Ed Bouchette: Good afternoon, let's begin
t22post: Ed, Do you believe the Steelers have a leadership problem in the locker room? No one seemed to keep the young guys focused this year, where was the Singular Focus?
Ed Bouchette: I did not think so to start the season, but you could see it as the season wore on that they did not have the leadership they had previously. The place it hurt most was at wide receiver because of the loss of Hines Ward.
Dude_From_Cali: Mike Wallace went thru 4 full seasons with minimal injury... he's to be commended by that, right?
Ed Bouchette: Yes, that is a positive I'm sure will also help him as a free agent.
t22post: Ed, When Kiesel came out and said they were not ready to play against the San Diego Chargers I was stunned. How could Mike Tomlin allow this to happen?
Ed Bouchette: Sometimes, the coach can push all the right buttons and get all the wrong results. They were coming off an upset of the Ravens in Baltimore with Charlie Batch, returning home to play the lowly Chargers with Ben Roethlisberger. There was probably a natural letdown. Still, it should not happen, the same way the Patriots should not have lost at home to Arizona.
Tom: Do Steelers have to get a big WR with #1 pick? Is WR the only position that a number 1 pick could step in and start at from day 1.
Ed Bouchette: If MIke Wallace leaves, that position will be thin and with no true No. 1. Running back could be just as thin.
Sam: Good Afternoon Ed, do you agree that 3 year contracts for later draft picks is too short a time for teams to really develop and know what kind of players they have?
Ed Bouchette: The Steelers traditionally have signed players after the second round to three-year contracts. Now everyone will do it and there will be no more restricted free agents who came into the league as draft choices. Thus, fewer Mike Wallace situations from last year.
Zack: Any news on possible candidates for the new Oline coach?
Ed Bouchette: Nothing. The coaches are all off this week.
t22post: Ed, do the Steelers keep either Casey Hampton or Larry Foote or do we let them walk?
Ed Bouchette: Both can still play, but they have Hampton's replacement. I don't know that they have Foote's, but they may just decide it's time to move on at both positions.
tprod: Ed, with Max Starks --1086 snaps and a number of teams desperate for a reliable left tackle i.e. Arizona, Chicago—and Ramon Foster—1026 snaps—moving on, who will compose the Steelers Offensive line and provide depth? Do they pair Beachum and Gilbert on the left side who both didn't grade out that well run-blocking. Do they bring back Legursky who was one of the lowest graded offensive linemen last by Pro Football Focus.
Ed Bouchette: I've written about this twice. Once here last week, and once in the Sunday Post-Gazette. Go find it.
geno: Do you think they'll look for a safety near the top of the draft?
Ed Bouchette: The Steelers do not target a position as much as they rank players and if they are close in their rankings when it's their turn to draft, they will take the player they believe fills a deeper need. If we toss out the players and just look at the position, I think halfback, wide receiver and linebacker are much bigger needs than safety.
John B.: Hey Ed! Its normally said that it takes a defender at least a year to figure out Lebeaus system before they take the field..in that case, would Sean Spences injury set him back a year or does alot of the film study and understanding keep him up to speed?
Ed Bouchette: Sean Spence can learn the defense in the classroom but he was not permitted to practice. Because of the seriousness of the injury, I would not count on him being able to start in 2013, regardless of whether he knows the defense or not.
JGreene: Wallace, Mendy, Lewis all most likely gone. Aging Silverback, Woodley, Foote. No young backup QB. Seems our draft strategy is more clear this year than in the past (WR, RB, OLB, ILB, QB), agree?
Ed Bouchette: You get the picture, except I don't see the need to draft a quarterback until late, if at all.
Zack: Do the Steelers plan to fire any position coaches?
Ed Bouchette: I think we would have heard by now if they had those plans. They like to give the coaches they fire time to find another job. Also, MT has spoken with all of his assistants and, as far as I know, informed none they will not be back. And I don't think Art Rooney will weigh in this year.
Eric: Hey Ed this time last year we are talking about Max not being on the roster what is the deal?This guy has been rock solid. Also, why did we cut Jarod Johnson?
Ed Bouchette: Starks made himself some money this year, staying healthy and playing well. He was not on the roster at the start of free agency last year because he was a free agent with fresh ACL surgery. They waited to make sure he healed up and signed him in July. They cut Johnson because they liked their two veteran backups better.
Dude_From_Cali: I rarely see Big Ben throw away a pass to avoid a sack, is it his stubborness / personality trait. Can it be fixed? He's taken sacks to be out of FG range many times.
Ed Bouchette: He always believes there's a play waiting to be made. At least that's my take on it. I thought he did better this year during the first nine games, or until he was injured.
Sam: Hello Ed, Do you think dropping Chris Rainey will affect the Steelers relationship with m. Pouncey?
Ed Bouchette: No. My bet is that Pouncey was equally as disappointed when he heard the news of the arrest. Now, whether they were too quick to announce his release is another matter. It will be interesting to see if charges in Florida are dropped and if one witnesses account can be substantiated that Rainey did not even strike the woman.
t22post: Ed, Ben never seems to study what the defenses are doing against him while he's on the sideline? Like (the elite QB's) ... doesn't he want to know what schemes teams are running against him during the game or just sand lot the whole game?
Ed Bouchette: Do you know what quarterbacks do on the sideline all the time? Do you know what they want them to do? And, isn't it amazing the success he has achieved at his position and with his team in light of the fact that he "never seems to study" defenses on the sideline.
Guest22: Would you say OLB or Saftey is our bigger need? are we done building our starting O-line?
Ed Bouchette: Yes, I believe the line is done. Now they'll have to turn to halfback and wide receiver.
Guest: Top 4 FAs you would try to keep?
Ed Bouchette: Mike Wallace, Keenan Lewis, Rashard Mendenhall are three. Max Starks, but I don' t think they will even try.
tprod: Ed, Gerry seems very disappointed with the play of Cameron Heyward, but he received consistently higher grades by PFF. What does the coaching staff feel about his play or was his lack of playing time the obvious answer?
Ed Bouchette: Cameron Heyward has not been given enough of a chance to show what he can do. He's a No. 1 pick who has played sparingly in his first two seasons. It's not as if Ziggy Hood is making everyone forget Aaron Smith. So, either the coaches are incompetent because they keep playing Hood over Heyward, or the coaches do not believe Heyward is better than Hood.
Ken: Watching the league's final 8, you get to see where the Steelers are falling short by comparison. Conclusion: the young money crew is a fraud. The Steelers are now in trouble at WR most of all.
Ed Bouchette: Yes, I've been saying they need to bolster that group.
JGreene: I saw a parallel situation in the Raisins-Broncos game with our AFC Championship vs. the Jets. 3rd & 6, 1-2 min left, the Broncos ran while we passed (Ben to Brown). They lost and we won. A bit conservative on Fox's part, right?
Ed Bouchette: Yes, John learned under Chuck Noll and I believe some of the Emperor's conservative nature rubbed off on Fox.
Tom: Does "leadership" even matter in professional sports? Is it something fans just want to believe is important and do players even care about it?
Ed Bouchette: Oh, it very much matters. They set tones, they put players in their places at times when a coach cannot. They inspire players to work harder. The Steelers had an abundance of them throughout the last decade. They still have some, but they are not what they were.
Wild Bill: Hello Ed - I was amazed at how badly the Broncos failed to defend the one thing that Joe Flacco can do really well - throw deep. I thought that Denver lost that game more than the Ravens won it - or am I selling Baltimore short?
Ed Bouchette: It was a stunning way to lose a game. Reminded me of how the Steelers lost to San Diego in the AFC title game at home in the 1994 season.
t22post: Ed, Do we let all the running backs go and get a feature back in the draft? And a full back!?
Ed Bouchette: You cannot let them all go. You bring back Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and Baron Batch and add one thoroughbred.
tprod: Ed, do the Steelers make a huge effort to sign Keenan Lewis if it means letting one of the veterans with a high cap value leave or do they start Cortez Allen?
Ed Bouchette: They'll try to sign Lewis, but I don't like their chances.
t22post: Ed, Do we bring back Plax?
Ed Bouchette: I would, I'd have done it last summer, but they obviously have different ideas than I do. I would bet against him returning.
Bill L: Which is worse? Niners get a 6th Lombardi or Belichick equals Noll and Bellichick/Brady equals Noll/Bradshaw?
Ed Bouchette: I'd like to see Atlanta win it.
JGreene: I asked before, but don't remember your thoughts: John Clayton at ESPN claims Frenchy told him he touched the ball before Tatum, but Frenchy said on the P-G that he told no one due to Mr. Rooney's advice. Any truth to Clayton's revelation?
Ed Bouchette: I thought I answered this when you asked before. If Clayton says Fuqua told him that, I believe John. However, even if the ball hit Fuqua, as long as Tatum touched it at any point, it was legal for Franco to catch it. One shot of the play I saw during the 40th anniversary was clear to me the ball was past Fuqua and headed toward Tatum.
Tom: Can the Steelers afford to ingore free agency once again? Between T. Holliday and Jacoby Jones the teams that make some important pick ups are the ones that are winning. Is it stubborness or do the Steelers really think they are better than the system?
Ed Bouchette: There's so much more to the system than buying players from other teams. The Steelers have been good at re-signing their own. And please, the grass isn't greener. The Steelers have reached three Super Bowls in the past eight years and won two of them. That would be three more than the Ravens and/or Jacoby Jones have been to during that time. So, who is playing the system better? Or are we merely counting the 2012 season?
Fred: Did anyone ever get Tomlin's take on Ryan Clark going into the Ravens locker room after the Steelers lost at home on Sunday night?
Ed Bouchette: Did anyone get Peyton Manning's take on going into the Ravens locker room after the Broncos lost at home on Saturday? Clark and Reed are related by marriage and Clark had to tell him something about one of their wives, I believe.
Dale Klima: Do you see any changes next year with the special teams?
Ed Bouchette: There better be many.
Ed Bouchette: Thanks, all for another great chat. See you next Tuesday.
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