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Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

Mailbag – gameday edition.

To your questions!

John Noh: Alex, Rosie Nix logged nine offensive snaps against the Colts. Why does he seem to disappear like this? Is it scheme? Circumstance? Something else? The offense, especially Bell, seems to be so much better with 45 in the game.

Alex: Sometimes a combination of everything. In a game like Indy, the Steelers had to play from behind. So you don’t get to be in heavy personnel as often. In games they’re ahead, Week 6 against KC (17 snaps), Week 4 vs Baltimore (13 snaps) he’s going to get more playing time.

The Steelers use a fullback a lot. But there’s still going to be a cap to it. No team is giving their fullback 30 snaps a game.

Grant Humphrey: Hey Alex,
Score prediction and who wins tonight?

Alex: Like I wrote this morning. Tennessee wins 24-16. Titans’ offense is too complex, they’re too good in the red zone, they’re a good tackling team and a physical bunch.

IndianaCarson: On the subject of blocking. Why couldn’t the Steelers replace Jesse James on extra points and field goals with a defensive player like Matakevich, Chickillo, Fort, etc.

Alex: You need someone with length on the edge. Someone with a wingspan to protect both the interior (most important) and the edge. So you can’t stick a smaller guy like that. That’s why the wings are guys like Tuitt/McDonald/Grimble/Jesse.

To hear Mike Tomlin talk about it with Bob Labriola today, he says there’s no possible way the edge rusher can block a kick if the operation is timed as intended. I would disagree with that and point to the Bears game but that just goes with my idea that Tomlin and Smith aren’t totally on the same page when it comes to special teams.

Bryant Eng: Alex, do you agree with this proposition? The offense has stalled this season due, in part, ineffectiveness on third down. With the Steelers seeing more two-deep looks with Bryant and Brown on the outside, the middle is ripe for targets, but the lack of a true seem splitting TE or a TE who can find holes in the zone has hurt Ben’s effectiveness on third down. Vance McDonald has to be that guy for us, or the offense will continue to sputter. Thoughts?

Alex: I do pretty much across the board, Bryant. David Todd has correctly talked about it on the podcast. The team doesn’t use the middle of the field enough. Partly because they don’t have a tight end who can make big plays there. So that’s limiting of the offense.

PghDSF: Who gets cute to add Sutton? I’m betting on Big Dan.

Alex: Probably not Big Dan. My guess is Matt Feiler. Not much of a role with Gilbert back. Feiler can go back on the practice squad. I wouldn’t be mad about dumping Justin Hunter either but I doubt that’ll happen.

The Tony: Does James Harrison dress? Will he involved in the game plan at all? I’m going to go out and say he’s inactive

Alex: I think he dresses just because of the injuries elsewhere but I don’t think he’s going to be very involved in the gameplan. We’ll see.

Ace: Thoughts on Conner’s development so far (in his limited usage of course). How do you think he looks as a runner and why does he still get 1-2 carries a game? Seems to hit the edge better than Bell.

Alex: He’s done well as a runner. Coming in fresh helps. Pass protection and receiving are his weaknesses. Makes it obvious what the play is going to be when he’s in the game.

Darth Blount 47: With the 2nd half upon us, and from one draftnik to another, it’s NEVER too early! Lol.
“With the 32nd pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select…” Which position?

Alex: lol who knows. I’ll guess tight end. But so much will change.

WB Tarleton: 

Over/Under

JJSS: 1,000 yards, 10 TDs

Alex: Under for both. But just barely for yards.

MoreRingsThanYourTeam: Is the Steelers defense overachieving? Or are these statistics skewed due to the quarterbacks we’ve had to face thus far? Who has been a pleasant defensive suprise?

Alex: Maybe a little bit of both. Worried about the blown coverages and big plays. You could see the potential there early in the season before they started to actually allow it…we did a video on it. And it’s just hard to maintain the pace they’re at. Going to regress a little closer to the mean. But it’s a good defense and when they’re at the best, close to a dominant one.

Pleasant surprise…I think people are happier with Vince Williams than they would’ve been. I was always high on him. Sean Davis has turned things around after a rough first five weeks. But a lot of guys are just playing to expectation.

srdan: Outside of our offensive line and AB, is this offense as talented as we make it out to be? Could it be that they have fulfilled their potential?

Alex: Well that’s excluding a lot of critical players, ha. But I think the outsider, national view of the Steelers is stronger than the reality. This offense is still revered…it shouldn’t be. Not yet.

NickSteelerFan: Your preference: a Tight End who is an adequate blocker and a great pass catcher/plus athlete, or a Tight End who is a great blocker and doesn’t offer a lot in the passing game?

Alex: Ideally, you find one of each. The blocker isn’t too difficult. The receiver, that’s tougher. So forced to choose, always give me the pass catcher and the guy who can make some explosive plays.


That’s all for this week. Enjoy the game. Be sure to stick around for the live thread tonight.

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