Let's get to it:
GORD BRYANT FROM CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA:
I have great respect for Mike Tomlin and the job he does as coach, but am I the only person who questions why he would leave Ben Roethlisberger on the field, very late in the game, with the outcome already decided? Couldn't that have created further damage to an already injured Roethlisberger? What's the rationale?
ANSWER: This is how Ben Roethlisberger described the process that was followed in Miami to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Doc told me at halftime he was pretty sure I had a meniscus tear and that I probably was going to have surgery on Monday," Roethlisberger said. "He said it was up to me and my pain, and that I wasn't going to do any more damage to my knee. I went back in because I thought it still gave us a chance to win. Obviously, I wasn't able to move as well, but my adrenaline was so high. I don't think it really affected any of my throws. I just wish I had played better. It would have been a great story to come back and win."
As for your contention that the outcome already was decided, I disagree. The Dolphins' lead was never more than 15 points, and with 1:02 remaining in the game the Steelers had cut it to 23-15 with a chance to recover an onside kick. If that happened, there was a real opportunity to tie the game and send it into overtime, and in that situation I want Roethlisberger at quarterback, and I bet if you asked him, Roethlisberger would have wanted to be in at quarterback. Since the medical people already had advised him that no more damage could be done by playing, I'm playing him if it was my decision."
RON WILLIAMS FROM CAHOKIA, IL:
Since we have virtually no pass rush, why don't we blitz more and play press coverage? The reason we are playing poorly is because we can't get the other team off the field.
ANSWER: Do you think if the Steelers had the defensive personnel to play press coverage that they wouldn't do it? Just saying, "play more press coverage," isn't good enough. You have to have the personnel to make it work, or the offense is going to make a lot of big plays. Maybe in time, after the new defensive backs have a chance to play together and gain more experience as a unit and as NFL players, that strategy can be employed. But just because fans want it, that doesn't mean it can be executed.
GEORGE MESSENGER FROM CHICKASHA, OK:
I'm beginning to think that what they are doing on defense is more of the problem than who they are doing it with. If things continue, do you see a change in the offseason?
ANSWER: To use your phrasing, I believe that what the Steelers are doing on defense is a function of who they have to do it with. When he was hired in 2007, Mike Tomlin retained coordinator Dick LeBeau and all of the other defensive assistants and the Steelers continued to utilize the fire-zone concepts as the fundamental defensive scheme. Fans always forget that, and it proves that with Tomlin, it's always been about doing what the personnel can execute. Otherwise he would have made changes back then.**
LAURA HANEY FROM RUFFEN, NC:
I see in the NFL standings that multiple teams are tied with the same record, and yet they are still ranked in the standings. How do they know who to put in what spot when they have the same record?
ANSWER: What separates teams with the same record is the NFL's system of tiebreakers. These tiebreakers are used to determine which teams qualify for the playoffs, and by definition, tiebreakers are used to break ties among teams with the same record. That's what is being utilized there as well.
JIM ZAWATSKI FROM PITTSBURGH, PA:
I get that Tom Brady is a master of using all his weapons, but shutting down tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett has to be paramount for the Steelers to win this week. What kinds of schemes/personnel do you envision the Steelers using to stop these two tight ends?
ANSWER: It depends on whether Ryan Shazier is able to play, and if he is able to play, how effective he can be coming off a second injury to the same knee. Shazier was a limited participant at Wednesday's practice, and so we'll have to see, but I would imagine Sean Davis will be a part of whatever it is the Steelers end up trying to do vs. Gronkowski and Bennett.
CHUCK CHIARELLI FROM PITTSBURGH, PA:
With the receiving corps being depleted, will we see Canaan Severin this season?
ANSWER: No. Canaan Severin is on the injured reserve list.
RAYMOND MADRID FROM SPOKANE WA:
We've all seen Landry Jones play, and he stinks. They need to start William Gay, and I believe he will surprise everyone. I'll be very angry if they start Landry Jones, and I am a big-time fan. I won't watch the Steelers play if Landry Jones starts.
ANSWER: Enjoy your Sunday afternoon. What do you have planned starting at around 1:30 p.m. PDT? Since you won't be watching football apparently.
RICHARD JOHNSON FROM PLEASANTON, TX:
Why aren't we giving Zach Mettenberger a chance to play against the Patriots on Sunday? He may do better than Landry Jones does.
ANSWER: And what exactly is your plan if he doesn't "do better than Landry Jones does?" You can just turn off the television, go to bed, wake up the next morning and then go to your job on having lost nothing. This is a business to the players and coaches here, and decisions are made based on who gives the team the best chance to win. Trust me, Mike Tomlin isn't interested in furthering Landry Jones' career, or building his confidence, or anything else of a feel-good nature. Landry Jones will start on Sunday because Tomlin believes he gives the Steelers the best chance to win the game.**
SAMUEL PRAHST FROM NYACK, NY:
Do you know the reason why the Steelers organization didn't want to bring back Michael Vick this year? I know he is far from the player he was in the past, but I still thought he brought a valuable element to the game (speed at the quarterback position).
ANSWER: I believe you answered your own question when you wrote, "he is far from the player he was in the past." And it's not a foot-race, and so speed at the quarterback position means nothing.
JEREMY RANDALL FROM CINCINNATI, OH:
Why are you so diligent in defending Jones as our backup? What has he done to impress you? The article I read on him said they dial back the pass and rely on the run. Sounds one-dimensional to me, and you can't be that way in the NFL and still be competitive.
ANSWER: I'm not defending Landry Jones. I'm just trying to explain to y'all that there isn't a better realistic option available to this team this season in the event of an injury to Ben Roethlisberger. Of course the Steelers are going to dial back the passing as compared to what they're doing with Roethlisberger because, one last time, boys and girls: Landry Jones is not Ben Roethlisberger.