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Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

Welcome to a rare edition of a Wednesday mailbag. With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I won’t be around in the afternoon so bumping this up 24 hours. Like always though, we’re here for the next hour to answer whatever is on your mind.

To your questions!

Country Club: I keep seeing “experts” say that teams will take away the short passing game in the playoffs and then the Steelers will be in trouble. Now, I admit teams will try to do that. But, it’s disingenuous to suggest that teams aren’t already trying to do it (with little success). Plus, if teams really sold out in that fashion, I have no doubt that Ben wouldn’t shred them in the 10-20 range. Anyway, how worried are you about this happening?

Alex: Sure. The broad idea that it will magically be taken away is much easier said than done. Especially given the number of weapons on this team. It’s not like you find a way to shut down one guy, or if one player gets hurt (besides Ben) this offense falls apart. No team has been able to solve it so far. So I’m with you.

steeltown: 

Hey Kozora, happy soon to be turkey day!

1. Whats on the menu tomorrow?

2. What do you see happening with the ILB position in the offseason and moving forward? Release Vince? Spillane the answer? Re-sign Avery? Draft?

Alex: Same to you! The classics. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie. Just wish some Ravens were on the menu, too…

We’ll see where the cap number comes in at. Man I’d hate to cut Vince solely because of the salary cap but I can’t guarantee he’s on the 2021 roster. If he’s gone, then you roll with Spillane/Bush. Maybe sign Williamson for vet minimum and draft someone on Day Three. Throw UG3 in there and see what happens.

RedzC: Given that the Steelers-Ravens game is now postponed, if you had your choice would you rather the Steelers play Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday or canceled/postponed till later in the season?
Just curious.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Alex: I’ll live with Sunday. Create normal work week the following week. Certainly don’t want it postponed later in the season. That would mean invoking a Week 18. Which no one wants to use unless they have to.

Peter Rauch: How confident are you in letting Villanueva and/or Feiler walk this off-season? Okorafor has stepped up nicely this season, Banner won a starting job out of camp and although he’s a free agent he could be brought back cheaply and easily. It’s also a strong draft class for tackles. And letting go of Wiz seemed to show confidence in the trio of Dotson, Gray, and Hassenauer, so what do you make of it?

Alex: Villanueve is the more valuable player both in performance and positional value. Easier to find a LG than it is a LT, to say the least. Okorafor could flip over but then that creates an opening at RT again (if Feiler is re-signed, he could slide back to RT). But replacing your LT is almost always harder than your LG. Even if the draft class looks promising.

Matt Manzo: Happy “early” Thanksgiving Alex!
Are you worried about McFarland at all? Do you think the team will still try to get him some snaps? Seems like Conner and Snell should be getting his snaps when he’s underperforming like he’s been. Maybe try to get him out in space and throw him some balls?

Alex: Same to you, Matt! Nah, I’m not worried about McFarland. Claypool and the others are spoiling us. Not all rookies are on fire to start their career. Remember that McFarland is the only underclassmen too and I don’t think that’s a coincidence either. Younger guys need more time to adjust, just as we’ve seen with players like Dupree and Edmunds.

WeWantDaTruth: Happy Thanksgiving! Do you agree with me that the McFarland up the middle plays are lousy? Need to get him out in space where he can better utilize his athleticism. Thoughts?

Alex: Obviously he can be a threat on the perimeter but no, he can make plays up the middle too. He has to. He’s a running back and those guys can’t work in just one section of the field. He had plenty of successful runs up the middle at Maryland. If he’s that limited, then you have a guy who isn’t going to make it in the league.


That’s all for this hour. I’ll circle back to this later in the day to answer anyone who arrived here late. Know I put this together at the last second. Thanks to everyone who chatted with me!

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