Welcome back to the mailbag. Big week ahead of us.
To your questions!
falconsaftey43: What’s up with Bryant? Are teams just playing way off him now and he can’t do anything else? Screen passes he’s super hesitant and just seems to wait to be tackled. Only thing he seems to be able to accomplish is a couple 9 yard outs per game.
Alex: That’s a really good question. I’m at a loss for words as to what’s going on. You’re right, he definitely isn’t playing like his old self. I don’t get it. I’m still seeing effort from the guy. He’s just incredibly passive. And that’s after apparently putting on 20 pounds of muscle.
Steeler B: Is Gilbert coming back?
Alex Sure, why wouldn’t he be? Back Monday morning.
treeher: Alex: Do you agree with Sharp Football Analysis?
Alex: I’m not going to post the whole comment because there’s a whole lot there. Let me sum up and address it in chunks.
The Steelers pass the ball too often vs the Patriots
I think that stat needs extra context. Obviously, anytime you’re losing, and three of the four are double-digit losses (the only one that wasn’t had the Steelers make it a 7 point game with two seconds left), you’re going to throw the ball. A lot. Balance, gameplan goes out the window. It’s all about circumstance. So you’re seeing a a skewed stat there. I don’t put any stock into it, at least, not in the overly simplistic way it’s presented.
The Steelers are passing the ball too often on their win streak
For starters, it’s working, so it’s hard to be mad about it. You think the Patriots care about balance? Why, for that matter, does anyone? I care about what’s effective. Throw it 50 times, run it 50, whatever it takes to move the ball and put up points.
And again, game circumstance is going to change things. The Steelers had to rally against the Colts, rally against the Ravens. That lends itself to throwing the ball more often. Teams like Baltimore and Green Bay have good run defenses. Why throw yourself into a brick wall? You have a QB at the top of his game, a WR in the MVP conversation. No one ever told Tom Brady to handoff more often.
And passes alone don’t tell the whole story. A screen is a run. An RPO is a potential run. A checkdown is usually like a run but better. I care about Le’Veon Bell getting involved in the offense. If that means substituting 10 carries for 10 catches, I have no problem with that. It’s no coincidence Roethlisberger has been playing out of his mind once Bell got the ball a ton in the pass game, so much so that he’s back on track to set a career high for receptions in a season (92).
That’s the gist of the rest of it. Don’t pass too much but don’t run on first down either. So Sharp is talking out of both sides of his mouth. It sounds good and sure, there’s a basic level of truth you could apply to any game, but I am going to ignore the bulk of it. You should, too.
Zach6432: Win on Sunday and play the Ravens after the bye or lose on Sunday and play the Chiefs? Home field advantage is nice, but I like the match up of playing the chiefs and the Pats having to play the Ravens.
Alex: For real? Am I being Punk’d? Let me quote Al Davis.
Just win, baby.
I like winning. The matchups will handle themselves.