Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Sept. 29

Let's get to it:

MARTIN STERN FROM SAN DIEGO, CA: Greg Lloyd was one of the Steelers best all-time linebackers who truly was feared by our opponents during his days as a player. He made numerous Pro Bowls and was voted All-Pro numerous times. Why in your opinion is he never considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
ANSWER: Statistics. Greg Lloyd's statistics come up short of getting him serious consideration from the Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors. In 147 career NFL games, Lloyd finished with 54.5 sacks, 11 interceptions, 35 forced fumbles, and 16 fumble recoveries, and I just don't believe those numbers – for the era in which he played – are sufficient to attract a lot of support for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He also isn't helped by the Steelers teams he played on never winning a Super Bowl. Lloyd's place in Steelers history is another matter, and that's why Art Rooney II created the Hall of Honor, which Lloyd will join as a member of the Class of 2020.

JAMES BARR FROM ERIE, PA: How does the NFL monitor illegal hits to the head? It looked to me like the safety for the Texans was targeting Diontae Johnson when he was injured. I thought I saw the same player take a swing at another Steelers player earlier in the game during a tackle.
ANSWER: Every week, the NFL issues fines for infractions, some of which are flagged as penalties during games and others that are not. The disciplinary action taken for in-game violations is handled by the league office in New York.

DAVID SCHIBLEY FROM MONROEVILLE, PA: Can Stefen Wisniewski come back this year and will he?
ANSWER: By rule, Stefen Wisniewski is able to come back from the injured reserve list and play again in 2020. I don't know if he will.

DAVE BURKE FROM ERIE, PA: In the Denver game, Ben Roethlisberger drew a defender offsides and was clearly frustrated (yet again) that the officials blew the play dead instead of giving his offense a "free play." It was fairly clear the defender wasn't unabated to the quarterback when the ball was snapped, so I'm wondering if there has been an update to the rule that gives officials the ability to blow the play dead at their discretion?
ANSWER: There are some judgment factors involved, such as whether the movement of the defensive player into the neutral zone caused an offensive player to move, and sometimes an offensive player will move on purpose once a defender crosses into the neutral zone to draw attention and make sure a penalty is called. Or the zebra in question could've blown the call, which we all know is not an uncommon outcome.

JOE KILBURG FROM CLARK, NJ: I don't know if I'm being too critical of the officiating, but does it seem as if the officials are not calling holding penalties on the opposing offensive line so far? I've seen at least a dozen so far, and I'm not that observant. Has a holding penalty even been called on the Steelers opponents yet?
ANSWER: There has been one offensive holding call on the Steelers' opponents through the first three games, and that one was on Broncos tackle Garrett Bolles. According to, officials have been instructed to call only "clear and obvious" penalties this season, but that seems to me to be something that is up to interpretation from crew to crew on a week to week basis. Through three games, the Steelers have 15 sacks and 39 hits on the quarterback, and there only has been one penalty for offensive holding called on their opponents. I might suggest you are not being critical enough of the officiating so far.

CORNELIUS KEMP FROM JACKSON, MS: I know its early in the season, but do you think our secondary will improve as the season progresses?
ANSWER: It better improve as the season progresses, but that same point can be made about every other unit and/or aspect of the team's play so far. Bill Cowher always believed it took six weeks of a regular season to identify the things that needed to be fixed, and that was at a time when teams went through a full offseason program and played preseason games.

MIKE McGREGOR FROM BEND, OR: It appears Ben Roethlisberger is off to a very good start – his touchdown passes are up and his interceptions are down. What is a realistic touchdown-to-interception ratio for a top-tier (let's say top 10) NFL quarterback?
ANSWER: My opinion on this is that an accurate assessment of Ben Roethlisberger's season has more to do with whether he's providing the team with what it needs to win games than it does how he compares to other quarterbacks around the league. Right now, after three weeks of the season, I would be willing to take between 25-30 touchdown passes and fewer than 10 interceptions. Then how that would compare with other quarterbacks around the league wouldn't concern me at all.

JOHN FRYE FROM TITUSVILLE, PA: I read that statistics on a 2-point conversion do not count in the players' individual statistics. Why is that?
ANSWER: Because that's the rule.

TIM GAYDOSH FROM MOUNT AIRY, MD: I agree with Ben Roethlisberger that he's still working his way back. I say that not as a criticism of him but acknowledging how great it is to be 3-0 with him not playing well. Do you agree that he has more upside for this season?
ANSWER: First, there is a difference in my mind between "not playing well" and having room for improvement. I would disagree with you in your assessment that Ben Roethlisberger is "not playing well," but he can be better in aspects of passing, such as his accuracy on deep balls as an example. Roethlisberger has had some receivers open deep that he has missed this year that he didn't miss in seasons past.

MICHAEL PAOLINI FROM SCHWENKSVILLE, PA: I am a huge Steelers fan going on 40 years. What is wrong with the Steelers pass defense? Why are they allowing 250-plus passing yards and two touchdowns in each of the first two games and more in the Houston game? What are they doing wrong?
ANSWER: In fact, two of the Steelers' first three opponents managed fewer than 250 net yards passing (Denver with 215 and Houston with 231). The Giants managed 262 net yards passing, but the fact they finished with 292 total net yards shows they couldn't do anything else. Also, yards allowed don't mean squat if they're not accompanied by points scored, and the Steelers defense has allowed seven touchdowns in three games, an average of 2.3 per. There absolutely can be improvement in the coverage, but remember the Steelers are blitzing a lot so far this season, which puts their secondary in some bad spots, but on the other hand their rush has recorded 15 sacks and 39 hits on the quarterback in three games, which also is a component of the pass defense. The sky is not falling, at least not yet.

JAMES CHURCHWELL FROM RICHMOND, VA: I had to let you know I loved your answer to the guy who wanted to know if you've given any thought to having a "stupidest question column?" Your response: "Too much content for that." (LMBO). That's what I love about Asked and Answered, the brutal, bareboned honest and sometimes sarcastic answers you give, whether it's liked or not. Thanks for keeping it real, as I knew you would.
ANSWER: Happy to provide you with some information and entertainment. That's the purpose of Asked and Answered.

PATRICK ABBOTT FROM FREDERICK, MD: With 24 seconds left in the first half, down 21-17 and having two timeouts, why did the Steelers kneel on the ball instead of trying to score?
ANSWER: You're joking, right? It was first-and-10 at their own 25-yard line. They would have needed to gain 42 yards just to have a chance to attempt a 50-yard field goal and probably would have to save one of those timeouts to get the field goal unit on the field. C'mon. There are things to criticize about the Steelers performance against the Texans, and I even could help you with a few legitimate ones, but your particular complaint is absurd.