, but you get the idea. Any mystery why the Steelers are 22-26 the past three seasons?

Would I be drummed out of the union to suggest to my media colleagues that they climb down off Phil Mickelson's back? He didn't lose the PGA Championship, David Toms won it. Four rounds in the 60s, besting Toms by one stroke in the fourth and final round, is ample evidence Mickelson didn't choke. He just didn't win. There is a difference.

Depending on your perspective, you can blame/credit the New York media for pushing the Rangers into making the trade for Eric Lindros.

Newspapers up there, from the Times to the tabloids, and the sports talk shows, absolutely barbecued General Manager Glen Sather for falling asleep at the wheel when Jaromir Jagr was available. Sather thought he was the only horse in the Jagr derby and apparently offered nothing but nags in return.

Craig Patrick said on SportsBeat this week that the Rangers gave much more for Lindros than they ever offered for Jagr.

When Sather got wind that Washington might be interested, he called Capitals General Manager George McPhee to see if that was true. As any good general manager, McPhee lied. Why should he tip his hand to a rival, perhaps triggering a bidding war?

Sather foolishly bought McPhee's little white lie hook, line and sinker, and sat in his fishing boat waiting for Patrick to bite. He bit, all right -- right into Sather's backside.

That didn't go unnoticed in the Big Apple, where they don't care what you do as long as it's something big.

Sather discovered what Dorothy already knew in the Wizard of Oz: This ain't cowtown Edmonton anymore, Toto.

Considering what the Rangers eventually gave up, and given that each player is a head case for different reasons, would you rather have Lindros or Jagr?

And if you are the Penguins, would you rather have what they got for Jagr? Or what the Flyers got for Lindros?

Stan Savran is the co-host of SportsBeat, 6:30 p.m. weekdays on Fox Sports Pittsburgh.

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