TAMPA, Fla. – Let's get to it:
EDITOR'S NOTE: For tonight's game against the Buccaneers, the Steelers will wear their white jerseys.
CASEY MCDONALD FROM HOUSTON, TX: Have the Steelers historically signed free agents during the season? I can't remember them signing anyone during the year.
ANSWER: The Steelers typically only dip into free agency during the season if injuries demand it, but there have been some instances where poor performance has forced their hand. One of the most recent instances where the Steelers dipped into free agency to rectify poor performance came when the team made the move to sign Chris Boswell after Josh Scobee proved to be incapable of being a placekicker for a contending team. Actually, the Steelers twice went the free agency route during the season for the two most consistent placekickers they've had during the 2000s. In 2002, Jeff Reed was signed during the season when Todd Peterson missed too many field goals and then was "injured" in a game at Tennessee, and then Boswell was the last kicker the Steelers signed after Shaun Suisham was injured, Garrett Hartley was injured, and Scobee cost them a game against the Ravens.
COREY CORBIN FROM GROVE CITY, PA: Generally speaking, what is the team's routine the night before a road game? I'd assume some last final positional meetings but are meals brought into the team hotel or do the players/coaches get a stipend to eat off site?
ANSWER: On the night before a road game, once the team arrives at the hotel and checks in, there is a series of meetings – special teams meeting, then position meetings, then unit meetings (offense and defense), and then a team meeting. There is a two-to-three hour window within all of that where food is available, and then curfew is at 11 p.m.
BOB JACOBY FROM JUNEDALE, PA: With the Steelers season not starting off that well, some fans seem worried. Wasn't there a season they started off with a 1-1-1 record for the first three games and then won the Super Bowl that same year?
ANSWER: In 1974, the Steelers crushed the Baltimore Colts, 30-0, in the opener, and then they traveled to Denver and played the Broncos to a 35-35 tie, before returning to Three Rivers Stadium and getting spanked by the Oakland Raiders, 17-0. That season ended with a 16-6 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IX.
LORNE LANEY FROM YOUNGSTOWN, OH: When Martavis Bryant went on a rant about JuJu and his displeasure over not getting the ball enough on social media he was suspended for one game. Antonio Brown does the locker room video, has a spat with a reporter, and the "trade me" talk. Does all of that warrant a game suspension?
ANSWER: Based on the way Coach Mike Tomlin views things, the answer is no. This is what Tomlin said on Sept. 18 when asked about why Bryant was suspended for a mis-use of social media while Brown was not: "That was very different. That was player among player. That's player relations. I'm not getting into what happens in that gray atmosphere out there among people where there is very little accountability and things of that nature. That's just not my bag." My personal opinion is that disciplinary action should punish the individual but not the team. Not playing Brown hurts the team's chances to win the game, and why should Maurkice Pouncey and Cam Heyward, just to name two individuals, suffer because of what Brown did? Fining the individual focuses the punishment where it should be focused.
TOM HERSHBERGER FROM COLORADO SPRINGS, CO: Why have you promoted Vance McDonald over Jesse James? James has been a good consistent pass catcher. McDonald has been mostly on the sidelines injured. According to the coaches, McDonald is the better blocker when he is not on the bench nursing one of several injuries over the time he has been as a Steeler. Isn't it time you start giving James some credit for his talent?
ANSWER: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Unless you've forgotten, I'm the guy whose opinion in these kinds of issues doesn't matter. I haven't promoted anyone; I don't make out the depth chart; I don't allocate playing time; I don't make personnel decisions. When people have submitted questions along these lines, I have looked into it and reported what I have been told. That's the way this process works.
JAY FURICK FROM HARDY, VA: In the last few minutes of the Kansas City game, did it seem to you that the Steelers were in no hurry getting in and out of the huddle? Why no hurry-up offense?
ANSWER: I agree with your assessment that it seemed as though the Steelers could have and should have been running plays more quickly. Maybe I'm wrong, but I would think that is the responsibility of the quarterback to get the play called, get the players aligned and get the ball snapped in a more timely fashion.
JARVIS CLARK FROM LAUREL, MD: I take exception when fans say the only reason Mike Tomlin was hired by the Steelers was because of the Rooney Rule. If I recall, the Steelers interviewed Ron Rivera before Tomlin. The Rooney not only applies to African-Americans but to Hispanics as well. If that is true then isn't the argument for hiring Tomlin for that reason moot?
ANSWER: You are correct in your contention that the Steelers complied with the Rooney Rule in 2007 when they interviewed Ron Rivera
VERONICA OZMENT FROM HARRISBURG, IL: Most of my family are huge Steelers fans. My dad and great uncle often talk about the "good ole days" with "Blitzburgh"....Why have the Steelers kind of strayed away from the blitz as of late? Do you think integrating the blitz more often would help our defense?
ANSWER: Based on the way the game is now played, the optimum situation for the defense is to be able to rush the passer with four guys. With offenses emphasizing the quarterback getting the ball out of his hand quickly, blitzes can not have the necessary time to get to the passer.
MIKE FEDERICO FROM MEMPHIS, TN: Of the former Steelers players that are Hall of Fame nominees, who do you think are most deserving of the honor? I say Hines Ward followed by Alan Faneca, Gary Anderson, Joey Porter and Levon Kirkland, in that order.
ANSWER: You are mistaken as to the former Steelers who were nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2019. The actual nominees with Steelers ties were Hines Ward, Alan Faneca, Thomas Everett, and Bill Cowher. Faneca has been a finalist in each of the last three years; Ward was a semifinalist the last two years; Everett was nominated for the first time; and they were joined on the list by Cowher. Of those four, I believe Faneca has the best chance to get elected because he has come so close for three straight years, but I see the next Steelers player to be elected to the Hall of Fame – after Faneca – being Troy Polamalu.