Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome back to the mailbag. For the offseason, and maybe into the season, we’ll do our Steelers mailbag twice a week. Starting next week, we’ll do our mailbag on Mondays in addition to our usual Thursday spot.

Like always, we’ll be here for the next hour to answer whatever is on your mind.

To your questions!

@DaEngineerAT: With a lot of competition at Safety, is it a make or break – year for Sean Davis?

Alex: Maybe not make-or-break in the Steelers mind of keeping him but it will be in my mind about the confidence I have in him going forward and you’d like to think, enough to get the organization to think about finding a replacement.

The caveat is that if he gets moved to free safety, you have to grade him on the curve…again. Because it’s a new position and it will take time to get comfortable at that spot. That’s my frustration with how Pittsburgh has handled him. Stunting his growth, making it difficult to get a clean evaluation on him, and they seemed poised to do it again.

steelmann58: Alex your guys to watch on the offense and defense looking at guys that might be under the radar

Alex: Guys who I expect to make the 53?

Offensively, I don’t think there are many flying under the radar. I am hoping/expecting Vance McDonald to have a big year given his comfort in the offense, good health (fingers crossed) and Fichtner using him more in the offense. But that’s the name I could only point that, outside of the super obvious.

Defensively, again, it’s hard to say.  Maybe because we examine things so closely, maybe because so many of the possible “under the radar” guys are complete unknowns. Rookies or players who haven’t taken a snap. I’m definitely interested in seeing the depth at OLB: Keion Adams, Farrington Huguenin, Adeniyi, Leslie. Though I think Adams is the only one on the inside looking out – the rest are just attempting to hang on.

Don’t forget about Jordan Dangerfield either. You want the one “sleeper” we have sorta forgotten about. That’d be the guy. Running first team when Burnett went down and gets no love.

Spencer Krick: 

Hey Alex,

How much Dime do you think the Steelers play this year?

Alex: Hey Spencer! I think about the same as last year, which was around 22%. But it’s situational, it’s not a response to what the offense does. It’s a down/distance thing, 3rd and long+. So if they just happen to end up in a lot of those situations, or a two minute drill that lasts 10 plays, the numbers can be skewed a little bit.

I don’t think there’s going to be a drastic change in dime use. What I have said though is that I think dime will be much more effective with Gay removed and either Sutton/Edmunds taking his spot. Better athlete on the field, better cover guys.

SkoolHouseRoxx: What up, Young Alex? Are there any WRs worth looking at in the supplemental draft this year?

Alex: Hey man! Nah, no such luck there. There’s three DBs and a linebacker from Oregon State that was just announced too. Dave and I talked about it a little bit on the podcast too. Beal from WMU is likely to be selected. The Steelers showed interest in Brandon Bryant, a safety from Mississippi State. But nothing doing at receiver.

@DaEngineerAT: How many of the defensive breakdowns that we like to blame on Artie Burns were really on him and not the fault of the Safety, misscomunication etc.

Alex: It can be hard to even know when there’s miscommunication, let alone who exactly to assign blame to. So I don’t have anything counted up. Often times, bad communication comes from more than one player. It’s communication after all – that’s a two-way street. Someone doesn’t send the message well enough to another player, it creates a problem. The linebacker who doesn’t make/announced a check or adjustment and everyone else gets screwed up because of it. So unfortunately, I don’t have a great answer for you.

jger15: Hey AK! Dug your Simon post. I know you mentioned Shane Ray as an outside possibility as well before his injury news. Any other roster bubble players you have your eye on to come in as LB help?

Alex: Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. I’m sure there will be some other names out there but I haven’t paid attention. I’ll wait for camp to happen, see who is playing well, who is looking more likely to be cut, all those factors. The main reason why I mentioned Ray and then Simon is because there’s a legit connection, the Steelers showing serious pre-draft interest in both of those guys. It isn’t something I’m just totally speculating about, no idea if they ever liked that player or had interest in. That’s why I decided to write about it now.

I’ll come up with a list as the preseason nears the end.

Jeremy: Hi Alex. I have seen it suggested that Dobbs might end up on an injury list as a kind of back handed attempt to keep him. To the best of your knowledge, have the Steelers ever pushed the rules in this way to keep a guy? Any time you said to yourself, riiiiiiight sure he is injured.

Alex: Nothing that immediately comes to mind but it could’ve happened before. Wouldn’t put it past any team. But that’s a dicey thing to do and pretty unfair to Dobbs. He deserves the chance to be able to play or go through waivers, potentially get claimed, or at least land on the practice squad, get to practice, have the chance to move up or go somewhere else. That’s not treating the player fairly. We’re not talking about a guy in camp who isn’t going to make the team and at least gets to be on waived/injured and be in the facility for a little while longer.

Matt Manzo: Hey Alex!
What do you want to see from Kieon Adams, in camp, that will make you feel like he’s a worthy contender at OLB? Can he just excel at one thing or does he need to be more balanced?

Alex: Honestly, it’s a blank slate. He got work in eight practices last year. That’s such a small sample size. So we’re basically starting from scratch. The one thing that did stick out to me was his quick get-off. So I want to see him be able to bend the edge and do something useful with that explosiveness.

He’s gotta also excel on special teams. Even if he makes the 53, that’s where he’s starting out. Not on defense.

stan: Are there any reports of Dobbs’ throwing in camp? His mechanics were said to need some work so I was wondering if he’d improved in that area this offseason.

Alex: I think Fowler wrote he had a good camp but all QBs better have good camps when you can’t get touched and you’re in glorified 7v7 drills. I don’t know much about the specifics of the mechanics. We’ll see how he looks in camp and in game.

Jeff Papiernik: Do Bell’s optimistic comments about being closer getting a deal done sway your level of confidence at all on it actually happening?

Alex: Not really. Talk is cheap. Bell is expensive. It’s better than hearing things aren’t going well but Bell has said these things before. So has the team. Everyone sounds optimistic until they shrug their shoulders after a deal doesn’t get done. Being close doesn’t mean squat.


More sacks this year…TJ or Dupree?

Care to predict the number?

Alex: I’m pretty comfortable in picking Watt over Dupree, and I think most fans would agree. Especially if Butler keeps the same rush/drop splits on the left and right side, where Watt will rush more on the left and Dupree will drop.

I say Watt gets 8.5 this season. Dupree finishes with 7. I’ll be pretty happy with either of those things happening which sorta sums up some of the concerns with the group.

MattSteelCurtain91: You win a contest to have dinner all expenses paid with 4 current Steelers. One from offense one defense one special teams one coach/coordinator! Who choosing n where going?!

Alex: I think I would do very bad at a dinner like that. I’m an introvert’s introvert so to be around four Steelers…I’d probably just make stupid small talk the whole time. Great weather, isn’t it Ben? 

You already know I am picking Danny Smith from special teams. Just gotta stay out of the “spit zone.” Vince Williams would definitely be a fun guy to talk to from the defense. Can’t imagine the stories he has to tell from his life. Ramon Foster would be a chill dude to talk to and probably could talk about a lot of subjects, not just football. Same with Roosevelt Nix, to hear his story of nearly falling out of the league, becoming a substitute teacher, and then making it. I like to hear those stories instead of the 1st rounder always blessed with physical talent and made it pretty quickly.

So those would be the four: Smith, Vince, Foster, Rosie.

That’s all for today. We’ll be back Thursday. And remember, twice a week starting back up on Monday.

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