Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Special edition of the mailbag for you this afternoon. Since Disqus went down yesterday right as we started our normal Thursday Fireside Chat, we’re back again for an hour to answer anything I might have missed. As always, leave your comments below. Have a great weekend, Steelers’ Nation.

To your questions!

Elyas Correa Nogueira: Alex, do you think the Steelers would use Marcus Gilbert as trade bait in case they want to move up in the draft to get a guy like Greedy Williams or Devin White?

(Kinda like what the Bills did with Cordy Glenn)

Alex: Probably not. I know it happened with Glenn but those situations are still largely uncommon. Glenn had the benefit of the long-term contract, I think he had three years left on his deal, whereas Gilbert will be heading into the final year of his deal. He was also a year younger.

So I can’t rule anything at but keeping or cutting him is much more likely than him actually getting dealt.

Jalen Brown: Hey Alex,
Haven’t seen a whole lot of Cameron Sutton lately and it’s not like Sensabaugh is going to the Pro Bowl anytime soon. Any rationale you can provide us with as to why he’s been seen so rarely lately and what do you think the future holds? The guy is a 3rd year player after all.

Alex: You haven’t seen him mostly because the secondary got healthy. Sutton is the Swiss Army Knife. The dude who plugs holes whenever someone gets hurt. So without Burnett and Hilton and Haden early in the year, Sutton got plenty of opportunity. Those guys came back and it didn’t leave Sutton with a spot. You could argue playing him at RCB over Sensabaugh, I did as much, but they like the stability Sensabaugh has brought so I get the decision.

With Burnett likely out this week, expect Sutton to work in dime again. He’s a second year player, for the record, and probably gets a real shot to crack the lineup next year.



Am I the only one that is encouraged by last weeks loss? Denver isn’t easy to play in, we commit some of the weirdest turnovers, and are still in the game up until teh very end. To me those are signs of a good team that had a bad game in a tough environment.

By the way, I haven’t been this excited for a game like this weekend since the Ravens game!

Alex: Encouraged is a touch strong for me but I hear what you’re saying. I made a similar comment back on Monday’s show of the podcast. Entirely a winnable game. I felt “better” about this loss than the others or even the tie to Cleveland. It wasn’t like Baltimore where nothing really worked, save for a short-lived spark in the second quarter. Defense forced punts. Offense moved the ball. Special teams was good enough.

I’ll say this. They play Denver again, and the Broncos are a good team, Steelers are winning 9/10 times.

Matt Manzo: Hey Alex!
Just read about Dupree. Super bummed cuz it seemed like he was doing a lot better this year.
Did he really say that Ola would come up if he is out? Does Ola play ST?

Alex: It is a bummer, though it doesn’t seem like a season-ending injury. He practiced yesterday, albeit limited, so hopefully he doesn’t miss more than a game or two. Yeah, I think Dupree implied it. I expect Dupree to be out this week with Adeniyi getting the call and being activated Sunday and play 10-15 snaps.

Adeniyi is going to have to play STs but his effectiveness is a question. That’s not his game. He’s a short, stocky dude, who doesn’t run real well in open grass. Interesting to see what they do with him because yes, normally, your #3 OLB (Chick) is going to be a core special teamer. You can have extra “teams” guys like Brian Allen, and that’s fine and dandy, but those guys generally play different spots than a LB like Adeniyi.

Grant Humphrey: Hey Alex,
What’s going to happen with the dime package with the Steelers most likely not having Burnett? Will they roll it out a little less?

Alex: Nah, I don’t anticipate it changing very much. Maybe a little less on some early downs, which they have done a little bit in the past, because of the downgrade in run defense, but in 3rd and “they gotta pass,” dime will be used like normal. Cam Sutton should replace. He’ll struggle a little more against tight ends but Antonio Gates sure won’t run away from him…or anybody.

Jesse Hernandez: Javon Hargrave is stepping into year 4 soon. Would you offer him a contract this offseason and if so for how much?

Alex: Someone asked me similar in yesterday’s chat. I’m not opposed to it but I have no idea if I really would and definitely no clue of how much. Like I wrote in Thursday’s Mailbag, there’s a billion variables: cap space, position allocation, market value/prediction, what the player is asking for. A lot going on.

If the team wants to lock up Conner, Watt, JuJu, Hargrave early – awesome. All for it. If not, that’s fine too. I am more concerned with wondering if guys like Ramon Foster or Jesse James will be back. Pending free agents.

Jeff Papiernik: Is Rivers a HOF QB?

Alex: To me, yes. Super Bowls win the day but Rivers has just been amazing year in, year out. It’s a shame he’s been on the West Coast his whole career and a little more hidden from the rest of the football world. Consistently one of the top QBs in the game, incredibly tough, strong arm, not a dude you could rattle.

If it was up to me, Ben is a first ballot guy, Rivers gets in 2nd or 3rd try, and Eli….not in my book. Despite the two Super Bowls.

Phil Brenneman II: I will go non Steelers for this one Alex. You did a lot of film study during the draft on a bunch of ILB prospects. I know you don’t follow other teams super close but how do you feel about some of the big names this far into the season? I know I was a big Tremaine Edmunds hater and he seems to be doing well enough with the Bills and I was a big Jewell fan and he seems solid so far also. Is LVE the best of the bunch so far? Right now based off how little you know who would you take if you had your choice?

Alex: Well if they were able to take Edmunds or LVE, they would’ve struck gold. Both have been awesome. I’m less sure of the Titans just because I haven’t watched them as much. Know he missed most of the preseason with an injury but got healthy pretty early in the regular season. PFR says he has started six games, 27 tackles, only one for a loss, no interceptions, forced fumbles, or pass deflections. On the surface, doesn’t look great. Jewell looked good on tape from what I saw.

Edmunds or LVE for me. You can pick ’em I guess, wouldn’t be mad about either. I still expect the Steelers to aggressively pursue ILB in the draft again. Bostic has been steady and fine but they knew that when they signed him. They knew what they were getting. And they still were going to take one of the “Big Three” at ILB. Anticipate them going into the 2019 draft with the same mindset.


Hey Alex! Havent written in a little while, I’m glad I caught it this week!

For your preference if Bud were to miss a game, would you rather see Ola active or Adams or Huguenin brought up from the PS? Also, would you keep Justin Hunter or swap him out for Eli? Thanks!

Alex: Hey man! Good to hear from you again.

Really, it’s hard for me to have a favorite. It depends on how Adeniyi looks missing all that time, how the other guys look in practice, who “fits” best on special teams. I expect Adeniyi to get the call-up and am fine with that because he will be counted on to play defensive snaps, not just a special teamer where a Keion Adams might be the better option.

I would dump Hunter, I would’ve done that 18 months ago, but I don’t expect him to go anywhere. I think they want to keep that competition going between Washington and Hunter. Not let the rookie feel like he’s safe each week. Make him earn that hat.

Rogers…I don’t know what you do with the guy. Switzer is a better version of Rogers and they have two, three if you count DHB, slot receivers. I don’t see the roster spot for Eli, unfortunately for him.

Spencer Krick: Hey Alex,

If they elevate Rogers and cut Hunter, do you think Rogers will get snaps on the outside?

Alex: No. Eli doesn’t play on the outside. Like I said above, that’s why I don’t think Rogers gets bumped up. Switzer has his ST value. Better slot receiver. Better “gadget” type guy. I don’t know where Rogers fits at all, unless there’s an injury.

CP72: Alex,
Do you think this week is a pretty good litmius test for where this team is relative to being a true Super Bowl contender? I think San Diego is a very good team on both sides of the ball.

Alex: That’s a fair evaluation. These are the types of teams you’ll see in the playoffs. So yeah, a win here would be another feather in their cap. But I also want to see them win on the road, like beating the Saints in New Orleans Week 16, because there’s at least a decent chance they will be playing a road playoff game at some point this year.

But yes, great litmus test. Steelers have their hands full.

CountryClub: Fittipaldo is reporting that Marcus Allen will dress this weekend with Burnett being down. Surprised?

Alex: A little bit. But happy for the rookie. Know he’s been chomping at the bit for 11 weeks to get a hat. And that obviously means Allen won’t be getting the axe assuming Adeniyi is called up.

Earl: Happy Friday young Mr. Alex.
Impossible question to answer, but I’ll ask anyway. Five games left in the regular season, will AB have at least one of his classic games this year? Classic basically being what Juju did last week. He’s had three 100+ yard games this season but nothing close to 150. You see/know anything about the last five D’s to give him the edge to go off?

Alex: Oh yeah, he will. If for nothing else, because he’s facing the Raiders still. Last time he played them? 17 catches, 284 yards. AB will have his day, no doubt in my mind.

That’s all for today. Thanks guys!

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