AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick, File
"Who will be the breakout star in the Olympics for the Americans?" one reader wants to know. Pictured is multi-medalist Shaun White celebrating a gold win in Vancouver in 2010.
n: Why do pundits constantly overlook the 2008 steeler d when they talk about the all time greats? I think it's a joke they think that seattles d is considered better than the 08 version let alone the steel curtain which people are actually saying believe it or not. How can they be ranked greatest of all time when their run d wasn't even good? They gave up over 100 yds/game,. The 08 steelers wouldn't have let zach stacy or Michael james run on them let alone the steel curtain. IMO to be the greatest, you gotta dominate in all aspects of defense.
Jerry Micco: I think Seattle's defense was very good this year and in fact, should be mentioned with some of the best defenses in the NFL. Now, when you go back to say the 1974 Steel Curtain and the the 1976 Steelers, there probably is no comparison. Those defenses were so good as to be dominant across the board. But it was a different NFL, too. The passing offenses were not nearly as good and if you shut down a team's running game you usually could beat them. Seattle effectively did that Sunday, though Denver had a lot of passing yards, it really meant little. I think Seattle's defense is very good and could be for some time. It's a young unit.
Do you favor having NHL players in the Olympic Games?
Franco: Jerry who is in Sochi from your staff and how are the conditions there?
Jerry Micco: Brady McCollough is in Sochi for us and there are some issues with his room, but nothing that can't be overcome. It usually takes a couple of days in an Olympic city to get your bearings, and Brady's doing that right now.
jimbo: The steeler d have developed some uncharacteristic trends in recent years. The lack of pressure on a qb and takeaways started in 2011 and continue on, are big plays going to become something they won't be able to stop as well or can they fix that part of their defense?
Jerry Micco: I think they can fix that part of the defense, and you perhaps saw more of that as the season went on. You saw a bit more pressure and less big plays in the second half of the season. The Steelers defense got slower and older in some spots. That's going to have to be remedied through the draft and free agency. Can't replace all of those guys, but they are going to have to do a bunch of them.
Mel Jr: I just completed a mock draft and I have the Steelers selecting Safety Ha Ha Dixon from Alabama.
Jerry Micco: Well Mel, that's certainly a guy who they might look at taking, though I'd rather see them take a guy who can either help them shut down the run like a Louis Nix or a corner. Draft is deep in corners, though, so you may see them wait until round 2 to go there.
Guest: Did Pitt land any 5 star recruits?
Jerry Micco: No 5-star guys, but Pitt got its share of four-star recruits today, including a couple of WPIAL offensive linemen in Grimm and Bookster. Looks like Paul Chryst put together a solid class that addressed some areas of need. And the OL got a nice boost in this class.
tom: After the draft and they sign their own Fas do you think that provided they check out ok from a physical that henry melton or stevie brown should be signed to a 1 yr deal? What do u think about hakeem nicks is he worth trying to sign?
Jerry Micco: I think the Steelers will check out a lot of FAs, but they have stated they won't be big players in free agency. They seem to want to sign their own guys to try to get them into the fold and then draft the guys they want. I think there are some nice FAs out there, but whether or not the Steelers bite on them remains to be seen. Their recent history says they likely won't.
Papa John: Has Seattle created a new defensive philosophy with a 4-3 defense and big physical corner backs and safeties?
Jerry Micco: No, not really. For years teams have tried to put together fast, physical defenses, including the team that plays at Heinz Field. The only difference is that the Steelers play a 3-4. The NY Giants had much success with a similar defense a couple of years ago. The Seahawks did a good job of scouting, drafting and coaching. And they had the right players to play their system. They did what championship teams do. Now, the question is: Can they do it year over year? That's the tough part in the NFL.
Guest: Who will be the breakout star in the Olynmpics for the Americans?
Jerry Micco: Hard to say. I always look to the slopes, but there are so many of what I call X-Games sports now that the Americans do so well in that you should look there for an American to shine.
Mel Jr: CB's can be had in the 5th round like Richard Sherman. 1st round CB's are a gamble, like the Jets and Cowboys know about. Steelers need a Safety badly.
Jerry Micco: Actually, you take a flyer on a Richard Sherman and you hit a home run. Most great CBs are top-round picks. But with a lot of CBs in this draft, you could wait a round or two to get one. But you took Shamarko Thomas last year in round 4, and Troy Polamalu is going to be back. So if you take a safety in round 1, he's going to play special teams for a year probably. A corner could start right away for Ike Taylor, who could be a cap casualty.
Guest: Is Ike Taylor taking a pay cut? His salary cap hit will be 11.7 million. Ouch
Jerry Micco: As I just posted, he could be a cap casualty. And if he doesn't take a deep cut, he likely will be just that. Steelers defense has to get faster and younger. I think anyone who watched the Seahawks on Sunday and who is a Steelers fan knows that.
Sgt Tom Hardy: Jerry, has the window closed on Bettis making the HOF? With so many players getting in anymore it seems unless somebody makes a strong case like Peter King he won't get in. There might be a Steeler bias against since so many have gotten in.
Jerry Micco: I'll address the second part first. Two years ago, Dermontti Dawson and Jack Butler got in, so the bias may be overblown. Now for Bettis. Some folks, I think, might say Bettis was not a great playoff back an thus not a good big-game back. Maybe there's some merit to that, but you cannot dispute that he's the 6th all-time leading rusher. And every guy above him, as well as two below him are in. Ed Bouchette has presented Bettis the last four years and can't understand why Bettis isn't in on the merits. I'm not in the room, so I can't say what the discussion is. But it seems the voters right now just don't seem interested in putting Bettis in the hall. Doesn't mean he won't get in at some point, though.
Guest: Would you fire Jamie Dixon if he misses the Sweet 16 again and hire Sean Miller?
Jerry Micco: Why would Arizona let me do that? And why would I fire a guy who continually gets my team to the NCAA tournament and wins around 25 games a year? Makes no sense to me on either count.
The real one: Will the offense be good enough to carry the team while the defense retools?
Jerry Micco: Only so far. Maybe to a playoff spot next year, but the defense will have to get better. Force more turnovers and keep big plays to a minimum. The offense will have to run the ball better and Ben will have to do even more. It's a lot to ask of the Steelers offense, but that will be the unit that will have to provide the bigger spark in 2014.
JamesinNYC: I am with you I like Nix or Dennard in first how about Jordan Matthews from Vandy in the second?
Jerry Micco: People forget, but Seattle beat a lot of teams this year by stopping the run first and making them a passing team. If teams could run all day on Seattle, why wouldn't they? I think the Steelers will draft a WR in May, but it may not be in the first couple of rounds. Remember, they do not have a third-round pick. They may pick up a compensatory third-rounder, but that's iffy. Likely a couple of fourth-rounders for Wallace and Lewis. So you may see them go WR there. I think defense will rule the day. But let's see what happens in free agency, first.
Franco: What does the NFL do about the Redskins name issue, it doesn't seem to be going away?
Jerry Micco: Sounds like Roger Goodell isn't going to do anything about it. And it sounds like the Redskins aren't going to do anything about it. I think it's on more people's minds, but if neither entity is going to change the name, then it won't change. I don't think fans will stop going to their games and unless people hit them in the pocketbook, it may not be a strong enough incentive to make them change. Money usually speaks the loudest.
James in NYC: What pitcher breaks out this year for the Buccos?
Jerry Micco: That's tough to say because different guys had breakout years in their own way last year. Cole, Liriano, Locke for a half season. I guess I'd have to say Charlie Morton because he's a year removed from his surgery and he looked solid last season. If they can get him consistent and pitching like he did down the stretch, he could win 14-15 games. That would make up for losing Burnett.
JamesinNYC: Hey now, this is getting like Rays Pizza in NYC with James in NYC or the Original JamesinNYC and JamesinTaiwan ...what is it with guys named James on your chat?
Jerry Micco: I have no idea. I'm just glad they come here to chat. We could use all the James, Joes and Johns we can get. The more the merrier.
MEl Jr: I just completed another mock draft and have the Steelers drafting WR Marquise Lee WR USC
Jerry Micco: I've seen some mocks where the Steelers took Lee. Some people would argue that the team needs a big WR such as Lee to make the offense even more potent and to give Ben another weapon. But my argument is if you do that, then why did you draft Markus Wheaton? He's not a big WR, but he's supposedly a speed guy who once he figures things out, can be a very good player. I don't know, I think the needs are on defense. And guys like Nix, CBs and even safeties are bigger needs early than a WR. But I could be wrong.
Mike Euruzione: Who wins the Hockey Gold? I say Finland
Jerry Micco: If you guys had let that happen in 1980, that Miracle on Ice ending would have been much different, would it? Russia is loaded with talent and they are the home favorites. But it's hard to bet against Canada and Sidney Crosby. If I were a betting man, I'd be the Maple Leaf.
James in Blawnox: Greater QB Peyton Manning, Dan Marino or Terry Bradshaw?
Jerry Micco: Depends on what you want in a QB. For numbers, Marino and Manning crush Bradshaw. For championships, Bradshaw kills those guys. And Bradshaw played in the run-first era, often winning games passing for 110 yards, which was all they needed. But his leadership and ability to get things done in big games is unparalleled. I guess as a pure QB, I'd take Marino. But for a big game, give me Bradshaw.
James in Punxatauney: I predict another Marc Andre choke in the playoffs.
Jerry Micco: Based on most of his playoff performances, you'd probably have a safe bet. But he seems to be much better this preseason. And I don't know. Maybe the Penguins will play better in front of him this postseason than they have in the past. While Fleury will tell you he has not played up to his expectations in the postseason, the team as a whole has not, either.
Guest: Is 43 a HOF'er? His numbers say no. But the hair may get hin in. I don;t understand the NFL HOF
Jerry Micco: Hall of Fame voting is never easy to understand. It's a vote, so it's very subjective. Does he get in? I thought he and Ed Reed for a 5-year period were the best safeties in the NFL and no one else was close. I think he makes it for that reason, as does Reed.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to head back to some other stuff. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today and for all the great questions. I'll be back next Wednesday at noon and look forward to doing this all over again. Until then, have a terrific week! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco
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