Answer Man

The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Cincinnati Bengals in the wildcard round of the AFC playoffs Sunday afternoon. That means the Answer Man's still in town.

JW: Hey, Answer Man. Hope I'm not bothering you. I know it's been a long season.

AM: Come on in, brother. If you're around, it means we're still playing. I hope to see a lot of you the next month. What's up?

JW: First, I'd like to know what's up with the Ken Whisenhunt interview process.

AM: No one knows. Not even Whis.

JW: Huh?

AM: Someone sent letters to request an interview, and I hear more than one team made such a request. Either that or one team's interested in Kenny and another's interested in Russ (Grimm). They haven't even been told which team; nobody's been told. They'll find out next week and any interview would take place here on Thursday. Here's something else to think about: There are eight openings, right? How many calls do you think Darren Perry will get?

JW: Right, the Rooney Rule. Is Darren ready for a head job?

AM: That's not the point. Just going through the process would help him down the road. When he is ready, he'll have already gone through the process. But that's all speculation. A good guess is that Whisenhunt is the favorite of the three right now.

JW: The rumor I keep hearing is Houston wants him, or at least would like to interview him. I guess with David Carr at quarterback he'd have a foundation.

AM: Oh, I don't know about that. They've got Carr all messed up. He has some talent, but he needs re-worked.

JW: So are you in the Vince Young camp?

AM: Hey, Vince Young is special. He really is. What did he complete the other night? Thirty out of 40? And he rushed for over 200. I mean, that's pretty special.

JW: I've never seen him take a snap from under center. I've never seen him drop back. Nobody knows about his footwork. And I'm not sure he even has a strong arm. He didn't throw anything deep the other night, and he throws with that three-quarters motion, too. I don't know if you take a guy, a project, that high, no matter how special he is.

AM: Michael Vick's had a pretty good career. I think you're looking at the same type of player. He's special. He really is. He's definitely a top 10 draft pick.

JW: Aren't you glad you don't have to make that decision though?

AM: Well, yeah. I have to admit it's easier spending someone else's money.

JW: Does it matter anyway with Houston? I mean, why draft a quarterback with an offensive line that's so bad?

AM: Their line's awful. They have serious problems. But here's how you build a football team: 1. defense, 2. quarterback, 3. offensive line.

JW: In that order? Wouldn't it be foolish to draft a quarterback before the line's in place?

AM: That's a good point, but quarterback's are so hard to find. You have to get one whenever you can. But first you must have a defense. Offensive linemen, they're really hard to find. Everyone's having trouble putting offensive lines together.

JW: What are the most important positions on the line?

AM: Well, left tackle of course. After that I'd say center. They have to see everything, make the calls. You need a smart guy in there who can move, who can pick guys up at the last instant. Jeff (Hartings) has done a real good job with that over the years.

JW: Can Chukky Okobi play center?

AM: He has. In the limited opportunities he's had with us, he's done a good job.

JW: What about Kendall Simmons?

AM: Kendall?

JW: Don't you remember that story from his first year here? He was an emergency center in camp and someone said center's his natural position.

AM: He's athletic enough, but I don't know if he has what it takes mentally to play center. He's smart, don't get me wrong, but the center has to pick the right guy to block, not just the first guy. Kendall, man he sees that first guy and takes him every time. He reacts the same way every time; he just kind of spazzes. That's a harsh word, and might not be the word I'm looking for, but his mind just works that way and he jumps out on the first guy every time. He's been that way ever since he came here and I don't think he'll ever change.

JW: Interesting. Let's move on to the Bengals. Are you confident going into this game?

AM: As confident as I can be. Now, I'm a natural worrier but I think this is the best match-up the Pittsburgh Steelers possibly could have, in terms of how the teams match up on the field. Plus, I like the fact the Bengals beat them for the division championship and they seem to relish – I don't want to say underdog -- but avenging themselves. And I think the Bengals' inexperience in the playoffs is also a help. From what I understand about what's going on in Cincinnati, they're a little tight.

JW: What's going on in Cincinnati?

AM: Well, Chad Johnson says Marvin Lewis put a gag order on him, and Marvin said Chad put it on himself. But either way he's not talking to the media. I mean, so much of what they did all year involved Chad Johnson being the lightning rod, and all of the sudden it's different. I don't know. I just don't think that's a good sign. But I will say this: If at the end of the game, the Steelers have attempted more passes than runs, they will have lost.

JW: And then Ken Whisenhunt doesn't get a head coaching job?

AM: Oh, he'll still be a candidate. Chan Gailey blew the 1997 AFC championship game and he got a job, so … But I don't think we'll have to worry about it. I feel pretty good about this game.


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