Jerry Micco's sports chat transcript: 3.19.14

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Poll Question: Which No. 1-seeded team in the NCAA tournament has the best chance of winning it all? Answer #1: Arizona (23%) Answer #2: Florida (69%) Answer #3: Virginia (8%) Answer #4: Wichita (0%) Answer #5: None of the above (0%) Guest: Should the Steelers kick the tires on James Harrison and see what shape he is in, how many snaps he could handle etc.? Hes a veteran who provides depth, knows the defense and played well last year in a limited role in cincinatti. Not to mention i dont think hed cost much either.

Jerry Micco: I think he's worth a look, certainly. Our Ed Bouchette thinks he is, too, and Ed knows a lot more about these things than I do. Especially if he'll take the veteran minimum because that is a very small cap hit for the Steelers. Harrison could provide great depth and in a pinch could play if Jarvis Jones is hurt or doesn't cut the mustard. I'm guessing Jones will be better this year than he was last season, but it would be nice to spell him with a guy like Harrison if he's in condition to play.

jd: Just saw a note that Maurice Jones-Drew was going to visit with the Steelers. Don't you think he is way out of their price range?

Jerry Micco: I've not seen that note, but if what you say is true, that would be a good person for the Steelers to look at for RB depth. As for money, it depends on what other teams MJD has spoken with and what they are looking at price wise. Maybe he can't command that type of money on the open market anymore. RBs with that many years on them aren't as much in demand. But as a backup, maybe they can make something happen. We'll see.

Richy: Good Afternoon!Are the Pirates floating Tabata and possibly Mazzaro for a first baseman? Any speculation regarding Carp from Boston?

Jerry Micco: I've seen a little bit about Carp, but can't say I've seen a lot. My only concern about giving up Tabata now is that he's the only legit leadoff guy on the team. I know Marte is in that role, but to me, he's really a No. 5 hitter and should be moved down. And when Polanco comes up, and that's assuming he kills it down in Indy, you really won't need Tabata. So maybe you trade him then. But they do need help at first. Sanchez is serviceable there, but I think Lambo is headed to AAA.

jd: Who do you have in the final four on your bracket?

Jerry Micco: I have not filled out my bracket yet, so I really don't know. I generally do it late Wednesday or Thursday morning.

IdhaoSteelerfan: Hi Jerry, the recent talk about bringing back James Harrison has me hoping we can bring him back. He played in over 30% of the snaps while at Cincinatti and graded out pretty good, playing in a 4-3. I would love to have him and Joey Porter pushing Jarvis to be great!

Jerry Micco: I answered this at the top of the chat. I think he's worth a look if he's in good shape and if he'll play at the veteran minimum. If those two things mesh, it seems like the Steelers would be hard pressed not to sign him.

Michael M: Do you think the Steelers are comfortable going into the season with Vince Williams starting opposite Lawrence Timmons at inside backer? Or will they look to draft one early to add some competition?

Jerry Micco: I think they are comfortable with Williams in that spot as well as Terrence Garvin competing with Williams in camp. I also think they may draft an ILB later on for depth, or pick up an undrafted FA to take a look at in that position.

Bil L: Jerry, Bob's blog has a good piece on worst losses in Pgh history. I have to go with 1976 Raiders-Steelers AFC Championship. I am not one to blame the loss of Franco and Rocky. The Raiders were one of the greatest teams in NFL history. Shell, Upshaw, Casper, Bilitnikoff, etc...

Jerry Micco: That Raiders team was great, but losing a couple of 1000-yard rushers in an era where teams ran the football to win games would cripple any team. And the Steelers were greatly hampered by losing those two guys. I don't think anyone questions that.

JamesinNYC: Spring training isn't a great indicator but do you think Lambo can actually cut it?

Jerry Micco: I don't think Lambo can hit major league pitching. At least he hasn't shown me he can do that consistently. And to me, that shows he can't be on the 25-man roster as the guy who platoons with Sanchez.

jd: Will RMU coach Toole be a hot commodity this spring?

Jerry Micco: Perhaps, but I'm not sure. I think if RMU had made the NCAA tournament then for sure Toole's name would be out there as a candidate for many jobs. But losing the conference championship game at home to a team with a losing record might have hurt his chances some. Now, a good NIT run might salve that wound, but I think Andy Toole will be at RMU for at least one more season. He's a very good coach, by the way.

Paul: Any idea if Lousville is good this year? I have tremendous respect for Pitino, but I'm just a casual fan.

Jerry Micco: They are very good. Don't let the No. 4 seed in their region fool you. This is a team that can go to a Final Four, especially with Russ Smith leading the way.

Richy: Is the NFL Draft being moved to May a permanent change or only for this year?

Jerry Micco: Not sure if it is permanent, but I do know the NFL likes the idea of getting more time between the Super Bowl and the draft. I really wish it was back in April because to me May is too long to wait. I know it's only a couple weeks differential, but May just seems unnatural to me.

The Chief: Jerry, hope you had a good week. Your thoughts on the Penguins getting swept by the Flyers. Is there concern or just a hot team (Flyers) playing an injury riddled team?

Jerry Micco: Hello Chief. I think the Flyers are a tough matchup for the Penguins and not having guys like Kunitz, Neal, Martin and Dupuis on the ice makes it even tougher. That said, there's no excuse for the Penguins to get drubbed like they did in Philly on Saturday. They played tougher on Sunday, but still the defense let down both games. They may face the Flyers in the playoffs. Injuries or not, they are going to have to play smart and aggressive to beat them.

Dave in Afghanistan: Jerry, it looks like the Riverhounds are pretty serious in their quest to join MLS and that MLS is paying attention. Why don't they get coverage from the PG?

Jerry Micco: Well, they haven't played a game yet this season and when they make news, we'll cover it. I think we did a lot more with them last season once they moved into Highmark Stadium. I mean, playing in a high school field in front of a few hundred fans doesn't tip the coverage meter much. But last year they drew well and they merited coverage. We didn't do every home game, but we did several and wrote several stories. They don't raise the bar as far as readership all that much, so that reflects our coverage, too. But we know they are on the MLS radar, so we are doing more than we used to do with them.

Phil: Why are the Jets the Jets? hbecause they draft Geno Smith and then entertain Michael absolute mess since 1969!

Jerry Micco: J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets! M-E-S-S, Mess, Mess, Mess!

Guest: Smizik's blog is ranking the worst Pgh sports loss in history. How about 2002 Playoffs Steelers/Pats where Kordell and special teams played horrible?

Jerry Micco: Brutal game, no question. Since I didn't live in this area for 25 years, living all over the country, not every loss hit home like it did here. Of course I remember the 1992 NLCS and the Islanders loss in Game 7 of the 1992-93 NHL playoffs. But there have been some very tough losses experienced by teams here. And it's that way everywhere. And you know, that's good. Because if you never have the occasional tough loss it means you never made it into a big game.

The Chief: Jerry, with the money the NCAA is raking in with the Tournament can you see an expansion to 128 teams in the future?

Jerry Micco: I think if that happens, it's going to be years down the road. I think right now they are happy with the format. But rest assured if the NCAA thinks it can make even more money with a bloated tournament and it's TV partners assure them they can handle the expanded schedule, it will do it in a heartbeat.

Bill L: Attention: I'm not a big NFL Network guy, but they have been doing Steeler stuff all week at night..."dynasty week". Fantastic stuff. Alot of Noll interviews, which is rare. You know, NFL Films... .

Jerry Micco: NFL Films is one of the great archives of sports in the country. No entity does it better. The NFL realized that back in the 60s under Pete Rozelle that NFL Films had to be one of its pillars to build on. And it has been very good to the league, and its fans, over the years.

NaplesDave: Hi JM, Should the Steelers think about now-unretired ILB Rolando McClain, late of the Raiders? He was a monster at Bama

Jerry Micco: I think McClain may want too much money. Remember, until the Steelers get the break from Woodley's release after June 1, and until they can renegotiate with Worilds and possibly Timmons, they are a bit strapped on cap space.

Guest: Could the steelers have enough money to sign pouncey to an extension after june 1st? They are alreasy under 2.5 milWoodley will free up 8.5 million, it seems as if timmons will get restructured and a new deal for worilds could lower his cap hit by 2-4 million depending on what he gets not to mention they could also extend ben. It seems to me they will have close to 10 atleast in cap space after june 1st

Jerry Micco: They are going to have to do some cap work to also sign their draftees, too, so in my mind, that's where Woodley's money will go. Especially when you keep in mind that they will likely get 3 or 4 compensatory picks this year. Omar Khan has some work to do between now and the draft, for sure. And you also have to be careful not to make those out years like 2015 and 2016 too cap heavy now. I think so far, they've done a very good job managing the cap.

The Chief: Jerry, your thoughts on the Steeler Free Agent signings up to now and what would you like to see after June 1?

Jerry Micco: I like Mike Mitchell and extending Polamalu. I even like doing Taylor for a year because he can still play a bit. Worilds was a necessary signing and cutting Woodley had to happen. Those, to me, are all givens. I'd have liked to seen them keep Al Woods, though. Cam Thomas is a backup, unless he finds his way with the Steelers. In all, I'd give them a B so far. If they can get Cotchery in the fold, that's a big plus. Sign Harrison for depth and that would help the grade, too.

Phill: I'm not surprised by Jim Irsay at all...Bob Irsay was one the biggest lushes in professional team sports. I don't mean to be judgmental. He was a loose cannon. And so is his son.

Jerry Micco: It's unfortunate what's happened to Jim Irsay. He's checked himself into some rehab facility to get help, and I hope he gets it there. A lot of people struggle with addiction and it is a terrible struggle. You never want to see anyone hit the bottom like that, but sometimes it takes that kind of incident to make them realize the problem. I hope Irsay and his family will see many better days ahead.

Ken: Will the WR Benjamin guy be available at 15 to the Steelers? It sounds like he's the third best wr in the draft. A little slow but big.

Jerry Micco: My guess is he'll be available, but do you want the No. 3 WR at No. 15? He's big, but has a tendency to drop way too many passes. If it was a late first-round pick, maybe you take your chances. If one of the CBs is there, and I'm going guess Dennard will be, I think you grab him.

gswink: If WR Evans or Benjamin isn't available, are there any TALL under-the-radar receivers that you think would be worth a late round pick?

Jerry Micco: Off the top of my head, I can't tell you. but guys around 6 feet like Odell Beckham Jr. and Marquise Lee are quality WRs. It's a deep WR draft. If the Steelers don't take a guy in round 1, they almost certainly will get a quality one in round 2.

Emperor Chaz: It's Steeler week on NFL Network, they had Tomlin on Soundtracks last night. It doesn't sound like he does much coaching, mostly pep talks and overused cliches. Am I missing something here on why he's considered an elite Coach?

Jerry Micco: Most coaches there sound the same. Most of the coaching is done by position coaches at almost any level. That said, getting to two Super Bowls and winning one, and winning about 65 percent of your games in six years usually puts you near the top of your profession. A couple of 8-8 seasons back to back aren't impressive, but every team has the occasional swoon. Except New England, it seems. But even that Belichek fellow was a flop in Cleveland. Getting a guy named Brady really helped him.

Bill L: I didn't like the 97 afc championship loss to The Yoncos...We should have rode the Bus all the way to the Super Bowl! Chan Gailey and Cowher had other ideas.

Jerry Micco: Not a good loss either. Even good coaches like Bill Cowher, and make no mistake, Cowher was a very good coach, can sometimes have trouble in big games.

jim: Jerry, I was surprised Sanders not that he signed with Denver but $5 million a season. He dropped quite a few passes at key moments thru out the season. Do you think he was worth that kind of money?

Jerry Micco: Sanders, for all his issues, is a terrific route runner and he can make some plays. He's good after the catch, too. And he's a more veteran players now. I think it takes WRs a few years to really grow in this league. And he was hurt some here and lost time. I don't know if he's worth $5 mil a year, but in the Peyton Manning West Coach offense, he'll catch 70-80 passes as their possession guy.

JK: Jerry, any idea when NFL announces supplemental picks?

Jerry Micco: Likely next week at the NFL owners meetings.

Phil: Bad loss that no one ever brings up. The 1990 Steelers go into Astrodome in a must win December game. Warren Moon is hurt and Cody Carlson proceeds to put up a 90% completion rate on Greg Lloyd and company. I'm cringing!

Jerry Micco: I vaguely remember that one. Cody Carlson. Wow, had completely forgotten about that guy.

Matt from LA: Thoughts on Pitt? One and then done or one and done?

Jerry Micco: I think Pitt can beat Colorado. I think they are a better team than the Buffs. As for Florida, I think the Gators are a better team, but hear this: Pitt will keep that game closer than people think. And if Pitt can somehow keep Florida from a lot of offensive rebounds and get out and run a bit, they can keep it very close. Florida likes to set its defense and use its size and strength to work you. Run it up and down, and it isn't as effective. I think Pitt likely is one win and then a loss to Florida, but I think they'll play tough vs. the Gators if they it plays them.

Jim O: Jerry, What stops a owner or unknow person from giving a player in any sport that has a salary cap, money on the side to sign with a club.

Jerry Micco: Honesty. Nothing anyone can do if he's slipping cash to the guy, unless he gets caught then he's got hell to pay.

Spirit Sniper: In making decisions on whether to keep or release veteran players who have been injured recently (Troy, Woodley, Foote, Colon etc.) how much are the Steelers relying on medical information that hasn't been made public vs. age, performance and cap concerns?

Jerry Micco: I'm sure the Steelers take in all things when making those decisions. You want to know the health of your players as much as you can and if the player has nagging injuries, you want to know the status. Woodley, for instance, seemed to constantly be injured. Hamstrings heal, but the Steelers saw this as a recurring injury and didn't want to take another chance on him missing time. So yes, medical situations I'm sure enter into their decisions.

Jim O: In college they have boosters that give players perks to come to there college. It just seems to me thru out the years someone would give a pro cash on the side to sign with there club.

Jerry Micco: What? Boosters give college kids perks to go to their school to play sports? Preposterous! And yes, I'll bet there are a lot of side benefits for playing for a benevolent owner. And some owners, like when Eddie DeBartolo ran the 49ers, are open with treating their players first class. Team family trips to places like Hawaii after Super Bowl years, etc. That is allowed.

Craig in Austin: Hi Jerry, Who (if any) of their potential 2015 free agents should the Steelers try and extend this summer? If for nothing else than to keep us fans from having to sweat losing good, young players?

Jerry Micco: A much better question for one of our trio of Steelers writers who hold weekly chats. I'm not sure who their 2015 FAs are. But Ray Fittipaldo, Gerry Dulac and Ed Bouchette do. I don't want to hazard guesses.

Subspace Interference: If there is any silver lining to the Steelers poor drafting in recent years, there won't be many large contracts for extending their own free agents in the next couple of years. One exception is Pouncey. Do you think his history of injuries will significantly impact his value as a free agent?

Jerry Micco: I think if Pouncey is allowed to the open market, he'll last about an hour. He is arguably the best center in the NFL. And while I think that may be a bit of a stretch when I watch him, that is a near-concensus among coaches and NFL watchers.

The Chief: Jerry, do you believe Dan Blysma's job is on the line this year ?

Jerry Micco: Only if the Penguins absolutely flop in the playoffs. And that would mean going out in round 1 or 2.

KP: Can you see a guy like Donte Moncrief as potential Steeler selection in R3 (if we can get a compensantory pick)? He has speed and size, and better yet, great value. It also allows us to draft for positions in more of a critical need: CB and DL.

Jerry Micco: If the Steelers want him, they may have to take him in round 2. I think his performance at the Combine raised his stock.

Dirt Winston: NFL Network ranked top ten Steelers of all time. No Jack Ham?? How's that possible? Bettis was #10. He's not even top 20 in my book.

Jerry Micco: To me, Ham is the most overlooked Steeler when you look at the all-timers. He just played the game so well and so within himself, that you almost overlooked him. But, he could do it all at linebacker. Stop the run, great in pass coverage and he could rush the QB on a blitz if necessary. But overshadowed by Jack Lambert on those great defenses when you think of linebackers. But he's a top 10 all-timer in my book.

Jack Deloplane: Super Bowl 13 on yesterday. Cowboys on those teams think if they would have won they would have been the team of the decade and a lot of those Cowboys would be in the HOF not the Steelers. Agree?

Jerry Micco: Two very evenly matched teams and what they say is probably true. But I still think you would have seen many of those Steelers in the HOF anyway. Many of them were the best at their positions during their playing days.

Guest: Jerry, Did you get your new Ziggy Hood Jaguar jersey yet?

Jerry Micco: Check's in the mail, baby. And get this, the guy is getting $4 million a year to be a back up. His replacement is Cam Thomas at least nominally. I hope Steelers fans watch that trade off closely.

Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to get back to some other stuff. Great chat today and great questions. Hour flew by. I'll be back next Wednesday at noon and we'll do this again. Until then, enjoy the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament and good luck with the brackets! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco

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