Jerry Micco's sports chat transcript: 11.27.13

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Abbie Normal: It struck me that the players whose contracts were restructured before the season were ones that the team planned on keeping around for a while. I have read about the Steelers potentially parting ways with Woodley, but that would be the biggest chunk of dead money that I can ever remember the team swallowing. If the Steelers want Worilds as a starter next season, wouldn't it make sense to move one of the outside linebackers inside rather than to get rid of Woodley?

Jerry Micco: There is a lot of "dead money" if you cut Woodley, but the impact isn't as great as it may seem. However, before you get to that point, I say flip Woodley and Worilds and see how that works. It's obvious Worilds is more comfortable at LOLB, and that was proven last year when he replaced an injured Woodley. And Woodley has said he has no problem flipping sides. I think we'll see that at some point this season, and what a boost it would be for the Steelers to have Worilds playing well, considering he's a No. 2 pick.

Spirit Sniper: Do you think K. Lewis would have stayed with the Steelers if they offered him the same money as NO did, or was his heart in Louisiana?

Poll Question
Do you think the Steelers can still make the playoffs IF they lose at Baltimore Thanksgiving night?
  • Answer #1: Yes (48%) 
  • Answer #2: No (52%)

Jerry Micco: I really don't know if that's the case, but the Steelers would never have offered the money the Saints did. I liked Lewis a lot, but he had one good season. And I thought Allen would be an almost identical replacement. Turns out Allen has regressed some, and Lewis is playing well in New Orleans. But sometimes the cap makes you have to make tough decisions.

James_Pittsburgh: Happy Thanksgiving!

Jerry Micco: Same to you. Hope you have a great one!

James_Pittsburgh: Why haven't the Penguins picked up a veteran goalie yet?

Jerry Micco: Maybe there isn't one being made available yet. They certainly need one, I would think. Zatkoff is a nice goalie, but he's not ready to be a full-time backup at this level. I think you are going to see one of the defensemen go at some point so Fleury gets a real backup. He cannot continue at this pace.

Spirit Sniper: I could envision Ben asking to be traded if Haley didn't relent and allow him to change the play at the line of scrimmage, couldn't you? I never understood how a QB who had won two SBs and been to a third would not be allowed to change a play at the LOS.

Jerry Micco: It seems that Ben always could do that, though. I think the no-huddle fits Ben so well and the Steelers know that. I don't think they want to run it exclusively, but as long as it's working and defenses are having a hard time handling it, why stop? And it's not a hurry-up as many people are categorizing it. They run plenty of time off the clock when they have to do that.

Keith: If you could have one player as he was at that time from the bonilla/bonds/vanslyke pirates teams for the 2014 pirates, who would it be?

Jerry Micco: Bonds. Best player I ever saw as far as hitting a baseball. I know the whole juicing thing later in his career, but he really didn't need to do that and he's still be one of the greats. Tremendous hands and bat speed. It was natural. Wasn't the best teammate or best guy around, but he could play the game.

James_Pittsburgh: Chris Young got $7.25 million after hitting .200 with 12 home runs for the A's. Can the Pirates actually sign anyone worthwhile in their price range?

Jerry Micco: I think because they wait until late in the FA season, they tend to get guys at a bargain, but there is a high-risk that they won't work out. I think they really want Sanchez to play first base and would like to play him there quite a bit. As for RF, they may be happy with Tabata until Polanco is ready. But I suspect that at some point this winter, there is a trade or a signing to address at least one of those spots.

Abbie Normal: Jerry, is the PG Blog site a work in progress or is it in its fully-realized form? It just isn't the vibrant forum as it used to be.

Jerry Micco: It is as we are using a new software system. But the biggest change is that we now ask people who are not home subscribers to buy a digital subscription. A lot of folks won't do that, so they go elsewhere. We don't want to lose them, but you can't force people to pay. I will say the quality of the writing continues to be excellent and that many people have bought digital packages. Also, people do get 10 free clicks a month, so you can see some of our blogs for free.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I believe Johan Hedberg is available. He posted a 2.76 GAA last year for NJ.

Jerry Micco: And maybe Ray Shero will head that direction as he's a known quantity for the Penguins. I also wonder what is going on with Vokoun? He could be ready by March or he could retire. Maybe there is something going on with him?

Phil: Don't mean to sound too harsh, but shame on this region's sports fans for turning their back a few weeks ago on one of the greatest franchises in professional sports that's given us so much. After tomorrow night, I fully expect a different tone--there's a contender in town. And yes, doing some damage in January is not out of the question.

Jerry Micco: Well, when you are 0-4 and 2-6 you can't expect fans to fall in love with you all over again, can you? No team is above fan reproach, but I was surprised at all the venom over what could be their first losing season in 10 years. To me, that consistency deserved some respect, but I had no problem with fans who were upset at an 0-4 start. Just think if that 0-4 was a 2-2 start? This team would be 7-4 and battling Cincinnati tooth and nail for the division.

Subspace Interference: I agree with you on Bonds, but he always fell flat in the playoffs when he was with the Pirates. To me that is part of his legacy in Pittsburgh. A hit here or there against Cincy or Atlanta and the Pirates would have gone to the World Series.

Jerry Micco: No question he underperformed in the playoffs here. When he was in San Francisco, and I was out there for 7 of those seasons and we covered the Giants, he did hit in the playoffs. In the World Series vs. the Angels, he killed the ball. The Giants still lost.

Weegie Thompson: Jerry, I can't believe after an 0-4 start we have a real game Thursday. Does Tomlin outcoach Harbaugh to win this game?

Jerry Micco: It's never easy to win in Baltimore, so the Steelers will certainly have their hands full. But Harbaugh and Tomlin have been on opposing sidelines many times and both have had their good and bad moments during those matchups. More important is this: Can the Steelers continue to move the ball on offense and can the defense win the turnover battle vs. Joe Flacco?

James_InWinston: What are the chances the Pirates sign Carlos Beltran and would that be a good signing?

Jerry Micco: I don't think they'll shell out the money for Beltran. Would be around $15 to $18 million. I like him as a player, always have, but he's not what he used to be.

Ken: Tomlin is proving his meddle. It's undeniable. With a lesser coach the Steelers would have been spiraling towards a 5 and 11 mess. He kept them focused after London and after New England.

Jerry Micco: If fans are going to criticize Tomlin's coaching at 0-4 and 2-6, then they have to give him a lot of credit when the team is at 5-6. But that's the life of a head coach. People want great results all the time. And they have little patience with losing. But good owners usually look past the record and look at how the team responds to adversity. And the Steelers have done that very well.

Guest: Jerry are you having those chats with the Baltimore Sun writer?

Jerry Micco: Ron Fritz, who is the sports editor of the Baltimore Sun, will do a live chat with me today from 2-2:30. Come on back and be a part of it.

Keith: The play of Worilds, Hayward, and the offensive line(run blocking) will be interesting to watch thurs night, right? They all look like they are showing signs of life...hope it continues

Jerry Micco: The run blocking still needs some work, but it's much better than it has been all season. It's a matter of guys playing together more and in the case of Heyward and Worilds, maybe a lightbulb going on for them. Being veteran players makes a difference and both are showing signs of learning what it takes to play in the NFL.

Guest: The fans turned on the Steelers because of the poor play - of course, now we're behind them and rooting as loudly as ever!

Jerry Micco: That's what fans do.

Tom Boswell: Jeff King was the most underrated player on thos 90's teams. Solid 3rd baseman.

Jerry Micco: Had a few good seasons with the bat, too. He was a No. 1 pick, but never really lived up to that. Doesn't mean he wasn't a nice player, but he didn't put up the big numbers everyone thought he would throughout his career.

Guest: Jerry, what's the most underrated TGiving side dish, green bean casserole or sweet potatoes?

Jerry Micco: Green bean casserole. I make it every other year. Green beans almondine this year, though.

Mary: Anyway - let's hope we don't have another ruined Thanksgiving - remember the year of the flubbed coin toss against Detroit!

Jerry Micco: When Jerome Bettis called a "hea...tails" and the Steelers lost the toss and the game in OT, the NFL changed the rules. So in a way, it was an historic flub. As you know, now the person calls heads/tails before the coin is tossed.

Pat: Jerry. Watched the patriots on Sunday night. The defensive backs play right in line of scrimmage and don't give receivers any space. Why do steelers defensive backs allow the receiver so much space and give up short passes without resistance.

Jerry Micco: Dick LeBeau's defense is a bend-don't-break defense. And for years that worked just fine. Don't give up big plays and keep everything in front of you. This year, they have been toasted on big plays several times. But they are trying to dial that back and have for the most part the past few games.

Coach: On the flip side of Tomlin's mettle. Why did this team start 0-4? How do you lose the opener at home to the Titans? That's on Tomlin not having his veteran team ready out of training camp at home

Jerry Micco: Sure, part of it is on Tomlin, but how about those veteran players who didn't play very well in those games. And losing Pouncey was not exactly in the plan I think that's the reason they abandoned the zone blocking scheme. Velasco has been a terrific replacement, but Pouncey was the guy who made that unit go.

Dude_From_Cali: Jerry: do you predict victory for STeelers tomorrow night?

Jerry Micco: I like the Ravens by 17-14. Just think winning 2 games on the road in 4 days is really tough to do.

Ken: I'm sorry, I meant to write "Tomlin is proving his mettle". Meddle is the name of my favorite Pink Floyd album.

Jerry Micco: Anything Pink Floyd does proves its mettle as one of the greatest bands of all time.

Beano: I love Bob Smizik's blog. He is a Pgh legend. Does Smiz have a Heisman vote? Who would you vote for?

Jerry Micco: I don't believe Bob has a vote, but I can't swear to that. Shoot him an email and ask. As you know, Bob retired several years ago from the paper and is a freelancer for us. I really don't know who I'd vote for if I had a vote. I like Winston and what he's done this season, but McCarron of Alabama just does a great job week in and week out. Tough call.

NaplesDave: It seems Coach Tomlin has problems with time management in games, do you think he gets too caught up in themoment? Unlike Belichek (sp?)

Jerry Micco: No one got caught up in the moment like Cowher did, but he was a pretty good clock manager. That said, Tomlin needs to keep working on that part of his game.

Jon Gruden: When the Ravens run the Wildcat why do they even keep Flacco on the field?

Jerry Micco: I guess to keep teams on their toes because there's a chance there could be a double pass if he gets the ball. But chances are other teams are counting on him not getting the ball in that situation. I cannot see him running a bubble screen. Especially if he got crushed by someone and got hurt.

James_Pittsburgh: Do the Steelers put up a lot of points tomorrow?

Jerry Micco: I think the wind and cold may hold them back some, as well as the Ravens defense. I look for a low-scoring game, which will now assure all of you that it'll be in the 30s and a shootout.

Omar Epps: I'm stuffing my TGiving Turkey with crab cakes tomorrow.

Jerry Micco: I don't know how that would taste, but I had some delicious crab cakes the other night.

Miguel in Omaha: I've seen a few Pitt basketball games now this season. I realize it is early and I've heard the talk about how this may be one of the better shooting teams Jamie Dixon has had, etc... My question: Do you feel this newfound scoring prowess is just a "flash in the pan" early season or do you think they can maintain such a pace over the course of a season? One might think the ACC encourages this sort of play.

Jerry Micco: I think Dixon realizes that the ACC is a different league from the Big East and has tuned his offense to be more fluid and up-tempo. I think you'll see this all season from Pitt, but Dixon will still harp on defense and rebounding. And he should. I think the ACC is going to be good this year, but that Pitt is in the top 6 of the conference.

Syd Thrift: Does NH have something up his sleeve during hot stove time? He needs to match what the Cardinals are doing.

Jerry Micco: He's always been patient and gotten guys who maybe were overlooked and most have turned out well for the Pirates. And he cannot match the Cards payroll. The Pirates have to do it this way, but the payroll continues to go up, too. Just not at the levels of some of the other contenders.

Phil: Do you think if the Giants think it's time for Coughlin to bow out gracefully, that's the one job that would change Cowher's mind? It's probably the best job in the league other than here, no?

Jerry Micco: Well, he spends a lot of time in New York these days, so maybe that would be enough to lure him out of retirement. But I think he is enjoying his television career and if you coach in New York, you are in the media crucible. And it's endless. I don't know if Cowher wants that or not.

Ron Earhardt: Bruce Arians may be good enough to win NFL Coach of the year 2 years in a row but not good enough to be the Steelers OC. How does that happen?

Jerry Micco: Sometimes you need a change. Sometimes you fall into a situation that works out quite well for you. I can remember the majority of fans here being elated when he left.

Guest: Why does the PG go out of its way to write negative columns regarding Pitt athletics? In particular - Ron Cook.

Jerry Micco: I don't think we do that at all. If you want to single out a couple of columns as "negative" you should hear what the fans say. I think some readers are selective readers, but that's OK. As long as they read.

JamesinNYC: Bonds had one good playoff that I remember...didn't he wiff in SF for a couple years?

Jerry Micco: I can't recall every year, but he certainly had a good playoff that World Series year.

John: Why doesn't Aaron Donald receive more publicity in the PG? The kid is a potential Heisman finalist and is from Penn Hills.

Jerry Micco: Actually, we've written quite a bit about Aaron Donald and I can't recall a Pitt game story that didn't include his name. Believe me, that's not a name we haven't had in our paper many times this season, and will more as the award season picks up. Again, folks need to see what we do daily. And he's not the only player on the team to write about. We have a lot of guys there we want to write about over the course of the season.

James_Tel Aviv: When do the Steelers travel to Baltimore? Today?

Jerry Micco: Not sure. But probably later this afternoon.

James_Pittsburgh: Do you think the Steelers can avoid the down years you ere predicting earlier this year? Can Williams and Worilds get the job done at linebacker?

Jerry Micco: I think they are still likely headed to another 8-8 type year, which follows an 8-8 year. They still need to get better in some positions, but if guys like Heyward and Worilds can continue to improve, it makes the future a bit rosier.

JamesinNYC: I don't think you have Worilds here next year...if he plays well he will go elsewhere for more money. Cutting Woodly doesn't help that much because you still have to pay his replacement.

Jerry Micco: We'll see how the Steelers approach Worilds in the offseason. I think Woodley is staying because he's still a very good LB. I think the Steelers will watch Worilds the rest of the year and see if they want to make a solid offer to him. Other teams are watching, too, but again, the body of work on Worilds is small.

Ken: Relax people. Blass, Clemente, Bradshaw to Frank Lewis, Pops, even Batch last year...we always win big ones in Baltimore.

Jerry Micco: Maybe so, but again, I think it's hard to win 2 NFL road games in 4 days. But it would not surprise me if the Steelers did win. Very close game.

Carl Krauser: Pitt basketball blueprint has been wrong for decades. They recruit street ballplayers from NYC via Barry Rohrstein. They can't shoot or make free throws. As long as that's their plan the ACC Coaches will serve Dixon his lunch.

Jerry Micco: Well, that type of recruiting generally served them well in the Big East. And it looks like it's transitioning nicely to an ACC team. We'll have to see how they look once conference play gets going.

ManDarino: I assume like many steelers fans, I'm working my way though Gary Pomerantz's Their Life's Work. Got me wondering, do you think any current Steelers could have started for those amazing 70's teams? Troy maybe? Maybe Ben?

Jerry Micco: Those 2 certainly could have. I think Timmons would have started, but not at middle linebacker.

John: Do people in Pittsburgh appreciate Jamie Dixon enough? The guy is an excellent coach, and great person.

Jerry Micco: I agree that Dixon is an excellent coach. And he's always been gracious and professional with me in the few times we've met. But fans always say he's not gotten them to the "promised land" of the Final Four. And until he does that, some fans won't be satisfied. Doesn't mean he's a bad coach, though.

Guest: Do you read Deadspin and how has that changed sports reporting?

Jerry Micco: I don't read it often, but I think what sites like Deadspin do is make you chase stuff down that usually leads to very little. It's a waste of time for us to do it, because some readers think we're ignoring a story. We're not, but we also have to vet stories carefully before going to print. And they have done some good stuff, too.

Bill L: Remember last year when MT was abrupt with Harbaugh after the game in Baltimore. They can't be pals. The games are too close and Harbaugh's gone a little too far after wins at Heinz Field.

Jerry Micco: The rivalry extends to all parts of the field, even the sidelines, there is no doubt about that. Which is why tomorrow night's game is going to be a good one.

Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to get back to some other stuff. Thanks for the terrific chat today and for taking the time to join me. Reminder: I'll be chatting at 2 today with Baltimore Sun Sports Editor Ron Fritz about tomorrow night's game. And I'll also do a live chat during the game. In the meantime, have a Happy Thanksgiving and I'll see you next Wednesday at noon. Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco

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