Asked and Answered 2/23: Replacing a legend

Bob Labriola, a Pittsburgh native, has been editor of Steelers Digest since its inception in 1988. Do you have a question  for Bob? Go to the Steelers Facebook page – facebook.com/steelers – look for the Asked and Answered logo and post it there. Then continue reading Asked and Answered to see if yours was chosen.

Greg Busick: I always wanted to know how hard it was for Bill Cowher to come in and replace a legend?

I certainly cannot speak for Bill Cowher, nor can I remember him ever addressing this publicly, but there were two things working in his favor back in 1992. The most important thing was the kind of person Noll is, and the underrated thing was the season-long strike by the two daily newspapers in Pittsburgh at the time. Cowher never had to fear any second-guessing coming from the guy who won four Super Bowls because Noll wasn't interested in keeping his name in the news or attracting attention to himself in any way at all. And the newspaper strike allowed Cowher to go about his business in an under-the-radar manner that's inconceivable in today's Twitter/Facebook world. By the time the newspaper strike was settled, Cowher's team had gone 11-5 and won the team's first division title in eight seasons. Winning eases all transitions.

Robert Warren: Which do you see being the bigger need in the draft – offensive line or cornerback?

I'm going to say offensive line, but mainly because you have to play five of them at a time. I think the Steelers are set at center with Maurkice Pouncey, and that Marcus Gilbert will become a quality starting tackle. After that, everything else has a question mark attached to it. By restructuring Willie Colon's contract, the Steelers have made a commitment to him for 2012, but he has missed 31 of the last 32 regular season games with the kind of soft-tissue injuries that can be bad sign for someone not yet 30 years old. The guard play can be better, needs to be better, especially from an assignment standpoint. And then, there's depth to build, because injuries are going to happen and sometimes happen in bunches. All of that – and because I really think Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown are going to emerge in their second seasons – has me leaning toward offensive line as the more pressing need in this draft. But if the Steelers get to their first-round pick, and the best player on their board is a cornerback, I pick him. Definitely.

Pamela Bruno: Why isn't the Super Bowl scheduled for the Sunday before Martin Luther King Day? Don't you think that would solve a lot of scheduling and call-off problems?

Some fans have wondered why the game isn't on a Saturday in a similar search for a post-party cushion before the start of a work week. Martin Luther King Day, however, is way too early in the year. In 2012 for example, Martin Luther King Day was on Jan. 16, the day after the Divisional Round of the playoffs. A more likely soft spot to land would be Presidents Day, and that only comes into play if the league expands to 18 regular season games. If the regular season would start on the weekend after Labor Day, as it does now, and last for 19 weeks instead of 17 like it does now, and then with three weeks of playoffs, followed by an off week, followed by the Super Bowl, the game would be played on the third Sunday in February. Presidents Day is the third Monday in February, and so if you're one of the few to get that as a holiday, there's your post-party cushion. Not that it matters, but I'm opposed to an 18-game regular season.

Jacob Elser: Will Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman be sufficient in the running game if Rashard Mendenhall does not fully recover in time for the season?

Mewelde Moore is an unrestricted free agent and therefore no lock to be on the roster in 2012, but I still believe the team is in solid shape at running back as it awaits Rashard Mendenhall's return. In addition to Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and John Clay both are interesting young players who have a combination of some NFL experience without a bunch of professional carries on their bodies. Also, Baron Batch was a highlight of training camp last summer before tearing his ACL during a practice shortly before the preseason opener. This is a nice group from which to choose, a nice enough group that the Steelers shouldn't be too interested in using a Thursday or Friday draft pick on the position.

Corey Krueger: Bob, if Emmanuel Sanders in healthy, I think he could be the best we have at the wide receiver position. What is the word on his future inside the organization?

At the start of his rookie training camp, Emmanuel Sanders was seen as a more polished receiver than Antonio Brown, and a good bit of that was because he had thrived in June Jones' offense at SMU. That experience within a pro-style offense is a main reason why Sanders was a third-round pick and Brown was a sixth-round pick, and it seemed to put him ahead early in the competition for playing time. Remember, the 2010 season began with Mike Tomlin's "two dogs, one bone" approach to a game day roster spot, and Sanders ended up with the bone seven times over the first 10 games. But injuries slowed Sanders, and Brown has long since passed him on the depth chart. Sanders might never make up the ground he has lost to Brown, but that doesn't mean he can't have a fine future with the Steelers.

Dan Moletz: Where would the Steelers receive their first-round pick if Mike Wallace is tendered as a restricted free agent and signed elsewhere?

If the Steelers do not sign Mike Wallace to a long-term deal, and if they put a first-round tender on him as a restricted free agent, and if another team presents Wallace with an offer sheet that he likes enough to sign, and if the Steelers decide not to match that offer sheet to keep him, then the Steelers would receive the team's No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft. In the event a team has more than one No. 1 pick in this draft, the Steelers would get that team's original pick.

Christina Orsky: Hey, Bob, what do you think of the idea of the NFL fining officials for bad calls?

Fining officials for mistakes, i.e., bad calls, is unrealistic. I would like to see more accountability, though. Instead of getting upset when a team reveals that it has received confirmation from the league office that an officiating mistake was made in its game, I believe the league should be proactive and admit a mistake was made and point it out. If the NFL would admit when its officials make mistakes, then it would be easier to believe the claims about how good a job the officials do. The NFL has no problem announcing/leaking fines it levies on players. Acknowledging officials' mistakes, then, seems only fair.

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