Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Oct. 6

Let's get to it:

JEFFREY L. WALKER FROM LOS ANGELES, CA: Are short cornerbacks the norm in the NFL? Are there no good, taller cornerbacks out there?
ANSWER: I don't know what you would consider "taller" cornerbacks, but here are some heights for some of the better players at the position currently in the NFL. Jalen Ramsey is 6-foot-1, Marcus Peters is 6-0, Richard Sherman is 6-3, Stephon Gilmore is 6-1, Patrick Peterson is 6-1, Quinton Dunbar is 6-2, Marlon Humphrey is 6-0 and Marshon Lattimore is 6-0.

There is some belief among scouts that "taller" cornerbacks can have trouble covering wide receivers because their longer legs can slow down their process of flipping their hips to change direction. The most well-known example of this, at least in Steelers history, is the disagreement that Bill Nunn and Chuck Noll had over Mel Blount. When Blount was coming out of Southern Univeersity and was going to be a part of the 1970 NFL Draft, both Noll and Nunn liked him and believed he could become a top professional, Nunn believed that at 6-3 Blount was too tall to play cornerback and would be a safety in the NFL. Noll disagreed and believed Blount had enough quickness to go along with his speed and strength to play cornerback. Nunn often told this story and praised Noll for having the courage of his convictions, but there apparently is something to the issue of cornerbacks being too tall.

JOSE ECHEVERRÍA FROM PANAMA CITY, PANAMA: How come the Patriots-Chiefs game remained scheduled for Week 4, and the Steelers and Titans were force take Week 4 as the bye and were rescheduled for Week 7? What was the difference in criteria?
ANSWER: The difference as I understand it is that there continued to be positive COVID tests recorded among the Titans for several days after the initial positive tests. That indicates the virus was continuing to spread instead of being isolated in one or a few individuals. The problem was doctors couldn't be sure that Titans players on the field were not carriers. In fact, on Saturday, Oct. 3, another Titans player and two more staff members tested positive, and then another positive test occurred on Sunday, Oct. 4, which indicated the virus was still spreading, and the NFL wanted to do what it could to prevent it from spreading to the Steelers during a game that weekend. The fact that the outbreak among the Titans began on Sept. 24 when they placed practice squad cornerback Gren Mabin on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and players and staffers still were testing positive nearly 10 days later was what led to the postponement. As for the Patriots-Chiefs game, it wasn't until Monday morning that the New England traveling party departed in two planes for the flight to Kansas City, and then only after there were no positives tests among the Patriots for several days. There is no guarantee this will turn out to be the correct response, but it's how the league has decided to respond. Currently, the NFL and the NFLPA are in Nashville investigating whether the Titans violated protocols that were implemented to enable the league to conduct its 2020 season.

ANTHONY PELLONI FROM PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA: With all the protocols this season, if a game is postponed does the NFL give any consideration to switching a game from one location to another? Specifically, would the NFL consider making the Titans-Steelers game a home game in Pittsburgh or keep it as originally planned?
ANSWER: The situation with the Steelers-Titans game being postponed had to do with players and staff from the Tennessee organization testing positive for COVID-19. It had nothing to do with LP Field being contaminated, and so I don't see how moving the site of the game would have any impact.

DUSTIN CAVIN FROM SAN ANTONIO, TX: Response to COVID-19 in Week 4 games seems a bit inconsistent. The Chiefs-Patriots game was played one day later than originally scheduled. The Steelers-Titans game was moved back a month, and the bye weeks also were changed for the Steelers and the Ravens. Has there been any explanation from the league about the differences in how this is being handled?
ANSWER: I'm guessing there has been, but not to the media or the public, and I would be surprised if that information ever leaked. One of the things that has contributed to the NFL being successful to this point in dealing with COVID-19 has been its willingness to adjust and adapt. Here is what Coach Mike Tomlin said about that willingness as the regular season was about to begin:

"It has been really impressive. It hasn't necessarily been fluid, but it has been impressive. Their willingness to continue to work to make adjustment after adjustment to protocol has been the most impressive thing. We didn't formulate a plan and then send that plan to press and be unwilling to adapt or adjust. We adapted and adjusted where necessary based on what transpired with us, based on the information gathered of the experiences of the other sports, and I just think that general attitude, that willingness to continue to adjust is what has us where we are right now."

I imagine that line of thinking is what will continue to guide the NFL. So, if you're looking for consistency, I believe you're going to be frustrated.

NATHAN GEISLER FROM BOISE. ID: I have always wondered when the Steelers switched from a 4-3 defense to the 3-4? Was it when Bill Cowher became the head coach in 1992?
ANSWER: Chuck Noll was the one who introduced the 3-4 defensive alignment to the Steelers, and the 1982 season was the first one in which the Steelers used the 3-4 alignment as their base defense.

RAYMOND DICOLA FROM GROVE CITY, PA: I think it was in the Texans game, when Ben Roethlisberger threw the ball through the back of the end zone and was called for intentional grounding. I've seen this done in many NFL games and never was penalized. Why the penalty that time?
ANSWER: Far be it for me to stick up for NFL officials, but I remember that I thought intentional grounding was going to be called on that play as soon as it happened. There were no receivers in the area, and Ben Roethlisberger was not out of the pocket. I believe it was the combination of those two things that drew the flag. If he had been out of the pocket, or if there had been a Steelers receiver anywhere in the area, I don't believe a penalty would have been called.

AJ SMITH FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: Do we know yet if and when there will be fans this month?
ANSWER: We do not.

CARLOS ROBERTO FROM BRASÍLIA, BRAZIL: Which were the three games in which the Steelers scored the most points in their history?
ANSWER: On Nov. 30, 1952, the Steelers defeated the New York Giants, 63-7; on Dec. 18, 1966, they defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 57-33; and on Oct. 17, 1954, they defeated the Cleveland Browns, 55-27.

PAUL MARTIN FROM SAEGERTOWN, PA: I'd like you to check me on a rules interpretation. If a receiver goes airborne to make a catch and is knocked out of bounds by a defender, the pass is incomplete. If a receiver goes airborne to make a catch and is carried out of bounds by a defender, the pass is complete. Is that right?
ANSWER: That used to be a judgment call by the official, who could rule the pass complete if he believed the receiver would have come down inbounds if not for the contact made by the defender. That rule has been changed, and now in both scenarios you describe the pass is incomplete. And if I now get 1,000 questions about why the Steelers coaches don't teach the defensive backs to carry opposing receivers out of bounds to cause completed passes to be ruled incomplete, I'm holding you personally responsible.

MARK ADKINS FROM ST AUGUSTINE, FL: With the salary cap issues in 2021 is there any chance of the Steelers trading one of the young offensive linemen or wide receivers for either draft picks or players from other teams?
ANSWER: This makes absolutely no sense at all. Trade a young receiver or offensive linemen, both of whom are very likely earning the league minimum, to another team and get what? More draft picks to use on young wide receivers or offensive linemen who will have to be paid the league minimum? And your way means the Steelers would be trading players they know are capable of making an NFL roster for guys they hope will be able to make an NFL roster. Is there any chance fans quit worrying about the 2021 salary cap until it's actually 2021?

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