Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

Welcome back everyone and thanks for sticking around Depot during the slower part of the season. But we do have OTAs finishing up today and concluding next week. But for now, it’s mainly just lists and short stories, which I know, aren’t always fun.

But definitely going to keep cranking out film room articles and I have a couple of those lined up. Also have some stat/research base ones. And maybe some longform stuff on players I’d love to write about. So rooting for that. If there’s any content you’d like to see, any film room ideas, please let me know.

To your questions!

Aj Gentile: Any updates on Golson yet?

Alex: Sort of. He said he didn’t reinjure his shoulder and the injury was soft tissue – yes, a very vague term – related. Hasn’t practiced the last two days. Not sure about today. Needs to get back out onto the field though as soon as possible. Too much missed time

Brian Tollini: Based on what you know and the (obviously) limited playing time Sammie Coates has received, if you had to compare him to any current or former WR, who would you compare him to?

Alex: Hmm, I’m not sure. I’m not great at comparisons. I’m going to cheat here and look up his web on Mock Draftable. Best one I could see is Javon Walker, though I hope Coates has a sturdier career. But that one makes sense. Who do you think winds the kicking battles Monday vs Berry Suisham vs Boswell and is the Steelers punter even on the roster?

Alex: I really don’t know who will win. I know Boswell has been basically announced as the winner by most fans. But kickers are fickle. Good one year, a mess the next. Look at Mason Crosby. So you really go in with a clean slate. Everything being equal, sure, it’ll probably be Boswell because of the money. But we’ll see.

I think the punter is on the roster. At least, initially. I’m sure they want stability at the position. Seven punters in five years is rough. Jordan Berry should take a step, become more consistent, and Will Monday was a nice add to push him.

CP72: Would you agree a deep ball threat is the easiest role to replace in a offense?

Alex: Eh, I mean, maybe, but no position is “easy” to replace. And looking at Bryant specifically, you don’t replace a guy like Bryant. There aren’t too many 6’4/210 guys who blaze a 4.4. His skillset was incredible. An alien, as I think Todd Haley called it.

Sure, his job may have been just “run fast, make people miss,” but that is a lot easier to say in practice. His TD catch against Arizona was incredible. That isn’t replaceable.

Jesse Hernandez: I would like to know who “you” would choose out of both Von miller and J.J Watt if they were unrestricted free agents and you had the available cap to sign only one of them. And yes that is with our Current roster? Why?

Alex: Obviously two great options. In a vacuum, give me Watt. But with the Steelers’ roster, it’s Miller all day. The Steelers have their defensive ends. Much less to work with at OLB. Miller and Dupree with Heyward and Tuitt? Now I need to go fire up Madden and make this a reality. There goes the rest of my workday. Sorry, Dave.

Dorian James: Alex, do you think it’s something to the Eli Rogers buzz since he had it last year as well?

Alex: Sure. Lots of people have talked this kid up. Not many have seen him. But I was there for every practice and was impressed. I mean, heck, the guy has never played a snap in a game, any game, and has barely even put on his shoulder pads. But he’ll do well. Quick guy with return capabilities to match a strong work ethic and great leadership? Yeah, should be fun.

HeavyMedicine: Alex who do you think will win the LT job? Also, same question for DT role? I myself would not be surprised if Ryan & Big Dan win the jobs ( unpopular opinion) You and Dave have both been pretty clear that big Dan is not someone you want running laterally on 3rd down. However, if his production became much more effective on 1st & 2nd down would you still have the same viewpoint?

Alex: At left tackle, it’s Villanueva and I honestly even don’t think about it that much. Harris is a fine swing option but Villanueva’s progression was impressive. Higher upside. Like to keep the continuity between him and Foster.

Yeah, I think the team is expecting McCullers to be the starting nose tackle. Comments that Heyward and the like have swayed me. But of course, Shamarko was supposed to be the starting SS last year. McCullers has to earn his keep.

To your last point about if my opinion would change, sure. If a dude plays well, my opinion shifts. Would be foolish not to.

I don’t see McCullers playing much on 3rd down anyway. Team will usually be in their sub-package.

Ike Evans: Hey alex…..whos the bust?
The chances that we hit on all of these guys in 2016 is slim to none. Even in the first 4 rounds…more then likely 2 or more of these guys could be complete wash outs….who do you think it is?

Alex: Hey Ike! New profile picture?

You bring up a good point but one I know we’d all love to repress. Artie Burns could be that guy. Less is known about him, 23 starts, junior, who even the team admitted isn’t a perfect scheme fit. Lot of work to be done. I think he can do it but those are some pretty clear obstacles to overcome.

JohnB: Who has more snaps this year, Golson or Burns?

Alex: Golson. And if he doesn’t, oh man, we might have a problem.

Sdale: Can you explain the responsibilities of the backers/linemen in the 2/4/5?

Alex: Whew, that’s a heavy question to end. It just depends on what the call is. There isn’t a universal assignment. Linemen either one gap (get upfield and penetrate a gap) or two gap (take on blockers, hold POA, wait for RB to come through the lane, shed and tackle).

As pass rushers, they’re usually assigned to a gap. Slant into the weakside A gap. Scoop and contain rush the C gap. It varies.

Linebackers have to adhere to their run fills and maintain gap integrity as a pass rusher. A good pass rush is all about gap integrity. Overlooked aspect.

That is a very basic overview at it. Hope it helps.

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