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Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

Anybody else catch the first two weeks of the new ABC show, Designated Survivor? I’m a sucker for any sort of end-of-the-world, apocalyptic event show/movie/Bruce Willis fan fiction.

The first episode was pretty good – the second one, a little more meh. Still a cool concept but the dialogue is definitely a little roll-your-eyes-worthy.

But I’m convinced the script from this show comes from the South Park/Rob Schneider cutting room floor.  Kiefer Sutherland is finding out that being President….isn’t so easy. 

Also, stop focusing on the storyline with the kids. No. One. Cares.

Side note: 

Just a heads up.

There will be no live stream/chat tomorrow. I’ll be away. But we’ll do it on Saturday around 3 PM if you’re around for it. Just check Depot or my Youtube channel for the link.

To your questions!

@bocote91: do you think that a defensive front consisting of 97, 90/93, 79 and 91 could help the pass rush issues?

Alex: I get asked that a lot and I totally understand the idea behind it but I don’t see it happening. Like it or not, this is a 3-4/2-4-5 defense. They haven’t repped being a 4-3 team. Fronts, coverages, blitzes, techniques, it all changes up.

I know it was the preseason, and the final game at that, but the Steelers were forced to run a 4-3 against the Carolina Panthers. And it was a hot mess. Run fills were just terrible.

You have to think of the unintended consequences to any change. Football is like Newton’s Third Law. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Fix one thing, another issue pops up.

You have to figure out what problems you can live with – it’ll never be perfect – but I am in favor of smaller changes than something wide sweeping than that. And believe me, there is no one who thinks the Steelers need more change than I do.

CP72: Alex,
With Eli Rogers likely not playing will we see a lot more 12 personnel this week?

Alex: No more than what would normally be gameplanned for. All part of the Steelers next man up mentality. Wheaton has tons more reps in the slot anyway, so it’s not like they don’t have someone who can play in the slot.

Like most weeks, you’ll see 11 personnel 60-65% of the time.

Jefferson_St_Joe: Would you kickoff for the touchback or try to go for the pin inside the 20?

Alex: I’m fine with how the team has answered it. It’s situational so I can’t fault them for either decision. Special teams is a lot more complex and nuanced than what I think 99% of fans give it credit for. Most people think it’s just kick ball, tackle, return. But there are so many variables go into it that it’s tough to give a blanket statement to it.

What’s the weather like? Rain, wind? Who is the returner? How good of a return unit do they have as a whole. Do they gamble, are they conservative? And ten other things I probably don’t even realize.

Jacob: I saw Matakevich on the field near the goal line last game. I am not sure how many snaps he took, but how was his performance?

Alex: Well it was just one snap and he ran onto the field last second to fill in for the goal line package because of all the injuries. So you really can’t evaluate anything.

Steelers12: Alex, with the lack of pass rush this season how many pass rushers could you see the Steelers drafting next year

Alex: Could definitely see two. And hopefully, presumably early. Said it for weeks. First round pick next year will be an outside linebacker. Hardly even a debate right now.

Jacob: Ever since the Steelers started doing live tackling in training camp, the Steelers have struggled with missed tackles at the beginning of the season. Your thoughts?

Alex: Eh…I think that’s overthinking it. There are some pretty violent hits in camp. The offensive guys don’t want to go down as much as the defensive guys want to take him down. It’s not like Le’Veon Bell was involved in tackling drills – he wasn’t. Sans Antonio Brown, the defense was looking to pop someone.

And this defense played A LOT in the preseason too when they were free to go full bore.

I don’t know how other teams compare but generally, the early portion of the season is when you’ll see the most missed tackles. Hopefully it gets better.

I do agree that it is odd for as much as we hear about the Steelers being the most physical in camp, their tackling is never significantly better than other teams to start.

Beaver Falls Hosiery: Will Justin Gilbert score a TD with a KO return or pick 6 Sunday night?

Alex: Ha, wishful thinking. But I’m not sure he’ll even return kicks. Remember, Tomlin is pretty opposed to using defensive players there. Last guy to do it on a regular basis was 2007.

Kenneth Wilt: When it comes to the pass rush, I think they need to stay more in the base 3/4 and take LBs off the field in order to get to nickle and dime coverages

Alex: Hey Kenneth! I did throw out the idea that could happen and at least twice against the Eagles, the Steelers stayed in base against 11 personnel which is pretty unusual for them.

It would ask Sean Davis to come down over the slot, a spot he’s familiar with, though of course, if he’s out this week, that wouldn’t be possible. But definitely something I could see.

stan: Is there room for hope that Artie Burns will became at least a decent tackler? I’m having a hard time keeping the faith on this one.
Also, is Justin Gilbert ready to play or is he just the last option for this weekend?

Alex: Sure. It isn’t like Burns is turtling and lacks physicality. He’s shown he can be a big hitter. He’s lacking technique because he’s so inexperienced. So he can become a really good tackler someday, I think, though that is a ways off from happening.

With the injuries, the Steelers might not have a choice with Gilbert, though I’ve wondered out loud exactly what package he could be used in. Maybe he rotate in with Burns.


That’s all for this week. Thanks guys. Be sure to tune in Saturday at 3 if for our live stream/chat!

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