Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

Hey Yinz,

Hope you all are having a good week. Like usual, I’ll be around for an hour answering your Steelers’ questions. I also give you all a mission this week.

Big stand-up comedian fan. But running out of new people to listen to. So if you know of someone who you like listening to, let me know in the comments with your question. List of people I already know:

Louis CK, Patton Oswalt, Kyle Kinane. Dave Chappelle, George Carlin, Kyle Kinane, Aziz Ansari, Demetri Martin, Tom Segura, Kumail Nanjiani, Nate Bargatze, Mike Birbiglia, Mitch Hedberg, Lewis Black, Jim Gaffigan.

Anyway, let’s get to your questions.

@eltro: who was largely responsible for shutting down geno Atkins last Sunday?

Alex: I think anytime you have a player of Atkins’ caliber, it’s a combination of people. So sorry if I’m not answering your question directly but I don’t think it’s one singular person. I do think David DeCastro had one of his better games of the season and a lot had to do with keeping Atkins in check. Our Zach Grasinger graded DeCastro out very positively, too. Kudos to a guy like Cody Wallace. Center is going to give a lot of help and double-teams to minimize Atkins.

srdan: If you could take one player from the steelers recent past, and add him to this group (during his prime), who would it be? Rod Woodson is off the table.

Alex: I was going to ask to define what the recent past is but it doesn’t matter. My answer isn’t changing. It’s Troy Polamalu. If I could harness the 2008 version of him, I’d be the happiest man in the world. And I don’t think I have to give you, or anyone, a compelling reason. But Mike Mitchell and Troy might be the best duo in the league. Offense doesn’t need help, the defense does. And Troy is the best player of the recent past.

Garrett Hunt: Hey Alex. I’ve heard for years that Robert Golden is not a defensive player, but solely on the roster for special teams. Obviously his play of late combined with lack of depth at the safety position has silenced that talk. My question is, what was the original evaluation based off of?

Alex: When you’re a UDFA like him, that’s usually the ceiling of expectations. “Maybe this guy can do something on STs.” And that’s obviously where you have to cut you’re teeth first. For me, after the London game against the Vikings two years ago, where Golden struggled and the team brought back Will Allen, it seemed his chance had been squandered. Sometimes those opportunities are small for players. You get a chance, and if you fail, you’re done. Look at Shamarko Thomas. He got the preseason, it didn’t work, and now he may never have a chance again.

Big White: Ok Alex, Deangelo has been an absolute beast and some might argue the best dollar for dollar acquisition this season. With another year remaining on the deal, do you see the Steelers extending him at years end? Also, it would be a shame to see his talent coming off the bench next year, any chance the Steelers might offer him via trade to a team that could use a threat like him?

Alex: No, I don’t see the team doing an extension. As good as Williams has been, and he’s been fantastic, you don’t give an extension to a guy who will be 34 in 2017. He’s a running back, not a quarterback. Eventually, Father Time is going to get him, too. But I would keep him. Wouldn’t trade him. Too valuable of a guy to have as your #2. For what he offers as a runner, a pass protector, and teammate/leader, there’s nothing you could get that is more valuable than that. Plus, 33 year old RBs on the last year of their deal don’t offer much on the market.

Ask Questions Later: How do you believe the Steelers should address the offseason in regards to Kelvin Beachum Alex? Interested to hear your answer.

Alex: It’s a great question and a difficult one to answer. The Steelers have the benefit of knowing Beachum’s injury the best. They’re the ones who did the surgery, followed his rehab, know the timetable for his return and the status of his rehab the best. I believe Beachum would want a one-year, “prove it” deal. He bet on himself by not taking the Steelers’ offer before the season and I think he’ll keep that course of action. I don’t know if the Steelers would want to go that route or not. Personally, I would. I also think the improved play of Alejandro Villanueva has made it more complicated.

My best guess, and again, just a guess, is Beachum returns on a one-year deal in 2016.

Colin Williams: How has McCullers been doing? I haven’t heard his name at lot and haven’t seen him that much.

Alex: Well, he hasn’t played much, making an evaluation tough. Not much of a role as a backup NT in a day when you’re in base defense only 30% of the time. He has shown some heart and hustle and doing a better job of finding the runner and getting off blocks. But the name of the game is getting after the QB and McCullers offers very little there. Even less than I thought. Doesn’t even get the push one-on-one that I anticipated. Overall, I guess you can say I’m disappointed.

Phil Brenneman II: Who would be a bigger loss to the Steelers defense. William Gay or Cameron Heyward?

Alex: This is the type of question I want to answer “yes” to. I’d go Heyward if you made me choose. I can live with Blake/Cockrell/Boykin. I can’t live with Cam Thomas playing 60-70% of snaps at DE. All starts up front so you gotta go with Cam.

Pittsburgh Sports: How’d you like that 2-3-6 Dime defense we used against the Bengals, and do you have any charting numbers that show its effectiveness?

Alex: Used it four times. All on 3rd and 9+. Rushed three or four all four times, no blitzes. Allowed 2 third downs of gains of 18 and 24 yards. So not terribly effective.

Greg Payne: Is Deebo going to get the sack record this week? This year?

Alex: I’ll be optimistic (tis the season!) and say yes. Tasty matchups vs Denver and Baltimore the next two weeks. Two of the worst LTs in the league in Ryan Harris and Kelchie Osemele, who just got moved there.

Adam Bindas: Hey Alex I’m curious. Let’s say the steelers had the choice of adding an elite corner or OLB which would you want?

Alex: Give me the OLB. All day, every day. Steelers have won without elite CBs. Haven’t won very often without elite OLBs.

falconsaftey43: How would you rank our OLmen compared to the rest of the league?

Alex: My rankings are similar. Would still just call Villnueva average for now but with the potential to get a lot better. Would call Foster above average (better than people give him credit for), Wallace slightly below average, DeCastro above average, and Gilbert one of the best at his position.

That looks like everything for this week. Thanks again, as always for chatting with me. Talk to you next Thursday.

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