Jerry Micco's sports chat transcript: 12.12.12

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Poll Question:

In their final 3 games, the Steelers record will be:

Answer #1:

3-0 (37.5%)

Answer #2:

2-1 (37.5%)

Answer #3:

1-2 (12.5%)

Answer #4:

0-3 (12.5%)

Jerry Micco: Hello everyone and welcome to the weekly all-sports chat. So, we're going to lift off at 12 noon on 12/12/12. We're a quad of 12s today. Be back in a couple minutes. Meantime, feel free to vote in our poll and submit early questions.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, which free agent pitcher that will cost $3-6million do you think would be a good fit for the Pirates?

Jerry Micco: To be honest, I've not been checking the market that closely because you will have to see all the tier 1 and 2 pitchers go before the Pirates get interested. Name I've heard bandied about is John Lannan of the Nationals.

James_Pittsburgh: What is your explenation as to why the Steelers offense has been so inconsistant the past two seasons?

Jerry Micco: I think the offensive line has been so makeshift during that time that it has hurt the team's consistency. That's why they used their first 2 picks on OL this past draft. But the impact has been minimal because of DeCastro's injury and Adams now being out. I also think that Mike Wallace's play has declined starting with the 2nd half of 2011. While his numbers this year are good, they are not what they should be for a guy demanding $10 million. And finally, the running game can't get going behind the makeshift lines. And the depth behind Mendenhall, to me, is very average.

James_Pittsburgh: Dwyer and Redman will be the running backs next year. Do the Steelers draft a back in the first or second round in 2013?

Jerry Micco: In making a very early analysis of the draft, there may be one RB worthy of a second-round pick. There are no first-round talents out there. Colleges are not producing running backs, which is why if you get a good one and can draft him (see: Trent Richardson) you do so.

The Chief: Hi Jerry, long time no chat. With all the talking by both sides in the NHL lockout, what one issue really gets the impasse resolved?

Jerry Micco: I think they can come to agreement on revenue split either at 50-50 or 51-49 in favor of the owners. I think the biggest issue are the make-whole parts of contracts that have already been signed. The league wants wiggle room out of those, and the players say no way. Until that gets resolved, they won't play.

Shef: I have a question about the Steelers running game. When I watch running plays unfold, it seems to take forever to get the ball to the RB which gives the defense time to respond. After watching how the Pats and other teams hand the ball off quickly, why dont the Steelers try doing that especially on 3rd or 4th and 1 situations where the runner must aggressively hit the hole.

Jerry Micco: I think the Steelers run a series of trapping plays that may take a bit longer to do, but have been effective in the past. I also think that the RBs are not very quick into the holes. Dwyer is better than Redman at this, but Redman may be better at creating his own holes. Also, if you're referring to the SD game, the Chargers front 7 manhandled the Steelers blockers most of the day.

Ralph LA: On Sunday the running backs were not able to punch through the middle. Is that the fault of the running backs or was the Steeler OL just getting clobbered by the SD DL?

Jerry Micco: See above.

AZSteel: Please tell us that the PG will not be covering the Pittsburgh Jack Rabbits?

Jerry Micco: Is that the bowling team? Shoot, everyone like bowling don't they?

Shef: Why do the Steelers continue to run the bubble screen? It rarely gains many yards and the risks of running such a play were on display last Sunday.

Jerry Micco: Their first play from scrimmage was a bubble screen to Wallace for 10 yards. If you block it and guys like Wallace and Brown are healthy and catch the ball, you can usually get something out of that. Every team runs them in some way shape or form. And since they are not a good screen team in the traditional sense, that's what serves as a screen for them.

James_Pittsburgh: Why are some Pittsburgh talk show host saying that Dwyer didn't do the job? He has average 4.2 yards per carry this year. The great Jerome Bettis only had a 3.9 per carry average over his career. I am not saying that yards per carry is everything. However what can Dwyer do with 8 carries. He isn't Adrian Peterson.

Jerry Micco: Here's my problem with Dwyer. He has two carries in a drive vs. San Diego for a total of about 15 yards and does a good job. Then takes himself out of the game. Why? Is he winded? I think Dwyer can be a nice back, but he doesn't seem to have a lot of durability. And he's no comparison to Bettis, who one day should make the Hall of Fame. Jerome could pound you all day.

Shef: Is it just me or has Wallace, Brown, and Sanders all regressed recently? Ben made some vintage plays last week that could have changed the game yet the recievers seem to drop reasonably passes consistently.

Jerry Micco: I don't think Brown is 100 percent. He just doesn't look crisp and doesn't look explosive. He's got an ankle sprain, and those take a long time to heal. Wallace is very inconsistent and still doesn't run great routes. Sanders played well in the past couple of games, but was hardly targeted vs. San Diego. I like Sanders' upside, though.

Frank: Thoughts on Jim Ferry thus far? Everhart wasnt taking Duquesne to the dance ever. I believe Ferry will. Huge program building win.

Jerry Micco: I loved what he did at Long Island, and thought it was an outstanding hire for Duquesne. And no question, that was a very good win last night for the Dukes, especially coming from 15 down. Ron Everhart got them close a lot of times and won a lot of games in his time there. But it was time for a change, and maybe Ferry can deliver an NCAA bid for the Dukes. But he'll need some time.

Shef: Has Tomlin considered putting WIll Allen at Cornerback instead of resorting to Van Dyke or other free agent acquisitions?

Jerry Micco: I don't think Allen has the speed to play corner. He's a safety all the way.

Ralph LA: What do you think of all of the coaches getting canned or put on notice mid season? Seems lame to me.

Jerry Micco: The NFL is a league where losing is not tolerated by many owners. I don't think it helps a team to cope when they are reading about coaches being replaced or who are fired mid-season, but that's life in the NFL. Sorry, threw a Tomlinism in there for ya.

The Chief: Jerry, What kind of value are the Pirates getting for their $45 million in : Wandy, AJ, Martin, Hanrahan, Barmes, cutch and Grilli?

Jerry Micco: Well, Hanrahan may be gone by the start of the season. Wandy might have been their best pitcher in August and September. Burnett's value is as much in the locker room as on the field. And he did win 16 games. Cutch would have been MVP had he not faded, at least from where he had been, the last 6 weeks. Martin is an unknown here, but if he throws out a runner on Opening Day at PNC, he'll get a standing ovation. Grilli has far outweighed what they paid for him. Barmes is a poor hitter who can field a bit. All in all, it's above-average return in my eyes.

Wild Bill: Hello Jerry, The trend of the Steeelers losing to seemingly lesser teams says to me that leadership is lacking - not only from the coaching staff, but among the players. I can't for example, believe this would be going on when Joey Porter was in the locker room. Your thoughts?

Jerry Micco: Nor Hines Ward nor James Farrior. But, there are a lot of veteran leaders on the team, so I can't really say if that's the issue. Tomlin owns a piece of it, but to me, it's more on the players. And I guess I'm old school when I see players' time taken with radio shows, TV, outside interests, I wonder if they should be doing more film work or whatever. But there's good talent in the locker room, or they would win some of the games they have (Cincy, Giants, Ravens on the road). It's the $64,000 question.

Tim: Whats up with Pitts hoops schedule? Thats pathetic. Feel free to play someone. This will haunt them come tourney time.

Jerry Micco: People have criticized Pitt's penchant for a lot of cream puffs before the main course of Big East basketball over the years. Perhaps with some good reasoning behind it. Pitt has always contended that the Big East is a tough enough grind, which is true. But this year, only Michigan on the pre-conference schedule is a quality opponent.

Bill: Are the Pirates in a good position to trade Hanrahan or do teams know they don't want to spend the money, getting little to nothing for an All-Star closer?

Jerry Micco: The only hope the Pirates have of getting a quality player or prospects in return is if Hanrahan comes into camp in shape and looks really good in spring training. Then someone who needs a closer will come calling. Otherwise, they'll deal him for what they can get.

Bill: Isn't Garrett Jones more valuable to the Pirates than to other teams?

Jerry Micco: I think a team that is starved for offense can't afford to trade 27 HRs and 80 RBIs. That said, he cannot hit lefties and he's a liability in RF. Probably be a very good DH in the American. If you truly platoon him with Gabby Sanchez, he doesn't hit those numbers, but he'll still provide some power.

The Chief: Jerry, the Steelers have two home games left, what players will be making their last appearances in the Black and Gold, aside from Mendenhall?

Jerry Micco: I'd say Wallace, Harrison and Hampton lead that parade. Might also see Foote gone. Guys like Will Allen, Plaxico Burress, Pope may also be exiting next season. And while he won't play, Leftwich likely is done after this season.

Arthur: O/U 1500 pitt fans traveling to Birmingham?

Jerry Micco: You know, I'm going to say over because with Chryst staying and not bolting for Wisconsin, there might be more interest in the program. At least there should be. And I think playing Ole Miss, and SEC team with a bit of history, should get some folks there, too.

Chooch: Is Geno Thorpe enough of an impact player to bring PSU hoops into the National spotlight?

Jerry Micco: Not right away, but Pat Chambers is doing a good job at PSU. Really hurt them this year to lose Tim Frazier. And the Big Ten is loaded this year, it's going to be a long season for the Lions.

Question: If Bruce Arians retired, why is he coaching the Colts?

Jerry Micco: Like many people, they "unretire" when they get hired by another team.

Dave: Jerry, could you rank order Steeler draft needs: RB, Safety, LB, CB.

Jerry Micco: LB, Safety, RB, CB.

The Chief: Never could understand the "coach did not get us ready to play" concept. Seems like the team is getting paid to do one thing championships. What more do they need!!

Jerry Micco: I think Ed Bouchette said this about Chuck Noll, and I can't quote the coach correctly, but it's on the order of "if I have to motivate them, that's a problem." Something like that, but you get the point.

Wild Bill: If Penn State gets a commitment from Jake Waters tomorrow, I'm feeling pretty good about their recruiting class, regardless of smaller numbers. What do you think of that group?

Jerry Micco: If Waters is part of that group it's a solid top 25 group. But there are more guys in it that are "reaches" than they've had in the past, but considering they are recruiting with one arm tied behind them, that's a very good class. If Waters is in it, and if all those kids actually sign and stay around. Remember, kids can transfer out until August practices start.

Shef: In order to defeat Dallas on Sunday the Steelers must (Blank)? (Please don't say score more points:)

Jerry Micco: Win the turnover battle by at least 2 and control the ball by making third downs and keeping it away from the Dallas offense. And somehow, pressure Romo. He's usually good for a couple of picks if you can do that.

Wild Bill: Do the injury numbers for the Steelers indicate a problem with strength/conditioning coaching compared with other teams?

Jerry Micco: I don't think so. Many of their injuries are when guys roll up on other guys. I think they are just football injuries for the most part. The two that make you shake your head are Polamalu and Woodley, particularly Woodley. That hamstring is always injured. Something isn't right there.

Watchdog: When Ron Cook travels to away steeler games, is that paid for by the PG or TheFan?

Jerry Micco: We pay for his travel. But if you're from The Fan, we'll gladly accept travel donations!

Spanky: Do you think Congress will be successful in their bid to push HGH testing in the NFL?

Jerry Micco: I doubt it, but they may put enough pressure on the league to do it themselves.

Shef: Despite the lack of turnovers, the Defense doesn't get enough credit. They played a dominant first half against Rivers holding them no 0 points on several drives which started in Steelers territory. No other team in the NFL plays reliable defense like the Steelers. Do you think it's all on the offense?

Jerry Micco: Early on, the defense had a penchant for giving up late leads, and that was on them. But the majority of this year, the defense has played very well. If the offense can get 20-24 points, they generally can win. The issue with the defense is lack of splash plays (Tomlinism). Turnovers and sacks are what can change a game around.

Ralph LA: In this week's story, I liked the candor out of the Steelers after Sunday's loss. Do you ever get anything similar out of the Pirates?

Jerry Micco: Players and managers/coaches, for the most part carefully select their words in any sport. Often, we get candor from the Pirates.

Shef: Do you see the Steelers losing to the Browns or Bengals at home?

Jerry Micco: If they play like they did in Baltimore, no. If they play like they did vs. San Diego, yes.

Shef: Would you attribute Polamalu's lackluster play to his injury, age, lack of reps this season, or all three?

Jerry Micco: All three. They are trying to spell him with Will Allen so he's not having to play entire games, but he's not the same player he once was.

True NHL Fan.: I'd like to thank PG for running the article today on how the NHL lockout affects business. I get tired of reading lockout update article blogs where people respond 'who cares'... well, frankly a lot of little guys do, the likely extra tax revenue for the city/region those sports events probably brings revenue for better city infrastructure- road, police, FD... that benefits everybody..

Jerry Micco: I appreciate the feedback and will pass it on to our Metro staff editors and reporters who shepherded the story into print.

Chunkles: Jerry that team not ready to play the Chargers, last Sunday should be ashamed of themselves! It starts with the head coach but ALL the coaches should be ashamed. Plus, who is stupid enough to let Big Ben out on the field with 11 minutes to go down 34-10? I know he is competitive but he is recovering from and injury that sidelined him for 3 weeks. DUMB!

Jerry Micco: If Ben had been injured, the fans would have really been up in arms. Imagine that scenario. Many of us wondered why Ben was in at that point.

praveen: I hope people realize now that Charlie Batch had a very good game in Baltimore for an NFL QB, and not just when measured against other 3rd stringers. I think people just remembered even probowl QBs throw INTs and worse turnovers. Batch made those quick screens look effortless. I hope he remains #2 ahead of LEftwich the rest of the way.

Jerry Micco: I think that's likely.

praveen: Regardless of the mistakes made by the offense and defense, the Steelers failure still boils down to the way Tomlin never had a successor in mind for Everest. If the special teams were merely COMPETENT, Steelers probably lose 2 or 3 less games. Every fake or blocked attempt seems to work one way against the steelers instead of the Steelres successfully executing those. Reading the post game comments from opposing coaches, it is obvious our strategy on special teams is questionable. Not to mention the numerous penalties on return. Amos Jones needs to go.

Jerry Micco: Special teams have been anything but this season. And the punt return has all but disappeared from their arsenal. Mostly now just fair catches or there's a penalty.

James_Pittsburgh: Other than adding a starter and some low cost relievers, is the Pirates 2013 roster basically set?

Jerry Micco: I'd say so.

praveen: At some point, one has to wonder if this is the most injured of contending clubs. Even GB which had numerous injuries during their SB 45 year didn't have this number so frequently throughout the season. Even a young guy like Allen who replaces Ike gets injured after just one game as a starter?

Jerry Micco: Every team is dealing with injuries this time of year, but the Steelers just seem to have people go down every game. It's odd, really.

praveen: There is talk about Colon being jettisoned and the counterargument is the cap money already committed. Wouldn't that make him attractive as trade bait to a team like Chicago or AZ and we can get some defensive depth or a young draft pick in return?

Jerry Micco: If you traded Colon you might get a 4th-round pick. I don't think Arizona or Chicago would give up all that much. Besides, he's often touted as their best OL when he's healthy.

Chunkles: This guy Mendenhall, What a jerk! People pay good money to go to Heinz Field to watch a game, struggling with bad economic hardships and Mendenhall would have gotten 41 thousand dollars to stand on the sidelines in street cloths and watch the game. But he didnt show because he wasnt playing! Good bye Rashard and take your ignorance with you!

Jerry Micco: I think Mendy is gone after this season, but just one point. I'm not sure it's really required for inactives to attend the game. I think it's terrible form and makes you a lousy teammate, but I don't think by contract he's required to be there.

Jerry Micco: I think Mendy is gone after this season, but just one point. I'm not sure it's really required for inactives to attend the game. I think it's terrible form and makes you a lousy teammate, but I don't think by contract he's required to be there.

The Chief: Jerry, you really belive Chryst is staying ? Barry Alvarez was always a great recruiter. In the unlikey event event Chryst bolts to the Badgers, do the Panthers finally turn to Tom Bradley?

Jerry Micco: I really do think Chryst is here. For how many years, I don't know, but I think he's staying around through this contract. I know and like Tom Bradley. He's a hell of a football coach. But I don't think any college will touch him after the Sandusky scandal. Now, an NFL team might be a great landing spot for him.

Tony: What has happened to Rainey? He seems like he is scared when he runs on kickoffs.

Jerry Micco: I think he's a rookie and that shows. He had a really nice return vs. SD, but again, special teams don't block all that well, or they commit penalties. I'd like to see Rainey do more in the offense, but he needs to find the right situations to do so.

DK: Regarding the Steelers, there seems to be much critism toward coaching, Wallace, OL regarding their inconsistency, but I have not heard any blame toward #56 ($61 man). Let's face it, he looks out of shape and his production (or lack of) over the past 2 seasons has been a major blow toward no pressure/turnovers. What do you think? He seems to get a pass from fans & media due to historical stats..

Jerry Micco: He's still their best pass rusher when healthy and he's also strong against the run. His problem is staying on the field. I mean, you can't penalize him for being injured, but right now the Steelers aren't getting their money's worth out of Woodley.

Ryphia: If Mendenhall wasn't required by rule to be at the game then what was his detrimental behavior that caused the suspension?

Jerry Micco: It stemmed from him being absent on Sunday. As I said, he may not be bound by contract to be there, but it may be a team rule that unless you're injured to the point where your being on the sideline would be dangerous to your health, then you need to be there.

praveen: What if Redman was injured an hour before the game. Could they have replaced him wth Mendy if Mendy showed up?

Jerry Micco: I'm not sure how that works. I think you can substitute from your original inactive players list, but I cannot say for sure.

The Chief: Your thoughts on Taglibue's decision on "Bounty Gate"...

Jerry Micco: I think the players got away with one, but I'm glad he pointed out that the culture of the highest ranking administrators was the root cause of things. This was condoned by a lot of people. Not all of them, and not the entire Saints organization, but certainly high-ranking individuals. Sound familiar? If you follow Penn State, it should.

Wild Bill: I wish hockey were here, but I have to tell you, I'm starting to get a life and move on with other things in the evenings. Might be a lot less involved when it's over.

Jerry Micco: That is exactly what the NHL should fear. Some fans will just abandon the sport because of all the stuff surrounding the lockout. Hardcore fans will return, but the fringe fans, who will spend time and money with the sport, could very well drift away. And if this comes up again in 5 years, some hardcore fans may give up as well.

Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to wrap things up. Excellent job by all of you today. Great questions and opinions, and I appreciate you taking the time to share. I'm not going to be here next week as I'm taking some vacation, but I'll be back on Dec. 26. Who knows, we may be talking Steeler playoff football by then, or even a shortened NHL season. So happy holidays everyone. I'll see you on Dec. 26. Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco

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