AM: You're joking, right?
JW: Sure. You know me better than that. (Turns) Alright guys. You'll have to ask the long-snapper and back-up nickelback about it. Answer Man's not talking. (Turns back) I thought you might like to see what it's like in the locker room these days.
AM: I never saw those people before.
JW: I think ESPN flew them in. They have to keep up the façade you know. They ran with Faneca's quotes and made up their own story. Now they have to justify it, maybe even get a second-day story. Frankly, I'm embarrassed to be considered a part of the media.
AM: Since you put it that way, I can tell you the one thing I know about Faneca. His broken finger's really hurting his game. He's a punch-and-hold guy, and to tell you the truth, he can't hold right now. It hurt him against the Ravens.
JW: Well, you shouldn't have to worry about it this week. I watched the Dolphins play Sunday night and that might have been the worst offensive performance I've seen in my life.
AM: Well, I can't look at it that way. The way I see it, for us to have success, if we do pass, make it quick. And if we do run, run downhill because their team is based on speed. If we just go at them, we should be alright. The other match-up is if Plax can play big. Those guys don't have the height. If he can play big we'll be fine. Run Duce and the Bus straight at those linebackers.
JW: Bus will play a lot?
AM: I would play him.
JW: Don't you want to see Duce get 25 carries?
AM: I like Duce, too. I'm just saying run at them. Just say, 'Hey, you know what? We've got a rookie quarterback but we think our front and our backs are tougher than your guys.' Why test those two corners?
JW: I'm sure you read my rip job on our site and in Steelers Digest. Am I right about Duce being able to block and catch well enough to be a 3-down back?
AM: Catching? For sure. Blocking? He has the willingness and the want-to, he just hasn't done it enough to know when to be aggressive or when to sit back. Verron's good. He's pretty instinctive. Duce just wants to go get him, but you can fix that with a little more playing time.
JW: How bad is Miami?
AM: Offensively, they're not that good because their line's not good and they're not settling on a quarterback. Their running back, Lamar Gordon, had a good game and then a bad game. They've got receivers and a tight end. Defensively, they're good. It's sort of like what we played with Baltimore but they don't have the big, bruising running back. Their receivers are better.
JW: That line, though.
AM: Well the line's not as good either.
JW: Does it matter who they play at quarterback behind that line?
AM: I think both quarterbacks are the same to me. A.J. Feeley may have a little more athleticism to move out of the pocket, but they're both just average quarterbacks. A.J. may have a little stronger arm, too, but their decision-making is about the same.
JW: You know, speaking of quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger might be better than Tommy Maddox. You guys might be better off with him, even though he's a rookie.
AM: I know Ben's better. Let's keep that to ourselves.
JW: What are the specific problems with Miami's O-line?
AM: The tackles are soft and they don't have the range to get speed rushers off the edge. The center is competitive but not that strong. And the guards, Whitley is just average and James is pretty solid. St. Clair, their right tackle, was a center in college. In this game, it's easier to move in than move out, or move up than back. If you're moving from center to tackle, that's tough. And him being soft, like Wade Smith, they're just soft players who aren't very nasty and they don't have the range to play outside.
JW: I know McIntosh is moving in this week. Can Vernon Carey help them?
AM: It remains to be seen. It's not easy for a rookie to come in. He can't be any worse, put it that way.
JW: Is Randy McMichael becoming very good or am I just getting to know him?
AM: I think you're getting to know him. If you look at his numbers from his rookie year, he's always been good. The thing coming out of college was that he was just so light in the ass everyone was scared off. But if you watch him block now, so far, out of the teams we've played, he's the best combination blocking-catching tight end. Altogether, he may be the best combination tight end in the league. This guy blocks and catches at a high level.
JW: Didn't you like Lamar Gordon last year?
AM: Yes. If you see him in their first game, you'll like him too. When you see him this past game against Cincinnati, he's not the same guy. But yeah I like him.
JW: Defensively, what will the loss of Chester do to that front line?
AM: It's funny. It will hurt them a little bit but Jeff Zgonina comes in and plays pretty well. It will hurt somewhat though because most of their linebackers are speed guys and they need a big body in there taking some of those linemen and letting them stay free.
JW: What makes Jason Taylor so good?
AM: He's a natural pass-rusher. The difference between him and Joey is they both have speed but if you combined Kimo and Joey, that's a natural pass-rusher. He can tell when a guy's off-balance and he clubs him; he can tell when a guy's sitting back and he bulls them; he can tell when you're playing inside and he's got the speed and quickness to turn around the corner on you. Joey's just a speed guy. He doesn't have any counters; he doesn't have any moves. Jason's got speed. He sets up a bull rush. He sets up stuff. He's just instinctive as a pass-rusher. And he's got physical tools to pass rush. So that's the difference.
JW: As for the linebackers, what does Junior Seau have left?
AM: He can play. He and Zach Thomas can still play but they have trouble because once you go straight at them Zach's undersized and can't take it on and Junior's thinking he's only got so much left and doesn't try to blow up guys. He tries to avoid them. He's still quick enough to get back in but sometimes he takes himself out of the play because he's trying to avoid blocks. Now I'm not impressed with Marlon Greenwood. He's got athleticism but he's not instinctive.
JW: Are Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain still playing at a high level?
AM: Yes. And their safeties are good, too. Sammy Knight is always around the ball. He is what you hope Troy Polamalu will become. Troy is better against the run, but in the pass this guy's just instinctive and always there, even though he doesn't have the speed now.
JW: Won't Troy learn to cover?
AM: It's not the learning. It's deprogramming him into it because he's always down in the box. His first step has always been forward. As a D-Back your first step has got to be backward, particularly when he's playing back. That's when he has to learn to just relax and letting it come to him.
JW: Thanks, brother. I'll tell the suits to get the hairspray out and come on down because you have some comments to make about Joey Porter and Todd Heap.
AM: Uh, yeah, thanks.
Answer Man III
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