Let’s get to it:
ROBERT NUNLEY FROM LEBANON, VA: Can you give us some insight into the feeling around the team regarding offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett? I am excited to see a young man have the opportunity he's been given to advance his career, and I hope to see that offensive line group continue to dominate.
ANSWER: What the Steelers’ football people long have said about Shaun Sarrett is that whenever you arrive at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, his vehicle already is in the parking lot, and whenever you leave for the day, his vehicle is still in the parking lot. Maurkice Pouncey is the unquestioned leader of the unit and one of the alphas in the locker room, and here’s what he told Missi Matthews about Sarrett shortly after he was promoted to replace Mike Munchak:
“He’s a guy who learned a lot from Coach Munchak,” said Pouncey. “But first of all, he played football, and so he knows the ins and outs of it. He played offensive line, so he knows the grit of it, the pass protection and the run blocking and things like that. He’s really honed in on technique, and (when you’re) playing football on the offensive line, that’s the one thing you have to teach guys is being a technician and playing the game the right way. He has that, and I think he’s learned from one of the best – a guy who was a Hall of Fame player and obviously a Hall of Fame coach in my opinion. He has a lot to lean on, and we have a lot to look forward to with him being our offensive line coach.”
As to Sarrett’s methods, Pouncey said, “He’s really big on tape study and pushing the envelope on showing things about the guys you’re going against each week. He details his work a lot, and you can appreciate that when you’re playing – a guy who’s detailed and works his butt off for you, you see all the work that he’s putting into it, but you still have to go out on the field and perform. I think he’s the right guy to lead us in the right way.”
LARRY ALLEN FROM SPRING VALLEY, NY: Why cut Morgan Burnett before finding his replacement? There are no guarantees of finding a better replacement. I was always told, “You never quit your job before finding another.”
ANSWER: And I was told, “Always pay attention or you may end up saying something that makes you look foolish.” The Steelers signed Mark Barron a couple of weeks ago, and he will fill the role Morgan Burnett didn’t want to fill, and Barron will do it willingly and enthusiastically.
BILL PALAICH FROM CLERMONT, FL: Do you think that Xavier Grimble is good enough or has the potential to replace Jesse James as a No. 2 tight end, or will the Steelers be looking for a talent upgrade behind Vance McDonald?
ANSWER: I believe it’s possible the Steelers will look to draft a tight end, but I would hope that doesn’t happen until Saturday (Rounds 4-7) if at all. If the Steelers don’t draft a tight end, maybe they sign one in the later stage of free agency, but I do believe there would be some players added there before the team heads to Latrobe, for the simple reason of having enough bodies for practices. And let’s be real about James – last season he caught 30 passes and scored two touchdowns. The Steelers aren’t faced with replacing John Mackey.
MATT POOLE FROM SAN ANTONIO, TX: I keep hearing about how the Steelers have taken a step backwards in regard to the upcoming season’s expectations, and I don’t see it that way. Am I wrong in my assessment, or should I be less than positive about the upcoming season?
ANSWER: I have no idea of whether your assessment will be correct or incorrect, just as the people who have been offering their assessments of how the Steelers will fare in 2019 have no idea about the veracity of their assessments. Time will tell, and my only suggestion is to enjoy the ride along the way.
MATT BRAYTON FROM BORDENTOWN, NJ: This may already have been asked and it may be too early in the offseason to answer, but do you know when the Steelers individual game tickets go on sale? I want to go to the Steelers game when they visit the Jets.
ANSWER: The Steelers’ individual game ticket sale typically is held some time in June, but the tickets that will be put on sale at that time are only for home games. If you want to see the Steelers play the Jets at MetLife Stadium, I suggest you visit newyorkjets.com/tickets/.
LEE MCDONALD FROM SUNRISE, FL: Do you see the Steelers drafting a tight end if Devin While and Devin Bush are already picked when out turn comes at No. 20 overall?
ANSWER: My opinion is that would not be a shrewd move, because I see first-round draft picks being guys who should be starters, if not immediately then very shortly into their professional careers. The Steelers have a starting tight end, and my opinion is that Vance McDonald is a good one.
CESAR GALDAMEZ FROM SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR: We all have read tons of questions regarding the draft, what would you pick, etc., and your answer has always been clear: defensive playmakers. However, imagine that you get to the 20th pick and you have available two potential defensive playmakers, let's say just for the sake of the question, equally good, the first one an inside linebacker and the second one a cornerback. Which one would you choose?
ANSWER: This is the reality of the draft preparation that the Steelers do: there are no ties. The situation you describe doesn’t happen, because the process painstakingly goes about ranking guys, and no matter how close they might be perceived to be, one is ranked above the other because of some factor, whether it be injury history, or character, or intelligence, or something else. If it actually comes to pass that when the Steelers’ turn at No. 20 in the first round comes up and there are two dynamic defensive playmakers still on the board – one an inside linebacker and one a cornerback – I guarantee you the two of them will be ranked, one above the other, and I would pick the one who’s ranked higher, regardless of position.
WILL GORDON FROM DES MOINES, IA: Assuming that the Steelers draft Greedy Williams and move Mark Barron to inside linebacker, along with picking an outside linebacker in the second round and a wide receiver in the third round, do you see the Steelers making the playoffs? If so, how far?
ANSWER: You want me to guess the scores of the games, too?
PAUL KAMMERMEIER FROM HONEOYE FALLS, NY: Having won just six Super Bowls instead of all 53 of them shows that the Steelers are not performing up to expectations. I suggest the Steelers trade a 13th-round pick, which does not exist, to move up to No. 1 overall. Also, they should trade Shamarko Thomas, who is not on the roster, for at least two All-Pro defensive players, and then pay them the league minimum. They also should always draft players I like from the college I attended, and coaches should always make decisions in hindsight, like I do. Finally, the players should never get injured or retire. I mean, it's just common sense.
ANSWER: If you had added “stay off social media,” I believe you would’ve been onto something. But I think you’re giving up a lot in those trades, and not getting enough in return.