Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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

To your questions!

David Shoff: Alex, i was so impressed with dotson in his rookie year. He came in at rg and lg and did well even against a couple of probowlers. But then the injury bug and some problems with the coaches i guess seem to have derailed him. Seems like his problems lately have been mental. Does it seem mostly mental to you as well?

Alex: That’s a fair assessment, David. I think he has the tools. Big, strong, decently athletic. There’s just something always off with him. Missing some time, missing assignments, not being technical enough. There was a weird thing this preseason with the way they were having him block in pass pro, not helping out the OT when he’s supposed to under Meyer’s rules, it just feels a little off.

I do wonder if some of that rookie play was a bit of a product of expectations. He still played well, I don’t want to deny that, but you get more excited about a rookie being solid than a third-year guy where that sorta becomes the baseline. He’s just not a guy who has managed to put it all together. Right now, if there’s a place I’d start to upgrade next offseason, it’s probably LG.

BananasFoster: Hey Alex- let’s say the Steelers lose to both the FIns and Eagles. 2-6 at the trade deadline. Do you look to move some people for picks? Jack/Bush/Claypool.Mitch/Mason?

Alex: You certainly become sellers. But the NFL deadline is more bark than bite. It’s not like other sports. There will be some trades, Carolina will be moving people but fans tend to overvalue their own guys. The only name I could see this team realistically moving is Claypool *if* they drop the next two. From a value/desire standpoint, I don’t really see who else makes sense to move. Maybe a Wormley/Ogunjobi but still, I think Claypool is the only name who makes enough sense to make me think it’s realistic. I don’t see them moving a QB. They like their insurance policies.

Henning: Hey Alex, so cool to visit the site at the right time for your post. Awesome! I have two questions for you.
1) Is Mitch Trubisky the 2nd or 3rd best QB on this roster? Looking back he played like 4 decent to good quarters in about 16 quarters of regular season play. His preseason was also pretty meh. Meanwhile Mason looked pretty calm and collected in preseason. I mean I think it’s the toughest question concerning our QB room today.
2) Looking at the past week and the surprisingly good secondary play. Who out of Maulet, Jackson, Pierre and Norwood, you think has the brightest future ahead and why? (Hopefully for us of course but in general)

Alex: Thanks for stopping by!

1. I’m fine with the QB order the way it is. Pickett, Trubisky, Rudolph. I won’t pretend like there’s a lot of margin between Trubisky and Rudolph but you signed Trubisky, you’re paying him, he’s your captain, I’m good with him being the #2. Neither guy will be here in 2023 though and that’s really all that matters. Usually you don’t get depth chart movement between a #2 and #3 in-season.

Pierre and Norwood can hopefully having staying power. Pierre’s always had the talent. He’s a little Dotson-like. Gotta be better above the neck, be more consistent, play to his talent. And Norwood has improved as a second-year guy. Versatile and smart though lacks high-end athleticism and still inconsistent as a tackler. But I’m happy with the job all those guys have done. Even Josh Jackson, kudos to him. I don’t know what his future looks like but it’s nice to have depth you can count on, even if Pittsburgh made things pretty simple on him. It’s a good boost for the confidence.

ÄB: Hey Alex,

Assuming Kenny finishes the rest of the season healthy and as the starter, what would be some good metrics for the team to feel comfortable he’s our new franchise QB and not to look in this strong QB draft should we have a top pick?

Alex: It’s hard to quantify. To me, it’s more about the eye test of seeing improvement. Of him correcting mistakes and start to finish, being a better QB. Obviously points, just the general production of this offense. Isn’t solely controlled by the QB but he plays the biggest role. He’s the lead actor. You could look at things like his YPA and YPC and more advanced stuff like intended air yards to see if he’s able to push the ball downfield a bit more. But I just look at overall results, production, and seeing if it looks like he’s getting better from the start of his season to the end.

ImMikeD: Hi Alex. Through 6 games have you seen enough improvement in D. Bush to consider a second contract? If so, what kind of length and money are you thinking?

Alex: He’s gotten better, I’m happy for him, but I’m not interested in a new deal. It’s still not great. There’s still not much he does well on a consistent basis. Maybe a decent tackler and ok blitzer. But coverage, overall run defense, he’s still average at best. This team can do better. Unless he wants to take an Edmunds type deal, one-year for barely more than the minimum, I’m still turning the page. This team needs to aim higher.



Do you think Tua is trying to come back
too soon?

Alex: Above my paygrade. I assume he’s good to go. This situation has now been so closely watched that he’s gone through the protocol and taken every step so far. So I imagine he’s healthy enough to play. On a personal decision as to if he should play, if it’s worth the risk, that’s up to him.

Dan: What’s the likelihood Claypool gets traded? His name pops up pretty consistently in trade rumors.

Alex: Still low. Not zero but not terribly high. Rumors are just that, rumors, and there hasn’t been really any reporting that Claypool is available right now. We’ll see how the next two weeks go, where the Steelers are at record/playoff picture wise. Not ruling a deal out but I think it’d mean them losing the next two games and becoming sellers.

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