Asked and Answered

The best of Asked and Answered: February 16

Here are highlights from recent editions of "Ask & Answered". Bob Labriola is currently taking questions for next week's installment. Submit them below.

January 15
I just read your piece on Ryan Shazier. I agree he has come a long way and is developing. But I disagree with the fact that he was the right pick over C.J. Mosley. Shazier misses more tackles than all players on the defense, and is out of position 50 percent of the time. His speed helps him make up for his shortcomings. All around, Mosley should still have been the pick.


ANSWER: Here's something you may have missed in the "everybody misses tackles sometimes" reality of life in the NFL. On Christmas Day this year, there was a play down by the goal line with around nine seconds remaining on a running clock. A 181-pound wide receiver caught a pass slanting over the middle and absolutely had to power himself closer to the goal line so he could extend the ball across the plane and give his team the points it needed to win that game and clinch a division championship. Go back and look at the photos. Find the video. As Brown is extending the ball across the goal line with Eric Weddle twisting his neck backward with a handful of facemask, there is another Ravens player on his back at Brown's feet, having fallen off in attempting to make the tackle. It's C.J. Mosley.**

Everybody misses tackles, because that's how good the athletes are at the NFL level, and the practice rules are the practice rules. You know who else missed tackles and was "out of position?" Troy Polamalu. Taking calculated risks is how big plays get made on defense. You might choose to point to a missed tackle that results in a first down, and I'll remind you of the Wild Card Game in Cincinnati last season when the Steelers absolutely, positively had to have a takeaway and Shazier delivered it for them. And using speed to make up for shortcomings is not against the rules. In fact, I saw Rod Woodson do exactly that a lot early in a career that ended in the Hall of Fame.

By the way, I notice you frame your argument without ever mentioning things that Mosley has done to separate himself in your mind, which leads me to believe you haven't watched Mosley enough to really know if/what holes are in his game. And I'm calling B.S. on this sentence you wrote: "Shazier misses more tackles than all players on the defense, and is out of position 50 percent of the time," because you have absolutely NO FACTS to back that up. Once again, if you like Mosley better, that's OK, but I'll take Shazier on my team every time.

The best photos of C Maurkice Pouncey from the 2016 season.

January 15
What is the current contract status of Maurice Pouncey?

ANSWER: Maurkice Pouncey signed a five-year, $44.14 million contract in 2014, which means he is bound to the Steelers through the 2019 season. When Pouncey could potentially hit free agency, in 2020, he will be 30 years old.

January 26
Although, the AFC Championship Game did not proceed as I wanted and was not even close, I realize that the coaches do not play and it's up to the players to execute. Although we did make mistakes and had issues, such as dropped balls. etc., it appeared that New England had our number dialed in and we were just plain outcoached. Would you agree, or do you believe that it was purely lack of execution of the game plan?

ANSWER: I believe it was some of both in terms of assigning responsibility. The call on the long pass to Sammie Coates on third-and-1 on the Steelers' first possession was fine for these reasons: Coates had looked good throughout the week in practice leading up to that game in terms of catching the football; the Steelers were going to need to score at least in the high-20s to have a chance to win, and a quick early touchdown gets you off to a good start; and making that play gives Coates confidence, and gives the Patriots a worry they didn't expect to have. It had a chance to set a tone, but he dropped the well-thrown ball, which is poor execution.

But I also thought the Steelers had issues getting the defensive calls from the sideline to the field in a timely fashion, which put the players is a tough spot with the Patriots running their version of a hurry-up offense. Something like that is on the coaches.

I'm sure there are more examples of each category, but my opinion is that it wasn't just one thing.

January 26
I agree with most everything you say or write. With that said, what should be done with Ladarius Green to help the organization? Keep him? Trade him? Cut him? By the way, I'm really starting to appreciate the efforts of our second-year tight end Jesse James.

ANSWER: I cannot imagine a realistic scenario in which a team is willing to make a trade for Ladarius Green after a season in which he missed so much time/games because of injuries, and there is no advantage to cutting him now because rosters can be as high as 90 players and there would be no financial savings to the team to do so. Let's see how this plays out. No need for any rash actions at this point.

January 26
I saw a tweet that stated there was a chance that Ben Roethlisberger may not return for 2017, and it also was stated there's a chance that Tony Romo could have Pittsburgh as a landing spot. Any truth to story?

ANSWER: With some of this stuff, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

January 26
Why are Steelers fans so unrealistic as to advocate the firing of the general manager and the coach after WINNING seasons and suggesting the most ridiculous position changes … As I read some of this stuff, it's absolutely absurd. How do you do it?

ANSWER: It's the fine print on that court order. It gets me every time.

February 2
What do you think the chances are that Antonio Brown or Le'Veon Bell are traded this offseason?

ANSWER: Zero, as in none. No chance. Put it out of your head.

February 2
As a long time Steeler fan (lived in Pittsburgh in the early 1970s) and having worked in the Oregon State Athletic Department for the last 20 years, I am curious what Markus Wheaton's future with the Steelers looks like going forward. I believe 2017 was the last year of his initial contract.

ANSWER: Yes, Markus Wheaton's rookie contract is set to expire and he can become an unrestricted free agent on March 9. This is an interesting situation, in my view, because Wheaton is a player who had the misfortune of being on injured reserve for the bulk of his contract year, and therefore wasn't able to accumulate any statistics to entice an outside suitor. In his four seasons here so far, Wheaton made 107 receptions, with a respectable 14.1-yard average and eight touchdowns. I like Wheaton as a player and think it would be nice to keep him to be a part of a corps of receivers that wasn't what it needed to be down the stretch in 2016. But what kind of contract would the Steelers be willing to do for him based on his four-year production? And would Wheaton be willing to accept that kind of a deal? Those are questions to which I have no answers, but my preference would be for the sides to work something out.

February 2
With the roster the way it looks, it appears as if there are no outstanding needs. Could this be the year that the Steelers draft a quarterback higher in the draft since most of the other positions on the current roster are filled with more than adequate players?

ANSWER: There are thousands and thousands of Steelers fans out there who disagree vehemently with your assertion that there are no outstanding needs based on the current configuration of the team's roster. I'll allow them to explain the error of your ways to you directly on that, but I'll take a stab at the quarterback issue.

This whole concept of a starting-caliber quarterback falling to the Steelers, who pick No. 30 overall in the first round, isn't real, or at least it hasn't been a reality in the NFL for a while. Too many teams are without a franchise quarterback, and too many teams usually are willing to gamble on one to sell their fans optimism for the future, and that attitude/approach makes it even more unlikely some super talent slips through the cracks. Sure, you can cite Tom Brady as an example, but that's like winning the Powerball. Long, long, long odds. There is still a long time before the draft, and when it comes to the draft teams still are in the information-gathering phase, so there's no way of knowing for sure right now who are the top five players at the position, let alone who the Steelers might like, and who might be available when their turn comes to make a pick.

Roethlisberger will be back. Re-sign Landry Jones. Keep William Gay as a No. 3 with starting NFL experience. Use the draft as a tool in the quest to compete for a spot in Super Bowl LII.

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