Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Game Day Week 3

Let's get to it:

UNIFORM NOTE: The Steelers will wear white jerseys today against the Eagles in Philadelphia.

The Steelers have not won in Philadelphia since 1965, which was 51 years and three stadiums ago. Cursed or what?


ANSWER: In between that 1965 victory and today, there have been eight straight Steelers losses to the Eagles in Philadelphia, but the curse thing really doesn't seem to apply because two of those Steelers teams that lost in Philadelphia during the streak went on to win the Super Bowl that same season. The 1979 Steelers, who won Super Bowl XIV, lost to the Eagles, 17-14; and the 2008 Steelers, who won Super Bowl XLIII, lost in Philadelphia, 15-6.**

I know that this question is based purely on my own personal preference, but I can't help it. I'm old school. I like the old block numbers on the uniforms. Any chance of the Steelers going back to them on their jerseys?

ANSWER: Doubtful. Very, very doubtful.

The trip to Philadelphia this weekend, will the team fly or travel by bus?

ANSWER: The only bus trip on the Steelers' schedule is Cleveland. The team travels by charter flight on every other road trip.

What makes the Eagles so tough to beat in Philadelphia throughout the years for the Steelers? The Steelers have lost their last 8 games there, dating back to 1965. Neither Chuck Noll's great teams of the 1970s, nor Bill Cowher's teams of the 1990s, ever won in Philadelphia? Is that correct?

ANSWER: That is correct. Chuck Noll was 0-4 in Philadelphia, with losses in 1969, 1970, 1979, and 1991. Bill Cowher's only game in Philadelphia was a loss in 1997. But winning in Philadelphia is hardly an indicator of a great Steelers coach, because the last one to win a game there was Mike Nixon, whose 1965 team was 2-12, and he was fired after that one season. The Steelers' last win in Philadelphia came by a score of 20-14, and it featured two defensive touchdowns – a 14-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Willie Daniel, and an 82-yard pick-six by Jim Bradshaw. The Steelers were dominated in every statistical category, but the Eagles turned the ball over five times.

With Philadelphia's quarterback, Carson Wentz, making only his third NFL start and never having seen the different blitzes that the Pittsburgh defense has to offer, will this be a game where coordinator Keith Butler really brings the blitz back that we haven't seen in first two games of this season?

ANSWER: This is what Coach Mike Tomlin said about how the Steelers could apply pressure to rookie Carson Wentz: "It can be physical pressure provided by your defense, or it can be circumstantial pressure provided by your offense in putting them in an environment in which they're uncomfortable and have to operate maybe outside of the bounds of which they planned to work." If the Steelers are successful in getting the Eagles offense into third-and-long situations, I would imagine Wentz can expect to see some blitz packages in those situations. But if whatever approach Butler takes yields only one offensive touchdown by the Eagles, the strategy will deserve to be called a success.

Which player if any by end of season do you feel will be the additional X-factor our offense needs besides Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, and Le'Veon Bell?


Here is a look at the statistical leaders for both the Steelers and Eagles heading into Sunday's game at Lincoln Financial Field.

ANSWER: Markus Wheaton, and he should be making his 2016 debut today.**

Our game today is against the Philadelphia Eagles, and Alejandro Villanueva played there some years ago. Do you know why they would let this mountain of a man get away without noticing his other talents and attributes?

ANSWER: Remember, Al Villanueva was recruited to be a tight end at West Point, and there he also played some offensive line, some defensive line, and even some wide receiver as a 282-pound senior. Clearly, Villanueva was going to be a project for an NFL team, and the Eagles tried him as a defensive end. Based on the fact the Eagles like their defensive ends to be big, quick, and athletic, that's not a stretch. Mike Tomlin looked at Villanueva and saw something different, and he happened to be right.

Why don't the Eagles have their kicker on their injury report? He was obviously in pain during the Bears game. And he couldn't kick very well either.

ANSWER: That's not how it works. During weeks in which they play on Sunday, teams have to release practice reports on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. All players who miss practice, or are limited participants in a practice, are to be listed on that day's practice report along with the body part responsible for that status. If Eagles kicker Caleb Sturgis wasn't forced to miss a practice or wasn't limited in a practice by an injury, then he doesn't have to be listed on the practice report. Pain and/or poor performance don't matter.

I don't know how I feel about the Eagles comparing their rookie quarterback – Carson Wentz – to Ben Roethlisberger. How do you feel about that?

ANSWER: To be clear, it's not the Eagles making that comparison, but the media and fans making that comparison. I remember back in 1996-97, Eagles fans were ready to anoint Bobby Hoying after a good start or two, and he ended with a career 53.5 completion percentage and a 64.3 passer rating. Eagles fans also booed Donovan McNabb on the day he was drafted. In my mind, this is fairly conclusive evidence that Eagles fans aren't a discerning group when it comes to evaluating quarterback talent. I'm not predicting Carson Wentz is the next Bobby Hoying, but comparing him to Ben Roethlisberger after two NFL starts isn't fair to either guy.

I consider myself a good fan, but I have been very confused about two topics I keep reading about in just about every Steelers chat forum: First, it's people complaining about the defense's lack of sacks and giving up too many yards. I could possibly understand this in college football where you have to impress poll voters, but in the pros a win is a win, and that is really all that matters. Secondly, people gripe about the coaching and the scouting. I look at it as that I'm a fan of the greatest franchise to ever play sports and am in no way qualified to second-guess its decisions from the outside with very limited information. My question is am I missing something that as a fan I should know? Am I not as good of a fan that I think I am? It seems to me why complain or second-guess such great success?

ANSWER: You're neither missing something, nor are you lacking as a fan. Sports should be enjoyable, and I've come to learn people have different ways to enjoy themselves. Largely, I agree with your approach, but there also is a difference between being a loyal fan and a gullible one. I will admit, I don't get it when fans complain about things that didn't happen, and I also believe there is in some a need to place blame for everything that happens. But fans can choose to "enjoy" their favorite football team in whatever way makes them happy. What I would suggest to you is that you spend far less time on message boards, if what you're reading there is annoying you.

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