Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Dec. 9

Let's get to it:

MATT MULLANEY FROM MIDLAND, NC: After Mr. Planthaber's question in the Dec. 7 edition of Asked and Answered, did Chuck Noll not win the UPI AFC Coach of the Year in 1972?
ANSWER: Yes, but the question had to with whether Chuck Noll ever won the NFL Coach of the Year Award. But as you point out, n 1972 Chuck Noll won the UPI AFC Coach of the Year Award, and Green Bay's Dan Devine won the UPI NFC Coach of the Year Award. Maybe people might view this as a slight distinction with the NFL Coach of the Year Award, but since UPI handed their "award" to two coaches each season from 1970-96, in my view Noll was not the recipient of the UPI Coach of the Year Award. I now realize I should have been more specific.

JAY COHEN FROM WILTON, CT: Have you gotten any emails this week, as you have referenced in the recent past, complaining about the mistake that General Manager Kevin Colbert and Coach Mike Tomlin made in trading for Ahkello Witherspoon? There is no victory on Sunday over the Ravens without him.
ANSWER: I have not, and I also have stopped getting emails about how foolish it was for Steelers President Art Rooney II to sign Cam Heyward to a four-year contract extension on Sept. 7, 2020 when he was 31 years old.

ANTONIO CAMPOS FROM TORREON, COAHUILA, MEXICO: Is a sack credited when the play is a designed run by the quarterback? What happens when it's a wildcat formation, and a running back gets the snap from center?
ANSWER: When a quarterback runs, a judgement is made by the on-site stats crew whether there was any attempt to throw the ball, and if it's decided there was no attempt to throw the ball, the play is scored as a run, and if tackled behind the line of scrimmage there is no sack recorded. If a running back is lined up in the wildcat, takes the snap and runs the ball, that would certainly be scored as a run as well.

BRIAN BOYCE FROM SPRINGBORO, PA: I believe in Ben and do not believe he needs put out to pasture. When left alone to call his own plays our offense is much more effective. I would love to see Ben go no-huddle from the first play of the game. Use the coordinator's game plan but call his own plays. Do you think the offense is significantly better with Ben calling his own plays or with plays coming from the booth?
ANSWER: I would be in favor of the Steelers utilizing tempo on offense more often/regularly during games through the rest of this regular season, because it should be clear to everyone that Ben Roethlisberger is the team's most reliable and dynamic offensive weapon, and it seems to me to be a waste of a great resource during what figures to be his final season not to be taking advantage of his talent/experience. I also don't know it's an absolute that Roethlisberger is calling all of the plays whenever the Steelers are using tempo/hurry-up/no-huddle and that Matt Canada is calling the plays in all other situations.

PETE CRAFT FROM CONNEAUT LAKE, PA: I've been around long enough to have seen Bobby Layne kick his own extra points at Forbes Field. That said, like most fans I probably know far less than I think I do. Am I wrong to believe that Ben Roethlisberger is doing a much better job calling plays than offensive coordinator Matt Canada, and if this so shouldn't adjustments be made?
ANSWER: As explained in the answer to the above submission, I'm not absolutely certain when it's Ben Roethlisberger calling the plays and when it's Matt Canada. Remember, the quarterback has a radio receiver in his helmet, and the sideline can be communicating with him until there are 15 seconds left on the play clock.

SID MCGUIRE FROM INDIANAPOLIS, IN: Do you think that at this point it would be a good time to let Dwayne Haskins have some meaningful playing time in a meaningful game considering what we've seen for the past 12 games?
ANSWER: Did you not watch the game against the Ravens last Sunday? If you did, you would realize the Steelers still are very much in the playoff race, and that their best chance of getting there is with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback. And by the way, Dwayne Haskins got some meaningful playing time (it was for him, anyway) in the preseason finale vs. Carolina when he was going against what largely was the Panthers' first-team defense.

PETER CLARK FROM NEWBERRY, SC: What the heck is the deal with that fourth quarter kickoff by Chris Boswell that went out of bounds around the 3-yard line, but then there was a penalty flag that put it at the 40-yard line?
ANSWER: The short answer is: that's the rule. In the NFL, when a kickoff goes out of bounds beyond 10 yards of where the ball is kicked but before it reaches the end zone, it's a penalty, and the infraction calls for the ball to be placed 25 yards from the spot of the kick. NFL kickoffs happen from the 35-yard line, and 25 yards from the spot puts the ball at the 40-yard line and the receiving team takes possession there.

ANDRE ARTIS FROM SOUTH CHESTERFIELD, VA: How do Steelers scouts go about effectively evaluating a player who's on another team`s practice squad? Just wondering how we identified Adams as a good prospect.
ANSWER: In the specific case of the Steelers, what they often do is start by referring to their own evaluations they compiled when the particular player was coming out for the NFL Draft. This is what Coach Mike Tomlin said about Montravius Adams in the run-up to the game against the Ravens: "We liked him a lot when he came out in the draft. I went down to Auburn for his Pro Day and took him out to dinner and all of those things. And that often reflects the moves that we make in free agency or in the open market. Oftentimes we have a past relationship where there was something about him that was attractive to us. He's big and strong and athletic. When he came out, he was somewhat raw from a technical standpoint, we realized that, and that's probably one of the reasons why he's bounced around the league a little and he was available to us. But the talent is attractive to us. It was attractive to us then. He's had a good week's work. We're excited about giving him an opportunity to put his hand in the pile and contribute this week."

Besides that, there has to be video of the player even if it's only preseason, and the Steelers – or any other team – can access that through NFL Films.

LIONAL BEASLEY JR. FROM BLUEFIELD, WV: I have been a die-hard Steelers fan since my uncle, Tom Beasley (my dad's brother) was drafted by the team in 1978. I believe Ben Roethlisberger has more than lived up to the Steelers standard and I will miss watching him play as much as I miss watching my uncle play. What are the chances that when Ben retires the team brings him back to mentor a young quarterback and hire him as a quarterback coach?
ANSWER: My thought is that once Ben Roethlisberger retires from professional football, he will be most interested in spending time with his family – his wife and three children. Maybe he does a little informal coaching/athletic mentoring with his daughter and two sons.

WILLIAM PALAICH FROM CLERMONT, FL: I thought Ben Roethlisberger played well against the Ravens, but I still hear from the "experts" that he is done after this year and the Steelers would be interested in acquiring Aaron Rodgers. Do you see that ever playing out and would it even make sense?
ANSWER: Aaron Rodgers is signed through the 2022 season, and trading for him would mean he would be owed $26.5 million in base salary plus a $500,000 workout bonus for that year. And it's a certainty the Packers would expect some serious draft compensation for parting with a player, who while 38 years old very well could win his fourth MVP Award in 2021 and his second in a row. So to answer your two-part question: no, and in my opinion, no.

NATE GEISLER FROM BOISE. ID: What is the Steelers' record on Thursday Night Football?
ANSWER: The Steelers are 11-11 on Thursday Night Football, including 3-9 on the road.

TOM LAUDICINA FROM NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ: It seems Steelers-Ravens games always come down to the last play. In the Mike Tomlin vs. John Harbaugh era, could you tell us how many of their 30 games have been decided by 7 points or fewer?
ANSWER: Following last Sunday's 20-19 victory by the Steelers over the Ravens, Mike Tomlin is 14-13 vs. John Harbaugh in the regular season, 2-1 vs. him in the playoffs, for an overall record of 16-14. Of those 30 games, 21 have been decided by 7 points or fewer.

JIM SWARTZ FROM CHESHIRE, CT: When I watched the replay of the Ravens' failed 2-point conversion attempt, it is apparent T.J. Watt forced the errant throw by Lamar Jackson. The throw was rushed and difficult for Mark Andrews to catch. But Watt doesn't get credit for that.
ANSWER: I'm not sure exactly what you mean by writing that T.J. Watt doesn't get credit. If you mean statistical credit, Watt is credited with a pressure on the play. If you're referring to another type of credit, I can remind you that Watt signed a five-year contract in early September worth a reported $112 million, with $80 million guaranteed, which made him the NFL's highest-paid defensive player. That's the kind of credit that would interest me.

DONNIE PULLIN FROM CUMBERLAND, MD: Late in the Ravens game we declined a 10-yard penalty that would have made it second-and-24. Shouldn't you accept that penalty since the yardage means more than the down at that point?
ANSWER: Does it? Or is it smarter to allow Lamar Jackson only one snap to make 14 yards as opposed to two snaps to make 24, since he is capable of running the ball into the end zone from any spot on the field? I don't know if there's a definitive right or wrong answer to your question, but I do know that if it was me making the decision, the issue of how many times Jackson got to touch the ball would be a factor. As it was, Jackson completed an 22-yard pass on the next play, which if done your way, would have set up a third-and-2, and that's a very makeable down-and-distance.

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