Jerry Micco's sports chat transcript: 2.20.13

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Poll Question:

Which Pittsburgh pro team coach do you think does the best job with his team?

Answer #1:

Dan Bylsma (44%)

Answer #2:

Clint Hurdle (25%)

Answer #3:

Mike Tomlin (25%)

Answer #4:

None of the above (6%)

Jerry Micco: Hello everyone and welcome to the weekly all-sports chat. I'll be back in a moment, but please feel free to vote in our quick poll and submit early questions. Back in a bit!

James_Pittsburgh: It will never happen, but the Steelers really need to add Greg Jennings.

Jerry Micco: I don't think the Steelers will be major players in the free agent market, though Jennings would be a wonderful upgrade. You may see some minor signings, but they are so cap constricted, they are going to have to work to cut guys and restructure contracts just to get under the cap, let alone sign some of their own FAs and RFAs.

Jon: Should Greg Amodio be on the hot seat at Duquesne? He got rid of Ron Everhart because he wasn't getting the Dukes into postseason play, but now thay are approaching a Danny Nee type season.

Jerry Micco: And there wasn't much for Jim Ferry when he arrived from LIU-Brooklyn. The team went about as far as it could under Everhart, and that included an NIT berth and some winning seasons. It's going to be a long haul for Duquesne, and I think that Amodio certainly deserves some scrutiny when the school's high interest program is back on the bottom again.

Trauma: Any hope of the Pens landing a decent winger for Sid finally? And do you think that Shero's inability to do so thus far is a mark against him?

Jerry Micco: I think Crosby is pretty happy with Kunitz and Dupuis. Both are scoring at a nice clip and Sid seems comfortable with both. Remember, those guys were Malkin's wingers while Crosby was out and they flourished. I think the larger issue is can Beau Bennett be the winger Malkin needs? As for Shero, I think he does a very good job. If you want a second- or first-line winger, teams are going to ask an awful lot for that person. Then again, you can get James Neal for a song, which Shero shrewdly did.

James_Pittsburgh: The Marquette game illustrated why Pitt needs a scorer. Pitt needs a guy like Vander Blue who can makes things happen on offense.

Jerry Micco: Pitt is such an enigma this year, I don't know what to think. There are times when I think Woodall and Patterson could be guys who average 15-17 a game and can be the scoring punch they need. Then, you see Patterson have the game he did against Notre Dame and realize that's not going to happen. Sure, a lot of teams would want a Vander blue. But Pitt has proven it can play with all the teams in the Big East, but it just seems to hit rough spots when it shouldn't.

James: What are your thoughts on Pitt's new DC? His resume? What took so long? Fallback hire? Was it a budget hire as numerous well qualified people were out there for say $400k?

Jerry Micco: I'm not privvy to any inside information, but when you take that long to make an in-house hire, it means you did a national search and seriously considered at least one or two other candidates before going in-house. I'm not sure House has much of a resume at this point, but Chryst is a good coach and will work with him. And House knows the players, so that helps.

Will: Not surprised that a team like Miamai, mediocre since Marino left, which has so many needs, may throw money at Wallace. And they'll be 8 and 8 or 7 anfd 9 again.

Jerry Micco: Mike Wallace could make a contending team a better team because he'll fit the role of speed WR and open up the game for them. But he's not a franchise type player, though he may get that kind of money. He won't get it from the Steelers, though.

gary@NorthernVirginia: Jerry, I know you just said the Steelers wouldn't be big FA players, but do you think they'd have interest in Steve Breaston, just cut loose by KC?

Jerry Micco: That's the chatter on talk radio, but you'd have to see how he fits. If they decide to keep Plax Burress, then he's the fifth WR on the team. He's never been a great WR, but where I like him is punt and kick returns. I think he could be an asset and his relationship with Todd Haley could come into play, but I'm not sure the Steelers will sign him. But of all the FAs, he's one of the more signable guys.

Chunkles: Jerry, now the the O-line is shaping up, the wide receivers are above average, shouldn't our franchise quarterback get a decent running back to spell him? Remember in the 80's, Marino had all that he could ever ask for to make a Super Bowl run EXCEPT a decent running back.

Jerry Micco: The Steelers likely will pick a RB on Day 2 of the draft. There really isn't, in my mind, a first-round RB out there. They will have several to choose from on Day 2. And yes, they need more than Dwyer and Redman. Nice backs to sub in and out during games, but neither is a full-blown starter in my opinion. That's why I think if they would keep Mendenhall, who will be nearly 2 years removed from his knee injury, they'd be better off.

James: Correct me if I'm wrong, but Steelers Cap situation last year was much worse than this year. Why are sooo many people up in arms this year? They will make CAP easily just through restructuring.

Jerry Micco: Maybe, but my guess is there are guys who don't really want to restructure. And some guys who they want to keep are due big raises. You can always get under the cap, but when you are $12 million over at the start and have veterans who are making a bunch of money, it's not so easy to get under the number. A lot of decisions to be made yet.

James_Pittsburgh: Guys like Vander Blue get you to the Final Four. Without a recruit like Vander Blue, we may never see Pitt play for the NCAA championship.

Jerry Micco: It's not like Pitt doesn't try to get those guys, but they don't always succeed. But Dixon has some good young guys in the program (Adams, Robinson) and more on the way. And this year in college basketball, you never know who's going to make that run in the tournament. I think it's wide open.

Ken: Anybody see Cris Carter's diatribe about having the best hands in NFL history and also ripping Gary Anderson for not getting him to his coveted Super Bowl? I guess he blames Gary for his overdue induction. Do we really have to be exposed his crying and saying how great he is at Canton this summer?

Jerry Micco: It won't be one I watch, I can tell you that. Not my favorite guy, but his numbers deserved his being inducted.

James_Pittsburgh: The Penguins have a lot of firepower. Crosby is second in scoring and James Neal is tied for second in goals with 11. However, I don't see the Penguins playing for the Stanley Cup this June.

Jerry Micco: Because of the short season, and because the first six-eight games for each team felt like an exhibition season, I'll wait and see on that one. I think if they get the goaltending from Fleury and Vokoun, then they have a shot to get out of the East. But the West is so loaded, it may be tough for anyone to beat the West winner for the Cup.

The Chief: Hi Jerry, welcome back. Speaking of Beau Bennett, what are your early thoughts of him?

Jerry Micco: Good to be back, Chief, but I kinda miss the Florida weather! I need to see more. He's physical and moves well without the puck. He had a nice shot block vs. Buffalo, I believe, and that said a lot about how he's not afraid to play hard on both ends. He needs some time, but I hope the Pens stick with him. I think he's going to be very good.

Jon: What's with all the complaining about giving Hurdle an extension? Yes he had two collapses, but they are better off now than tehy were before him and I wouldn't say there a ton of managers knocking down the door for the Pirates job.

Jerry Micco: Your final statement is what folks who argue against the extension use -- no one is beating a door down to be the Pirates manager. And, I don't think if Hurdle played out his old deal, which ends after this season, he'd be in demand elsewhere. So people who didn't want the extension said let him prove himself this season. The Pirates disagreed and extended him. I agree with that decision, by the way. Hurdle's good for this club.

gary@NorthernVirginia: Do you think the Steelers have any interest in Ray Graham? Do you see Graham being drafted by anyone?

Jerry Micco: He could be a late-round, 5-7, pick. Steelers might look at him if they want to draft a couple of RBs, but Graham may not be the back they are looking for. But I think Graham can be a part-time back in the NFL. He can make a roster, but he may have to do it playing special teams for a season or two.

The Chief: Oscar Pistorius, innocent or just another high profile athlete gone bad?

Jerry Micco: I have no idea. I'm the kind of guy who likes to wait for a trial before I'm ready to say whether someone's guilty or not guilty. I want to hear what each side has.

Guest: Has there been any other leaks about Pitt opening the season with FSU?

Jerry Micco: None that we've heard, but we're listening. Be a great opener for Pitt in the ACC. I hope Panther fans are excited about this move. Should be a huge upgrade for football.

Phil: Interesting poll question. I voted for Tomlin, but barely. 2013 could be an inportant year for MT. One thing I haven't heard much-- '07, '09 and '12 second half of season swoons. Maybe it's not just Woodley who's out of shape.

Jerry Micco: Tomlin, like the rest of the team and front office, will need to put in the extra work this offseason if the Steelers are to avoid mediocrity. Fans here are appalled by an 8-8 season, when other cities would kill for that kind of "down" year. But the standard here is high. And that goes for the coaching staff and front office as well as the players. I think Tomlin is a very good coach, but when you're team is 8-8, then you are part of the problem, too. Just are you are part of the success at 13-3.

The Chief: I guess Pitt and Syracuse can't get to the ACC fast enough, hard to belive only one ACC team in the top 25 of Men's hoops.

Jerry Micco: Did Duke fall out of the Top 25? I know Miami is killing it, but did I miss something here?

Guest: Do you think the Steelers should be on the hook for the cost of expanding Heinz field? Or do they need more taxpayer money from the SEA to keep their struggling business afloat?

Jerry Micco: I think the Steelers and SEA should work together on the project. The Steelers have that site for 10 weeks out of the year. The city uses it for other events. Work together and you can grow the business of the Steelers as well as make Heinz Field a better venue.

Will: Hate to believe there's some truth in the anoymous Woodley criticism. There are no Vermeil/Lombard training camps anymore, so stay in shape. Also, I always admired him for shutting up and playing well under his rookie contract. Also, he gives alot of $$$ to his hometown, right?

Jerry Micco: I think Woodley has had a couple of back-to-back mediocre seasons. He's one of their best players, and he has not played very well. That said, he has done all the other things you say, too. I think, though, that Woodley is capable of being a dominant player but hasn't shown that. Be it injury, being out of shape, or just not playing well, something has seen him slide the past couple of years. And the Steelers need a big season from him if they are to be successful.

gary@NorthernVirginia: How about Mike Shanahan? He seems to have size, pretty good hands and speed, and could even play tight end.

Jerry Micco: Shanahan is an intriguing guy, but he might go undrafted. I like his size and think he can play in the NFL, though. Some team may take him late or sign him as a free agent right after the draft. He'd be more an H-back than tight end. I wonder about his base for blocking being good enough for the NFL level.

Jerry Micco: Guys, I'm having a couple of technical issues. Is the poll still available to you?

Trauma: You see Shero pulling another big trade this spring?

Jerry Micco: I don't think it'll be a big trade, but i do see him pulling off some deal. Maybe some scoring depth or even a rental scoring winger. Unless a guy like Tyler Kennedy gets going, then he may stand pat.

gary@NorthernVirginia: Being editor, do you have much interaction with the athlete's? If not, do you miss it?

Jerry Micco: I don't have much interaction with athletes, and I honestly don't miss it. Most athletes say very little and are very guarded. I do handle the visiting locker room at home Steelers games, and there are some interesting guys that I like to talk with. Terrell Suggs of the Ravens is one. Always a good quote. Ray Rice is very good, too. Ravens are a good locker room. Of course Steelers fans should despise them, but they are good, solid guys for a quote.

Guest: Your poll question is interesting, why so lopsided to Bylsma? Yes he has done a good job, but he also probably has the most talent out of the others on that list.

Jerry Micco: Well, I'm having a problem with the poll because I can't see it on my monitor. I hope I didn't prematurely end it by resetting the chat room. If I did, my apologies. And you are right, no one has a Malkin and Crosby on their team here. But you also have to be able to coach to their talents to be successful. Bylsma has shown the ability to do that, but not deep into the playoffs, except for his first year.

Trauma: You see Hines Ward in Walking Dead? He's a HoF Zombie. First ballot.

Jerry Micco: My sons watch Walking Dead. I'll have to ask them about it. Never seen the show.

Jon: You said the city and the Steelers share heinz field. What other event other than Steelers games do you need a 67000+ venue? If you put on a concert you have to take away seats for a stage.

Jerry Micco: Not if you put the stage on the field. But the Steelers don't own Heinz Field, the city does and the SEA runs it. No question the Steelers are the biggest renters of the field, and bring in the most money.

The Chief: On the ACC , my bad Miami is there along with the Blue devils. What do yo make of the Brandon Inge signing, is he on the roster opening day?

Jerry Micco: I think he'll make the 25-man roster. Be a really nice utility guy who can still hit a little bit. One of our editors here, Steve Ziants, reminded me yesterday of how integral Inge was with the A's last year. And thinking back, he seemed to always get a big hit when needed. I can see him playing a utility role here.

Jon: Where do you see Pitt getting seeded this year?

Jerry Micco: I think Pitt will be a 6 seed. Unless they make a bit of a run in the Big East, then they can get up to a 5.

gary@NorthernVirginia: I know Dorin Dickerson is presently on the Bills roster, but he's bounced around a lot. He has great athletic ability but what holds him back? His being too big for WR and too small for TE? Or, has he just been "labeled" by the pros?

Jerry Micco: Same issue he had at Pitt. Came in as a RB, but was moved to WR, H-back, and I think at one point he played defense. He's kind of a 'tweener and those guys have a tough time finding steady work. I hope he catches on in the NFL because I think as an H-back type, he could help a team.

Trauma: The last few off seasons, Art Rooney has been vocalizing his criticism of the team. Sort of a departure from the way his dad handled things. What do you think of this approach?

Jerry Micco: Make no mistake, Dan was involved in the offseason, too, but maybe not as public as Art II has been. I think the Rooneys are football people as well as business people. They very much care about the on-field product and as owners have every right to say what they think the team should be looking at. I think by and large, they let the full-time football people run things, but I've got no problem with the way Art has handled things this offseason. Last offseason with the Arians situation, was not handled well by the organization, however.

The Chief: Thought Greg Malone @ $2,5 Mil would be a good fit for thr Penguins especial since TB need D. Unfortunate he no has the dreaded "lower body" injury and out 3-4 weeks!

Jerry Micco: Malone has a nice net-front presence and it's something this team lacks, I believe. But you are right, if he's hurt, the Pens won't trade for him. Unless they really think he can be ready to play by mid-March.

Trauma: Your reaction to the Ottawa's Melnyk's rant against Cooke? Frustration or does he really believe what he is saying?

Jerry Micco: Both. I can see his frustration because Karlsson is the team's best player and one of the best in the league. Cooke has a reputation, well earned, but has been on very good behavior the past couple of seasons. What I had a problem with was Melnyk essentially saying "get this guy out of the league." The message to his players is "do what you have to do to get this guy out of the league." So if there's a meltdown when the Pens play in Ottawa next, look right to the top for the reason. Sometimes, you can be frustrated and angry, but you have to be above the fray if you're the owner.

James_Pittsburgh: Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports said Hurdle will need a winning season to save his job. It seems that he doesn't have a clue. I would say the chances of Hurdle returning next year are about 95 percent. As long as the Pirates win 78-82 games Hurdle will be back.

Jerry Micco: I think Hurdle will be back, but all bets are off if GM Neal Huntington is fired during this season. I seen Huntington as the guy on the hot seat in 2013, not Hurdle. And I'm on record as saying the Pirates will have a winning season this year, but won't make the playoffs.

Phil: I'm excited to see an in shape Tabata (from reports). El hombre has always seemed to be what a baseball player should look like. Do you think we get a focused version or something like the clown we saw last year?

Jerry Micco: I was, and I still am, a bit Tabata guy. I think he solves some issues for the Bucs when his game is on. Can hit leadoff and can play pretty decent in right or left. But if he can't focus, you might as well put him in AAA and let him try to figure it out there. I'd like to see him give Snider a run for his money in RF. I think a focused, in-shape Tabata does wonders for the Bucs.

gary@NorthernVirginia: I think you're right about Inge. Harrison gives it his all, but Inge provides hitting and power in the clutch.

Jerry Micco: Be nice to keep them both here, but that's going to be difficult. You are going to keep 12 pitchers and 8 regulars. One extra catcher; Two outfielders (maybe, because Jones can play there, too) and one back-up 1B (Sanchez). Leaves only one utility guy. The issue is, Harrison can play shortstop and Inge can't.

Ken: I remember Dan publicly lambasting a loss at Cleveland and forcing Chuck to fire coaches in 1988. He also fired Art Jr.

Jerry Micco: As I said, the Rooneys have always been involved. They are football people and study the game and their team.

Bill: I know it's early, but how does 2 majors for Tiger sound for this year?

Jerry Micco: Like one too many. I can see Tiger winning one of the Opens this year, though. I don't think Merion is his cup of tea, but he's always so good in the British, you have to give him a real shot there. I wonder if my guy Phil can put together something this season and get a 5th major? I'd look at Augusta as a place he could win.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, the Pirates are not going to have a winning season. The starting rotation is 5 question marks. A.J. Burnett had a good season after having a 5+ ERA with the Yankees.

Jerry Micco: I'm guessing that Burnett can repeat most, if not all of what he did last season. And I'm betting McDonald can pitch successfully for an entire season. Maybe he won't win more than 12-13, but I think he'll be more consistent. Rodriguez, to me, is a key. If Wandy pitches like he did down the stretch, he can win 15. I have more faith in the rotation, at least the top of it, than you do.

James_Pittsburgh: Do you see Tabata as a key to a winning season? If he could get only base at a .350 clip or more, it would really change the dynamics of the Pirates lineup. Then Marte/Snider could bat 6th.

Jerry Micco: I think Tabata leading off and Walker, staying healthy and batting No. 2, would go a long way toward the Pirates having a winning season. It may be only 82 or 83 wins, but I think they'll finally break the streak.

Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to wrap this up. Great job today with all the good questions. Always enjoy the hour. I'll be back next Wednesday at noon for more sports talk. In the meantime, have a great week everybody! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco

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