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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Jan. 10

Let's get to it:

WALLACE HORTON FROM HYATTSVILLE, MD: Do you think we need to reassess how we evaluate tight ends? I see good looking young tight ends all around the league, but we never seem to be able to draft any of them.
ANSWER: Since the Steelers made Heath Miller a No. 1 pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, they have drafted seven tight ends – three on the seventh round, three on the fifth round, and one on the third round. You don't get the kind of tight end you're talking about picking the position at the stages of the draft where the Steelers have been picking them. General Manager Kevin Colbert was the head of the personnel department in 2005, as he is now, so he knows one when he sees one. It's just that the Steelers have chosen to address other needs earlier in drafts, and I agree with them that there are other positions on a team more worthy of No. 1 and No. 2 picks than tight end.

BUDDY POWELL FROM FORT MYERS, FL: I wish someone could explain to me how T.J. Watt did not get the Defensive Player of the Year Award?
ANSWER: I can explain why T.J. Watt didn't get the 2020 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award: He didn't get it because the winner hasn't been announced yet. The NFL will announce the winner as part of its NFL Honors program, which airs the night before the Super Bowl. Anybody can pick somebody as their defensive player of the year, but the winner of the only award that counts won't be known until the night before the Super Bowl.

MARGARET LONGAZEL FROM BOCA RATON, FL: I believe most football fans agree that Jim Brown is Cleveland's all-time greatest player. What is the Steelers overall record vs. his Browns' team during his career with Cleveland?
ANSWER: Let me just begin with this: There is no rational argument against Jim Brown being the greatest player in the history of the Cleveland Browns franchise. Anyway, in the 18 games against the Browns during Jim Browns' nine-year career, the Steelers were 6-12.

CAL SABO FROM AKRON, OH: If Matt Feiler is healthy enough to play, would having him play right tackle help the running game?
ANSWER: If Matt Feiler is healthy enough to play, I don't believe Coach Mike Tomlin is going to make multiple moves to accommodate his return.

J.C. LARKIN FROM GALLATIN, TN: Do you know of any Super Bowl era teams that opted to employ a special teams strategy utilizing two different kickers possessing different skill-sets? After seeing Matthew Wright's precision accuracy in his NFL debut(s) and his record setting collegiate career for said accuracy, wouldn't it be worth consideration for a team to retain a "can't-miss-inside-50-yards" kicker, alongside a boomer who can be counted on to handle kickoffs?
ANSWER: Beyond committing an extra game day roster spot to a second kicker, you're also suggesting committing two spots on the 53-man roster to kickers, and salary cap space to two kickers. Not an efficient use of resources at all. And if you're actually suggesting the use of Matthew Wright to handle field goals inside 50 yards and relegate Chris Boswell to kickoffs, I sleep well at night knowing you have no decision-making authority with the Steelers. Wright's "record-setting college career for said accuracy" had him convert 77.5 percent of his field goal attempts during his time at Central Florida, with a one-year best of 85.7 percent. Boswell's career percentage in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE is 88 percent, and he is 15-for-15 over his career in the playoffs.

MIKE HOLT FROM JACKSONVILLE, FL: So much talk about Ben Roethlisberger's career made me wonder if any of the great Steelers of the 1970s took over their starting positions in similar fashion (Maddox injured, Ben takes over; end of story), or were they for the most part just positions won in training camp battles?
ANSWER: When Jack Lambert reported for his rookie training camp at Saint Vincent College during the summer of 1974, there was no spot for him in the starting lineup. Manning the outside linebacker spots were a couple of Pro Bowl players in Andy Russell and Jack Ham, and middle linebacker Henry Davis had been voted to the Pro Bowl after the 1972 season. But because 1974 was a strike year and the veterans were on the picket line when camps opened, rookies got an extended look at the start of the summer. Lambert was being used as a backup to Ham, but then shortly after the veterans started trickling in as the preseason began, Davis sustained a neck injury in the penultimate preseason game, and Lambert was moved to the middle. Davis had to retire because of the injury, and Lambert never left the starting lineup.

MARK WAKELEY FROM DENTON, TX: Do player and team statistics continue on during the playoffs or are they separate? If T.J. Watt gets two sacks against the Browns today, does his yearly total increase to 17? If not, why keep them separated?
ANSWER: Both team statistics and individual player statistics are separate for the regular season and the playoffs. T.J. Watt's sack total for the 2020 season is 15, and it will remain at 15 regardless of what he does in that category during the playoffs. The NFL keeps them separate because that's the fair way to do it, because not every player gets the opportunity to add to his statistics through extra games in the playoffs.

SCOTT BUCHANAN FROM OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA: I don't know what the proper term for the play is but many teams are using that little flip to a runner in motion who receives it just as he passes in front of the quarterback. If it is muffed, is it a fumble or incomplete pass?
ANSWER: If the ball is moving forward when it's transferred from the quarterback to the runner/receiver, it's an incomplete pass.

PAUL MARINACCIO FROM FRANKLIN LAKES, NJ: If a team decides to go for a 1-point conversion after a touchdown, and they (for example) muff the snap but end up scoring via pass or run, are they awarded one point or two?

GUY COURTNEY FROM FREDERICKSBURG, VA: I haven't heard anyone say anything about the last play of the game, but do you think the Steelers deliberately missed the 2-point conversion to keep from taking a meaningless game into overtime?
ANSWER: I do not think the Steelers did anything deliberate to avoid overtime on that 2-point play, but you might want to check with the game officials who ignored a pretty obvious pass interference penalty when a Browns defender came over Chase Claypool's back and made contact before the ball arrived. Maybe they wanted to avoid overtime.

AL ALVAREZ FROM LEXINGTON, KY: Field goal attempts are measured by where the ball is kicked. Why aren't punts measured by where the punter makes contact with the ball as well?
ANSWER: Why are touchdowns worth six points and field goals worth three points? Why is it 10 yards for a first down? Why do teams get three timeouts per half? The answer to all of these questions is the same: Because that's the rule. Simple.

JOE CURRY FROM MANASSAS PARK, VA: It is reported that Alex Van Pelt will assume the play calling duties in the game this Sunday. Will he also make all the head coaching decisions during the game, or has one of the other coaches been designated as head coach for this game?
ANSWER: I work for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Asked and Answered appears on What the Cleveland Browns do regarding their coaching staff is neither my interest nor my concern.