Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome back to your weekly Pittsburgh Steelers’ mailbag. Do apologize I am publishing this one a few hours early. Have some things I need to do later today and could not run this at my normal time. I will make sure to check back in throughout the day for those who ask during normal hours so don’t worry if you missed it “live.” As always, feel free to ask whatever is on your mind.

To your questions!


Hey Alex, it might be not such a good timeframe for most of the Depot audience but for your european following this is perfect.^^

Since it’s my luck today I’m also definitly gonna ask something and I have a good one I’m very interested in. What do you hope Brian Flores brings to this defense? Or even team?

Alex: Hey Henning! Glad the change in time helped you out a little bit. Silver lining here.

That’s a good question. It can be tough to quantify a coaches’ impact. Obviously you just want better play. But I’d want to see a more disciplined off-ball linebacker group. Guys who play more assignment sound, guys who get off blocks in the run game, play downhill, play fast, play physical. Of course, I’d want that no matter who the LBs Coach was but those are things I hope Flores can instill in guys like Devin Bush. Bush is someone who needs to be more aggressive and physical against the run and actually less physical in coverage. He tries to bump and reroute these guys all the way downfield and because he’s smaller and always overmatched, he actually knocks himself off-balanced. There’s a great example of that from the Eagles’ preseason game this year.

Hopefully Flores can put some confidence in this group. That’ll go a long ways.

Chris Carey: Why would we think our OL is going to be any better than last year? Added a couple of mid-level FA, but other than that and a new coach – why should anybody be optimistic?

Alex: You’re right they need to prove it. It’s great to talk about it on paper but actions are the only things that matter. But Daniels was a high-quality add and Cole, while average to slightly below, should bring more stability. Stability, experience, continuity, and talent are all better than a year ago when the team overhauled the entire line in one offseason with an Island of Misfit Toys. Dan Moore is in Year Two, Kevin Dotson will hopefully be healthy, you have Cole and Daniels as new starters, that does put this team in a better place. How much better is a fair question but it should be better. It better be.

BurghInPhilly: Alex, if one a scale of 1 to 10 where the 2021 Steelers offense was a 3 and the Packers were a 9, what do you expect the Steelers 2022 offense to be? I know there are a lot of ifs, ands, and buts, but give us your best guess.

Alex: Good question. It’s so hard to gauge with all the unknown and moving pieces. I don’t think it’s going to be a whole lot better. Maybe a 4, 4.5. The first quarter/first half offense can’t possibly be as bad as it was a year ago and Matt Canada’s offense will be more “his” to run but I see a fair amount of growing pains. Defense is going to have to shoulder the load and play like a nine.


Wow, I am never on when you do this. I have kind of an observation/question. As a fairly frequent visitor i am noticing more and more different authors, which I think is great. Maybe i missed an ‘announcement’ but is it possible to put together a ‘Roster’ of authors on the site? We are all familiar with your work, Dave’s cap expertise, Matthew the content machine and Doctor Mel is a ridiculously good writer in addition to her medical knowledge and lets not forget your camp photographer sidekick Tim but now that we are seeing new names, maybe a short bio at least so we get to know these guys that put in so much great work,

Kudos on your shoutout from Alan Faneca!

Alex: Ha, maybe this early time has some benefits. For sure, we have definitely expanded our team and added some great writers to the site. You’re right we don’t have a staff page or anything fancy like that. Maybe it’s something we should explore. You can always click on an author’s name and it will take them to a bio page with all their articles. But maybe it’s something we consider. Our focus, of course, is always on the content and the Steelers and I know we don’t get too caught up in the personal stuff. But I understand why you’re asking about it.

Christopher Pokins: Alex,
Keep reading Steelers fans desperately wanting the Steelers to sign another RB, OT, OLB. I understand the need. My thinking is if someone available at this point was worth signing we would have signed them. I’d rather see who comes available after cuts begin in the pre-season. It’s not like we are looking for starters who will need an entire camp. Plus I’d like to see the UFA RBs get camp reps before we sign a veteran. Already know what available veterans bring to the table. So I don’t understand the rush. Your thoughts?

Alex: I’m with you. Take the 90 to camp, evaluate, and make a move from there. You make a move now, you’re probably just going to do it again this summer when *something* happens. Injury, performance, opportunity, whatever. I’m fine waiting it out. Ogunjobi was solid. No other moves are needed.

Definitely Not Udyr: What week, if at all, do you predict Pickett to start? And what role do you predict for our new acquisition Ogunjobi?

Alex: I have no idea. I want to see him throw a pass in a Steelers’ uniform first. Could be Week One, could be Week 10, could be Week 18, could be not at all. We’re all just speculating right now. Whenever he’s ready – that’s when I care when he starts.

Ogunjobi should be a sub-package pass rusher/three tech who logs roughly 600 snaps this year.



Who do you consider the Steelers best free agent signing this year?

Who do you consider the best draft choice this year?

Alex: James Daniels. Easy answer but you guys know he was the dude I wanted this team to go after. Got my wish.

I’ll say Pickens as the best pick. Sure hope it’s Pickett – it needs to be – but Pickens is first round talent in the second round. If he has his head on straight, he’ll be a great receiver. I do think there will be a learning curve for him and my rookie expectations are a bit tempered. 2023 is the big year for him.

Bill Sechrengost: Hi Alex, if history tells us anything, it is that not every new player (whether from the draft or free agency) will be successful. Which new player can the Steelers least afford to be a bust and which one can they most afford to be a bust?

Alex: Ha, well I think you know my answer to the first part of that question. Kenny Pickett. That’s your franchise right there. His play determines what the next couple of years looks like for this franchise. We’re years removed from the idea missing here sets your franchise back ten years, teams quickly correct mistakes, but it would create for a rough 2-3 seasons and who knows if the next guy works out either. Patience is thin in Pittsburgh, especially after failing to win a playoff game for six years. Longest drought since the pre/early Noll era.

The player they can “most” afford? Probably Pickens or Leal. It’s hard for me to think about free agents as busts, I guess, but I get what you’re saying. My hopes aren’t super high for Leal so maybe my answer is a bit biased in that direction.


I saw something recently saying that Flores only brings draft picks back to the Steelers if they have him on staff for two years. Is that true?

Alex: Yes it is. From the NFL:

“According to the resolution, a team is eligible to receive draft pick compensation if the candidate in question has been “employed by the employer-club for a minimum of two years.” There can be no break in employment between teams.”


Hey Alex, a lot of the discussion with whether to pay Johnson or not has revolved around two concepts:
1) He’s just not impactful enough to warrant +$20M/year
2) It would be better to spend that money on position X (typically OT is mentioned)

For the second point, is that a logical way of looking at things? Free Agency isn’t an endless supply of high end talent where you can just buy whatever you need. Mason Cole was the highest paid Center to change teams this off-season. Armstead at OT got $15M/year, after him the next highest paid OT to change teams was Collins at $7M/year. Just because you’d rather spend $20M/year on a stud LT, doesn’t mean that guy exists to go spend money on.

Alex: I’m sure there’s a level of merit to it but it isn’t the most convincing argument. It’s vague, hypothetical, and if you want to state it as a claim, there has to be a real plan in place of what that money is going to be used for. Like you said, that guy may not exist and even if he does, you may not get him. Maybe he re-signs, maybe some other team spends even more, maybe the guy gets hurt, has a bad year, gets arrested. So many variables that can’t be accounted for. People too often trade the known for the unknown. Not my style.

But in a world where salary caps will spike and caps are malleable in ten different ways, it doesn’t do much for him. Is the player worth it – that is the question to ask. If you answer yes, you pay that man 99% of the time.

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