SEAN VOYLES OF TURNER STATION, KY: As far as I know, Mason Rudolph only started 10 regular season games and after the game against the Lions it looked like he was definitely not the heir to Ben Roethlisberger. But with only 10 games under his belt, is that too small a sample size in your opinion?
ANSWER: Fans love to turn every appearance in a regular season game of Mason Rudolph into a referendum on whether he is the “obvious heir to Ben Roethlisberger” and I can guarantee you the Steelers don’t see it that way. You can certainly continue to do this, looking for clues in his performance, trying to judge every aspect of every throw he makes, but that is not how he will be judged. And since he’s not rated that way, you’re wasting your energy. You have every right to think about it now, to be concerned and anxious, and if you enjoy it that’s great, but if you really try to use what is happening now as a projection on it, like the decision of a future quarterback its going to be done, it’s a waste of time.
FRANCIS SANTILO FROM COW COUNTY, FL: The latest craze seems to be the twilight of Ben Roethlisberger’s career. What has to happen for the Steelers Front Office to call up a quarterback? In the past few years some have come out and look pretty good. Imagine the knowledge they could get under Ben’s mentorship.
ANSWER: Assuming the 2021 season is Ben Roethlisberger’s last, what I can tell you is that the Steelers will be issuing a premium selection on a quarterback if they have the opportunity to use that selection on a prospect who really like them. It is really that easy. And one last time: It is not Roethlisberger’s job to train / teach / look after his successor. Its job is to win games. The coaches are there to take on the mentoring, because if you are drafted you should understand very quickly that you have to be your own man and play the game according to your strengths. If he tries to be someone else’s next version he is sure to fail. Here’s a little free tip for you too: if you don’t want derogatory comments in response to your question, then don’t include the same type of passive-aggressive derogatory stuff in your submission. I cut that out this time.
JASON PRASTER FROM SAN ANTONIO, TX: Alex Highsmith had a great camp and preseason and seemed like a great addition to TJ Watt this year, but his total sacks are modest at this point in the season. His statistics sheet shows no quarterback pressure. What do you think of Highsmith’s game so far?
ANSWER: Let’s get to the statistics first: Alex Highsmith has three sacks in the first 10 games, which puts him in third place on the team behind TJ Watt and Cam Heyward. He also has 10 pressure points, which is second on the team with Heyward and behind Watt. These raw numbers may not be what you expected, they are not what I expected, and very likely they are not what Highsmith expected, but these numbers also show that Highsmith in these categories in terms of the other guys doing a representative job The team. I think the Steelers need more from Highsmith in the next seven games if they have any hope of qualifying for the playoffs, but that same feeling of needing more can be felt on a number of other guys both on offense and in transferred to the defensive.
GUY COURTNEY OF FREDERICKSBURG, VA: Has Pittsburgh ever laid off an offensive or defensive coordinator / coach during the regular season?
ANSWER: In modern times the answer to this is no. That’s because Dan Rooney didn’t believe in firing coaches in the middle of the season because he said if you fire a coach in the middle of the season, you have to pick someone to fill the job on an interim basis, and if the interim has hire a good couple of weeks on the job, there would be pressure to hire him full-time for this position. And that could prevent you from doing a more thorough search and figuring out who would actually be the best man for the job.
DAVID BYSTRY VON MENTOR, OH: This question is about the parameters required to become an NFL official. In a recent question and answer, you wrote that candidates would need 10 years of experience at the high school level and another 10 years at the college level. The NFL recently added some female officials to the mix. I’ve seen a few in games and they don’t look like they’d served 20 years in office prior to their NFL tenure. Are the parameters different for them?
ANSWER: I should have been clearer in my answer. This total of 20 years of experience is not a mandatory requirement, but rather a guideline value that has been valid for a long time. I apologize for the confusion.
MICHAEL FILAK FROM PLANO, TX: I notice the Steelers are doing several practice moves. Do the Steelers help them with the living expenses? They are in Pittsburgh for a week. Then they could be on the Jaguars’ training team a little later. Then maybe another team’s training team. Where do you live? Or do they have to jump into a hotel from a practice team salary?
ANSWER: You are making the exercise team’s salary sound like it is $ 20 an hour. Players with minimal tenure in the NFL earn at least $ 9,200 a week when on the practice team, and players with just a small tenure make $ 14,000 a week. So if a player is on the Steelers training team for one week, then the Jaguars training team the next week, and then another training team the following week, that means they paid $ 27,600 for at least those three weeks. It sounds like they have to live in a hostel on the other side of the train tracks. In Pittsburgh, the Steelers have deals with some hotels near the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, and there is also an apartment complex near Heinz Field with furnished apartments. Food is provided in the practice facility’s cafeteria (three meals a day), and I can guarantee that there will be no boxed ramen noodles or mac-and-cheese. I’m not even going to tell you how many years after college I worked before I earned what a practice group player can make in three weeks. “Spring for a hotel on a training team salary.” Where do I register for it?