Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Dec. 17

Let's get to it:

SCOTT MCMILLEN FROM N. CANTON, OH: I know it's just one game that Devlin Hodges has lost as the starting quarterback, but moving forward next year, what are your thoughts about who will be our No. 2 and No. 3 quarterbacks? Are there are some pretty good quarterbacks out there available in free agency?
ANSWER: Once Ben Roethlisberger returns from elbow surgery, the Steelers will have four quarterbacks on their roster with starting NFL experience under contract for 2020, with the other three being Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges, and Paxton Lynch. Competition among them would be used to figure out the depth chart behind Roethlisberger, because the Steelers have other needs to address in the draft and other areas to address with their available salary cap space besides backup quarterback.

NICHOLAS PITNER FROM RUSSELL, PA: I read that the 1976 defense shut out five opponents in a season. Was that the most shutouts by the team in a season? When was the last time the Steelers shut out an opponent?
ANSWER: The five shutouts the 1976 Steelers defense recorded are the most in a single season in franchise history. The last time the Steelers shut out an opponent was on Sept. 18, 2011 when they defeated Seattle, 24-0, at Heinz Field.

CHARLIE BENSON FROM PHOENIX, AZ: Considering Pittsburgh's defense is playing at such an elite level, do you think this is the year that the Steelers can knock off New England in the playoffs? I personally think that Pittsburgh's biggest threat in the AFC is Kansas City.
ANSWER: Whoa. The Steelers aren't in the playoffs yet, and based on what the team has had to overcome this year, this is a season where simply getting into the playoffs should be viewed as a worthy accomplishment and not an expectation. And because it seems as though the Patriots are going to finish as one of the top two seeds in the AFC, they would get a bye into the Divisional Round, which would mean the Steelers not only would have to make the playoffs, but also win a playoff game even to have a shot at New England.

LUIS RAMIREZ FROM CHIHUAHUA, MEXICO: With the current injury situation of Tua Tagovailoa maybe causing him to slip down a few spots in the 2020 NFL Draft, have you seen any indications of the team figuring a plan to maybe trade up and reach him?
ANSWER: Three things: The Steelers don't have a first-round draft choice in 2020, because it was traded to Miami for Minkah Fitzpatrick. Tua Tagovailoa is not dropping out of the first round, and trading back into the area of the first round where he's likely to be picked, even injured, would require a future No, 1 pick. And most significantly, the Steelers ARE NOT going to draft a quarterback high next spring. Not. Going. To. Happen.

MIKE PALMER FROM BUTLER, OH: Why did we pass so much against the Bills? I thought we would have run the ball with all of our backs.
ANSWER: There is no doubt that 14 running plays (the total of the carries by James Conner, Benny Snell, Kerrith Whyte, and Jaylen Samuels) vs. 42 passes (38 attempts by Devlin Hodges plus the four times he was sacked attempting to pass) would have been an OK ratio with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback but certainly not with Hodges. One of the issues likely had to do with the number of third-and-long situations, because of the 13 third-down situations faced by the Steelers, nine of them were third-and-6 or longer. But still, the run-pass ration was out of whack given the personnel available.

JASON RAMOS FROM NEW BEDFORD, MA: Why was Josh Dobbs cut and not Mason Rudolph? I feel that Josh is a better quarterback and definitely more athletic.
ANSWER: That is your opinion, and you are entitled to it, but based on how things unfolded it's obvious the Steelers didn't share your opinion. And for the record, Joshua Dobbs was traded, not cut. Also, I don't imagine Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or Drew Brees would win many decathlons.

SHELDON MARTELL FROM CAMPBELL RIVER, BC, CANADA: With Ben Roethlisberger having one or two years left until retirement, do you think the Steelers are a natural landing spot for Cam Newton? Jerome Bettis is a great example of how one's career can become restored under a first class organization and coach.
ANSWER: Reality check: When the Steelers traded for Jerome Bettis, he was 24 years old, and Cam Newton will be 31 in May 2020. Big, big difference in age. Next, are you planning on having Cam Newton sit on the bench behind Roethlisberger until he retires, and while Newton is doing that what kind of salary do you expect him to accept, because his salary for 2020 is listed at $18.6 million and then he can become an unrestricted free agent in 2021. This has no real chance of happening, and I believe deep down you know it doesn't.