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Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

Welcome back to the mailbag, the first one after the 2018 NFL Draft. Whatever is on your mind about what happened last weekend, or anything else Steelers’ related, let me know in the comments below. We’ll hang out for the next hour.

To your questions!

CP72: Alex,
Sean Davis and his hold on a starting spot has been a pretty hot topic lately. Where are you with Davis as a player? How much of threat do you think Edmunds is in year one to Davis’ job?

Alex: He’s one guy I want to go through the tape with a fine tooth comb this summer. I still think he opens up at the starting SS. I think the team has to recognize how he’s been impacted by moving him around so much, without a great plan, and to let him try to pick up where he’s left off. It’s not that I want him to stay static. I just want him to know where he’s playing, what their plan is, so he can prepare.

We’ll see how quickly Edmunds develops. It’s hard to answer that never seeing him put on a pair of shoulder pads yet. But I saw the Edmunds selection as the third safety in dime and that’s what I’m sticking with until there’s something compelling to make me believe otherwise.

renoir: Do you think Sean Davis has lost his 1st string status and what changes should we expect in the new Fichtner offense now without Bryant???

Alex: Ha, yup, see above. I don’t think Edmunds will start Week One in base or nickel. I wrote about some changes with Fichtner way back, you can check the article out here, but I don’t see anything drastic. Three things I want to see/think you could see.

1. Better red zone offense. Not so much a scheme thing as it is execution. But the biggest criticism, on-field, of Haley’s offense was how poor the red zone offense has been every year. Year-by-year, where Pittsburgh finished

2017: 18th
2016: 16th
2015: 13th
2014: 19th
2013: 16th
2012: 12th

Never even sniffed top ten. Unacceptable for the amount of weapons this team had.

In fact, only once under Tomlin has the team had a top ten red zone offense, his first year back in 2007. That’s gotta chance. ASAP.

2. Better route distribution

One of my criticisms of him was sometimes letting the receivers run too independently, banking on them winning their matchups. Where you’d get three verts and if the defense was playing 2 Man or just good coverage, it was a sack. Need to create more conflict in the secondary with the route combinations. It wasn’t always terrible under Haley but could’ve been better and I pointed out numerous examples over the years.

3. Pistol

I don’t know if they will do this but I think it’s on the table. It’s a nice mesh of a downhill run game with getting Ben out of center, where he doesn’t excel anymore. Munchak wants pistol, Fichtner did some of it as the OC in college, and I think it keeps everything open. I hope we get more of it.

Spencer Krick: Are we going to see Moats resign with the Steelers?

Alex: I think they do. One year, probably for the minimum. Of course, doesn’t come close to solving any issues with depth. But it makes sense.

Jakob Meng: When you look at this roster from 30,000ft above, what do you see as the weakest aspect? Whether it be a specific position group, run defense, pass defense, etc. If you had to pick the one thing that you see holding this team back the most, what would it be?

Alex: Defensively, communication was the biggest issue last year. We all know this. I think the team made good steps to fix it by bringing in Bostic and Burnett but ultimately, we have to wait and see.

Beyond that, like I mentioned, I want to make sure this defense can create splash. Terrell Edmunds helps…is that enough? They gotta take advantage of the pass rush and pressure they’re able to get. They lost that impact player in Ryan Shazier.

James Cowen: 

Are you going to do scouting reports on the undrafted guys and their roster chances this year?

I always love them, a level of analysis other sites don’t come close to .

Alex: Absolutely. Josh and I will team up to do that. It’ll take some time to do though. Hopefully we’ll start writing them up over the weekend or early next week. Thanks for reading!

Jeff Papiernik: Do all 7 draft picks make the roster? If no, who is the most likely to not make the cut?

Alex: I haven’t done a 53 man roster yet (Monday!) but there’s actually a good chance they all do. Samuels’ versatility is going to make him a tough cut, you’ll have too many guys in that room saying he should make it. Frazier is the obvious odd man out. They like Daniel McCullers, even if you/we/everyone else doesn’t, and I think one of the UDFAs, like Greg Gilmore, can make a push for the 53.

Lukesaenz: Do you think this offseason’s safety splurge is in any way a subtle indictment of Sean Davis’ play? Is it possible team brass might already be thinking about letting him walk after his rookie contract is up unless he takes a big step?

Alex: I think it’s more about the play of those who got released – Mitchell, Golden, and even Gay. And those players needed replaced and ideally, at a higher level. Don’t get me wrong though. Davis NEEDS to have a strong third season.

steeltown: Any thoughts on udfa LBs M.Thomas and Adeniyi, have you gone over any film? Any real chance they make the 53man?

Alex: Two guys who could make it. I still have to watch them though. Trying to see how much film I had on both. Actually have more of Adeniyi than Thomas. Both will be fun to watch.

Marcel Chris Chauvet: Can any of our strong safeties make the transition to weak inside backer like Arizona did with Deonne Buchannon? Would you think it a prudent move?

Alex: I don’t see it happening and it’s not really something that needs to happen. You have your starters. They have the backup they like. Edmunds/Burnett/Davis are all capable of playing that dime linebacker role but that’s still a coverage-first position. They don’t need to make the switch full-time to do that.

JohnB: Is Coach Randy the coach for “life after Ben?”

Alex: No idea. How much longer is “life after Ben?” How good of a job will Fichtner do? Job security in Pittsburgh is strong but I don’t have a clue how well/poorly this will work out when you are asking about something potentially 4-5 years down the line.

Jeff McNeill: What do you think of the new kickoff rule that is coming? Do you think it will achieve the goal and if not would you do anything to change it?

Alex: I want to see the final vote/change. I’ve seen some of the reports. I want to keep kickoffs. It’s an important play, it’s how every game starts, and I think eliminating it is a slippery slope for all aspects in the game. I certainly don’t want to see them take it out but I fear that’s the direction things are going.

Steelers12: 

Hey alex 2 questions

1. Are heyward n tuitt main job to rush the passer?

2. Who is next in line to run the steelers organization?

Alex: Their job is to do everything. That’s why they get paid the way they do, play the number of snaps they do. I don’t put any extra importance on any one area. If they are struggling in one aspect, the rest of the defense is going to feel it. Can’t really hide a weakness there.

I don’t know who is next Rooney to take the throne. But I think it’s safe to assume it’ll be Art the II for a long time.

Brian Tollini: With the trade of Bryant and the ACL injury for Eli, were you a little surprised they didn’t double-dip at the WR position in the draft? Was there someone after round 3 you had your eyes on during the draft? For me it was Lazard…

Alex: Not really. Doubling-up is largely about value. Once you get into Day Three, you’re playing that game than less for “need.” So if there is someone you like enough and it happens to double up – like Marcus Allen – great. If not, that’s fine too.

I was surprised RB Josh Adams fell out of the draft. Eagles got a good one.  Lazard surprised me too.

Darth Blount 47: One of the biggest and most vocal proponents of Le’Veon Bell, has been Kevin Colbert himself. First major post-draft prediction? If the narrative has now sort of been solidified, that Colbert likes to paint a clear picture, can we assume that the one guy working overtime to make a Bell deal happen, is indeed Colbert? Given the fact that the Steelers PASSED on what was a clear opportunity to draft Bell’s replacement at 1.28, (like some had opined may/would happen), has your view on a Bell deal changed, even in the slightest?

Alex: No, it hasn’t. Had they drafted Guice, then I think there was zero chance of Bell getting done. But even without movement, I am back to the position I was before. Not impossible but unlikely – still don’t know how they bridge the gap that still exists after two years of hammering this thing out.

Phil Brennemann II: 

Hey Alex I know you are going to be getting a lot of questions about who we picked but I want to revisit one last time some of the ILB’s (I think I have these stats right)

Roquan Smith: 0 INT’s, 3 passes defensed
Tremaine Edmunds: 1 INT, 5 passes defensed
Josey Jewell: 6 INT’s, 26 passes defensed

I know I have kind of beaten this horse to death but I am struggling to figure out how Jewell wasn’t viewed as a potential Mack or 4 down player as Colbert talked about. I know he didn’t test like a top athlete but he wasn’t slow on tape and some of his combine numbers were impressive (3-cone 2nd best amongst LB’s)

Alex: I dunno Phil, you’re asking the wrong guy. It isn’t all stats or even measurables based. Tape still rules the day.

And even though Jewell’s stats would still be better if you prorated it, Smith and Edmunds essentially started two seasons. Jewell played more football so naturally, his stats rise.

NickSteelerFan: Nate Orchard may be low man on the roster in Cleveland, and I remember him coming in for a Pre Draft Visit at Pitt a few years ago. Your Shane Ray post earlier made me think that he might be a good guy to keep an eye on as well. Do you have any thoughts on him pre and post Browns?

Alex: I don’t have many thoughts but that’s a good suggestion too. New regime there so I don’t know how they view trading within the division but obviously, we saw it happen plenty the last two years.

*****


Thanks for chatting everyone. Talk next week.

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