Lawrence Timmons brings down the Ravens RB Bernard Pierce during the Thanksgiving game in Baltimore.
Ed Bouchette: Good afternoon, let's begin
Sam: Good Afternoon Ed, we kind of see your interaction with fans through these chats and emails... how much interaction did you have with fans and readers in the 80s and 90s?
Ed Bouchette: Ahhhhh, none.
BillyFromBlawnox: Ed, Have you ever before witnessed a situation in which virtual street free agents (Beachum, Foster, and Velasco) so vastly outplay supposedly elite college lineman (Gilbert and Adams)?
Ed Bouchette: Many, many times. Beachum WAS an elite college lineman. He started 50-some games at SMU, every game he was there for. I saw Carlton Haselrig drafted in the 12th round become a Pro Bowl guard when a first-round draft pick, John Rienstra, could hardly play. Way, way, way too many examples, including another first-round pick , Jamain Stephens
BillyFromBlawnox: Ed, If Steelers make it to the Super Bowl, what would be the spread in a rematch against the Seahawks? Under 15 points? That team looks like a juggernaut.
Ed Bouchette: Please do not say "Steelers" and "Super Bowl" in the same sentence.
Keith: Was the hit that rang LeVeon's Bell an illegal helmet-to-helmet by the ravens?
Ed Bouchette: It looked like it to me but I read somewhere that quoted an unnamed source in the league office as saying it was not.
Jim: I assume the Steelers are going to want to resign Cam, Pouncey and of course Ben in the next one to two years. Wouldn't it be difficult then to sign Worilds to a long term contract?
Ed Bouchette: It depends on who and how many players with big contracts they either let go or ask to take less money next season. For example, I've written many times that if they sign Worilds to a big contract, they probably would have to move LaMarr Woodley.
Bill: Do you think Cam could get to Aaron Smith's level? I personally feel he is having a great year and not nearly getting enough credit.
Ed Bouchette: They have different styles. Smith was a brute, who could dominate an offensive tackle, push him back into the pocket and hard to move. Heyward is more athletic.
Dave: Ed, Do the Steelers need to send a message to Mike Tomlin. Is he in danger of losing his job?
Ed Bouchette: I think the NFL will send the message here soon in the form of a hefty fine, and it sounds as if he received it by listening to his press conference today. I thought he was sincere. No, he's not in danger of losing his job after this season.
Sam: Ed, you've seen much of the NFL first hand for about 3 decades with trends that come and go and come back again. But, is a pass happy league here to stay?
Ed Bouchette: Yes and for many, many reasons. They keep passing rules to make it easier to pass and protect those who throw and catch the ball. The commissioner is already in favor of making offensive linemen stand and not get in a 3-point stance. If that ever happens, say goodbye to the ground game as we know it.
Jim: Any inside info about Tomlin's punishment? Is it going to be announced today?
Ed Bouchette: The NFL already has done a disservice to Tomlin and the Steelers by delaying the announcement. It all could have been handled at his press conference today if the league had come down with it this morning. Now, it's a big story today and it will be another one tomorrow, even if they announce the fine later this afternoon. But, maybe that is the league's intent.
dave: If they release Woodley after June 1, would part of his salary still count against next year's cap?
Ed Bouchette: No. Salary is wiped out. But he would still count $5.5 million against their cap this year from past bonuses.
Tom: Who is the best breakout player this year in your opinion? I think there are a lot of bright spots on this team like Le'veon and Heyward.
Ed Bouchette: Cameron Heyward and Jason Worilds would be at the top of my list.
Guest: Ed, are we finished this season or do you still think we have a chance?
Ed Bouchette: As long as there's a chance, there's a chance. As bad as 5-7 looks, they can still get in.
BillyFromBlawnox: Ed, I for one really ike Iron Mike Tomlin. I think he's a good coach, who will get better. People always preach about giving players time to "develop." Why not also give a coach who's already good time to develop into a great one?
Ed Bouchette: I don't think Mike Tomlin needs to "develop" more. This is his seventh year as a head coach here.
Guest: Ed, Is Lamar Woodley Probable this week? If he is, do we still start Jason W. over him because he has played so well?
Ed Bouchette: The way Mike Tomlin answered that question made me think that he left it open, even if Woodley is healthy.
Bob Phillips: Most likely going to be 2 years in a row without a winning record, and three years ago was the embarrassing loss to Tebow. The defense and Ben are just getting older. Is this going to turn into a long term rebuild or is Tomlin in a different mindset?
Ed Bouchette: Not sure what mindset he is in, but people keep throwing that Tebow loss around like it was a given the Steelers would win that game. Check out the injury list they had going into that game, and coming out of it. It's probably a good thing they did lose because had they won, New England was going to make its fourth-quarter onslaught this year against them look like a warmup.
T22Post: Ed, Who is the starting center this week?
Ed Bouchette: You really should read the stories in the Post-Gazette today before asking because Cody Wallace will start and Ray Fittipaldo wrote an interesting piece on it.
Frank: Has Beachum played well enough for the Steelers to make him the current and future left tackle?
Ed Bouchette: They are intrigued. They would like to see more.
Tom: Does pass happy equal success in this league? Sure seems like teams with the best defenses and a game make it further in the playoffs every year than Peyton and Brees. The Ravens and 49er's last year, Seattle and KC this year. Is the biggest NFL myth is that passing equals winning?
Ed Bouchette: You still have to play defense, but passing helps. Denver is No. 1 passing, Detroit No. 2, New Orleans No. 3. Seattle is old-school, 22 passing, 3 running, No. 1 defense -- what the Steelers would like to be.
dave: If Woodley is healthy, is it possible they would move either him or Worilds to ILB?
Ed Bouchette: Mike Tomlin said Woodley playing on the right and Worilds on the left is possible.
Ed: Ed, Which player has been the biggest disappointment in your opinion this season?
Ed Bouchette: Mike Adams ranks up there.
War18: Ed, is there anyone to fault for all these injuries or just the worst 2 year run of luck ever for that unit?
Ed Bouchette: 3-year run, actually. I'm not sure you can fault anyone for those injuries. They've had different line coaches, different coordinators.
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