Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

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I got up on my soapbox earlier this week about why we shouldn’t use the phrase “camp bodies,” and if you don’t mind, I’m going to climb on up again for a different topic.

One of the biggest “point and laugh” stories this week was the whole “avocado toast,” story, where millionaire Tim Gurner said young people (me) are spending too much money on avocado toast and coffee to buy a house. On its face value, it does sound silly, because of, uh, math. Couple of coffees versus a house? Doesn’t add up.

Most people are probably thinking I’m going to rail against Gurner because I’m a young, dumb kid, and it’s easy to pile on. But I actually want to make a defense of Gurner’s comments because he’s right in some respects. Gurner was making a larger point that he expanded on in the same interview.

“We’re at a point now where the expectations of younger people are very, very high,” Gruner said. “They want to eat out every day, they want to travel to Europe every year. The people that own homes today worked very, very hard for it, saved every dollar, did everything they could to get up the property investment ladder.”

His overall point was young people spend too recklessly in general and don’t budget enough for long-term goals. Of course, not every millennial is in that boat but I think you can apply it to most people in general, not even just any age range. The problems start in school. Were you taught about money management and budgeting in school? I had one “economics” course in high school; it was dumb and I learned pretty much nothing.

So people make mistakes. Buy new cars when they can’t swing it. Rack up credit card debt. And it’s a tough cycle to break from there. It’s why you see some of the richest people on Earth wear the tackiest stuff. Bill Gates isn’t ever going to be a fashion designer. 

It isn’t the fault of any one group, as always, there’s a lot more nuance to the debate than what actually gets talked about. But Gurner’s larger point, to me, is generally correct. A lot of people struggle how to handle money. And no one helps them realize that until they’re already in a big hole.

Thanks for indulging me. To your questions!

barry: Well Alex the cat is out of the bag. What do you think of the Warren release?

Alex: I guess there isn’t much to react to anymore. Health was the issue and clearly, there was a long-term issue. That’s the reason why the team drafted Colin Holba. I get why Kevin Colbert wouldn’t be forthcoming with that information when asked about Warren’s health, though it was pretty clear from him “right now, yeah” comment something was up.

Here’s hoping Holba is able to enjoy even half the success Warren did.

falconsaftey43: Onto football…will we ever see this offense perform on a somewhat consistent basis? skill positions are so deep now, OL is loaded and deep. Same offense and personnel for awhile now, team needs to stop laying an egg on offense so often.

Alex: That’s the million dollar question. If Ben can fix his road issues, then, yes, maybe they can. The hard part is figuring out what exactly those issues are and how to solve them.

Spencer Krick: How safe is Coty Sensabaugh’s roster spot?

Alex: Historically, it should be safe. As I’ve said time and time again, only one FA brought in of the Colbert era has ever not made the team (Kevan Barlow). But this year is a bit more unusual with the depth at CB and WR. I think Sensabaugh ultimately makes it because of that history. Usually have a plan for these guys when they’re brought in.

Justin Hunter, on the other hand…I’m not so confident. He could be the second.

CP72: Alex,
I find it interesting how much people are intrigued by Xavier Grimble. I think he’s just a guy from what I have observed. Agree or disagree?

Alex: I guess I’m somewhere in the middle. I was happy to see him be more conditioned as camp and the year went on; I remember him being unable to make it through day one at Latrobe last year. He’s a good athlete and can make plays down the seam. But it isn’t elite and he’ll never be as good a blocker as David Johnson. Outside looking in, assuming Green stays healthy.

Kyle Chrise: A lot of people say Will Gay will be odd man out in CB battle. What will a younger corner have to show he can do, to replace Gay on the roster?

Alex: Like so many old guys who get replaced, a young guy has to show up on special teams. Make the team feel compelled to keep that player because of his coverage ability. Have the ST coach – Danny Smith – go to bat for him when it comes time to debate the final 2-3 spots on the roster. That’s what a Brian Allen or Senquez Golson will have to do.

In this case, it’s less about versatility because if Sensabaugh makes it, there’s your “swing corner.” He can play all over the secondary.

nikgreene: That said, and assuming the Steelers are relatively healthy, what position group do you see the team likely to bolster with a trade or pick up at final cut-downs?

Alex: You’re right, there is a long history. Usually in the secondary, which I’m not sure is a coincidence or not. Ross Cockrell, Antwon Blake, Demarcus Van Dyke, there’s quite the precedent. Two positions to circle: inside linebacker and safety. The former more likely than the latter. I think they like Tyler Matakevich but maybe they go for a higher-upside pick than Steven Johnson/L.J. Fort.

Of course, injuries will happen and will throw a monkey wrench into everything, too. We’ll see where that takes us.

Nick Webb: Curious to see if Tyson Alualu and LT Walton can man the backup NT position. If so, could the 6th DL roster spot come down to a battle between Dan McCullers/Johnny Maxey/Francis Kallon? Who do you think the last two spots will go to behind Heyward/Tuitt/Hargrave and Alualu?

Alex: No, I don’t think either could do it in base, though there may be times where they will play the 1T in nickel. Ditto with Maxey and Kallon. It seems McCullers’ job is safe, which is a bit upsetting, but it’s not exactly a high priority position either. Unless one of these guys we don’t know about, UDFA Christian Brown might be the one – and only – name to circle, McCullers’ spot is safe.

The team will keep 6 DL, like they do most years. Your six.

DE: Heyward, Tuitt, Alualu, Walton
NT: Hargrave, McCullers

barry foster: Hey Alex just heard the breaking news Ladarius green been released do you think Scott orndoff makes the 53 man roster

Alex: The door is open. But it’s possible the team brings in someone else. I hope they do. Need the competition.

Phil Brenneman II: Who has the better season this year. Timmons or Williams? And assuming no major changes, who has more tackles when the season is over between Williams and Shazier?

Alex: Who knows between Timmons and Williams. They’re probably close. Shazier has more tackles. Weakside linebacker, gets to chase more plays, and he’ll be able to penetrate more often.

T3xassteelers: Lol.. Perfect time for an ‘Ask Alex’ 🙂 … What TEs are even available at this juncture?

Alex: Ha, still trying to process it. Gary Barnidge is the name you’ll hear over and over. I guess I’ll need to dive into his tape. But I’m not crazy about the idea.

Bryant Eng: Do the Steelers typically carry four tight ends? Last year LG, JJ, XG and DJ were all on the roster. If they carry only JJ, DJ and XG, that would theoretically open up a roster spot for another WR, yes?

Alex: I’d have to look at the history – not too sure. But generally, no, I think they keep three. And remember, LG wasn’t on roster to start. Was on PUP. My idea of keeping 7 WRs looks a little better…and more likely.

Robbie: Who catches more passes next year between Bell and JuJu?

Alex: Still Bell. And this coming from someone high on Smith-Schuster.

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