Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Sept. 22

Let's get to it:

MARCEL MELCHER FROM GRAUBUENDEN, SWITZERLAND:
Will we find a placekicker this season, or don't we need one?

I have to admit that I am somewhat surprised by the struggles Josh Scobee has had during the first two weeks of the regular season. He missed two field goals in New England, and then he missed an extra point at Heinz Field against the 49ers. It was raining in Foxborough, but the weather was perfect in Pittsburgh last Sunday. And despite the offensive explosion against the 49ers, there are going to be times when the Steelers won't be perfect in the red zone and will have to turn to their kicker to get something from a particular offensive possession.

STEVE McCURRY FROM AYLETT, VA:
Great win for the Steelers over the 49ers, no doubt, but what is up with Josh Scobee? Is the coaching staff concerned? Are there plans to move on or are options so limited now that they are left to hope Scobee won't be needed?

I'm sure there is some concern with a kicker who has missed two of his four field goal attempts and one of his five PATs, but the Steelers continuing to work with Josh Scobee seems to me to be the only logical course of action at this time. The Steelers traded a sixth-round pick in the 2016 draft to acquire Scobee from Jacksonville, and beyond that, the following is a short list of kickers who currently are available to be signed: Connor Barth, Caleb Sturgis, Nick Novak, Alex Henery, and Kai Forbath. Slim pickings.

MIKE KEPPEN FROM CLEVELAND, OH:
With Ryan Shazier's phenomenal performance against San Francisco, do you feel a bit vindicated for defending him against all the hate coming his way? And do you think the strides made by the defense in the area of communication are enough or do you think there is still a long way to go?

What annoys me some of the time is the rush to judgment. I can understand the passion that so many fans have, and being passionate about something can lead to strong opinions one way or another. But today it seems as though all of these opinions have to be decided instantly, in 140 characters or fewer, so to speak. Last week for example, Ryan Shazier sat out a Wednesday practice, and the response to that was as if he had pulled a LeGarrette Blount and quit on the team in the middle of a game.

Since you used Shazier as your example, let's stay with him. He was a 22-year-old rookie who clearly needed some time to adapt to professional football and to living on his own in a city other than where he grew up. He missed some games because of minor injuries and when he played he showed some ability, but even though the Steelers utilized Sean Spence and Vince Williams in his place on the way to an 11-5 record and an AFC North Division title, that wasn't good enough for some people who labeled Shazier a bust and wanted Kevin Colbert fired for drafting him. After a single season, Shazier was terrible and C.J. Mosley – drafted by the Ravens later in the same first round – was on his way to the Hall of Fame, and that was that. As it looks today, maybe not.

**

This is what Peter King wrote in his MMQB column for Monday, Sept. 21 when he picked Shazier as his Defensive Player of the Week: "This is exactly the kind of game the Steelers envisioned when they drafted Shazier in the first round of the 2014 draft. The numbers were ridiculous enough: 15 tackles, a sack for a 17-yard loss, three tackles for loss, a strip and recovery off Colin Kaepernick, when the Niners were trying to get back in the game in the second quarter. With the immense production came speed, the kind that had multiple teams – Atlanta wanted him badly pre-draft in 2014 – hoping he fell to its spot. Pittsburgh, instead, got the sideline-to-sideline speed and presence that Shazier brings to the interior."**

As for the communication issues, I see it as an ongoing process. Things were a bit easier against the 49ers because it was a home game and the crowd was cooperative in terms of when it cranked up the volume, but there are road games coming up on the schedule when the venue isn't going to be as welcoming. More than anything, what I hope is that as the season progresses, there is a better understanding by everyone involved – a better understanding by the players of what the defensive call is designed to do and their role within that, and a better understanding by the coaches of what realistically can be communicated in a hostile environment and what the personnel on the field is capable of executing.

PATRICK ALFORD FROM ASHLAND, VA:
With the newtwo-point conversion rule, when Ben Roethlisberger completes a pass, does it count as a completion and when he misses does it count as an incompletion? Do running backs register carries and yards? Do receivers get credit for a catch?

No to all of that. The only individual statistic kept for a two-point conversion is that the player who actually scores has two points added to his scoring total. For example, based on the game against the 49ers, Antonio Brown caught a pass that was good for a touchdown and another pass that was good for a two-point conversion. The touchdown pass counts among his nine receptions in the game, but the two-point conversion pass only counts as two points toward his individual scoring total. The same goes for Heath Miller, who also caught a touchdown pass and another pass for a two-point conversion. After two games, DeAngelo Williams leads the Steelers in scoring with 18 points that came on three touchdowns, with Brown second with 14 points that came on two touchdowns and a two-point conversion.

KEITH OVERSTREET FROM SHORT PUMP, VA
Love this, Bob. OK, my question: Usually when someone is kicking an extra point, I'm headed to the fridge, but with the few I've seen, seems some of the kickers are kicking from the hashmark. Why not the middle? Rule or personal preference?

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Preference. Any conversion following a touchdown can be attempted from any area on the field between the hashmarks at the designated yard line. For extra point kicks, that yard line is the 15; for a two-point attempt, that yard line is the 2.**

KYLE NASH FROM CORNING, N.Y.:
How are you guys planning on winning the San Francisco game with your defense struggling like it was against New England?

Full disclosure: This was a question submitted before the Sept. 20 game against the 49ers but too late to be included in the Sept. 18 installment of Asked and Answered. It's featured here, though, to illustrate the point that football is a team game. By the time it was 29-3 at halftime against the 49ers, how important was it that the Steelers defense had struggled against the Patriots? San Francisco came to Pittsburgh with a potent running game, but that aspect of their offense was neutered by halftime. This Steelers defense only has to allow one fewer point than the team's offense can score, and that's how they plan on winning games this season. Since you asked.

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