Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome back to your weekly Pittsburgh Steelers’ mailbag. Moved this one back a day to account for the holiday. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. As always, we’re here for the next hour to answer whatever is on your mind.

To your questions!



What is the biggest key to getting our Offense on track
and starting to gel?

Alex: It’s hard just to say one thing. This team needs to keep generating chunk plays because they’re not going to be an efficient, on-schedule type offense. They need to really be better in the red zone. They’ve had chances but they haven’t finished drives. Still one of the worst red zone offenses in football, 26th in the league. They don’t have margin for error. Get that up and this offense will put more points on the board. Won’t be the Chiefs or Eagles but they won’t be stuck at 20 points per game like they have been prior to the Bengals’ game. So if I could wave a wand and change one number, that’d be it.

BananasFoster: Happy Thanksgiving Alex! As you can tell I think the season has been over for weeks. Do you foresee the Steelers FO making moves to acquire more picks for the ’23 Draft? So many holes to fill.

Alex: Happy Thanksgiving!

Just to be clear, the trade deadline has passed so no trades can be made until after the Super Bowl. Could something happen then in terms of a player getting dealt? I doubt it. I’m not sure who that’d be, someone under contract through at least 2023.

Draft day would really be the next chance. And who knows what the roster will look like then based off free agency and whatever else occurs. But I can see Khan/Weidl being much more open to trading down than Kevin Colbert ever was. Colbert almost never traded down. Not just in the first round, which he did only once way back in 2001, but at any point in the draft. So I could see that being on the table but trying to predict it is pretty tough.

BillJump: Hi Alex. What do you think of Gentry as the no 2 TE, do you think he is a good compliment to Freiermuth?

Alex: I do. Gentry’s carved out a niche role as a blocking tight end. Freiermuth still isn’t a strong in-line blocker, does better in space/on the perimeter so they work well. It’s nice to have that tight end built like a tackle who can block against 4-3 ends like the team has seen with the Saints and Bengals the last two weeks. The guys who can match Cam Jordan, Sam Hubbard, etc. That’s important.

It’s a bit like Heath Miller/Matt Spaeth. Miller was a far better blocker than Freiermuth and one of the most well-rounded TEs in the game but Spaeth really was that 6th OL who had rare size for the position that came in handy. It’s funny to see those guys transform from college to pro. In college, Spaeth was a John Mackey Award winner for top college tight end in the NCAA. Spaeth had more receiving yards his senior year of college (564 yards) than he did in his nine year college career combined (420). Gentry was a receiving tight end in college and became a blocker in the NFL. So those are semi-similar career arcs that have been interesting to watch unfold.

Matt Manzo: Happy Black Friday, Alex!!!!
Are you at all worried about Picketts accuracy after the the last few games? Seems like he’s still throwing behind receivers or more often than not, not putting the ball where they can catch it stride. I’ve seen him make one or two good throws each game, but it feels like a rarity.
Is that just a product of a “rookie” qb and will improve once the game slows down?

Alex: There’s been a couple of blips but no, I haven’t been that worried about it. I think Dave Bryan made the fair point he has to anticipate things a bit better. But his accuracy has largely been a strength. Sometimes he hasn’t been on the same page as the receiver, expecting someone to keep running when the receiver settles, and that can make skew how accurate a pass looked when it was just miscommunication.

Jerry Reid: Hey Alex! Obviously the Steelers are not contenders this year, but are you excited as I am about the rest of the season? With an easier schedule to finish out the year, im hoping to see some sort rhythm like we got a glimpse of against the Bengals. Thinking of the Lions, do you think this young offense is in a spot where they have to learn how to win again? There seems to be a serious morale issue that’s doing most of the damage. Those back to back penalties in the third quarter exemplifies how this entire season has been.

Alex: Yeah, I’m always excited to go out and learn more. The chance to watch young guys grow and develop and what they can offer the future. It’s disappointing but somewhat nice to focus on that when usually, we’re all caught up in the math and the path to the playoffs. It’s certainly going to be what I’m paying attention to the most. Hopefully they can work through most of the growing pains this year and hit the ground running in 2023.

Bill Sechrengost: Hi Alex. Looking back, who do you think was the best free agent signing in the off season and who was the worst?

Alex: I don’t think there was a home run or a strikeout. James Daniels has come into his own and has probably been the best guy. Myles Jack has been fine. Lacking splash but he’s been steady. Levi Wallace I guess would be third but he’s a #2 corner and isn’t going to be a #1 type of dude so expectations must be made relative. But Daniels should take the top spot, good to see after such a tough summer he had adjusting to Pat Meyer.

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