Answer #2: Patriots -- 20%
Jerry Micco: Hi everybody and welcome to the chat. I'll be back at noon to take questions but in the meantime, feel free to submit early questions and vote in our poll. See you soon!
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I am back from the Panama Canal. Malkin is ready to prove that he can lead the Penguins to the promised land!
Jerry Micco: Welcome home, James. Malkin has been incredible as of late and is making his case for the Hart Trophy. Can the Penguins win a Cup with this team as constituted? I don't think so. It would help to get No. 87 back.
James_Pittsburgh: If you are the Steelers do you hire Randy Fitchner or go outside of the organization?
Jerry Micco: I know their record when they go outside is not very good. However, it would be nice to see what a fresh set of eyes would do for the offense. Certainly a lot of weapons to use. But, unless the offensive line takes a major stride forward, I'm not sure the offense can do what it needs to do, particularly inside the red zone.
B McG: What do you think of Pitt's FB recruiting class? Top 20, according to ESPN, whatever that means, but I've been reading about the possible lack of recruiting experience of Coach Chryst
Jerry Micco: I never pay much attention to recruiting rankings. You say ESPN has them top 20. Scout has them 34 and Pitt is not in Rivals top 50. But, when you land guys like Shell and Voytik, you have had a pretty good class. I think Pitt has some guys who may be able to do great things, but coaching and development is so important in the college game. Paul Chryst will get more experience recruiting the longer he is a head coach at Pitt. And the entire staff recruits, so it all doesn't fall on the head coach.
B McG: What a huge difference Tray Woodall has made. All this time, I thought Pitt needed some rebounding, but a floor general and Gibbs going back to the 2 is huge. That being said, what Pgh coach is worse with clock management? Dixon or Tomlin?
Jerry Micco: Mike Tomlin has had a terrible time with his clock management over the years, and I didn't see it get better last season. As for Pitt, Woodall has been a difference maker and the Georgetown win was very good. Pitt has a long road to hoe because I don't think 8-10 in the Big East is good enough for the NCAA this season. To get to 9-9, they need to go 6-2 over their final 7. Possible, but a tough sled.
James_Pittsburgh: Do you see the Steelers adding a veteran offensive lineman or someone to replace James Farrior? I am sure that some veteran would love to play for the Steelers for $3-$4 million a year.
Jerry Micco: I think it depends on who's out there and what the Steelers can spend. As you know, they are strapped on money. I think if they can find a veteran guard or tackle they likely will take a shot at him. I see the OL next year as: Colon, Foster, Pouncey, Legursky and Gilbert. That's not a terrible line IF everyone stays healthy, but I think you can find an upgrade over Legursky and maybe Foster, too. But can you afford them is the question.
James_Pittsburgh: I think Pitt will make the NCAA tournament. Your thoughts. And will Jamie Dixon be considered for Big Ten coach of the year if Pitt cost 9-9 in the Big East?
Jerry Micco: As you see, I don't think 8-10 on the BE is enough for Pitt to get in. As for Jamie being Big East (not Big Ten) coach of the year, I don't think so. Pitt was picked to finish 4th or 5th in the conference. So at best, they'll meet expectations.
Ralph the Plumber: Jerry I see the steelers in a rebuilding phase I think they should be adjusting more to the New NFL with TE's and schemes what do you think?
Jerry Micco: I think there is some rebuilding to do, but for me, that's on the OL. The QB, WRs and RBs are there. I think Heath Miller and possibly Weslye Saunders will be a nice TE combo. The schemes may change, sure, but I think a lot of the weapons are already in place.
B McG: Do you have a possible surprise Steeler name who won't be with the team next year?
Jerry Micco: William Gay. I think he earned a shot, but I don't think they can pay him as a free agent. He'll get more elsewhere and Keenan Lewis will take over for him. Cortez Allen will get a shot there, too.
Harry The Hat: Is there any way this Pirate squad doesn't lose 100 games in front of their new Bud Light right field party deck?
Jerry Micco: I don't think they'll lose 100 games. Maybe 90 again, or a few more, but not 100. Unless the pitching holds up all season. If that happens, maybe then can nudge .500.
James_Pittsburgh: Do you see Ray Shero making a deadline deal this year? Or are the Penguins too good if Crosby returns to make a trade?
Jerry Micco: If Sid comes back, they are too good to trade a forward. I wonder if they'll try to get a bit bigger on defense and add a bit of toughness. I don't see them dealing Martin or Michalek to do it, though, because no one wants those guys at their current salaries.
Ziggy Fraud: When the Giants win this sunday by pressuring Brady doesn't it prove you need a strong front 4 to win in this league no more 3-4?
Jerry Micco: Didn't Green Bay use a 3-4 last season? And the Steelers have won a couple SBs with a 3-4. No, you just need a defense that gets after people. And in reality, the 3-4 is a 4- or 5-man pass rush scheme at its base.
B McG: SB prediction?
Jerry Micco: I liked them a lot to start the playoffs, so no use going away from them not: Giants 30, Patriots 27.
James_Pittsburgh: Ralph, how are the Steelers going to be in a rebuilding phase, most of their key players from last year will return? Maybe only Farrior and Casey Hampton will be gone!
Jerry Micco: Hine Ward will be gone. McFadden will be gone. Don't be surprised to see Foote gone. Hampton is still up in the air, though. They really don't have a NT, but unless he takes a big paycut, he's gone, too. FA should be interesting this season. Watch to see what the Steelers do, then you'll know where they'll head in the draft.
Suburban Rhythm: Any suggestions for making any of the All Star or Pro Bowl games even remotely watchable? My 5 year old son watched for about 15 minutes...and then he couldn't take anymore. Can we just get rid of them?
Jerry Micco: The Pro Bowl gets to be more of a joke each and every year. This year was just awful. I watched one quarter to see if Ben would re-injure his ankle, but with no one working all that hard, I knew that wouldn't happen. To me, the other all-star games are kind of what you expect. But the Pro Bowl isn't the football you expect. I mean, Mike Wallace purposely fell on his first 2 catches so he'd not get hit. Mike, it's football. That's part of the game. I would not miss a Pro Bowl if the NFL didn't play it. But I'm not counting on that.
Jay Glazed Donut: My sources tell me Marc Trestman will be the new OC. Your thoughts?
Jerry Micco: He's gone. Remember that when Eddie D. fired him at George Seifert's presser following the end of the season? One of the great moments in owners-trumping-coaches history.
Guest: I keep hearing that the Steelers should be scoring more points with their "elite" players on offense, but are they really that talented on O? After Ben, Heath and Wallace, Antonio Brown came on down the stretch, but the rest of the offense is not necessarily above average players. Add to that 10 of their 16 games were against top 10 scoring defenses, and it makes me wonder if the O underachieved that badly this year.
Jerry Micco: I don't think they underachieved as much as they weren't very creative, and I think became very predictable. I think the young WRs are a very good crew. Two of them had 1,000 yards receiving. I'd like to see how Sanders fits in if he's healthy for an entire season. And they may grab one more WR in the draft, too, because I think Cotchery's gone. I don't think the offense is "elite," but it should be better at scoring than 21st.
B McG: Does the lack of effort, and the inclusion of players like Ryan Clark, prove that the Pro Bowl truly means nothing?
Jerry Micco: Actually, I thought Clark had a very good year.
James_Pittsburgh: Do you see the NFL catching up with Cam Newton in 2012? I believe there are some deficiencies in his throwing that he needs to work on.
Jerry Micco: I think Newton is a very talented guy, and he surprised me with how well he played as a rookie. Now that the book is out on him, it'll be tougher for him to do what he does. But if he improves, makes the proper adjustments, he can be a very good, maybe even top-flight, NFL QB.
Mario: Is the PG sending someone to cover the London Olympics?
Jerry Micco: We are. Our new enterprise/general assignment reporter Brady McCollough will represent us in London.
Guest: What is Ed Bouchete's meal per diem in Indy?
Jerry Micco: Whatever it takes to get the job done. The standard is the standard.
B McG: Has anyone told Hines Ward that he's going to be gone next year?
Jerry Micco: Not yet. But they will by March 1.
James_Pittsburgh: I didn't count Ward since he was not a starter or major contributor. I said most of their key players will be back. Ward may be key in the locker room but is hardly a key player on the field. With that said the only way Ward does not come back is if he refuses to accept a pay cut. He will be back as the 4th receiver at the minimum veteran salary.
Jerry Micco: I think they can do better by either drafting someone or going in FA to find a younger guy. I just don't think Hines can get free anymore.
Jimmy Cefalo: How many years will it take to change the name of Beaver Stadium to Joe Paterno Field?
Jerry Micco: I hope they don't do that, actually. I agree Joe's presence at PSU, when you take everything into account, is huge. That's why there's a statue of him outside Beaver Stadium. I think that's enough, as well as the name on the library, which, to me, is more important than it being on a stadium.
Suburban Rhythm: Is there anyone even close to Letang for the title of BEST HAIR IN HOCKEY?
Jerry Micco: Gotta love Tanger's 'do. I really don't think there are many in his class.
Bob Davie: Jerry why are the Pats 3 point favorites? The NFC was clearly better this year
Jerry Micco: Because New England won 10 in a row and has Tom Brady at QB. The Giants have been tremendous down the stretch, but remember, they had to win in week 17 to even make the playoffs. That said, I like the Giants by 3.
James_Pittsburgh: Since the Steelers will be playing the AFC West next year and NFC East, I see the Steelers willing 11 or 12 games again next year.
Jerry Micco: Goodness James, way too early to predict that. Have to see what free agency and the draft do to the other teams besides the Steelers.
Sir Charles: Jerry do you ever sit and watch a whole NBA regular season game? It's brutal. After football it's all we have. Could Pgh ever be a NBA town?
Jerry Micco: I haven't watched an entire NBA game in years. Just doesn't excite me. Give me hockey, football and baseball, and I'm fine. College basketball is great, too. I don't see Pittsburgh as big enough to be a 4-sport town.
Suburban Rhythm: Does Hood to NT, allowing Heyward to play, make the most sense? Stopping the run is no longer as important as getting to the QB in this new Arena League NFL. Steeler fans love to cling to the #1 in rush D like a badge of honor, but it's just not that important anymore.
Jerry Micco: Well, teams will still want to run the ball to balance their attack, so you still need to stop the run. But if you are vulnerable to the pass, then you are not going to win in the NFL. I think Hood could make that move, but that's taking a big chance in my mind. It solves a problem, but it means you still need to draft at DL, again, fairly high in this draft.
Pablo: Jerry, just saw an article posted on the site about a PSU recruit. Seems that you sent a reporter (and not the PSU beat guy) to a HS in New Jersey to cover this, while current Pitt coverage consists of wire copy and reprinted Pitt press releases. That doesn't seem like the right priority. Your comment? (By the way, small sample size but the new guy Brady McCullough seems like both a good reporter and writer. Seems like he is willing to hustle as well, which is not universally true.)
Jerry Micco: Pablo, you don't know the context of what's going on, or aren't reading our newspaper or Website. Paul Zeise has been out for a while after suffering an accident. He did a couple of huge blog posts the last 2 days on recruiting. Sam Werner is covering Pitt's LOI day and it'll be on our front page tomorrow. As for the PSU story, that's a story that I won't get into. We send an enterprise reporter places for a reason that I won't discuss here. Back to Pitt, Ray Fittipaldo has been all over hoops (again) this season. We're happy with Brady's work so far. But it's more important to hear that readers like his work.
Gary Busey: Where does Peyton Manning play next year?
Jerry Micco: Not Indianapolis. Maybe Tennessee? Who can afford him is the question.
James_Pittsburgh: They should call it the corn field that Paterno built!
Jerry Micco: Built right out of the pasture land that still surrounds it. And when I was an undergrad there and the wind blew a certain way on gameday, you knew for sure that at one time, PSU was a cow college.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, not many Steelers rookies make an impact during their first season. Yes, Pouncey did but that is a rarity.
Jerry Micco: You are correct. It takes time for some rookies to make their mark. Though Ben did pretty well thrust into his starting role. Guys who are drafted in the top 10 generally make an impact. Not always a good one, but some sort of impact.
Guest: Jerry what's on your Super Bowl menu?
Jerry Micco: You know, haven't thought about it yet. I tend to go bunch of appetizers and fun stuff. I've lost 21 pounds since early November, so I need to make sure a veggie tray is around, too. Ugh.
B McG: Gut feeling, does Crosby play this year? If he were your son, would you want him to hang it up and not risk permanent brain damage?
Jerry Micco: I think he does play this year. As someone whose son suffered a "mild" concussion playing inline hockey, you never want your kid out there until he's absolutely 100 percent. I think Sid's getting a lot of medical and personal advice these days. That has to be somewhat frustrating to him, but that's what it's like when you're Sidney Crosby.
Pablo: Just to clarify, I was only speaking Pitt football. No problems with Ray Fittipaldo's hoops coverage.
Jerry Micco: And we've done all the obligatory stories on coaching hires (Chryst's staff), etc. But as far as recruiting, some of that is handled by Mike White, so perhaps if you're looking for that strictly from Paul, you might not see it. And recruiting is tough sometimes. Kids commit and decommit a lot in some cases. Sometimes, it's best to wait until signing day. Not all the time, but some of the time.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to head back to some other stuff on my desk. Thanks so much for coming out today to chat. A lot of good questions and it certainly was more busy than last week. I'll see you next Wednesday at noon for another chat. Enjoy the Super Bowl and have a great week everybody! Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco