Tom: People criticize Colberts' drafts, but his players he has picked some solid players (even if they aren't on the Steelers anymore). Has the problem been more that he has been using high round picks on low-impact positions, C, DE, G?
Jerry Micco: I do think that is part of the issue. He has been forced to do that because trying to fill those positions with with lower-round picks hasn't worked very well. Also, when you draft lower in each round, you tend to draft more for need. So if you need a DE, you snag one rather than wait until a later round. But with only 7 picks, normally, in the draft, you can't make a mistake. And that's nearly an impossible task.
Tom Donahue: Your poll question should read Should the Steelers cutLaMarr Woodley ($13.6 million), Ike Taylor ($11.9 million), Lawrence Timmons ($11.8 million) and Troy Polamalu ($10.9 million) Absolutely Yes
Jerry Micco: A lot to replace there. Remember, you have to replace all those guys and you are looking at a team that has some depth issues already. Though I think you could see two of those guys gone. Oh, and you forgot to mention Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood, Ryan Clark and Emmanuel Sanders, all popular candidates to be released. But as you know, you can't lose that many players at one time.
Doyle37: Jerry, I read where Big Ben was credited with a reception on the final play against Miami. How does that happen ? He was the 3rd lateral of 4. Also, if this is correct, does Sanders ( the original receiver on the play ) not get credit for a reception ??
Jerry Micco: I really don't know how that play was scored. Sorry.
The Chief: Jerry, hope you are having a good week. Your thoughts on Thornton's suspension and the fact that he is appealing it?
Jerry Micco: I think 15 games was about what he was going to get considering he has never been suspended before. I thought he could get as high as 20-25 because it was after a play and it was a series of sucker punches after a slew foot, but oh well. As for the appeal, he has every right to do that. I don't think the league should lighten the load, though. What's the defense? Orpik's hit was dirty (no penalty, no fine) and wouldn't fight? Start doing that, and you're going to start blaming the victim.
Ron Shock: Haven't we seen this Penguins script in recent years, great regular season, choke in the playoffs. Why should this year be different? Fool me once....
Jerry Micco: The Penguins certainly have to prove themselves once April rolls around, and they will be the first to tell you that. But first things first: they have to win the division and get the best possible seeding they can. And the fact that they are doing it with a MASH unit on defense is pretty impressive.
Zack: dump Woodley?
Jerry Micco: That's what I'm asking you guys.
James_Pittsburgh: What are the Pirates doing about the bench? They need Eric Chavez.
Jerry Micco: They are still in the market for a left-hand hitting first baseman and Chavez's name has come up. So my guess is guys like him, Moreland and Ike Davis are still on their radar. But no movement yet.
Chunkles: We always knew we had talent waiting on defense with the Baby Pens. I am not so surprised how they have come in and adjusted but Jacques Martin has had to made an impact? Do you ever hear anything from players or other writers about the impact he has had, this year, so far?
Jerry Micco: Nothing in particular, but you watch them play and you can see a noted difference. Martin is a seasoned former head coach known for his defensive style. A great hire by Bylsma and Shero, in my opinion.
Dr Doom: 6/2014 Could have a lot of longtime Steelers names on that release list: My Prediction
Jerry Micco: I think you'll be right. That would not surprise anyone.
Zack: trade for Ike Davis? What would the Mets want in return?
Jerry Micco: I'm guessing one of the lefty relievers, Watson or Wilson. To me, seems like a high price for Ike Davis.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, would you cut LaMarr Woodley?
Jerry Micco: That's a difficult question. I guess if I thought Jason Worilds was going to be the Jason Worilds of the last 5 games and not the first 2 and a half years, yes. But if this is an aberration, then no, I would not, because then you'd be paying a guy to be mediocre. Woodley was actually playing very well early this season. My issue with him is he can't stay on the field. I guess though if you're going to pay that kind of money to a guy, he's go to stay healthy. And if he can't, the investment isn't working.
James_Pittsburgh: Do we see a starting defensive line of Al Woods, Steve McLendon, and Heyward in 2014?
Jerry Micco: I think they are going to keep Hood and will start him. I think Woods is a better NT than McLendon, and Heyward will be the other DE.
Tom: Has this year more than ever showed that you should never waste a first round pick on a Center, Guard or Right Tackle? Around the league guys at these positions are sort of a dime a dozen right?
Jerry Micco: Centers are not a dime a dozen. Usually are very few of them available in the draft, and even fewer good ones. Remember, Alan Faneca was a pretty good first-round pick. I think DeCastro, while he may never be Faneca, will turn out to be a very good offensive lineman. I think LT is the top position to draft on any OL, bar none. Guard likely the lowest, but you see guards go from 20-32 in round 1 every year.
James_Pittsburgh: Will the Steelers draft Sammy Watkins to play opposite of Antonio Brown?
Jerry Micco: Depends on if he's there. I think the Steelers will be 7-9 at season's end and that will put them in the 13-16 range of picks. That may be too deep to get Watkins, who is probably the top WR in the draft. Mike Evans stock seems to be sliding a bit, so he might be there should the Steelers go that direction. But then, what do you do about Markus Wheaton?
Ya Boi: Winning NL MVP and getting engaged all in the same year. What will 2014 bring for Andrew McCutchen?
Jerry Micco: The Pirates hope for a little higher BA, more steals, HRs and RBIs. A bit more improvement across the board. Cutch had a really nice year and in a down National League, it's an MVP year. Doesn't take away from what he and the team accomplished, but I'm going to bet the Pirates and Cutch think he can do more offensively than he did in 2013.
Unlucky Louis: Jerry, I usually pick my all time favorite Steelers for my Mega Millions ticket. Tommy Maddox #8 Limas Swede #14 Mike Wallace #17 Rocky Bleir #20 Willie Parker #39 and Big Ben #7, yesterday I forgot! Do you think the lottery commision will belief me??
Jerry Micco: They won't belief you were a Limas Sweed (was he a Swede?) fan. No one was.
James_Pittsburgh: Why are people even discussing cutting Troy Polamalu? Do they prefer to see Robert Golden starting at safety in 2014? I will take a 30+ Troy over Golden any day.
Jerry Micco: Troy may make the Pro Bowl this season. I know that sounds silly, but he's made enough big plays to be there, especially because people vote on these things.
The Chief: With the penguins depth at D; when all are finally healthy, one of the top four has be traded for a top six forward. Which one goes ?
Jerry Micco: That's going to be a very tough call because you have to get value in return. Some teams know the Pens can't keep all those guys so they'll hardball Shero. But as we have seen, when injuries hit, you need as much depth as possible. So maybe he holds all the cards and mixes and matches as he needs them. Until the right deal comes along.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I have an article coming out on Yahoo on how the Pirates bench compares to St. Louis' bench. The Pirates need to really work on this area.
Jerry Micco: Do you write for Yahoo? And the Cardinals bench is much better, no question. The Pirates need to keep trying to gain more depth. Getting a LH bat at first to platoon with Gaby is a first step.
The Chief: Pitt just have a bad night in the Garden or did they finally meet a good team rather than the cupcakes they have been playing?
Jerry Micco: I think a poor night, especially on the boards. Rarely do you see a Jamie Dixon team out-rebounded like that. Cincinnati isn't all that good, and Pitt certainly isn't that bad. But they were last night. That was peach-basket era basketball.
Doyle37: What is to come of the NFL with the poor officiating ( inconsistency ) of personal foul calls involving "defenseless players " and pass interference ??
Jerry Micco: I think you may see pass interference be considered a 15-yard penalty when it's a contested ball. By that I mean, if you heave one up in the end zone and the players are battling for it and there's a flag, it's 15 yards. If a guy is hauled down who is clearly past a defender and going to be wide open, maybe that's a spot foul. I don't know, but something has to give on that.
Justin: Just because Thornton's actions were comparatively worse than Neals, it doesn't absolve Neal. That deserved a long fine as well. No?
Jerry Micco: I had no problem with Neal's 5-game suspension. Was necessary and warranted. But that was in the heat of the game. Thornton's was, too, but you could argue that was premeditated on Orpik. There is a difference between the two.
Needforspeed: Why do u think coach Dixon is so resistant to recruiting quick guards that can take defenders off the dribble ?
Jerry Micco: I don't think he's resistant to that. I think he recruited for the Big East style of play with bigger guards who were more physical. The ACC may call for guards who are more slashers and drivers. I think they do try to recruit those types of players and I think they are getting looks from those types of players.
Bill L: Jerry, I might be wrong, but I think NBC flexed out of the Ravens-Pats SNF game to show Eagles-Bears which means nothing to the Eagles if the Cowboys beat the Redskins (setting up Eagles-Cowboys for the divion Week 17). What a gaffe.
Jerry Micco: I was surprised to see that, but I believe you are correct.
Guest: I heard criticism of Garvin's hit on the punter, that he didn't have to 'blow him up'. Maybe he didn't but in the NFL culture a special teamer makes his name like that. If he didn't wouldn't other Coaches of potential teams think he didn't have what it takes?
Jerry Micco: I think Garvin will get fined for that hit which was borderline high. He got part of Huber's head. He could have delivered that shot a bit lower, but in the heat of the game, he's just throwing a block. A thunderous block at that, and it will get him noticed by coaches. Unfortunately for him, the NFL fine guys likely will take notice, too.
carisi_99: When Dale Hunter hit Pierre Turgeon after Turgeon scored a goal in the playoffs in 1993, he got a 21 game suspension. That seems like a pretty direct comparison to a cheap shot assault during a stoppage in play. Do you think it is a fair suspension?
Jerry Micco: I think Hunter had been on the radar many times before that hit. Again, Thornton had never been suspended before the hit. I'm not Brendan Shanahan, and I'm really glad I'm not, but I'd have gone 20. But no matter the amount of games, some folks will say it's never enough for what he did. Other will say it's way too many.
Andy: I'm sick and tired of all the Jamie Dixon OOC schedule excuses he spits to Paul Zeise. Other teams play huge non conference games nightly. Please stop making excuses for the man. Its embarrassing.
Jerry Micco: I think Dixon explained the philosophy of why he and Pitt do what they do. Next year, they go to Maui and the schedule is harder. It's what Pitt does. We and other media in this town have pointed that out countless times. Thought we'd give Pitt and Dixon a chance to explain why they do what they do. And as you might expect, money is one big reason.
Zack: Do you trust Snider, Tabata, or whomever for that open OF spot? I don't. Kinda wanted to bring in a low cost guy like Kubel to compete? Thoughts?
Jerry Micco: I'm worried about RF. I think Tabata started to come on late in the year, but Snider is not a very consistent player. For that matter, I'm not sure Tabata is, either. And in my opinion, there's very little power there.
Joe: As Chuck Noll would say, "Woodley must get on with his life's work." He only plays a few games a year and had been basically replaced at this point.
Jerry Micco: And he won't play anymore this year. But imagine him in, say, Cleveland, Baltimore or Cincinnati and healthy at 265 pounds and going against Adams or Gilbert in a big game? Just sayin'. It ain't easy being Kevin Colbert.
Thomas: Please explain what win Pitt can point to in their OOC schedule that can help to differentiate them from other NCAA teams.
Jerry Micco: Not much. But they are not the only team that plays a rather easy OOC schedule. Teams like Michigan State get a lot of props because they do this every year. Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana all have rivalries where they play one another, so it's a built-in big game. I'd love to see Pitt play, say, Ohio State or Michigan every year. But that type match doesn't seem to be in the cards.
Fran Ganter: I say Bill O'Brien is gone from PSU. He's done a phenomenal job there and has the NFL QB pedigree. I say Redskins would love him.
Jerry Micco: Maybe. His name is attached to every job in the NFL it seems. Amazing for a coach with a 15-9 overall record as a head coach. And the QB he worked with was Tom Brady. That said, I think Bill O'Brien is a very good coach and a very good teacher of college quarterbacks. Christian Hackenberg grew in leaps and bounds as the season progressed. We'll see if PSU, in year 3 of the sanctions, can hold on to OB.
James_Pittsburgh: If the Pirates resign Burnett(probably not going to happen), could we see a Locke for Ike Davis trade?
Jerry Micco: Maybe. That seems like an awful lot to give up for Ike Davis, who to me is the second coming of Adam LaRoche. Talk about slow starters. Yikes.
Phil: I get the fact that the Steelers aren't a playoff team, but I don't want to see the Steelers eliminated when they play Sunday, so what's this about the Jets have to beat the Browns. I don't get that one. Is that correct? If so, why?
Jerry Micco: The Steelers need, and please don't ask me to explain this further because I can't, the Jets, Dolphins, Ravens and themselves, to all finish 8-8. In some bizarre way, the Steelers win that tiebreaker.
Richard: Is time to dismiss Greg Amodio at Duquesne?
Jerry Micco: I don't think so, but I just wonder when they can get the basketball program up and going again. Jim Ferry has a lot of work to do there. A lot of work.
Popeye: If 71&87 win just one cup will that be viewed as a worse failure than the 90's braves dynasties?
Jerry Micco: I think if you ask Malkin and Crosby if one Cup is enough, they'd flat tell you absolutely not. They would expect more more of themselves and their teammates.
Tank: I hear a lot of people suggesting Aaron Donald should have won the heisman. Let me ask, if he impacted the game so much, why did he lead his tea to a 6-6 record?
Jerry Micco: Aaron Donald is the best defensive player in the nation. He probably should have gotten a Heisman invite. I don't think he should have won the Heisman, but an invite was not out of the question. And I do think a lot of that voting comes for players who play for winning teams. It almost always does.
Ken: Off the radar--people aren't attacking Marcus Gilbert like they were in September. Is he improving?
Jerry Micco: I think he's getting better, but his run blocking is still suspect. He's adequate, let's put it that way. And that's better than he was earlier this season. The no-huddle and the quick passing attack has helped the OL greatly.
Tim: Where are all the "Dick Lebeau is hanging on to long" articles like JoePa?
Jerry Micco: Well, LeBeau isn't in charge of the program and didn't have to go out and recruit players as well as be the face of a university. LeBeau isn't even the head coach. Totally different cases.
Guest: Jerry, no offense but Ziggy Hood will not, and does not deserved to be re signed. Any Jamokoe off the street can hold up OL while the LB's blitz the QB.
Jerry Micco: But that's a 3-4 DE's job, so if you say that, then way use No. 1 picks for a DE in a 3-4? The Steelers have 2 on the team right now. And I'm not offended. Ziggy might be, but I'm good with it.
Jack Splat: So an SI reference as well to Steeler salary cap. It is mess that took a few years to make. Now, 2 years out of play offs, maybe this is the tme to bite the bullet and let Woodley, clark, Polomaulu and/or Taylor go. Keisel can't come back, age and whatever money does not make it worth it.
Jerry Micco: Many offseason decisions for the Steelers to come. You are going to see many guys go. The issue wasn't that these guys got signed to big deals, but that they kept getting re-worked. Once that happened, as they got older, they cost more money and didn't play as well. Perfect salary cap storm.
Alpha: Take a look at Florida, Michigan State, OSU, etcs OOC schedule and tell me why Dixon is making an excuse no one will play him.
Jerry Micco: He cites money and home games needed. Those schools you mention, I'll bet, all make money in athletics and frankly, they are all considered football schools. And they are in the Big Ten and SEC, two real mega-conferences. The ACC is one, too, but when it comes to football and money, the SEC and Big Ten are front and center.
JamesinNYC: Any hints from AJ yet?
Jerry Micco: Nope.
Zack: Evans should be our guy...can start with Antonio. Wheaton plays the slot. Cotchery is #4. Can go ILB inn rd 2. Thoughts?
Jerry Micco: I like Evans for his size. Don't know if he's a good route runner, but I love his size. Steelers need that type player. My concern is this: this team is going to lose a lot on defense and it needs so much help on that side of the ball. It's going to be tempting to take Watkins or Evans if they are there. But if a good CB or NT is there, they almost have to go that direction. They cannot stop the run, and that has killed them. And they are old at one CB spot. Man, tough draft.
Tom: I guess I should rephrase my question...Is the gap in quality between DeCastro and Ramon Foster bigger than an Emmanuel Sanders and AJ Green? The Steelers lack playmakers, not just talent.
Jerry Micco: The gap between skill players is always more marked because you can compare statistics. Offensive line is usually graded as a unit. Can the QB stay clean and can you run the ball to close a game? If so, then your OL has the talent you need. But in the skill jobs, which is why the trade Ben stuff was so ludicrous earlier this year, the differential can kill your season.
Dr Jack: As far as the Steelers salary purge, you have to cut to cure as the saying goes. I'd clean house. Troy definitely has to go. Look at Ed Reed. This is why the Ravens reload and we're rebuilding.
Jerry Micco: I think Troy, who is a couple of years younger than Reed, should serve out his one more year of contract. I think he'll be fine. But Taylor and Clark are likely go go. Thomas likely can replace Clark. Allen and Gay could start at CB, but if that is the case, then you almost have to draft a CB in round 1 or 2 of the draft. OR...go get one in free agency.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, here is my article on the Pirates: http://voices.yahoo.com/pirates-quietly-building-contender-12451768.html
Jerry Micco: For all to read...thanks, James.
CupCake City: National media is killing Dixon on his schedule and the PG continues to run articles defending it. This is turning into a major black eye for Jamie.
Jerry Micco: Well, we ran one article asking them to explain their reasons for it. I'd hardly call that continuing to run articles. And show me the articles where the national media is "killing" Pitt?
Paul: What was with Tomlin yesterday? He's been to Lambeau a bunch of times, so what? "Business as usual." What is that, a gulag over there? Have some fun. It's hallowed NFL ground. There's nothing like it in any sport and some of your players will never have such an opportunity again. Jeez
Jerry Micco: I think someone was asking him if he was approaching it as hallowed ground because it was his first time as a head coach and as you saw, he brushed it off. He has been there many times. He's not one for that type of thing. He gets pretty focused game week. Sometimes, though, the games don't start that way for his team...
The Chief: OK Jerry, no more chats until the BCS final Championship game. Who you got Florida State or Auburn?
Jerry Micco: I like the Noles by a touchdown.
Guest: Jerry, please tell me we will go get a LT in the first round of this year's draft. I'm tired of settling for "good enough" on the O-line.
Jerry Micco: Only if Matthews is available. Only 2 worth drafting in round 1. But, you may see one in one of the later rounds.
Doyle37: I think Bill O'Brien stays at PSU until Hackenberg leaves. That kid stayed loyal...I think BOB does likewise.
Jerry Micco: Maybe. That's a good point. We shall see.
The Chief: Jerry, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. What would each of the three Pittsburgh Pro Teams like to find under their tree on Christmas Morning?
Jerry Micco: Same to you Chief, and to all of you as this is my last question for 2013: Pirates: A first baseman to go with Gaby Sanchez and a contract from AJ Burnett Penguins: A healthy corps of defensemen Steelers: A crystal ball of who to cut and who to keep heading into 2014
I'm done. You guys are the best. Thanks for all your questions and comments. I'll be back on Jan. 8 and we'll pick it up again. Thanks for always taking the time to do this. Couldn't do it without you! Happy, healthy and blessed holidays to you all!