Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag


I got up on my soapbox earlier this week about why we shouldn’t use the phrase “camp bodies,” and if you don’t mind, I’m going to climb on up again for a different topic.

One of the biggest “point and laugh” stories this week was the whole “avocado toast,” story, where millionaire Tim Gurner said young people (me) are spending too much money on avocado toast and coffee to buy a house. On its face value, it does sound silly, because of, uh, math. Couple of coffees versus a house? Doesn’t add up.

Most people are probably thinking I’m going to rail against Gurner because I’m a young, dumb kid, and it’s easy to pile on. But I actually want to make a defense of Gurner’s comments because he’s right in some respects. Gurner was making a larger point that he expanded on in the same interview.

“We’re at a point now where the expectations of younger people are very, very high,” Gruner said. “They want to eat out every day, they want to travel to Europe every year. The people that own homes today worked very, very hard for it, saved every dollar, did everything they could to get up the property investment ladder.”

His overall point was young people spend too recklessly in general and don’t budget enough for long-term goals. Of course, not every millennial is in that boat but I think you can apply it to most people in general, not even just any age range. The problems start in school. Were you taught about money management and budgeting in school? I had one “economics” course in high school; it was dumb and I learned pretty much nothing.


So people make mistakes. Buy new cars when they can’t swing it. Rack up credit card debt. And it’s a tough cycle to break from there. It’s why you see some of the richest people on Earth wear the tackiest stuff. Bill Gates isn’t ever going to be a fashion designer. 

It isn’t the fault of any one group, as always, there’s a lot more nuance to the debate than what actually gets talked about. But Gurner’s larger point, to me, is generally correct. A lot of people struggle how to handle money. And no one helps them realize that until they’re already in a big hole.

Thanks for indulging me. To your questions!

barry: Well Alex the cat is out of the bag. What do you think of the Warren release?

Alex: I guess there isn’t much to react to anymore. Health was the issue and clearly, there was a long-term issue. That’s the reason why the team drafted Colin Holba. I get why Kevin Colbert wouldn’t be forthcoming with that information when asked about Warren’s health, though it was pretty clear from him “right now, yeah” comment something was up.

Here’s hoping Holba is able to enjoy even half the success Warren did.

falconsaftey43: Onto football…will we ever see this offense perform on a somewhat consistent basis? skill positions are so deep now, OL is loaded and deep. Same offense and personnel for awhile now, team needs to stop laying an egg on offense so often.

Alex: That’s the million dollar question. If Ben can fix his road issues, then, yes, maybe they can. The hard part is figuring out what exactly those issues are and how to solve them.

Spencer Krick: How safe is Coty Sensabaugh’s roster spot?

Alex: Historically, it should be safe. As I’ve said time and time again, only one FA brought in of the Colbert era has ever not made the team (Kevan Barlow). But this year is a bit more unusual with the depth at CB and WR. I think Sensabaugh ultimately makes it because of that history. Usually have a plan for these guys when they’re brought in.

Justin Hunter, on the other hand…I’m not so confident. He could be the second.

CP72: Alex,
I find it interesting how much people are intrigued by Xavier Grimble. I think he’s just a guy from what I have observed. Agree or disagree?

Alex: I guess I’m somewhere in the middle. I was happy to see him be more conditioned as camp and the year went on; I remember him being unable to make it through day one at Latrobe last year. He’s a good athlete and can make plays down the seam. But it isn’t elite and he’ll never be as good a blocker as David Johnson. Outside looking in, assuming Green stays healthy.

Kyle Chrise: A lot of people say Will Gay will be odd man out in CB battle. What will a younger corner have to show he can do, to replace Gay on the roster?

Alex: Like so many old guys who get replaced, a young guy has to show up on special teams. Make the team feel compelled to keep that player because of his coverage ability. Have the ST coach – Danny Smith – go to bat for him when it comes time to debate the final 2-3 spots on the roster. That’s what a Brian Allen or Senquez Golson will have to do.

In this case, it’s less about versatility because if Sensabaugh makes it, there’s your “swing corner.” He can play all over the secondary.

nikgreene: That said, and assuming the Steelers are relatively healthy, what position group do you see the team likely to bolster with a trade or pick up at final cut-downs?

Alex: You’re right, there is a long history. Usually in the secondary, which I’m not sure is a coincidence or not. Ross Cockrell, Antwon Blake, Demarcus Van Dyke, there’s quite the precedent. Two positions to circle: inside linebacker and safety. The former more likely than the latter. I think they like Tyler Matakevich but maybe they go for a higher-upside pick than Steven Johnson/L.J. Fort.

Of course, injuries will happen and will throw a monkey wrench into everything, too. We’ll see where that takes us.

Nick Webb: Curious to see if Tyson Alualu and LT Walton can man the backup NT position. If so, could the 6th DL roster spot come down to a battle between Dan McCullers/Johnny Maxey/Francis Kallon? Who do you think the last two spots will go to behind Heyward/Tuitt/Hargrave and Alualu?

Alex: No, I don’t think either could do it in base, though there may be times where they will play the 1T in nickel. Ditto with Maxey and Kallon. It seems McCullers’ job is safe, which is a bit upsetting, but it’s not exactly a high priority position either. Unless one of these guys we don’t know about, UDFA Christian Brown might be the one – and only – name to circle, McCullers’ spot is safe.

The team will keep 6 DL, like they do most years. Your six.

DE: Heyward, Tuitt, Alualu, Walton
NT: Hargrave, McCullers

barry foster: Hey Alex just heard the breaking news Ladarius green been released do you think Scott orndoff makes the 53 man roster

Alex: The door is open. But it’s possible the team brings in someone else. I hope they do. Need the competition.

Phil Brenneman II: Who has the better season this year. Timmons or Williams? And assuming no major changes, who has more tackles when the season is over between Williams and Shazier?

Alex: Who knows between Timmons and Williams. They’re probably close. Shazier has more tackles. Weakside linebacker, gets to chase more plays, and he’ll be able to penetrate more often.

T3xassteelers: Lol.. Perfect time for an ‘Ask Alex’ 🙂 … What TEs are even available at this juncture?

Alex: Ha, still trying to process it. Gary Barnidge is the name you’ll hear over and over. I guess I’ll need to dive into his tape. But I’m not crazy about the idea.

Bryant Eng: Do the Steelers typically carry four tight ends? Last year LG, JJ, XG and DJ were all on the roster. If they carry only JJ, DJ and XG, that would theoretically open up a roster spot for another WR, yes?

Alex: I’d have to look at the history – not too sure. But generally, no, I think they keep three. And remember, LG wasn’t on roster to start. Was on PUP. My idea of keeping 7 WRs looks a little better…and more likely.

Robbie: Who catches more passes next year between Bell and JuJu?

Alex: Still Bell. And this coming from someone high on Smith-Schuster.

About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • barry

    Well Alex the cat is out of the bag. What do you think of the Warren release?

  • falconsaftey43

    As a fellow millennial, it bothers me to no end when people disparagingly talk about millennials as a group. As to the money thing, specifically as it relates to home ownership, I think the biggest factor that’s often overlooked is how freaking expensive college has gotten. Since the early 80’s, college tuition has increased at over 3x the rate of general cost of living and wage rates. Previous generations could work their way through college with part time minimum wage jobs, now you can’t pay for a semester of school if you worked full time for a year while living at home. I’m lucky to have a great job due to my education, but my student loan payments are more than my rent.

  • falconsaftey43

    Onto football…will we ever see this offense perform on a somewhat consistent basis? skill positions are so deep now, OL is loaded and deep. Same offense and personnel for awhile now, team needs to stop laying an egg on offense so often.

  • Spencer Krick

    How safe is Coty Sensabaugh’s roster spot?

    I hate avocado toast, haha

  • CP72

    Alex,
    I find it interesting how much people are intrigued by Xavier Grimble. I think he’s just a guy from what I have observed. Agree or disagree?

  • Kyle Chrise

    A lot of people say Will Gay will be odd man out in CB battle. What will a younger corner have to show he can do, to replace Gay on the roster?

  • nikgreene

    The Steelers have shown a willingness to add players from other rosters in training camp, or even right before week 1. They have even been willing to give those players significant snaps right away. Last year was Justin Gilbert (who I think the team really wanted to use in dime, but he never worked out). The better example is in 2015 when they added Cockrell and he played nearly 650 snaps.

    That said, and assuming the Steelers are relatively healthy, what position group do you see the team likely to bolster with a trade or pick up at final cut-downs?

  • Keith Evans

    we humans are of little consequence to the world governments if we do not spend our money. That is why so much money is ploughed into advertising to tease us into parting with the green for things we can easily do without. It takes a strong person to see through the bs of today’s world.

  • Nick Webb

    Hey Alex! Thanks for your hard work!
    Curious to see if Tyson Alualu and LT Walton can man the backup NT position. If so, could the 6th DL roster spot come down to a battle between Dan McCullers/Johnny Maxey/Francis Kallon? Who do you think the last two spots will go to behind Heyward/Tuitt/Hargrave and Alualu?

  • Phil Brenneman II

    See Alex, this is how you stay a step ahead of todays youth. Avocado toast and coffee can get expensive, but not McChickens and a Coke. And while they are traveling to Europe every year you stick to the combine and training camp. Well done sir.

    As for my question:

    Who has the better season this year, Timmons or Williams? And assuming no major changes, who has more tackles when the season is over between Williams and Shazier?

  • barry foster

    Hey Alex just heard the breaking news Ladarius green been released do you think Scott orndoff makes the 53 man roster

  • Darth Blount 47

    Can we use his cap savings to sign Logan Ryan?

  • Alex Kozora

    Yeah…give me a sec guys. My heart might have just exploded.

  • Darth Blount 47

    I had about 3 other questions I was gonna ask, then I heard about us chopping L. Green, and my mind went dark. So I guess the prudent question to ask now is…. Given his off-season and draft push for us to go TE shopping (prudently, apparently), will/should this cause Matthew Marczi’s head to explode along with your heart?

  • T3xassteelers

    Lol.. Perfect time for an ‘Ask Alex’ 🙂 … What TEs are even available at this juncture?

  • barry foster

    I thought l.ryan was picked up?

  • Jeff Papiernik

    In the battle of the last WR spot, let’s say it comes down to DHB vs. Justin Hunter. Why are so many people giving DHB the nod? I keep hearing veteran leadership and special teams. But does that really trump the younger player with more upside on a cap friendly contract for 2 years? The armchair GM in me says no.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    Are you worried the Steelers will be investigated for their circumvention of the concussion protocol last season with Green?

  • Bryant Eng

    Do the Steelers typically carry four tight ends? Last year LG, JJ, XG and DJ were all on the roster. If they carry only JJ, DJ and XG, that would theoretically open up a roster spot for another WR, yes?

  • Alex Kozora

    No, I am not.

  • Brian Miller

    So let me get this straight…we draft a LS, Warren is released and fans think the FO is vindicated, we don’t draft a TE in the best TE class in recent memory and then release Green…smh but yet we get a backup QB…sorry, backup to the backup…

  • Robbie

    Who catches more passes next year between Bell and JuJu?

  • Jeff Papiernik

    Can’t believe we took a Dobbs over someone like a Butt or Kittle

  • Darth Blount 47

    Was he? Oh, dang… if only if we could have cut Green months ago, designated him a Post-June 1, banked his 5 million dollar cap hit, and then gone out and signed Logan Ryan, we wouldn’t have had to double-dip in the draft, with the dregs of the 3rd and 5th round CB’s. And instead maybe gotten a TE in what was a “once in 2 decades” type of TE class.

    But it was a pretty crackpot plan I guess……

  • Brian Miller

    Alex…biggest missed opportunities with bringing in UDFAs after the draft in recent memory? I will give you mine, I still don’t understand how we couldn’t get Shaquille Barrett with his ties to Porter and our obvious needs.

  • Danny Young

    I’m going to be making the trip from Tx to Latrobe for training camp in August. When and where are the best places for autographs.

  • barry foster

    Yeah he signed with the titans

  • Bryant Eng

    What the heck are you talking about?

  • Brian Miller

    They should trade with ratbirds, seems like they have 5 TEs they have drafted recently. Ok, let’s never trade with them, I kid, I kid.

  • Darth Blount 47

    We could have taken Dobbs and STILL had Hodges.. Who is a Green clone. Though only God knows why we took Dobbs in the 4th…..

  • Alex Kozora

    At the steps where the players walk in and out. That’s the spot to be.

  • Darth Blount 47

    You’re killing me, Barry. You’re killin’ me!

  • barry foster

    Lol jairuis bryd is still available l

  • T3xassteelers

    They do have a ton, don’t they? Even had Watson on IR and still had another 3 capable starters!

  • falconsaftey43

    Alex’s intro bit was about millennials and finances and home ownership, just throwing stuff out there that’s related and bugs me.

  • Bryant Eng

    Oh my bad dude!

  • Bryant Eng

    Alex, what effect does Green’s release have on the salary cap, and are their any desirable free agents similar to McCourty or Tre Boston (or perhaps an ILB) they may entertain bringing in at this juncture if their cap situation improves.

  • Ron

    Why in the world did we pass on all the “down the seam threat” TEs in the draft? They had to know Green was likely gone. I don’t get it. Round 4 especially

  • Peki

    What are we to make of a day 1 starter like Holba dropping to the 6th round? Maybe there are character flags that made other teams pass on him. Look into your glass orb: which legendary 6th round pick will win more rings with the Steelers: AB or Holba??

  • Darth Blount 47

    Man, I’d totally kick the tires a few times on him! We could use his provided depth. When healthy… he can play.

  • Jim Foles

    Because David Johnson is awesome and we can not shake him…

  • Darth Blount 47

    Be honest, on a scale of 1-10, how disappointed were you that we ultimately released Akil Blount before he had a chance to become a Steeler legend? My number was a 47…

  • Could Sammie Coates possibly be our ‘down the seams’ TE?

  • barry foster

    Can use him in dime packages , I guess he thinks he’s worth a lot of money

  • CP72

    I guess I better warm up to Grimble now……