JT: What are you hearing about the Pirates signing Russell Martin? Are they close to a deal?
Jerry Micco: Only what I've read on Jon Heyman's blog. Our reporters are trying to verify what he's reporting. Apparently it's in the 3-years/$25 million range. And they are up against the Yankees here. Martin's upside is he's a gold glove catcher who hit 21 HRs. Down side is he's in his mid-30s and hit .211 last season.
meet the fockers: Do you think ND will win it all? Would love to see the SEC go down.
Jerry Micco: If Notre Dame plays Georgia, it has a better chance than if it plays Alabama. I think Alabama is better only because I think Bama can score on the ND defense. I'm not sure ND can score on the Bama defense. But if it is indeed Irish vs. Tide, it will be closer than a lot of people think. I give Bama about a 4-6 point edge.
meet the fockers: Thanksgiving weekend, no Pitt-PSU, Pitt-WVU, Texas-Texas A&M, Nebraska-Oklahoma. Heck I would even take the Land Grant game. Will we ever see common sense in college sports and the return of "geographic boundaries" for conferences & rivalries?
Jerry Micco: Those days have passed by, unfortunately. It's about how much money colleges and universities can make from sports so it can keep all their sports alive. University presidents could care less about geography and rivalries. Television money is what drives the engine of college sports. Want to watch a great rivalry: Dec. 8, Army-Navy. Best rivalry ever.
TB: Jerry, thanks for the chat. Some people out there (Buckeye land!) believe Urban should've been Big Ten Coach of the year over Bill O'Brien, but with everything that O'Brien overcame, sounds like it could've easily been a split. What do you think?
Jerry Micco: Meyer certainly has a claim to that award, but O'Brien because of how he pulled everything together up there and kept the team focused had a tougher job. The Big Ten was down this year, but it doesn't take away from OSU's or PSU's seasons. I think O'Brien has a rightful claim to the title. I'm not sure, though, that he's a national coach of the year, which many are touting him to be.
meet the fockers: Why is a one loss SEC team always annointed to be better than a one-loss Big 10, Big 12 or even Big East team? K-State can lay as much claim to the title as the winner of Georgia-alabama.
Jerry Micco: Quality of opponents is what usually gets the SEC an advantage. I think K-State is a very good team, but you can't lose by, what was it, 30, to Baylor and say you have a shot at the national title. The best Big Ten team is on probation, and the Pac-12 is not as strong as the SEC. No conference is, so they win a lot of points from the computers as well as voters. I believe 3 of the top 5 are SEC schools: Bama, Georgia and Florida.
yinzer in va: Jerry, Should Mike Wallace have taken the Steelers contract offer from the offseason? He hasn't been very effective so far, dropped passes etc. I think his rookie year was better than this year.
Jerry Micco: In hindsight, which is always 20-20, Wallace would have done himself a huge favor taking that offer. I never thought a team would pay him Larry Fitz/Calvin Johnson money. Now, for sure, no one will. He likely won't be here next season, and some team will pay him a nice salary to come there. But it won't be near what he was asking for this summer.
yinzer in va: How about Mendenhall? He too hasn't been very effective. Although unlike Wallace, he had a major injury. I think both now become affordable to the Steelers.
Jerry Micco: I've always been a huge Mendenhall guy, but he's not playing well. I wonder how really healthy he's been coming off the ACL injury and the Achilles injury. But on the field, he's not been what he once was. I'd be surprised to see either in a Steeler uniform next season.
t: hi jerry, question regarding steelers RB situation. they've obviously gotten hammered by press & fans after that debacle in Cleveland. i'm not saying this would have eliminated the fumbles, but doesn't it make sense to have one back running instead of this running by committee approach? when our running game was supposedly back to being good, it was because we had one feature back who was allowed to get in a rhythm throughout the game. that's why we saw a few 100-yd games. thoughts?
Jerry Micco: I think if you have that one stud back, certainly you use him. But if you don't, and right now the Steelers don't, you try to mix things up. Todd Haley did this in Kansas City, where 2 backs were used to carry the ball, Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles. In Cleve, Tomlin was benching guys for fumbling. He does that because he hates when guys fumble. Well, they all fumbled, which really kills the rhythm of an offense. So do penalties.
meet the fockers: the death of macho camacho got me thinking about boxing again. Do you ever see it returning to it's former prominence in the sports world and can you see the NFL facing a similar fate as boxing due to the violence?
Jerry Micco: No, except for those occasional fights that do well on pay per view. Or unless the heavyweight division gets a true super star. Never say never, but the NFL is riding such a high wave now, I can't see it dropping down to where boxing is these days.
jim in VT: Assume Ben is healthy enough to pass doctors' tests, and can perorm at an 80-90% level. Do you play him Sdunday? Would Tomlin?
Jerry Micco: Tomlin needs to see if he can do all the things Ben could do if he was healthy. If not, he says Ben will sit. If it were me, I'd sit him even at 80-90 percent, then have him healthy for the final 4 games, where the Steelers will be favored in 3 of them and barely an underdog in their one road game (Dallas).
steelergal: Surprised Gilreath (is that his name) was picked up by Tampa. Did we overlook his talent or just too crowded in the receiving group?
Jerry Micco: Doesn't fit what they need now. And they'd rather have Burress and a healthy Cotchery than Gilreath. And I agree with that. Gilreath is a nice WR, but he's a poor man's version of Emmanuel Sanders.
yinzer in va: Jerry, Will you be having a Ravens chat with Ron Fritz this week?
Jerry Micco: I will have a chat with my friend from Baltimore. We'll go at 1 p.m. Thursday. Likely for 30-40 minutes. Hope you can join in.
ClarkG: No way they let Wallace go. He is a game changer. Would he accept and would the Steelers offer same deal they gave AB? Can they offer with the cap? Only one player in the league can make the play he made in the Giants game. Pats will sign him in a heartbeat and he will be Moss v2007
Jerry Micco: But if he's a game changer, why has he only really changed one game this year? You mention the Giants game, and you are right. Few players, if any, could make that play. It was a game changer. But he's not shown that much this year. I think if he's going to make AB money, then he needs to make those plays. And if he doesn't, then I think the Steelers will save the cap space and move on.
ClarkG: how long is Adams out? Should Foster move to RT and Legursky to RG until Decastro can play.
Jerry Micco: Don't know the length of time Adams is out, but it's his ankle, so it could be a while. I think the Steelers prefer, as most teams do, to only make one OL switch at a time rather than 2, which is what you propose. They will play Beacham at RT and probably give him some help. But if he's hopeless vs. the Ravens, you could see the switch you are talking about occur.
James-Pittsburgh: Will there be a big out cry with Tomlin plays Ben this week? He should definitly sit.
Jerry Micco: I don't know that there will be a cry out if Ben performs to what level the Steelers expect in practice and says he's fit to play. But I don't think he'll play this week.
Gregg: Why is Leftwich not being taken to task for injuring himself while hotdogging after crossing the goal line in the Ravens game and jeopardizing not only the Steelers season but his own NFL future? He clearly grabbed his right shoulder after rolling in the end zone which had to have a huge impact on his ability to throw. He was hurt (self-inflictedly) waaay before that 4th quarter sack.
Jerry Micco: It wasn't hotdogging. He tripped and fell on his own, which in and of itself is a head-shaker.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I am back from Ecuador. Any chance the Pirates add an arm to the rotation?
Jerry Micco: They picked up some guy from Boston today who had a couple late-season starts. I think they have a core with Burnett, Wandy, McDonald and Karstens. But they will need to either promote a guy or get an arm. I look for them to get a Bedard-like guy for around $5-6 million, maybe another lefty, and add him.
jim in VT: at this point would youa gree that it would probably be enough for a wild card if the Steelers swept the remaining home games?
Jerry Micco: Be close, but it could very well happen because I think their biggest competition is Cincy, and the Steelers will have beaten them twice and win the tiebreaker. The Bengals travel to Pittsburgh, San Diego (this week) and Philly. They host the Cowboys and close out the year hosting the Ravens.
Kevin: Why didn't the Steelers look at Jarrod Johnson? During the pre-season he looked pretty good. He is a young kid with a big arm who was already in the offense no matter how vanilla it was.
Jerry Micco: That's the preseason and he's playing against 3rd and 4th stringers. Most NFL experts always lauded the Steelers experience at back up QB, where they got a lot of bang for their buck. But the problem is, those guys can't stay healthy, Leftwich in particular. And Batch can't make all the throws, but most 3rd string QBs can't make all the throws.
James_Pittsburgh: Maybe I missed it while I was gone. Did they tender Karstens?
Jerry Micco: No, but no one else has, either. I think they'll get around to doing something with him.
steelergal: re: Wallace...many of the throws are either overthrown or underthrown, and yes he could fight for them but he is a "catch it in stride and go to the house" kind of receiver. How about the pass from Batch that hit Browns defender on the helmet? Wallace can't catch that, and most of the other throws were so off target. With Byron L. as well when he was throwing.
Jerry Micco: I agree that the samples you cite shouldn't totally be on Wallace. But the drops vs. Cincy and the continued poor route running has to have the coaches climbing walls. He's a very good deep receiver, but there's a reason why AB was given big dollars and Wallace was not. And, you're seeing Sanders come on because he's finally healthy. I just don't think the Steelers are going to pay him big dollars to stay. Just not a good enough all-around receiver.
Patrick: So the Dodgers are going to get 260-280 million a year in Tv rights, the Pirates get 18 million. How can anyone say baseball is ok? Every year the gap widens between the haves and the have nots. Not defending the Pirates or how they have handled things but they have to be pretty much perfect in every aspect of drafting, developing and signing players and that might not be enough anymore.
Jerry Micco: No one is saying that baseball is OK. At least I'm not. The Giants have won 2 of the last 3 series because they spend some money and they draft/trade really well. When is the last time the Dodgers won the Series? And what makes you think they will now? I'm not saying the big market teams don't have domination of the game, but you still have to play the games. As for the Bucs, they do have to be almost perfect. And that's really hard to do.
ClarkG: Any comment from the league on the Richardson fumble/non-fumble? TV coverage was just horrible on Sunday.
Jerry Micco: No response. And it was a blown call, but they couldn't replay it. It happens, but when it's against the team you root for, it is a killer.
Patrick: Will baseball ever realize that you can not have one team making 260 million a year in TV revenue and others making less then 20 million?
Jerry Micco: No, because it's ownership is really only concerned about how much money it makes and not the game in general. And they have some revenue sharing, which makes them look OK to some in the eyes of the public. But they will never give up on revenue sharing.
Chunkles: The Cleveland game, in a nutshell, all about the turnovers. However, Charlie Batch was horrible. I know he has not played in three years but a 15 year veteran should be able to come off the bench and have a little more to show than that crap he called quarterbacking. The other goat, Timeout Tomlin! Once again he does not use his time outs correctly and could not challenge that last fumble that would have been ruled in the Steelers favor. Gerry Dulac was too kind with his report card. That was an F!
Jerry Micco: He did give the coaches an F in his individual grades. As for the TOs, he had to use them to have enough clock. If you don't have the controversial fumble/non-fumble, that TO isn't needed. And if it had been under 2 minutes, the challenge is useless. No, it was about turnovers and poor play from a lot of people on offense. Some days are diamonds, other days stones.
steelergal: I don't know, Cincy is playing tough and Steeles need to figure out just how to WIN a game.
Jerry Micco: Well, that's going to be very hard to do on Sunday. Ravens are a much better team at home and would love to pound another nail in the Steelers coffins. As far a Cincy goes, the Steelers have had good success with them through the years, but I have a scenario for you. What if the Steelers need the Ravens, who likely will have clinched the division, to beat the Bengals in Week 17 in Cincy to make the playoffs? You really think John Harbaugh will tell his troops to win one for Big Ben?
Patrick: Not saying this is going to make the Dodgers win the World Series but it should make them much more competetive then they have been, and like the Yankees should compete for wild card and divsion each year. Stuff like this really eats at me and makes me think about not watching baseball anymore....although the Pirates are also helping in that aspect.
Jerry Micco: Again, baseball is about it's big-market teams being year-over-year successful and not so much about balance. Dodgers are going to be competitive because of that money, no question, but you still have to have the guys perform. Baseball isn't set up for that type of balance the way the NFL is.
steelergal: I agree Chunkles on the F score. Even though the defense was good, they again cannot get enough turnovers. How can the Steeler team that played against Browns average a C-??? F for sure and big fat F minus minus minus for coaching.
Jerry Micco: Because the average of the Bs they got on defense raised the grade. And the defense did pay really well on Sunday. But the rest of the team was awful.
Patrick: I also grew up in New Jersey and live in NYC, it boggles my mind how Yankee fans do not realize the competitive advantage they have against the rest of the league.
Jerry Micco: They only care about the Red Sox, and the Sox are down, which means the Yankees are happy. Again, not about the sport, more about the team. The NFL figured out the joy of having a balanced league long ago.
steelergal: Good point Jerry regarding Ravens not beating Cincy just to keep Steelers out. What a devious mind..I like it! :)
Jerry Micco: Been around sports too long not to have a devious mind. And some other shady characters, including myself, too!
James_Pittsburgh: Will the Steelers be forced to bring back Larry Foote next year or another one year stop gap?
Jerry Micco: Foote hasn't played all that badly this year, and probably has one more year left. Maybe.
ChrisinAZ: sick to my stomach watching my Stillers blow what could have been a SB season. So many what ifs! That being said, I have OLB, DL, and RB 1,2,3 in the draft...thoughts?
Jerry Micco: I think two of those 3 will be LBs. I think they see Harrison starting to fade quickly and then there's Foote, who is at best a stop gap. I think it'll be a defense-first draft, though you may see a RB in the first 3 if there is one of value left. I think they do like Dwyer, and he's young.
James_Pittsburgh: Do the Steelers have to draft a linebacker in the top three rounds in 2013?
Jerry Micco: Yes, they do. And they may draft a couple in the first 3.
Ralph_LA: During the Ravens game the TV commentators were going on and on about Leftwich's injury. I assume that you were watching the game from the stadium. Was it obvious to you that Tomlin should have replaced Leftwich with Batch?
Jerry Micco: Not until Leftwich was crushed by a sack in the fourth quarter. Leftwich still had plenty on the ball even after being injured, but we could see he was struggling a bit.
Kevin: Has anyone questioned Mike T on his questionable clock management? Take last week against the ravens inside the 10 yd line. Instead of burning a TO, why not take the 5 yd penalty and still at worst get a FG? I live in DC and could not watch the Browns game, but just reading some of the other post, apparently his clock management skills were in question again.
Jerry Micco: His clock management is not, nor has it ever been, his long suit. And it does, at times, hurt the team.
Chunkles: Jerry, no doubt others were to blame, as well but it starts and ends with the quarterback. I understand once you hit third string this is kind of what you get but his passes were horrible. One of his throws sailed high and he almost got Health Miller killed! I'm not saying you are, but people love to make excuses for him because he is a Steel Valley product. Who cares, I just want to win games and have someone behind Ben who isn't made out of peanut brittle or who hasn't forgotten how to play the game.
Jerry Micco: But the QB didn't fumble 8 times on Sunday. He did throw 3 INTs, though. Team wins, team loses. That said, if every team had to play it's 3rd-string QB for one week, you'd see similar stuff. They are third-string for a reason. They aren't very good.
Ben: Should the Steelers consider Jason Babin? They could use some help at DE
Jerry Micco: I'm not sure of Babin's size, but he's a 4-3 end, which means he'd not fit in the Steelers scheme.
ClarkG: What percentage of turnovers are luck and what % are skill? I noticed the browns really going after the ball, Steelers don't seem to do that. But the Steelers have to be the best tackling team in the league. No one seems to fumble against the Steelers anymore. When is the last time they had a game where they GOT 4 or 5 turnovers?
Jerry Micco: Been a long time, though it's funny, because their 1st TD was a pick-6 and they essentially won the KC game in OT when Timmons picked off a pass deep in KC territory.
steelergal: Need a young QB to groom behind Ben in the draft
Jerry Micco: Or, a guy like Brian Hoyer. Plenty of FA types out there you can groom who have a bit more experience.
Ben: Any chance we see hockey this season?
Jerry Micco: I'd say 50-50 at best.
steelergal: After watching Batch perform against Browns, I can see why Leftwich was left in, even though injured. I realize our RB all fumbled, but Batch was still very bad
Jerry Micco: If you recall, 2 years ago, Batch led the Steelers to a 3-1 record to start the season when Ben was suspended. But that was 2 years ago. Again, your 3rd-string guy should not be counted on to get you wins. You need to play error-free ball and the defense has to come up big. They only got one of those on Sunday.
steelergal: speaking of 4-3, do you see the Steelers switching to that next season, and if so, what are your thoughts on that vs. 3-4
Jerry Micco: I am a fan of the 3-4 because I think you can run different sets out of it and switch people around more. And it's a defense created for the more athletic players (LBs) to make the plays rather than DLs. And it makes you draft corners who can tackle as well as safeties who can do same.
James_Pittsburgh: Do the Steelers cut Harrison in the offseason and go with Jason Worilds and a top pick behind him?
Jerry Micco: That could happen, though I think Worilds is better at LOLB than on the right side. But they aren't going to move Woodley if they can keep him healthy for more than a couple weeks at a time.
Digger137: Penn State had a good season at 8-4, given the circumstances but the last AP poll had Northwestern at 22, with 189 votes; Penn State unranked with 61 votes. No votes on other polls. SI had them 19th in their power rankings (fair
Jerry Micco: I think at 8-4 PSU had a successful season in a down conference. Good job by Bill O'Brien and the squad. I think they were a borderline Top 25 team, but those losses to Ohio and Virginia early put them in a big hole. I don't get N'western being ranked ahead of them because PSU beat them when the Cats were ranked.
Jerry Micco: OK folks I need to run. Great job today, and I really enjoyed the hour. Thanks for taking time out of your day to do this. Reminder: I'll be back tomorrow at 1 p.m. with Baltimore Sun Sports Editor Ron Fritz to do another of our Ravens-Steelers chats. And I'll be here on Sunday at 4:10 p.m. to do a live Ravens-Steelers game chat. Hope to see all of you then. If not, have a terrific week everybody! Followr me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco
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