Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

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Because we’ll all be in a turkey-induced coma 24 hours from now, doing the mailbag a day early. Hope you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

On a creepier note, this article popped up in my timeline today. Honestly, and this is maybe a little irrational on my part, one of the freakiest things ever. The Max Headroom TV takeover happened 30 years ago. Some dude, who was never caught, took over two Chicago TV stations in a Max Headroom mask in a distorted, bizarre message. No one has ever come forward and the police never figured out who did it.

Anyway, to your questions!

@subBurgher: Will Hines Ward and Alan Faneca be done justice and Lee Tex to the Hall of Fame?

Alex: Really hoping Faneca gets in this year. He should. No later than two years from now. Ward, well, you know my unpopular opinion on his HOF chances. I don’t like his odds. He’ll always be close but never elected. Bridesmaid, never the bride.

The Tony: Alex, Happy Thanksgiving!
Which is the best side dish for the dinner and which is the most overrated?

Alex: Mashed potatoes. All day. Sometimes, it can even be better than the turkey (if it comes out too dry). I can take down a whole bowl if you asked me too. Stuffing is second in command. And I don’t know if this is a regional thing but sweet potatoes with marshmallows melted in? Yummmmm.

William Edward Marcinko: Do you think Mcdonald will play against the Packers?

Alex: I dunno, it isn’t looking too hot. Weird injury. He came back in the last game he played. Wonder if there’s more there than the team is leading on.

pittfan: NE’s D-line ranks near bottom on the NFL in putting pressure on opposing QBs. Is this stat a function of their slow start or is their D-line just not that good?

Alex: I haven’t spent any dedicated time watching the Pats so I couldn’t give you a great answer yet. But yeah, they have definitely had a problem finding pass rushers. Some of their moves, like trading for Kony Ealy, didn’t pan out.

But their defense has been a lot better than the early season struggles indicated. They haven’t given up 20 points in a game since Week 4. It’s a unit that is coming together, which is what you would expect in a Belichick coached team. And they’re doing it without getting a lot of pressure. Imagine if they improve their pass rush even 20%.

Sam Clonch: Does the CBA limit practice time during a playoff bye like it does during the regular season bye?

Alex: I’m not super well-versed in the CBA but yes, I believe it does. From 2011 when they were piecing together the current agreement.

“During the regular season, there can be just 14 padded practices for the entirety of the season, 11 of those sessions must be held in the first 11 weeks, and teams can hold no more than two padded practices per week. One padded practice per week is allowed during the playoffs, and all padded practices are limited to three hours max. Also, a bye week must include at least four consecutive days off, including Saturday.”

So in short, yes, it is treated like a regular season bye week.

William Weaver: Will the sky fall if the Steelers lose Sunday? Should we dig bunkers?

Alex: Haha, no, it shouldn’t (though it’ll feel like it will). Still winning the North and if you beat New England Week 15, still have a great shot of capturing the #1 seed. But it would be as frustrating as anything. No doubt.

Spencer Krick: Where do you see Cam Sutton fitting in for the rest of the season? Do you think he’ll be outside opposite burns next year?

Alex: Special teams. And not as a punt returner either. Best chance for playtime this year comes in supplanting Gay in dime packages but Gay is playing well and the package is successful. So Sutton will have to show a lot.

We’ll see what happens with Haden. He’s played well but that’s also a heavy price tag. Sutton would definitely be a frontrunner for the chance if Haden isn’t retained.

Pghomer: Hey Alex,
Dave’s had an interesting thought on podcast. Take A Rodgers out of the equation…which team-the Packers or Browns have a more talented roster?

Alex: I’d still give the edge to the Packers. It’s not like the Browns have a better QB situation even if you are comparing Hundley to Kizer. Packers’ secondary is better – they’ve suffered a lot of injuries this year and are getting some guys back – with a lot more weapons.

Ken: It is it a reasonable worry that we get a bye and then Ben doesn’t play well after the extra week off? I think him taking a week off is a bad scenario for him personally.

Alex: I get the rationale Ken but it’s a net good thing. It’s a long season, guys are tired. Good for the whole team to get the week off, not just Ben. Lord knows Bell could use the extra rest. And that bye week means the Steelers went out and controlled the rest of the year. Maybe even beat the Patriots.

There’s always going to be a worry and a downside to everything. But the bye is still preferred to slogging through a Wild card game and beating up your body even more.

WeWantDaTruth: 2 part question: 1) I see the Chiefs just signed Revis…good move for them? 2) Tackling seems to be an issue with our DBs…how good of a tackler is Cam Sutton?

Alex: I dunno, we’ll see what Revis has left. Fresh legs, I’ll give him that. Just don’t expect the Revis of old.

Eh, Sutton is a willing run supporter but his overall physicality/tackling could use some work. Don’t expect him to be the cure. But also don’t expect him to see much time on defense.

Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt: Happy thanksgiving to all question: Alex with artie seeming like he may be the weakest link would you start Cody opposite of Haden once he’s back with the possibility of Sutton starting next yr and have burns play the back up role i know it may be far fetched but just curious

Alex: No, Burns is your guy. You gotta see it through. It’s not like Artie has been terrible. There’s just moments of frustration.

Speaking of him, I do have an article going up in the morning on the ups and downs of Burns you guys should check out.

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