Welcome back to the Thursday mailbag. Camp is coming up pretty quickly, exactly three weeks away from the first day of practice. We’ve almost made it through the entire offseason. Huzzah.
As always, if you have any questions, drop them below in the comments section. We’ll hang around for the next hour.
To your questions!
stan: How do you rate the team compared to last year at this time?
I have them a little worse
DL: same (Frazier/ McCullers…. doesn’t make much difference)
OLB: 2017 (no depth)
However, the whole team is a year older and in most cases that’s a bad thing.
Alex: Let’s go position-by-position.
QB: Better. I may not have been a fan of the Rudolph selection but it’s impossible to say this group is worse after adding a guy they believe can take over the franchise.
RB: Better. Like I mentioned on the podcast, the depth here is strong. Even behind just the top three. You have Ridley, Toussaint is a good #5, and Franklin is a name to watch in the UDFA camp. Conner should take a step forward and Samuels brings a unique dynamic to the room. Hopefully Bell and the team will have a better plan if he misses preseason again, too.
Offensive Line: Yeah, a little worse, just because you don’t have the strong depth with Hubbard (though going into last year, no one knew he would have played as well as he did). But it’s still a strong unit with capable depth. especially as Feiler has gotten some reps and added comfort. Let’s see what Okorafor does.
WR: Slightly worse but this could change. Much of it rides on James Washington’s development. Ideally, by mid-season, this group is just as good or better. It’s not like Bryant made a significant impact until the last month of the year. Washington can do that too.
TE: Better. Because McDonald has time to get comfortable in the offense and hopefully, will stay healthy. Even with the same faces, there’s more time to integrate McDonald in the offense and that’s a win.
DL: Better only because Tuitt is healthy after playing last year with the torn bicep, which really hindered him. If we are assuming the pre-Week One group than yeah, pretty much the same. But that’s not a bad thing.
ILB: Worse, definitely. Regardless of Bostic/Matakevich, no one is matching Shazier. Biggest drop off of any unit.
OLB: I guess last year but was the depth last year really that useful either? Moats barely played. Harrison barely dressed. Chickillo only saw action when someone was Dupree/Watt were hurt early in the year. So I will go 2017 but only marginally so. The issue is still at the top. Watt should improve too.
S: Yes, this year. Some new blood will do this unit well. Burnett is a steadying force and Edmunds can make an impact in dime packages.
CB: 2018 can be better. Should be better. Another year for Burns, more comfort for Haden (came over late, too). Sutton healthy and a year under his belt with added reps. Hilton too. Again, names may be the same but where they are in their football/Steelers lives is a better place.
Specialists: Yup, the same.
Let’s tally it up.
Now, you have to weight that, for example, better wins 6 to 4 but the ILB drop off is much steeper than the improvement of any of those six spots. So arbitrarily, you can call it a draw-ish.
Jeremy: Hi Alex. Who do you think gets the dot on defense, especially if Bostic somehow doesn’t win the starting job?
Alex: Whoever they designate as the three-down guy. I assume the winner of Matakevich/Bostic. I don’t know who else it would be, unless they do something crazy like play Burnett in a box role full-time like they did Troy in 2013.
John Hinton: You can only pick 1 player…who are you most looking forward to watching during this year’s training camp?
Alex: Oh man John, that’s tough. They’re all my children.
But James Washington. A lot rides on him this year. Even if Terrell Edmunds struggles, the Steelers can adjust. They can live with that. If Washington plays poorly? I’m not sure what the solution is, at least, from inside the house. And if you don’t have that deep threat opposite AB, it’s going to constrict this offense too much. He doesn’t have to have a JuJu-like season but it’s gotta be kinda close. The impact needs to be similar.
We’re in July..Final answer: Does Bell get signed long term?
Alex: Not going to say it’s impossible but I’ve always said it wouldn’t happen and there’s no good reason to change my mind now. 2018 will be Bell’s final year as a Steeler.
KaiDex411: James Connor- Over/Under 150 Touches
Alex: Definitely under. Only way you go over is if you assume injury to Bell. If he’s healthy, he’s not coming off the field. Either a deal got done and he needs to play to justify those gaudy numbers or it didn’t get done and you just run the wheels off of him because it’s not your problem anymore. Dude is playing 90% of the time like he always does.
Conner had only 32 carries last year, even if it was a slightly shortened season. I think you could put that number at 100 and I’d still go with the under.
Steel SonofFarmer: do you know what is the situation of Martavis Bryant as of now?? We heard a lot rumor that he did something but for some reason it dies down, does it mean it was a fake news??
Alex: My guess is that he won’t be suspended. We just had the most recent wave on suspensions and the Edelman appeal. So if Bryant wasn’t going to be announced then, I’m not sure when it would happen. The initial report was sorta vague anyway but yes, it would be pretty off the mark if Bryant doesn’t get suspended and if there really isn’t any reported issue again. If it truly was a minor paperwork thing as opposed to something that could land him in serious trouble.
Also, let’s please hope DBZ Super brings back a long-term storyline soon. I watched last week’s episode and it was horrible. The downtime after sagas are the absolute worst.
D.j. Reynolds: In your best guess as of now, who are the starting safeties (and which is Free vs. Strong) by week 17?
Alex: Davis free, Burnett strong.
I may not love it but honestly, I don’t love any way you slice it. There’s problems with each layout. Edmunds will be better served in a more manageable dime/sub-package role. Burnett better closer to the LOS and on paper, Davis is the best athlete who has made a couple of plays with the ball in the air, even if moving him again is risky and likely to stunt his growth. Again.
You really need to watch Super with subtitles. The voice actors are actually better in Japanese, especially Frieza. Besides you can binge watch the show pretty quickly that way. The Tournament of Power… It’s incredible. I can send you some good sites to use if you need it. Okay so my question DBZ related since we are in down time still. Who was the best villain? Mine has to be Majin Vegeta. He was ruthless
Alex: Hmm maybe…but the subtitles kinda takes me out of the moment. Too focused reading, not focused enough on the action. But maybe I’ll give it a shot – DM me if you have Twitter with a link.
Best villain…the whole Buu saga. That was what I pretty much grew up on. So many twists and turns throughout all the transformations Buu went through. Getting to see the Fusion for the first time (for me at least, not positive if the show did it before or not). Heck, they even made me like Mr. Satan a little bit. That’s saying something.
That’s all for today. Appreciate you guys for stopping by. We’ll return Monday, same time, same place.