Ed Bouchette: Welcome back after last week's hiatus as I traveled home from Denver. Let's begin.
Will_from_Freehold_NJ: Greetings Ed!! We missed you last week! Here we go again, special teams, I mean, not so special teams!! What can Tomlin do to fix this glaring weakness? Kick out-of-bounds? Geez, this is getting ridiculous!!
Ed Bouchette: Well, he fired Arnold Harrison today and brought Donovan Woods up from the practice squad. Maybe some of those on the kickoff team will get the message.
Atlanta_Dan: With regard to improving the woeful special teams, any insight as to whether Anthony Madison wanted to return to the Steelers only as a last resort once they cut him or did the Colts simply move more quickly once the Browns released Madison?
Ed Bouchette: I never heard that they even were interested in Madison.
bg_steel: Ed, Tough loss Sunday. Was it Mendenhall's running or the o-line or the something else that was the main reason for the offensive struggle?
Ed Bouchette: I don't think the line had its best game, and there was no commitment to run either. Mendenhall had 6 carries in the first half.
BiggBen: Ed, I understand the reward of throwing the deep ball. But, Ben underthrew three deep passes on Sunday (including one during the last drive when we needed to move the chains). Is Ben hitting Wallace in stride during practice?
Ed Bouchette: Ben was off Sunday. Deep, short, medium. He had a bad day.
286williams_: Ed, will somebody please tell Big B.A. that Rashard averages 5.4 yards per carry and he may want to stay with the run? I am being facetious of course, I am sure he knows, but what gives?
Ed Bouchette: Cincy had the No. 2-ranked run defense. Perhaps they saw something early-on that wasn't going to cut it. Cincy also had the 25th-ranked pass defense. I do not fault them for going into the game with the idea they could throw on them. However, throwing was not Ben's forte Sunday.
Jacque_Strap: I've accepted that you have to take the good with the bad, in terms of Ben making plays when the pocket breaks down, but don't you think there are still times when he could/should throw the ball away, and still doesn't?
Ed Bouchette: Yes, you can say that about many quarterbacks, and sometimes it looks easier to you and me than it actually is when you have the 6-5, 325-pounders breathing down and over you.
SteelChris: If the Bengals lost both games to teams with winning records on the schedule (Minn and SD) ... Pittsburgh would have to win out to take the division, do you see that being a possibility?
Ed Bouchette: I think the Bengals can lose in Oakland Sunday and the teams would be tied again.
WyoBowhunter: Ed, I think the Steelers will struggle against the Ravens, regardless of the record they both have, just the nature of the two teams. What is your prediction for their final standings?
Ed Bouchette: I picked them to beat the Bengals, so why would you put stock in what I predict? I think they can go the rest of the way losing once.
286williams_: Ed, is Stefan Logan a one hit pre-season wonder? He seems so close, yet so far away from breaking one. Is it him or is the receiving team not creating any lanes? Maybe both?
Ed Bouchette: He does not look like the same dynamic return man we saw in the preseason.
WyoBowhunter: Hey Ed, wow, everyone is crowning the Bengals as AFC North champs already, even some Steelers players. Are they seriously out of the running?
Ed Bouchette: Far from it. Lot of green between here and the 16th game.
kibab1979: Ed, do you think the coaches would consider using Sepulveda on kickoffs? Not only would he maybe be able to get more depth on the kicks, but he wouldn't be afraid of making a tackle if he had to.
Ed Bouchette: Mike Tomlin said today he is happy with jeff Reed as his kickoff man, and not all kicks are designed to go deep down the middle. And how does anyone know that Sepulveda would do a better job kicking off?
Steeler_D_in_AZ: Hey Ed, are we in a bizarro world? Cincy owns the division? Steelers are a passing team? Will we see you in a tie next?
Ed Bouchette: You'll see me in a straight-jacket if I have to do any more of these. Can we please, by the way, get off the Jeff Reed questions. He does not make two tackles and people want to run him out of town. If you're counting on the kicker making tackles, you're in bad shape. What was your question?
jon_barker: Did the Steelers execute even one play action on sunday to try to throw off the Bengals DBs?
Ed Bouchette: It's tough to pull the play-action when you do not consistently run the ball. The defense would hardly go for your fakes.
steelmann58: Any chance that Coach Tomlin gets more involved with the play calling?
Ed Bouchette: no
kyRx: EB, why didn't Tomlin challenge the 3rd down pass that was clearly not a catch on Cincy's opening drive?
Ed Bouchette: TV showed some bad replays early-on and even the one on the stadium scoreboard had their feet cut off so you could not tell. I think he did not have a good view of it, not until it was too late and TV finally showed a good angle that, indeed, it was not a catch. Just another reason why I hate replay.
Mwarren18: Ed, are the Browns the worst team you have ever seen?
Ed Bouchette: You mean worse than the Lions last season? That sure was one of the worst Monday night games I've ever seen.
SpecialTeamsCoach: Can Harrison be suspended for the punch? Do you know if the league is reviewing the tape?
Ed Bouchette: I would be surprised if he were not fined. I don't think he'll be suspended. And fines do get James' attention.
Mwarren18: Ed, was it me or did the Steelers come out flat on Sunday? Almost like it did not mean as much to them as it did to the Bengals
Ed Bouchette: You can say it that way, but I do not think the way the Steelers defense played would fall under that description. They were not in sync on offense at all. Call that flat or just Cleveland Brown-ish.
Mwarren18: Ed, good week for a bounceback performance from the Steelers, what do you think will be the offensive game plan this week, more run, more pass of an even mix?
Ed Bouchette: Take a quick lead and then run them to death. Chiefs defense stinks, especially against the run and the big play.
Mwarren18: Ed, it finally seems as though the Bengals are being taken seriously after the Steelers beatdown, do you in your own expert opinion think that are a Super Bowl Contender?
Ed Bouchette: I do not see why they cannot be. Right now, they hold the edge on the No. 2 seed in the playoffs in the AFC, behind Indy.
dcat: Hi Ed. I like the move of adding Donovan Woods to the roster. What other changes might we see on Special Teams?
Ed Bouchette: Perhaps the biggest one of all, a tackle on a kickoff. I don't know that anyone will see any notable changes. For example, I don't think you'll see a bunch of starters on the kickoff team.
Mwarren18: Ed, if you had to point the finger at someone for the loss on Sunday, who would it be?
Ed Bouchette: Cincinnati.
NC92_: Ed, when does the flex schedule kick in and do you foresee any changes for the Steelers?
Ed Bouchette: It's already kicked in. With the Steelers, anything is possible but they already play a night game in Baltimore after KC (which is a 1 p.m. kickoff, no change) and a Thursday night game at Cleveland. Perhaps their game vs. Green Bay Dec. 20 and/or Baltimore Dec. 27, Miami Jan. 3
dcat: The Bengals D was indeed tough, but Ben seemed out of sorts Sunday. His deep passes were short & off the mark, & even his short passes were off target. Could the short week after the Denver game have affected him? Was he physically OK?
Ed Bouchette: I don't think there was anything physically wrong with Ben. he had a bad day.
OopsUpSideYourHead: Ed, do you see the Bengals losing to anybody left on their schedule?
Ed Bouchette: I think they can lose Sunday in Oakland, and at San Diego, Minnesota and NY Jets. I don't think they will lose all four. Maybe 3 of 4, which means Steelers would have to lose only one the rest of the way in order to win the division.
Tristan: Word on Troy?
Ed Bouchette: Troy has a "strained" PCL in his left knee and Mike T. listed him as questionable. I don't think he'll play Sunday, but maybe vs. baltimore.
Mwarren18: Ed, thoughts on LJ going to the Bengals, seems like it could mess them up more than it could ever help ...
Ed Bouchette: I'm betting that Marvin Lewis told him one peep and he's gone.
JimInIthaca: Is Woods a better coverage guy than Arnold Harrison?
Ed Bouchette: Apparently the Steelers think so. He has played well when given the chance on special teams.
NYC_Steelers_fan: Hello from New York City Ed. Thanks for the chat. From what you see and hear, do you get any indication that Tomlin is dissatisfied with Ariens and might contemplate a change?! Thanks.
Ed Bouchette: No, I do not get that indication. Plus, Ben loves working with him.
ATL_Steelerfan: Any chance the Steelers sign Ahmad Carrol, recently released by the Jets, to improve their kick coverage? Any players in danger of being cut on that group right now?
Ed Bouchette: Arnold Harrison was cut today. I have heard nothing about them signing someone else.
Round_3_in__January: Ed, do you feel the Steelers need to sweep the Ravens to make the playoffs or would a mere split be enough?
Ed Bouchette: I think they can afford one loss to win the division title, but two or even three and still make the playoffs.
fredzilla: What was your reaction to the Belichick 4th and 2 call?
Ed Bouchette: At first, I did not like it, but then I got to thinking more about it and I have no problem with it. You put the ball in the hands of the best QB in the league to get 2 yards. I like that option. Plus, the game was not over when they missed it. The defense still had a chance to stop them. I have to laugh at those who say he showed disrespect to his defense. Maybe they proved him right when they allowed the winning TD. A good defense might have kept them out of the end zone.
cburgstiller: Kick coverage was poor in '07, then solid in '08, now poor again this season - what do you think cause such a fluctuation?
Ed Bouchette: It was an election year in '08.
Stiff_Cloudt: Ed, what is your opinion on Ziggy Hood so far this season?
Ed Bouchette: I think he's coming along, and I see him more active and making more plays as the season moves along.
menofpaws: Ed, with one timeout and two minutes in the game, why did Ben and Arians feel that they needed "big chunks" of yardage? Were you surprised they tried going deep as many times as they did on the final drive?
Ed Bouchette: Stunned, actually. There was plenty of time, they had the ball at the 33, no the 12 as they did in the Super Bowl, and they had a timeout left. Plus, they had one of the game's clutch QBs in that situation. I did not like any of those calls on that series.
bdenny29: Do you think by the end, with hopefully around 700-800 yards or so, will Wallace get serious RoY consideration?
Ed Bouchette: I haven't given it one thought. I believe there are other rookies performing a little better.
steel68: What went on in the Bungles locker room you mentioned today?
Ed Bouchette: I heard Brandon Johnson was crowing rather loudly and rather crudely.
Tristan: Not all kicks are designed to go deep down the middle? Thats the stupidest thing Ive heard Tomlin had said in a while. How is an angled kick to the 12 EVER a better kick?
Ed Bouchette: It's certainly not the stupidest. Maybe in high school that's how it's done, but many pro teams have their kickers angle balls and design their coverage that way.
Mwarren18: Ed, you say Jeff Reed is a kicker and that is what we should worry about, if I remember right didn't he already cost us a game earlier this year by not doing his job as just a kicker?
Ed Bouchette: Maybe, but that was not the question.
Arians_the_Great: Ed, Do you ever feel like giving us the Bud Adams treatment during these chats?
Ed Bouchette: Maybe the Bud Wiser treatment instead.
Steelers_Fan_Stuck_In_Ohio: Do you think fatigue was a factor in the general sluggishness the team showed against the Bengals?
Ed Bouchette: Sometimes, you just lose. Sometimes, the other guys just beat you. Sometimes, you can come up with all the reasons you want -- fatigue, sore-armed QB, coming out flat, not taking the other team seriously -- but it just comes down to one guy not making a tackle on a kickoff.
s1refrosty: Ed, if the Steelers can't catch the Bengals down the stretch, who do you see as the biggest wildcard threats?
Ed Bouchette: Baltimore. Denver/San Diego. Perhaps Miami. Really, I think the Steelers will make it as a wildcard team at least.
JMF1177: What's the difference between PCL and MCL strains? Will Polamalu be ready for Ravens in 2 weeks?
Ed Bouchette: You'll have to look up those in your medical dictionary. PCL, though, is not quite as serious.
Stillers420: Ed, you never answer my questions. Is it because I suck at writing, or my questions are just uneventful?
Ed Bouchette: I think your question just answered this question.
NYC_Steelers_fan: Ed, has Tomlin brought in a coach of his own choosing yet or is it still the staff he inherited? Thanks.
Ed Bouchette: Many of those on Mike Tomlin's staff were not holdovers from Bill Cowher's staff.
Steel_Curtain_Rising: Ed, you?ve never been big on Stefan Logan, and came down hard on him in PG Plus yesterday. Was that more your view, or does your reporting tell you frustration with Logan is mounting inside the Steelers organization?
Ed Bouchette: Both. I also can rely on what I see and what I see is nothing special. To me, you keep a guy on your roster to do nothing else but return kicks and punts, he should be special. Logan was special in the preseason but we're 9 games into the regular season and he's little better than Najeh Davenport.
bdenny29: Every QB has an off day, but all told, every Steeler fan is still thanking their deity of choice for Ben. Does he get back to the Pro Bowl this year?
Ed Bouchette: I think even those on this chat would rather see him get back to the Super Bowl.
Ed Bouchette: Thanks, all. I think you came out flat today, though. Either that or it was fatigue or the fact I gave you all the previous week off. Please, between now and next Tuesday, practice your questions.