Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Nov. 17

Let's get to it:

DOUG COOPER FROM DUNCANNON, PA: What happened to the running game? It showed a lot of promise earlier, but against two of the poorer run defenses, it has been really ineffective. Other than tight end Vance McDonald, everyone is pretty healthy and the passing attack is first rate, so defenses cannot sit on the run game. Just poor design or execution?
ANSWER: Just watching the games, what I am noticing is there's not sufficient push from the offensive line and when there has been it hasn't been supported by the kind of perimeter blocking necessary to run the ball effectively in the NFL. Hall of Fame guard and former Steelers offensive line coach Russ Grimm always talked about the job of an offensive lineman being about moving a man from point A to point B against his will. Not enough of that going on consistently right now, and without that there's no play design on earth that can compensate.

CASEY WALSH FROM BRIDGEWATER, NJ: I'm ecstatic to see the team sitting at 9-0, but the lack of a running game is a bit concerning, especially against Dallas' and Cincinnati's mediocre run defenses. Also, the Steelers are throwing the ball nearly 59 percent of the time, and I don't want to see a return of the Arians-era philosophy where Ben takes a constant beating. Do you also see that as a concern, especially come playoff time?
ANSWER: Coming into the game against the Bengals, the Steelers ranked second in the NFL in sacks allowed per pass attempt, and including the results from the Bengals game, Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 10 times in 352 pass plays (attempts plus scrambles for positive yardage). Based on those numbers, the Steelers have done a very good job of protecting the passer, and Roethlisberger has complemented that beautifully by getting the ball out quickly when necessary. But the Steelers are going to have to be more effective running the football to make a deep playoff run. That's my opinion, anyway.

TOM GARRETT FROM MOON TOWNSHIP, PA: Every pundit is questioning the Steelers running game. This isn't the 1970s anymore, and the name of the game now is pass first and try to outscore the opposition. The Chiefs are the benchmark, with Patrick Mahomes and his receivers outscoring teams. You see how much trouble the run dependent Ravens and Titans are having right now. Am I wrong in this analysis?
ANSWER: It is not the 1970s anymore, but football at its core still is a game of blocking and tackling, and running the football is part of that. I would imagine that if the Steelers found themselves in a playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs, having an effective running game to go up against the No. 28 run defense in the NFL could help control the ball and time of possession to keep Patrick Mahomes and that high-powered offense on the sideline.

DREW PERKINS FROM BEAVERCREEK, OH: With the Thanksgiving night showdown vs. the Ravens on the horizon, it got me thinking about other matchups the Steelers have had on Thanksgiving and Christmas. How many games have the Steelers played on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and what is their record in those games?
ANSWER: The Steelers have played in just two games on Christmas – at home against the Ravens in 2016 and in Houston against the Texans in 2017. They won both of those. The Steelers have a 2-6 record on Thanksgiving, with all of the games so far having been on the road. Their victories came against the Chicago Cardinals in 1950, and against the Indianapolis Colts in 2016. This year's game on Thanksgiving will be the first ever for the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

GARETH BROWN FROM BOISE, ID: Is it technically possible for a game to end in a tie, 0-0?
ANSWER: Yes. Regular season NFL games can and do end in a tie, and the score can be anywhere from 100-100 to 0-0.

JEFF ELINOFF FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: What are your impressions of Cam Sutton of late?
ANSWER: Cam Sutton seems to have settled into a role comfortably as an extra defensive back in the Steelers sub-packages on defense, and he is making plays. Through the win over the Bengals, Sutton has 13 tackles, including one for loss, one sack, one interception, three passes defensed, and three forced fumbles. Not to oversimplify things, but comparing the team's top two slot cornerbacks, Mike Hilton is better against the run and is the better blitzer, while Sutton is better in coverage.

DAN MELCHIOR FROM BALTIMORE, MD: It seems to me a veteran quarterback and young, athletic receivers is a better combination than a young, athletic quarterback and veteran receivers. I guess we will find out, but I like the Steelers' position on this one. Your thoughts?
ANSWER: I don't look at it that way. I believe what's more important is who is the veteran quarterback and who are his young receivers, just as it's about who is the young quarterback and who are his veteran receivers. Patrick Mahomes is a young quarterback, as an example of disproving your theory.

DAVE ROBINSON FROM HAMPTON, VA: I've seen other teams have their offensive coordinator and/or defensive coordinator up in the booth, while I've noticed the Steelers have them on the sideline. Is there a particular reason for that, or is it just preference?
ANSWER: Preference.

A.D. WARNER FROM EAST SPRINGFIELD, OH: When a pass is tipped into the air and becomes a jump ball, what becomes of the rules regarding pass interference?
ANSWER: Once the ball is tipped, whether it be by a defensive lineman at the line of scrimmage or by a linebacker or defensive back in coverage, there can be no pass interference.

CRAIG PEEBLES FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: If an extra point or field goal attempt is blocked, is the kicker assessed with a missed attempt? What about a fumbled snap with no kick getting off?
ANSWER: Any time the kicker gets his foot on the ball, it's an official attempt, and then it's simply a matter of whether the ball goes through the uprights or not. If it does, it's a successful attempt. If it doesn't, it's a missed attempt. The kicker is not charged with an attempt if something happens to prevent him from getting his foot on the ball.

JACK BLEVINS FROM NORTH CHESTERFIELD, VA: Is there a set distance from the line of scrimmage for a PAT or can the team opt to move farther back?
ANSWER: The holder can set up as far behind the line of scrimmage as he likes.

PRESTON WOLFE FROM ELIZABETHVILLE, PA: I continue to see many talking heads criticize the Steelers for not addressing the backup quarterback position. And it was a talking point due to Ben being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. What are your thoughts on the matter?
ANSWER: My thoughts on the matter are that there are few things on this earth I care about less than what talking heads think. Ask the talking heads what they think of Chad Henne. Who's Chad Henne? He's Patrick Mahomes' backup.