Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

Thanks for the great feedback in last week’s debut mailbag. You guys were awesome and had some really interesting discussions. Same deal as last week. I’ll hang around here for about an hour and answer as many questions as I can. Will be taking them from Twitter or the comments section below. So hit me with your best shot.

For fun, here’s a photo of Tom Brady…laying down? Caption it, Steelers’ nation. I know you have some good ones. I’ll pick my favorite. Winner gets a free Steelers Depot subscription for a month.

ilamarca: Anyways, if Tuitt and Bryant continue to dominate like they do, can the Steelers pay top dollar to four players at 2 positions? Tuitt gets the extension over Bryant, correct?

Alex: These questions are always tough to answer so far out and not something I think about a lot, especially in the middle of the season. But sure, they’re not mutually exclusive. You can sign both. The Steelers aren’t in the salary cap hell they once were, they’re getting more dead money off the books this year with Woodley, and the salary cap continues to rise.

As for who goes first, it’s awfully hard to say. Top-flight DEs are making bank these days just like WRs so there isn’t a huge financial incentive either way. If it came down to it, I would take Mr. Tuitt. Steelers do a great job finding WRs. 3-4 defensive ends, especially with the spread offenses in the NFL that can make one even just fitting the mold tough to find, are a lot rarer.

HardPunkKore: Alex, where is the amoeba package on defense? 1-5-5 big nickle package we saw a lot in the mid ’00 but haven’t seen it much lately outside of a few games last year.

Alex: When two of your sack leaders and best pass rushers are defensive lineman – Heyward and Tuitt – you don’t want to take those guys off the field. So there’s a great reason for it and I have no issue with it. Can still be creative with those guys. Heyward and Tuitt stand up, move around, etc. You’ll see Heyward line up over nose, Tuitt at right end, and stack the OLBs to the left. Just one example. You’re not any less limited because you have those two DL.

@damonwv1: mid way point of season. Rate the draft picks.

1. Dupree

And then there’s a huge drop off. Tough to argue any order.

2. James
3. Chickillo
4. Coates
5. Walton
6. Golson
7. Grant
8. Me
9. Holliman

JohnB: what do you think set [Boykin] apart from everyone else negatively? do you think it might be an off field issue? Do you think the addition of Cockrell hurt his chances of seeing the field as well?

Alex: I’ve explained it the best I can. They trust Gay in the slot the most, don’t want to move him. View Boykin as only a slot corner. Sure, Cockrell hurt his chances. If Cockrell wasn’t here, Boykin would have to play.

Umbra Aeternus: What do you think is more likely to happen? Wheaton getting more plays or starting to see a lot more of Coates? Do you even think we will see Coates this year?

Wheaton getting more plays. He’s already playing a good bit. Coates isn’t passing him up this season. No way. I like what Wheaton has done on tape. Hopefully he’ll finally have a big game and get his stats somewhat back in order.

falconsaftey43: What do you think is the reality with Wheaton?

It’s a great question and one I don’t have a great answer to. I don’t think anyone does. There’s an issue of circumstance, some loss of playing time, and just being surrounded by some incredible talent. He’s making plays when the opportunity calls and he’s doing the little things well. Better route runner, better after the catch, and he works his butt off as a blocker. I think he’s doing just fine in the slot.

Bob Loblaw: What do you think happens with Foster after this year? His play has been good, but I can think of a few players I’d lock down before him.

Alex: There are definitely a few players I’d sign before Foster (William Gay at the top of my list) but I’d like Foster back. A vet, a leader to this group, a guy with a story everyone can relate to. UDFA who had to climb every rung of the ladder. He’s never been spectacular but is doing just fine and I don’t see much evidence of a drop off. He’s a better athlete than people think, even if he isn’t a great one. Would like to have him back. Otherwise, you’re going to have to invest early in a guard, and I’m not crazy about that. Could you imagine Villanueva and a new LG in 2016? I could see some problems with that amount of inexperience. Villy and Foster have struggled enough as it is.

Gloria Burke: The fan base really seems to appreciate the in game reporting (the Big Ben “Black Butter gotta move” type of stuff). Is there potential to get more side-line or in game stuff like this?

Alex: We love that stuff, just like that you do, but we just point it out whenever we see it. With the NFL’s dedication to making their broadcasts more immersive, the more we’ll get to hear and notice that stuff.

Thanks for stopping by everyone! We’ll talk next week. Enjoy the weekend.

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