Q & A with Steel City Insider Jim Wexell

Jim Wexell from Steel City Insider stopped by and spent some time answering viewers questions on topics ranging from backup Charlie Batch to Bill Cowhers' chin. Check out the full transcripts.



What's the feeling in Steeler Country about Bill Cowher starting Big Ben last week in Oakland? Plenty of folks wonder why the rush to get Ben back in the lineup with Charlie Batch playing so well off the bench.
I read a story that one poll is running 68 percent in favor of Charlie Batch. This dumbfounds me. Pittsburgh fans have a reputation for being football savvy, but something like this exposes their ignorance.

Yes, Charlie Batch has played well, surprisingly well, as a backup, but he's no Ben Roethlisberger, concussed or otherwise. Roethlisberger was checked by the best neurologists in the world and cleared. He practiced well and played. He did seem a bit foggy, much like Favre and Aikman and Steve Young when they've experienced the problem, but the bigger problem that day was a RT who couldn't block Derrick Burgess. The less mobile and injury-plagued Batch wouldn't have done any better.

I'm glad Charlie has a high passer rating and has done well -- he's a super guy and a super backup, but let's leave it at that, dear Pittsburgh fans.

How are fans reacting to Ben's recent performances....are they sticking by him, waiting and seeing, or wanting to go to Batch ASAP?
I think I answered that above.

How much is the running game missing Jerome Bettis, is Willie Parker providing the needed punch in short yardage situations?
They are missing Bettis in short yardage, no doubt. They also miss the energy he injected into the O-line when he entered a game at the right time -- closing time. I think he became the first true closer in the game ... but his time has passed. The Steelers should've done a better job to replace him, but Willie Parker is a fine back. He runs hard between the tackles and can break one at any time. He lacks a little vision, but is otherwise a back they can win with.

What happened? Obviously Bettis left, and Big Ben is hurt, but what happened to Troy Polamalu? Is he playing hurt? Are teams just doing a better job of accounting for him? Doesn't seem to have the same effect he had last season.
Polamalu has never played better. He pretty much played with one arm in early televised games against the Jags and Chargers, but has healed and has made some stunning plays. I think he's better than last year.

Despite how the season has gone, the Steelers are still considered one of the more dangerous teams in the NFL, what is the perception among Steelers fans about the team, and what is going on? Are the Steeler fans just waiting for the Steelers to break out, and come to life (like they did last year)?
Steelers fans for the most part are just like every other city's overreactionary fans. Some of them can't see how close they've been in these games and how the ball is bouncing the wrong way.

The Steelers have been beaten by the understandable slow start by their QB, their special teams and a coach who has snoozed through two losses -- Cincinnati and Atlanta. The players believe they can come to life, as they did in 95 and 05, but many of the fans are already looking at the draft.

My question is two fold, Ben's multiple hospitalizations, and also the offensive line's inability to hold a block. Some think Faneca has slipped at LG. Hartings is already out at center. I think if you get up early on the Steelers, they'll pack it in. If you don't and they get rolling, look out.
When in the world have you ever seen the Steelers "pack it in"? They've been in every game this year. Their line consists of run blockers. For the most part they're not bad pass blockers, but when they're behind it's their weakness. They do better when the OC calls passes on run downs and runs on pass downs.

Alan Faneca is fine. He dominated the KC Chiefs. The RG has been a problem. RT Max Starks has his problems in pass pro. Jeff Hartings will be missed at center. No, he couldn't block Jammal Williams or Marcus Stroud in national TV games, but who can? Gerard Warren certainly won't bother any of them, including either the new or old RG or the new center.

Does Cowher's jaw hurt when he sticks it out like that?
Only when I ask why he can't manage the clock.



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