Let's get to it:
JOHN WATSON FROM WASILLA, AK:
How long will Mike Tomlin continue to let Marcus Gilbert miss blocks that result in the quarterback getting smashed? I don't know if he is in injured, but it has happened in several games this year.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Marcus Gilbert has allowed only one sack all season, and in my mind has been good enough and consistent enough to merit selection to the Pro Bowl. Once upon a time, not all that long ago, there was another resident of Wasilla who played fast and loose with the facts in the hope that nobody was paying attention. How is Sarah Palin doing these days? Can she still see Russia from her house?**
JOE D'APOLLONIO FROM CHARLOTTE, N.C.:
I want to say I love reading "Labriola on…." after each game and watching "Agree to Disagree" each week. Great stuff. My question comes after a statement. DeAngelo Williams was a HUGE pickup. Worth triple what we paid for him considering the situation that unfortunately unfolded. We know that DeAngelo selected Pittsburgh for one reason – he wants a Super Bowl ring, and he knows the Steelers are always in contention for a ring. So, my question is this: Why don't we attract any mid/late-career standouts in the secondary? I will give us Mike Mitchell, but I would classify him as an early career switch.
DeAngelo Williams was signed to be a backup, Le'Veon Bell's backup. What you're talking about with regards to the secondary sounds more like a front-line player. Those are two totally different categories. Mike Mitchell was signed to be the starting free safety, and when the Steelers go looking for such a player in free agency they prefer guys whose careers still are ascending. Speed is such a significant component of being a top-level defensive back, and I question how many "mid/late-career" players at those positions are true standouts anymore. That said, the Steelers did send out feelers last March to gauge Darrelle Revis' interest in returning to his hometown. His interest didn't line up with their interest.
ELI H. LIRA FROM CHIHUAHUA, CHIHUAHUA, MEXICO:
First of all, I enjoy reading this segment – and laugh my tail off with some of the answers. My question is: what would happen if both winners of the Wild Card Round games defeated the No. 1 and No. 2 seeded teams in the Divisional Round? Who would get homefield advantage? I ask because it seems more probable than not that the Steelers go into the playoffs as a Wild Card.
The Wild Card teams will enter the playoffs seeded fifth and six. If they both win, the teams remaining in the pool will be the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds – which have a bye through the Wild Card Round – and then the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds. If the Nos. 5 and 6 seeds eliminate the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds in the Divisional Round, then the No. 5 seed would host the No. 6 seed in the Conference Championship Game.
WES WILSON from Waco, TX:
I am a Steelers fan from way back. I'll never forget, at age 13, when the Cowboys played the Steelers when Terry Hanratty was the starting quarterback, and man, the Steelers were bad. I am now a 59-year-old man and my bucket list is to visit Latrobe for training camp and then attend a game at Heinz Field. Will the Steelers play Dallas in Pittsburgh, and when?
Steelers Nation has traveled everywhere this season, making every road game feel like a home game. To the best fans in the world, the Steelers want to thank you Steelers Nation, for all of the support!
Since you're 59, that means you were born in 1956, and so it was 1969 when you were 13. In 1969, the Steelers hosted the Cowboys on Dec. 7 at Pitt Stadium in a game Dallas won, 10-7. Hanratty started for the Steelers, and he completed 3-of-17 passes (17.6 percent) for 17 yards, with no touchdowns, no interceptions, and a rating of 39.6, and the Steelers finished 1-13 in a season that was the first for both Chuck Noll and Joe Greene. The Steelers are scheduled to host the Cowboys during the 2016 NFL regular season, which is next year. The dates and times of games aren't released by the NFL until late April, typically.**
MICHAEL MCKIBBEN FROM GREENVILLE, N.C.:
With the success of Chris Boswell and the struggles for so many placekickers around the NFL this season, do you see the Steelers trying to use either Boswell or Shaun Suisham as a trading piece to try to get one of the late-round picks back that were given up in the trades for Brandon Boykin and Josh Scobee?
Just to catch everyone up, the Steelers traded a fifth-round pick to the Eagles for Brandon Boykin, a sixth-round pick to the Jaguars for Josh Scobee, and they got a seventh-round pick from the Giants for Brad Wing. Boswell is signed through the 2016 season, and he is due to make $525,000 next year. Shaun Suisham is signed through the 2018 season, and his base salaries over the next three seasons are: $2.4 million in 2016, $2.4 million in 2017, and $2.4 million in 2018. I offer those salary numbers for informational purposes only, because in a trade, the team acquiring the player inherits his contract. I am not reporting salary numbers to imply what I believe the Steelers should do. Typically though, trades are made during the time between the opening of training camps and the conclusion of the preseason. Teams often are reluctant to make a move before then, because they first usually want to see what they have in the players they have under contract. Maybe it turns out the same way the competition for the punting job did – with the Steelers keeping one (Jordan Berry) and trading one (Brad Wing).
JESS MOORE FROM AKRON, OH:
Was Chuck Noll fired? Jon Gruden said during the fourth quarter of the Monday night game between the Giants and the Dolphins that Noll was fired.
Chuck Noll resigned. He was not fired.
ALLEN JACKSON FROM GREENVILLE, S.C.:
With Lawrence Timmons not having quite the year we'd hoped for, do you see him back next year? If he's not with us, we look like we have "good depth" at the position.
Who exactly is "we?" And regardless of what "we's hopes" might have been, I can tell you that Lawrence Timmons is not a disappointment to anyone here, and I also can tell you Timmons is better than any of the "good depth" the Steelers have at the inside linebacker position. Tell "we" for me that he's out of his mind.
JAMIE MOYER FROM LAREDO, TX:
Thanks for your shows and features on the website. Living in South Texas (on the border), it's rare to find Steelers stuff anywhere, especially on TV. The weekend before the St. Louis game, I drove past a full tractor trailer rig customized to the teeth with Steelers logos. That led me to believe it belonged to the team. It was coming up from Mexico, based on our location. Laredo is the largest inland port in the country, so I was wondering where it was coming from and why it was down here?
I have to admit, there have been 1,000 smart-aleck responses running through my head since I first read this question, but in the interest of political correctness, I'm thinking it best to play it straight. The Steelers don't own any tractor-trailers, and so the one you saw is owned by some other entity, and I have no idea what it was hauling or where it originated.
COLIN BACHYNSKI FROM REGINA, CANADA:
Would you see the Steelers giving Alejandro Villanueva a look at tight end? In the video of him at tight end he looks to have decent hands and speed. Gronkowski is 6-foot-6, 265 pounds. Alejandro is 6-9, 320, which is intimidating to say the least for cornerbacks, safeties, and linebackers.
Good plan. Imagine how tough it'll be for Ryan Shazier to cover him after he moves to safety.
MIKEKI KINJO FROM HONOLULU, HI:
Aloha! Is Maurkice Pouncey coming back to play this season?
I have no idea, but my guess would be: no, Maurkice Pouncey is not coming back to play this season. And Aloha, right back at you.
Members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra stopped by the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex to play some holiday music for the team.
DAVE SAVOLAINE FROM KENSINGTON, MD:
Out of interest in figuring out what offseason holes the team will have to fill, who are the top candidates from the current practice squad to make the final roster next season? How hard will the team try to re-sign the injured Kelvin Beachum, the solid Ramon Foster, or the still-hasn't-panned-out Mike Adams? And are Sammie Coats and Doran Grant developing fast enough that the team won't need veteran free agents like Darrius Heyward-Bey and Brandon Boykin on the roster?
You do realize the Steelers are 8-5, about to host the 10-3 Denver Broncos, and are in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt, right? That this Steelers team has been identified by many members of the media covering the NFL as a team that nobody's going to want to face in the playoffs, right? There is still so much left to THIS season right now, so why would you be worrying about NEXT season? And also, understand that whatever I could make up to answer your questions absolutely could change based on what happens through the rest of THIS season. My advice to you would be to enjoy the here-and-now, because as a Steelers fan you actually have a here-and-now worth following.
DAVID RUDIN FROM MANITOU SPRINGS, CO:
How do you account for the Steelers doing so well when it comes to receivers? Is Richard Mann that gifted of a coach and/or have they just done better in the scouting?