Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Dec. 15

Let's get to it:

RANDY MITCHELL FROM ESCONDIDO, CA: In a recent installment of Asked and Answered, you mentioned that "Jack Lambert did that hilarious commercial with Myron Cope 35 years ago to promote a roller-coaster at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh." I do not recall ever seeing that commercial. By chance, is there a link available to the commercial?
ANSWER: It's available. My suggestion: go to Google, and type this into the search box: Myron Cope Jack Lambert Kennywood. That will take you where you want to be, then click on one of them and enjoy.

LINDA WOODS FROM GLEN GARDNER, NJ: I love JuJu Smith-Schuster, but even as a Steelers fan I get annoyed when he dances on the other team's logo before the game. It's comparable to other teams disrespecting the Terrible Towel. The only thing it accomplishes is riling up the other team. What do you think about it?
ANSWER: I am not now, nor have I ever been, or will I ever be in favor of those types of displays. But I also acknowledge that I am a dinosaur and that my opinion doesn't matter. I also don't believe any member of the Buffalo Bills was moved to play harder or with more intensity and focus because of such antics. What I do believe is that the winners enjoy mocking the losers, and that's fair because to the victor goes the spoils.

MICHAEL PENNANT FROM AUSTIN, TX: The first time the Steelers touched the ball seemed to set the tone for the game, that being Ray-Ray McCloud running the opening kickoff out of the end zone from 5 yards deep and only getting to the 10-yard line. Your thoughts.
ANSWER: Are you certain that the problem with that play didn't come from poor blocking from the players in front of Ray-Ray McCloud, because there have been occasions this season when he has done the same thing and it has resulted in a nice return and good field position. There is no disagreement that the opening kickoff wasn't a positive play from the Steelers' standpoint, but I cannot say for certain the reason for that was the decision of the returner as opposed to the execution of the blocking. And to identify the opening kickoff as a reason why the Steelers lost, or as a reason why the game unfolded as it did, I would disagree and point to Diontae Johnson dropping a pass on the opening series as far more significant.

STEPHEN YINGLING FROM ORLANDO, FL: If we beat the Bengals, what would you think about sitting a lot of people out during the last two weeks of the regular season so we can go into playoffs healthy? The Colts and the Browns play tough defense and will most likely be in the playoffs, too. Home field doesn't mean much this year.
ANSWER: Not in favor of that at all. First of all, two weeks is too long to be off during a season, and I can see the Asked and Answered inbox flooded with complaints about rust and slow starts if Coach Mike Tomlin would bag the final two regular season games. Also, as a coach or general manager or owner, I would be opposed in principle to not doing whatever possible to try to win games where wins could be advantageous to my team, and I don't believe the Steelers would have nothing to gain by winning their final three games of the regular season. And that gain could come from matchups during the playoffs or in terms of playing at home vs. on the road. You may not believe home field means much in 2020 because of a lack of fans in the stands, but there are other elements involved that make playing at home a more comfortable situation for a team's players.

DREW PERKINS FROM BEAVERCREEK, OH: Many fans seem to be quick to lay blame at James Conner's feet for the lack of a running game, or they blame Ben Roethlisberger when his throws are in front of the sticks far more often than not. However, the heart of the issue, is the offensive line, which collapses in on Ben very quickly and does not open up holes for Conner to run through. Would you agree this is the root of the offense's problems?
ANSWER: I find this amusing. You begin by being critical of people blaming James Conner and/or Ben Roethlisberger, but then you blame the offensive line. My opinion is that it isn't one thing or one individual, because if that was the case it would be easy to fix. It's nothing like having a toothache where all you have to do to stop the pain is have the bad tooth removed. I don't believe it's that simplistic to fix what is ailing the Steelers offense, and I'm also not contending the offensive line is blameless.

JOE ASHER FROM TAMPA, FL: During Sunday night's loss to the Bills, both Kevin Dotson and Matt Feiler were injured and did not return. After those injuries, the announcers stated that the Steelers were down to only five healthy offensive linemen. What would have happened if one more lineman sustained an injury?
ANSWER: What would happen is the team puts another player into that spot in the lineup. It could be a tight end, or maybe a defensive lineman, or whomever the coach decides to use. But there are no contingencies for a team running out of healthy offensive linemen or healthy linebackers or healthy cornerbacks or healthy anything else during the course of a game. You play with what you have.

KEN WILSON FROM MILTON, PA: NBC's Cris Collinsworth seemingly to made a valid point about our run game being bad partly due to the blocking scheme. He said the offensive linemen are upright and taking baby steps, which allows them to be pushed backward. Can we make Mike Munchak a Don Corleone "offer he can't refuse" to come back and fix the offensive line?
ANSWER: I am a big fan of Mike Munchak, both as a man and as a football coach, but the notion that he was and is the answer to everything that's wrong with the Steelers offense is just not true. Munchak was the Steelers offensive line coach during the five seasons from 2014-18, and during those seasons this is where the team ranked in the NFL in rushing offense: No. 16, No. 16, No. 14, No. 20, and No. 31. The best thing you can say about those rankings is that they were mediocre-to-bad relative to a 32-team league.

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