On Now
Coming Up
  • Thu., Jun. 30, 2016 4:00 PM - 4:30 PM EDT Steelers.com LIVE Get the latest Steelers updates live wherever you are. Watch LIVE Thursdays at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time throughout the offseason.

News

Print

Asked and Answered: Feb. 16

Posted Feb 16, 2016

Another installment of Bob Labriola answering your questions about the Steelers and the NFL.

Let’s get to it:

CHRIS BARLETTA FROM COOPERSTOWN, NY:
What makes Antonio Brown stand out among all of the great NFL wide receivers? I'm not saying he doesn't drop passes, but he really seems to catch everything thrown his way.

ANSWER: I can make some attempt at an answer here with words, but the better option would be if you were able to attend even one practice during a Steelers training camp at Saint Vincent College. Those sessions are open to the public, and each typically lasts a little bit longer than two hours. After the day’s official work is done, Antonio Brown always, always, always goes over to the Jugs machine for extra work. He typically stands no more than 10 yards away from the machine, and he has footballs fired at him over and over and over again. Brown does this every day, every day, and he does it until there is no one else left on the field doing any kind of post-practice extra work. To answer your question here, I would point out that Brown is an extremely talented individual who is willing to do the extra work. But those are just words. To really understand the meaning, you really need the visual of him doing it as well.

ED SLONIGER FROM PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA:
After our bad experience with kickers this season and the losses that came with them, what are the chances we keep both kickers? I would hate to see one of them cut and kicking in the AFC North. My second question involves the long-snapper, and I'm a fan of Greg Warren. Can that position be filled by the backup center? That would leave a place for a second kicker. I guess the point is Steelers Nation likes both Shaun Suisham and Chris Boswell, and it will be very hard to part with one. I sat through the Ravens loss in overtime at Heinz Field and watched the results of not having a great kicker.

ANSWER: In 2008, the Steelers were playing the defending champion New York Giants at Heinz Field, and Greg Warren injured a knee, which left the Steelers without a trained long-snapper. James Harrison volunteered to fill in, and while Harrison’s motives were honorable, the results were disastrous and the Steelers lost. Do not ever underestimate the necessity of having a legitimate professional long-snapper, and any suggestion that the job can be pawned off on a backup offensive lineman in order to save a roster spot – regardless of how that spot might otherwise be utilized – is a foolish one. My belief is that the Suisham-Boswell placekicker situation will resolve itself along the way. One of the two either will win the job, or possibly lose the job, or maybe the Steelers will be presented with the opportunity to trade one of them and reap some sort of future benefit. But I believe it’s prudent to view the Steelers’ situation with regard to going through three injured/ineffective placekickers in a single season as a once-in-a-lifetime issue, and worrying about it recurring isn’t the high-percentage move. Especially when that entails keeping an extra placekicker on the roster in favor of a trained long-snapper.

SCOTT VANSICKLE FROM EL DORADO, AR:
Shaun Suisham or Chris Boswell , which one will be the kicker in 2016?

ANSWER: All I feel confident in answering right now is that it won’t be both.

PETE FERRARI FROM PITTSBURGH, PA:
How does Joe Greene in his prime compare to J.J. Watt?

ANSWER: I will admit to a bias on this issue right up front, because in my mind Joe Greene was the most significant player in the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise, and the Steelers franchise has won more games and more championships than any other during the Super Bowl era. And another thing on Greene’s resume is that the Steelers franchise never had won anything until Greene was drafted in 1969, and he was the linchpin of the complete change of culture that was orchestrated by Chuck Noll. For all of Noll’s greatness, I don’t believe he ends up making the Steelers into what they became without a similarly great player/presence in the locker room. That player/presence was Joe Greene.

But here’s a specific anecdote I present to attest to Joe Greene’s greatness: It was December 1972, and the 9-3 Steelers were on their way to Houston for a game against the 1-11 Oilers. Sounds like a simple afternoon, but here are some other circumstances:

L.C. Greenwood and Sam Davis were out. Jon Kolb and Gerry Mullins had the flu; while Kolb played, Mullins only made it into the third quarter. Bruce Van Dyke pulled a calf muscle in the first quarter and was done for the day; Jim Clack injured an ankle and was done for the day. All six of those aforementioned players were starters. Craig Hanneman, Greenwood’s backup, aggravated a knee injury and was done for the day; Dwight White injured a knee; Steve Furness injured an ankle. Ron Shanklin was injured in the first quarter and was done for the day; Terry Bradshaw dislocated a finger in the second quarter and was done for the day; and tight end Larry Brown, who would grow into an offensive tackle, was that day playing flanker.

The Steelers needed a hero, and Joe Greene stepped up. He had five sacks and blocked a short field goal attempt by the Oilers; he recovered one fumble and forced another, and those takeaways led to two Roy Gerela field goals. The Steelers won, 9-3, and Greene was responsible for nine of the points himself – six the Steelers scored and the three the Oilers did not.

If the Steelers lose that game to the Oilers – and in every previous year of their existence, the Steelers always lost those kinds of games, because in December 1972 the team had yet to win the first division title in franchise history – they finish the season at 10-4, tied with Cleveland for the best record in the AFC Central Division. But based on a better division record, the Browns would have finished first and the Steelers second in the division, which then would have sent Oakland to Cleveland, and Pittsburgh to Miami for the first round of the 1972 AFC Playoffs. No Immaculate Reception. Then who knows? I’m sure knowledgeable people can make a case for Watt, but I’m picking Joe Greene every time, and I’m very happy with that pick.

DAVID CHAPMAN FROM HARTFORD, CT:
Does anyone care to unwrap the mystery of why CB Brandon Boykin wasn't allowed to see the field on a consistent basis (as in starting) last season? I personally thought that Antwon Blake's play in itself was a good enough reason to start Boykin at cornerback. Was there something we're not aware of? Maybe a riff with the coaching staff?

ANSWER: I can tell you that neither Mike Tomlin nor Keith Butler agree with your assessment of the situation. There was no conspiracy. No riff. It was simply a case of the coaches playing the guys they believed gave the team the best chance to win.

DEXTER TATUM FROM MILWAUKEE,  WI:
Any chance you think the Steelers will bring back Dri Archer and continue to let him develop as a kick returner?

ANSWER: After the Steelers cut Dri Archer on Nov. 5, the team tried to sign him to the practice squad. But Archer declined. I believe the ship sailed on bringing Dri Archer back right then. Had Archer signed onto the practice squad, I believe he would’ve been going to Latrobe this summer with another chance. Now, I think the Steelers move on. By the way, Archer declined many other teams’ offers for jobs on their practice squads, too, back then.

MICHAEL DUPLINSKY FROM GRIMES, IA:
How is yardage calculated for a running back and/or receiver? For example, if a back rushes for 2.5 yards, is he credited for 2 yards or 3. It seems like a lot of  yardage could be lost over the course of a game and the season, or do those fractional yards get added up at the end of the game?

ANSWER: There are no fractions involved. On every play, the statistics are adjusted so that every gain or loss is a whole number, no fractions. The way this is done is there is great latitude given to the offense, where even if the ball is just a nose beyond the 42-yard line, say, the ball officially will be recorded as being at the 43-yard line. Actually, runners and receivers get the benefit of the doubt many times in these computations over a game, a season, a career.

BEN FLOWER FROM DEVON, UK:
Will the Steelers be playing in London anytime soon? Really would like to see them play again in Britain.

ANSWER: Not as much as a lot of us in the organization would love to come back. Guaranteed.

JIM RACALTO FROM NEW YORK, NY:
What is, in your opinion, the most annoying narrative from the uninformed sector of Steelers Nation? Shazier to safety? Tomlin's clock management? Drafting a "big" corner? I see and appreciate your sarcasm. I feel you deserve a chance to vent for answering some of these dumb questions.

ANSWER: The judge disagrees.

ZACK FAITH FROM BLAIRSVILLE, PA:
The Pro Bowl is the least entertaining event in all of professional sports. Do you think it would, "spice up the game" by having players switch offensive and defensive positions? Meaning, if you are an offensive player, you must play a defensive position in the Pro Bowl, and vice versa. Some players have already made the switch during this contest anyway.

ANSWER: I say we give all of them musical instruments and ask them to play Beethoven.

BILL MARTINO FROM BINGHAMTON, NY:
Just want to make a comment. You seem pretty objective about the team even though I believe the Steelers sign your paycheck. They do, don't they?

ANSWER: You said just a comment, and then asked a question. That’s illegal procedure.

JERRY ATRICK FROM ANCHORAGE, AK:
Since the season is over all you do is field questions about moving players to different position; each one more asinine than the last. Will you ever answer questions that require some sort of football intellect?

ANSWER: Will you ever send me one?


Asked and Answered Archive