Skip to main content

Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Aug. 22

Let's get to it:

JOE SCHMAELING FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: At what point do we have to consider the possibility that Jaylen Warren is the best back on the team? Maybe not the most talented, but he seems to be the most productive. Warren's yards per carry average in 2022 was higher than Najee Harris'.
ANSWER: You write, "At what point do we have to consider the possibility that Jaylen Warren is the best back on the team?" Exactly, who is "we?" If you're referring to fans and/or the media, that would be totally up to those groups or to people within those groups. I cannot speak for them, nor do I see it as my place to tell those groups or to people within those groups what they should think and when they should think it. I will, however, point out a few things: Jaylen Warren did finish with a higher average per carry than Najee Harris in 2022 (4.9-3.8), but I believe there are other relevant statistics involved as well. Harris finished with 272 rushing attempts and 41 receptions for a total of 313 touches in 2022, and Warren finished with 77 rushing attempts and 28 receptions for a total of 105 touches in 2022. Harris played 763 offensive snaps (66 percent), while Warren played 342 (31 percent), and I don't believe it's an automatic to assume an individual who produces in controlled situations would be able to produce at the same rate if his touches were more than doubled. Anyway, none of this really matters, because Najee Harris was drafted to be the Steelers' feature back, and that's the role he will have for the 2023 regular season, and Jaylen Warren earned a spot on the roster to be Harris' complement, and that's the role he will have for the 2023 regular season. That's how Coach Mike Tomlin and General Manager Omar Khan see things, and so I suggest to you that they do not belong to the "we" you reference in your question.

JOSEPH HUBER FROM LEESBURG, VA: The special teams play against Buffalo looked very good. What were your overall impressions of the special teams play?
ANSWER: I would agree with your assessment. Breaking it down a bit by category, there were no issues with the snap-hold-kick process on field goals and PATs, and Chris Boswell was 4-for-4 overall. Two of the four penalties were assessed to special teams – Connor Heyward was flagged for an illegal formation on a punt that moved the ball from the Buffalo 15-yard line to the 20-yard line in the first half, and there was a too-many-men-on-the-field penalty during a Bills PAT in the final 58 seconds of the game. Calvin Austin III had a 54-yard punt return, and Gunner Olszewski had a 15-yard punt return, and the blocking was clean on both; Anthony McFarland returned one kickoff for 19 yards, and I believe there will be many more fair catches than returns in that phase once the regular season begins. Finally, I thought punter Pressley Harvin III had a very good game, and he worked very efficiently with the coverage to keep the Bills offense pinned close to its goal line. He was asked to punt five times, and Buffalo's starting position after each of those, respectively, was at the 11-yard line, the 15-yard line (that became the 20-yard line after the penalty on Heyward), the 6-yard line, the 10-yard line, and the 8-yard line. People who looked at Harvin's 38.2-yard average for the game and moaned about his performance are missing the point completely. The Bills were able to return just one of Harvin's punts, and for only 2 yards at that, and he had all five inside the 20-yard line. I guarantee you Mike Tomlin and Danny Smith were not moaning about 38.2 in that context.

SEAN DELANEY FROM GARDNER, MA: In your previous Asked and Answered, you addressed a question about Terry Bradshaw calling his own plays. Many, if not most, veteran quarterbacks did that back in the day, but who determined the position groupings for each play? If the quarterback is thinking run play and then sees four wideouts are in the huddle, what then?
ANSWER: "Back in the day," as you referred to that era, there were virtually no position groupings, at least not in the way we have come to understand and accept those wrinkles in today's game. Offenses played primarily with two running backs, one tight end, and two wide receivers; and defenses primarily played with four linemen, three linebackers, and four defensive backs. Also, teams generally ran the football on first and second downs, unless the scoreboard dictated a different strategy at the end of the half or at the end of a game

JOHN MILLER FROM FT. MYERS, FL: Obviously in the regular season, coaches do not communicate how they are going to play the game. Do the head coaches communicate with the other head coaches, as far as who's playing and how long to balance the competition in the preseason?
ANSWER: Here is a snippet from a Q&A I did with Coach Mike Tomlin in advance of the game against Buffalo that touches on the subject you reference:

Q. Sean McDermott said on Thursday that QB Josh Allen and the starters will play a quarter and a half. Does the way the opposing coach handles his personnel during a preseason game impact or influence how you might decide to handle your personnel during that preseason game?
A. It never does, but I am always appreciative when they play their really good players. I just think that we want varsity action, and whether or not I have my first unit out there or my second unit out there, it's good action. Particularly when will you get an opportunity to see your 2s against someone's 1s, that's good business. I'm excited about that. And I think you know that Sean and I come from the same school, we got raised by legendary William & Mary Coach Jimmy Laycock. It doesn't surprise me that he has a commitment to growth and development, even with his established players. I share that same belief.

JEREMY SCHWARTZ FROM GREENWOOD, SC: I have read about Spencer Anderson's movement among many positions along the offensive line in practice and preseason. While having a player who is versatile is a good thing, do you think it affects that player's own future growth and potential since he would not be concentrating on one position?
ANSWER: There is a certain among of position flexibility that's valued for all offensive linemen, but it's also true that certain players come into the league having been identified as having one position, or maybe being able to play one position on either side of the line of scrimmage. In the case of Spencer Anderson – a seventh-round pick, who was the 251st overall selection – I see the kind of versatility he is showing as an asset to his cause of trying to make the 53-man roster. As Anderson's career progresses, a determination will be made whether his value is at one position or whether a jack-of-all-trades role is his future in the NFL. And also, with unrestricted free agency, Anderson very well will be presented with an opportunity to leave one team to join another if his vision of his future doesn't mesh with the team's.

TIMOTHY RICHARD FROM SULPHUR, LA: In a veritable lifetime of watching the Steelers play (54 years since 1968) I have only been blessed to have watched them play live from the stands once. I believe it was 1989 in the Superdome in New Orleans. The game ended up with all field goals, and the Steelers won, 9-6. Could you refresh my memory as to the Saints' coach and the Steelers' quarterback that day?
ANSWER: On Dec. 16, 1990, the Steelers defeated the Saints, 9-6, in New Orleans. Bubby Brister was the Steelers' quarterback that day, and Jim Mora was the Saints' coach. Also that day, Craig Heyward – whose sons Cam and Craig currently play for the Steelers – carried 6 times for 26 yards for the Saints in the game.

DENNIS SLEEGER FROM YORK, PA: There was so much made before and after the 2022 NFL Draft about Kenny Pickett's hand-size, but with how he played last year and through this past training camp do you believe this is a non-issue now?
ANSWER: I always thought it was a non-issue, because I remember back in the run-up to the 1983 NFL Draft that one of the things I heard about Dan Marino was "his hands are too small."

BRETT TAYLOR FROM BROOKLYN, NY: On cut-down day, is it a free-for-all regarding signing the cut players or is there an order to the process similar to the draft where the worst team gets the first selection?
ANSWER: During the roster cut-down to 53 players, which must happen by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 29, the bulk of the players will be subjected to waivers. The only players not subjected to waivers will be those who qualify as vested veterans as a result of their years of service in the NFL, and those players are free to sign with any interested team of their own choosing. For the players who are waived, there is a 24-hour period for teams to submit claims on them, and then at the end of the 24-hour period each waived player is awarded to the team with the worst record among those claiming him. In the instance of the cut-down to 53 players, waiver claims will be awarded in the same order in which teams drafted in April.

MICHAEL JOHNSON FROM HOUSTON, TX: Is there a website or app that allows fans to view other television angles from gameday footage?
ANSWER: There is what is called the all-22 view, which shows all 22 players on the field during every snap of every game. You can get information on subscribing to that service by visiting: ""