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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Sept. 23

Let's get to it:

TAD DANLEY FROM WAKE FOREST, NC: What was the overall impression in Pittsburgh and with NFL scouts when Chuck Noll selected Joe Greene with his very first draft pick as the coach of the Steelers?
ANSWER: Even though Joe Greene played his college football at North Texas, which might come across as a small college program, he definitely was a player who was on the radar of NFL scouts. The Steelers had scouted Greene even before Chuck Noll was hired, and Noll had scouted Greene personally when he worked for the Baltimore Colts as Don Shula's defensive coordinator. From the standpoint of the NFL, this wasn't in the same category as the Steelers using their 10th-round pick in the same draft on a defensive end named L.C. Greenwood from Arkansas-Pine Bluff. As for the reaction of Steelers fans, well the photo on the home page of taking you to this episode of Asked and Answered sums it up succinctly. As Myron Cope wrote in his memoir titled, "Double Yoi!": "Greene became known as Joe Who – but only until he strode into training camp and terrorized veterans. Before he suffered a nerve injury in his neck in his sixth year, he held forth as the greatest defensive tackle I have seen play the game. Once the injury occurred, opponents decided they could double-team him – put two blockers on him – instead of triple-teaming him."

BERNARD MILKO FROM SAINT PETERSBURG, FL: The Steelers are paying Derek Watt a few million dollars to captain the special teams, why can't they use him as a fullback, which he is, to help in the run game? Maybe even pick up a yard on fourth-and-1?
ANSWER: What I'm hoping is that it's more about the Steelers "haven't" used Derek Watt as a fullback in an effort to help the running game, as opposed to the Steelers "can't" or "won't" use Watt as a fullback in an effort to help the running game. I'm not of the belief that adding a fullback to the formation will cure all ills, but at this stage I certainly believe it's worth a try.

FRANCIS SURAGE FROM TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA: I'm already sick of Matt Canada's offense. It stinks. Ben Roethlisberger threw the ball 40 times. Why? We drafted Najee Harris to avoid that. That's just putting Ben in harm's way. And why didn't we stick to the same defensive scheme as we did against the Bills?
ANSWER: Nothing better than a well-thought-out, reasoned reaction to an early-season game. Why did Ben Roethlisberger attempt 40 passes last Sunday against the Raiders? Let me take a stab at that: the Steelers held the lead for all of about six of the 60 minutes of game time, and the running game averaged 2.8 yards per attempt. Why "didn't we stick to the same defensive scheme as we did against the Bills?" Gee, I don't know … maybe it had something to do with the fact Devin Bush, Joe Haden, and Carlos Davis were injured and inactive for the game, and Tyson Alualu and T.J. Watt were injured during the game and missed significant chunks of it.

JOHN MILESKO FROM ELIZABETHTOWN, KY: When Karl Joseph was signed to the practice squad, I thought I had read that it was only for the short term while he passed COVID protocols? Just curious.
ANSWER: We've been over this before: There are times when "reports from sources" is code for "guesses from people who have no idea." If you're enough of a fan that keeping up with all of that entertains you, I'm not going to discourage it. Enjoy and thanks for being a football lover. But please, please, please when those "reports" turn out to be wrong, don't email it to me and ask what happened. You want to know what happened? This is what happened: The individual who wrote what you read was wrong.

MIKE RIGGLEMAN FROM CUMBERLAND, MD: I'm all for playing until the clock runs out when there is a chance to actually do something with it. What purpose was served by having them run a play with just a few seconds left in the game when down by 26-17? Obviously, Dionte Johnson getting injured on that play amplifies the negativity with this type of decision. Just curious your thoughts on playing until the end, even if it doesn't matter.
ANSWER: All I can tell you is that players and coaches who have reached the NFL and are competing at the highest level of their sport, quitting is an unforgiveable sin. You play each play to the whistle, and you play each game until there are three zeroes on the scoreboard clock. I don't necessarily agree with it, and there are situations where I definitely don't get it, but I'm also not someone who worked his whole life to attain a level of performance that allows me to compete at the highest level of a sport. Here are three quotes on the subject from Vince Lombardi: "Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit." And: "Winners never quit, and quitters never win." And: "We didn't lose this game. We just ran out of time." That's what has been ingrained in these players and coaches since they were boys.

BRYCE KYBURZ FROM AUSTIN, TX: The question about blocked punts not being considered a turnover was interesting and got me thinking about another situation. If a quarterback is in the shotgun, and there is an errant snap, and the quarterback falls on the ball and is tackled/touched by the defense, is this credited as a tackle for loss or considered a sack for the defensive player?
ANSWER: This is what I believe would happen in that circumstance: The home team's stats crew would make a ruling based on an interpretation of what the play was going to be. For example, if the quarterback is in the shotgun in an empty set, and when the ball is snapped all of the eligible receivers take off down the field, then I'm pretty confident the play would be ruled a sack. If there were things that indicated the play could have been a run, then maybe it's ruled as a tackle for loss. Either way, the Elias Sports Bureau, the official statistician for the National Football League, can review the play and how it was scored and either allow that decision to stand or change it.

ED DAVIS FROM RICHMOND, VA: With the offensive line struggling and injuries on the defensive line, do you think there are any available free agents who would be an upgrade, or is there sufficient talent in the depth?
ANSWER: This belief that the correct way to respond to an injury or a guy having a bad game is to look to sign some free agent is just not realistic. Maybe that would be an approach to consider in the event of a season-ending injury, but if a guy misses a game with a groin pull or an ankle sprain that's when a team's depth has to be able to absorb the short-term loss. Another thing is that it's now heading into Week 3 of the regular season, and if there were any players who were healthy, affordable, and starter-capable, they would be on a team's roster and very likely on the field for that team. One final point on this: Adding a free agent offensive lineman at this stage would require that player to learn a new system and try to learn to play within that system with a new set of fellow linemen while also acclimating himself to the quarterback's cadence. It could take a month for that to work itself out. Again, it's in fantasy football where guys can be scooped off waivers and immediately plugged into a new team with a new system and contribute immediately.

BOB WERLEY FROM TOKYO, JAPAN: Watching the first two games of the season, I've noticed Diontae Johnson having a large role in the offense and handling it well, but I've also noticed he gets fairly banged up. In the opener vs. Buffalo, he got hit in the knee, and it looked like he wasn't wearing knee pads. I don't think this is a new trend, but if the NFL is serious about player safety, why don't they make wearing all the pads mandatory?
ANSWER: Wearing pads beyond shoulder pads and a helmet isn't mandatory because the players don't want it to be, and the NFLPA is on their side in terms of having the right to choose. Players feel wearing knee pads and hip pads slows them down and inhibits their movement on the field.

STEVE SAMICK FROM ST MARYS, PA: I am a longtime Steelers fan dating back to the 1950s. I remember a game from 1963 when the Steelers beat the Browns, 9-7, but I was unable to find a box score. If I remember correctly, John Banaszak tackled Jim Brown in the end zone for the safety. Everything I read about Jim Brown was that he was never tackled for a loss. Can you confirm my memory?
ANSWER: Rather than discuss the quality of your memory, how about I just fill you in on the details of that game. On Nov. 10, 1963, the 4-3-1 Steelers hosted the 7-1 Browns at Pitt Stadium. The Browns held a 7-0 halftime lead on a touchdown pass from Frank Ryan to Gary Collins. In the third quarter, Steelers linebacker Bob Schmitz tackled Jim Brown in the end zone for a safety, and then in the fourth quarter a 9-yard touchdown pass from Ed Brown to Gary Ballman provided the Steelers with the decisive points in what ended up a 9-7 victory. Obviously, that "fact" about Brown never being tackled for a loss is hooey.

JIM ANDERSON FROM TOLEDO, OH: Do you think that we saw a preview of the AFC Championship Game last Sunday night in the Kansas City-Baltimore matchup?
ANSWER: What? I've just read through over 150 submissions to Asked and Answered stating in no uncertain terms that any team capable of losing to the Raiders is not championship caliber, never will be good enough to compete for a championship, and should just pack away their equipment for the season and start looking toward the 2022 NFL Draft. In Week 1, the Raiders defeated the Ravens, 33-27, by rolling up 491 yards of total offense, in case you slept through that Monday night game.

DERL HICKS FROM ARKANSAS CITY, KS: I got up early (Tuesday) and got my walk in so I could have time for Asked and Answered before work. I couldn't wait to see the overreactions about the loss to the Raiders when we have 15 more games to play. I can't help but wonder how many submissions you received asking about why the Steelers haven't signed Cam Newton yet. I was glad to see that I was not the only one who chose to "stick" with Ben Roethlisberger. In fact, when General Manager Kevin Colbert called me and said, "Derl, I can't decide what to do. Do I stick with my two-time Super Bowl-winning, future Hall of Fame quarterback, or do I go snag Tim Tebow now that Urban Meyer is done playing around with him?" I responded, without hesitation I might add, "Kev, I'm sticking with Ben." Thanks for trying to keep Steelers Nation sane.
ANSWER: I can just imagine some fans reading this and yelling at their computer, "When Derl had him on the phone, why didn't he suggest benching Ben in favor of Dwayne Haskins?"