Welcome back to the Steelers’ mailbag. As always, we’re here for the next hour to answer anything on your mind.
To your questions!
Billjump: What sort of contract do you think Okorafor is worth next year?
Alex: Man, that’s a good question. I’ve really wrestled with it all year. I don’t know how to evaluate him. The OT market gets inflated because of the demand for the position. Those guys generally get paid more money than maybe what they’re worth. If Banner got $4.5 from this team then Okorafor should get at least more than that. So I’m not sure. $6-7 million maybe? I hadn’t thought about it a lot or crunched the numbers.
Ian Suttie: If the Steelers can upgrade at center (FA or draft) could Green have a future at guard? Or would his lack of size and/or strength be an even bigger liability if they moved him?
Alex: I get this question about once a day. Could they move him to guard? Sure, they could give it a shot. There’s probably a level of comfort there for him. But his issues aren’t just that he’s playing center. It’s not going to solve his technique, hand use, and size issues. If anything, it might amplify them. He’ll be covered up more often, not working as uncovered in pass pro, and small guards do not have success in Pittsburgh. They’ve always needed bigger guys. So I don’t think the switch to guard is a magical cure for him.
stan: I respect that the Steelers (or maybe its just Tomlin) don’t like to throw coaches under the bus by firing them mid-season, but this Klemm situation just might be the exception. I’m assuming that Tomlin has already told Klemm to look elsewhere for next season due to the line’s terrible play, but now that its leaked that Klemm is leaving, what’s the point of keeping him? Isn’t this a perfect opportunity to bring in a new voice to see if someone else can turn this thing around? I mean, we’re still in the thick of the playoff hunt and in the wide open AFC anything can happen.
Alex: The report is that isn’t the case. But I don’t know that to be a fact, obviously. Klemm has always been an accomplished college coach. Then he got in trouble at UCLA and I dunno, may have been blacklisted or not able to coach there for a little bit. So maybe the guy always wanted to get back into the college game. He’s probably more of a West Coast guy too. Born in California, went to Hawaii, coached at UCLA for years. Oregon isn’t California, of course, but maybe going closer to home was more attractive to him, I dunno.
I think fans are probably being needlessly harsh on Klemm. He’s had to try to build this thing from the ground up in a couple of months with curveballs – like losing David DeCastro – along the way. It’s unreasonable to believe things were going to be perfect or even good in the first couple of months.
Point taken on the outsider but I’d bet on Chris Morgan, the assistant, being the next-man-up. He’s an “insider” but he just got here in 2021. So it’s not like he’s been here long-term the way Sarrett was before being promoted. It’s in-house but in a more technical sense. This isn’t Keith Butler waiting 15 years for his chance or Randy Fichtner being on staff ten years before becoming OC.
If Klemm does move on, do you feel that Chris Morgan would be a good or bad choice to replace him and why? Thank you.
Alex: I’m not going to pretend like I have in-depth knowledge of Morgan as a coach. He’s experienced, prefers a zone scheme based on his time in Atlanta and with Kyle Shanahan. But coaches are always tough to judge on the outside, especially assistants. You don’t know their role, influence, and I’m sure they’re not running things exactly the way they would if they were fully in charge. But like I said above, I wouldn’t knock it as “just another in-house hire” like I know people inevitably will.
Pghomer: Always appreciate your time and analysis Alex.
Broad picture view I’ve been wondering. Do you think AB was really the catalyst to our more explosive offense than Ben was? I know Lev Bell and Ben were both big contributors, but ever since AB threw a tantrum and missed the Cinci game the offense has been just meh IMHO.
Do you have any thoughts on this? I know this year are a lot of factors…but it seems to trace back to AB and that Cinci game.
Alex: There are several reasons behind it but sure, you lose one of the game’s most dynamic players, your offense is going to suffer in big ways. He was a playmaker, he was a touchdown threat every play and defenses had to play him accordingly. Roll coverage to him all the time which always left the trips side with 1v1 matchups. His impact was felt in a million and one ways.
But you also had a better o-line and a better Ben. Overall, a better supporting cast. So AB isn’t the only reason. But he is a big one, no doubt about it.
Alex, due to the diminishing manpower, I just got the call to join the Steelers on the active roster this weekend. Are you and Dave lining up beside me?
Alex: Ha, at this point, their run defense can’t be any worse if we’re out there. Right?
Douglas Prostrog: a fun one–you can only resign 4 of the team’s (many) free agents. Who are you picking and why? Rules: Can’t resign Ben, other than that though it’s fair game.
Alex: It’s not nearly as compelling of a list as it was last year. I’ll guess I’ll go with Terrell Edmunds, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Miles Killebrew, and James Washington. Who else is there – Haden, Turner, Okorafor. Haden, I just don’t think I could pay him again, as much as I love the guy. And Turner/Okorafor? They’ve been better pieces of the line but it’s a low bar. I’m not satisfied with where the group is, obviously.