Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: July 5

Let's get to it:

JASON GODFREY FROM ENOREE, SC: I was looking at Franco Harris' stats. I see he was selected to the Pro Bowl nine years in a row. Does any other Steelers player come close to that?
ANSWER: Franco Harris was voted to the Pro Bowl every season over the course of a nine-year span from 1972-80. The only player in franchise history to match that streak was Jack Lambert, whose nine Pro Bowl selections began with the 1975 season and ended with the 1983 season. Both Ernie Stautner and Mike Webster matched Harris' nine Pro Bowl appearances, but each of them accomplished that over a span of 10 seasons. Stautner was voted to nine Pro Bowls between 1952-61 but was not selected in 1954, and Webster was voted to his nine Pro Bowls from 1978-86, but he wasn't selected in 1986. As is the case with most things having to do with positive aspects of franchise history, Joe Greene was voted to 10 Pro Bowls, and his spanned the seasons from 1969-80. But since Greene wasn't selected in 1977, his streak was snapped at eight straight.

JON DOSSEY FROM DEL CITY, OK: Now that Minkah Fitzpatrick has signed his extension, the two most mentioned players up next for an extension are Chris Boswell and Diontae Johnson. Which of those two do you think is most likely to receive an extension first?
ANSWER: I take issue with the way you word your question. With contract extensions, it's not so much that a player "receives" one as much as a contract extension is agreed upon by the two sides. Based on that, I would guess the player most likely to come to an agreement on a contract extension is Chris Boswell, because I believe it will be difficult for the team and Johnson to agree on compensation within the contract.

RICK FRICK FROM ALBUQUERQUE, NM: The team has made quality additions and changes during the offseason. The defense Is good and close to being great, but it seems the defense is on the field too much. I am old-school and still believe that ball control and time-of-possession are critical to a successful outcome. It appears to me that the roster changes are tactically moving in this direction. Do teams in general, and the Steelers in particular, still focus on time-of-possession?
ANSWER: The Steelers averaged 29 minutes and 17 seconds of time of possession during the 2021 regular season, which placed them 22nd in the league in that statistic. But in today's NFL, simply possessing the ball on offense is not a recipe for victory, because that control of the football has to result in points scored, because as has been the case for some time, settling for field goals after a time-consuming drive is a certain path to defeat. In the Wild Card Round of the AFC Playoffs, the Chiefs defeated the Steelers, 42-21, and the time of possession for the game was split evenly at 30 minutes apiece between the teams. That time of possession would indicate a close game, but because Kansas City cashed in on its possessions with touchdowns, the game in fact turned into a rout. Possessing the ball can be important, but those possessions have to end up being fruitful.

JOSEPH YEVICH FROM COATESVILLE, PA: Kevin Colbert was one of the most respected GMs in the NFL and was known for his ability to evaluate football talent. His replacement, Omar Khan, has been mostly associated with players' contracts, salary caps and the like. Is there anyone on the team, who along with Coach Mike Tomlin, can fill Colbert's shoes when it comes to future drafts and free agent acquisitions?
ANSWER: The current set-up of the team's football operations has Omar Khan as the general manager, and there were three additional hires made to the department as well. Andy Weidl was hired as the assistant general manager, Sheldon White was hired as the director of pro scouting, and Mark Sadowski was hired as director of player scouting, with Weidl in particular being known for his astute eye in identifying talent. Those additions join a staff that includes a dozen guys who had roles within the department during Colbert's tenure. The idea isn't so much to "fill Colbert's shoes when it comes to future drafts and free agent acquisitions" so much as it's about putting together a group capable of doing the job of identifying and evaluating talent.

CARLOS ARVIZU FROM CDMX, MÉXICO: Who would you consider the best offensive coordinators in the history of the team?
ANSWER: Even though the Steelers will be involved in their 90th season in the NFL in 2022, there haven't been that many offensive coordinators in franchise history. In fact, Tom Moore was the first, and he wasn't hired for that job until 1983, by Chuck Noll. Following Moore in the job were Joe Walton, Ron Erhardt, Chan Gailey, Ray Sherman, Kevin Gilbride, Mike Mularkey, Ken Whisenhunt, Bruce Arians, Todd Haley, Randy Fichtner, and Matt Canada. My top three, in chronological order would be Moore, Erhardt, and Whisenhunt.

FLOYD CUMMINGS FROM SHREVEPORT, LA: If Kenny Pickett does not open the season as the starting quarterback but starts later, wouldn't that mean we would be losing?
ANSWER: In the NFL, the starting quarterback is not replaced if the team is winning.

CASEY MCDONALD FROM MONTGOMERY, AL: How do you like the Larry Ogunjobi signing? I know he is coming off an injury and failed a physical with the Bears, but it seems like a savvy, low-risk high-reward move.
ANSWER: In my opinion, you summed up the Larry Ogunjobi signing succinctly. He is a player coming off an injury, and he failed a physical with the Bears that ended up nullifying the free agent contract he had agreed to with the team. If he can get healthy and stay healthy, his signing will be judged as "a savvy, low-risk high-reward move."

STEVE GALE FROM BEIT SHEMESH, ISRAEL: Now that the Steelers signed defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, what do you think is the next area to be addressed in the offseason? That is, if it were up to you. Could it be that there will be no more moves before training camp?
ANSWER: It seems to me that Steelers fans have been spoiled by the team's activity this offseason, and as a result it has become a never-ending expectation of signing one veteran free agent after another. That is not the Steelers' preferred method of roster-building, and for every DeAngelo Williams there can be a LeGarrette Blount, which shows how adding veteran free agents can be a double-edged sword. At this stage, my guess would be that the Steelers go into training camp with the 90-man roster they have, evaluate some of the individuals earmarked for backup/depth roles and then explore whatever options might be available.

JOHN HUMPHRIES FROM NAPA, CA: Rumors are circulating that the Tennessee Titans may be looking to trade Bud Dupree. If accurate, would Steelers be interested? Dupree and T.J. Watt once made up a fierce pass-rushing duo. The Titans would have to cough up some of his salary, but is this something we should look into? If so, what's the most we should give up to get him back?
ANSWER: "Rumors are circulating." "May be looking." "If accurate." "Once made up." "Would have to." See where I'm going with this? Too many qualifiers and what-ifs to treat this seriously. Also, making a trade would mean more than a one-year commitment to Dupree, and even if the Titans were willing to "cough up" some of his $16 million salary in 2022, his contract calls for him to earn $17 million in 2023, $16 million in 2024, and $15.5 million in 2025. That would be the financial commitment to this "rumor," but what would the Titans be seeking in terms of compensation for parting with Dupree? Certainly, Dupree wouldn't be moved for a mid-round draft pick. And allow me to leave you with this: Since the Titans will go to training camp seeing their roster as one capable of contending for the Super Bowl, why would they trade Bud Dupree if he is healthy and on track to return to the form that got him a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Titans that included a $16 million signing bonus and $35 million in guaranteed money? You are correct: the Titans wouldn't do that.

MIKE CRAIG FROM ALBANY, NY: With possibly three quarterbacks vying for the starting job, regardless of which one starts to open the season, do you think we will see quarterback changes through the season as soon as the "starter" goes through a bad stretch? This was not an issue when you have a future Hall of Fame quarterback, because you let him play through his issues.
ANSWER: As noted in a previous submission, NFL coaches don't make quarterback changes if the team is winning, and the better coaches don't change the quarterback unless he believes the quarterback bears the primary responsibility for the team's losing. As an example, if the defense cannot get off the field on third downs, that's no reason to change quarterbacks. And it's also wise to allow a quarterback to get acclimated with his teammates and the direction of the offense before making a change. My opinion of how this might unfold this season is that Coach Mike Tomlin will know it when he sees it, in terms of when it will be time to make a change at quarterback vs. when the issues might be coming from other positions or aspects of the team's performance. It's impossible to predict when and if there would be a change at quarterback, but I don't expect Tomlin to be yo-yoing guys in and out of the lineup.