Jerry Micco's sports chat transcript: 2.6.13

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Jerry Micco: Hi everyone and welcome to the weekly chat. I'll be back in a few to officially open the chat. In the meantime, feel free to submit early questions and participate in our poll.

Poll Question:

If you were starting an NFL team, which of these 2 QBs would you pick?

Answer #1:

Joe Flacco (18%)

Answer #2:

Ben Roethlisberger (82%)

James_Pittsburgh: Can the Steelers offense improve next year without Mike Wallace? It seems like a large task. However drafting a good running back in the first or second round would go a long way to improving the offense.

Jerry Micco: I don't think they are better without Wallace because you take the speed element out of their offense. Can they get another WR in the draft? Certainly, but finding Wallace's speed will be beyond difficult. And you can likely count on a RB somewhere in rounds 2 or 3.

Zack: Do the Steelers draft an OLB in rd 1 of the draft? They can't go any other way...can they? Maybe ILB?

Jerry Micco: That's where I'd draft, looking at who is available at either spot and then drafting the best guy. A piece of me says inside backer is a bigger need, but if you don't bring James Harrison back, you may need to go outside. You might have Manti T'eo and Alec Ogletree there at No. 17, so you will have two good ILBs. But there is more depth at OLB.

DormontyDawson: Jerry, I'm no expert on hockey defensemen, but Despres and Bortuzzo look fairly comfortable in their roles. Given the apparent surplus of talent on the blue line, do you think we will again hear trade deadline calls for Shero to trade D-men in order to acquire the ever elusive sniper-winger?

Jerry Micco: To get that great sniper-winger, you're going to have to give up a Letang type player and they won't do that. But, they could get winger depth with a trade of one of the defensemen. Right now, Lovejoy is the odd man out, but when Niskanen returns it'll be interesting to see who takes a seat. My bet is Bortuzzo, but he's played well with this chance.

Pablo: Jerry, in the year 2013 why do recruits still fsx in Letters of Intent? I'm guessing most 18 year olds have never seen a fax machine.

Jerry Micco: Nor know how one really works. My guess is those letters have to be a hard copy and have to be signed by multiple people before they are binding. Could be a legal thing.

Ralph LA: What's the status of Heath Miller? Was his injury career ending?

Jerry Micco: No, not career ending, but it may mean he will miss a good chunk of 2013. It's a couple of blown ligaments in the knee and those can take a year to heal. For instance, I thought it was rather quick for Mendenhall to return. And he didn't look the same out there. Those injuries generally take a year to heal.

Ralph LA: In the discussions about wide receivers Plexico Bureess never gets mentioned. Is he too old?

Jerry Micco: He's 36, so yes, he's up there. And he's not a game-breaking type of guy anymore. Not saying he couldn't help the Steelers in 2013, but if you replace Wallace with Burress, you give up a lot of speed for a guy who is probably at his best in the red zone. And he likely won't play ahead of Brown and Sanders. Nor, perhaps, would be he ahead of Cotchery. The Steelers will draft a WR in rounds 3 or 4 is my guess.

George: Hard to believe that the Ravens would let Joe Flacco ruin their cap number for years to come isn't it?

Jerry Micco: Good QBs are hard to come by in the NFL. So when you think you have one, then you have to pay him franchise money. Based on his playoffs alone, Flacco will get a huge contract. Imagine the Steelers without Ben. Now imagine the Ravens without Flacco. See, picture gets pretty dim in a hurry. QBs are the big dogs in today's NFL. You need a great one to win trophies.

DormontyDawson: Jerry, Combine-bound Gerry Dulac thinks 1st three rounds for Steelers will be devoted to perceived need filing: OLB, ILB, WR, and RB. In my opinion, an 8-8 team should be looking to improve across the board, and no position except QB, punter and kicker should be off the table. Your thoughts?

Jerry Micco: I think Gerry has hit on all the top spots for the Steelers. Those four positions are the biggest positions of need. Both lines have top picks from the past couple or three drafts on them. Time for those guys to produce. They need help at all four of those positions, and I'd add one more: safety.

James_Pittsburgh: Will the Steelers defense have to create more turnovers for the team to make the playoffs in 2013? It appears that the defense will make to bail out the Steelers in 2013 if they are going to have a successful season.

Jerry Micco: The Steelers offense is better when the defense gets some turnovers for them. Unless they get a back that can occasionally break off a long one, or they can hit the occasional deep scoring pass, the defense is always going to have to help the offense out. And you'll find that defenses that can force turnovers are on teams that generally go deep in the playoffs.

George: Do you think ESPN is concerned about the negative backlash against Ray Lewis? I would rather watch Michael Irvin cackle during highlights.

Jerry Micco: I think ESPN will bank on people who either love or hate Ray Lewis to watch Ray Lewis. All they care about are numbers. That's one way they make money. Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders, can be very polarizing. But NFL Network doesn't seem to mind. You want a guy who is opinionated and maybe a bit over the top. I'll be curious to see if Lewis can deliver the football knowledge he has to viewers. Or if he'll be pontificating on whatever on the show.

James_Pittsburgh: to be honest Marc-Andre Fleury is a dissapointment. Maybe the Penguins should go with Thomas Vokoun in the playoffs.

Jerry Micco: Did you see last night's game? Fleury should have been the No. 1 star. He was magnificent on the penalty kill. Not saying he's a Vezina candidate, but he has played well most of the time, and Vokoun has been very good in his games. Maybe better. I think you may see this back-and-forth continue even into the playoffs.

Ken: I know we're not a basketball hotbed, but Jaime Dixon's not getting enough credit. Do you think he goes for a change a scenery soon?

Jerry Micco: How many chances has he had to do that and not done so? Pitt has certainly taken care of him, and the administration there loves him. Pitt basketball had a down year last year. This year, they are playing much better and are near the top of the Big East. I think Dixon likes it here and his program continues to be very good just about every year. No reason for him to leave, unless someone offers him huge bucks and he leaves because it's best for him and his family.

James_Pittsburgh: The save percentage for Vokoun is 0.952 (4th overall and for Fleury: 0.907 (26th overall). Vokoun has a higher career save percentage than Fluery.

Jerry Micco: But one guy has a Stanley Cup and one doesn't. I've seen Fleury play lights out on many occasions over the years, but I can't say that about Vokoun. And I like them switching back and forth. It's the way it used to be done in the NHL. I loved the Bruins growing up because I was (and still am) a huge Bobby Orr fan. Gerry Cheevers and Eddie Johnston shared goaltending on the Stanley Cup team in the early 70s. It worked out wonderfully then.

Chooch: I'm curious why some of the sports blogs now require an updated browser while other PG blogs (such as Smizik's) do not?

Jerry Micco: I'll have to ask our tech people that question. I won't even begin to guess as to why.

Jerry Micco: I'll have to ask our tech people that question. I won't even begin to guess as to why.

The Chief: Jerry, was at the Penguins Caps game on Sunday. Bortuzzo looks like a potential Rod Scuderi type, don't see how he can be sent back, they are 4-0 since he given a game sweater

Jerry Micco: OK, but then who gets a seat when Niskanen returns? Engelland? I know they won't sit Despres because he delivers offense and he's starting to play like a first-round pick.

The Chief: Favourtie to win AFC North Next season: Steelers, Ravens or Bengals?

Jerry Micco: I'd say the Ravens followed by the Steelers. I'm not sure if Cincinnati is built for another playoff run. Something about them makes me queasy. And the Steelers, if Ben is healthy and they can stay somewhat healthy, certainly has a playoff season in it.

Will: Jerry, if MLB is in for more steroids trouble will Congress again get involved or has that ship sailed?

Jerry Micco: I think that ship has sailed. It's up to MLB to fix the problem.

The Chief: How much of an upgrade is Danny Smith as our Special Teams coach?

Jerry Micco: I really don't know much about Danny Smith, but wouldn't you say almost anything is an upgrade over what they had? Aside from Suisham, they had little on special teams and it showed.

Pablo: Wow, I thought the Fleury bashers would have crawled back into their caves by now. Same mentality had people calling for Bylsma's head 6 games into the season.

Jerry Micco: I think the Pens did a good thing in signing Vokoun,who they knew was a much better backup than Brent Johnson, and was a guy who could be counted on to play solid in goal. And I think they did it with giving Fleury a rest, seeing if a fresher Fleury was a better goaltender during the playoffs. I guess we'll see.

Pablo: Vokoun's save percentage is actually .927

James_Pittsburgh: The Pitt men's basketball team is 7-4 in the Big East. How do you see the final seven games turning out. Can Pitt beat Cinncinnati and Marquette the following two Saturdays? In my opinion, Pitt needs more Trey Zeigler to be successful in the NCAA tournament. There lack of an offensive player that can take over the game will haunt them once again in the NCAA tournament.

Jerry Micco: I think Pitt is going to be 11-7 headed into the BE tournament. I don't think they can win at Cincy and Marquette, but if they split those games, I'd not be stunned. Pitt has players that can score, and Zeigler is a guy who can be great off the bench. They are going to have to find consistent offense from Woodall, Patterson and JJ Moore off the bench to go deeper in the NCAAs. And you can see Adams coming around some on offense, too, which will help. There is no dominant team in college basketball this year. Pitt could surprise some folks.

Ross: How about Lovejoy and Niskaden for a top winger?

Jerry Micco: Lovejoy would be the throw-in, but I'm not sure they want to part with Niskanen. Not unless Despres continues to play as well as he has. But Niskanen was playing very well before the injury, and played very well last season. And he's a young guy. Depends on who the winger is. If it took that to get a winger who could score 30 goals, then I'd pull the trigger.

Pablo: Jerry another blog related question: do you have any data on how much commenting and visits have dropped since the new blog formats went into place? I know on the Pitt football blog, there used be lively give and take in the comment section, and that has completely disappeared.

Jerry Micco: I don't have that data, but I'll bring your concerns to our Web folks. We want these blogs to have that element of community discussion. If that's been eliminated by the new blogs, we'll take a look at it.

Jerry Micco: I don't have that data, but I'll bring your concerns to our Web folks. We want these blogs to have that element of community discussion. If that's been eliminated by the new blogs, we'll take a look at it.

Chunkles: Mr. Lewis, you just won the Super Bowl, what are you going to do next? "I'm going back to Atlanta, kill two more people and destroy two more families!" What a joke! Oh yeah, besides the murder charges, he also went out a cheater. The NFL swept the dear antler spray incident under the table awfully quickly because they didnt want to ruin Ray's farewell tour. Now that he retired, we have to see him on TV next year sharing with the fans more of his BS! Unbelievable.

Jerry Micco: If people will watch him, that's the whole idea behind him being on TV. All the other stuff, quite frankly, is ancillary. The Atlanta thing is way old and been adjudicated, so that's over with in my book.

yinzer in va: Jerry, I haven't heard from your friend, Ron Fritz, at the Baltimore Sun. Do you know if Ray Lewis was this year's version of Jerome Bettis? Both seemed to have the "Win one for the Gipper" mentality.

Jerry Micco: I Tweeted Ron a note before the game wishing he and his staff good luck and a good night. I'll see him this weekend as the nation's sports editors will gather in Orlando for section and writing judging. I'm sure he can use the break. It's a long haul when you do the Super Bowl.

James_Pittsburgh: Will the Pirates opening day rotation be A.J. Burnett, Rodriguez, James McDonald, Jeff Karsten, and Kyle McPherson? And who do you predict will get replaced in the rotation once Garret Cole is ready?

Jerry Micco: I'm not sure if McPherson is going to nail down that fifth spot. Liriano, if he were healthy, would get that. And now maybe Jonathan Sanchez gets it. But I'd prefer McPherson to Locke if they stayed in house. That said, if/when Cole comes up, either Karstens or that No. 5 guy will be replaced.

The Chief: I see that The Pirates once again went to MLB's garbage dump and picked up Jonathan Sanchez, he had one thing going for him . He could throw heat!, His velocity is down in recent years and his control problems are worse.

Jerry Micco: My understanding is he's been working on his delivery and mechanics this offseason and there has been some promise. That said, he's got a minor league deal with the Pirates. A relatively cheap roll of the dice on the Pirates part. If he can capture some of what he had in the past, it'll be a steal. But he has a ways to go.

Will: Any thoughts on CBS coverage Sunday? I thought Simms was awful and the pundits making fun of Tasker was a cheap shot--he did fine in an emergency in front of 130 million people.

Jerry Micco: Wasn't Phil Simms best day. Seemed hesitant to say things and took the middle road way too much for an analyst. As for Tasker, he did what he could considering the circumstances. No one will ever accuse him of handling the blackout like Al Michaels handled the '89 Bay Area earthquake at the start of the World Series, but Michaels is a journalist by trade. Tasker is not.

John: Any word on Josh Bell's injury rehab so far?

Jerry Micco: Not much, but we'll know once everyone gets to Bradenton. Our Bill Brink and Michael Sanserino are heading down Friday getting ready to cover the Bucs when ptichers and catchers report on Monday.

yinzer in va: In regard to the poll question, I'd rather have Big Ben than Flacco. Both teams are about equal every where, but Roethlisberger is 2 out of 3 in the Super Bowl, and 2 out of 3 ain't bad (yes, that's a reference to Meatloaf).

Jerry Micco: But do you see Flacco on an upswing and Ben on a downswing? That's the question I'd pose to people. I don't vote, but I'm stunned no one voted for Flacco based on his playoff performance. Could be a launch point for him and his career. Remember the question: If you were starting a NFL franchise RIGHT NOW.

The Chief: Jerry, any surprises to you in the seven NFL players headed to Canton in 2013?

Jerry Micco: I was a bit surprised at Warren Sapp, who I think was a very good player and probably deserves to be in, but on the first ballot? Otherwise, no real complaints. I think Bettis should get in, and he will. Probably next year.

James_Pittsburgh: I believe that Adams is the key to Pitt's success in the NCAA tournament and in the future. He needs to be able to score for Pitt to make a run in the tournament and be a force in the ACC.

Jerry Micco: I believe you are right and you can see his offensive game getting better. I think he'll be around for one more year and we'll see a good jump in his overall play. He's got the rebounding and the shot blocking part pretty well down. But his defense needs a lot of work. That will come in time, though.

Pablo: Tasker is supposed to be a "sideline reporter." Well, he was on the sideline, but he completely failed at the reporter aspect of his job.

Jerry Micco: Again, he really isn't equipped to be tracking down SuperDome personnel who can help him on the reporting, nor was the NFL exactly handing out information. I think he could have done more and maybe enlisted the help of the NFL media people, but in that type of event, you need people who have had to track down people and stories to make it work. CBS was caught a bit flat-footed with that.

Ken: I think the Canton Bus is in trouble--Marvin Harrison, Strahan, Will Shields, Charles Haley and Andre Reed?

Jerry Micco: Carter's induction breaks the logjam at WR, so you may see Reed next year. But there are no RBs on that list, and I think Bettis making the final 10 says something. I'm not sure Strahan is a hall of famer. He'd the the guy on your list I'd think twice about.

John: In response to Yinzer and Baltimore and Pittsburgh personnel being about even. Are you nuts. They have 1 better corner, better running backs, better wideouts, and a better defensive line (at this point in time).

Jerry Micco: I think when Taylor is healthy, and if Lewis stays, I'd take the Steelers corners. I agree with you on the rest, though.

Pablo: Pitt's problem this year in the NCAAs is that they will likely be a 7 or 8 seed, and have to play a 1 or 2 in the 2nd round. Next year, if Adams returns (which I expect), they can be a legit top 10 team with final four as a goal.

Jerry Micco: I think if they can go 11-7 regular season and pick up a win or two in the Big East tournament, that could change to a 5-6 seeding. But if they go 10-8 and lose in the first round of the Big East, then I think they are on the 8-9 line. The Syracuse win certainly helps.

The Chief: Jerry, Ok, the NFL season is over, but based on what we know as of today, who you got in The Meadowlands Super Bowl in 2014?

Jerry Micco: Really? You can't hold me to this because I make my pick in the chat before the regular season starts. Haven't even seen FA and the draft yet to see who got their house cleaned. But since you are one of my regulars, and you ask good questions, here goes: Broncos vs. 49ers. As you will recall, I said 49ers/Texans for this year. As usual, I'm only half right.

Ken: Another road block for the Bus--Steve Sabol. That guy's a lock, RIP.

Jerry Micco: Could be, and I think he's deserving. Again, Bettis may have to wait another year, but I think he eventually gets in. His numbers and winning a Super Bowl certainly have to help, but being a Steeler sometimes actually hurts a player because there are so many from the team in the Hall right now.

The Chief: When Nikesen comes back who is off the 23 man roster and will they have to clear waivers?

Jerry Micco: I can't answer the waiver question, but I'd have to think either Lovejoy or Bortuzzo goes down. I believe Lovejoy would have to clear waivers, but don't hold me to that. Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson know more about that than I would.

Pablo: @The Chief. Pretty sure that Despres is the only one on the current roster that doesn't have to go thru waivers to go to WBS.

Jerry Micco: I don't know about Bortuzzo. He may not have to clear, either. But if he does, they might lose him. Again, I think Lovejoy is the odd man out here. He's a nice player but can't produce the offense that Despres does nor the puck-moving game Bortuzzo brings.

Pablo: I don't think they want to expose any of the D-men to waivers. I can see them trying to send Dustin Jeffrey down. He seems to be almost completely out of their plans.

Jerry Micco: How about Tangradi? That guy's stock is like a boulder.

Will: Another X factor for the Ravens--the safety Pollard. Especially here, we should never forget "just plain nasty" still has a place in the NFL. That guy's tough.

Jerry Micco: Reported today that he played most of the season with 6 broken ribs. If that's true, it's incredible. Ryan Clark adds some nastiness. And if Troy is healthy, he can still make plays. I'd only give the Ravens a slight edge, if any, at safety.

Jack Splat: No panic needed! The Steelers need to regroup in 2013. Reduce injuires, turnovers and penalties and we will be a force. Remember, we beat the World Champions with our 3rd string QB!

Jerry Micco: A lot of guys will have to step up, in addition to what you say. You need to see Hood and Heyward become better and able to hold up as 3-4 DEs. Hood showed flashes, but hasn't played as well as I thought he'd play. They need an upgrade at ILB and OLB, and Woodley needs to get back to where he was two years ago. Finally, Brown and Sanders have to be the guys at WR if Wallace leaves. Each needs to step up. And RB is a mess.

James_Pittsburgh: Do the Penguins need to add a physical third line player to improve their ability to keep a lead in the playoffs? Do you see Ray Shero looking to add some toughness to this team. (I don't mean something that is going to start fights.)

Jerry Micco: I'm sure he's looking that way, but I think if you see Cooke and Sutter play like they did last night, that problem is solved. Doesn't mean he might not try to get more physical up front, but I'm sure he was pleased with Cooke in particular last night.

Jerry Micco: OK folks I need to head over to do some other stuff. Terrific chat today. I'm a bit under the weather, so I hope I didn't give some more goofy than usual answers to your questions, but as always I enjoyed the hour. Thanks for taking the time to do this today. Program note: I'll not have a chat on Feb. 13 as I'll be out of town. I'll return on Feb. 20. Have a great couple weeks everyone. See you soon! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco

Steelers - sportsother


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