Time to break out the questions facing the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason. I see the submitted list here on the message board. Don't feel offended if I didn't use your question. I think these will tell the story in an orderly fashion:
Angry Weasel: What, if any, steps do you see Keith Butler taking to move to a 4-3, cover-2 defense?
They need to find a quality cover-2 safety. Is Robert Golden the answer? My belief is he's good enough to be the stopgap, or even a bridge, to the next young star. That will also give Golden the chance to prove he can be that guy.
Up front it appears they're attempting to use a four-man front with two outside linebackers as opposed to defensive ends. I asked Butler how one of the "Tampa 2" architects, Monte Kiffin, viewed the Butler/Mike Tomlin version upon Kiffin's visit to practice, and Butler said Kiffin likes the flexibility of the pass-rushers who can drop into coverage. So that appears to be the latest twist on the Tampa -- or Chuck Noll -- 2.
Stillerfreak: Which do you think is a bigger priority for the Steelers in the offseason, the defensive backfield or the defensive line?
I believe it's the defensive backfield, but through the first two days of the Senior Bowl I've read that Tomlin has camped out next to the front-seven defenders. And, you know, I have no problem with looking for another big man. I, too, would like to get off the bus in Cincinnati with another asskicker.
WYSteeler: There are a few D-linemen in this draft that I think would be awesome to stick between Stephon Tuitt and Cam Heyward. Those who really appeal to me are A'Shawn Robinson and Andrew Billings. What are your thoughts on those players and D-linemen in general in this upcoming draft?
I don't know that they need to stick someone between Tuitt and Heyward, unless you're moving one of those vets to defensive end. I wouldn't mind that at all, but I don't see the Steelers adding a nose tackle or 1-tech such as Robinson or Billings. I would prefer a big tackle with the explosiveness of a Jarran Reed, whom I could use outside if I needed. What's wrong with three 3-techs lined up across a front with Bud Dupree? And Reed is an Alabama man. Steelers DL coach John Mitchell is an Alabama man. Reed would become Mitch's long, lost son.
McSteel: What do the Steelers have in L.T. Walton? Does the staff believe he can be a quality rotation player behind Tuitt and Heyward?
Even if I ask Mitch about him, he wouldn't respond, off the record or on. Late-round projects like Walton, make -- or don't make -- that big step until sometime after their rookie season. The fact they kept Walton on the roster while exposing Doran Grant and Anthony Chickillo to the waiver wire says something positive about him.
Labguy1: Why are the Steelers so good at finding mid-round WRs and so poor at finding mid-round CBs? Or any quality CBs, regardless of round?
I have no idea. Luck probably plays a part in it, but it's pretty much the same personnel department that drafted Ricardo Colclough in the second round.
Mich3378: Is there enough cap room to keep Antonio Brown happy, sign Le'Veon Bell and David DeCastro, Eric Weddle and William Gay? Also to bring back Golden and (Kelvin) Beachum to play guard?
Loaded question, and I mean loaded with questions. I'll defer to Ian Whetstone's article in which he doesn't seem troubled by potential extensions for Brown, Bell and DeCastro, and believes Gay will return at a reasonable price. I believe Golden is in their plans and I doubt he'll be lured away, as long as the Steelers' offer is reasonable. I'll address Beachum below. But to answer your questions, I believe it's all do-able. I kind of doubt that Weddle will figure into this. I presume they would rather develop a young SS type to pair with Mike Mitchell. The higher he's picked, the faster we should expect Carnell Lake to develop him.
Tyranid: What do you think of Jeremy Cash?
Duke used him as a box safety, and he showed he's stout enough in the run game, fast enough to get outside, and explosive and sudden as a blitzer. The big question mark for him is coverage, and he appears to have the speed for it. Duke just didn't use him much in coverage, at least from what I've seen. In my opinion, he can be that Troy Polamalu type. The other potential first-round safety to keep an eye on is Darian Thompson of Boise State. I'm also hearing good things from the Senior Bowl about Middle Tennessee State's Kevin Byard.
Bpow0407: Of their potential needs -- CB, S, OLB, DL, TE, OG -- which position do you think the team doesn't actually view as a need, due to internal promotion, player growth and/or resigning their own?
(Sigh) Outside linebacker (sigh).
Kadagan: Is it time to give up on Jarvis Jones developing into more than "just a guy"?
See above, because the sighing (sobbing?) means that I have given up, but don't think the Steelers have. He shows them just enough. Me? I think a pass-rusher reveals himself immediately, as Joey Porter did his rookie year. Porter's wait was due more to lack of understanding than quick-twitch rush skills.
Thor1970: What changes can we expect on offense, especially the red-zone attack?
Remember last year when I mentioned that Ben Roethlisberger was shown the stats that prove he's better from under center in the red zone? Well, that appears to have been ignored. So the only changes I expect are relative to the players returning from injury.
Shoaf13: What's your plan for Bell? The franchise tag number for RBs is relatively low due to recent RB trends in the league. Would it be best to let him play out his final year and then franchise him once or twice?
I think you answered your own question. Yes, it would seem wise to wait and check on his health. Bell said before his latest injury that Reggie Nelson's cheap shot (my words, not his) the previous season did some permanent damage. And then Evil Burfict pulled Bell by the back of the shoulder pads and threw his entire body into Bell's knee and tore his MCL. So the low tag number would afford them patience, but if he shows that he's back to full health I would find a way to pay him.
Steelerfan196206: Any feeling for how impressed the team is with Jesse James?
I presume the team is impressed, but to me he doesn't look like he enjoys the game. Maybe he just hit a rookie wall late last season. His lack of enthusiasm -- or my perception of it -- is why I was hoping they would activate Xavier Grimble late. But James did perform when called upon. Maybe I was just reading him wrong.
BigSteelz: Offensive line depth seems to be lacking (even if we lose just one of either Beachum or Ramon Foster.) How would you address the offensive line?
I would call Mike Munchak into my office and ask him whether he thinks Beachum can play left guard. And then I would ask him to compare that potential to what Foster brings. I would then make an offer to each and whomever accepts first is my left guard. I would have Chris Hubbard and Cody Wallace available for depth but I would also draft a guard in the third or fourth round. Maybe Ted Karras of Illinois. I only watched bits of him in the Shrine Game, but looked solid and he's Alex Karras' nephew. Works for me.
JewelSongs: If money was no object, which non-Steelers free-agent would you sign? Would that signing put us over the top?
Is Darrelle Revis a free agent? I ask in jest because he's not, but they looked into him last year and probably should've followed through on it because even at $14 million Revis was a better bargain than, I believe, the next five free-agent cornerbacks signed. Sometimes the big-money guys can be worth it. But your question is difficult because the guys at the top of my dream list -- Von Miller, Josh Norman and Eric Berry -- will likely be re-signed by their teams. My guess is the Steelers will prioritize their own as opposed to making a big signing of an outsider.
LosSteelers: What is in your opinion the Steeler's biggest flaw in regards to separating themselves from AFC North football and being best in the division again?
I think they've just had to re-stock the team that went to three Super Bowls in six years. They would've been closer this past season but suffered too many key injuries. Next year's the year.
FSafety: Will they get rid of those embarrassing bumble bee uniforms?!?
And hopefully next year's the year to do this, too.