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Rooney Criticizes Noll, ‘Stupid Plays’

Associated Press

Pittsburgh Steelers president Dan Rooney, in unprecedented in-season criticism, said he is unhappy with some of Chuck Noll’s coaching decisions and with “stupid plays” that have produced a 2-10 record.

Rooney promised an extensive off-season evaluation of the Steelers’ coaching and scouting staffs and said, “I want to get it across that I’m not taking this situation all right.”

“I’m going to look at everything,” Rooney said. “This does not mean we’re going to go in and chuck everything.”

He has no plans to fire Noll--Rooney said Noll’s job is not in jeopardy--but he is clearly unhappy the Steelers are tied with the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys for the National Football League’s worst record.

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The Steelers are headed for their worst season since they were 1-13 in 1969, Noll’s rookie season; their worst season since then was 6-10 two years ago.

“I don’t think we can say it’s all well and good. At times we played all right (in a 27-7 loss Sunday against the Cleveland Browns), but stupid plays took us out of the game,” Rooney told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Rooney was especially unhappy with Noll’s decision to punt in the first quarter when the Steelers faced a fourth-and-1 situation at the Browns’ 44. Rooney said, “It was a bad call.”

Rooney has become increasingly exasperated with a punting situation that is one of the worst in NFL history. The Steelers have had a league-record 6 punts blocked, and Harry Newsome failed to get off 2 other punts Sunday after bad snaps, leading to 17 Browns’ points.

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“The whole punting situation is bad,” Rooney said.

When Brown punter Max Runager fumbled a snap, he and his center took practice snaps along the sideline, but the Steelers did no such thing after two bobbles, Rooney said.

“I think it reflects our whole situation. I think there are times when our team needs to be more aware of situations, like timeout situations,” Rooney said.

“It took us a long time to call timeout during a 2-minute drill. The players shouldn’t have to look to the bench to find out if a timeout should be called. They should be made aware of the situation and know that if this happens you should take it immediately.

“There’s a confusion on the field, and there should be more help from the sidelines. But are they getting the help?”

Rooney has rarely criticized Noll publicly, the last time coming after the Steelers’ 38-10 loss to the Raiders in 1983.

“Have I thought about how we’re going to do things?” Rooney told the Pittsburgh Press. “Sure, but by no means do I say I have my mind made up until I have talked to everybody involved to the extent I feel necessary. There’s a lot of work and I feel a lot of planning involved.”


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