Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

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The Internet. It’s a weird place. You know it. I know it. I write for it, you/we read it every day.

This didn’t take place on my computer but playing video games, because I am nothing if not the stereotypical nerd, NHL 17 on my PS4. I wound up beating the guy in a head-to-head matchup and, not that this surprises me, the dude was uh, let’s say mad. And he let me know about it.

The dude had a great team, won something like his last ten games, but couldn’t handle one measly loss. Things aren’t like they used to be.

*old man shakes first at cloud*

Also, my team name was Steelers Depot. In hindsight, maybe a bad #branding idea. I don’t think that guy is visiting the website anytime soon.

The Tony: Would you rather have Ben play hurt this week or have him rest one more week and play against Dallas?

Alex: It depends on how hurt Ben is. We know he won’t be at 100% but how much is he affected? Is he comfortable, confident out there? If he isn’t, and they play him, it’s a mistake. If he is, then you play him. Injuries aren’t black and white, obviously.

Sam Clonch: Did Karlos Williams receive a regular PS contract, or did they maybe give him a little extra (like with BJ Finney last year) to keep him from departing for RB hungry teams like KC or GB?

Alex: I don’t know details of what he got but I do imagine it’s more than the 6K minimum. The fact other teams weren’t interested in him coming off suspension doesn’t make me think he’s drawing a lot of interest now. Probably just now getting into football shape.

But yeah, he still probably got a little extra to help ensure he stays here. And then compete for a roster spot this summer.

Swiss-Steel: Do you think the Steerers were even interested in [Maxx Williams]? And how would you rate his impact and potential?

Alex: Weren’t there rumors the team was looking to trade up to take him? I can’t remember but I’m pretty sure there were. So yeah, I think there was interest. I liked him a lot coming out of Minnesota. He’s struggled, and now gotten hurt, so far, but remember, he was a really young guy coming out. Similar to Artie Burns. So I wasn’t surprised to see him have a rough beginning to his career. Expected.

PaeperCup: Of the players dealt before the trade deadline, who of the lot would you have wanted the Steelers to consider a trade for now knowing who was on the trading block?

Alex: I really didn’t throw out a name this year like I did with Douzable a year ago because I couldn’t find one I liked or a trade that would make sense for Pittsburgh. So I was less invested in searching.

I know Willie Young’s name was thrown out there as an OLB candidate. That’s probably the best one I could offer but frankly, I just skimmed over it. Never really watched him.


Sorry for the verbal abuse you took over a game. Times have changed for sure.

If you had full authority of every aspect of the Steelers (coaching, personnel, O and D game plans, play calling, etc.), tell me three things you would do differently immediately.

Alex: Ha, I promise I didn’t lose sleep over the “abuse.” I was just like, dude, it’s a game, you’re a good player, learn to handle one loss.

Full authority? That’s some Chip Kelly-level disaster waiting to happen.

1. Like I said, I would get Justin Gilbert more involved in the defense. Make him the RCB in nickel. Burns goes to dime, like Davis, to lighten the workload and let him grow a little bit each week.

2. More RPOs. Maybe I am wrong on it, but I feel like the Steelers have cut down on their run/pass option plays that had been a big part of the offense. There’s still some, to be fair, but I don’t think at the same frequency. They’re designed to put the defense in a lose-lose. Even a high powered offense like the Steelers can always use plays like that.

3. Slightly better route variety. I know I’m nitpicking a bit here but there are times where I feel like some of Haley’s calls are a bit too isolationist. Routes independent of each other. Some of the all verts or deep comeback/curl plays that struggle because they’re based on winning the one-on-one matchup, especially in 3rd and long. I want to see the routes be intertwined a bit more.

I don’t think I’ve really ever written or talked about it because it’s generally been one of the smaller issues but something I do notice from time to time.

srdan: How do you value Ross Cockrell to this team? I saw a recent aritcle on this site talking about hte position room that said “bring him in next year to compete for a roster spot”. I value him a lot more than that, what am I missing?

Alex: Yes, barring anything unforeseen, he’ll definitely be on this team next year and likely in a starting role. He is the #1 cover corner on this team. There’s zero debate about it. And he’ll probably be the same for at least the first half of next year.

IndianaCarson: Addressing the fact that how often Big Ben gets hurt, do you think the Steelers should “seriously” consider taking a high draft choice (rounds 1-3) in next year’s draft?

Alex: I wouldn’t. There’s no guarantee a 3rd round rookie is going to be ready even if there is some track record for that with guys like Wilson and Dak. You have the #1 overall pick still riding the pine. It’s unpredictable. And for a team with a Super Bowl window still open, you invest in ways to get you there.

I don’t think they draft his replacement until his last year in the league or the year after that.

Ace: Nice work on the pod’s Alex. If the PS don’t go OLB first round next year what position will they address? If they do go OLB first, got any names to throw out there for us to look at?

Alex: Thanks Ace! If they don’t go OLB? Man, I don’t know how they couldn’t. And I don’t know where else they’d turn. Inside linebacker, maybe? That wouldn’t make a lot of sense with their dime defense and Vince Williams playing well.

If a top left tackle fell in their laps, that’d be a logical option. And probably my guess. I don’t know many names though. Haven’t watched much of anything draft wise. Initial reports from the people I follow indicate this is a bad year to draft OL though. So that’s not a good sign.

JohnB: In your opinion, Who are the best TEs at blocking in the NFL?

Alex: That’s tough to say because there are so many pure-blockers out there. Can be very niche.

As great as a receiver Rob Gronkowski it, he’s also a tremendous blocker. Truly all-around type of player, just like Jason Witten. Virgil Green has a strong reputation at it too. I’m sure I am missing a lot of names.

stan: Please tell me the Steelers tweaked their defense this week so I have hope for the rest of the season….

Alex: They have!

I actually I have no idea. But I want you to feel more at ease, stan. So it’s all fixed.

Great talking to you all this week. Same time, same place next Thursday!

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