Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Nov. 15

Let's get to it:

NICHOLAS HOLLISTER FROM MONTROSE, PA:
Though Stephon Tuitt got to Dak Prescott before William Gay, Harrison did eventually help bring Prescott to the ground. Whether or not Prescott would have been able to escape Tuitt from taking him down is debatable, but as of yet I have not seen Harrison getting credited with a half-sack, which would have tied him with Jason Gildon for the all-time franchise record. Any reason for Harrison not getting credit for the work on that play?

ANSWER: Sacks are an officially recognized statistic, and so what might be awarded during the game always is subject to a review by the Elias Sports Bureau, the primary source of statistics for the NFL. Once Elias completes its review, it then informs teams across the league of any scoring changes, and these announcements typically come on Wednesday afternoons during the season. As I saw the play, however, it seemed that Stephon Tuitt has a clear grasp of Dak Prescott and was in the process of taking him to the ground when Harrison became involved in the play. But my opinion doesn't matter. Only Elias' opinion matters, and if a scoring change is made, that will be posted on Steelers.com.

ERIC SMITH FROM ORANGE, CT:
I'm not even sure how to ask this question, but I'll give it my best shot. I'm not a coach, but when I look at the Steelers defense, it looks like they're getting no push at the line of scrimmage, and on the splash plays players don't seem to show a lot of effort to make the tackle (the Ezekiel Elliott touchdowns are the latest example) and players seem out of position. I try to be patient, but at what point do you start to hold players (by not playing them) and coaches (by firing them) accountable?

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Take a look at the best photos from the Week 10 matchup against the Cowboys. The Cowboys defeated the Steelers 35-30.

ANSWER: I cannot pretend to know the answer to this riddle, but I don't believe lack of effort is an issue. Mental errors and physical errors are, but there aren't guys who aren't trying or coaches who don't care. Not in my opinion, anyway. The one question I would add to the ones you pose is whether the defense is too complicated for the young players the Steelers have?**

DONALD BERNK FROM ALEXANDRIA, VA:
I've been trying to stay optimistic about the defense, so I ask you: how much of what we see is youth and inexperience and how much is just high draft picks who aren't living up to their status? It's not just Ryan Shazier, but Ryan Shazier seems to have fallen off somewhat. Senquez Golson and Bud Dupree  are unknown quantities. Lots of high picks and not a lot of productivity so far. What am I missing?

ANSWER: The question you ask about whether a young player will get better with experience or whether he just doesn't have what it takes is one that has to be answered by every team's personnel department/coaching staff every season. I don't know that there's any definitive way to come up with the right answer in every given situation, but making these decisions correctly the majority of the time would seem to me to be a big part of whether a team grows into a contender or whether it remains a wait-till-next-year outfit.

RICH LASKOWSKI FROM BAYVILLE, NJ:
Why is Mike Tomlin still going for a two-point conversion after the first touchdown scored in the game, and how many times did FOX analyst Troy Aikman utter the phrase, "The Cowboys may have gotten away with one there?" The officials all around the league are horrendous and have been making lousy calls or no calls all season.

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ANSWER: Personally, I like the idea of going for a two-point conversion after the first touchdown, because I think it provides an opportunity to put the opponent on its heels right off the bat. Of course, there's the decision to go for two, and then there's the successful execution of the two-point play. I doubt you'd be complaining about this if Ladarius Green had been able to secure the catch in the end zone, and so I contend there is a difference between objecting to the strategy and bemoaning the fact it didn't work. As for NFL officials, you're preaching to the choir. I've been making the point for a long time that they're terrible.**

EDWARD BURNS FROM NORTH CANTON, OH:
How can anyone associated with the Steelers organization ever hope to win without a running game? We have no proven ball carrier.

ANSWER: The Steelers long have valued an efficient running attack, and they still do. I disagree that the team has no proven ball carrier, because I believe Le'Veon Bell deserves to be recognized as such. What I would point to as far as the running game being ineffective so far in 2016 is an under-performing offensive line.

PATRICK CHARLES FROM CROWLEY, TX:
Is there anyone out there in free agency who can rush the passer? Is it me or does the defense not seem to be improving?

ANSWER: All of the players capable of rushing the passer are on rosters right now. The idea that there are some unemployed pass rushers on the open market right now is ludicrous.


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