Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

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Welcome back to our weekly chat. I don’t have much to add to this week. Just know my McLumina is under three inches of snow and ice in -87 degree weather. And I haven’t started it in about a week. Fingers crossed it starts up the next time there’s a Bagel Bites emergency.

To your questions!

Stas: Over/under on personal fouls for this one Alex?

Alex: Less than you think! Sounds like it’ll be a little quieter than it’s been in the past though hey, who knows what goes down when the game begins. Game is too important for the Steelers to do dumb stuff.

I don’t think there will be any post-whistle penalties this week. Or there could be 70. Really anyone’s guess.

The Tony: How would you grade the past five drafts for the Steelers

Alex: Oh wow, I hadn’t given it much thought.

2012: B-

They hit on their first round pick in a big way but then again, that’s the once you’re expected to get right. Beachum was a diamond in the rough pick.

But choosing Mike Adams was so dumb, especially after they took him off their board and he pleaded with them to change things. Sean Spence could’ve been promising so it’s hard to grade, but what they ended up getting was just another guy. Ta’amu was a disaster. Rainey too.

The other ones were 7th rounders but don’t push the needle too much.

2013: B-

Another one. Bell was a grand slam, a great evaluation of the talent, but Jarvis Jones will wind up being one of the biggest busts (even if it’s an unfair term to him, that’s the one that will be used) in the Kevin Colbert era.

Elsewhere, I thought a lot of the talent evaluation was pretty good. Markus Wheaton had/has a lot of talent, just couldn’t stay healthy. Landry Jones ended up about as good as you can expect from the draft pick. And Vince Williams was a really nice find.

2014: B+

One of the better ones in recent memory. Great selections with their first two picks, Shazier and Tuitt, and Tuitt is one of the best value picks of Day Two selections around. The Bryant evaluation was spot on and his character is worth the risk for a 4th round pick.

Not a lot else going on here sans McCullers bu when you knock it out of the park with your first two picks? You did well.

’15 and ’16 are still too incomplete for me to try and judge.


1. If Larry Fitzgerald finds himself out of Arizona this offseason for various reasons could you the Steelers and him having mutural intrest?

2. If you were GM of the Browns and the Panthers offered you Cam Newton for your next two 1st round picks would you accept that trade?

Alex: Hmm..probably not on Fitz. I get the fit but there’s a lot of money getting tied up in the Steelers’ keeping their own. Don’t think they’ll spent that coin for a receiver that may only get one more season out of.

Yes, I would. No brainer. Even knowing Cam has been rough this season. What are the odds a QB you draft/sign are going to be better than him? Is Jimmy Garoppolo going to be better? Nah. And Newton is a perfect fit for Hue Jackson’s offense. The thought of facing it scares me to death.

RickM: Pittsburgh and Baltimore both win as expected this weekend and then we beat the Ravens next week to win the Division. Assuming the No. 2 seed is not in play against the Browns, how much playing time do you give guys like Roethlisberger, Bell, Brown, Gilbert, Tuitt and Shazier if the Week 17 game is meaningless in the standings?

Alex: I dunno, Tomlin is a tough guy to figure out. Maybe a half of play? He’s always kept guys in longer than what most/many think he should. He definitely leans towards “avoiding rust” over “giving rest.” So they’ll play more than what many want to hear.

James Cowan: Who’s surprised you the most this year in how solid they’ve played; Burns or Davis?

Alex: Burns, definitely. He was so much more raw than Davis. Davis had 40 starts, was a senior, didn’t get rotated out, didn’t have other sports’ commitments. I thought this would be more of a redshirt year for Burns. Even Colbert immediately noted all the work they needed to do with him. I bet they’re even surprised at the progression Burns’ is showing.

CP72: Alex,
True statement even with Ben and AB this offense now centers around #26m

Alex: Nah, still Ben. A bad Ben-team can beat the Bills. But they can’t beat the Patriots or Chiefs. Team goes as #7 goes.

Adam Benko: If you had to carve out an easiest path to the Superbowl for the steelers given probable Playoff teams, which matchups do you like the most down the stretch?

Alex: If only I had such luxury. I really don’t know. There aren’t many I “like.” Sure, this is a team that creamed the Chiefs but they’re a different team then and now.

Maybe Oakland? Just because I think they can toast David Amerson. And the secondary is playing well enough to contain Cooper/Crabtree. Plus, the Raiders beat themselves so much. And that gives you good odds to win. But they’re all tough.

PaeperCup: The defense went from one of the worst in the league to one of the better, What is the biggest contributor to the improvements we’ve seen in the defense lately?


1. Tackling – so much better than where it was. People only think about it when there’s something wrong.
2. More aggression by Keith Butler – He can deny it all he wants but it’s a big switch from the start of the year.
3. Acceleration and maturation by young guys – Burns, Davis, Hargrave. All have stepped up and really rallied with/around the team when they needed it.
4. Rush lane integrity – Like I wrote about this morning. Don’t get sacks an turnovers without it. The pistons that make the engine purr.

Petherson Silveria: 

Still in time?

Have we the worst defense to defend RB Screen in the league?
I can´t stand be bullied for dumps to RBs anymore. Bernard, Sproles, White, Elliot, Jennings, McCoy.

Alex: Ha, yes sir, still in time. Good to hear from you, Petherson!

Ha yeah man, I understand the frustrations. I don’t know where they stack up in terms of being the worst. It’s not great.

They have tried to add some wrinkles to combat it. Dropping the nose more often, having him follow the back. Daniel McCullers covered Lesean McCoy once Sunday. Not saying it’s the perfect plan but they are tweaking the scheme to mitigate some of those issues.

A lot of it falls on poor tackling though. And since the team has gotten better there, the screen game has been mitigated. And when they fail on a play, yeah, you see those issues again. Like McCoy’s big gainer Sunday.

Michael James: Do you think Finney challenges Foster for a starting spot next season? Although Foster is a really good guard, Finney has been so impressive in those two games as a starter and he’s just destroying people out there.

Alex: Well I think it’s a good problem to have. But I think we take Foster for granted. He’s played exceptionally well this season, too, even if he doesn’t have the flash and the new-car smell Finney brings.

I think Foster keeps the spot for another year. Finney has more value as a backup than Foster does, anyway, if you need some sort of tie-breaker. Finney will get reps at backup center if needed.

SkoolHouseRoxx: What up, Alex! With the history between Bell vs the Bengals do you sell Bell having a revenge game of sorts? (Not taking someone out, but having a really really really good game.)

Alex: I don’t know what the outcome will be, but yeah, let’s say he’ll be probably motivated. I don’t think it’s a total coincidence Bell went out and had his best game ever right after McNabb said he was washed up. And you know Bell heard/saw it. And he’s someone that users the “haters” as his own personal motivation. Which hey, isn’t my thing, but whatever helps.

William Weaver: If you had to drop $$ on either Wheaton or Martavis catching balls from Big Ben next season who would you pick?

Alex: Bryant. At least he’s under contract. Goodell will take roughly three billion years to decide or not if Bryant will come back but eventually, he’ll allow it. And Bryant should have a starting job right away. Not losing out to Coates.

srdan: Do you think it’s fair to say that ben hasn’t been seeing safeties teh best this season? It seems that zone plays he tends to throw it almost ignoring the safety.

Alex: Eh, I don’t know, that’s probably painting with too broad of a brush. I don’t believe he’s suddenly stopped reading something so basic like safeties. It might be systematic of another problem, like trying to force feed AB because of the lack of weapons elsewhere, especially pre-Green’s return.

I’d have to take a real deep dive into things though. It’s rarely black and white, especially for an elite, proven QB like Roethlisberger.

Da Bus Driver: 

A yearly argument me and my brothers seem to have…

Would you rather make the playoffs but lose in the 1st or 2nd round… OR, go 3-13, and get a top 3 draft pick for the next year, but have to endure such a horrible year?

Alex: Nah, gimmie the playoffs. I at least want the season to be fun. I want to enjoy myself as much as I can. I know most years, they’re not going to make it to the Super Bowl. But the ride is fine.

Plus, can you imagine the Twitter hot taeks if the Steelers went 3-13? I’d have to throw my computer out the window.

That’s all for this week. Thanks guys!

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