Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Oct. 29

Let's get to it:

GARY KIMMEL FROM TYRONE, PA:
Could you tell me why Mike Tomlin avoids giving updates on Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Adams? And why is Heath Miller not getting more passes thrown his way?

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My experience is that coaches – and Chuck Noll was like this as well – don't want to talk about players who aren't there, or in the instances of Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Adams, players who are on lists that prohibit them from practicing or playing in games. Remember Noll's "Franco who?" I would imagine the next update from Mike Tomlin on Pouncey or Adams won't come until they're either ready to come off IR-designated to return or PUP and return to practice, or at the time when the Steelers officially shut them down for the rest of the season with a move to injured reserve. Coaches believe that constantly talking about injured players or players who are holdouts, etc., can send a message to the rest of the team that the team cannot win without them. That's my theory, anyway.**

As for why Heath Miller isn't getting more passes thrown his way – duh – maybe because Ben Roethlisberger has been injured and NO ONE was getting as many passes thrown their way. Antonio Brown can tell you all about that.

PAUL CUZ FROM FRANKLIN SQUARE, N.Y.:
Bill Cowher won with average quarterbacks. Mike Tomlin has a franchise quarterback. Tomlin is a defensive coach like Cowher and the Steelers defense is below average. Do you think Tomlin deserved a contract extension?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess you don't believe Mike Tomlin deserved a contract extension, but let me ask you a few things: Exactly what did Bill Cowher win with an average quarterback? Not the Super Bowl, because the Lombardi Trophy won during his tenure came after Ben Roethlisberger was drafted. Certainly not the AFC Championship games – at home – in 1994, 1997, and 2001. And let me take this discussion in a different direction and ask you: What did Bill Belichick ever win, either in Cleveland or in New England, without Tom Brady? What did Chuck Noll ever win without Terry Bradshaw? Tom Landry never won anything until the Cowboys went with Roger Staubach.

I'm not going to get into Cowher vs. Tomlin with you because both accomplished significant things during their time with the Steelers, and comparisons often require the tearing down of one individual to praise the other. I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to claim Tomlin is the best coach in the NFL, but I believe he's a very good one, certainly deserving of a contract extension after an eight-year run in which he won four division titles, made the playoffs five times, is 2-0 in AFC Championship Games in Pittsburgh, got the team to two Super Bowls and won one, and never has had a losing season.

Also not to be underrated is the way Tomlin, upon being hired, kept Dick LeBeau and his 3-4 zone-blitz scheme in tact, when other candidates for the job were not going to do that. Coming from a 4-3, Cover-2 background as an NFL coach, Tomlin was savvy enough to see how well things were working with the Steelers defense and how the personnel on hand fit that scheme, and he didn't allow his ego to get in the way, as many new guys on the job will do by believing they have to change things to make their own mark.

PETER BUCKLEY FROM DESERT HILLS, AZ:
As Ben Roethlisberger ages and deals with more injury problems, do you think it may be wise for the Steelers to invest in a new quarterback in the first or second rounds of the draft? It always seems like Ben gets hurt and we have to rely on a backup who is just OK, if not worse. Thank you for your insight.

Lots of inaccuracies being thrown out as truths in this edition of Asked and Answered so far today. "It always seems like Ben gets hurt …" Roethlisberger is expected back this Sunday, which means he will have missed four games this season with a sprained knee. Roethlisberger missed no games in 2014, no games in 2013, three in 2012, one in 2011, one in 2009, none in 2008. See where I'm going here? From 2004-14, there were 11 games Roethlisberger didn't start because of injury. That's not a lot, certainly not enough to panic and pick a quarterback on the first or second round in 2016. I have said this before, and I'll repeat it here: I believe Roethlisberger's successor is in high school right now.

ALBERT ZUGGSMITH FROM MIDDLETOWN, CT:
Junior reporter Xiah Zepeda's work last week was outstanding. Is he a free agent? If so, any chance of Steelers Nation signing him to a futures contract?

He's way too innocent to be exposed to me and Mike Prisuta on Agree to Disagree, but if he wants to take on a few of my Steelers.com Live shifts during the week, I'm in. Especially on Mondays after a West Coast game. Missi Matthews probably would appreciate some intelligent analysis for a change. I'd also offer him one Asked and Answered per week, but dealing with some of these questions could be considered abusive and potentially scar him for life.

TOM ANDERSON FROM KNOXVILLE, TN:
I love watching preseason games to check out the draft picks, the undrafted players and new acquisitions. I still remember watching Willie Parker as an unknown rookie, but we always hear coaches say the preseason isn't a predictor to success in the regular season. I tend to agree with that. I wonder, though, how many teams (if any) have gone one-win or no-win in the preseason and gone on to win the Super Bowl?

All due respect, but you're asking me to go through the preseason records of the 49 Super Bowl championship teams and see how many preseason games each won. All I have to say to that is: thank God for Google. The only NFL team to go winless in the preseason – no way could I find anything comprehensive on one-win preseasons – and win a Super Bowl was the 1982 Washington Redskins. During that strike-shortened season, the Redskins were 0-4 in the preseason, 8-1 in the regular season, and then defeated the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII. The 2000 New York Giants and the 1990 Buffalo Bills both advanced to the Super Bowl after winless preseasons, but those Giants lost to the Ravens and those Bills lost to the Giants in their respective Super Bowls.

JOE BOURBOIS FROM SAN ANTONIO, TX:
I think the Steelers' coaching staff has done a very good job this year, but I'm bothered by this "coaching by his gut" practice of Mike Tomlin. Things like going for two when up by two points against the Cardinals, and passing on a field goal against the Chiefs were very wrong "gut" decisions. Shouldn't they play the percentages there, especially when they are using their third-string quarterback, which usually means points will be hard to come by?

I didn't agree with the decision to go for a two-point conversion with a two-point lead against the Cardinals either, but the field goal in Kansas City was going to be a 48-yard attempt into the wind on the road. Not a sure thing by any means, especially with a first-year kicker, who is the fourth guy to play that position so far this year. I'm guessing you didn't have a problem with the "gut" decision Mike Tomlin made at the end of the game in San Diego to go all-in for the win against the Chargers, which was not the percentage call in that situation. Do you really want a coach who plays the percentages all the time? Or is it that you actually want a coach whose decisions always work?

RICHARD ALLISON FROM FAIRFIELD, CT:
James Harrison is amazing. Brett Keisel is the same age. I know he "retired," but is there any thought of the triceps recovering and Brett making a return? Leadership by example seems to be the cement to the Steelers franchise.

If there has been any thought of Brett Keisel coming back and playing more football, I'm guessing it hasn't come from anyone inside the Keisel household. Football careers end. It was time.

TRENT ATKINS FROM RALEIGH, N.C.:
This is an offseason question. Considering the difficulties in drafting talent in the secondary over the last few years, could you see the Steelers trading one of their many talented receivers for an established defensive back from another team? Also, can one develop the snark that you have, or is it something you are born with? I try but always seem to miss the mark. Love the format!

How many talented receivers do you actually believe the Steelers have, and how many of them would be trade bait? Which receiver are you trading? If you're not trading Antonio Brown or Martavis Bryant, I don't think you're going to get "an established defensive back," and if you do trade Antonio Brown or Martavis Bryant you're out of your mind. Doing a better job of identifying and drafting defensive backs has to happen and the secondary has to develop and/or improve, but I'm not trading any wide receivers as long as Ben Roethlisberger is the quarterback.

As for your other question, the snark was honed over several summers during my pre-teen years. Two doors away lived a family with four children, two boys and two girls, with one of the boys being exactly my age and his brother being a couple of years older. Since this was in the 1960s, there wasn't much for pre-teen boys to do during the summer except play sports and rag on each other. In the world of what then was called being a smart-aleck, those summers were similar to athletes today attending performance camps. I believe it was part God-given, but nothing great ever is achieved without hard work and enthusiasm for the task at hand. Thanks for noticing. You'd be surprised by how many people actually are not fans. Then again, maybe you wouldn't.

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