Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: May 5

Let's get to it:

JAMES BURFORD FROM LAWTON, OK: If memory serves me correctly, we had 38 takeaways last season. Do you have any idea how many times we were able to score on those possessions?
ANSWER: The Steelers did finish the 2019 season with 38 takeaways, and those resulted in 12 touchdowns and 10 field goals. If you count the PATs after all of those touchdowns, the grand total works out to 114 points off turnovers. I believe it's also worth noting that five other takeaways iced the outcome of victories.

JACK PURDY FROM DILLON, CO: I saw an article that Haason Reddick has fallen out of favor in Arizona, and the Cardinals declined his fifth-year option. Seems like he has excellent athletic attributes. Would he be a good fit in Pittsburgh?
ANSWER: Since making Haason Reddick its first-round pick in 2017, Arizona has gone through coaching changes, which resulted in position changes for him. A defensive end in college, Reddick started at inside linebacker with the Cardinals but was moved to outside linebacker just a few games into the regular season of his rookie year after an injury to Marcus Golden. In 2018, Steve Wilks was hired to coach the Cardinals, and he switched the defense from a 3-4 to a 4-3, and Reddick became an outside linebacker in that alignment. In 2019, he was moved back to inside linebacker in a 3-4 for the start of the season, but before it was over he was back at outside linebacker in a 3-4. In summary, Reddick was the 13th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and his NFL coaches had him playing three different positions in two totally different defensive schemes during his first three seasons as a professional, and if that doesn't serve as a cautionary tale to the fans always coming up with an "idea" for a position switch I don't know what does.

Anyway, the Cardinals may have declined to exercise the fifth-year option on Reddick's rookie contract, but he still is under contract to the team for the 2020 season. And just because the Cardinals aren't exercising that option doesn't automatically mean the team is looking to cut ties with him. If I were making the decisions for the Cardinals, I would be interested in Reddick being motivated for the upcoming season to showcase himself for a possible fresh start somewhere else and to take advantage of that motivation to get a good season from him. But the bottom line is he is under contract right now.

PETE NORTHUP FROM DES MOINES, IA: You have written repeatedly that "Steelers President Art Rooney II, General Manager Kevin Colbert and Coach Mike Tomlin have said publicly they were comfortable with Mason Rudolph as the backup quarterback." If that is true, why did they go after Jameis Winston?
ANSWER: I have written repeatedly that "Steelers President Art Rooney II, General Manager Kevin Colbert and Coach Mike Tomlin have said publicly they were comfortable with Mason Rudolph as the backup quarterback" because it is true, and I heard it with my own ears. The "report" that the Steelers made an offer to Jameis Winston for more money than he ended up accepting from the New Orleans Saints isn't true.

This is what Colbert said recently during an appearance on a Pittsburgh radio station: "We're always gonna watch what's out there," said Colbert. "It's my job to evaluate any position, any player who happens to be available. And we do that. But I can honestly say that we absolutely made no negotiation or any offer to any veteran quarterback."

BRYAN CLARK FROM BETHLEHEM, PA: I'd really love to see the Ravens in the AFC East, where they belong. Buffalo is far more north than Baltimore. The AFC North looks daunting this year, with two teams having No. 1 overall picks as their starting quarterbacks, and another team being quarterbacked by the reigning MVP. According to NFL rules, is it possible to petition to move a team to another division, and how would that work?
ANSWER: Let's start with this: While you seem to be intimidated by competition and are afraid of going against Joe Burrow, Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson, I can assure you the Steelers are not. And if you spent 30 seconds looking over the NFL's eight divisions, it wouldn't require an advanced degree in geography to understand that Dallas is not an eastern city and yet competes in the NFC East, Indianapolis isn't south of much beside Chicago and Detroit yet competes in the AFC South, and if Jacksonville is in the AFC South, why is Miami in the AFC East?

DAVID ZIPPARO FROM ROCHELLE, IL: What happened to Robert Golden, who was a core special teams player and a backup safety during his time with the Steelers? Is he still on an NFL roster?
ANSWER: An undrafted rookie from Arizona in 2012, Robert Golden appeared in 92 games over his six seasons with the Steelers. During his time with the team, he played 1,070 snaps on defense and 1,483 snaps on special teams. Golden was released by the Steelers on March 14, 2018, and he was signed by Kansas City on April 3, 2018. On Aug. 15, 2018, Golden asked the Chiefs to release him, and that request was granted. He has been out of football since then.

NICHOLAS PITNER FROM RUSSELL, KS: In watching replays of our games from 2004-06, I've noticed Troy Polamalu lining up in the offensive backfield in victory formation. Does he get an offensive snap count for this? Also, why have a defensive player in for victory formation?
ANSWER: Every player on the field for an offensive play would get credit for being on the field for an offensive play, not that such a thing means anything. The reason to have a player with Troy Polamalu's skill-set lined up deep in the offensive backfield during victory formation is that if by some strange quirk, the ball would be fumbled and picked up by a defensive player, who better than a fast, aggressive, sure-tackling safety to run him down and get him on the ground.

WILLIAM NANOOK FROM BOILING SPRINGS, PA: Why are there mock drafts, and then draft grades assigned immediately after the draft?
ANSWER: It must be for entertainment purposes, because there is nothing factual or especially insightful in any of the thousands of versions of both. Mock drafts and draft grades are nothing but guesses, and rarely informed guesses at that.

ANGELO MORELLA FROM POLAND, OH: Now that the draft is over, in your opinion, what position(s) lacks depth the most?
ANSWER: Inside linebacker.

PATRICK BRIGHT FROM WEXFORD, PA: Any chance the Steelers sign Andy Dalton?
ANSWER: And let him occupy the roster spot they've been saving for Tim Tebow when he decides to give up baseball? Never.

KELVIN FONG FROM AIRDRIE, ALBERTA, CANADA: Can more than one player from a team's rookie draft class have their fifth-year option exercised simultaneously?
ANSWER: The fifth-year option provision exists only for players who were first-round draft choices. So, if a team has two first-round draft choices in a particular year, then the answer is yes. In fact, that will be the case with the Steelers when it comes time to decide whether to exercise the fifth-year options on the rookie contracts of Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds, because both were first-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.

MICHAEL HARMON FROM COLUMBIA CITY, IN: Is it true that JuJu Smith-Schuster might be getting cut during the offseason or after the regular season?
ANSWER: No. Wait, let me think about it for a minute … now that I've thought about it … absolutely no. In what universe would that make any sense? I can't believe that would have the slightest ring of truth to anyone.

HARRY MASH FROM FULLERTON, CA: I'm 83 years old, born in Pittsburgh and left with my folks in 1950. As we were driving past Forbes Field, I asked my Dad, "Why can't the Steelers ever beat the Browns?" He said, "Because all the big strong guys from Pittsburgh play for the Browns. They pay more money." Could this have been so?
ANSWER: The Cleveland Browns didn't join the NFL until the 1950 season, and so the first-ever games in the series weren't played until then. The Browns certainly were a dominant team during the 1950s, and in the annual home-and-home series against the Steelers that decade, Cleveland owned a 16-4 edge. And that 16-4 edge for the Browns came despite the Steelers sweeping the season series in 1959. The Browns outscored the Steelers by a combined, 540-293, during the 1950s, but that was because they had better players and better coaches. But when it came to paying players, let me remind you that the Browns were owned at the time by Paul Brown, whose son, Mike Brown is now the owner of the Bengals. I don't believe paying players a lot of money runs in that family.

DONNIE BROWN FROM VAN BUREN, ME: The Steelers have two good run-blocking receivers in JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington. How can the additions of Derek Watt and Chase Claypool help their rushing attack, and how important is it to have a legitimate passing threat to improve the ground game?
ANSWER: I wrote a story about this that appeared on on Friday, May 1. It is headlined, "Labriola on how the Steelers can run the ball." Click here: Labriola On to read the story, and I believe it will answer your question while providing some additional insight.