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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: May 23

Let's get to it:

MARK CUSICK FROM PARADISE VALLEY, AZ: We have all read countless exclamations of Omar Khan's aggressive roster-building, often expressed in contrast to Kevin Colbert. I love what Khan and the team have done, but if one is going to imply an unflattering comparison with Colbert, does not fairness (and accuracy) require one to note the extra $30 million or so in salary cap money Khan had available to spend because, unlike in Colbert's years, the team is not paying franchise quarterback money?
ANSWER: What I have found – and I often remind myself to guard against it – is that giving praise to one person often comes across as criticism of another. My point of view is that most if not all of the praise directed at Khan accompanied by criticisms of Colbert has been coming from the ill-informed among the fans and media, because there will come a time in the future when Kevin Colbert's name will be discussed by the Board of Selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I'm not predicting that Colbert will be elected, but his body of work, which includes building rosters that won two Super Bowls and played in a third while only finishing with a losing record once in 23 years while drafting in the top 10 (before trading) just once is a remarkable achievement.

RENATO FERRERA FROM SAO PAOLO, BRAZIL: According to Dan Orlovsky of ESPN: "Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky are pretty much the same player. They are guys that are good athletes that use their legs to help them become better players. They are average with their accuracy and mechanically flawed." What are you views on the above comments?
ANSWER: One of the things I believe is that there are a number of people in today's media who are in the business of saying/writing things to get noticed in order to have their shows/podcasts/websites get the ratings/clicks that allow them to stay employed. ESPN has gone through some periods where it has made personnel moves/cuts that sometimes are attributed to budgetary concerns, but none of that usually touches the personalities who create the most buzz. I'm not saying Dan Orlovsky made those comments just to get noticed, but those comments certainly got him noticed by Steelers fans, and his assertion that Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky have average accuracy can be supported by statistics, because Pickett ranked 23rd in the NFL in completion percentage in 2022 and for his career Trubisky's completion percentage would've put him only slightly above Pickett. And just about every NFL quarterback's mechanics could be better, so that's not exactly going out on a limb. Dan Orlovsky has a job to do, and it's up to the individual consumer to decide whether he's doing it well or not. Personally, I have nothing against Orlovsky, but I wouldn't even have known what he said if you hadn't sent a submission to Asked and Answered about it because I don't pay any attention to what he says or to the shows on which he says them.

TODD WALKER FROM PORT ST. LUCIE, FL: Are you surprised at all with the signings of Mason Rudolph and Mitch Trubisky? I truly thought Rudolph would at least get a chance somewhere and could be a great No. 2 quarterback in the league.
ANSWER: I also was of the opinion that Mason Rudolph would take advantage of unrestricted free agency and use it to seek out a fresh opportunity with another team, but I will admit to seeing how things worked out as an advantage to the Steelers for the way his return has solidified the depth chart at quarterback. According to one report, Rudolph said on a podcast that he did have some opportunities to go to other teams while declining to name names, and that he decided that it was in his best interest to come back to the Steelers. Maybe at some point in the future all of this will be revealed, but I tend to suspect Rudolph came to the conclusion that he decided his best chance to perform well if given a chance to play would come with a familiar team that used a system that was familiar to him. And I believe it's also worth remembering that when free agency rolls around again in March 2024, Rudolph still will be only 28 years old.

STEFAN PISOCKI FROM WILMINGTON, DE: Thinking back to Coach Mike Tomlin's famous statement about wanting volunteers and not hostages, what can be said about Mitch Trubisky? I have read that he still feels he deserves to be a starter in the NFL. If this remains the case, is he more of a hostage, as opposed to Mason Rudolph who has to be somewhat comfortable in the backup role by now?
ANSWER: You're basing your opinion on two phrases I would categorize as dubious. "I have read," which means it's not verifiable, and then you compound that with "if this remains the case," which creates a second level of speculation. My sense is that you preferred Mason Rudolph over Mitch Trubisky during the competition held last summer, or that you wanted the team to trade or cut Trubisky after last season, and that feeling led you down the rabbit hole of believing others who shared your point of view. But what has transpired is that the Steelers like Trubisky in the No. 2 role sufficiently to sign him to a 3-year contract that binds him to the team through the 2025 season, and Trubisky likes the Steelers enough and the role with the team to have signed that contract. Doesn't sound like a hostage situation to me at all.

BRIAN HENDERSON FROM MURRELLS INLET, SC : Now that Rookie Minicamp is completed, what are the scheduled team activities and possible dates leading up to Latrobe in late July?
ANSWER: The Steelers will conduct 10 OTAs that begin today and are scheduled for May 23-24-25, then May 30-31-June 1, and then June 5-6-7-8. Mandatory minicamp is scheduled for June 13-14-15, which concludes the on-field portion of the offseason program. No date for the opening of training camp at Saint Vincent College has been announced, but my guess is it will fall somewhere around the middle of the last full week of July.

CRAIG KIRSCH FROM RALEIGH, NC: During James Harrison's "Immaculate Interception," there was a penalty flag thrown during the runback. The penalty was on Arizona, but do you recall what the penalty was?
ANSWER: The penalty flag thrown during James Harrison's 100-yard interception return for a touchdown at the end of the first half of Super Bowl XLIII was for a facemask penalty on Arizona guard Elton Brown.

JOHN VINCENT FROM CONNEAUT, OH: Who will be the Steelers third quarterback when the season starts, Tanner Morgan or Mason Rudolph?
ANSWER: My guess would be Mason Rudolph.

MIKE FOSTER FROM EWA BEACH, HI: Was the Steel Curtain moniker for the front four or the whole defense?
ANSWER: Originally, the Steel Curtain referred to the Steelers defensive line, and specifically it referred to Dwight White, Ernie Holmes, Joe Greene, and L.C. Greenwood. Toward the latter stages of the 1970s, it came to be the nickname for the entire defensive unit.

JD AKERS FROM ORMOND BEACH, FL: Help me make sense of the quarterback situation, because you seemed pretty confident Mason Rudolph would not return. Now we are extending Mitch Trubisky. Is this a new business model or just insurance we can afford while Kenny Pickett is on his rookie deal? Do you see us keeping them all or perhaps looking for a mid-round trade if another team needs a quarterback during the season?
ANSWER: Yes, I was pretty confident that Mason Rudolph would take advantage of unrestricted free agency to seek an opportunity with another team, just as I was confident some team in need of a quarterback would sign him during the offseason and give him that opportunity. But I was wrong, and I'm not afraid to admit it. In my mind, there's no such thing as a "new business model" that would call for signing Mitch Trubisky to a 3-year contract and then looking "for a mid-round trade."