Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome to your weekly mailbag. We’re here for the next hour with anything Steelers related you want to ask about.

To your questions!

Andrew Black: 

Hey Alex,

Saw a few reports that the Steelers asked Rudolph to play it safe against the Bengals. Do you think Tomlin/Randy called a more simple game due to the Bengals being a worse team, and to keep bigger plays for the Ravens game knowing it would be a little more competitive?

Alex: Nah, it had nothing to do with Baltimore. You’re not trying to hide tape and good plays when your offense sucks as much as it had heading into Monday night. You’re really never worried about the tape you put out there, especially if it’ll cost you during that game. Besides, it’s Baltimore. They know what Pittsburgh likes to do and vice versa. Not a lot of secrets between these two teams with the stability shown by both franchises.

It was just about putting Rudolph in successful situations.Being able to move the ball, have a better chance winning on possession downs (they still struggled there though, 3/10), and putting points on the board.

srdan: What happened to Martzi?

Alex: He’s in his coffin for a week.*

He’s actually in St. Thomas and will be back soon. A well deserved vacation for him.

DirtDawg1964: Of all the challenges fans think we have, which one or two are most concerning, and which one or two are overblown?

Alex: That’s a good question. I recognized the o-line hadn’t been great but was confident it would right itself. Hopefully Monday night was them getting back on track. Some of the “they’re doomed without Munchak” was a bit much for me.

Still concerning about issues on 3rd down. Of all the things that went right last week, that wasn’t one of them. 30% on 3rd/4th down. They’re 30th in football through the first month. Bad, bad, bad. Gotta get better if this offense wants to truly find consistency.

Steeley Dan: Alex, do you think Rosie Nix’s window to contribute has passed (due to injury), and he just goes back to special teams, or do you think they may have plans for him, at least in the running game as a blocker?

Alex: Nah, it hasn’t passed. It was a knee injury. He didn’t lose a limb. Once he’s healthy, they’ll use him the same way as they would’ve prior to it. Which is to say he still won’t play a lot but I’m sure with some of the issues in the run game, they’ll be anxious to get him out there a little bit.

Bottom line. His role will be the same once he comes back. Hopefully in two weeks or something. Itching to see #45 on my TV again.

Lambert58: Hola Alex- It feels like the addition of Minkah Fitzpatrick has had a ripple effect across the defense. Allowing other players to not do too much. Agree?

Alex: Hey Lambert! It’s probably too early to tell. I don’t know if it’s making others jobs easier. I just think Fitzpatrick is doing his job well. And that just makes the whole unit look better.

CP72: Alex,
Man another great preseason for James Washington and then nothing. It’s baffles me. What’s your thoughts?

Alex: Obviously losing Ben hurt. The deep ball element of the offense. Going with a shorter pass game under Rudolph isn’t in Washington’s wheelhouse. But I don’t think his tape has been bad. His style just isn’t what the offense is doing right now. Give it time for the offense to (hopefully) open up. I think Washington will get his. Maybe this week.

PainisOrange: What positives would you like to see carry over in the gameplan from the offense vs. Cinncinnati ? I’m a little tired of the offense taking first halfs off

Alex: Just being physical up front. A good push at the LOS, the line getting a lot of movement. The motion and window dressing Fichtner showed. Getting into manageable situations on 2nd/3rd down. Rudolph with easy spacing concepts designed to get the ball out quick. The o-line giving him all day back there.

Wasn’t a whole lot mystical or magical. Just a good gameplan and execution. Two things that should always be your goal.

The Tony: Dupree is putting together a nice season so far. If the season ended today, do the Steelers retain Dupree or let him walk?

Alex: Good question. They might want him talk. Have continued to talk him up. What will be his price tag? Sure won’t be cheap. Steelers already valued him at his 5th year option of $9.2 million and if he has his best season…there’s your baseline average yearly value.

But if you let him go, how you do replace? Do they have enough trust in Ola? Obviously the rest of the season will tell us more. Not like they will have a ton of cap space or draft picks to find another edge rusher. So we’ll see. It’s a possibility he returns.

Andrew: If all goes horribly, what would a potential trade for Hargrave look like? Any teams you could think of? Whats the minimum you would take (again, assuming the worst)? Who would start in his place?

Alex: I haven’t thought about it a ton though yes, I’m in favor of dealing Hargrave if this team isn’t in it by the deadline. Definitely a Day 2 pick. Don’t think you’re getting a first. Not sure on the team. Houston? Philadelphia? Kinda depends on the standings and who is in the hunt.

McCullers would start but if you’re trading Hargrave, the season’s already done so who cares. Buggs will get to dress and have some snaps before making a serious push for playing time in Year Two.

NickSteelerFan: Hey Alex! Regardless of what happens this season, I’m excited to see the team next year with a better defense, experience young players and Big Ben at the healm!
In your opinion do you think the Steelers will attempt to keep Hargrave? I know the price will be high, but we saw first hand againt the Bengals that when Heyward went down, he could slide into the subpackage spot with no dropoff. I know he’s a “NT”, but he’s so much more than that. I hope they can keep him somehow.

Alex: I’m sure they’ll do. I’m sure, ideally, they want him back. But if it’s a money/play time issue, those are gaps that are simply difficult to bridge. So I don’t expect it but hey, I didn’t expect Colbert to deal a 1st round pick either. Who knows. You guys know I want Hargrave locked up in the worst way. Big loss if he’s out the door.

That’s all for this weeks. Thanks guys!

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