Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Game Day Week 9

Let's get to it:

KELLY MEANS FROM FORT WORTH, TX:
What color jerseys are the Pittsburgh Steelers wearing today for the game against the Ravens? Also what color jerseys are they wearing against the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 13?

ANSWER: The Steelers will be wearing their white jerseys today against the Ravens. The game against Dallas is at Heinz Field. The Steelers wear black at home.

RUDY TAPIA FROM MANTECA, CA:
Have not seen or heard a word about whether Bud Dupree  is available to play this weekend. Can you provide any information?

ANSWER: The first thing to understand is that there's a difference between being available and being able when it comes to Bud Dupree's path back to the active roster. Based on when he was placed on injured reserve – Sept. 4 – Dupree is eligible to come off that list under the designated-to-return provision, but since he hasn't it can be assumed he's not ready. And what fans should try to understand is that it's a situation where he's either physically capable of returning to practice or he's not. There are no stages. It's not like baking a cake, where you can look at the oven timer and see that in five more minutes it'll be done. My personal belief is that Dupree will be the Steelers' designated-to-return player this season, and we should learn something definitive sooner rather than later. Outside of that, all I can advise is to be patient.

PIERCE SMITH FROM MT. JULIET, TN:
Is there the possibility of a late return for Senquez Golson come playoff time? If so how would he affect this struggling defense if given this opportunity?

ANSWER: As stated in the previous answer, I believe it's going to be Bud Dupree as the player the Steelers designate to return from the injured reserve list. Golson is a possibility, but there can only be one player brought back from the injured reserve list under the designated-to-return provision. To me, Dupree is the much more likely/realistic candidate.

NICK OSBORNE FROM AUSTIN, TX:
People who think William Gay should start over Landry Jones are the same people who think Tim Tebow deserves "one more fair shot because be CAN play quarterback." Anyway, I know Mike Tomlin will play whomever gives us the best shot and a semi-healthy Ben Roethlisberger is more likely to produce better than Landry Jones, and this week is potentially the most important game of the year. Aside from that, what are your thoughts on Roethlisberger playing against Baltimore vs. resting him to insure he's healthy, and then trusting Jones to get the win? I'm leaning towards a semi-healthy Ben, because Ben is Ben, but the risk could outweigh the reward.

ANSWER: While I understand and accept that there is no such thing as 100 percent healthy at this stage of an NFL season, the situation you describe would never happen. If Ben Roethlisberger is physically capable of playing against the Ravens, and he feels confident in the stability of his knee in that it will allow him to make the throws and move around and protect himself, and Coach Mike Tomlin also is satisfied he can do all those things, then he'll play. Anything less than that, and he won't. And holding a player out an extra week doesn't necessarily prevent a future injury.

JORDAN HABKA FROM DENVER, CO:
Is it possible we see Ladarius Green on the field this week?

ANSWER: It was a possibility, but since the Steelers didn't make a roster move to clear a spot for him on the 53-man roster, it's not happening. Ladarius Green, because he had no practice at all with the Steelers during the offseason program, training camp, the preseason, and the first couple of months of the regular season, figures to need some time. And the Steelers are taking the time available to them under the rules to give Green the best chance of contributing if/when he's added to the active roster.

NICK MITCHELL FROM GLEN-LYON, PA:
What was the lowest number of interceptions by a Steelers defense in a season, and did that team still make the playoffs?

ANSWER: In 1940, the Steelers finished their 11-game season with nine interceptions, which is the lowest single-season total in franchise history. That team, however, faced only 192 passing attempts that season, and with a 2-7-2 record it finished fourth in what was the five-team Eastern Division. The fewest interceptions by a Steelers team in a 12-game NFL season was 10 in 1955; the fewest in a 14-game season was 12, and that total was posted by both the 1964 and 1965 teams; and the fewest in a 16-game season was 10, and that total was posted by both the 2012 and 2013 teams. None of those teams made the playoffs.

GEORGE MESSENGER FROM CHICKASHA, OK:
Do you think that New England might be starting a trend with the recent trade of a soon-to-be overpaid free agents? The way that the system is set up, good teams have a high payroll and can't afford to keep them all.

ANSWER: Maybe I missed the memo, but when was it assured that Jamie Collins was getting a huge contract as a free agent? When he can't reach free agency for another five months? That's all speculation at this point, first of all. And if the player is helping you win games this season, why not continue to use his services and pay him what his contract stipulates in an effort to win another Lombardi Trophy? Would you rather have a conditional third-round compensatory pick in an upcoming draft, or a parade with a Lombardi Trophy? Bill Belichick and the Patriots are not being criticized for this because of their reputation, but not every decision made by even the smartest guy is the right one. Unless there are other factors involved that are unknown to the general public at this point – and that's a possibility – this trade makes no sense to me.

LEONARD FREDERICK FROM LUTHERSVILLE, GA:
Will the Steelers ever use a two-back set like they did in the 1970s with Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier? Or is it a thing in the past?

ANSWER: In the way you're thinking about a two-back set, it is a thing of the past. Offenses no longer deploy a Rocky Bleier-type complementary back, because there just aren't any players who have the multiple skill-set to provide what specialization can provide. And that's why you see offenses maybe substitute an extra tight end/H-back for the blocking, and an extra receiver for the catching. As for the running of the ball, that's done by one featured player at a time now.

OTIS JOHNSON FROM GERMANTOWN, MD:
I noticed that Markus Wheaton and Le'Veon Bell caught passes from Ben Roethlisberger when the Steelers went for 2-point conversions. Do Bell and Wheaton get credit for those 2 points?

ANSWER: Yes. Markus Wheaton and Le'Veon Bell each have been credited with scoring 2 points for those plays. And understand that points scored is the only statistic credited on a 2-point conversion attempt – there are no pass attempts or completions or rushes or catches or yards credited. Just points.

SAM TOPEROFF FROM SAINT-BONNET, FRANCE:
Not a question, just a compliment and a good reminiscence. I spent the 1987 and 1988 seasons in Pittsburgh, writing a book about the city and its team. The teams were poor, but I fell in love with the city – it's the closest I've come to the Brooklyn of my youth since a visit to Marseille. I believe I met you as a young writer in those days, but my memory now cannot be trusted. Here's the compliment: Your review of the new Chuck Noll book was absolutely wonderful – all your writing is clear and engaging, but that review took my breath away. Kudos, and, yes, I ordered the book.

By the way, when I interviewed Chuck Noll for my book, I asked him what he thought of the local media guys. He thought and said, "lampreys." I made believe I knew what that was and moved on. Later when I looked it up, I learned a lamprey is a blood-sucking underwater parasite. Whew. I read Asked and Answered and enjoy it a great deal. And, yes, I've moved to France, to an isolated and beautiful mountain valley. Key words: "isolated" and "beautiful."

ANSWER: Yes, we shared those 1987 and 1988 seasons, and you are being kind in describing them as "poor." Steelers fans deserve to know that "Lost Sundays" by Sam Toperoff is still available on Amazon.com. Here is an excerpt from one of the reviews of the book posted on the website: "The author takes the reader through the Pittsburgh Steelers' 1988 season. Although the team disappoints, the book certainly does not. Toperoff penetrates through superficial sports clichés to let the reader know the thoughts and feelings of Chuck Noll, Mike Webster, etc."

GREG PARSONS FROM JACKSON, NJ:
The Steelers have lost the last four games I have attended in person: 2014 at Baltimore; 2014 vs. Tampa Bay; 2014 at the New York Jets; and 2016 at Philadelphia. My buddy thinks I'm a jinx. Is that possible?

ANSWER: It is absolutely possible. In fact, you as a jinx is a much more likely cause of a Steelers' loss than turnovers, bad red zone efficiency, and missed tackles. Thank you for finally owning up to your role in those catastrophes.

LOGAN BAIN FROM CHESAPEAKE, VA:
Not trying to be rude and tell you how to do your job, but can you try answering some more intelligent questions? Seems like all I see are questions about Landry Jones needing to be replaced, and hardly any good questions get answered.

ANSWER: Not trying to be rude, but instead of writing that you're not trying to tell me how to do my job when in fact that's exactly what you're doing, how about sending an "intelligent question?" I answer the questions that are submitted. What I see is what you get.


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