Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 1.18.16
January 18, 2016 3:45 PM
Ben Roethlisberger is sacked Sunday against Denver.
POLL: In terms of disappointment which was the most disappointing wild card of division round playoff loss? Denver '89 (0%), Ravens '14 (40%), Broncos '11 (47%), Tennessee '02 (7%), Denver '15 (7%), Chiefs '93 (0%)
Guest: Ray, the same problems crept up in Broncos game that steelers have had for last few years--finishing in the red zone, or at least once they get down to opponent's 30 yard line or so. I really think the problem is on Ben for the most part and occasionally on Haley. There are either open guys short and Ben goes to the end zone or the play calling lacks creativity. Do you agree? How should it be fixed since it doesn't look like they'll be getting rid of $20 mil QB or Haley?
Ray Fittipaldo: The red zone offense improved this season, but to your point did it improve enough. With Roethlisberger, the Steelers are gaining more yards than they ever have. Now, for the second year in a row, we're talking about how they must convert those yards into more points. They have an excuse for Denver. They were playing with third- and fourth-string RBs not to mention without their All-Pro WR. And to a certain extent the weather might have caused some issues in Cincy. But I agree with your premise. If this team truly is going to be built around the offense -- and it most certainly is right now -- you have to find a way to score more than 18 and 16 points in your two playoff games. That being said, Ben led the winning field goal drive in Cincy in pain from a separated shoulder and he played really well for the most part in Denver. I think some of this does fall on Haley and the offensive line. I think they need to develop an attitude when they get in the red zone and/or goal line that they can mash people and run it in. I don't think they can do that now.
Dale: Which members of this year's team played their last game in black and gold last night?
Ray Fittipaldo: Too early to say really. We had the story on James Harrison being near tears after the game. He is undecided on his return and will take his time. Others who don't have contract include: G Ramon Foster, S Will Allen, CB Will Gay, NT Steve McLendon. There are others, but those are the starters. Don't think I left any starters out.
steelmann58: RAY Do you expect any changes to the coaching staff?
Ray Fittipaldo: I don't think there will be major changes, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was a change at a position or two.
Indy Steeler: Do Talib clearly commit PI on Wheaton (face guarding) and Bryant in the end zone, or am I just a blinded homer fan? We probably win with those calls.
Ray Fittipaldo: There is no face guarding in the NFL, but he did hold Bryant's arm down so he couldn't catch the ball. That should have been pass interference. The one to Wheaton, I think Wheaton just has to do a better job of fighting through that contact. I think the so-called "combat catches" will be a major offseason emphasis for the WRs, especially Bryant. He is the team's biggest Wr and he has to start coming up with some of those 50-50 balls that can produce big plays. They're missing that from this offense. We just got done talking about the red zone. We wouldn't have to address it so much if the WRs were better in that area. This team could use a pass-catching, rangy TE to help in that area, too. Not down on Heath, but he's near the end and he's not that type of player at this point in his career.
Y.T.: A couple of things on the fumble by Toussaint. First, i thought he should have just lowered his head and got the first down. Second, if heyward-bey sustains his block better maybe toussaint breaks it for a big gain. What did you think.
Ray Fittipaldo: I saw the play develop from the press box. I thought he had tons of room. Two observations: the hole closed quickly, and Toussaint seemed hesitant hitting the hole. I'd have to watch the play again on the coaches' tape to be sure, but that was a shame for him.
Guest: Did any of the teams with coaching vacancies ask to interview Haley?
Ray Fittipaldo: I don't think so. All the head coach vacancies are filled.
steelmann58: Ray what the biggest needs for the Steelers in FA and the draft S/CB DL TE
Ray Fittipaldo: CB, S, TE, OG. Maybe OLB depending on Harrison's situation.
GjSteel: been being close to 34 and what many would consider the peak of his career..would it be time to at least keep our eyes open on a qb like the Packers did with Favre to Rodgers?
Ray Fittipaldo: They just signed him to a five-year extension last spring. He's the guy for the next four years at least. Look at the two QBs in the AFC title game. One is 39 and the other 38. If you surround him with the right type of players Ben can be successful for a long time.
steelmann58: Ray think the Steelers will look to add any Fa or just try to sign their own. We could use another Fa sign like we got with DW.
Ray Fittipaldo: Mostly their own. You have Le'Veon Bell coming down the pike. They'll get something done with DeCastro. I wouldn't rule out on big free agent signing because they have Woodley and Polamalu coming off the books, but most of the $ will be spent on their own players.
Steve: Ray, Draft...1-5 CB, OT, CB, DT, QB..sound OK, & will they keep DeAngelo, given the play of the practice squad backs who performed so well (outside of the fumble) last two games?
Ray Fittipaldo: Not so sure you need to draft a T. Beachum is coming off a major knee injury and you might be able to go year to year with him. Maybe you can get him on a one-year deal for $4-5 million and see how it goes. Don't think other teams will break the bank for someone like him coming off an injury. Plus, Villanueva played OK. You might need to draft one to serve as a reserve, but I'd feel comfortable with either Beachum or Villanueva as my starter entering next season.
Indy Steeler: If we shore up the secondary through the draft and free agency (we already have Golsen), I think the 2016 season looks incredibly promising. Your way too early thoughts?
Ray Fittipaldo: There is reason to be optimistic about 2016. The secondary remains a major concern though. Golson should be the slot CB. But you have to re-sign Gay and add a starting CB through the draft or free agency unless you want Blake or Cockrell in that role again. I like Blake as a fourth CB and special teamer, but he's not a starting caliber CB for a Super Bowl contender.
Guest: Is this another year the steelers bypass a CB or safety in the first round? You can see the way someone like Marcus Peters really helped the Chiefs. Why do the steelers insist on picking up short corners in the later rounds when the odds are against them ever being really good?
Ray Fittipaldo: Peters was gone before they drafted last year. Most of the elite CBs are gone before the Steelers draft every year. I have some news for you. They won't get an elite one at No. 25 this year either. Those guys are scooped up early.
UWS bus: Interesting you say there may be a coaching change or 2. My obvious candidates from team performance , (not necessarily a comment on their coaching abilities) would be Smith and Lake. Your thoughts?
Ray Fittipaldo: Not going to speculate on that.
steelmann58: Ray Coats looks like a player going to like our WR Core in 2016 do you think they add one who could double as a returner. Do you think the Kid from Louisville Rogers can step in to that role?
Ray Fittipaldo: They liked Rogers before he got hurt. Not sure of his return abilities though. I thought Coates stepped up when they needed him Sunday.
Jim: Can Jesse James be that pass catcing tight end? What do the coaches think of him? Or do they have to go to the draft for their tight end?
Ray Fittipaldo: James is more likely the next Matt Spaeth, a solid No. 2. They need to draft a pass catching tight end.
Jim: Stephon Tuitt has had a great season. Any chance he gets a contract extension this year?
Ray Fittipaldo: Only in his second season. Next offseason he'll be a priority.
Bruno: Ray, Patriots only 3 point favorites in denver? that's crazy right?
Ray Fittipaldo: Yes. They should win by four touchdowns as long as Brady doesn't turn the ball over. I'm thinking 42-10 or something like that. Could get ugly.
Bruno: Ray, so ben wasn't hurt at all?
Ray Fittipaldo: He took a painkilling shot.
Bill: I thought Mitchell had a good season. However, Will Allen seemed to be lacking at times with his safety play. Do they have to go to the draft for an upgrade or is there a better option already on the team?
Ray Fittipaldo: Yes, strong safety should be a priority in the offseason. The plan wasn't for Allen to start, but he had to because S. Thomas couldn't handle it.
GjSteel: I understand the aspect of Manning and Brady...but Ben doesn't play like them..he takes alot more hits and holds on to the ball longer..unless they intend to build a steel wall around him...he won't last like those two..doesn't the braintrust need to prepare..not like what they did when they had Bradshaw and passed on Dan Marino..when they shouldn't have
Ray Fittipaldo: No. And they've tried to get him to get rid of the ball sooner. It's hard to coach that out of him.
JW-6: Do you see the FO bringing Ramon Foster back, or are they ready to move on? Possibly sliding Wallace over to guard?
Ray Fittipaldo: Interesting decision with Foster. Not sure if Hubbard is a viable replacement as a starter. If not, they'd have to draft a guy and plug him in. Wallace is a good reserve. Did a good job this season when Pouncey went down.
steelmann58: Ray Does Boswell play make it hard for Suisham to keep his job in 16 and if he losses out think the steelers might look to trade him.
Ray Fittipaldo: Boswell is the K of the future. I think they'll try to trade Suisham next summer. maybe they can recoup that draft pick they used to pick up Scobee.
steelmann58: Ray what do you see the steelers doing in regards to the Back up QB spot?
Ray Fittipaldo: Another interesting decision. I think Landry Jones is OK as a No. 2, but you have to re-sign him. I wouldn't pay him much more than $1 million a year.
SteelByDesign: Give your best guess right now, just yes or no, on if the following are w/ the team next season: Harrison, McLendon, Gay, Blake, Beachum, Foster.
Ray Fittipaldo: I truly don't know on Harrison. I can see them bringing back Gay and and Beachum and maybe Foster. Not so sure on the others. Time will tell.
Lambert Lunatic: Hey Ray, nothing to vent about here. After this season's challenges, to have been a small step away from the AFC title game is a significant step forward. Question: What's the main obstacle in a Super Bowl run next season?
Ray Fittipaldo: Secondary.
sluggo: Ray, what was your take on the play where Manning spun away from a sack and appeared to slide feet fist, essentially giving himself up. He then got up and completed a 35 yard pass play after the Steeler defenders appeared to stop
Ray Fittipaldo: The play should have been blown dead. The referee made a mistake. One of many mistakes referees and officials made in 2015.
Steve: Ray, are you impressed with e Safety play of Mitchell & Allen, e S play seems to have proved effective enough to stick wit those two..and focus on CBs , right?
Ray Fittipaldo: Allen is 33. Not sure you can count on him. I thought he played OK at times, but they need a strong safety for the future.
Guest 6Rings: The starting LT for Game 1 of the 2016 season will be:
Ray Fittipaldo: I don't know.
Bruno: In what context was Tomlin crying yesterday in the locker romm?
Ray Fittipaldo: Players relayed the story. We don't get in there for 10-15 minutes. That happened when he addressed the team.
Steve: ray , do you have chats in the offseason?
Ray Fittipaldo: That's the plan. Maybe not every week, but we'll continue to do them on a regular basis.
Rash, London, UK: With the salary gap increasing and old cap penalties clearing (i.e. Woodley) is it time to be a little more aggresive in free agency considering how close this team is? Denver is a good exmaple, holme drafted players topped off with key veteran FA's like Ware, Ward, Talib who were the difference in yesterday's game.
Ray Fittipaldo: A signing along the lines of Mike Mitchell maybe but not a big splash. The Steelers have their own guys to take care of.
SPIKE: What happens with Gradkowski ?
Ray Fittipaldo: If he's willing to come back for $1 million or so he could be the No. 3 or compete with Jones for the No. 2. Like Jones, I wouldn't pay him much more than $1 million. I think he made $1.5 for the past few years.
Bruno: Given his off the field issues and the emergence of Sammie Coates would you trade Martavias Bryant in the off season?
Ray Fittipaldo: No. If he stays out of trouble you have two more years of him under his rookie contract. Got to max that out.
Guest: So the steelers are missing a 5th rounder in the draft for Boykin ( or 4th but I don't he played enough snaps) and a seventh rounder for Scobee, right? Likely no compensatory picks either right? So they are down two draft picks. Not good
Ray Fittipaldo: That's why they could look to trade Suisham.
Guest: Is this more of a big-play offense, rather than a methodically-drive-down-the-field offense? It was yesterday, certainly. Do you think that's part of the problem in the red zone? The space gets tighter, and you can't throw it down the field as much or as easily.
Ray Fittipaldo: Yes. As I said before, they need to run the ball better in close. I think that might help. Getting your WRs to come down with some 50-50 balls would help too.
Bruno: Do you see a Pats/Panthers SB rematch and who do you think would win? Thanks
Ray Fittipaldo: I do. And I give the edge to Brady and the Pats because of their experience.
SPIKE: If the Steelers had advanced do you think they could have beaten the Patriots in NE ?
Ray Fittipaldo: Would depend on whether Brown was ready to come back. Puncher's chance without him. With him, I think maybe 35-40 percent chance they could have won up there.
The Card Says Moops: If you asked 100 random Steeler fans, how many would spell Martavis correctly? I say less than 20.
Ray Fittipaldo: How many of his peers, many in the Steelers locker room, pronounce him name correctly?
JW-6: Do you think the FO will consider the Eric Weddle at safety, or would his age be a concern?
Ray Fittipaldo: He's older, but as a stopgap at the right price he'd be ideal.
Guest: Steelers have another safety in Golden who is free agent right? I think he played well at times and he's younger than Allen. Any chance they resign him?
Ray Fittipaldo: Yes, I think they will try to get that done too. He's a valuable special teams player too.
Guest: I didn't think Toussaint's fumble determined the game. It hurt, obviously. But there was a lot of time left when if happened. And it's not as if he fumbled at the Steelers' own 5-yard line. Denver still had to go -- and did go, unfortunately -- 65 yards to score. The defense did a great job for most of the game, but it has to take some heat for that.
Ray Fittipaldo: Agreed. I wrote about that in today's paper, specifically the 31-yard pass to Bennie Fowler.
JW-6: Do you see any holes on offense for next year? It would seem the offseason will be all about the defense?
Ray Fittipaldo: A pass catching tight end would help in the red zone. And they could use a guard whether Foster returns or not.
Ray Fittipaldo: Thanks for taking part in the chat. We'll do it again next week.
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