Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome back to your weekly Steelers’ mailbag. As always, we’re here for the next hour to answer anything on your mind.

To your questions!


Hey Alex,

Seems like we keep hearing more and more on the Steelers going after a vet in the offseason. If it’s a Rodgers, Wilson (big wish list) or a Mariota or Tyrod (meh), is there still a chance they’d go QB in round 1 or 2 depending who falls where?

Alex: Sure, there’s a chance. They don’t want to start a rookie but that doesn’t mean they can’t/won’t draft one. Just like the plan in ’04. Draft a rookie and hope to sit him for a year or two. Didn’t work out that way but that was the plan. Maddox and Batch ahead of Ben on the depth chart when he got drafted.

But the odds probably aren’t great. Couple a weaker QB class with the Steelers not picking in the top five/top ten, and it’ll be hard to find that guy.

At some point though, they will need to draft one, unless they draft a big fish like Rodgers. Possible but still pretty unlikely.

Yeshaya: Now that we’re at the quasi-midpoint of the season, which game so far has been the Steelers’ most “out of character” game? Either a win against a team you wouldn’t expect us to have beaten, or a loss against a team you’d have expected us to beat. (or a tie against a team you wouldn’t have expected us to have tied, blech). Knowing what we know now about the Steelers and the other teams, not like which was the most surprising at the time. Thanks!

Alex: That’s a hard question to answer because it starts by defining who the Steelers are. And I don’t think we have a great sense of that. It’s still hard to believe they found a way to beat the Bills in Week One. The Seattle game was pretty bizarre. Playing with the lead, then falling apart in the second half and struggling so much. And last week was a mess but there were a lot of circumstances surrounding that game. So I guess I’ll say Seattle. But this team has been so hot and cold, it’s hard to find their baseline level to answer that question.

stan: As I stood fighting the raindrops (or were those tears?) Sunday at Heinz, it struck me how (aside perhaps from Detroit’s kicker), Detroit had the game plan and skills for a muddy, rainy game and we didn’t. This despite the fact that they’re a dome team. Do the Steelers practice outdoors at all anymore? From the number of slips, fumbles, bad passes and snaps and drops it seems that they don’t. It also seems like Matt Canada isn’t aware that the Steelers play in some of the worst field conditions in the NFL, but I digress…..

Alex: To my knowledge, they practice outside most days unless severe weather forces them to their indoor practice facility. Part of why Detroit ran so much was because they were incapable of throwing the football. Trust me, Lions’ fans gave a lot of flack for how often they ran on 3rd and 7+ which they did time and time again and only converted once (one too many, I know). Pittsburgh probably threw a little too much, Detroit probably wishes they could’ve thrown a little more.

Keep in mind Pittsburgh is a heavy RPO offense so there could be run calls/options that turn into passes. And there were. They did run the ball a fare bit in this game. About 30 carries in the game. All but two of those prior to OT.

Yeshaya: If you could rewrite the rule book, what do you think of making a lesser unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for like 5 yards and no automatic first down? I get the NFL wants a way to require sportsmanship but it’s weird that a staring at a sideline after the play is over is treated as harshly as tackling someone by the facemask. Seems like there’s room in the rulebook for a little more variance in deterrence levels.

Alex: I’d be wary of that just because of how subjective that gets. It’s already a pretty big gray area. So I think I’d be against it. I am, however, in favor or returning to the old 5/15 yard facemask penalties. Grazing the facemask and pulling and yanking on it should not result in the same consequence. That’s more clear-cut to me.

MAK Lives Free: Do we end this year feeling optimistic about our OL? I’m in the minority, but I actually feel they really are one good player (either drafting or Green/Moore growth) away from getting back to a top 5-10 unit.

Alex: Depends on who you talk about but yeah, I think we will. Moreso than the start of the season. Just the fact you have less turnover and you feel like the line is a bit more settled, though not completely with Chuks/Turner set to be FAs, and you’ll have Moore and Green in their second year (and Dotson in Year 3 after first full year starting, don’t forget) should bring more comfort. Like you said, draft a RG/RT, hit on him, and things will start to come together.



With all the injuries and Covid issues who on the Steelers
needs to most step up his game?

Alex: Oh wow, good question. Probably the CBs. Those guys have to win some difficult matchups against a strong and deep Chargers’ WR group.

But part of me wants to go with Taco Charlton. You’ve got Alex Highsmith with a difficult matchup against Rashawn Slater on the left side. Charlton’s gotta win to his side. And Heyward is going to need to keep playing at the A+ level. Really needs to be a team effort.

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