MrPorter2U: It seemed Ben Roethlisberger got defiant talking about the offense this year. Do you think he was being immature or overly fond of stats? Or was he just sticking up for his buddy Bruce Arians? And if he was enamored with the stats, do you think missing the playoffs will smack him back into reality and make him realize that winning is the only thing?
He was defiant and bold because the softball was thrown up by one of his sycophants in the media. (Actually, reporters are pretty smart to suck up to a guy who'll be THE main interview for the next 8-10 years, but you as a fan should realize the dynamic.) Yes, Roethlisberger spoke his mind. He believes it. He's always hated the long-distance view of him as a game manager, so these stats mean plenty to him. I'm sure his next goal is to win it all with such stats, but remember that deep down Ben is a winner. He'll never choose stats over wins.
IllinoisSteel: Good format. Much easier than trying to follow you around the message board for your thoughts. My questions: Any scoop on Troy Polamalu? Planned surgery on the knee? Could he have played a playoff game?
Thanks for the feedback, but I have no new information for you. Yes, Polamalu was planning to play in the playoffs. If you remember, he practiced the week before that final game. But as far as I know, there's no planned surgery on the knee. That was the reason for the long recovery, because surgery on PCLs is a bit tricky.
Steelmann58: Are the Steelers looking at their scouts and their scouting system? Don't they have to share in the blame for not drafting the right players to develop?
I can't see the Steelers finding fault with the same guys who scouted the personnel that won two Super Bowls in the last five years. And for the most part, the results for their recent work are unknowable. So let's wait a few years.
Pittsburgh Tom: Will the focus on improving the running game come at the expense of the passing game? Also, will the Steelers be more active in the free agent market in terms of pursuing a cornerback and a right tackle who will push Willie Colon inside to guard? He does not have the quickness to play tackle and I am tired of watching him get beat around the corner. Would that be the new O-line coach's call?
Most of the Bruce Arians supporters I see on TV are worried that handing off on third-and-1 behind a fullback is somehow going to affect the passing game. Roethlisberger is on the team to stay, the duration of which will only be made longer by improving the run game. He's taken 156 sacks throughout the three-year Arians reign.
I doubt the Steelers will be very active in free agency. If they can find a bargain, great, but I assume they'll try to find a cornerback in the draft.
As for moving Colon inside, that's a tough call to make on a guy coming off a good year at a difficult position. Will they look to improve their interior? I would, but I can't speak for them, since they have backups they seem to like. As for new O-line coach Sean Kugler's personnel opinions, he'd make a suggestion to Arians and/or Tomlin, with Tomlin having the final say. Kugler's future influence will depend on whether his current suggestions and implementations are successful.
Pittsburgh Tom: One last question: Have you heard any news on who they're looking at in free agency or the draft?
I don't know how easy the personnel info will be to come by this off-season. In a recent Post-Gazette chat, Ed Bouchette wrote that he made an educated guess last spring that the Steelers would draft Ziggy Hood. Ed was right, but I understand Tomlin hit the roof over what he considered e to ba leak. I assume Tomlin's made some serious threats to his people about it.
Choltzfreakin: Any thoughts on Randy Fichtner and/or Al Everest? And what's the word on Limas Sweed? I hope it's not anything like cancer.
I've written about Fichtner – who was recently switched from coaching WRs to coaching QBs – and how well he's regarded within the organization. As for Everest, the new special teams coach, he just seems like another retread to me. I hope to get to know him better soon, but from the outside it appears that Tomlin doesn't have many, or any, young coaches in mind as he's grown in the league.
On Sweed, the WR who went MIA at the end of the season, I'm pretty sure his problems are more mental than physical, but I'm not sure that's a good thing.
Bonescraper: Moving Chris Kemoeatu to right guard and acquiring a more athletic and mobile left guard sounds appealing to me. Would it work?
I keep reading about this move from fans, but I don't really understand it since Kemoeatu, in spite of his size and demeanor, doesn't really fire off the ball in the fashion of an outstanding strong side guard. His forte is pulling, so, even though he's not the quickest guard in the league, I assume they'll leave him where he's at.
Vandilay Industries: If they move Kemoeatu, what are the odds he'll be able to distinguish right from left?
And then there's that. Moving him might disrupt what's taken him some time to learn.
Steel Diesel: On UCLA DT Brian Price, I've read he's a one-gap penetrator who's better suited for a 4-3. Could he play nose tackle? And if the value at OL is gone at pick 18, do you see the Steelers considering Price?
Price is better suited for a 4-3, but so were Lawrence Timmons and Hood. Perhaps Price, another quick-twitch athlete, is Tomlin's vision of a 3-4 NT. I'd prefer the Steelers look at an active 3-4 DE type such as Jared Odrick, but when considering Tomlin's moves it's unwise to predict by scheme.
SteelerBill13: You're locked in a room. Would you rather have the offensive attack in the second Cleveland game playing in a loop or Renegade?
Sounds like a good definition of Hell either way. Since you've offered me a sound system and a video system, I'll go with the tape of the Cleveland game. That way I can turn down the sound and play my new Hold Steady record. Styx makes my ears to bleed.