Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

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The world is ending September 23rd. So just enough time for one final mailbag.

To your questions!

Jesse Hernandez: Hey Alex do you think Timmons winds up on the Steelers roster this year and if it was up to you and he was available would you sign him?

Alex: I really don’t know how it’s going to all play out. I can’t imagine he’s a Dolphin through the length of his suspension (up to four weeks). But my thoughts with him are less football-related than they are hoping his mental state and well-being are good.

If Timmons wanted to come back here, he’d have to be content on being the backup. Vince Williams is the starter. Can’t backtrack.

Michael Mosgrove: when do you think jordan will be resigned?

Alex: I believe teams need to wait three weeks before they’re allowed to re-sign players released with an injury settlement plus whatever time they were “out” per the terms of the settlement. Matthew Marczi explains the process pretty well here. 

So it still could be a couple more weeks.

BurghInPhilly: 9 sacks. A good amount of TFL. Not many yards given up. Yet only 1 turnover. How come? I know it’s only two games, but this goes back a few seasons – especially when it comes to plays by the secondary.

Alex: It’s a fair question and one Mike Tomlin brought up this week. Need more splash in the turnover department. Sometimes it’s just bad luck.

I will say this. Playing more man to man coverage reduces the chances of INTs. More deflections, tighter coverage, but zone gets eyes on the ball.

And the Steelers have flat out dropped some opportunities. William Gay dropped the easiest INT in the world against Cleveland. Couple things go their way and we’re not having that conversation. Bigger sample size will give us some clarity of how well this defense forces turnovers.

Grant Humphrey: Looking ahead to this offseason, Besides Le’veon Bell who is the next candidate for an extension?

Alex: Dave put together this list a few weeks ago. Tuitt is done and you mentioned Bell (who I think they still tag). No other names stick out. Hubbard is going to get a deal. Then you think about Ryan Shazier getting a long-term contract worked out early.

PghDSF: The Steelers are 1-12 playing in Chicago. The local media in the Burgh have been making it a big deal. What are your thoughts?

Alex: Meh, it’s a non-story to me. It’s not like the Steelers play in Chicago every season. It’s only happened once in the last 20 years, a 2009 loss.

The other losses?, 1992, 1986, 1971, 1969.

I don’t care much about games where half my roster wasn’t even born. Sid Luckman beating up the hapless Steelers means nothing.

Spencer Krick: How good do you think this defense can be?

Alex: I guess that depends on what metric you’re using. Points per game? Sacks? Just an overall feel? In sacks, they can lead the league. Beyond that, this defense – this year – can be a top 5 defense if everything goes right. I’m not really planning on that happening but you’re asking about ceilings.

And I mean, the schedule, for the first half of the year, sure helps. These are the QBs the Steelers play the first five weeks.


Numbers tend to look good after that bunch.

T3xassteelers: Who has been the least impressive starter so far? (1 Offense and 1 defense)

Alex: I know he spent the last week throwing up his lunch but obviously, it’s been a rough start for Villanueva.

Does Eli Rogers count? He’s had his moments but I still feel like him and Ben can never quite get on the same page. Like Wheaton. Rogers’ game has improved in some areas, his YAC ability is MUCH better, but the chemistry in the slot is critical. Still feels off.

Defensively…I mean, it’s hard to pick one. I still think the Joe Haden of today is not the Pro Bowler of yesteryear. Soon enough, fans will get a taste of that.

Jeff McNeill: Have the second year players made the second year improvements you would expect? What areas have they improved the most and what areas concern you most?

Alex: Generally, yes. Hargrave is still dominant. JC Tretter is still picking blades of grass out of his helmet. Burns has been impressive from the word go. He’s made the biggest jump, though that was expected since he had the toughest rookie season and was the rawest player. Burns’ football IQ has jumped up a ton. Remember the open field tackle screen he made last week on Cook? He isn’t even in position to make that play last year, let alone making the tackle.

Sean Davis has been better and more consistent but the “worst” of the three. For him, it’s time to make some impact plays. What the SS position has to do in this defense. That’s been #1 for him.

Froggy: What longtime vets are on their last seasons as Steelers? I’ve got Harrison, Gay, McCullers, Landry Jones, and maybe Golden and Moats.

Alex: Generally, I agree – all possible. Unless the team takes a QB again, which you would assume would be high in the draft, Jones should be back. If Harrison wants to return, I can’t see the team saying no. We’ll see what happens. Long ways to go. Don’t think about the 2018 roster very much right now, to be honest.

Michael James: Let’s be honest: What’s your gut feeling concerning Ben’s retirement talk, when will he really hang up his cleats?

Alex: I really don’t have a gut feeling. I have a guess but it’s based off pretty much nothing. I think he plays this year and 2018 and then calls it quits. But for a competitor like Ben, talking about walking away from the game and actually doing it or two different things. He doesn’t like to lose at darts. Going to be tough to leave the game that he’s played since he was a kid. Especially if he hasn’t won another Lombardi.

Darth Blount 47: True or false… The Steelers will be favored to win every single regular season game EXCEPT the New England one.

Alex: False. They’ll be dogs in one other – on the road at KC. Chiefs were 1.5 point favorites in the playoffs last year…and this team is better.

The Tony: Do you enjoy Pumpkin Spice

Alex: lol no

D.j. Reynolds: Your preference, when healthy, Vance McDonald or Jesse James? And, is that what you think will happen?

Alex: Obviously, I was pretty excited about adding McDonald. But James has responded well and certainly stepped up. McDonald is the better receiver when healthy and comfortable in the system so I’ll still go with him but James is doing all he can to close the gap.

McDonald should play this week.

The Tony: Who has been more impressive Hitlon or Alualu this season

Alex: If we’re sorta grading on a curve, Hilton, because we knew what Alualu could do. He’s proven it in the NFL. But both have been good.

Jeremy Miller: Killer JuJu B’s?

Alex: haha I like it. JuJu’s gotta get that driver’s license first though.

That’s all for this week. Talk to you guys next Thursday.

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