Skip to main content

Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Feb. 6

Let's get to it:

DENO DE CIANTIS FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: I was stunned to learn in a recent Asked and Answered that Roger Staubach was a 10th-round pick. How do Staubach's stats match up against Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger?
ANSWER: Before I dive into the statistics of the three quarterbacks, I think it's interesting to mention that not only was Roger Staubach a 10th-round pick in the 1964 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, he also was a 16th-round pick in the 1964 AFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. Staubach chose the more established NFL for a career that lasted 11 seasons following the fulfillment of his 5 year stint in the military as a result of his education at the Naval Academy.

• For his NFL career, Staubach completed 1,685-of-2,958 (57.0 percent) for 22,700 yards, with 153 touchdowns, 109 interceptions, and a rating of 83.4. His record as a starter during the regular season was 85-29, and it was 11-6 in the playoffs. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 1985.

• Terry Bradshaw completed 2,025-of-3,901 (51.9 percent) for 27,989 yards, with 212 touchdowns, 210 interceptions, and a rating of 70.9. His record as a starter during the regular season was 107-51, and it was 14-5 in the playoffs. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 1989.

• Ben Roethlisberger completed 5,440-of-8,443 (64.4 percent) for 64,088 yards, with 418 touchdowns, 211 interceptions, and a rating of 93.5. His record as a starter during the regular season was 165-81-1, and it was 13-10 in the playoffs. Since Roethlisberger retired after the 2021 season, he is not eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame until the voting happens for the Class of 2027.

WAYNE PHILLIPS FROM SPRING HILL, FL: After Kenny Pickett's concussions he seems to be playing more worried about the pass rush than looking for open receivers. When Mason Rudolph took over as the starter he stood tall in the pocket, and you can watch him go through his reads. Do you see the same thing?
ANSWER: The Steelers have been candid about the belief that Kenny Pickett needs to take a step in his development during what is going to be his third NFL season, and one of the areas of improvement undoubtedly will be his tendency to bail out of the pocket prematurely. I personally am not willing to assign that habit to his previous injury history because I'm no medical professional. But when Steelers President Art Rooney II said, "Mason Rudolph came in and I think showed what we're capable of when we do get quality play at the quarterback position," I believe part of that assessment can be traced to Rudolph waiting for the routes to develop and then delivering the ball to open receivers. I'm sure that's one area offensive coordinator Arthur Smith will target when he begins working with Pickett.

DAN SANTUCCI FROM AIKEN, SC: What do you think Kenny Pickett thinks about his new offensive coordinator? I noticed that Baker Mayfield recently wants to know who his new offensive coordinator will be before he entertains signing on again with Tampa Bay.
ANSWER: I have no idea what Kenny Pickett's impressions are of the Steelers decision to hire Arthur Smith as the offensive coordinator, and it would be totally unfair for me to speculate on what his feelings might be. But any attempt to draw a correlation between Pickett and Baker Mayfield's supposed intention to wait until the Buccaneers hire a new offensive coordinator before deciding whether to re-sign is meaningless. Pickett is heading into the third season on the contract he signed as a rookie, and a third-year NFL player has no options other than to show up and continue to work on his craft with whomever the team owning his rights assigns to that job. Mayfield is a 6-year veteran with nearly 21,000 career passing yards to go along with 130 touchdowns and 74 interceptions, and he can become an unrestricted free agent in March who certainly would attract some interest on the open market. As mentioned, Pickett is heading into his third NFL season who has around 4,500 passing yards to go along with 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and absolutely no ability to shop his services.

LUKE HAGEN FROM MARS, PA: Do you believe there is more upside in keeping the quarterback room the same or bringing in a veteran like Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson, or maybe even a Jacoby Brissett, and either getting rid of Mitch Trubisky or not re-signing Mason Rudolph for whatever reason?
ANSWER: Kirk Cousins (35 years old) and Russell Wilson (35, as well) both have made over $200 million during their careers as long-time starting NFL quarterbacks, and I cannot imagine a realistic scenario where either would be interested in coming to the Steelers for a chance to compete with Kenny Pickett. And on top of that, Russell is still under contract to the Broncos, and Cousins won't become an unrestricted free agent until the final 4 years of his contract void on March 13. And with all due respect to Jacoby Brissett, I would rather have Mason Rudolph.

MARIO MOSESSO FROM CENTERVILLE OH: Should Justin Fields become available, how aggressive do you think the Steelers should be in going after him?
ANSWER: I do not envision the Steelers being willing to part with the kind of draft capital it would require to bring Justin Fields to Pittsburgh via trade. Also, Fields will be entering his fourth NFL season in 2024, and the cost of exercising his fifth-year option (for 2025) is expected to be in the range of $22-plus million. I believe the Steelers are looking for new coordinator Arthur Smith to help Kenny Pickett take the next step in his development, as opposed to committing significant draft capital plus cap space to bringing in a replacement for him.

DAVID PRICE FROM CRYSTAL LAKE, IL: I want to congratulate Elandon Roberts for the way he stepped up and played after Kwon Alexander and Cole Holcomb were lost to season-ending injuries. Will Kwon and Cole be back and ready to play next season?
ANSWER: In addition to rehabilitating an Achilles injury, Kwon Alexander can become an unrestricted free agent in March, and Cole Holcomb sustained a season-ending knee injury in early November. Expecting someone to be ready to return to play for the start of the following season with those respective injuries is hardly a given.

SCOTT RANDALL from CONWAY, SC: We know there will be a quarterback room full of competition, and we know there are other players who need to be dealt with regarding their contract status. But I still want to know if we will finally go after a new punter?
ANSWER: At his season-ending news conference, Coach Mike Tomlin responded to a question about the punting with, "I'll acknowledge that Pressley (Harvin) wasn't consistent enough particularly down the stretch." That leads me to believe there will be competition for that job as well.

FRANK FOGGIA FROM SAULT STE MARIE, ONTARIO, CANADA: I'm really excited about the team's hire at offensive coordinator and have been reading about Arthur Smith's past success with the Tennessee Titans. During Smith's time as the offensive coordinator with the Titans, who was their offensive line coach?
ANSWER: During the 2019 and 2020 seasons when Arthur Smith was the Titans offensive coordinator, Keith Carter was the team's offensive line coach. Carter currently serves as the New York Jets' offensive line coach and run game coordinator.

RONN RODEN FROM MARIETTA, OH: How come the NFL just does not have one bye week at midseason for the whole league? Having an early bye week seems like a disadvantage for a team, while having a bye week late in the season helps a team heal up for making a playoff run.
ANSWER: The NFL has no interest in shutting down during a week in the middle of the regular season, because that's what would be the result if all teams had their bye weeks at the same point. Besides, the NFL's broadcast partners would be adamantly opposed to such an arrangement as well.

JULIAN LEGLER FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: Do you think that a quarterback could really be the answer to all the Steelers' problems?
ANSWER: Tell you what: Give me the 2008 version of Ben Roethlisberger (6-foot-5, 240 pounds, 26 years old with 4 full NFL seasons as a full-time starter's worth of experience, a Super Bowl win on his resume, and an overall 5-2 record as a starter in the playoffs) and I'll take my chances.