Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Oct. 27

Let's get to it:

MICHAEL RICKLEY FROM GERMANTOWN, MD:
Is the team hanging on to Cortez Allen  because of money or faith or something else? Has he shown something that we Steelers fans can't see to prove he belongs on the 53-man roster? Thanks for your insight. Asked and Answered is great.

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Your question was submitted the day before the Steelers placed Cortez Allen on injured reserve as one-half of the roster move that added Tyler Murphy to the 53-man roster so he could serve as the backup quarterback in Kansas City. That aside, history has made it evident the Steelers made a mistake when they signed Cortez Allen to that big contract extension. At the time of the signing, Allen was more of a maybe than a definite as an NFL-caliber starting cornerback, and things have gotten worse instead of better. At one point, Allen seemed to be on the verge of breaking through, but something always seemed to happen to derail that, whether it was injuries, or the emergence of Keenan Lewis, or whatever, and while the Steelers have made some fortuitous signings with guys on the brink of stardom – Willie Parker and Antonio Brown are recent examples – they overreacted to Lewis leaving as a free agent when they offered Allen that extension.**

By placing Allen on injured reserve, the Steelers made a statement that he isn't in their plans for this season, and it didn't seem to be a situation that would change based on the way his knee was preventing him from practicing regularly. As a vested veteran who was on the opening 53-man roster, Allen's 2016 salary is guaranteed, and so there was no cap room to gain by releasing him. I would be surprised if he's with the team when it goes to Latrobe next summer for training camp.

JEREMY JAMES FROM CARY N.C.:
Why is it that breaking news comes from Bleacher Report/ESPN/NFL and not the Steelers app on my phone or the website? It seems to take a day or so for fans to be updated officially by the Steelers with regards to injuries, contacts, etc.

That's because on Steelers.com, it has to be official before it's reported. If it's a signing, the contract has to be signed. If it's an injury, the team's procedure is that Coach Mike Tomlin speaks about that. Those other entities you mention don't have to follow those rules, and so they can cite "sources" and just go with whatever information they can get. For example, let's not forget that a couple of years ago it was an "insider" on NFL.com who "broke the news" that Ben Roethlisberger was dissatisfied in Pittsburgh and that the Steelers were pursuing trade offers for him. I believe another "insider" on ESPN.com was the one who "reported" that Antonio Brown was going to hold out of camp and maybe even miss some regular season games because of dissatisfaction with his contract. While NFL.com, ESPN.com and the rest get things right, they also make the kinds of mistakes about the Steelers that would be unacceptable if they appeared on the team's website.

TODD WEBSTER FROM HAGERSTOWN, MD:
Is it me or am I constantly seeing Coach Mike Tomlin's mismanagement of the clock? Over and over he seems to do this. Needing two scores late against the Chiefs, Tomlin sensed no need for a hurry-up offense or the like?

Here is what Mike Tomlin said recently about clock management, going for a two-point conversions, and other in-game decisions typically made by the head coach: "There are so many layers to those decisions. Often times I cannot properly articulate the process, or the thought process, because it's so in the moment at times. It's just an element of the game. There is doing things according to script, if you will, the prudent things, and then there is the calculated risk-taking associated with winning. I've never feared calculated risk-taking associated with winning, and I've never feared calculated risk-taking associated with seeking victory. The longer I'm on the job, the more clearly I see that, the more willing I am to do what's required in order for us to win. I get my vibe from our guys. I get my vibe from game circumstance. I know one thing: I make a conscious effort not to live in fear but to aggressively take the calculated risk associated with seeking victory."

As for the game against the Chiefs, the Steelers were playing with a quarterback in his first NFL start and a left tackle in his first NFL start, in a game on the road at a venue where the season ticket-holders didn't unload their tickets to Steelers fans just because their team was 1-5. In other words, it was loud. A coach only can implement a strategy he believes his team can handle, and going hurry-up/no-huddle there with Landry Jones would have been a disaster waiting to happen. Coaching can be similar to a doctor following the Hippocratic oath, as in "first, do no harm."

PHIL SAYLOR FROM NAPLES FL:
Many, if not most, fans are put off by the childish celebrations of NFL players, including several Steelers. Particularly offensive is a player strutting around pounding his chest after a routine play when his team is getting trounced. Since individual celebrations often lead to team penalties, why do coaches tolerate such egotistic behavior?

I cannot remember the last time a Steelers player was penalized for excessive celebration or taunting, so there's that. I also believe there are some generational issues involved here, and while I also am a member of a generation that believes some celebrations are unnecessary and over-the-top, the league has rules concerning that stuff. And if a celebration doesn't rise to the level of a penalty, then my advice to you would be to grin and bear it because it's never going back to the way it was.

KEN WALDROP FROM ONTONAGON, MI:
Love the insight. As James Harrison defies the aging process through his much publicized conditioning, do you think Pittsburgh would find a way to hire him as part of the strength and conditioning staff down the road?

James Harrison is in mind-boggling physical condition, and what he is accomplishing as a 37-year-old linebacker in the NFL defies belief. But as in shape as Harrison is, I fear his heart might stop the first time he got a look at a typical paycheck for an NFL strength and conditioning coach. Players can make in one game check what those guys earn in a calendar year, and while I understand that it's not only about the money, my suspicion is that once his playing career is over the only coaching that would interest Harrison is if it involves his two young sons.

JAN STANGE FROM SARASOTA, FL:
This is probably a dumb question for you, but I am an 80-year-old female who's an avid Steelers fan, and I cannot figure out why players on all of the teams in the NFL, when standing on the sidelines or during the national anthem, all hold down the neck of their uniforms with both hands.

During the national anthem, players are holding in a lot of pent-up energy as the start of the game draws closer. Some of them rock back and forth or sway side-to-side. With shoulder pads on, grabbing onto the spot at the neck where the pads and jersey are gives them something to do with their hands. Football pants have no pockets. It's just a manifestation of nervous energy. There is no real significance.

STEVE TERHUNE FROM SIMI VALLEY, CA:
Can you and Mike pick up a sponsor and go back to four statements on Agree to Disagree? I like the show just as much as Asked and Answered, and I don't know why you two cut it to just two. More is more.

Or, as Walt Disney and P.T. Barnum both said, "Always leave them wanting more."

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