Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell picks up yardage against the Bills in the third quarter Sunday at Heinz Field.
Poll Question: If you owned the Steelers, would you trade Ben Roethlisberger following the 2013 season? Answer #1: Yes (17%) Answer #2: No (83%)
Abbie Normal: The Steelers have been filling the positions that need to be filled with the first few picks each draft, but the actual selections have taken longer to develop into quality starters than many would have expected. Is it a failure of the scouting department, draft day mistakes, bad coaching, or is it just bad luck?
Jerry Micco: I'd say a little bit of all of those. The bad luck part being some of those guys have had injuries that have held back their development. Part of it, too, is drafting late, it's hard to find impact players. But at some point, your scouts and talent evaluators need to be able to find guys, particularly in the first 3 rounds, who can be impact players. The Steelers haven't done much of that recently, and it's starting to show.
Subspace Interference: I am sick that the Pirates let Byrd get away. Mistake?
Jerry Micco: Byrd went for what his market value likely would have been, but while I believe he was a great addition for the playoff run, I'm not sure he would have been able to put together another season like he did in 2013. You don't have much in RF or 1B if you're the Pirates, so losing out on Byrd may, if he has a 2014 like his 2013 season, in the long run hurt you.
James_Pittsburgh: Did the Phillies do the Pirates a favor by signing Marlon Byrd?
Jerry Micco: Not a favor, but maybe by him signing so early it gives Neal Huntington a chance to recalculate and see what's out there.
Art Gooney III: Unless they make the playoffs Haley seems to be dead man walking, so does Joe Philbin. I say he becomes the new OC next year. Possible?
Jerry Micco: Couple big ifs. Owner in Miami seemed to give Philbin a vote of confidence, which might mean he stays. Of course, we've all seen how those "votes" ring hollow many times if the product doesn't improve. I know there are offseason changes coming if the Steelers bottom out and it's likely that coordinators and assistants will be gone.
James_Pittsburgh: What position player do you see the Pirates targeting? Anyone you like. I like David Murphy. He actually has a better home run rate than Byrd. He only hit .220 last year with 13 home runs. Maybe the Pirates can sign him for two years for $8 million.
Jerry Micco: Murphy is a guy who you might pick up for platoon reasons, but as an everyday guy I'm not sure he's the answer. There are not a lot of must-haves in RF and 1B in the free agent market. Some of those guys aren't all that good. Kind of a weak crop. You might be better off trading a relief pitcher like a Tony Watson for an everyday person at one of those spots.
The Chief: Jerry, better Right Tackle for the future Gilbert or Adams?
Jerry Micco: I thought Adams was a natural to play there, but for some reason in training camp, they switched him and Gilbert around again. That hasn't worked and now they are stuck with Adams as a TE type and Beachum at LT. I like Beachum and think he's a nice player, but he's not my LT next season.
Bill L: Jerry, have a good feeling about Sunday?. I don't like the Farley-Suh match up with the Steelers interior. But it is the Lions, after all.
Jerry Micco: And the Lions don't do well on the road, particularly in Pittsburgh. But you are going to have to have a superhuman effort out of an interior line, that could be missing Foster, to handle Farley and Suh. Both are terrific players and are a handful all game. You may see a million runs disguised as bubble screens this week just to get outside of those two.
James_Pittsburgh: It probably won't happen, but how do you like this for a middle of the order lineup Pedro Alvarez, Ike Davis, and Andrew Lambo? Lots of home runs and lots of strikeouts. Marte, Jordy Mercer, and Andrew McCutchen would be the one through three hitters.
Jerry Micco: Too many strikeouts, way too many. Part of the problem with the Pirates is they often don't have productive outs. Strikeouts are just that. Also, I'm not ready to give up on Walker hitting 6th, or even staying 2nd. I think he's still a pretty good offensive player, and by your lineup, he and Martin are hitting Nos. 7 and 8.
The Chief: Jerry, does Geno get it going now the Nealer is back?
Jerry Micco: It certainly won't hurt having his big-scoring winger back, but it'll take some time for Neal to get going, I think. Malkin has played better in other ways than people think. Sure, he still turns the puck over at times, but his defense and face-offs have improved. I think once he starts scoring with Neal back on his line, we'll see an uptick in his play.
James_Pittsburgh: If I believed that one of the quarterbacks in the draft could be the future of the franchise, then I would trade Ben Roethlisberger if given enough picks. However it takes two to tango.
Jerry Micco: Right. And some of the teams who will have a shot at those guys need QBs. Jacksonville probably wants a Teddy Bridgewater, or Tampa Bay might like him. There are some good QBs in this draft, but I don't think trading Ben and working a deal to take one of them is going to make the Steelers better.
JamesinNYC: Byrd at 8 mill for 2 years was a mistake waiting to happen. Even if he was healthy both years at 37+38 who knows if he would come back to his average. Think they need to spend the money on a 1st baseman, and let Tabata + Snider hold the fort for Polanco. Who would make the most sense 2-3 year contract for them?
Jerry Micco: We'll see how Polanco looks in AAA, but I could live with Snider/Tabata until he's ready. Tabata, in particular, hit pretty well down the stretch and you could bat him in the 2-hole if you wanted. Snider was hobbled by a bad toe the latter part of the season, so you only got part-time play from him. Shows some pop, but not very consistent. I think at some point, Lambo deserves a look in RF or 1B, too.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, if the Pirates make a trade, it would be for a first baseman. I don't see them given up resources and years of control for a right fielder, when Polanco could be starting in right field on Opening Day 2015.
Jerry Micco: Either spot could be up for a trade, but you are right about Polanco. I'm sure the Pirates see him starting in RF in 2015. If he can produce at the AAA level in 2014. I also don't see Polanco as a big power guy, more of a good gap hitter.
The Chief: Your thoughts on John Moffit DEN-OG quitting the Team and calling football a "dirty business"
Jerry Micco: Hey, if you don't like what you do and you think the sport is "dirty," then he did the right thing by quitting. Plenty of guys would kill to take his place. Football is a tough sport; a violent sport. It's not for everyone.
Phil: Here's stretch, but pretend Myron was here...I'm forgetting what year it was, but wasn't the annoying Jim Swartz the Titans defensive coordiantor when they were a #1 seed team and then desecrated the Towel in a win over the Steelers at Nashville? I can feel the power of the Towel!!
Jerry Micco: Jim Swartz isn't the most well-liked guy in the NFL, but he's had the Lions playing well under his watch. Of course having Calvin Johnson, Farley and Suh on the team doesn't hurt. Those types of guys make coaches geniuses.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I actually wonder whether the Pirates might sign AJ Burnett and another starter and then trade Charlie Morton or Francisco Loriano for a first baseman.
Jerry Micco: The Pirates are interested in both trying to re-sign Burnett and perhaps another front end starter. That's where they'll spend their money and then you are likely right, they will try to trade off a pitcher to get a bat. It's where they have the most depth, and many teams desire pitching.
Guest: After watching MNF I admit Mike Wallace was not worth the money
Jerry Micco: He was worth $5-6 million in my opinion. He was not worth Megatron, Larry Fitz type money, which is pretty much what he got. He's not that kind of game-changer that other WRs in the league are. I'd put Demarius Thomas in the upper echelon of WRs, too, and Wallace isn't nearly as good.
Paul: Jerry, can't we talk #6 seed if the Steelers win Sunday? The Chargers are the Chargers. Ryan Fitpatrick? The Jets will probably collapse in December...
Jerry Micco: Well, if the Steelers can win and couple that with a win in Cleveland the following week, then start talking a possible No. 6 seed. They need to put together a win streak of at least 3 games before I'd be thinking that way. And they will have their hands full on Sunday with Detroit.
Spirit Sniper: Ben would retire rather than accept a trade to another team? I don't believe it. I think his agent needs to have a word with him.
Jerry Micco: His agent put out a strong statement that Ben did not want to be traded nor would he seek a trade. Seems they are on the same page. Now, if he was traded, do I think Ben would retire? Nah, I think he'd re-think that statement.
Art Rooney: IF Johnny Manziel is on the board I'm taking him.
Jerry Micco: A running QB who can run the spread. OK, we'll see if that can work year over year in the NFL. I like Manziel, but he needs to go somewhere he can learn and maybe have some set packages in a game like a wildcat. But my guess is he'll be drafted by some QB starved team and be made a starter.
James_Pittsburgh: I am no expert. However if the Steelers front office thought Johnny Manziel could be the future of the Steelers (they wouldn't have to trade up to get him), I might explore trading Ben for multiple picks. The picks can be used on a left tackle and linebackers.
Jerry Micco: I don't think Manziel is the answer for any team right now. The Steelers have needs and they are many. In that sense, you could really use multiple picks to try to upgrade. But then you look around at needs: You have two tackles who are young. Give up on them now? I could see a tackle in round 2 maybe. You need an inside backer. You will need a safety. You will need a CB, maybe 2. And a WR. I don't think people would give up too many picks for Ben. Maybe a high one this year and next, but if you want to get better now, you'd better draft wisely and count on some of the young guys getting better.
Ken: See Mike Wallace Monday night? He didn't even jump for the ball on that last vertical interception in the 4th. His game is flawed. What a disaster for Miami
Jerry Micco: I didn't watch the game, but Wallace isn't the type of guy who would fight for balls or go over the middle. Not his type of game. He wants to work outside and use his speed, which certainly is a strength, but for this money he needs to do it all. And he simply does not.
JamesinNYC: Any chance the Steelers try to trade for Jonathan Martin? He is friends with DeCastro right?
Jerry Micco: Martin was benched in Miami as he was a turnstile at LT. The Steelers already have those types of guys.
The Chief: One big question about this weeks game: How do the Steelers stop Megatron?
Jerry Micco: What's that cliche, you can't stop him you can only hope to contain him. Double him as much as you can and try to limit big plays. The Bears held him under 100 yards, but he still caught 2 TDs. Very tough in the red zone because of his size and strength. And it would really help if you could get some pressure on Stafford. Tough to do though because Detroit's OL is pretty good.
James_Pittsburgh: JamesinNYC wants to spend on a first baseman. However, I am not sure that there is anyone worth spending on. I would make my priority Josh Johnson and A.J. Then sign David Murphy to platoon with Jose Tabata.
Jerry Micco: Very good plan, actually. If you can get both pitchers, which will cost a bundle, you can probably get Murphy fairly cheap. And as far as 1B, maybe Lambo and Sanchez hold down the fort or you trade a reliever for a left-hand hitting first baseman.
Guest: With Ben's age and contract, chances seem to me he will end up like Bradshaw. Maybe retiring at 35.
Jerry Micco: That's possible, especially with the physical toll on his body. He's got 2 more years left on his deal. We'll see if the Steelers extend him this offseason. If so, he's going to want huge money, and he'll have a legit argument. He's a top-10 QB in the NFL and his salary should show that. He's not Brady, Manning or Brees, but he's in the next tier.
Guest: Is Ohio State better than Baylor and FSU?
Jerry Micco: Not better than FSU, but better than Baylor. The Bears really don't play defense. No one in that conference does.
Guest: Ed Reed has been released, I say pick him up so we officially have the oldest DB's in the NFL
Jerry Micco: You laugh, but with Shamarko Thomas out, what harm would it do? Imagine having Polamalu and Reed, the best safeties of their generation, on the field at the same time. Likely in a nickle or dime. Psychologically, it would be mind-blowing. And really fun to see, too.
The Chief: How good would the Bengals be with Big Ben as their QB?
Jerry Micco: Better than they are with Andy Dalton, who is not a bad QB, but doesn't measure up to Ben.
James_Pittsburgh: Nothing against Larry Fitzgerald, but I think he has proven that no NFL receiver is worth $10 million a year. Without a QB to throw you the ball, a wide receiver doesn't have much value. Fitzgerald only has 798 yards last year and 4 TDs.
Jerry Micco: QB is still the most important position on any team. It's rare for a team to have a mediocre QB and win a championship. I think WRs are very important in today's game, but you are correct. If someone can't deliver the ball to them they are pretty useless. And I also think you need someone to run the ball and put together some type of run game. I know that's not how the NFL works today, but I think you will see more teams concentrate on that area in the future.
Dave Giusti: What kind of deal would you make AJ? I say no more than 2 yrs 14 Mil
Jerry Micco: I'd offer him 1 year, $15 million.
JAMESH: Johnny Manziel will be the next Tim Tebow of the NFL. Great college QB, will flounder in the NFL.
Jerry Micco: That's why you can't count on him as a replacement for a good drop-back QB. I think he could be a specialist and maybe play a role as a backup, but he's got a lot to learn before he plays in the NFL.
Jerome Lane: Jamie Dixon will have his lunch handed to him inn the ACC.I say they miss the tournament. What say you?
Jerry Micco: I think Pitt is maybe 5th or 6th in the ACC, which isn't all that bad. They will make the tournament. You can see this team starting to transition to a more fluid type of play, which is common in the ACC, as opposed to the physical play of the Big East.
James_Pittsburgh: If you are Neal Huntington, do you refuse to resign Justin Morneau since you don't want to see Clint Hurdle batting him 4th all year? Personally, if nothing better comes up, I wouldn't be against resigning Morneau as long as he bats 2nd or 6th.
Jerry Micco: Not if he's going to want $17 million. He'd have to come at a deep discount, and I'd bat him 2nd. I'd rather have Walker 6th.
Bill Pollian: I'm Tampa Bay and I offer you a #1 next year, and a #2 and Revis for Ben. Make that deal?
Jerry Micco: OK, so there are no picks coming my way this year, but I'm getting your No. 1 and No. 2 and a guy who starts immediately at CB for me? I don't make it and here's why. QB is the most important spot on the roster. I may miss out on the top QBs in this draft because they may be gone before I pick 8th. So 2014 and 2015, I have a backup and a No. 1 pick in there. I'm not going to win 5 games in either season. In Ben, I have a chance to make the playoffs both years. Gotta give me your No. 1 this year and your No. 2 next for me to think about the deal.
Gary@NorthernVirginia: I don't get the panic over the Steelers. They've shown that they know how to build a team over the last two decades, and I don't think this year, or last, is indicative of the franchise. I believe that in today's NFL, turnarounds can be quick. Look at KC. Just seems like a lack of reality for too many.
Jerry Micco: KC's defense last year was very good, but their offense was not. This year, their defense has gotten even better, and they have a legit caretaker QB in Alex Smith. And the OL there is good, too. KC was on the verge last year despite their record. Andy Reid fell into a pretty good situation.
Guest: Hi Jerry.....regardless of the teams final record this year seems to me the Steelers will have to make changes......coaching, scouting, GM......where do you see the biggest chanes coming from.....
Jerry Micco: I think you'll see the biggest changes on the coaching staff, but they will not fire Mike Tomlin. You may see some movement in the scouting department, but they will not fire Kevin Colbert. As for players, depends on how they approach free agency. Is there one player who can fill a need out there? A solid pro ILB who can replace Larry Foote, or is Foote good for one more year? A CB who will cost a bit of money but could replace Ike Taylor if the need arose?
James_Pittsburgh: Mike Wallace 40 receptions and one touchdown this year for $12 million. Enough said!
Jerry Micco: I made this point last year well before he left. Not worth that big money.
Bill L: Heath doesn't look the same guy in the passing game. Not much chance for a big bouce back from a 10 year guy. Is he nearing the end? I think tight end is going to be a "screaming need" next sping.
Jerry Micco: Heath has played well since his return, but you can see the knee and the age catching up with him. That said, he's still pretty good and lately has been forced to pass block on many occasions to help the OL. I think at TE is on the list, but for me, it can wait a year or two.
Mark: Hi Jerry.....these past two seasons have been utterly disappointing for the Steelers.....change will have to come but from where....coaches, players, scouting, GM.....the Steelers strength over the years has been excellent drafting....that has not been the case for a while now....what do you attribute that to? Thanks!
Jerry Micco: Sometimes you whiff on drafts. I'll be Kevin Colbert and his crew would love to have some of those picks back, but you can only go by what you see. And I'll be Mike Tomlin would like to have a reboot on some of his suggested picks, but that doesn't happen. Some of this, though, is injuries. Guys get hurt and they are set back. That's something you don't count on because the guys they drafted who have been hurt, were rarely injured in college. They just need to keep plugging away and try to fill the holes. But you don't get forever to do that. The Rooney's are patient, but only for so long.
James_Pittsburgh: My projection for A.J., David Murphy, and Josh Johnson is $21 million. I could be wrong, just a guess. $10 million for A.J., $8 million a year, two year contract for Johnson, and a two year contract for Murphy.
Jerry Micco: If AJ takes $10 million, that would really help the Pirates. But he may want more than that. And if you can get Johnson for $8 million/year, that's a bargain.
Gary@NorthernVirginia: I've been following the Steelers since 1968. In that time they've had two great quarterbacks. Terry and Ben. Why would anyone think it wise to trade away Ben? 20 + years is a long time to wait for another.
Jerry Micco: The list of Steelers QBs between Bradshaw and Roethlisberger is not exactly a Hall of Fame lineup.
James_Pittsburgh: Here is David Murphy's stat line for 2012 .304 .380 .479 .859 OPS.
Jerry Micco: I'm sure he'd be someone to look at, but the Pirates will need to figure out what Burnett's doing before they do too much. If they need big money to re-sign him, they need to know how much. Same with a Josh Johnson.
Gary@NorthernVirginia: I keep seeing article where Troy P is listed amongst the most overrated players. Do you get the sense that anyone who actually plays the game thinks that?
Jerry Micco: No. Polamalu's problem the past couple of years has been injuries. He still plays the game with fury and makes some plays, but his body over the years has betrayed him. And he's a step slower, too. Doesn't mean he still isn't a very good safety, it's just when measured against where he as 3-4 years ago, it's night and day.
The Chief: Your thoughts on Heath Miller, did he come back to early, seems a shell of his former self?
Jerry Micco: I thought he had some good games after he returned. Some big catches over the middle. Now, I did think he came back early. I thought maybe by late November or early December we might see him, but not as early as he was. And I recall a couple games ago he took a pretty good lick on his knee. Might that have set him back? I don't know because he's still playing.
James_Rancho Cuccamonga: Who's in the SB this year? I got the Panthers/Pats. MNF game this week.
Jerry Micco: Maybe Broncos-Seahawks. I don't think the Pats can win the AFC.
Jerry Micco: Sorry folks I need to run back to some other stuff. I'm leaving a lot of questions on the table, for which I apologize. Maybe next week we can get them in. Thanks for taking the time to chat today. Always an interesting hour for me. I'll see you next Wednesday at noon, and you can join me Sunday at 12:45 p.m. for the live Steelers chat. See you next week! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco
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