After Week 1, what is your assessment of the Steelers playoff chances?
Zero: looking like a top 10 draft team (22%)
0-25 percent: Not a lot of hope (22%)
26-50 percent: Some hope, need some breaks (33%)
51-75 percent: Still a lot of games to play (17%)
76-100 percent: Still one of the best 6 in the AFC (6%)
Ralph_LA: You probably covered this before, but why did Dwyer get cut? Was the rest of the talent better in camp?
Jerry Micco: I think that was part of it. And when you look at it, both Dwyer and Redman are similar backs. More importantly, each had a $1.3 million RFA tender. The Steelers are cap strapped and it made sense to just keep one guy at that price. Of course, they didn't know Redman would fumble his way to the bench in game one, either. All that, and Dwyer could sometimes drive coaches crazy with his attitude.
Chunkles: Jerry, players play and coaches coach, BUT, Mike Tomlin is the head coach and this teams results sits solely in HIS lap. That team on Sunday was pitiful. They were flat at HOME, and unprepared. Mark my words, the Steelers will NEVER reach the Super Bowl again as long as Mike Tomlin is head coach!
Jerry Micco: OK, I'll mark that. And there is no question that any head coach in any sport has the ultimate responsibility for the team. You won't get that argument here. But think about this: He's not in charge of player personnel and procurement; He apparently had an offensive coordinator picked for him by his bosses; and he's had some tough injuries to key players the last couple of seasons. Just some food for thought.
Ralph_LA: I know there haven't been that many games yet, but do you have any thoughts on the Pirates "rental" players?
Jerry Micco: I think Byrd has been a great get. Buck seems adequate behind the plate and at the plate. Nice backup for Martin. Morneau has been somewhat disappointing at the plate. Had a few hits early and then dried up. Kind of a mixed bag, but there is no question this team is better with Byrd in the lineup, and if Morneau can re-discover his stroke, that's going to make them even better.
The Chief: Jerry, hope you had a good week. Please tell me how a multi-million $$$ business like the Steelers can be so ill prepared to overcome the adversity they faced in their first game?
Jerry Micco: I'm assuming you're talking about salary cap issues? Bottom line is the Steelers should have beaten the Titans. They are a better team. But the took and early break and then blew it with an early turnover. They are in transition, which is why I saw them as an 8-8 team. They are going to jettison some popular players after this season to get some cap room. And then probably another year of 8-8 or worse. It's cyclical for many NFL teams. The Steelers had a terrific run for a decade. We may see a bit of a slide happening now.
Jack Splat: Hi, Jerry,Any thought of changing the name of the "Pittsburgh Steelers" to the "Pittsburgh Pansies"? Yea, yea, injuries are part of the NFL, blah, blah, blah. The severity and frequency of injuries the Steelers have endured over the past three seasons is more than just bad luck. My comment prior to last year's draft that the Steelers need players that realize it's a 16 game season and can handle it was given short shrift, but before we worry about the coaching and schemes and personnel, these guys on the team need to be available to play ball every week- just like the other 31 teams seem to do.
Jerry Micco: I think they are playing "ball", but how do you overcome getting blindsided by your own guy and blowing out your knee? Or tearing a biceps muscle? Or cutting as you're hit and tearing an ACL? Injuries happen in the NFL. Every team has them, which is why it's the only league that offers a weekly injury report. You can draft guys with good injury backgrounds, but you never know when they will be injured. It happens.
The Chief: You surprised that the Pirates are going to move Cole to the bullpen for the playoff? It just seems like every time he takes the mound he gives the Pirates a chance to win!
Jerry Micco: Part of that might be innings and in the grand scheme, he's been a 7-7 pitcher this year and looked like a rookie. He was marvelous on Monday and that was the best game I've seen him pitch in his Major League career. But I think he'll be fine in the pen for the playoffs. Guys like Liriano, Burnett and Morton have done more over the course of a season. One day, Cole will be a staff ace, though. Just not now.
The Chief: Does the season ending injuries to the three Steeler players free up salary cap space for the remainder of the year?
Jerry Micco: No, it does not. They are working with Heath Miller to re-do his deal to pick up some cap room.
JamesinNYC: Any news on Morton's injury today? And or when his next start might be?
Jerry Micco: He will start on Friday, I believe. His foot is fine.
Chunkles: I was watching the Broncos school the Ravens, last week, thank you Broncos, and I saw Wes Walker do the same thing he did in New England, catch the ball and score touchdowns. Why, with the Steelers not having more than two sure shot receivers wouldn't they go after this guy? I know the cap comes into play, but they have a pro bowl quarterback who has TWO options to through to until October. WW would have been what Hines Ward use to be for the Steelers.
Jerry Micco: I'm going to guess that the Steelers didn't have the cap money to get Welker, and that they feel comfortable with Sanders as their No. 2 WR. Now, in the Denver offense with Peyton Manning running the show, you could put just about anyone out there to score. Give Ben that kind of time behind a good OL and you may see that in Pittsburgh, too. But until the OL gets fixed, it doesn't matter who's catching the ball when the QB is on his back.
JamesinNYC: Jarvis Jones becomes Rookie Defensive Player of the year? Loved the pick he should have went top 5 but for a disasterous pro day. Looks anything but slow and he just attracts the ball.
Jerry Micco: He's going to be a very good NFL player. He's going to learn some this year and will split plays with Jason Worilds until he figures some things out, but he's going to be very good. Believe it or not, he needs to work on his pass-rush skills more. That may be his weakest area. But that will come in time.
jtown95: Is garrett jones gone after this yr?? 4.5 mill, minus 30% still makes him a 3 mill undercheever.
Jerry Micco: I think the Pirates thought if they could get one more good season out of Jones that would be great. They've gotten a mediocre season out of him, and I don't see him hanging around for 2014. That said, they are going to have to find a first baseman. Morneau is going to command much more money, and I don't see the Pirates paying him.
Bill L: Jerry, when is Colbert going to take some heat? The receivers are three of the same types; the team has needed a dyamic young tight end to compliment Miller for years now; the runnning backs are below average; inside linebacker has been ignored; William Gay is the starting corner if Cortez is going to be in the shop constantly...
Jerry Micco: I think Kevin Colbert's drafts have been picked apart by a lot of people in this town, including me. Some whiffs, some steals, but all in all, they are a team whose stars are all veteran players who command larger contracts. That eats cap space and gets you on the back side with depth. But so far, this draft class seems to be OK. I'm more concerned with all the high choices for OL that don't seem to be working out. That's a lot of investment for a shaky product.
jtown95: Who's going to be rt fielder for pirates in 14??Snider, 220 hitter, tabata injuries??
Jerry Micco: I'd think the Pirates would approach Marlon Byrd with some sort of deal for 1 or 2 years. I think they'd like to keep him until Gregory Polanco has some time under his belt in AAA.
The Chief: After Monday nights defeat of Washington, your thoughts on Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense.
Jerry Micco: Seemed to work well for a half and part of a third quarter, then it kind of shut down. I think it'll be tough for teams to handle for a couple weeks, but then defensive coordinators will have some film to work with. I think it's a fun offense and if the Eagles can handle it, then just keep doing it. They pulled off the rare road upset in the NFL on Monday, so it obviously has some merit as an offense.
jtown95: Is wandy making 13.5 mill, or 8 mill??
Jerry Micco: I thought it was $8 million. And he has a player option at the end of the year. Before his injury, my guess was he was gone as a free agent. Likely not the case now. And the Pirates could use him for the playoffs and next season. If he's healthy, he's a pretty solid starter.
Bugchug27: Hey Jerry, any chance the Steelers switch Ike to Safety next year?
Jerry Micco: Only if they don't sign Clark to an extension. Shamarko Thomas is the safety in waiting for either Clark or Polamalu. Ike played a very solid corner, again, vs. Tennessee. He's still considered a very good CB by the team and around the NFL.
Guest: What's your opinion on how Hurdle should handle Grilli?
Jerry Micco: I'd not change what's working. So if he thinks Melancon can close the rest of the year and into the playoffs, then Grilli is the 8th-inning guy. He needs to keep working Grilli to see where he is, and seems to be doing just that. Earlier today Pirates said Melancon and Grilli wouldn't be available today, so Kyle Farnsworth is the closer.
Gus: I agree Colbert is to blame directly for this mess. The Steelers talent level just isn't there. He drafted from the inside out and it hasn't worked. You need skilled position players in the new NFL. Just my two cents.
Jerry Micco: I think Colbert is part of the problem, not the only problem. I've always heard you drafted linemen so you could build your team inside out. Look at the last few drafts. You see DL and OL pretty much dominate the first round. In 2013, 18 of the 32 first-round picks were OL or DL, including the first 6 players picked. The league still builds this way.
Paul: Is it me, or is ESPN and MLB network still insisting that the league is all about Yankees-Red Sox with some Tigers thrown in? The Pirates story would be embraced nationally, but they don't get any coverage in comparison.
Jerry Micco: People in New York and Boston are huge baseball fans. Similar to the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The ratings for those cities you mentioned are huge. ESPN is in the money-making business, so you go where people watch. And advertisers follow. The Yankees, Red Sox and Tigers dominate those markets.
The Chief: Ben sacked five times on Sunday, that translate to 80 over a 16 game season. No way he can take that punishment.
Jerry Micco: He won't be given many breaks on Monday night, either. James Harrison would love to get a few sacks in, I'm sure. Been a problem for Ben for some time. One of the reasons Haley was hired was his offense is predicated on a dink and dunk quick drop and quick throw scheme. Ben seemingly didn't like it much, but it was working pretty well last year before he was hurt. The goal is to keep him upright and you can see that didn't happen in Week 1.
Ken: Does the Post Gazette have any type of sports media critic these days? I think the afternoon show on 93.7 is trrible and it would'nt be that hard to mix and match personalities to get something much better. It would be great to hear more serious NFL analysis, especially if the Steelers are going to be down this year.
Jerry Micco: We do not have a media critic in our department, and I don't see us using a staff position to do that. We have our own things to be working on every day, so I don't know that being a critic of other media in town brings a whole lot to the table without including us. But you should make your views known to The Fan.
The Chief: I have to agree that the Steelers have not gotten anything out of their last four #1 picks(not including Jones). I know you will say that Pouncey is an all pro but with this latest injury he has missed more games than he has played in his short career!
Jerry Micco: I think Pouncey was a good pick, but I wouldn't say he had a special season last year. And this year, of course, he's gone. DeCastro has been injured most of the time, so he's a wait-and-see selection. Cam Heyward has been pretty much a bust.
Gus: Does Ben have the option of calling his own plays? At some point as the season goes on and the offense is spinning it's wheels is a possible scenario that Ben just shakes off Haley's calls?
Jerry Micco: I think Ben can audible out of any play. But the more he does that and it doesn't work, I wouldn't blame Haley for taking him to the woodshed for it. As I mentioned earlier, the Steelers offense early last year worked pretty well and the team was 6-3 at one point. Then Ben got hurt.
yinzer in va: Jerry, Gomez needs to start. I said this in the past, but with 50 pitches, he can give a good 4 innings, maybe a 5th. And with all the extra players now, it shouldn't overwork the bullpen. These recent blowout losses shows that our starters need some help, and Gomez has proven he can do well. If the Pirates want to win the division, they need better starters now. There is no time left to wait.
Jerry Micco: Gomez is fine as a spot starter and you may see that down the stretch if needed. You may also see a Brandon Cumpton pitch a game, too. But for now, they are trying to win a division and they need their big guns.
Phil: Based on what we saw Sunday, chances that the Steelers come back from England 0 and 4? I say pretty good, with maybe a hard luck loss to the Bears thrown in.
Jerry Micco: I could actually see them at 2-2, but your 0-4 prediction is not outlandish. It could very well happen, but their defense is very good and if they can get the offense going just a bit, they can win a game. Will be very tough going in Cincy on Monday, though, which is why blowing that game to the Titans is going to hurt so much.
The Chief: Jerry, I am old enough to remember the decline of the Steelers in the 80's after a terrific run in the 70's. Is this Deja Vu all over?
Jerry Micco: The Steelers have had those types of runs in the past 30 years. Late 90s/early 2000s had some rocky years under Bill Cowher, too. Again, it's just the ebb and flow of the NFL. Our NFL special section cover story was about the fear of being mediocre. It's almost better to go 5-11 for a year or two so you can draft high and fill your holes, than go 8-8 and just kind of languish.
Ralph_LA: On a team like the Penguins where you have guys from different countries, do they need translators in the locker room? Do you guys ever have to talk to players in another language?
Jerry Micco: Our reporters can communicate pretty well with hockey players because by and large, their English is very good. I am always amazed at the guys from Sweden who seem to speak our language very clearly. But we can get around most language barriers in the locker room, even if it means getting another player to translate if needed, though that hasn't happened recently with the Penguins.
The Chief: Just a thought as why the Steelers did not sign a back up QB to run the option occasionally to spare Ben the constant pounding he is going to take this season.
Jerry Micco: Because they are not an option team. Why have an option guy if your offense doesn't include it. Most NFL teams play their starting QB 99 percent of the time, unless he's injured or the game's a blowout. And as we saw from Peyton Manning vs. Baltimore, you play pretty much the whole game even when you're up big.
Will: Anything positive on Sunday? Polamalu could be all pro. McClendon looked like a bonfide starter. Jones could be in for Worilds more. Am I missing anything else?
Jerry Micco: Timmons played very well. Ziggy Hood played one of his better games. It was just a tired bunch late in the game because the offense couldn't sustain drives. The defense is going to be good, and it is good.
Mike F: More of a comment than a question, How about win number 82!!! I was suprised by the personal feelings experienced watching that win unfold Monday night (happiness, reflection, etc.). I was 11 in 1992 and have watched every season in the streak so it felt like quite a refief from a fan perspective. Go Bucs!
Jerry Micco: While the Pirates sort of passed it off as a milestone on the road to bigger and better things, they did take a moment to reflect on breaking the streak, which is proper. For fans, they should take a bow. They stuck with the team through 20 straight losing seasons. They deserve to celebrate and even shed a tear of happiness when 82 happened. A lot of people reflected that night. Now, they can say they are winners, and very likely, playoff bound.
Guest: Defense is 'very good'? William Gay is your CB and Ziggy and Heyward are your DE's. This defense just got beat by Jake Locker. Peyton would put up 60 on this defense.
Jerry Micco: I'd bet he would not put up 60. Brett Keisel played most of the game at DE and Gay didn't play a bad game, really. I know it was the Titans, but the defense is going to have to play well for this team to win any early games. And I do think it's the best part of this team right now. We'll see if Cincy, with a much better offense than Tennessee, can exploit any weaknesses in it.
Black&Gold: The Nationals have gone 15-5 in their past 20 games, and are only 6 games back in the wildcard race. Do the Nationals and Reds pass the Pirates and send us home early?
Jerry Micco: Nope. Nationals won't catch either team. I don't see them staying that hot down the stretch.
The Chief: Is Haley the OC in 2014?
Jerry Micco: Let's see how the rest of 2013 sorts out. I think if the offense sputters along and it's a 6-10 or 7-9 type team, then maybe he's gone. But it's too early to predict if he'll be back.
Ken: The Chief bringing up the 80s Steelers reminded me of the 1985 draft, so I had to look it up. Darryl Sims..Mark Behning...Liffort Hobley... Dan Turk..Cam Jacobs. LOL. Is that what got Art Jr. fired?
Jerry Micco: I'm not sure what got Art Jr. fired, but that's one lousy draft. But on draft day, I'm sure they thought they had a bunch of guys ready to make a mark in the NFL. It's always that way on draft day, but then they actually have to go out and play.
The Chief: Your thoughts on the NFL surprises/disappointments after week one!
Jerry Micco: Surprised the AFC North is 0-4. RGIII didn't look ready and Washington was upset at home by a team that many thought would be a bottom-feeder in the NFL. On the other hand, Philly's offense was a surprise to me. Denver was even better than I thought as were the Lions. 49ers and Packers look to be very tough, again. Always a lot going on in Week 1.
JamesinNYC: Almost everyone from Sweden speaks English as Swedish is so hard to learn. FYI
Jerry Micco: Even people who are born and raised in Sweden? I just find it remarkable how well they speak it.
Guest: How many times can Tomlin say 'I won't accept it' before people get tired of his message?
Jerry Micco: Well, he could say, "It's fine. It's a long season and it's one bad game. I've won 66 percent of my games here, so I'm confident we can win our share of games this season. Not crazy about how the guys played Sunday, but it's early." Now what would the reaction be then? Tomlin gets zero slack from most fans in this town, but I don't think he cares all that much.
The Chief: TV ratings for the NFL were off the chart in Week one, any chance the NFL goes to a weekly Monday night double header?
Jerry Micco: I don't think so. I think they like that one marquee game on Monday and don't want to put on a late game that will lose much of the east coast. It's cool to start the season that way, but one game on Monday is stronger.
Steve - Ohio: Jerry, I agree the Tomlin gets zero slack but does he not create that by his statements about, next man up, the standard is the standard, no excused, unleashing hell, and all the other verbiage that was not backed up on the field?
Jerry Micco: And what about Cowher? He said same things in a different way, and he lost 4 AFC title games as a head coach. I don't think he got a complete pass here, but I think Tomlin gets very little wiggle room as a head coach in this town. He has had exactly ZERO losing seasons in six years. I don't get it. He was saying things like that when he was going 12-4, too.
Phil: NFL disappointments--Greg Sciano has to be beside himself losing to Geno Smith.
Jerry Micco: Tampa Bay thought they were going to be pretty good this year, and losing to Smith and the Jets wasn't in the plan. But give credit to Geno. He did a very good job in his NFL debut.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to get to some other stuff. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me today. As always, very good questions and comments. A lot going on these days on the sports scene, so the topics are endless. I'll see you next Wednesday at noon. In the meantime, have a great week everybody! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco
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