Welcome back to your weekly Pittsburgh Steelers’ mailbag. As always, we’re here for the next hour to answer anything on your mind.
To your questions!
Great tape of the run game this morning. I love those articles.
On offense, who is the best player when compared to his peers around the league?
Alex: Thanks srdan! Appreciate it.
So the best player on offense relatively speaking? The best at his position group. That’s a good question. I’m not sure of the answer. It’s no one on the offensive line. It’s not at tight end. It’s not Ben. It’d have to be one of the wide receivers, and there’s an open question as to who the best Steelers WR is (my vote is JuJu, Diontae, Claypool in that order). It might be Najee Harris. Even though he’s two games in, he’s a top I dunno, 15 back in the league. Maybe already close to top ten. And that puts him ahead of any of the WRs. None of those guys are top 15 in the NFL. But unfortunately, a hard question to answer.
Put your Madden hat on and turn off the salary cap.
Assuming Watson is eligible to play, what are you trading from the Steelers to acquire him? Include a player in the deal.
Alex: I would not even begin to think about trading for Watson until his legal and off-field stuff is resolved and cleared up. So I hadn’t even started to think about what I would give up to get him. Couldn’t give you a good answer here.
WeWantDaTruth: Hey Alex! Last week, I asked if the Steelers should use their cap money and go get a vet OLineman. You said that it was too early for that. Have your thoughts changed on that after watching another poor rushing performance in game 2 and our QB getting hit 10x and injured?
Alex: They haven’t. I think I said at the time to give it through the first month of the season. Obviously it’s rough right now. But that’s not a major surprise either. I’m not sure who you’re replacing with either. It’s not like there’s one obvious weak link. There’s issues across the board. I suspect most people would say Chuks. He was just ok against the Raiders. Not really better/worse than anyone else. I’ve said I would strongly consider playing Haeg to get my best healthy run blocker on the field. I’d do that before I signed someone.
J Jones: Alex, Benny Snell’s running style doesnt look like it helps a struggling oline. Think we see Ballage soon and does he help? And I recently asked this in the chat…why dont we throw more deep balls to Juju? He owns some of the longest plays in Steelers history. Why pigeonhole him?
Alex: Well we’re not going to see much of the backup. Which is fine with me. But Snell appears to be the #2 right now. The guy has had two carries this season. The first, they ran into a heavy front, they were at least -1, and Green got held as he tried to pull around. The second, Gentry missed the backside cutoff block. Had he secured it, Snell would’ve had a nice gain. So I’m not going to judge too much off those two carries.
Yeah, I feel you on JuJu. It has a lot to do with where he plays. In the slot, he’s going to run shorter and more option routes. That’s his role on the offense right now as Johnson wins 1v1 backside and Claypool wins vertically. But I would like to see it, for sure. I’m sure JuJu (and his wallet in a contract year) would too.
I’m sure there’s not one answer, and I know everyone is talking about it. But what is going on with the offense? The offense looks exactly like last year’s. Big Ben has shown he can throw it deep (maybe not as deep), so thats not the issue. But it all looks like dinks and dump offs again. Defenses don’t respect it at all.
Alex: It’s a bit of everything. But it’s an ugly 1st and 10 offense. Averaging 4.0 yards per play, 29th in the league. Puts yourself in third and long and just stresses the offense while limiting the playbook. Gotta run it better. We knew that was their mission and challenge all offseason. Need to run the ball more efficiently.
Dan Blocker: Alex: From what I’ve read this week. there’s more talk about Dan Moore Jr and Kendrick Green being “pushed back” on certain plays. Granted, all players will have this happen at some point, but is this more of a technique issue, strength, or both? I’m not as concerned about Moore, he has some size, but is Green size a long-term issue at the pro level?
Alex: It just depends on the play you’re talking about. The assignment, the leverage, who they were going against. When your run game is averaging like, 3.5 yards a pop, you’re getting a lot of guys who aren’t winning the line of scrimmage the way they should. I think both guys are strong. So it points more to a technique/hand placement/leverage issue than them just not being strong or physical enough to do the job. They are.
ImMikeD: Howdy Alex. Najee = Best Steelers stiff arm ever?
Alex: Still giving the nod to Vance. He put the ball in the end zone. Lot cooler than a nine yard gain.
BurghInPhilly: I know there is more, but it seems that three key things get in the way of the Steelers offense are 1. the reluctance of throwing the ball in the middle of the field past 10 yards which allows the other teams to play single high and stack more people in the box against the run and short throws 2. the play of the o-line and 3. that Ben locks in on his reads pre-snap and misses a lot of open guys because he never looks their way. Do you agree and if so, what can be done to change it?
Alex: I semi-agree with the first point, 100% agree with the second point, and don’t really agree with the third point. No secret Ben’s prefers to throw outside the numbers than the middle of the field. But the first two weeks of this season, especially last week, the Raiders had MOFC (middle of field closed). Predominantly a single-high defense. So that’s not where you attack. You attack the way he did. Outside the numbers.
The third, you’d have to be a lot more specific with a criticism like that. Perhaps it’s valid but that sounds like a pretty big catch-all. You’d need to get into the details and nitty gritty to prove your point. Generally, that hasn’t been my takeaway, with a couple of exceptions.
Do you think the lack of any distinguishable difference in the offence between last year and this year (besides the occasional presnap motion) a “cant teach an old dog new tricks” thing or were we sold a bill of goods on Canada as an offensive innovator?
Also, Aliens…. real or naw?
Alex: It’s hard to say. It’s certainly an adjustment. Part of the “newness” and growing pains. I said from the get-go how Canada and Ben work with each other and adapt/compromise will be the most critical part of all. And so far, it’s been clunky. Hopefully it gets better in time. It has to. Good question to keep in mind though.
100%, aliens are real. The math just says it pretty much has to be. The better question is if they’ve paid visits to Earth. And I want to believe so badly. The idea that every piece of evidence, every story, every recounting is wrong is really hard to wrap my head around. Especially when you hear the stories from David Fravor about the Tic-Tac videos and things like that. Some stuff I don’t believe, the Travis Walton story is super dubious and I’ve had bigger and bigger doubts about Bob Lazor over the years, but man, it can’t all be wrong, can it? The issue I have is despite leaps and bounds made in technology, everyone having a camera with them 24/7, it seems like the footage we’ve gotten is worse and less frequent than during the 70s-80s-90s. So that’s hard to reconcile.
Anyway, much longer answer than you probably were looking for. But my answer is. Yes, aliens are real. Yes, aliens have made the trip to Earth. Yes, I choose to believe they’re Steelers’ fans.
Looking forward to this all week.
Have you see anything on video that showed that Turner was spit at first?
Alex: I hadn’t. The All-22 doesn’t show it. But I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about it. Sorta fruitless. Bigger fish to fry.
Matt Manzo: Happy Thursday Alex!
Do you see a move coming for another DT? If I were playing Madden I’d be fine with Buggs and Mondeaux. But I’d like to think we could make a trade or add another body there.
Alex: Hey Matt! I don’t. They’ll roll with Buggs and Davis. See what those guys can do. Only way to find out is to play them. Hopefully Tuitt can return sooner than later. Then we’ll all feel better about this group.
Dan: With Friermuth putting some good tape out there and getting Ben’s attention, does he completely overtake Ebron this year?
Alex: Depends how you define “completely overtake.” But yes, he’ll play more snaps than Ebron. And that number will likely keep increasing. Freiermuth probably at 60% for this season. Ebron around 40%.
stan: Can you explain the Steelers’ love of Henry Mondeaux? I get that he’s a good special teamer, but when he got on the field as a defensive lineman last year he was terrible. Archibong seemed like a much better choice, yet as soon as I saw the Alualu injury, I presumed that Mondeaux would be the guy.
Alex: I mean, they loved him so much that they cut him. I’m not sure what evidence there is Archibong, a rookie who has barely played, is “a much better choice.” And Mondeaux’s STs value is very real. And that’s important for all backups, as Mondeaux will be.
Alex, hope you’re doing well, man.
#1 – If it’s evident Ben isn’t fully healed but a little time would help, would you start him Sunday or let him sit? I’m asking from the standpoint of trying not to aggravate the injury, especially given some of the opponents coming up and the fact that this could already be his last year. Maybe I’m too risk averse, but I’d hate to see him exacerbate it on some freak play and wind up missing more time (especially given that this could be his last year).
#2 – Perhaps this is blasphemous, but who cares. Say it’s late Nov/early Dec and the Steelers are out of contention, or a year where we have an early playoff exist. Obviously a bummer situation, but nonetheless, do you have a #2 team you low-key root for if they’re still in it? If so, who and why? (I have no shame in saying my AFC #2 is Buffalo, goes back to the Jim Kelly days. My NFC #2 is NYG — no good explanation, just how it’s been since the 90s.)
Alex: If Ben can play, he plays. This team needs to win ball games. Of course you always run the risk of further injury (I’ll defer to experts like Dr. Mel on that one, sometimes that chance is low and it’s just a pain tolerance thing) but Ben is the guy. Play your guys .
Nah, I don’t have any other team I root for. Steelers or bust.