Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome to your Thursday mailbag. We’re here for the next hour to answer whatever is on your mind.

To your questions!

CP72: AK,
Do you think we’ll see some type of specific plays for McFarland since they had an extra week to scheme up and practice some different looks?

Alex: I think it’s reasonable. Not just because of the bye but because McFarland was already getting integrated into the offense. Active Week 2. First snaps Week 3. And played well against the Texans. So that usually lends itself to more opportunities when a young guy steps up like that. How much will it be super specific for him? Maybe a play. But just in general, he should log around 5-12 snaps per game, depending on game flow.

JMD: Alex, in your opinion, would forfeited games detract from the significance of the season, or would you enjoy a 7th Super Bowl just as much even if the path involved some strange turns?

Alex: It would depend on the extent. If it’s just a couple regular season games, then almost certainly not. If it’s much more than that or God forbid a playoff game, then I think that clouds the season. Baseball only played 60 games this year and their playoffs still feel legitimate, though we’ll have to see how history looks back on it in a few years. But overall, I don’t think it would detract unless there was a major string of forfeits, which doesn’t look terribly likely even given what’s happening with Tennessee.



Who do you see making the biggest
offensive plays this Sunday for our

I think that James Washington and Ben are
finally going to click on some long ones.

Alex: It’s hard to pin down because there are so many weapons. I think you could see Ebron have another big game. The Eagles’ linebackers are weak. Logan Thomas went 4/37/1 in Week One. Tyler Higbee had a 5/54/3 performance the next week. And Sunday night, George Kittle (granted…he’s George Kittle) went off for a 15/183/1 performance. Tight ends feasting on these guys. So Ebron could have another big day. A 5/60/1 type of performance. But other than that, usual suspects of JuJu and Diontae. Might be harder to throw the deep ball just because of their pass rush that makes it harder to call 5-7 step drops.

srdan: AK, last game Claypool led the WRs in snaps. Do you think that is where he is going to be most games? Or it was him replacing DJ that week?

Alex: No, that won’t be the norm without injury. His 61 snaps Week 3 came from two things. Johnson’s injury, as you mentioned. And their use of 12/13 personnel. Claypool became the sole WR in those situations for all but one snap because of his blocking and deep ball ability. The same reason why Johnny Holton was in that role last season. Or DHB when he was a Steeler. Bigger guys who can block corners and get vertical off playaction. That led to him playing more snaps than anyone. But don’t expect that every week, even though his snap count will see incremental increases the way he’s playing.

Yeshaya: Just spitballing how to handle covid cases and think I have an idea borrowed a bit from the NHL:
If a team can’t field a team due to covid, but hasn’t been caught breaking the league rules, the should cancel the game and award the other team a win, and give the covid team a tie.
My logic is that you doesn’t totally punish the covid team, but you don’t hurt the other team either. And I’m willing to trust that no crafty coach would actually have a player get covid in order to get a tie instead of a loss if they’re playing a tough opponent or something. Thoughts?

Alex: The second part of that, the South Park “give them chicken pox” notion isn’t a concern. I’m with you there.

But getting to decide the outcome of games even if it’s *only* a tie? I want to stay away from any of those precedents if I can help it. I’m definitely adding a Week 18, heck I’m adding a Week 19, before I go down that road especially for teams who followed protocol and just got unlucky. Those types of things are last resorts or if there was a clear flouting of rules and protocol, like what the Titans are accused of doing.

PghSDF: Are you surprised that the NFL allows the players for both teams to meet up after the game? If it were me, I wouldn’t even let them meet up for the coin toss.

Alex: I mean, these guys just played football for three hours. I’m ok with a post-game hello. From an optics standpoint, maybe they just eliminate it especially given what’s happened the last two weeks with Tennessee and COVID cases among other teams, but it’s not something I lose a lot of sleep over.

Yeshaya: Inspired by our J-Wobble reunion this Sunday, what are some other former Steelers who’ve moved on from the team not because we couldn’t afford them at all, but just because their skill/position wasn’t emphasized enough by the Steelers to make it worth paying them market value?

Alex: That’s a good question. I’d have to chew on that for awhile. LJ Fort? Talked about him on Wednesday’s show. Just never valued him properly. No other names immediately popping to mind who fall into that specific category. Guys like Emmanuel Sanders/Mike Wallace lost out because money went elsewhere, not because the team didn’t value their skillset. Steelers do a good job of keeping their own. Maybe another NT in Steve McLendon a few years back when he signed with the Jets.

Douglas Prostorog: who is more likely not to be on the team next year: Alualu, Marcus Allen, Dangerfield?

Alex: Good question. It’s possible all three return. Alualu and Dangerfield will be free agents after the season. Allen will be on the final year of his rookie deal. But none of them will break the bank. Allen is probably going to stay if Vince Williams gets cut to give them some options at ILB. But he’s the most least valuable from a production standpoint.

If you’re making me choose, I’ll rank them Alualu, Dangerfield, Allen but I really think all three find their way back in 2021. Signing Alualu and Dangerfield are the cheap, low-level moves the team will be able to make this offseason.

falconsaftey43: Why is all the talk about rescheduling the game, or forfeit? What about just voiding the game entirely, and those two teams just play 15 game schedules. Would seem to be a better middle ground if rescheduling become impractical.

Alex: Possible but it’s harder to just “X” out those games on a 15 game schedule. Then you worry about tiebreakers and win percentages that can vary because one team didn’t play 6.7% of their schedule. Even though baseball saw its season reduced, they still played 60 games. If one team played 58, another 59, it wasn’t as significant.

Plus…in terms of rescheduling vs not playing the game. Money. All comes down to ability to generate revenue for the league. So I still believe the league will explore every avenue of playing every single game, even if that means adding a Week 18.

Douglas Prostorog: it’s slow apparently. so another one: do you find it odd that Brooks has never been protected nor poached?

Alex: Not really. He’s a rookie. Most guys who are getting protected are the vets. Rookies without any tape? Unlikely to be picked up.

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