Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: August 25

Let's get to it:

VAL McMORRIS FROM TYLER, TX:
Your opinion to end a debate; Would it have made sense for Steelers to draft Paxton Lynch in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft?

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ANSWER: No. Even though I believe Paxton Lynch has a very good chance to develop into a quality NFL starting quarterback, the Steelers have Ben Roethlisberger, and he's capable of another 4-to-5 productive seasons. And I mean productive seasons by his own high standards. If that happens, Lynch would reach unrestricted free agency before the Steelers would get to see him play enough to determine whether or not he's a worthy successor to Roethlisberger. Because of that, and because the Steelers had other needs to address in the quest to compete for a championship in the here-and-now, my opinion is that a No. 1 pick spent on a quarterback in 2016 would have been a waste. The Steelers didn't draft Roethlisberger until it became clear they needed a starting-caliber quarterback, and before you give me any of that Tommy Maddox noise, check his 2003 statistics and the team's record with him as the starter.**

SCOTT GRANNAS FROM HOLLIDAYSBURG, PA:
What are the positions the Steelers would look to fortify via the waiver wire when the 53-man roster cut-downs happen.

ANSWER: This could change based on injuries over the final two preseason games, but as of right now, some positions I believe would come under consideration are quarterback (possibly a No. 3 guy), tight end, and defensive back. Those are positions that could be targeted. Also to be considered would be individual players the Steelers liked when they were coming out for the draft and suddenly are on the open market, or some young guys who nevertheless have an NFL resume.

JEFF LINTON FROM PHILADELPHIA, PA:
Tell me if I remember right because I was very young at that time, but didn't the Super Bowl Champions play a preseason game against a team of college all-stars in the 1970s? I think I can remember the Steelers playing one. Help me to remember.

ANSWER: It was called the Chicago Charities College All-Star Game, and it was held in the preseason annually from 1934-76, with the exception of 1974 when the game was cancelled because the NFL players were on strike. The game matched the NFL Champions vs. a team of college all-stars about to enter the NFL, and then during the Super Bowl era, the NFL was represented by the Super Bowl champions.

In the 1940s, the games were competitive affairs and drew large crowds to Soldier Field. The all-stars last won consecutive games in 1946-47, but they won just four of the final 29 games. The last four NFL teams to lose to the college players were the Philadelphia Eagles in 1950, the Cleveland Browns in 1955, the Detroit Lions in 1958, and the Green Bay Packers in 1963. By the 1970s, with NFL teams increasingly hesitant to allow their top draft picks to miss training camp to practice with the all-stars and then the threat of injury at the hands of the NFL veterans, enthusiasm for the game started to erode.

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The Steelers prepare for the Week 3 preseason matchup against the New Orleans Saints.

The finale in the series took place in 1976 during a downpour at Soldier Field on July 23. Despite featuring stars such as Chuck Muncie, Mike Pruitt, Lee Roy Selmon, and Jackie Slater, the all-stars getting crushed by the defending Super Bowl X champion Steelers, 24-0, at halftime. Late in the third quarter, with high winds and driving rain, fans began running onto the field and sliding on the artificial turf. When the officials ordered both teams to their locker rooms, all attempts to clear the field failed, and the last straw came when the fans tore down the goalposts. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle cancelled the rest of the game. The Steelers ended up playing in the College All-Star Game twice – they won, 21-14, in 1975; and, 24-0, in 1976.**

DENNIS MILLER FROM CAROLINA SHORES, NC:
The Steelers have had one of the worst special teams coverage units the past several years. Coverage on kickoffs and punts has been slightly above terrible. Has there been any thought of changing coaches or direction?

ANSWER: Your facts are incorrect, or at least they're incorrect as to my understanding of the word "worst" and the phrase "slightly above terrible." In 2015, the Steelers were No. 10 in the NFL in kickoff coverage and No. 18 in punt coverage; in 2014, they were No. 12 in punt coverage and No. 15 in kickoff coverage. Since there are 32 teams in the NFL, that means they have ranked in the middle of the pack. That to me is mediocre, not "slightly above terrible."

RAY  NOLAN FROM CLIFTON, NJ:
The Steelers seem to have a lack of discipline, with the number of (on the field) penalties the last two-to-three years. Two Super Bowl appearances during Mike Tomlin's reign is nothing to sneeze at, but I feel he is losing control of this team (or maybe not motivating them). What's your take on Mike Tomlin?

ANSWER: Another guy with a fast-and-loose interpretation of the facts. In 2014, the Steelers were tied-for-eighth in the NFL in fewest penalty yards with 834. That means there were 23 teams assessed more penalty yards in 2014 than the Steelers. In 2015, the Steelers were tied-for-fourth in the NFL in fewest penalties assessed. That means there were 28 teams assessed more penalties than the Steelers in 2015. The only teams with fewer assessed penalties than the Steelers in 2015 were Minnesota (105), the Jets (108), and Arizona (110). The Steelers were tied with New England (112). My take on Mike Tomlin is that if I owned an NFL team, I would hire him in a second, and I also believe if he ever were on the open market he wouldn't be without another NFL job for very long at all.

DAVE GUFFEY FROM KANE, PA:
Can a player enshrined into the Hall of Fame play again?

ANSWER: I don't know whether are any specific rules to govern the scenario you propose, but as a practical matter, no. Gale Sayers is regularly cited as a Hall of Fame player whose career was borderline in terms of length. He played seven NFL seasons. That took him from the age of 22 to around 29. Because a player has to be retired for five years before he is eligible for Hall of Fame consideration, that would have made Sayers – using him as an example – around 34 years old when he was inducted. Nobody is going to sign a 34-year-old who has been out of football for five years.

GUS McRAY FROM TITUSVILLE, PA:
Would you please clarify what is going on with the William Gay/NFL brouhaha?  He has passed all his drug tests and some nut on Al Jazeera has accused him of using steroids? Why is the NFL pursuing this?  Aren't the drug test results enough?

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ANSWER: You would think passing every drug test ever administered would be enough, and it should be enough in my opinion. But please don't ask me to try to explain the inner workings of the NFL. It makes my head hurt.**

JERED KOVACH FROM HERMITAGE, PA:
Kickoffs were moved up to create more touchbacks in the interest of player safety. Now the spot of the ball on touchbacks has moved out to the 25-yard line and teams are experimenting with returnable kicks. Personally, I love kick returns and would like to see more of them, but what was the point of all this anyway?

ANSWER: You answered your own question with the final phrase in the first sentence: "in the interest of player safety." There is a belief that kickoff returns are too dangerous, and what's happening now, I believe, is some tinkering with the rules to find a way to eliminate returns while still maintaining the possibility of an onside kick.

DAREN  JOHNSON FROM PORTLAND, OR:
Can you name any free agent signings who missed all of training camp but still ended up making significant contributions?

ANSWER: I cannot, because I have no way of researching such a broad question. And even less interest in trying to do so.

JAMES TOWNER FROM ELMIRA, NY:
Does Landry Jones get chances during the week to practice with the starting unit, which the fans do not get to see, and could his performance in them be why the Steelers keep him?

ANSWER: During training camp, Landry Jones often worked with the first-team offense, and those workouts were open to the public and attended by thousands of fans.

JAKE PAQUEMAN FROM BOZEMAN, MT:
Why are people SOOOO worried about Landry Jones, who is playing in preseason games that the Steelers never win, with backups and a limited offense? Put a little faith in the Steelers organization, people, please. Due to the Senquez Golson injury do you see the team go searching for help for the defensive backfield from another club once roster cuts begin, a la Stephon Tuitt, or do they like who they have now?

ANSWER: As mentioned in an earlier answer, the secondary is an area I believe the Steelers will look to improve via the waiver wire, if possible and if they believe the guys they can claim are better than the guys they already have.

ROBERT ASTRONSKAS FROM CLEVELAND, OH:
Is there any chance that the Steelers could trade for a quarterback?

ANSWER: In the real world?

DILLON PALMER FROM WARREN, OH:
Since you seem to mock Steelers Nation about wanting to replace Landry Jones, let's throw some statistics at you. In his time filling in for the Steelers, he's played in seven regular season games, completing 58 [percent of his passes (not bad), but threw for only three touchdowns with four interceptions and losing a fumble, Not to mention he's been rather below average in preseason. But "he beat Arizona," and my take on that is every blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while. My vote as well as many others is: bye Landry, thanks for your time in Pittsburgh but it's just not working out.

ANSWER: What I mock are the suggestions/assumptions that Bryce Petty or Joe Webb or Johnny Manziel or Tim Tebow are better alternatives. Besides the Arizona game, you forgot the game against Oakland when Landry Jones came in late after Ben Roethlisberger was injured and directed the drive that ended in a decisive field goal in a 38-35 victory. Without those two wins, the Steelers don't make the playoffs in 2015. Oh, and something else you should understand: Your vote doesn't matter, and neither does mine.


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