Jerry Micco's Steelers chat transcript: 11.14.12

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Poll Question:

What chance do you give the Steelers vs. the Ravens on Sunday night:

Answer #1:

100 percent. Steelers clearly better (0%)

Answer #2:

51-99 percent. Home field advantage (57%)

Answer #3:

1-50 percent. I think they can, but... (36%)

Answer #4:

Zero percent. Not without Ben (Votes: 7%)

kibab1979:

Jerry, I'm thinking Batch is a better fit for this offense than Leftwich. Do you agree?

Jerry Micco:

Batch has played in this offense in the last couple of years, and Leftwich hasn't, so it's tough to say Leftwich can't play in it because there's no comparison. I think Leftwich gives them about as good a chance as Batch, but that they like Leftwich's arm a bit more. But make no mistake, for those who like to bash Big Ben, you will miss him on Sunday night. While both backups are adequate, they are not close to Ben. One more thing: They pay Leftwich to do what he's going to do Sunday night. Replace Ben when he goes down.

JAMESH:

Who is the Rookie of the Year so far for you? This year has the most candidates we've seen for years. Paulson, Johnson, Butler, Rainey, Adams, etc.

Jerry Micco:

If Mike Adams finishes out the year at RT, and plays as well as he has so far, I'd say he's my choice. He still needs some work as a pass blocker, but he's a pretty accomplished run blocker. And I think he's their RT of the future. You'll likely see Marcus Gilbert moved to LT to take over for Starks, probably next season.

Ken:

What is the status of DeCastro? Did he start practicing?

Jerry Micco:

Not to my knowledge. I believe he's been doing some light stuff, but no full-blown practices.

BCS buster:

Jerry, PSU got a bad call against Nebraska and it was a big headline leading in the Sunday sports section, implying that was the reason for defeat. Pitt got 2 bad calls against ND and not a mention about it. You sure you don't have a Penn State bias?

Jerry Micco:

The PSU call was being discussed nationally because it looked like a TD on the replay. I mean, everyone was saying that and it was discussed quite a bit nationally that day and some the next day. We did mention the PI call against Pitt, and that call was a phantom call in my opinion, but it's not reviewable so it became one of many borderline calls teams get or don't get in every game. The OT in Pitt-ND was, in itself, a mini-game. And we led each section with those games, PSU-Nebraska and Pitt-ND. Both big games. As for bias, no amount of reason will ever convince some folks, so it really doesn't matter to me.

Troybellringer55:

Jerry if your Tomlin who is your starting running back Sunday? If it's my choice I go with Dwyer, I think he matches up best against the Ravens.

Jerry Micco:

Mendenhall if he's healthy. If not, Dwyer. I think you and I agree. Hey, we need to get this to Tomlin!

Guest:

If Ben is out for the rest of the season I see the Steelers struggling to finish 8-8, and way outta the playoff hunt with the only 2 wins coming against Cleveland - your thoughts

Jerry Micco:

That's a tough one, because usually when this type of thing happens, teams tend to rise up to compensate for it. But the injuries will take their toll, that's for sure. I see them at maybe 9-7, as Cincinnati and San Diego here are winnable games. Even a split with Cleveland gets then to 9-7. The road is much tougher to 10 or 11 wins without Big Ben.

Jack Splat:

How do coaches think Ziggy Hood is playing? A monster game from him Sunday night would be very helpful!

Jerry Micco:

Apparently, they think he's playing pretty well because he keeps starting. As Ed Bouchette said in his chat yesterday, he's no Aaron Smith. And he's not. He played poorly in the first half vs. KC, but played really well in the second half. I think if he's eating up blockers and getting some pressure on Flacco on Sunday, he'll be doing what he's supposed to do. We've seen signs of that, but nothing with any consistency.

praveen:

Can games like KC even be called trap games when Steelers make it a habit to lose or almost lose games in which they are double digit favorites?

Jerry Micco:

That's hard to say, but the fact that they generally win those games says something. I think they came out flat and pretty much watched a 1-7 team eventually beat itself. And while they'll tell you they weren't looking ahead to Baltimore, you have to think that on some level they were. If they're human they were. But you'd have liked to have an easy one there and you didn't. So now you get the Ravens off a physical win and without your best player, along with some other key players who will be out. I don't like how this is shaping up.

praveen:

The NHL owners are crazy if they want to address already signed contracts.

Jerry Micco:

I think that's a point they should concede and move on. Maybe ask for more than a 50-50 split to concede the point. Like ask players to take a 49 percent share of revenue. Maybe that's something they can work out, but I think re-doing contracts already signed should be a dead issue.

praveen:

I dont want to see the same game plan with Leftwich. His slow release will only lead to Wallace or some WR getting killed on those screen passes or maybe even an INT on a tipped ball or some DB able to guess. Let Wallace run loose and if Ravens choose to dedicate a safety to help out, that will not be able to use them to help out a poor run D.

Jerry Micco:

That is one difference in this Ravens team: They are not very good against the run. I also think Leftwich's strong arm should be used on deeper routes, which should loosen up the Ravens defense a bit more. But Leftwich has never been a "touch" QB, and a lot of the check-down passes in this offense are touch passes. He's going to need extra time this week to work on that, and the timing issues with receivers.

JP:

What do you think about switching Keisel & Harrison? Keisel seems more mobile at this point. and is able to generate a pass rush once in a while.

Jerry Micco:

But at 245 pounds, Harrison isn't strong enough to take on 2 blockers and plug up the running lanes. Keisel outweighs him by 50 pounds. Maybe you run some stunts with Keisel to make him the primary rusher from that side, but you really can't flip them position wise.

praveen:

Why take a chance with not having a 3rd QB on game day roster. It's not like it improbable that Leftwich and Batch get injured in thesame game. Jerrod might be useful to have as insurance over an extra special teamer.

Jerry Micco:

I don't think the Steelers will do that, but you could make that statement for every game. Ben has been durable, but if Leftwich had gone down the other night, they'd have had either Emmanuel Sanders or Heath Miller at QB. Not many teams dress 3 QBs these days.

praveen:

except for Suisham and our REGULAR returners, our STs have been disappointing. NOw add Butler to the disappointments, He was bad on Monday. He better be good considering Ravens return game with Jones can be explosive at times.

Jerry Micco:

Jones is a tremendous return man, but has been much better on kickoff returns than punt returns. And I think Butler has been adequate, but not in the top ranks of NFL punters. One thing about punters, though. You can always find a new one if you need it.

john:

On some sports sites I have been reading that a trading of Joel Hanrahan would bring 2 mid-level prospects. Are these guys nuts. A two time all star closer. Should he not bring at least 1 elite prospect to the organization or am I wrong.

JP:

with the emphasis on the short game this year, I'm not sure Leftwich's strong arm is much of an advantage over Batch's

Jerry Micco:

I think most team think closers are easy to create, so maybe you don't give up too much to get one. I don't believe that, but most baseball people do. I think, then, that you'll not get elite players for Hanrahan. But if someone gave you 2 or 3 mid-level prospects, you might take that trade, rather than pay Hanrahan big dollars.

Jerry Micco:

Oops, the Web is slow today and I'm out of order on questions. Let me answer JP's Leftwich question: I think, though, that if you play Batch, then you rarely will play for any deep balls. That brings more people closer to the line and helps against the run game. The Steelers will try like the devil to run it on Sunday night. As much as they can and hope to control the game that way.

Chunkles:

Jerry, this Ryan Clark seems like a good player but not a smart one. He recently said after the Giants game, "None of y'all believed in us", meaning the Steelers had no chance to beat the Giants. Doesn't Mr. Clark see that every home game has 70 thousands Terrible Towels flying around, everyone is decked out in black and gold attire, leading up to the game, and that HIS Steelers constantly draw big TV ratings. Who doesn't believe in you Ryan? Go play in Jacksonville!

Jerry Micco:

Clark, and some other players, have that us against the world mentality. Clark, more than many others, says that type of stuff. I think he directed that to media and pundits. Easy to say after you win a game you were an underdog in. Note he didn't say anything about beating a team they were 13-point favorites against by a FG in OT. It's just the way Clark is. But he's played so well this year, I really don't care what he says. What he does on the field is much more important.

JAMESH:

Worilds plays better at LOLB than he does at ROLB. Has Woodley ever practiced at ROLB? Perhaps Woodley replacing Harrison and Worilds replacing Woodley would be more potent than the current situation.

Jerry Micco:

I don't think the Steelers will want to move Woodley, but I agree with your sentiments about Worilds. He is better on the left side. And he obviously can't supplant Harrison on the left, which means we've gotten to see Harrison disappear more and more as the season goes on.

praveen:

Every team seems to find a way to get their young defensive players some time on the field. With Harrison struggling, why not give him a break on some snaps and let Worldis play more? Plus it will help give Worilds more playing experience. Plus, Worilds could have rotated with Woodley too considering KC was running a lot. LeBeau is not the only genius DC running defenses in the league.

Jerry Micco:

No, but his are regularly ranked in the top 5. My guess is the best players play and since coaches see them all the time, they think the group out there gives them the best chance to win. Worilds has been a huge disappointment considering where he was drafted. Maybe LeBeau just doesn't think he'll make that big a difference in a game situation.

Suburban Rhythm:

After a terrible 1st quarter of the season, how good has Ike been the last 4 games? Sure, he's getting safety help at points, and even the best CBs give up completions, but funny how Yinzer Nation has piped down from the "put ANYONE else out there" mantra.

Jerry Micco:

Taylor is still their best CB, and the safety help is fine if you can do it. Nothing wrong with giving him a little help now and then. And overlooked by many is the improved play of Keenan Lewis a the other corner. He's making big plays now and it my allow safeties to help Ike out some and leave Lewis to his own devices.

praveen:

I actually liked that 4th and short 1 call by Tomlin. When your offense is struggling and the other offense is bumbling, that call works much more often than not at midfield. Redman uncharacteristically was unable to bounce out of that to the outside. Plus give credit to KC's D which has been good most of the year.

Jerry Micco:

KC's defense has been good for the most part, but I didn't like the play. KC's offense is terrible, why not punt them deep instead of letting them start on the 50? If KC had a terrific offense, you take the risk.

Miguel in Omaha:

Now that a few games have taken place for Pitt basketball (men's), have your expectations for their season changed? They've looked dominant at time, especially on defense which seemed to be such a problem last year.

Jerry Micco:

I see where Pitt was picked No. 6 in the Big East, and that was about 2 spots low for me. I think they have very nice depth and some good young players. Robinson and Adams are very good players, and the upperclassmen are all improved. I think this team can be a Sweet 16 team. But it's a long season, and a big test coming next week vs. Michigan at the Garden. Wolverines are No. 5 in the nation.

praveen:

This was the rare game(KC MNF) where our team got some nitpicky calls in our favor. I noticed teams like the Ravens usually get those kind of calls.

Jerry Micco:

This Sunday, the Steelers have to play error-free and penalty-free ball. Hard to do the latter, but they must protect the ball. Cannot give the Ravens extra chances to score.

praveen:

Batch did connect with Wallacae on two long TD passes in the past. I think regardless of Batch's less than powerful arm, Wallace is a better WR when the ball "floats" rather than comes to him like a bullet. Some of his better catches in the end zone have been on those kind of passes.

Jerry Micco:

I think that's true, though Ben zipped one in there vs. the Giants and Wallace took it in stride all the way to the end zone.

JP:

I think Worldis at his best is less than Harrison at his worst and that's why he can't get on the field. Harrison's replacement needs to come either through the draft or free agency.

Jerry Micco:

I would not mind seeing the Steelers use FA a bit more this offseason. I know that's not their way, but that's how guys like Farrior and Hartings became Steelers. Sometimes, you need to try to hit on a guy who can start for you and then let the draft fill in. I think Carter and Worilds are at best OK players. You may see the Steelers go OL with two early picks this year, or, address at least one spot in free agency.

praveen:

I have no idea how this D will stop Ray Rice. you get the safeties to help out, then you have their WRs open for Flacco on big pass plays. The only solution is to get pressure on Flacco which is tough with Harrison no longer being himself and Woodley being inconsistent. Not to mention Heyward and McLendon the more pass rushing oriented DL guys hardly see the field.

Jerry Micco:

I'm not sure that Taylor and Lewis can't make some plays against Ravens WRs, so I'd not count them out. As for Rice, you will need a big game from Timmons, whose primary responsibility should be Rice. He's been a Steeler killer in the past, so we've seen what he can do. No question this is going to be a very tough game on Sunday night. Without No. 7, the offense can't be expected to put up huge numbers, putting a lot of defense and ST. That's asking a lot, in my opinion.

Jack Splat:

I have to admit it is hard to see how KC only has won one game if their defense plays like that all the time.

Jerry Micco:

The offense has made a ton of turnovers. But since the Steelers don't get many turnovers, it leveled out the game. No question the Chiefs defense can play with anyone. But the offense is somewhat hopeless because of all the turnovers.

praveen:

What are your hockey beat writers doing for work now that there is a strike.

Jerry Micco:

Writing about hockey. Covering the lockout and talking to Penguins players that are working out in the area. And they are taking some time off from last season, too.

JP:

do you think there is any hope for Pitt football? They are becoming the Pirates of college football

Jerry Micco:

Well, they do have winning seasons, so let's not go there. Plenty of hope, especially if Chryst stays and stabilizes the program. The move to the ACC will be a tremendous help in recruiting. And they have a terrific young back in Shell as well as a terrific young CB in Pitts. Now, the ACC will be tougher opposition, but I think Pitt certainly can compete with those teams. Give Chryst some time. What he has to avoid is what happened last Friday at UConn. No way that team is better than Pitt. But that was a poor job all around that night.

praveen:

Nice to see Keisel get his bearings back in recent games. Good timing considering the inconsistency of Woodley.

Jerry Micco:

They need at least one of the DEs to put some pressure on QBs and Keisel seems to be doing that lately. Hood does that in spurts, but is inconsistent. Like to see Cam Heyward make a bit more noise in his little bit of playing time, but he's a young guy, and is still in the learning process.

praveen:

I said it before. I still think they have to resign Starks and Foster for depth or for options to trade Gilbert or maybe even Colon(hate to say that as he seems to be one of their leaders on the OL) and get ourselves a proven defensive player from a team starved for quality OL guys.(Chicago? AZ?)

Jerry Micco:

If Starks is a bargain, they'll sign him. I think Gilbert is going to play LT for many years here. But losing this year to injury sure doesn't help him. Foster, too, will sign if he'll take a bit less money. That job is DeCastro's next season. Though I think the OL has played pretty well lately, the KC game was a step back. Let's see if they can hammer the Ravens poor run defense a bit on Sunday. That will be a huge part of this game.

praveen:

No matter how bad Cassell is, I do not understand why folks in KC would want to have Brady Quinn start? If Quinn played, I highly doubt they would have forced OT.

Jerry Micco:

Cassel doesn't have much WR help on that team and he could probably use some stability on the coaching staff to improve. I don't think he's that bad of a QB. They won 10 games with him a couple years back. And I'd take him ahead of Quinn any day.

JAMESH:

Wouldn't this be easier if you and praveen just talked on the phone?

Jerry Micco:

Hey, anyone can put in questions. I take them in order. No limit on how many you can ask. But I don't answer all of them because of time constraints.

JP:

For as much as the Steelers try to dismiss him, Starks has been the OL savior. Gilbert was getting beaten badly at LT. He has been much better at RT even though he gets injured every game.

Jerry Micco:

I think the Steelers like Starks and would like to keep him, but he's getting up there in age. I think they see him as great insurance. Gilbert was a high pick, so you want to see if he can handle LT since that job is penciled in for him in the future. Could be a gamble, but one you have to take on a guy you drafted in round 2.

praveen:

JAMESH is a buddy. We could use more of him on this chat. And maybe there will be less of me

Jerry Micco:

Or, there can be some of both of you because it makes the chat go more quickly for me and the others.

JAMESH:

praveen is a friend of mine. Just giving him the business.

Jerry Micco:

And here's I thought I had a nice little dust-up happening. Shoot, no fun in this kumbaya stuff.

Jerry Micco:

OK folks, time to head back to some other stuff. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today. It's always a fun hour. Reminder that we'll have a special chat tomorrow at 1 p.m. when I'll join Baltimore Sun sports editor Ron Fritz for a co-hosted Ravens-Steelers chat. NOTE: I will be taking next Wednesday off, so this chat will reform on Nov. 28. Have a great week everyone! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco

Steelers - mobilehome - sportsother


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