Let's get to it:
SVEN MUESSIGBRODT FROM KIRCHLENGERN, GERMANY:
Steelers Nation Germany calling. Thank you so much for Asked and Answered and all the information you give. Now and then I read about Ben Roethlisberger as a "franchise quarterback," but could not find a precise definition of what it takes to be a franchise quarterback. Can you help?
The definition of a franchise quarterback is somewhat fluid, with some people being far more generous in hanging the designation on players than others. I have heard the term "franchise quarterback" applied to Colin Kaepernick, Matt Ryan, Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, Ryan Tannehill, Matthew Stafford, Nick Foles, Andy Dalton, Sam Bradford, and Andrew Luck. In my mind, none of those guys are franchise quarterbacks, because that designation should be reserved for guys who have won championships. If Tom Brady is a franchise quarterback, how is Matt Ryan one? When you get benched for Blaine Gabbert, as Kaepernick has after an extended period of poor play, you're not a franchise quarterback. If you've never won a playoff game – as Dalton hasn't – you're not a franchise quarterback. Of the names listed above, the only guy I might waver on a little bit is Romo, because the Cowboys got hosed by the officials last year vs. Green Bay on the Dez Bryant "non-catch," and by winning that game Romo would have advanced at least to the NFC Championship Game. And with regard to Andrew Luck – he may have been the first overall pick in a draft and put up some really sweet statistics so far, but this season is showing there are too many holes in his overall game to be considered a franchise quarterback now. Maybe he becomes one, but he isn't one now.**
Here is my list of active NFL franchise quarterbacks: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco. The "almosts" would include Cam Newton, Phillip Rivers, Carson Palmer, Andrew Luck, Tony Romo. Winning is more significant to being a franchise quarterback than statistics, although those who love fantasy football would disagree.
DAVID BRITT FROM STAUNTON, VA:
I am glad to see that Mike Mitchell has stepped his game up this year, but I can't help but feel a little annoyed every time he celebrates a less than meaningful play. Do you think that his "trash talking" sometimes hurts the defense?
I had written in a previous installment of Asked and Answered that until a player's trash-talking or celebrations reach the level of drawing a penalty and hurting his team, my comfort, or anyone's comfort, with that is irrelevant. So based on that standard, what Mitchell did after laying a hit on Marvin Jones was OK, but the taunting penalty he got after an unsuccessful third-and-2 that essentially handed the Bengals another offensive possession was not. I cite Mitchell because his is the name you brought up, but that standard applies to players across the board.
BRAD FRIEDEL FROM JERSEYVILLE, IL:
The addition of Isaiah Pead is interesting. He was a bust of sorts in St. Louis, mostly because he never really had a chance to play a style that fits his skill-set. Do you think that the Steelers can find a way to utilize him in either the passing game or special teams? I have full faith in DeAngelo Williams being able to carry the load in Le'Veon Bell's absence, but the man will need a break now and then during the game.
During the run-up to the 2012 NFL Draft, the Steelers brought Isaiah Pead to their facility for a pre-draft visit, and they usually don't allocate the somewhat limited number of those visits to players in whom they have no interest. Pead ended up being picked by the Rams, where he was under contract until being waived on Sept. 29. The same day Le'Veon Bell was injured, there were also a number of other injuries to running backs all around the NFL, and that set off a feeding frenzy among teams looking for guys at that position to fill out their depth charts. Ben Tate even attracted some interest, for goodness sakes. Pead in fact was on his way to catch a flight to Houston to meet with officials from the Texans when the Steelers called and convinced him to forget about going there and come to Pittsburgh instead.**
This is what Coach Mike Tomlin said about Pead on the day after he was signed: "He has a skill set that is going to help us at some point. And I emphasize at some point, because he has to learn what to do. As we prepare this week, we are going to prepare with the men that have been here and know what to do and can detail assignments. We will see how Pead progresses in terms of learning what to do. When he is above the line from that standpoint, we will consider how to utilize his skill-set. As I sit here today, obviously, he is just starting that process. So I don't have a lot to comment on that or what he may be able to do for us. I think all of that stuff will be revealed to us over time as we proceed. Right now, we are going to rally around DeAngelo Williams."
Based on that, my prediction for Pead is that he'll be inactive for the games against the Raiders and Browns, and following that is the Steelers' bye. After that is when Pead might have a chance to contribute in some way, unless of course he's pressed into service earlier because of injuries.
JOSE ANTONIO RAMIREZ FROM TAMPICO, MEXICO
Thank you for this excellent section. Is it my perception or is there a spike in knee related injuries to top-notch players? In other words, are defenses trying harder to "accidentally" target player´s knees? I do understand the physical nature of the game.
I really don't believe the vast majority of NFL players would do things intentionally to injure another player. I also remember back when the league first instituted what has come to be known as the "player safety initiative" and began fining players for high-hits that defensive players predicted there were going to be more knee injuries as a result. There is an element of that at work with respect to the higher number of knee injuries, I would imagine, and the other issue is the increasing size, strength, and speed of these athletes, which generates more violent collisions. And because the size of the field containing these bigger, stronger, and faster athletes has remained the same, something has to give. Unfortunately for too many of these athletes, it has been their knees.
PEEPERKORN JEROEN FROM HOOFDDORP, THE NETHERLANDS
Hello from Steelers Nation in the Netherlands. With the Rooneys having their roots in Ireland, what are the chances of the Steelers playing a game in Ireland? I sadly missed the NFLUK game against the Minnesota Vikings in 2013, and I did see Mr. Dan Rooney attending a high school Football game in preparation for the Emerald Isle Classic between Notre Dame and Navy. I also must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the biography Mr. Rooney wrote. It paints a very clear, positive, and warm picture of what the Rooney family and the Steelers are all about.
Photos from the last victory vs the Raiders at Heinz Field on November 21, 2010.
The Steelers actually played a preseason game in Dublin in 1997. The game was staged in historic Croke Park, and the story at the time was that it only was allowed to be played there because of the respect the Irish have for Dan Rooney, who would serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland from 2009-12. The sites of NFL games that are played outside the United States is in the hands of the league office. The NFL extended its agreement with Wembley Stadium for two games per season through 2020 recently, and then a two-game-per-year stint with the Tottenham Hotspur starts in 2018, and the latest agreement is with the Rugby Football Union and will set up three NFL games over a three-year period at Twickenham Stadium. "We are committed to continuing to grow our sport in the UK and believe that adding Twickenham Stadium to our roster of host venues in London is further evidence of that commitment," said Mark Waller, NFL Executive Vice President, International. "We are very excited to give our fans the opportunity to enjoy NFL action at another world-class venue famous for attracting loyal and passionate fans from across the globe."**
Other overseas venues being considered by the NFL are Germany and Mexico, with Brazil also possibly in the mix. I don't see Ireland working its way into that rotation anytime soon. Ireland was great in 1997, by the way. We stayed there for a whole week.
CHARLIE ULSAMER FROM FORT COLLINS, CO:
Can we get a legitimate status update on Maurkice Pouncey? There's talk that he had a second surgery but Mike Tomlin won't discuss his "list guys." Is it still possible he'll return this season? Also, thanks for Asked and Answered.
There have been reports that a second surgery was performed, but the Steelers have not made any official comment on those reports, or on whether there was a second surgery on Maurkice Pouncey's ankle. Also, Pouncey has had nothing to say publicly on the matter. To me, there's a difference between possible and likely, and at this point I would venture that it's unlikely Maurkice Pouncey plays in 2015.
REESA JOSEPH FROM MARIETTA, OH:
When will the Steelers coaches tell Antwon Blake that he needs to cradle the football against his body and not carry it out like a loaf of bread after he makes an interception? He is asking to get it stripped.
What makes you think that hasn't already happened?
JEFF SVED FROM COCHABAMBA, BOLIVIA
What's your take on the Steelers kicking the extra point after the first touchdown against the Bengals instead of going for two? From all Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger have said about being aggressive, and at home against an undefeated opponent I assumed the Steelers would've wanted to go up, 8-0. Maybe that short touchdown pass to Antonio Brown was what Todd Haley had scripted as their two-point play? Love Asked and Answered. It's great to have access to good Steelers coverage in South America.
Yes, both Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger have spoken publicly about being aggressive in going for two-point conversions after touchdowns, but you're forgetting the reality of the moment. Yes, the game was against an undefeated Bengals team, and yes, the Steelers opened with an 80-yard touchdown drive to take a 6-0 lead. But because Roethlisberger was playing in his first game in 35 days, expecting him to be as sharp as he was before the injury might have been seen as too much too soon. It was still very early in that game, and missing the two-point conversion could have had more of a negative effect than a successful one would have had a positive effect. I would not have gone for two there, and I also would not have gone for two in the third quarter against the Cardinals after that touchdown pass from Landry Jones to Martavis Bryant had given the Steelers a 12-10 lead. The longer Roethlisberger is back from injury, the more I would expect the Steelers to return to their aggressive ways in going for two-point conversions.