Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome back to your weekly Thursday Steelers’ mailbag. Here for the next hour to answer anything and everything on your mind.

To your questions!

Mateo K: heard you and Dave on yesterday’s podcast talking about the team needing a true burner at WR. Do you see the team potentially making a move for a guy like that and what do you think about John Ross. I think he’s on a cheap contract with the Giants. I can’t imagine he’d cost more than a 7th round pick.

Alex: It’d be a nice role that would help this offense. Even if that guy was just rotating in a few snaps a game. There would be the worry of the “alarm going off” for defenses but I say that’s good. Use that against them if they want to rotate their coverage or play 2-high because of it to take away that deep threat.

But the Steelers have very little draft capital and I don’t know who that guy would be. Ross is actually a solid suggestion. Giants would be sellers here and you might get him for a conditional pick. I’d also toss out Albert Wilson’s name down in Miami. They are definite sellers and Wilson has a better resume than Ross. He’d be cheap speed who can play in the slot. But I don’t think they’re making a move, especially after signing Anthony Miller.

I’d go sign Desean Jackson in the offseason. Know the guy will be what, 36, but he can still run. That’s all I need him for.

Steel PAul: 

Alex.. I’d like to hear your thoughts on how you believe the Steelers should handle the offensive line with Banner back – assuming all are healthy and can go. Personally, I’d like them to take the five best and make it work, even if a small shift would be necessary.


Alex: Hey Paul! I wouldn’t hate really anything they decide to do but at this point, I’d keep it as is. This group is clearly growing and clearly getting better. Why rock the boat? If there’s an injury (and Dan Moore did get hurt but I think he’ll be alright) or if someone struggles, than you can make a change. But this group needed time together, they’re getting it, so don’t mess with a (not good but better) thing. I’d keep the five as is. A “best five” approach for the o-line is tough to do because the positions are specialized. You can’t just put a guy at LG if he’s a LT, even if he makes up your best five. Even flipping someone LG to RG can be a little tricky.

The Tony: 

Hey Alex,

So far this season, who has been the biggest surprise and who has been the biggest disappointment for the Steelers.

Alex: Good question, Tony. I suppose I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it in those exact terms. I don’t know if Chase Claypool is a disappointment but he’s a guy who always leaves me wanting more. The guy is so physically talented, he should be a more dominant player. It just can’t quite come together for him consistently. He hasn’t taken the jump he has last year. In some ways, he is playing like he did as a rookie but now our expectations for him are higher.

In terms of biggest surprise, Chris Wormley has been solid. That in itself isn’t a major surprise but it’s helped dull the blow of Stephon Tuitt a bit, though Tuitt is still the superior player in every single aspect. Zach Gentry went from a guy I wasn’t sure would make the 53 to a guy who has carved out a decent niche blocking role in this offense. There’s hope for him after all. And Tre Norwood has come on strong as of late, though the team has been smartly reducing his role and you could sense they had something with him throughout training camp.

Dan Blocker: Hi Alex, as Anthony McFarland gets closer to returning, do you see them keeping 4 halfbacks, or are Kalen Ballage’s days numbered? It seems he’s ahead of Benny Snell in terms of playing time, but the Steelers don’t like to part with draft picks. How do you see this sorting itself out

Alex: That’s a tough one. It is possible. I know we talked about the idea of them keeping four at cutdowns before we knew McFarland was headed to IR. And technically, they did keep four because McFarland had to be on the initial 53 so he could be designated to return as he has. But do you need four RBs when Harris plays 85%+ of the time?

They won’t cut Snell. Tomlin likes him too much and he’s too good of a special teams player for them. So it’s either Ballage getting the ax or them keeping four. My guess? Ballage is cut, McFarland comes up, and they try to put Ballage on the practice squad.

Nolrog: OK, big question of the week. Are you taking time off because of the bye? If so, what do you plan to do?

Alex: Ha, a little bit maybe. If anyone has suggestions on things to do, I’m all ears.

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