LATROBE, Pa. – Let's get to it:
BEN ANDERSON FROM PORTLAND, OR: Contained in the most recent press release for the Hall of Honor was the following: "The Steelers Hall of Honor, established in 2017, is comprised of former players, coaches, and front office personnel who were integral in creating and maintaining the franchise's success dating back to when the team was founded back in 1933." Is that former players, coaches and front office personnel only who are eligible, or would people like Myron Cope be given consideration?
ANSWER: In answering your question, allow me to expand a bit on the "rules" for consideration for the Hall of Honor. Part of the criteria reads, "To be considered, a player must be retired at least three years and played a minimum of three seasons for the Steelers. Former coaches and contributors had to make significant contributions to the team and community." Myron Cope would fall under the category of "contributors," and his work in the community is highlighted by how he earmarked proceeds from the sale of the Terrible Towel to benefit the Allegheny Valley School, a private non-profit organization based in the Pittsburgh region that provides services to individuals with disabilities. I can tell you that Cope has been discussed by the Hall of Honor Selection Committee, and I can assure you he will be discussed again. I don't want to reveal too much about what goes on in those meetings, but my belief is that when it comes to Cope, it's more of an issue of "when" rather than "if."
JOE WERNER FROM WEST HENRIETTA, NY: There is understandably a great deal of anxiety around how the new rule allowing replay review of pass interference will play out. Given the uncertainty, is this something that could have been put in on a trial basis for the preseason only, then revisited after the season for inclusion in the 2020 regular season?
ANSWER: The rule that allows pass interference to be reviewed by instant replay was passed on a one-year trial basis. At the NFL Owners Meetings in March 2020, it will come up for another vote.
TONY LIPINSKI FROM CLARKSVILLE, TN: The Steelers had a season in which they had five shutouts. Is there any other team that has ever had that many shutouts in a season?
ANSWER: The 1976 Steelers posted five shutouts over the last eight games that season, and over the final nine games allowed a total of just 28 points. That indeed was a dominant defensive unit, but five shutouts in a season doesn't come close to the NFL's all-time record. In 1920, the Akron Pros finished 8-0-3 and were awarded the NFL Championship in a vote since there was no playoff system in place at that time to crown a champion on the field. That team posted 10 shutouts in 1920. The 1926 Pottsville Maroons and the 1934 Detroit Lions each posted seven shutouts. The 1926 Detroit Panthers, and the 1926 Frankfort Yellow Jackets each posted six shutouts.
DUSTIN ENOS FROM SARASOTA, FL: How many losing seasons have the Steelers had since 1933? And how many since Chuck Noll was hired as the coach?
ANSWER: The Steelers are about to embark on their 87th season in the National Football League, and over the course of the previous 86 they have posted 44 winning seasons, 33 losing seasons, and nine in which they finished .500. Since Chuck Noll was hired in 1969, the Steelers have posted 36 winning seasons, 10 losing seasons, and four in which they finished .500. Breaking that down by coach, Noll had 15 winning seasons, seven losing seasons, and one .500 season; Bill Cowher had 11 winning seasons, three losing seasons, and one .500 season; and Mike Tomlin has 10 winning seasons, zero losing seasons, and two .500 seasons.
PETER WALKER FROM WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA: Does a defense forcing an opponent into a three-and-out count as a takeaway?
ANSWER: No. The situation you describe is neither a takeaway for the defense nor a turnover for the offense.
JOHN COSTANZO FROM NEW YORK, NY: Do you think JuJu Smith-Schuster's production will go down with Antonio Brown not lined up across from him?
ANSWER: There are going to be a bunch of factors in play when it comes to JuJu Smith-Schuster's production in 2019, but what I can tell you now – four days into this training camp and two days since the pads went on – is that Smith-Schuster has looked really, really good so far. He's a better player than he was in either of his first two NFL training camps, and to me he looks faster on the field. He's catching every ball thrown to him, and his rapport with Ben Roethlisberger has been everything you would want, in my opinion. This kind of sounds like a fantasy football question to me, and in that respect I don't know what to tell you in terms of whether his specific individual statistics will be higher or lower than they were in 2018. But I believe, after seeing how Smith-Schuster prepared himself for this training camp and how he has performed so far – granted it's a small sample size – that he will be a valuable member of the Steelers offense and a pain for opposing defenses in 2019.
JORGE FLORES FROM GUADALAJARA, MEXICO: In your opinion, which position has more depth issues: outside linebacker, safety, or tight end?
ANSWER: Things can certainly change because of injuries, but I believe Anthony Chickillo and Ola Adeniyi will be able to provide quality depth at outside linebacker behind presumed starters Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt. At safety there are a bunch of candidates behind starters Terrell Edmunds and Sean Davis, and some of those guys could be playing cornerback right now. I generally like the assortment of talent the Steelers have in their defensive backfield, and the coaches' job is to sort that out over the rest of training camp and the preseason. That leaves tight end.
JOHN PUHALA FROM SPRINGFIELD, IL: With the drafting of Devin Bush and the free agent signing of Mark Barron, this gives the Steelers two fast inside linebackers for the first time in a while. Vince Williams is an extremely good player and leader, so could he become an outside linebacker who could replace Bud Dupree if he doesn't live up to his first-round draft pick status?
ANSWER: Nothing says it's officially the start of another football season quite like a position-change question.