Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Nov. 27

Let's get to it:

NEIL GLASSER FROM MANALAPAN, NJ: Did Al Villanueva have to report as an eligible receiver on the fake field goal?
ANSWER: Yes, but that happens on every placement attempt by Chris Boswell. On a typical offensive play, there are five ineligible players among the 11 on the field, and that's the same number who are ineligible on a field goal attempt or an extra point attempt. That also means there are six eligibles on every play. The holder and kicker are two of the eligibles, and in either field goal formation of extra point formation, the two guys on either end of the line of scrimmage also are eligible. For the Steelers those players are tight ends Jesse James and Vance McDonald, and then to the inside of those two players are Cam Heyward and Al Villanueva. So every time the Steelers line up to attempt either a field goal or an extra point, both Heyward and Villanueva have to report as eligible to the referee.

TYLER HENDRICKS FROM MORGANTOWN, WV: I've seen a lot of comments from couch coaches that the Steelers should have run the ball more in the past two games, and that the offensive struggles are directly related to the unbalanced play selection between passing and rushing. What is your impression? Do the Steelers at times voluntarily abandon the run too early, or did the Jaguars and Broncos do something to force the Steelers into moving away from the run?
ANSWER: In the three games the Steelers have lost this season, they rushed for 33 yards against Kansas City, 19 yards against the Ravens at Heinz Field, and then James Conner had 53 yards against the Broncos. There is no denying the talent or greatness of Ben Roethlisberger, and he is having what could end up being a historic season, but what also cannot be denied is that there is a correlation for the Steelers between running the football and winning games. Not that the Steelers should turn into a team that runs the ball on two of every three downs, but making the opponent respect the possibility of a running play just makes sense as an offensive strategy. In my opinion, on a day when the offense snaps the ball 76 times, as it did in Denver, there should be more than 14 called running plays, as there were in Denver.

CHUCK MARQUES OF MARIETTA, GA: In light of Le'Veon Bell doing what he's doing, have the Steelers ever had a player be the highest paid player at his position, or in the NFL? It seems to me the Steelers are a team that keeps the salaries in check in the NFL. I don't recall them ever breaking the bank for a player, especially one who hasn't earned it.
ANSWER: In the late 1970s when the Steelers roster was filled with players who had won multiple Super Bowls and many of whom would wind up enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Steelers' payroll at the time was the highest in NFL history.

ALFRED SOSNA FROM ELGIN, IL: Why do the Steelers not run the ball more when they get into goal-to-go situations? Ben Roethlisberger throws passes more often than not, and we end up with field goals or interceptions too many times.
ANSWER: For your information, the Steelers went into the game against Denver ranked second in the NFL in red zone offense with a 77.4 percent touchdown conversion. That means through the first 10 games of the season, the Steelers scored touchdowns 77.4 percent of the time their offense penetrated the opponent's 20-yard line. Last week Randy Fichtner was a genius. This week he's a bum. I get it. That's the life of an NFL offensive coordinator, but your facts are atrocious.

TOM DUNN FROM BELLEAIR BLUFFS, FL: With the dropped passes in Jacksonville and the lost fumble in Denver, are the Steelers losing faith in James Conner?
ANSWER: Maybe you and other fans are, but the Steelers are not.

LOWELL GORDON FROM BOARDMAN, OH: In the Broncos game, James Connor had a 26-yard run and then fumbled. Does the player get credit for the yards if he fumbles?
ANSWER: The play you reference was a pass to James Conner, and he gained 23 yards before losing a fumble. That yardage was credited to his receiving total.

MIKE POWELL FROM SAN ANTONIO, TX: Would the Steelers consider this: Alejandro Villanueva has played tight end in his past. When they are on the opponent's 1-yard line, put in another left tackle, declare Villanueva as eligible and line him up at tight end and run a short pattern into end zone. Even if the defense is alert to him, his size alone makes for an instant mismatch. This seems pretty obvious to me. Your thoughts?
ANSWER: Please remember to look both ways before you cross the street.