Jerry Micco's sports chat transcript: 11.6.13

Poll Question: Can the Steelers turn it around and go .500 or better in the 2nd half of the season? 

Answer #1: Yes, there are some bad teams out there. (24%)

Answer #2: No chance, they are not good enough. (76%)

Spirit Sniper: Do you think Coach Tomlin is too closely involved in the draft selection process? Perhaps some distance from this could help him focus his attention on his coaching staff, player development and game preparation. I see nothing wrong with others evaluating and selecting the talent while letting him and his staff forge that talent.

Jerry Micco: It is a rare instance where the head coach of the team doesn't get highly involved in the draft. Tomlin certainly is, and I suspect will remain so. I get the feeling, too, that his assistants are very involved in giving input. Now, will something change after this season on those fronts? I don't know. But I cannot think of an NFL coach not having major input on who is drafted.

Spirit Sniper: Before this season began, I reckoned that the organization would look to fortify and rebuild the secondary and receiving corp with the top draft picks in 2014. Now with all the injuries and inconsistent play by the OL, I am not so sure. Will the Steelers need to spend another high draft pick on the OL in 2014?

Jerry Micco: I fear that they might, but I'm a bit concerned by that. Here's why: Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan seem to be consensus top 10 left tackles. I figured if the Steelers draft that high, which they likely will, then if either of those guys are available that's who they'll take. But I'm souring a bit on Lewan. I've seen him look average on more than a few plays. If a Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson) or Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M) are there, I might go that direction. The CB class this year isn't outstanding.

Guest: Jerry, Tomlin hired these assistants, John Mitchell, James Danniel and Keith Butler. Is that accurate? Are his decisions on his staff the reason this team is in decline?

Jerry Micco: That is actually inaccurate. All those men were hired by Bill Cowher, I believe. Mitchell is in his 20th year, so he was right on the Cusp of Noll/Cowher.

Stash: Isn't Joe Philbin to blame for the bullying culture in Miami? He should be fired ASAP in my opinion.

Jerry Micco: Is there any evidence that he knew this was going on? Was it reported to him by Martin or someone else and he ignored it? I have not heard that and unless I'm provided with evidence that he knew and ignored it, I'd not say he has to be fired. Now, do I think he'll be the one they fire because someone has to take one for the team? Yes.

Guest: What would go over better in Pgh, an MLS team or an NBA team?

Jerry Micco: Both, but the NBA is a much more established and popular league. I hear this debate all the time, but if you put an NBA team in Pittsburgh, people would go watch it play. Could I say there would be a sellout every night? I don't think so, but then a lot of NBA arenas don't sell out. And and MLS team here would do just fine.

Dude_From_Cali: Jerry: Is it time to sing Don Meredith's MNF fav: "Turn out the lights, Party's overr.."? yet?

Jerry Micco: On this 2013 edition of the Steelers? I'd say Dandy Don would have been singing that sometime around 7 p.m. Sunday night.

Fineline: Does the PG site get a big spike in hits after a Steeler loss?

Jerry Micco: We do very well on Steelers Mondays, win or lose. The Steelers drive so much traffic to our site, it's incredible.

Guest: If Ben's Georgia legal issues happened today would he still be with the Steelers? Why is there still a double standard where a good player's transgressions are overlooked but a fringe player gets released? Weren't the Rooney's hypocrites allowing Ben to stay the face of this franchise?

Jerry Micco: Ben was never arrested and never charged. I'm not saying nothing happened in Georgia, but legally he didn't do anything to land himself in court. And the Steelers and NFL together meted out a suspension, even though legally he was never charged.

Dude_From_Cali: Jerry: It isn't all doom. well... Both SS & FS could be replaced. High pick on LT, and full season on DeCastro, Wheaton, L Bell, Pouncey. New coaches on weak division. [ Darkest before the PM Dawn]

Jerry Micco: I don't think this upcoming draft is loaded with high-quality secondary people, at least first-round types. Doesn't mean there aren't good players out there, but if you get a top 10 pick, you need to nail it. Steelers haven't had many. Ben at No. 11 was their highest pick in the last 10 years. They selected No. 8 in 2000 and took Plaxico Burress, who was a pretty good player here, but not reflective of his draft spot.

The Chief: Jerry, it seems the one play the Steeler's have perfected this year is the OLineman reaching down to help Ben off the turf. Do you believe the first step in fixing the team is a Left Tackle?

Jerry Micco: As I said earlier, draft experts say there are two can't-miss LTs, Matthews and Lewan. I'm not as sold on Lewan as a top-10 pick. Matthews is, I believe. And my guess is he'll go very high, like top 5. Lewan may slide back a little. This is going to sound nuts, but if they are in that 9-10 spot, how about a great NT type like Louis Nix of Notre Dame?

B: Jerry any of the 100 or so baseball free agents as of this week that would look in a Pirate uniform?

Jerry Micco: I like Kendry Morales at first base. I do, and I don't know why. I just think he could hit 20+ HRs and drive in 85-90. Pitcher Josh Johnson, if they don't sign Burnett, would be worth spending money on, too.

Bill L: Jerry, Jarvis Jones could be a low-impact bust OR it's much too early to even consider such a conclusion?

Jerry Micco: Too early. Ideally, Worilds, who as a No. 2 pick is a bust, would be your dominant OLB right now and Jones would fit in until he learns the pro game. Jones has no great pass-rush moves and needs to work on that. In college he just overwhelmed people with speed and strength. Not happening in the NFL. But I think he's going to be very good. He needs to keep working and do the little things. Apparently, he's not been doing that lately.

Chunkles: Jerry, I'm sure Tomlin gets another chance to coach again BUT would I would do, seriously, let go of all the thirty something players that are at their careers, REBUILD with Ben AND coach Dungy. Yes Tony Dungy. He would NEVER turn down a job with the Steelers and him and Ben would work well together and get the Steelers another championship.

Jerry Micco: Yes, but when Tony Dungy has a losing season, which he would have several under your scenario, you'd have to fire him, right? Tomlin has never had a losing season, but you are going to fire him for having one? Assuming they don't go 6-2 over the second half of the season. And I'm not assuming that at all.

b: Jerry, based on his play this season, do you see Flower making the Canadian Olympic Team?

Jerry Micco: He should, but he seems to be the odd man out. I think he's played very well this year, particularly with his heavy workload. The Pens are going to have to trade for a backup at some point unless they think Zatkoff can carry that load. But I'd rather have a Vokoun type who can play 25 games or so to take the load off MAF.

Jason Thompson: Opening Day in April 2014 who's starting at 1st base for the Bucs?

Jerry Micco: Not you, my friend. Here's a shocker and a long shot: Andrew Lambo. Or Gabby Sanchez.

Phil: Trying to stay interested in the league considering the Steelers down year--and then someone in the league thought it was a good idea to take a chance on the Vikings with yet another primetime game on Thursday. What a gaffe. Goodell can't be too happy, right?

Jerry Micco: They pick those games early and are stuck with them. Adrian Peterson is worth the price of watching a game. But sometimes, they are dull as dirt. Think he's happy with that great Ravens-Steelers matchup Thanksgiving night? If the tryptofan doesn't get you, that game certainly will.

Guest: None of the 1st round OT's selected in the first round are starting as aLeft Tackle. OL is an overrated position. The Steelers have drafted high for years and the line is still atrocious, Craig Urbik anyone? If the Steelers have a top 5 Pick next year please draft a WR.

Jerry Micco: Our friend Urbik, by the way, starts at guard for the Bills. You can see him Sunday. I always think OL can be a bit of a reach. Especially now that the college game is a pass-first game and guys are conditioned to pass block. But in the NFL, you need some balance. I think OLs have a tougher time run blocking these days because they don't have to do it in college. If they get a top 5 pick, I'd love to see them take Mike Evans. Tall and fast. But if you look at past drafts, WRs as top 10 guys fizzle, too.

Ken: Tomlin said he's responsible for every draft pick yesterday. I believe him. It's hard to imagine Colbert having more say than the head coach anyway. He probably takes srong advice from Colbert's department, but is there any doubt that Tomlin has final say?

Jerry Micco: He said he takes responsibility for the players who are drafted. You can take that two ways. One is the way you are taking it, that he is the main guy in the room and he is making the final decision. Or, a player is drafted and Tomlin then sees himself responsible for making that player an NFL player. You see, it's vague enough that you could interpret it in two ways. I think the final, final say is Art Rooney II's, but that's conjecture on my part. I think Colbert and Tomlin have equal say.

The Chief: Jerry, pre season outlook had the Steeler's OLine being an issue, but did anyone see the total collapse of the Defense?

Jerry Micco: I think people thought the defense would be very good, and of course, it has deteriorated quickly. Actually, early on the defense played some good football. But big plays have killed them this season. A hallmark of Dick LeBeau's defenses have been the no big play philosophy. That seems to have crumbled this season.

Phil: Stupidest topic of the week--trading Ben. There is absolutely no guarantee they would ever get anything close to Ben in the next 25 years. I say pay him until he's 38 and let the rebuilding begin. You think his wife wants to move to Phoenix? Probably not.

Jerry Micco: The Steelers won't trade their best player. He's still a top 10 QB in the NFL and if he had an OL in front of him that was as good as Denver's he'd be in the top 5. Those guys are hard to find, but at some point when you get a chance to get one, you need to do it. Now is not the time for the Steelers. In a couple years? They need to look for one.

JamesinNYC: No CB in top 20 really worth it...but good news is that there is a nice second tier slotted for the early 30s ...Mike Evans I agree is a great idea.

Jerry Micco: You are right on CBs. Good guys in 2nd and 3rd round out there. Same with safeties. There is some depth, but no Darrelle Revis' out there this draft.

The Chief: Your thoughts on the World Series ?

Jerry Micco: I had the Cardinals in 6 because I thought they pitching would be the difference. But the Red Sox approached the Cards starters like you have to. Be aggressive early in counts and then be patient. It was a good World Series. Two very good teams with a lot of talent.

JamesinNYC: Nix is hurt and has other knee problems...on a 330+ lb guy scary

Jerry Micco: He'll get healthy. I think when it comes to 3-4 D-linemen, the only guy worth taking in the first round is a nose tackle. That position is so critical because if he can only take on one block, the ILBs are going to get hammered and teams will run on you with ease. Casey Hampton was underrated for many years, but that was a great pick. He was 19th overall and filled the void left by Joel Steed.

The Chief: This appears to be the worst Steeler Team since 1969. Unfortunately I am old enough to remember the 1-13 season. How long do you estimate it will take the Steelers to get back to where they belong?

Jerry Micco: I think they will have one more year of rebuilding, then begin to challenge. And since 1969, there have been a few 5-11 and 6-10 seasons. Steelers are on track for 4-12, so we'll see if they are the worst since that dreadful 1969 team that boasted No. 1 overall pick Joe Greene.

MadChatter: The Steelers make a lot of dumb mistakes. Don't you think they should stop drafting the 85 IQ players and go after the 100+ IQ guys? No coiencidence Stanford man Decastro is the only 1st round pick they've hit on lately.

Jerry Micco: Well, IQ means very little unless you're talking football IQ. Wonderlick tests are used, though I guess unless you fail it miserably no one notices. I don't know about DeCastro being the only good No. 1. Pouncey was a Pro Bowl center for three years. Timmons has turned into a very good linebacker, and I thought should have made the Pro Bowl last season. And you can see improvement every game with Cam Heyward.

JAMESH: With the change on offense in the NFL to multiple TEs and more passing, would LeBeau still have used the sub-packages as much if Larry Foote had not been injured? Vince Williams has shown some potential, but did the injury to Foote force changes to the way LeBeau schemes?

Jerry Micco: No question losing Foote cramped LeBeau's style. He was a dream ILB in the 3-4: he was a run-stopper. Timmons can do both, cover and stop the run, but Foote had one job and that was to plug holes. Williams has some potential, agreed, but he's not as stout as Foote. And he's a rookie learning a complicated defense.

Chunkles: Yes Jerry, Mike only has one losing season but why wait for two or three when the guy just doesnt seem to have a pulse on coaching. I just dont see him as the guy who can work with young men, rookies, and teach and inspire them. I just see a guy like Dungy who has the reputation for patience, teaching, and his heart beats black and gold. I just dont see Tomlin as the guy to rebuild. His heart isnt in it. He lacks passion.

Jerry Micco: Bill Belichick never shows any emotion on the sideline. I know Cowher was a fiery guy, but you know what? He went through a stretch of 3 losing seasons in 4 years. And then eventually won a Super Bowl. Sometimes, you have a losing season. Steelers fans are spoiled. Super Bowl or nothing. I'll be the Browns, Bengals, Chiefs, Jets, etc., would kill for nine straight non-losing seasons and three Super Bowl appearances, with 2 wins.

ryan: Jerry, Is there any chance the steelers get rid of both todd haley and dick lebeau this offseason. Or even possibly Mike Tomlin.

Jerry Micco: Certainly to the first two. Very highly doubtful on Tomlin. My guess is someone, likely a coordinator or assistants, will be fired. Tomlin may not get a choice to keep everyone. Such is life in the NFL. If you go something like 4-12, someone has to pay for that.

Dude_From_Cali: What was the reason for drafting LANDRY JONES?

Jerry Micco: To be the No. 3 QB. And maybe eventually the No. 2. Though some teams liked him in workouts and the Steelers had to get younger there. Leftwich and Batch were no longer the answer after 2012.

BlitzBurghDude: Replace Ben in a couple of years? Shouldn't Landry Jones be getting some field time the rest of this season?

Jerry Micco: Why? Unless you want to tank the entire season. He'd get killed out there. Bruce Gradkowski is the backup. Jones doesn't even dress for games.

Guest: If you have to fire either Tomlin or Colbert who do you choose to fire?

Jerry Micco: Neither, though if you think the problem is scouting and talent evaluation by the front office, it would be Colbert. If you thought the problem was the guys drafted are really good and the coaching staff can't get them NFL ready, then it has to be Tomlin. You see why sometimes it's best to say one losing season in 10 is a cause to reflect, be patient, then maybe look at different ways to resolve issues.

JamesinNYC: Do you think the Steelers should bite the bullet and be bad for two years(this and next) clear the cap problem which they they had to fix Taylors contract to fill in...and get two years of higher draft choices?

Jerry Micco: They are not as bad cap wise as folks think. But to get to your question, it's preferred to be bad for a couple of years and get high picks to rebuild than to be in the 7-9, 8-8 range. That's mediocrity and you don't draft high enough to change your team nor low enough that a bad pick doesn't just kill you.

Paul: Jerry, it's simply time for a vallley. Who other than the Patriots haven't had a bad time this century? You know what the Brett Favre-led Packers were in the middle of the last time the Steelers went to Lambeau? A 4 and 12 season.

Jerry Micco: Happens to all NFL teams. That's part of the parity of the NFL. The big question is how do teams get out of that valley and how quickly they get competitive again.

Brian Jozwiak: Did the fact Oliver Luck hired Dana Holgorson the reason he didn't get the Texas AD job?

Jerry Micco: Gosh, I really have no idea. Maybe they just liked Patterson better, or maybe Luck wasn't as enamored with the job as he thought he'd be.

Phil: Greene wasn't a #1 overal pick and more importantly and unfortunately, I don't think a real rebuiding phase has begun yet.

Jerry Micco: I stand corrected on Greene. Fourth overall. It was next year when Bradshaw was the No. 1 overall pick. Some of it has begun, but you are right, and I said this earlier. There is probably one more season in the valley before you start to see improvement.

Ken: I don't see why everyone is so surprised. You know when the second greatst dynasty in team history ended? Last December, everything on the line against the Chargers at home. What was the score late in the third quarter--something like 27 to 3. They can't compete and it's time for a new generation.

Jerry Micco: And you have to draft your way to that. But when you have a couple poor drafts in a row, this is what you get. Lack of depth, and you maybe have to hold on to guys longer than you'd like. Example: In the last 5 drafts, they have drafted 7 CBs. Only 2 are on the team now, Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown. And Brown has some type of illness that has kept him off the field. This is how you have to play Ike Taylor, who is still a good CB, in his 10th season and ask him to cover the other team's best WR. And how you are stuck with Will Gay as a starter. You lose a guy like Keenan Lewis in FA, and your depth is really shot.

Guest: I heard #43 all over Sports radio yesterday for Head and Shoulders, shouldn't he be studying game film instead of endorsing products?

Jerry Micco: On his day off? Seriously, if you think that's why he's playing poorly and not because they have a rookie ILB who has a tough time taking on the run, and CBs that have a really tough time single covering people, then you aren't watching the same game I am.

Worried: Jerry, is there any way the city can survive now that the Steelers are the worst team among our professional sports franchises?

Jerry Micco: It has survived, and then thrived, after the death of Big Steel. I think they'll be fine if the football team has a couple of down seasons. I think.

Guest: I advocate releasing Ben and Troy in the off season to save cap space drafting Marcus Marriota and switching this team to a read option offense. Am I crazy?

Jerry Micco: Maybe. Probably.

Jerry Micco: OK folks, I need to go do a few other things piling up on my desk. Excellent chat as always. The hour flew by. I appreciate all of you taking the time to do this. I'll be doing the live chat from Heinz Field on Sunday for the Bills game, then back here next Wednesday at noon. Until then, have a great week! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco

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