Answer Man

JW: Answer Man, good to see you on this most holy of sports holidays. Merry Opening Day Eve to you.

AM: Good to be here.

JW: I liked your pick up of Quincy Morgan. You had a need and filled it, although I would've really liked to have seen Nate Washington handle that No. 4 receiving role.

AM: Nate will have his day. I like him a lot. I'm glad we kept him: great hands, runs great routes, takes to coaching, good kid. I like everything about him.

JW: Morgan supposedly has some baggage. The knocks I keep hearing are that he's an attitude problem, doesn't block and doesn't play special teams. Could you address those?

AM: I talked to Bruce (Arians) about him and he said he's never had a problem with him, ever, in the locker room. He is a Golden Gloves boxer, so maybe it's a good thing you didn't ask him yourself. But anyway, B.A. likes him a lot, said he never had a problem with his blocking either. In fact, he said Quincy is one of the best blockers he had in Cleveland. And he was a kickoff return guy the first couple of years, so I don't know where that's coming from.

JW: Bill Parcells complained about it, that he doesn't cover kicks.

AM: Well, he never had to do that because he was always a starting receiver. I don't know if Bill (Cowher) is going to look at him there, but I assume he'll be fine.

JW: What about the Titans? Are they as bad off as they appear on paper?

AM: Steve McNair, first of all, looks great. He looks thinner. He just looks tremendous, just from the standpoint of being the guy in charge. But they want to protect him. They'll do a lot of two and three-man routes. I saw one play where they went two tights, one running back. They kept both tight ends and the running back in to protect and they had two guys go downfield. It spoke volumes about the way Norm Chow is running his offense.

JW: Isn't that different for Chow? Wasn't he a West Coast guy?

AM: He's never had a pure West Coast offense. He runs a lot of play-action passing; runs a different running game. The difference in the past is they've been more of a zone, step-and-run-to-the-sidelines offensive line, pick up whoever crosses your face and let the back find the crease. They're much more aggressive in their zone schemes. They're coming off the ball. They want to make sure they secure the down linemen. It seems like they don't really care that much if one other guy gets off on a linebacker; they want to play physical. It's a much more aggressive zone scheme than in the past. They're trying to get north and south right now.

JW: Is the running game benefiting?

AM: Chris Brown seems to be a nice fit. He does run up and down. Eddie George could do that because Eddie George was a stud. While this guy is a strong runner, he's not Eddie George. To me it looks like he could get broken in half a little easier. Erron Kinney the tight end is phenomenal. He looks stronger than he has in the past. He's coming off the ball and killing guys. I'm very impressed with him. Against Atlanta he took a couple guys for rides, big rides. The receivers are all big. Drew Bennett, Tyrone Calico, the rookie from Oklahoma (Brandon Jones), the kid from IU (Courtney Roby) and the kid from Tulane (Roydell Williams), they're all at least 6-1 guys. They're big receivers.

JW: They tried to get Morgan this week. Do they still need more bodies?

AM: Well they drafted three receivers this draft and Calico is a second-year guy. Drew Bennett is the old man and he's only in his fifth year. Bringing in a little veteran stability would make sense to me.

JW: Is Calico the starter or is he hurt?

AM: He's coming off a bad knee injury and against San Francisco he didn't look as crisp in his routes. I wouldn't be surprised if Tyrone's not all the way back.

JW: Will their offensive line be a mess without Brad Hopkins at left tackle?

AM: Michael Roos is not a bad player, but he's not Brad Hopkins. Justin Hartwig is a decent center but they're moving him to right tackle and moving Roos from right tackle to left tackle. They'll put a second-teamer at center. It doesn't bode well for them.

JW: It could be chaos, couldn't it?

AM: Michael Roos against Joey Porter and Kimo (von Oelhoffen), ooh, I like that match-up. And Hartwig at right tackle versus Aaron Smith and Clark (Haggans), this is made for the Steelers. The guards, especially Zach Piller, are good. Piller probably played Kendrell Bell better than any guard I've seen. He mugged him, threw him on the ground, stepped on him, gored him. It was the best I've ever seen. Some people were saying, ‘They double-teamed Kendrell Bell.' You don't double-team a linebacker. That double-team was Zach Piller's left and right fists.

JW: What about their defense?

AM: Right now their pass rusher is Kyle Vanden Bosch. From the outside there's nobody that jumps out at you. I mean, he made a couple plays against Atlanta; one of them was on a blown assignment. He did get a sack against their left tackle. (Albert) Haynesworth's good. Haynesworth is a load. He's tough, hard-nosed, plays quick, physical. They use (Keith) Bulluck sometimes as a dime rush end. I don't think he's really effective there. He's much better coming from off than he is coming as a stand-up defensive end as he did against Atlanta. They played a lot of man against Atlanta, almost the whole first half. They brought their corners up and tried to run with Atlanta's guys. They played a lot of ‘46'. The linebackers are good. Peter Sirmon, Bulluck, (Brad) Kassell can flat-out run. They're very athletic. They're going to go sideline to sideline to make plays if you don't get a hat on them. The secondary is young but athletic. (Andre) Woolfolk and (Tony) Beckham don't jump out at you, but they don't stink. Tank Williams, the strong safety, is not bad. The linebackers stick out to you. Albert Haynesworth sticks out to you. The rest of the guys are just OK. They will load the box; bring Tank up to get involved in the running game. They'll say, ‘from what I've seen this preseason, I don't think your quarterback can beat us.' So I would expect them to use a lot of ‘46'. The danger of the ‘46' is you leave your corners on an island. Will the quarterback be able to take advantage of that? That's the big question.

JW: Why do you think Ben (Roethlisberger) was so sluggish this preseason?

AM: I think he's in a funk, and because of that funk he has no confidence, and because he has no confidence his mechanics are screwed up and he's aiming the ball.

JW: Should he be working on his mechanics?

AM: Well, he'd have to ask for help, and asking for help is an admission of being in a funk in the first place. I know he has a great resource in Tommy (Maddox), but I don't know whether he's asked for help or not. I just don't know the kid well enough to have a good feel for him.


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