Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

One month. So close. So far away. Counting down those days to camp, Steelers’ Nation. Hold hands, we can do this.

I’m not one to judge music but if you’re interested, the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album came out. It’s pretty good. So ask away while you listen.

To your questions!

Richard: Why is there no love for Chris Hubbard? Yet I believe he is one of the fastest lineman, Much more so than Finney.

Alex: You know, that’s something I can agree with, to an extent. Not about “fastest,” I’m not even really sure what you mean by that (athletic, maybe?) but I get the sentiment. Hubbard has made this team the last two years. He’s a versatile and probably smart guy the team likes. He won’t be around forever but he’s too quickly dismissed for a guy like Finney, who yes, I am high on. Give Mother Hubbard some credit for sticking around. I’ll try not to make the same mistake again this year.

Bill Sechrengost: Hi Alex, Having a pretty lousy day here at work. Give me someone on the team that you really expect to be above expectations that will bring a smile to my face.

Alex: Ah, sorry to hear that Bill. That’s what Depot is for. Making you forget or put off work since 2008. I’m still riding the Robert Golden train. Super underrated player. Sean Davis is rocked and has the draft pick but Golden is as steady as they come. Trusted, a hitter, and does just fine in coverage. People try to nitpick things but it’s usually just grasping at straws. Make someone prove the plays he struggled and they’ll have a tough time coming up with a lot of specific examples.

srdan: Who will have more catches/ more yards/ more TDs/ more snaps this year? Coates or DHB.

Alex: I don’t want to discard DHB because he’s usually overlooked and I’ve said you can’t assume Coates will be handed anything when you have a fast-as-hell, hard-working, trusted vet like Hey-Bey around. But as the season goes on, I think Coates cuts into DHB’s playtime and by years end, will have the better line across the board.

Brian Tollini: Do you see the special teams, as far as kickoff and punt return coverage, taking a step back this year?

Alex: Yeah, I could see it. I’ve talked about the losses on STs a lot here before. No Garvin, Spence, Will Johnson, Blake. Not only were they quality players but they were veteran guys who knew their role, were multi-phase guys, and understood the nuances of the position.

You know guys like Tyler Matakevich and Travis Feeney will bring energy and fire but they won’t replicate that experience. Not immediately, at least. That’s why bringing in Steven Johnson was critical and why I think he’s basically a lock to make this team. You don’t want your entire coverage unit to be rookies. One dude abandons his lane and the whole dam breaks. All it takes.

Robert Golden, if he starts, may no longer be the upback. That’s the QB of the punt team. Big role. The left wing, Will Allen, is gone. So there’s additional holes that may need to be filled.

The plus side is that even when the Steelers’ coverage unit got killed with injuries, especially at the end of the year, throwing guys like Cockrell out (who hadn’t played before), they held pretty firm. As long as we can avoid Matt Spaeth running down punts, this unit should still be decent but yes, maybe a step back. They were really good last year. Taken for granted, as special teams usually are.

CP72: Alex,
Since this the time for year for rankings. Do you personally think Big Ben is a top 5 quarterback in the league?

Alex: Yes, and I don’t really know how you can even argue otherwise at this point. At least when Peyton and Brees were in their prime, I could understand it. Now? Give the guy his due. I don’t really care that much, and I’m sure Ben even less, but yes, he’s top 5.

Spencer Krick: 

If Golson can’t stay healthy, do the Steelers grab another CB in the first three rounds next year?

Bonus: Burgers or Tacos?

Alex: Yeah, I can see it. Drafting cornerbacks are like putting gas in your car. You’re always filling up. Gay will be another year older, too. We’re so far out but sure, I can see it.

Also: burgers all day. I can’t keep the fillings of a taco in its shell for the life of me. I just end up chomping on bread while trying to scoop up the meat and lettuce with my hand.

Counterpoint: I love gyros. Little greek place up the street. That’s all they sell. I wish I could live there.

Zach6432: Does Shazier stay healthy this year?

Alex: That’s above my pay grade, Zach. Let’s hope.

Ike Evans: Alex, will you come visit when i launch my blog in august?

Alex: Of course. I’ll bring a covered dish. Does a casserole sound good?

Matt Manzo: I still think one of our back up DEs isn’t on the team yet! Any other positions where you think a role player might come from the outside?

Alex: Nah, the roster is pretty much set. At least, until after camp when you can assess the group you have. Hopefully it’s a little more competitive than last year. All the turnover that happened, they basically brought in a whole new practice squad, something that doesn’t happen often.

If I had to name a position, maybe a safety. Depth there is not great. Who knows, perhaps Tomlin calls up Will Allen right before camp.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for stopping by everyone.

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