Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 02.03.14

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1:19
 
Comment From Wild Bill 
Better sports adage..."Defense wins championships" or "Drive for show, putt for dough"?

 

1:20
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
I'm more of a football guy than a golf guy, so of course, "Defense wins championships." And it certainly did Sunday night.

 

1:20
 
Comment From Alan 
Do you think the Steelers try to keep Ike Taylor at a reduced salary, or just cut him due to his cap hit and the fact he has declining speed and no ball skills?

 

1:22
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
Probably the latter, but I don't have any inside information on what the front office is thinking in regards to that. It's not like they have great depth at CB, so there is always the possibility that returns at a reduced rate. But at some point you just have to bite the bullet and get younger. With the problems the Steelers have had creating turnovers the past three years it certainly does not help to have Taylor as one of your corners. But we shall see. Does Tomlin feel comfortable enough in William Gay and Cortez Allen as starters heading into next season presuming they do not draft a CB in the first round or two?

 

1:23
 
Comment From Wild Bill 
Shouldn't the fact that Calvin Johnson and Josh Gordon both had monster 200+ yrd games against the Steelers but both still lost just prove that WR have little impact on overall team quality? No way the Steelers waste a #1 pick on WR, right?

 

1:26
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
You can spin the numbers any way you want, but receivers are important in every offense. And Ben Roethlisberger has gone years without a big target for the passing game. Do the Steelers have bigger needs at other positions? Yes, they do. Namely, on defense. After watching the way Seattle plays I am more convinced the Steelers will use most of their draft choices on defenders. Not only because they're old and lack playmakers on that side of the ball but because Seattle reinforced the notion that you can still win in today's pass-happy NFL if you have a good defense. I have advocated for the Steelers to take a WR in the first round, but I understand the way the Steelers build teams and I would suspect they'll invest in their defense after the way last season unfolded.

 

1:27
 
Comment From Jesse 
The common belief is that the Steelers will keep Al Woods and either Ziggy Hood or Brett Keisel who do you pick in that scenario?

 

1:30
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
I'm not so sure either will come back to be honest with you. I think Keisel was the more productive player last season, but as I mentioned above in regards to Ike Taylor, the team does have to get younger at some point. I have said a couple of times since the end of the season that Hood might be a better option because he's not likely to have a lot of free agent suitors. I think he can be had for a decent price.

 

1:30
 
Comment From Wild Bill 
Do you think the Steelers could ever get away with as many head shots and clutching/grabbing of WR's as the Seahawks did last night?

 

1:33
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
I wrote a blog entry on this subject this morning. It's still on the web site if you want to check it out. The Seahawks' defensive backs were coming up and leading with their head early and often. I heard some of their interviews after the game and they basically said it was their game plan to intimidate the Denver receivers. I think I saw two or three head to head collisions that were not flagged by the officials. I didn't notice the clutching and grabbing as much as the head to head hit, but to answer your question -- at least what I think you were getting at -- I don't know if the Steelers would have been called more. What I do think is the Steelers have been conditioned to change their playing style because they don;t want to get fined. They won't admit that, but I think it's been noticeable.

 

1:34
 
Comment From Guest 
What were the Steelers thinking letting Keenan Lewis go last off season? They knew Taylor was getting old and would be a huge cap hit. Did they really think they would be fine with Cortez Allen and Willam Gay?

 

1:35
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
That was probably a mistake, but Lewis is a Louisiana native and he might have simply wanted to play in his home state. With hindsight being 20-20, sure it looks bad now. I will give credit to Kevin Colbert for the William Gay signing, though. He had a really good year.

 

1:35
 
Comment From Guest 
I think d Jackson with the browns is a FA ..do you thin he wild be a good ot pick up ... black n gold might have t start dablin in fa. And they have a couple high salaries that have to be cut

 

1:36
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
Priortiy No. 1 is to re-sign their own free agents, with Jason Worilds being at the top of that list. Even if they ask guys like Taylor to take pay cuts or release them there is not going to be a lot of money left over to sign other team's free agents. Guess what? That's what happens when you have a $100 million dollar quarterback on your roster.

 

1:37
 
Comment From Jesse 
Are there any under the radar free agents from another team that you would like to see Pittsburgh go after?

 

1:39
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
Not sure but keep an eye on offensive linemen. The top reserves from last season are free agents (Velasco, Wallace and Whimper). Munchak probably has some guys in mind because he'll be implementing the zone blocking scheme.

 

1:39
 
Comment From William 
CB seems like the D position with the quickest ROI. Even a backup gets snaps in nickel/dime and you can often find a returned from that position. Everyone else gets "groomed". Which of the current batch of "groomed" D players inspires confidence? Worldis is one of the few and he could be gone.

 

1:42
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
Even though Allen was a part-time starter last season I think he'll take a step forward in his third season. Obviously, Worilds took that step last season and now it's time to pay him. I think Jarvis Jones, with a good offseason under his belt, can take a big step forward in his second year. Shamarko Thomas, if given the opportunity, might be a guy to make a bigger impact in 2014. I like what I have seen from Al Woods on a limited basis. Am I convinced he's someone who can handle a starting job? I don;t know about that, but given the cap situation he might be the cheapest of the options available. Steve McLendon is a good football player, too, though I'm not convinced he's a great fit as a 3-4 nose.

 

1:42
 
Comment From Wild Bill 
Keep hearing how Seattle is so young and can win for many years. Easy to say until all the players want big contracts and other teams steal your coaches. Isn't it truly remarkable how the Steelers have been able to overcome that for over a decade and be perennial contenders?

 

1:44
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
Yes, but what they are saying about Seattle is true because the QB is under contract for TWO more years. The Seahawks don't have to pay him until 2016. He is entering the third year of his rookie contract. Now, they might want to get a deal done sooner, which could change things, but the window is open for them for at least two years because Russell Wilson is making something like $500,000, which is a bargain. That allows them to reinvest in their defense, which is the way they really win games anyhow.

 

1:44
 
Comment From Guest 
What are the chances the Steelers use the first three picks on defense? I think you can find solid WRs and RBs in mid to late rounds. It would be a serious statement.

 

1:45
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
I think you are right about finding depth running backs in the later rounds, but you'd be hard-pressed to find impact receivers in the later rounds. That being said, I think they will use a lot of their picks on defense. And for good reason. Right now, it's where they are the weakest.

 

1:46
 
Comment From Wild Bill 
Being a first class organization, perennial contenders and amazing loyalty to keeping their players, shouldn't the Steelers at least be able to attract ONE free agent from another team? Seriously, who would want to be on the Browns or Jaguars?

 

1:47
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
There is this thing called the salary cap, Bill. I am sure there are a lot of free agents with designs on playing for teams such as the Steelers or Cowboys or Patriots, but all teams only have so many dollars to spend on free agents every year. And as usual, the Steelers don't figure to have much extra to spend on other team's free agents.

 

1:47
 
Comment From Jesse 
If two 8-8 seasons is all the Steelers need to reload or rebuild the roster how good will that make the organization look?

 

1:49
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
Not sure what you mean, but the Steelers do not sit idly by in years they don't make the playoffs. There will be changes. The players know it, too. I can remember talking to Ike Taylor at training camp and he said if the team goes 8-8 again and misses the playoffs he'd probably not be back. All professional players know when the team falls short of its goal the organization looks to get better.

 

1:49
 
Comment From Ken s 
Restructure or release/trade troy, woodley,Ben and Ike ..... the cap being in the negs forever needs fixed sometimes addition via subtraction can benefit long term swill offer up more flexibility to rebuild some high cap positions

 

1:52
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
Of the two you mentioned the two most likely to get cut/restructured are Woodley and Taylor. Woodley is a no-brainer if Worilds is signed. Art Rooney II said the team might redo Ben's deal but it's not a necessity this offseason. As for Troy, his cap number is not ideal, but I don't know if it's smart to enter a season with two new starting safeties. You still have to field a competitive team and Troy played pretty darn well in a different role than what he was used to playing.

 

1:52
 
Comment From Jesse 
What were the Steelers thinking when they traded for Levi Brown? His salary is expensive for a guy considered to be a stop gap tackle.

 

1:53
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
Brown will be released and it won't cost the Steelers a dime. He's a big cap hit only if he remains on the roster, which will not happen.

 

1:56
 
Comment From Wild Bill 
I hear a lot about how the Steelers don't spend much in FA. Hogwash. Last year they spent 4 mil on Sanders and Burress, nearly 3 mil on Dwyer and Redmand, another 5 mil on Paulson and D. Johnson, and Spaeth atTE. Plus guys like Gay, Whimper, etc. They spent tons of money on guys that literally didn't contribute. You get what you pay for so why not take the 4 mil from Sanders and Burress and use it on a legit #2 WR?

 

1:58
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
I think your legit No. 2 will be Markus Wheaton. He's a third-round draft choice. That's why you draft, to get players in position to help you when others like Sanders move on. The other guys you mentioned are depth players and once you are a vested veteran you have to make a certain amount of money. The contract they paid Isaac Redman was not guaranteed and was likely around the minimum for what a player like him can make. The same goes for those other guys you mentioned. You have to pay your depth players, too. The fact remains the higher-priced free agents remain out of the Steelers' price range. I don't think there is any argument there.

 

1:59
 
Comment From JamesinNYC 
After another Manning meltdown I feel there are clutch players and those that are not. Bonds was another anti clutch. What do you think on the subject?

 

2:02
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
I tend to agree with you, James. If you listen to the talking heads they'll tell you what happened last night does not matter when it comes to Manning's legacy. But I'm on the other side of the fence. Performing in the clutch matters in a team sport. If you look at the career stats of Manning and Terry Bradshaw, Manning blows him away. Brad shaw finished his career with a ton of interceptions and because the Steelers were a running team early in his career his yardage numbers aren't all that impressive, either. But in a playoff game, or Super Bowl, is there anyone out there who would not pick Bradshaw? Those Steelers teams were chock full of clutch players at almost every position. That's why they won four Super Bowls in a six-year span.

 

2:02
 
Comment From Jesse 
Worlds said he wants to stay in Pittsburgh if he is guaranteed a starting job but isn't that something he shouldn't have to ask? He played so well that whatever they would pay him would just be a waste if he was rotting on the bench.

 

2:02
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
Worilds will stay in Pittsburgh if the money is right for him. Period.

 

2:07
 
Comment From Jack Splat 
Pouncy OK with rehab? On schedule to start season?

 

2:07
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
Yes, from everything I hear he is on schedule.

 

2:07
 
Comment From Wild Bill 
Thanks for the great chat. Really appreciate your time.

 

2:09
 
Comment From DSF 
if we had a two gap linebacker this year and a healthy larry foote, would we be talking about how bad the secondary is? My point is maybe the secondary is not as bad as may seem?

 

2:10
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
Your point is well taken. If the pass rush is up to its usual standards the secondary is not exposed as much. But the pass rush was lacking and it might continue to be lacking so there is a school of thought that they need to get younger and faster in the secondary. As far as Foote goes. I like Larry as a player. He probably would have helped this year, but they won without him for that year when he was in Detroit and they'll eventually have to win without him again. He is turning 34 this summer.

 

2:11
 
Comment From Jack Splat 
Looking at current roster I think D is better suited for a 4-3 base. Heywood,Woods at DE. Hood and McCenden at DT. Timmons MLB, Wiorlds,Jones OLB. New blood via draft at CB in the secondary. What do you think?

 

2:12
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
If that's the case, wouldn't Dick LeBeau have been asked to retire by now. Not to mention, Mike Tomlin went on the record late in the season and said he like the 3-4 defense when it comes to defending some of the newer trends in the league such as the spread quarterbacks and such.

 

2:18
 
Ray Fittipaldo: 
Thanks for all the questions this week. We'll do it again next week at the same time

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