Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Aug. 26

Let's get to it:

GEORGE CURREY FROM COLUMBIA, SC: It seems that whenever some "Sports Network" evaluates and lists the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, Terry Bradshaw does not make the list. Do you have insight as to how a four-time Super Bowl winner and two-time Super Bowl MVP cannot earn such a mention?
ANSWER: I have written in this space thousands of times that if you watch that garbage on some "Sports Network," you're getting what you pay for. The whole purpose of a "Sports Network" doing those kinds of inane lists is to hook viewers in to watch so the rating are high enough so the "Sports Network" can soak advertisers for good money, and then get people such as yourself worked up about their "selections" is order to drive buzz about the show and lure other poor people into watching so that the ratings will continue to be high or even grow higher so that the "Sports Network" can soak advertisers for even more money. Either don't watch or understand that what you're watching has no more credibility than if you and I got together and made our own list.

SHAWN O'BRIEN FROM AUSTIN, TX: Do you think (and do you know of any past circumstances) where a player's perceived ability to clear waivers (and make it to the practice squad) factors in final roster cuts? If the Steelers more or less equally desire to keep two players, but only have one roster spot available, would they tend to keep a draftee over an undrafted rookie simply because the drafted player might be less likely to clear waivers?
ANSWER: By the time it comes to make final cuts to get rosters down to 53 players, teams have played at least three preseason games, and the two teams that participated in the Hall of Fame Game have played four. With that much game video out there, teams aren't going to claim a player or not based on whether he was drafted or entered the league as an undrafted rookie. Teams might even go back through their own draft reports on the guy to remember what they liked or didn't like about him. And from the standpoint of the team trying to decide which player to waive, the only smart thing to do it keep the player you believe is better. Because trying to figure out what 31 other teams might do is a whole lot more difficult and contains many more wild cards out of your control than simply picking the best player to keep on your 53-man roster. You can lose your mind trying to guess what 31 other teams might do or what 31 other teams might be looking for when it comes time to cut rosters to 53 players. As of today, teams' rosters are at 80 players, and so that means on the day rosters are cut to 53, there will be 864 players released or waived. Trying to guess which guys are coveted by other teams and which guys are not is a waste of time teams really don't have.

JOHN BOOGIE FROM VACAVILLE, NC: What are the chances of Mark Gilbert making the 53-man roster? If the Steelers release him with the plan to stash him on the practice squad another team will surely sign him to their active roster.
ANSWER: He has a chance, but in my opinion, he will go into the preseason finale against Carolina on the outside-looking-in, because I would expect the Steelers to keep five cornerbacks on the initial 53-man roster. Here are five: Joe Haden, Cam Sutton, James Pierre, Justin Layne, and Arthur Maulet. Players have used the preseason finale to win a roster spot before, and I would guess that would have to be the path Gilbert takes to do that.

MATTHEW KOLLER FROM PORT CHARLOTTE, FL: From what you are seeing, would you start Dan Moore over Chuks Okorafor? I feel he is a little more solid, and it only stands to reason that if he has a higher ceiling, start and develop him now if he is even close to as efficient as Chuks is now. They seem very cautious with Zach Banner, too. Are there any options for available tackles in the league?
ANSWER: With all due respect, you believe Dan Moore is "a little more solid" than Chuks Okorafor based on what exactly? Watching a few preseason games on television? Moore is a rookie, albeit a promising one, and I just don't know that it's a real good idea to start a rookie at left tackle when the future Hall of Fame franchise quarterback is 39 years old and not as spry as he used to be. Are there any options for available tackles in the league? There is no such thing as extra quality offensive tackles in the NFL, not at this time of the year and not at any time of the year. Chuks Okorafor is the starting left tackle, and the object is to get him ready to play and help him if/when he needs help.

CASIDY REISER FROM CLINTON, NC: Will Mathew Sexton make the team?
ANSWER: He's got a chance, and I would give him a better chance if he put another one of those 25-plus-yard punt returns on his resume during the preseason finale on Friday night against the Panthers.

CHUCK MAKRUCKI FROM HINCKLEY, MN: Mathew Sexton has had a couple of nice punt returns. Do you think he will get to return punts earlier in the final preseason game so he can show what he can do against better players, and do you think he has a chance to make the 53-man roster?
ANSWER: One of the ways Coach Mike Tomlin evaluates players during the training camp/preseason process is that as they have some success against a certain level of competition, he pits them against tougher competition to see how they fare. If the Steelers really believe Mathew Sexton can be a varsity punt returner, I would expect to see him returning punts earlier against Carolina than he did in his previous preseason appearances. Then it will be up to him to make the most of the opportunity.

DANIEL MAZENKO FROM LITITZ, PA: John Harbaugh recently was quoted as saying he tries to win every preseason game. Mike Tomlin has said that the preseason games are a time to look at solidifying things like on-field communication, player decision-making, and timing. Winning will be secondary to working on those but will also be easier if those things are accomplished well. And then I've read that both Cleveland and Detroit won all their preseason games the years they went 0-16 in the regular season. Under Tomlin, have the Steelers had any undefeated or winless preseasons, and how was their regular season record during those years?
ANSWER: In the 2013 preseason, the Steelers finished 0-4, and then they started the regular season with four straight losses before their bye on Oct. 6. After that, the Steelers won eight of their next 12 games, including three straight to end the season, and they finished 8-8. The last time the Steelers had an undefeated preseason was when they finished 5-0 in 1997 under Coach Bill Cowher. That 1997 team won the AFC Central Division and went on to lose the AFC Championship Game at home to eventual Super Bowl champion Denver.

GREG MUIR FROM NORFOLK, VA: Do you see Kalen Ballage making the 53-man roster?
ANSWER: If I had any input in the decision, which I certainly do not, he would be on my 53-man roster.

JOE SCHMAELING FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: Hypothetical question: It's fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line. We're down by five points with 6 seconds left. With the new run blocking offensive linemen and a great rookie running back, are we going to be able to impose our will on the defense and pound it in, like the good old days, or will we still have to pass?
ANSWER: Who cares? Just score the touchdown and win the game. As a famous Steelers coach from the "good old days" used to say, "Whatever it takes."

KEVIN DOYLE FROM SALINAS, CA: Sometimes your replies to questions are brutal and often personally degrading. I'm not sure that asking a dumb question deserves such a public humiliation. Why not just ignore the question and choose another one to put up on the site? I have to believe there are enough insightful Steelers fans with valid and interesting questions for you to choose from.
ANSWER: Don't be so sure about that high number of valid and interesting questions. And instead of scolding me for being a meanie, why didn't you take a shot at posing a valid and interesting question?

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