With Bob Labriola enjoying a summer break, we've gone through recent editions of Asked & Answered and selected a few memorable questions…and answers.
Let's get to it:
November 4, 2021
DAREN FIKE FROM COLORADO SPRINGS, CO: Prior to the start of offensive plays, I have noticed that frequently the wide receivers turn toward the official on the sideline and appear to be motioning toward them asking them something. Are they in fact doing that? Are they asking if they are lined up onsides? If so, doesn't it seem strange that an official would be allowed to give that type of feedback?
ANSWER: The idea is for officials to call fewer penalties, and not have it be such a "gotcha" situation during games, and so it's not uncommon for the good officials to give a player a warning before throwing a flag. What you are referencing happens often, and it involves a wide receiver checking with the onside official to make sure he's lined up properly, either on the line of scrimmage or off the line of scrimmage, based on the particular formation.
May 29, 2022
PAT FLYNN FROM OAKDALE, PA: How certain were the Steelers that they got a franchise quarterback when they selected Ben Roethlisberger in 2004?
ANSWER: There are a lot of components that go into making a young player a "franchise quarterback," and so I would guess the realization that Ben Roethlisberger deserved that designation happened over time. He showed signs during his rookie training camp with a skill-set that clearly was better than the other quarterbacks at Saint Vincent College, and then posting a 13-0 regular season record after Tommy Maddox was injured was another indicator. I cannot speak for Steelers management, but I was absolutely convinced Roethlisberger was among the league's elite after the 2005 AFC Divisional Round game against Indianapolis when he out-played Peyton Manning and then got Nick Harper on the ground late in the fourth quarter to save one of the franchise's great upset playoff victories.
November 18, 2021
TODD BOLEY FROM CHATHAM, ONTARIO, CANADA: When a ball carrier uses a stiff-arm on a would-be tackler, why is he allowed to contact the head/facemask of the defensive player without being called for a penalty?
ANSWER: Offensive players who are utilizing a stiff-arm to avoid a tackler aren't flagged for contact with the defender's helmet/facemask as long as he doesn't grab the facemask and use it to twist and pull on the helmet of the defender.
May 3, 2022
HERMAN BERCH FROM HAWTHORNE, NV: Is there any chance that the Steelers could convert Connor Heyward to nose tackle so he can play side-by-side with Cameron Heyward?
ANSWER: There's a better chance the Steelers convert Cam Heyward to wide receiver so he can play side-by-side with Connor Heyward when he lines up as a tight end.
May 12, 2022
RALPH WARD FROM WARREN, PA: Like nearly every other armchair GM in Steelers Nation, I was praying for offensive line help from the early rounds of the draft. I'm aware we signed two starters in free agency, but I was hoping for not one but two offensive line picks. I would love to see Najee Harris running downhill on the Ravens and Browns. Do you think we have the offensive line to impose our will on those teams this year?
ANSWER: In my opinion, the realistic goal is to be effective running the football, and that only happens when the offense is sufficiently balanced to force the opposing defense to worry about both the run and the pass. Lining up with big people and trying to play smashmouth is not the way to win games and contend for championships in the NFL anymore