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Old 01-06-2015, 03:59 AM   #1
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Default Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 01.05.15

January 5, 2015 3:47 PM
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By Ray Fittipaldo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



Today’s poll question:

Would you like to see the NFL expand the playoff field by two teams for next season?.

Yes (24%) No (76%)

Ray Fittipaldo: Welcome to my weekly chat. Starting early because there is another interview session with players that will begin when a team meeting ends. If I have to leave, simply leave your questions in the queue and I'll answer some when I get back from the locker room.

Comment From Wbrouse

No need to expand the play offs and add 2 more teams. 12 is enough. We have one with a losing record still in it.

Ray Fittipaldo: That's the poll question because NFL owners are expected to make that happen in the spring. Just curious about how fans felt. Last year the Steelers would have been in and played on the road against No. 2 seed New England. This year, Houston would have made it and gone to play No. 2 seed Denver.

Comment From Guest

what do you expect them to do about the outside linebacker positions next season?

Ray Fittipaldo: James Harrison said today that he feels good and that he did not expect his body to react as well as it did this year. He did not say he is definitely playing next year, but he did not rule it out either. So, Harrison would remain a possibility if -- and that's a big if -- the Steelers want to bring him back at 37.

Obviously, Jarvis Jones has to produce in his third season. The wrist injury held him back this year. Moats is not under contract. I would imagine they would try to bring him back if the price is similar. And then you probably have to draft someone if you don't plan on bringing Jason Worilds back. Worilds signed the franchise tag because a long-term deal could not be worked out. We'll see if his price comes down or if the Steelers want to increase their offer. I don't suspect either will happen, which is why I think they'll have to draft another OLB, but we'll see what happens. I'm not shutting the door completely on Worilds.

Comment From Guest

Hi Ray.. Do u think they should use there first 5 picks on defence and bring in some free agents. Especially cb and outside linebacker. If they do not address the cb spot this year there is something wrong

Ray Fittipaldo: That's what we all said last year, and they didn't. I'm not going to make the same mistake again. It's obvious they feel like they can address that position later in the draft. They haven't taken a CB in the first round since 1997.

I agree that they need the most help on defense, but I would not be surprised to see them take a TE early in the draft to develop him as Miller's replacement. I also would not be surprised to see them take a WR and a RB in the later rounds. They released Justin Brown late in the year and it doesn't seem like they like Lance Moore very much. And it's obvious they'll need a RB with Bell likely to miss two games for his drug suspension.

Comment From Bill

The offensive line had a horrible game on Saturday. What happened?

Ray Fittipaldo: The Ravens have a good front. Haloti Ngata was back after a suspension and provided a good push. Suggs and Dumervil did well on the outside. The line picked a bad time to have an off night, but it happens. Some of it certainly could be that Bell missed the game. Tate blocked the wrong guy on the INT. That doesn't happen if Bell plays.

Comment From Chris

What is the future of Shamarko Thomas? Is he the future starter?

Ray Fittipaldo: He had better be. They traded up in the draft to take him. With Troy Polamalu likely done, the Steelers need Thomas to take a step forward and assume a starting job.

Comment From Tysid

What do you do at RB? Resign Tate or go with a possible fallen talent in the draft?

Ray Fittipaldo: I'm more inclined to take someone in the draft, develop them in the spring and summer and have him and/or Josh Harris be ready to play the first two games.

Comment From Guest

Do you think the steelers should draft a cornerback, or an outside linebacker?

Ray Fittipaldo: Both, but if you're asking me which they will address first, history says OLB.

Comment From Chuck from Ohio

If D LeBeau retires, any chance we move to a 4-3? I know it likely comes down to who replaces him but with the strength of our LB core being MLB's and only 1 unproven OLB on the roster it might make logical sense?

Ray Fittipaldo: Tomlin has been on record saying he likes the 3-4 because it can help deter some offenses that have runners at QB. Unless he has changed his mind on that in the past six months I don't think that's a viable option next season.

Comment From TexasSteeler

Why all the worry about Shazier? Am I wrong that he played and flashed pretty well in his ops the last two games, especially in helping end Baltimorean running game in the 2nd half?

Ray Fittipaldo: He had two major injuries that cut into his rookie season. It's impossible to judge him now. Next year is a big year for him

Comment From Chris

We need a pass rush, especially with the possibility of losing 2/3 top sackers. With good depth at ILB, any chance Shazier moves back to OLB? Is he a good pass-rusher? If not, what round do you think we draft one?

Ray Fittipaldo: I think he is too slight to play OLB in this scheme. Plus, they drafted him to play inside. Why give up on that plan after one year?

Comment From Bill

Gradkowski looked fine in emergency duty. WHy bring in Ben at such a critical juncture after a head injury. They were still down 1 score and in the red zone. It seemed like a foolish coaching move made out of desperation -- ie LIVING IN ONE'S FEARS of Gradkowski.

Ray Fittipaldo: Because he is your franchise QB. Unless there was a medical issue that was going to keep him out you have to put him back in the game. He is your leader. Assuming he passed the concussion protocol -- and I have to assume he did because he went back into the game after only a few plays -- that's a no-brainer. It didn't turn out well because he threw an INT on his first play back, but he is the QB.

Comment From Steve

What position is most critical to use a 1st round pick on in the 15 draft? I think you could almost say the best player available due to the volume of needs the Steelers have (except at WR).

Ray Fittipaldo: OLB and CB. Safety and TE maybe. But you're right. At No. 22, you'll be looking for the best player available and hope he fits your needs.

Comment From SteelByDesign

I think Brice McCain showed he might be a future starter. Will he be a priority free agent this off-season?

Ray Fittipaldo: I got a feeling , wherever he plays next year, he'll be making more than the $700,000 he made this season. He played well enough to earn a nice contract.

Ray Fittipaldo: Guys, they're opening the locker room again. I have to go, but leave your questions and I'll try to get to as many of them as I can when i am done.

Comment From LukeFromMaine

Hi Ray, it seemed like for every Ravens' third and long, the Steelers played very soft coverage. They were especially susceptible to passes over the middle. It felt like they converted every time. Did think the same?

Ray Fittipaldo: Yep, said the same thing after the game. I wanted to go through the gamebook and count how many third-and-longs were converted. I want to say there were at least three third-and10s that were converted. You just can't win playoff games when you can't get off the field.

Comment From KeesMeGoodnightEddie

Do you think the Steelers will be active (by their standards) in free agency, or do you think trying to work extensions and the money tied up by Allen, Mitchell and Gilbert will keep them from doing anything other than signing Cam Thomas-style backups?

Ray Fittipaldo: The salary cap will go up a little bit, but they're looking to redo Ben's contract so that will potentially eat up some space. I wouldn't expect a big free agent signing, but we'll have to wait and see about who comes back. Obviously, if Troy retires, his contract is off the books. It's too early to tell.

Comment From Rene

Hi ray, I know its early, but the Steelers seem to be heading into next season in better shape than they were coming out of last season heading into this one don't they? Right now I'll take any possitives possible to not be so sad lol.

Ray Fittipaldo: I have mixed feelings about the state of this team. Obviously, they were 11-5 and won the division. That's a good thing. I think it was a good coaching job by Tomlin to finish 8-2 after a 3-3 start. But I also know the schedule was in their favor. They won't have the same luxury next season. They also might not have James Harrison, Brett Keisel, Troy Polamalu or Ike Taylor. Maybe it's time for Polamalu and Taylor to hang them up, but do the Steelers have anyone better than Harrison? I'm not convinced this is the start of something or merely an aberration. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Comment From KeesMeGoodnightEddie

Do you see any surprise cuts? I'm guessing they stick with Mitchell and Allen, but are they on a shorter rope?

Ray Fittipaldo: Those are the two big ones. I believe if they cut Allen he counts $5.4 million in dead money next year. I think if they cut Mitchell it's around $3 million in dead money. Those figures make it prohibitive. I would expect both to be back for those reasons. They'll see if they can coach them up and make them better.

Comment From C Andrew

Would the steelers consider trying archer as a slot receiver? Also, with their depth at inside LB could on of those players be considered for the outside?

Ray Fittipaldo: They should consider something because what they tried this year did not work.

The only linebacker the coaches have been on the record saying has positive flexibility is Jordan Zumwalt, who spent the year on IR. Timmons does too, but they won't move him now.



http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/s...s/201501050153
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Old 01-06-2015, 04:00 AM   #2
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Default Re: Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 01.05.15

Comment From T.O.

How hard is it for the Steelers to re-tool the defense with the amount of money Big Ben will be due? Would Tampa be crazy to offer us the number one pick for Ben? Would be crazy to take it? 11 million dollars could fill the CB and safety holes we need, and Mariotta, Bell, Brown and Bryant seems like a good mix.

Ray Fittipaldo: Please God, tell me this guy is kidding.

Comment From Sean

Long time reader, thanks for the good work Ray. I am perplexed that Haley and co. didn't get the memo that the Ravens rush the passer well (2nd in NFL). I know not having Bell in there hurt, but I really think they blew it when it came to game planning against the pass rush. What say you?

Ray Fittipaldo: We can all second-guess after the fact. Maybe they do wish they put together a different game plan. Or maybe they wish they could have had a play or two back. Maybe if Ben is not a split second late on throwing that one to Brown, where he was pushed out of the end zone, that games turns another way. We'll never know. But they didn't play nearly well enough to win.

Comment From Jim

How the steelers fell about Tuit? He seemed like he played pretty well at the end.

Ray Fittipaldo: I thought he came on at the end of the season and played pretty well. He runs to the ball well and showed a nose for the ball. All good sings. Heyward and Tuitt as the starting DEs for the next 5-7 years seems like a good thing to me, assuming they can come to a long-term deal with Heyward.

Comment From Bill

Franchise QB got picked in EZ on an absolutely atrocious decision. I'm not talking hindsight -- Ben didn't look steady. Bruce did

Ray Fittipaldo: Ben was evaluated by the medical staff. He did not exhibit any concussion symptoms so he was allowed to go back in the game. End of story. He is your franchise QB. Once he is cleared there is no decision.

Comment From James

What about trading Williams or Spence. I'm, sure some team would like a ILB starter.

Ray Fittipaldo: As we saw this season, it's nice to have depth. And quite honestly, I don't know how much return you would get on either. Spence is entering the final year of a rookie deal and Williams has two years left. I like them both. They played well when Shazier went down.

Comment From Justin

Any CB's jump out at you that the Steelers could be targeting with their 1st selection in the draft?

Ray Fittipaldo: It's too early for me to get into deep draft talk. I'll spend some time over the next weeks and months getting familiar with a lot of players. But I'm not prepared to discuss any in great detail now. Plenty of time for that in future chats in February and March.

Comment From Rob

Will Ben get a contract extension this offseason?

Ray Fittipaldo: That is their plan.

Comment From JW

I understand that Worilds will test the market, but i can't see any team giving him a significant contract. Therefore, I see the Steelers being able to get him at a reasonable price...say 6 mil/year. Thoughts?

Ray Fittipaldo: I would sign him for $6 million and the Steelers might too. I'm not exactly sure where their offer was last year, but I believe it was in that ball park. I just don't think he signs for that amount. He probably gets more in free agency.

Comment From LukeFromMaine

Hello Ray, thanks for the chat. I get the impression Steelers fans villainize Mike Mitchell a bit unfairly. He makes tackles, stays healthy, and I remember one game in particular when he made two great hits, knocking the caught balls from receivers' hands. What do you think? Also, for what it's worth, Ryan Clark was terrible this year.

Ray Fittipaldo: He didn't make the tackle on Owen Daniels on third-and-14. I don't like to bash players, but it didn't seem like he improved much all year. That's not a good thing.

Comment From Bill

Why bring Worlids back...he isn't very good. If Jarvis and Worlids start we will have 0 pass rush.

Ray Fittipaldo: But they don't have anyone behind him to take his place.

Comment From Guest

any chance AB holds out this offseason?

Ray Fittipaldo: Why? He has three years remaining on a $42 million contract he signed a few years ago.

Comment From Sam

Biggest problem Saturday night. Inability to score or inability to stop Flacco?

Ray Fittipaldo: Both. Convert some of those early opportunities and maybe the Ravens have to change their approach. But with the Steelers kicking field goals the Ravens could stick with their game plan.

Comment From Bill

I'm not one to pin success/failure on officiating but there was a huge disparity. Obviously the Steelers deserved some of the undisciplined after whistle flags, but the Ravens didn't get whistled on facemask to Brown, helmet shot on Miller, or PI on Bryant where he got tangled with the defender hanging on his shoulders. MT won't complain publically, but did Steelers players or coaches have any issues with the officiating?

Ray Fittipaldo: Big discrepancy in penalty yardage in that game. Bottom line is the Worilds' personal foul was dumb on his part. The Thomas hit out of bounds was correct. The Steelers were undisciplined while the Ravens didn't make many dumb plays. While there were some questionable calls, I don't think poor officiating cost the Steelers the game. There is poor officiating to overcome every week in the NFL. Good teams are able to overcome their mistakes.

Comment From CoachFi

What was the major problem on not being able to get off the field on D,had them 3rd and long several times

Ray Fittipaldo: The lack of a pass rush was a major reason. I would argue the most important too. Flacco had way too much time to throw.

Comment From BIFF

Late to the chat...Was Moats playing much lately?..Are they considering bringing him back?

Ray Fittipaldo: No, Moats did not play a lot down the stretch, mainly because Harrison was playing well. I talked to Mats today. He said he'd like to come back. There is a need at OLB so it makes sense for the Steelers.

Comment From John

Was it a fact of a bad pass rush, or a fact that joe flack was able to quickly hit his recievers due to poor db's?

Ray Fittipaldo: Could have been a combination of both, but he had way too much time to survey the field in my opinion.

Ray Fittipaldo: Ok, thanks for the questions this week. Ed is doing another chat tomorrow so if I didn't get to your question submit it again tomorrow. We'll keep the chats going throughout the offseason with the occasional week off here and there. Right now, we'll do another one next week at the same time.

http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/s...s/201501050153
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Old 01-06-2015, 12:51 PM   #3
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Default Re: Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 01.05.15

Quote:
The offensive line had a horrible game on Saturday. What happened?

Ray Fittipaldo: The Ravens have a good front. Haloti Ngata was back after a suspension and provided a good push. Suggs and Dumervil did well on the outside. The line picked a bad time to have an off night, but it happens. Some of it certainly could be that Bell missed the game. Tate blocked the wrong guy on the INT. That doesn't happen if Bell plays.
"shit happens"???

thats it???



i bet the leader of the "mike adams is a bust" fanclub would have alot more to say if adams were responsible for 5 sacks.

several weeks ago, adams gave up the teams single sack in a dominant win and was crucified for 3 days on social bloggs and chats for it.

pouncey and gilbert play like dogshit and are given a(nother) free pass?

what a joke.
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Old 01-06-2015, 01:09 PM   #4
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Default Re: Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 01.05.15

Gilbert was certainly awful for sure. Poor Mike Adams gets to be the whipping boy. I bet there were fans who still blamed him for the loss.
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Old 01-06-2015, 01:11 PM   #5
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Default Re: Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 01.05.15

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Originally Posted by tony hipchest View Post
"shit happens"???

thats it???



i bet the leader of the "mike adams is a bust" fanclub would have alot more to say if adams were responsible for 5 sacks.

several weeks ago, adams gave up the teams single sack in a dominant win and was crucified for 3 days on social bloggs and chats for it.

pouncey and gilbert play like dogshit and are given a(nother) free pass?

what a joke.
Yeah, I am surprised Ray isnt waving the PFF grades around to point out how bad they played. Adams played at the end, so he must have graded -9.8.
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Old 01-06-2015, 01:25 PM   #6
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Default Re: Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 01.05.15

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Originally Posted by El-Gonzo Jackson View Post
Yeah, I am surprised Ray isnt waving the PFF grades around to point out how bad they played. Adams played at the end, so he must have graded -9.8.
i remember one play where adams got beat bad but the guy was lined up a foot offsides (his head was a full football length beyond the ball).

pretty hard to block that. i was screaming at the TV for a flag. normally guys are flagged for simply lining up in the nuetral zone.

then again, the refs said they didnt see a helmetless dez bryant leave the sideline as they argued with him on the field of play, while his team was on defense.
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