Let's get to it:
RANDY MITCHELL FROM ESCONDIDO, CA: In a recent installment of Asked and Answered, you mentioned that "Jack Lambert did that hilarious commercial with Myron Cope 35 years ago to promote a roller-coaster at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh." I do not recall ever seeing that commercial. By chance, is there a link available to the commercial?
ANSWER: It's available. My suggestion: go to Google, and type this into the search box: Myron Cope Jack Lambert Kennywood. That will take you where you want to be, then click on one of them and enjoy.
STEPHEN YINGLING FROM ORLANDO, FL: If we beat the Bengals, what would you think about sitting a lot of people out during the last two weeks of the regular season so we can go into playoffs healthy? The Colts and the Browns play tough defense and will most likely be in the playoffs, too. Home field doesn't mean much this year.
ANSWER: Not in favor of that at all. First of all, two weeks is too long to be off during a season, and I can see the Asked and Answered inbox flooded with complaints about rust and slow starts if Coach Mike Tomlin would bag the final two regular season games. Also, as a coach or general manager or owner, I would be opposed in principle to not doing whatever possible to try to win games where wins could be advantageous to my team, and I don't believe the Steelers would have nothing to gain by winning their final three games of the regular season. And that gain could come from matchups during the playoffs or in terms of playing at home vs. on the road. You may not believe home field means much in 2020 because of a lack of fans in the stands, but there are other elements involved that make playing at home a more comfortable situation for a team's players.
DREW PERKINS FROM BEAVERCREEK, OH: Many fans seem to be quick to lay blame at James Conner's feet for the lack of a running game, or they blame Ben Roethlisberger when his throws are in front of the sticks far more often than not. However, the heart of the issue, is the offensive line, which collapses in on Ben very quickly and does not open up holes for Conner to run through. Would you agree this is the root of the offense's problems?
ANSWER: I find this amusing. You begin by being critical of people blaming James Conner and/or Ben Roethlisberger, but then you blame the offensive line. My opinion is that it isn't one thing or one individual, because if that was the case it would be easy to fix. It's nothing like having a toothache where all you have to do to stop the pain is have the bad tooth removed. I don't believe it's that simplistic to fix what is ailing the Steelers offense, and I'm also not contending the offensive line is blameless.
GREG GRANDS FROM CORAL SPRINGS, FL: Why are they not playing Chase Claypool anymore? I notice the last three weeks he hasn't been on the field much, meanwhile all the other wide receivers are dropping balls left and right. Why not have Claypool on the field for his big play capabilities?
ANSWER: In terms of snap counts, Chase Claypool's have been relatively consistent for a while now compared to the other wide receivers. In most games, Claypool finishes third in snap counts, with JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson being first and second, respectively. Against Washington, however, Claypool's offensive snaps were fourth, behind Smith-Schuster, Johnson, and Washington. What have declined, in Claypool's case, are his targets and receptions within those games. Against Washington, Claypool was targeted only four times and he finished with two catches for 38 yards, and against the Bills he was targeted six times and he finished with three catches for 15 yards. Opposing defenses are catching onto Claypool's abilities as a receiver, and they're paying closer attention to him and using better defensive backs against him. Another factor at play is trying to prevent Claypool from "hitting the rookie wall," because at Notre Dame he never played more than 13 games in any season, and in 2020 he already has played in 13 with the most significant ones still to come. When asked whether Claypool had hit the rookie wall, Coach Mike Tomlin said, "I'm not acknowledging that he has, but I'm acknowledging that there is a potential for that, and one of the ways you help a young man work through that is reduce his number of snaps, which is what you see us doing."
RAYNE KNIGHT FROM SHERIDAN, PA: If the Steelers win in Cincinnati, do they clinch the AFC North Division title?
JIM CLARK FROM LEMOORE, CA: During the radio broadcast, Craig Wolfley made a comment that Coach Chuck Noll used to say the first series of the third quarter was the most important in a game. What do the Steelers do at halftime, go in the locker room and have a couple of cold drinks and then come out for the third quarter? The games I have been able to watch this season the third quarter has been a disaster for the Steelers. Do they make halftime adjustments?
ANSWER: I guess you haven't been able to watch many Steelers games this season. During their 11-0 start, the Steelers outscored their opponents, 98-39, in the third quarters, including 14-0 against a 5-1 Ravens team in Baltimore on Nov. 1. Had you made the point that the Steelers have not come out of the locker room and performed to the standard in the third quarters of the losses to Washington and Buffalo, I would have agreed with that, but the blanket assertion you make is flat wrong.
CLARENCE CRAWLEY FROM SMYRNA, TN: Can an inactive player become active during a game? Is that possible?
ANSWER: No. Ninety minutes before kickoff, both teams must submit their lists of inactive players, and once those are turned in, there are no changes permitted.
JOHN ROEBUCK FROM ALTOONA, PA: If a player retires but has a year or more left on his contract what are the salary cap implications?
ANSWER: The impact on a team's salary cap is no different if a player retires with a year or more left on his contract, or if a team cuts a player who has a year or more left on his contract. For the sake of explaining this situation, let's pretend that the Steelers signed John Roebuck to a four-year contract that included a $4 million signing bonus. That contract will cost the team's salary cap one-fourth of Roebuck's signing bonus plus his base salary each year. If Roebuck retires, or is cut, with two years remaining on his contract, the team is charged with the remaining installments of his signing bonus to their cap as "dead money." In this example, after playing two years and then retiring or being cut, the team is charged $2 million in "dead money" on its cap.