Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Aug. 28

Let's get to it:

TERRY PECK FROM SPRINGFIELD, OH: How do Kenny Pickett's preseason statistics compare to Ben Roethlisberger's?
ANSWER: During the 2004 preseason, Ben Roethlisberger completed 25-of-43 (58.1 percent) for 335 yards, with one touchdown, two interceptions, and a rating of 71.4. He was sacked twice, and rushed five times for 18 yards (3.6 average). With the 2022 preseason finale set for today, Kenny Pickett has completed 19-of-22 (86.4 percent) for 220 yards, with two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a rating of 138.6. Pickett has been sacked once, and rushed for 12 yards on four carries (3.0 average).

STEVE MATTHEWS FROM PERU, NY: I'm bringing my family to their first Steelers game this October. After the game ends is there time to visit the Great Hall, food venues, Pro Shops, etc.? Or do they close up quickly after the game ends?
ANSWER: The Pro Shop stays open about 45 minutes after a game ends, and while food inside Acrisure Stadium becomes unavailable during the fourth quarter of the game, there are a number of restaurants on North Shore Drive just outside the stadium that offer plenty of options for fans. The FedEx Great Hall is open for fans to view the vast array of memorabilia, but it will be cleared by security about 45 minutes to an hour after the game ends. Hope you and your family enjoy the experience.

JD AKERS FROM ORMOND BEACH, FL: Here we go again with a weak offensive line. How did we get to this point knowing it needed major repairs? Would you lean toward not enough money or poor draft, and how realistic is claiming better offensive linemen after final cuts?
ANSWER: Two years ago, I believe the Steelers weren't expecting to lose a couple of first-team All-Pros in Maurkice Pouncey (retired) and David DeCastro (eventually retired because he didn't want additional surgery on an injured ankle) in one offseason, and then it came down to draft priorities/choices. In the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Steelers had an opportunity to draft the best running back in that class (Najee Harris) and absolutely did the right thing in taking advantage of that. In the second round, the Steelers opted for Pat Freiermuth (the best two-way tight end in that draft class) instead of centers Creed Humphrey (Oklahoma) and Josh Myers (Ohio State), and tackles Jalen Mayfield and Brady Christensen, who were the four offensive linemen selected between the Steelers' picks in the second and third rounds. Myers had five starts as a rookie for Green Bay and then landed on injured reserve; Humphrey started all 17 regular season games for Kansas City; Mayfield started 16 games for Atlanta; and Christensen started six games for Carolina. In the 2022 NFL Draft, the Steelers got the quarterback everyone was saying was the most NFL ready (Kenny Pickett) in the first round, and I don't care which offensive linemen were available when their turn came to pick in the second round, because George Pickens is better and more valuable. During free agency in 2022, the Steelers spent a respectable sum to bring Mason Cole and James Daniels to Pittsburgh.

The top two picks in each of the past two drafts I believe were good choices and added players who will be contributing playmakers for years, and the team was not cheap in going after Cole and Daniels. I'm not going to argue that the offensive line needs to improve, but I choose to believe the unit's performance against the Jaguars won't turn out to be indicative of how things will go the rest of the season. The players have to step up and perform better, because there are no knights on white horses about to ride into Acrisure Stadium to save the season.

JAMES KOHN FROM POTSDAM, NY: With three quarterback options, all of whom have their upsides, do you know or have you experienced a team that throughout the season that used multiple quarterbacks to put opposing defenses on their heels with their different styles of play?
ANSWER: My experience is that whenever a team believes it has two quarterbacks worthy of playing time in the regular season, it actually has none. The four most recent examples (that I can remember) of teams dividing up regular season playing time at quarterback were Miami, San Francisco, Washington, and Dallas. Miami did it in 1982 with David Woodley and Don Strock, and Coach Don Shula's reaction to that strategy was to draft Dan Marino in 1983. In 1980, Coach Bill Walsh split the playing time between Steve DeBerg and Joe Montana, and then in 1981 Walsh figured out a pecking order, and Montana took the team to its first Super Bowl championship. In 1973, Coach George Allen's "Over the Hill Gang" in Washington split time between 34-year-old Billy Kilmer and 39-year-old Sonny Jurgensen. And in 1971, Coach Tom Landry alternated Craig Morton and Roger Staubach regularly, and once even had the quarterbacks alternate plays within a game. But when Staubach started the final 10 games, including a victory in Super Bowl VI, that was the end of that.

KEN McDANNELL FROM CHAMBERSBURG, PA: A team has three quarterbacks on its 53-man roster, and on game day the No. 3 quarterback is inactive. If that team's first two quarterbacks are injured during that game, can the No. 3 quarterback then be activated to go into the game?
ANSWER: No.

PHILIP GEISLER FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: Is it too much of a reach to think that Mark Robinson, the seventh-round pick has any chance of making the 53-man roster and actually getting playing time at inside linebacker?
ANSWER: Mark Robinson would make my 53-man roster, and I believe that since he can be an asset on the punt and kickoff coverage units he then would be active on game days. Outside of that, Robinson figures to spend his rookie season learning the defensive scheme and the ways of the NFL because I believe he might be a little bit too inexperienced (having been a running back for most of his college career) to be thrown onto an NFL field for regular season games.

JAMES MacPHERSON FROM BEACHWOOD, NJ: With some difficult cuts coming, let's say hypothetically Kevin Rader is set to be cut, and he knows another team will pick him up. But he only wants to play for the Steelers. Can he "quit," and then re-sign at a later date?
ANSWER: Players with fewer than four NFL seasons on their resume are placed on waivers and can be claimed by any team in the NFL. If a waived player does not report to the team that claimed him, he cannot play in the NFL. If a player with more than four NFL seasons on his resume is released, he is free to sign, or not sign, with any team willing to have him. So, players in Kevin Rader's situation (fewer than four years in the NFL) have no freedom or options in the scenario you present.

TERRY WAIBEL FROM DAYTONA BEACH, FL: The passing of Len Dawson reminds us that quarterbacks can blossom on their second or third team and win a Super Bowl. Shouldn't we be giving Mitch Trubisky some slack?
ANSWER: I leave that up to you and Steelers Nation to decide how much slack Mitch Trubisky will be getting this season, but if history is any indicator it won't be much. But here are a couple of historical facts for you:

The Steelers drafted both John Unitas (ninth round in 1955) and Len Dawson (first round in 1957). In 1967 when Unitas was winning the NFL MVP Award for the third time in his career, the Steelers primary starting quarterback was Kent Nix; and at the end of the 1968 season when Dawson was voted Super Bowl MVP after quarterbacking the Kansas City Chiefs to a championship, the Steelers primary starting quarterback was Dick Shiner.

ROBERTA CAMPBELL FROM PORTAGE, IN: When is the earliest the team can sign a player to the practice squad?
ANSWER: Teams must cut their rosters to 53 players by 4 p.m., EDT, on Tuesday, Aug. 30. The claiming period for players placed on waivers at the final roster cut-down will expire at noon, EDT on Wednesday, Aug. 31, and that's when teams can begin assembling a practice squad of 16 players.

ROB STAMBAUGH FROM CLEVELAND, OH: I just signed up for the season ticket waiting list. It says on the website that not all season tickets need a seat license. Could you explain how the seat license works?
ANSWER: A Stadium Builders License (SBL) is sold along with the season tickets and gives the holder "ownership rights" of that seat location. The owner can freely transfer those rights to another party during certain transfer windows when they no longer wish to be a Season Ticket Holder. However there are multiple sections on each level that are unlicensed. If someone is an owner of an unlicensed season ticket, the rights to those seats cannot be transferred to another party and season tickets will revert back to the Steelers if the owner no longer wishes to own season tickets. And you should understand that when a Stadium Builders License is transferred to another party, that means it can be sold to that party and sold at a profit, which the seller then gets to keep.

JOSIAH WILSON FROM CYPRESS, CA: Looking at our offensive strengths and weaknesses, I believe we could have a productive offense running a jumbo set with two tight ends, a fullback, a halfback, and a running back. It would help our offensive line and take advantage of having two above average tight ends. Is this a package you see the Steelers running during training camp? If not, why do you believe it is something Coach Mike Tomlin hasn't installed?
ANSWER: What you just described is the Wishbone formation. You may have missed the news, but the Big 8 Conference was dissolved in 1996, and while the Wishbone still is utilized at West Point and the Naval Academy, it never has been popular or successful in the NFL.

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