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Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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

To your questions!

BananasFoster: Alex- Happy New Year! Do you believe Ray Fittipaldo that the players know Canada is on his way out? I really don’t see the Steelers making a splash OC hire. An outside the organization type, off the McVay, Shanahan tree. Do you?

Alex: Happy New Year, too! My interpretation of that isn’t that players have been literally told but they probably have the sense and feel just as I’m sure is common of any coach, head coach, positional coach, etc. who is going to be fired. Players talk, they hear things, they get a sense of tension and when someone is lame duck. But we should get our answer when the season ends in a few weeks.

I don’t envision a “splash” signing but I hadn’t put much thought into it yet, to be honest. My in-season focus often stays in-focus.

Yeshaya: Hey Alex, it saddens me that the odds aren’t great for Cam to ever win a Superbowl. Of the post 70s Steelers, what your Mount Rushmore of Steelers greats who never won a SB?

Alex: Oh wow, that’s a great question. I’d have to stop and think about that one for a bit. Heyward is definitely on that list. It’d a lot of the more recent names I guess. A list of the 2010s and 1990s. So Heyward, Maurkice Pouncey, Dirt Dawson, Greg Lloyd/Kevin Greene, Carnell Lake, I don’t know if I could narrow it down into a group of four to put up on a mountain. And I know I’m leaving other names off the list. Heck, T.J. Watt could be part of that camp right now. Throw in David DeCastro, too. Rod Woodson won one but not in Pittsburgh. So it’s a great group of names.

PwndHearts: Since you have made clear that your “in-season focus often stays in focus” I am of course going to immediately ask you a question about next year. Who would you consider bringing in as a vet to back-up/mentor Pickett next year. Are there any potential Ryan Fitzpatrick’s you would consider? Someone who has been around, but also not really good enough to be a real threat to Pickett’s starting job if things got rough now and then. I’m thinking like a Chad Henne type or maybe a McCown?

Alex: Ha, I respect the perseverance. Oh absolutely this team will need a vet. Rudolph is gone and if Trubisky is gone too, there’s nothing behind Kenny Pickett. They’ll want a vet and guy with experience just like what most teams value. I imagine the four QBs in camp next year, if Trubisky is gone, will be Pickett, veteran FA signing, a UDFA, and a futures contract.

Who that will be? I don’t know. I hadn’t looked at a list. It could be some names I looked at this past year. But like you said, I really have spent very little time paying attention to a list of names. I don’t want to spout off a bunch when I haven’t done much homework or given it little thought.

steeltown: Hey Kozora, alot of turnover coming on Defense with this yrs soon to be FA’s alot of 2yr deals signed recently. Who would be your keepers, guys like Cam Sutton and Ogunjobi come mind personally.

Alex:  For sure, I’m expecting plenty of turnover there. Sutton easily tops the list. His market value, his number, is just tricky and Dave and I had the conversation about paying Sutton $10+ million and still feeling like you don’t have a #1 corner on the roster. But certainly a desire to have him back for his steady play, his football IQ, his versatility.

Ogunjobi I’m mixed on. Probably against it for the money it’ll cost. But I understand the reason to bring him back and he’s certainly had good moments and has played well the last two weeks.

Bush, I’ll pass. Edmunds, I’d bring back. Should still be pretty cheap but at some point, you’d think he’ll want to get paid something. Wormley’s situation impacted by his ACL, obviously, while Alualu is going to retire. William Jackson, technically not a FA, should be let go.

Perry Biggerstaff: Looking towards the future and Feet to the fire…If we pick somewhere in the 15-20 range in the first round, do you go OT, DT, or CB? I foresee the OT and DT class as being a bit deeper but the Steelers history of drafting CB’s is concerning. (But nice story line to pick up Joey Porter Jr)

Alex: Hey Perry! You don’t happen to be from the old Steelers Universe forums by chance? To answer the question, it’s still hard to answer that in a vacuum with so many variables unknown. What this team does in free agency, they’ll be active, and the holes they begin plugging there. The depth of the class, as you mentioned, the actual players, their scheme fit, their injury history, their character, and a host of other things. Trenches is where I’d like to start but there’s really no wrong answer there. It really just depends on the board.

jrdan: I think everyone should know by now I’m not a Tomlin aka dumblin fan. But I do think he does himself a disservice by not hiring known commodities as coordinators. That would help offset his struggles w game management and making in game adjustments. I think he’s a good motivator just not a good in game chess not checkers coach.

Alex: I guess the core of that is you’re not a fan of Mike Tomlin calling his own plays or having a big hand in running the defense in-game. That it distracts him from making other decisions. And that’s fine, I get the validity of that. But so many coaches around the league call their plays. McVay, Reid, Belichick has a big role obviously. And mostly everyone is fine with that. Tomlin’s just different because he’s not the “offensive guru.” He’s the defensive of the guy and there’s fewer of them around the league. But overall, I’m fine with Tomlin’s in-game responsibilities, even if some of the decisions aren’t always the best. I imagine that is true of every coach in the NFL who has been at this for awhile.

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