Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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

To your questions!

Jake Sas: Not to say this season is lost but looking ahead to next year already. Going into the off-season do you have a QB wishlist, someone you think would look great in black and gold (realistically)? Also, what should the Steelers first round pick be and why is it oline?

Alex: I don’t have one, to be honest. It’s a weird place to be, a thought and discussion we haven’t had to discuss in a LONG time. The first time of my adult lifetime. There’s a lot of routes to go. If they could trade for Aaron Rodgers, I’m all for it. Who doesn’t want an elite, Hall of Fame QB to replace your Hall of Fame QB?

I guess I have a longer list of guys I don’t want. I don’t want Mason Rudolph starting. I don’t want the team to trade for Jimmy G. And I certainly understand the mid or lower level FA option aren’t that enticing even if I think it’s realistic.

But it’ll be pretty wide open. And there are rarely good or easy answers in that transitional time. You just try to find your franchise guy as soon as you can as the Pats did. Took one year “off” with Cam Newton as their bridge guy and then they found Mac Jones and built around him well.

Todd Bowers: Why not make a push to go after D. Watson? He would be a long term solution. I understand people worrying about character issues but we had the same thing with Ben when he was this age. Just wondering your thoughts on the subject.

Alex: Not worth even considering him until all the legal issues are behind him. And I really think he’s going to wind up in Miami. That seems to be where he wants to go and the team who wants him the most. It sounds like that’s going to happen this offseason – it almost happened at the deadline.

Still-uh-fan??: Hey Alex, what do you think the chances are if Tuitt ever playing for the Steelers again ?
Follow up if he doesn’t play do you think he’s more likely to retire or be released ?

Alex: I really don’t know. Without knowing what’s going on with his situation, it’s hard to speculate. I wish I had some information but it sounds like just about everyone is in the dark about his present situation and his future. If he doesn’t want to play in 2022, then I assume that means he’s retiring. So that would be the likely outcome if he tells the team he doesn’t want to come back. I guess if he refuses to submit retirement paperwork, then the team would end up releasing him.

MoreRingsThanYourTeam: Do the Steelers pick up Devin Bush’s 5th year option or has he begun to teeter into first round bust territory? Nonetheless, ILB has to be high on the draft board. We’re getting mauled by every running back in the NFL. I know that has to do with losing Tuitt and Alualu, but still.

Alex: Nope, not happening. Even if he plays better the last four games, it’s not going to happen. The 5th year option is guaranteed at the time you exercise it. You can’t rescind it the way you used to be able to. 2022 will be the final year of his rookie contract and we’ll see if the extra year removed from his torn ACL helps. But that gamble isn’t worth picking up what would be a fairly expensive 5th year option amount.

D-ville Tommy: I try my best to remain objective, and there has been a lot of suspect performance all over the field. But am I crazy thinking that if they can fix the run game enough to be respectable, that they can win 3 of the last 4? They should be able to beat the Titans at home and the Browns and Ravens (who have to be succumbing to all of their injuries) just don’t seem that intimidating right now. Side note, does Tuitt ever wear a football uniform again, and is it black and gold?

Alex: Man, I don’t know. I hope so. But we’ve been talking about just needing to fix the trenches all season long. And it hasn’t happened. I don’t think they’ll be favored in any of their final four games and rightly so. Can they go 3-1? Sure, they can get hot. But I don’t see a lot of evidence this team can sustain anything. They haven’t sustained much of anything in a positive way all year long. It’s just been pockets, moments, flashes, and they really haven’t played a full or complete game wire-to-wire all season. They at least did that at times in 2020.

On Tuitt, I really don’t have a clue.

jger15: Curious on your thoughts regarding what kind of coaching turnover is necessary for improvement next year (if any at all). And at what point does the team seriously need to consider relieving Coach Tomlin of defensive coordinator duties?

Alex: Good questions but ones that are hard to answer. It’s difficult to quantify a coaches value because we don’t see the work Monday through Saturday. We see the finished product and that’s the test but it also puts in the variable of players. What blame falls on them versus the coach not preparing or putting them in good situations? It gets murky there.

To Tomlin, don’t expect it to happen even if you want it to happen. And it is worth reminding how good this defense was in 2019 and 2020. Those teams were big on talent but usually elite defenses are. And Tomlin is one of those guys who helped build it. So I don’t want to lose sight of that either when talking big-picture. Those kinds of decisions don’t get made around just one year for a guy who has been here 15.

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