Let’s get to it:
JOE WERNER FROM WEST HENRIETTA, NY: When the Steelers blocked an extra point attempt in the game against the Colts, the play was quickly whistled dead. Isn't the defense allowed to return the blocked kick?
ANSWER: On PAT attempts, the defense is allowed under certain circumstances to return a blocked kick and if it’s returned all the way to the kicking team’s end zone the team that blocked the kick is awarded two points. But in cases when the ball hits the ground in the end zone before it is possessed by the team that blocked the kick, the play is whistled dead and no return is then possible. That’s the rule. On the play you cite, after Cam Heyward blocked the PAT attempt by Adam Vinatieri the ball went into the end zone where it was picked up by Minkah Fitzpatrick. Because the ball hit the ground in the end zone, the play was whistled dead. That was the correct application of the rule.
JOHN POPSON FROM EAST FLAT ROCK, NC: Our offense is so vanilla that it is a wonder that Mason Rudolph is not on his back more often. I believe he is much more capable than we are game planning, so why do we think we can remain relevant using the “check-down Charlie” offense.
ANSWER: I will acknowledge some occasional frustration with the offense, but I see it more as a combination of young receivers continuing to learn their craft and not necessarily winning their matchups against NFL defensive backs as consistently as would be necessary to have the passing attack thrive, the loss of a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback who has been replaced by two guys making their first professional starts this season and who have a grand total of six starts between them, and an offensive line that while graded highly overall in pass protection also gets pushed around occasionally. In those six starts with inexperienced quarterbacks, the Steelers are 4-2, and a contributing factor to that .667 winning percentage with quarterbacks not named Roethlisberger has to do with those quarterbacks only throwing five interceptions. Yes, the offense needs to get better, but right now with this particular collection of personnel I believe that a high-wire act of an offense would be the wrong way to go.
ADAM SHEFFLER FROM WASHINGTON, DC: Before this weekend, I read that Josh Gordon was set to be released by the Patriots and would be subject to waivers. Seattle picked him up. I believed that the Steelers would be foolish not to pick him up given that it was extremely low risk and had a huge upside. He has a deep threat ability most teams covet. Given the Steelers were ready to move on from Donte Moncrief anyway, why did they pass up this opportunity?
ANSWER: I have commented on this in the past, but since people don’t want to believe me, I instead will present the opinions of other noted NFL journalists with no association to the Steelers.
First, Peter King of NBC Sports: “I think I get a kick out of the legitimate wonder of people that only one team claimed wide receiver Josh Gordon after the Patriots released him off injured reserve last week. Seriously, you question why teams wouldn’t be flocking to claim this highly problematic player? Suspended five times in an eight-year career for substance abuse … cut by the Browns for “violating the team’s trust” … released by a six-time championship team desperate for wide receiver help … put on the street by Bill Belichick. Common sense, people. Please.”
Next is Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald: “According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, (Seattle) considered signing former Patriot Antonio Brown, but opted for Gordon instead. Maybe Gordon, who was claimed off waivers, will have an impact. Maybe he’ll put the Seahawks over the top. Or, Gordon’s knee will continue to be an issue, and he’ll still struggle to gain separation and get open, which was the case in Foxboro this season. It’s also possible other factors could derail Gordon, such as another suspension. For the player’s sake, and his ongoing battle with addiction, the hope is that doesn’t happen. Whatever the outcome, the Patriots made the right call putting him on injured reserve and ultimately letting him go. Something had to give, someone had to go, and it was Gordon, even if he was one of the more talented receivers in the NFL when healthy … Gordon’s knee problem – he had it drained at least once prior to re-injuring it against the Giants – might have been something that lingered all year. As it was, he wasn’t quite the same player as last year before being suspended. He had gotten bigger and was carrying a little more weight. He was still making contested catches, but seemed slower. He tried to work through the difficulties, just as he’s been fighting his long-standing issues with addition. There were also recent reports of Gordon not showing up on time to meetings.”
You refer to the possibility of adding Josh Gordon as a low-risk opportunity. His history indicates it would be the direct opposite of that.
JOE MINNECI FROM ATLANTA, GA: In previous years the Steelers always carried a veteran backup quarterback. Guys like Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich and Tommy Maddox came off the bench when needed to help fill the void. I believe that was a good strategy. Is there a reason the Steelers have moved on from this?
ANSWER: The Steelers moved on from the veteran backup quarterback because there was a several season span where whenever one of those guys was needed, he would be injured shortly after being exposed to live game action. In response to that, the Steelers then decided a good way to handle the role was to draft a backup-caliber quarterback and groom him for the job. The first guy they went with was Landry Jones, and then another guy who was picked with that in mind was Joshua Dobbs. It’s just two different ways to approach the always important task of having the right backup quarterback on the roster.