Answer Man

The Answer Man graces us with his presence this week, but only to talk about the Cincinnati Bengals. "If you want rumors or in-house specifics, catch me during the bye week," he said. "This game's too big to talk about anything else." We agree.

Q: Answer Man, you've solved all my problems. Welcome back.

A: Solved your problems? I doubt even I can do that. Remember what Chuck said?

Q: Chuck?

A: Yeah. You have many problems and they are great.

Q: Well, thank you too. Maybe you can just solve my football problems. Should fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers be concerned after Monday night's showing?

A: I think it's way too early to be worried about any one specific area, if that's what you mean. They just ran into a great football game.

Q: Don't you mean a great football team?

A: No. I mean game. That was a great football game. I don't care what anyone says, that was one of the most entertaining 0-0 halves I've ever seen because of the hitting. But, then again, I enjoy a 1-0 hockey game, so I'm that type. What I was watching Monday night was two slug-em-out defenses and Jacksonville just wore them down.

Q: Are you concerned about the Steelers' running game?

A: I'm not concerned about it, not when you're dealing with those twin towers in the middle. Watching [John] Henderson, I thought he would be a killer in there and he was; [Marcus] Stroud, too. And Mike Peterson is quick and almost … it's like he's in between Haggans and Foote, in style, the way he was playing off those tackles, and it was impossible for those guards to combo to get him. For them to get a shot at Peterson they had to pick their way through guys, or combo off, but the combo-off guy was Henderson and he was mugging them. As much as you'd like to mug them, they're mugging you. What's that old saying? The other guys get paid too? Well there's a lot of truth there that some of you so-called experts should understand.

Q: I take offense. No one's ever called me an expert.

A: That doesn't surprise me, but I believe the Steelers will have similar problems with Sam Adams. I know a lot of personnel guys are down on him, but what I've seen is a guy who's agile for a three-hundred and … well, write whatever weight you want, but I'm watching him jump over people who try to cut him, and then he ran around the block against the Cleveland left guard and made the hit in the backfield. So you've got him and a little bit of a difference in the stand-up end – [Robert] Geathers and Justin Smith. They use a 4-3 but with a guy who will stand up.

Q: Have they improved significantly on defense?

A: They look improved on the defensive line. Brian Simmons is in for [Odell] Thurman and is not the stud in there Thurman is. He's a good player but he's not a middle linebacker. He was an outside guy and that's what he looks like in there. He's smart, in position, but doesn't step up with authority and doesn't have the intercept speed that Thurman does.

Q: What do they have outside?

A: Pollack was a significant loss. Landon Johnson replaced him outside and he's just a guy.

Q: So will the Steelers be able to run on them?

A: It's an option but Sam Adams is going to be the key guy. You've got to do something with that guy. I just can't get out of my head the film of him running around the guard and tackling [Reuben] Droughns three yards deep in the backfield. That's moving that body weight around pretty good.

Q: What about passing on them?

A: [Cornerbacks Deltha] O'Neal and [Torry] James look pretty good. Both are pretty aggressive guys who do a good job of coverage. They're not great but above average.

Q: And what will the loss off their free safety do to them?

A: Dexter Jackson is a pretty good player. Now, while I think his replacement [Kevin Kaesviharn] is pretty decent as a center fielder, I would think that's an area the Steelers can exploit. So aside from Sam Adams, I don't see any reason why they can't get their offense rolling because they're not going to have to face the kind of pressure Jacksonville put on them. Justin Smith's pretty good, but he's mechanical. He comes hard, he has a motor, but the fact is you pretty much know the intercept point.

Q: Can the Steelers contain their offense?

A: If they hold them to 24, they can win, so they'll have to score some points this week. But 24 is the number that popped into my head. If they keep them under 24, I think they have a chance.

Q: What kind of prediction do you have for us?

A: I don't know. I really don't know. I'm thinking if they can keep them to 24 and somehow corral the Chris Henrys – and how's that guy out of jail? That amazes me -- but if they can keep them to 24, they have a chance, so I don't care if it's by one point.

Q: Is this a must-win game?

A: It's not a must-win, but it's all about early posturing. Who's going to be the bully in this division? Baltimore could be real, so yeah this is important. It's not a must-win, but it's important.


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