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Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

Hey everyone and welcome back to the mailbag. Apologies for not having this yesterday and the schedule being a little hap-hazard. Interviewed Steelers safety Malik Golden yesterday so I couldn’t do the Monday mailbag at its normal time. Excited for you guys to hear what he had to say – I’ll have the article out sometime in the near future.

Anyway, you guys know the drill. We finally have some semblance of NFL news coming up. Tomorrow is the Supplemental Draft, normally a boring formality but this year has some interesting talent. And the Bell/franchise tag deadline is coming up in less than a week so one way or another, we’ll put that situation to bed (for now).

As always, let me know what’s on your mind over the next hour.

To your questions!

Chad Weiss: Hi Alex,
In your opinion who has better chance of making roster Dhb or Justin Hunter

Alex: DHB, no question about it. I wouldn’t call him a true lock but he’s as close as you can get without going over that line. Too much value across the board. He can play any WR spot, strong value on ST, a hard worker, good blocker, still has that speed, and a leader in that room, especially important after Richard Mann’s retirement. He’s the guy players go to to learn from; not AB, they watch his work ethic from afar. Every locker room needs a DHB. And given how thin the depth is, I can’t see a realistic scenario in which he doesn’t make it. Hunter is sort of the default. If no one else proves worthy to get on the roster, then he could stick around.

CP72: Alex,
If the Steelers decide to keep Landry for the back up job do you think they trade Dobbs? I dont think there’s a chance he would get through waivers. Might as well try to get something for him.

Alex: That’s a tough one. I think the Steelers would like try to trade Jones if he is the loser in all of this. Dobbs…maybe they would try to keep him around because of higher long-term value and the realization that Jones is gone after this season.

It’s possible Dobbs gets through waivers. We say that about a lot of guys and it usually doesn’t happen, they pass through fine. Teams are keeping fewer QBs on their roster these days. I think about half the league only kept two last season. So it’s possible Dobbs makes it.

What I think is more likely is that if Dobbs gets on the practice squad initially, someone will try to poach him mid-season when there’s an injury/poor play/whatever. And that is how the team could lose him if they don’t call him up if and when that time comes.

My guess is that if Dobbs doesn’t make it, he will not be traded. If Jones doesn’t make it, he will be dealt for a 7th.

Dshoff: Alex! What is your opinion of the empty set inside the 5 yard line. I’ve read that it stresses the defense but I think that taking away the run threat in that situation hurts more then helps. Thanks for all of your great stuff! !

Alex: I’m not nearly as opposed to it as some other people are. Spread the field out as much as you can horizontally down there since you can’t do it vertically. That’s how you create space and matchups. Force defenses to declare how they’re going to cover you. You can’t hide a blitz very well against empty.

Not something you want to do all the time, obviously, but gameplan specific, sure. For the Steelers specifically, there are so many weapons on this team, they’re capable of running it 35 times and winning it or throwing it 50 and coming away the victors. It’s all about execution.

NickSteelerFan: Hey brother! With the increase in depth talent in the secondary and DL, and the uncertainty in the LB corps, could you see that as a reason to keep more LB’s just in case, or would this be the year they keep a 7th DL? Which do you think would be most likely? Thanks man!

Alex: I don’t think you’re going to see any major changes in the roster construction in that sense. Seven DL is almost impossible. They always keep six and this team definitely doesn’t have the depth to warrant a 7th. No real purpose to it.

Linebackers, nine or ten will be kept. And the rest in the secondary (how that gets constructed is up for a little more debate, I guess).

But when you’re deciding the back end of the roster, you’re not going to be beholden to specific numbers. It’s about guys who offer worth on special teams, guys who can be versatile, guys who flat out played well in the preseason. If you put yourself in a box of “we’re going to keep 7 DL, 9 LBs, 5 CBs, 6 S” then you’re going to miss out on some talent and not field the best 53 you can. So keep those last three spots on the roster open and fill them in with whoever helps the team the most, regardless of the position they play.

Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt: Alex in your opinion which new assistant coach do you think is going to get the most out of their group and which one will be in the fans dog house.

Alex: I think it’s a good group they brought in. Learning more about them, I’m big fans of the Daryl Drake and Karl Dunbar hires. Two guys cut from a similar cloth as the men they’re replacing.

Bradley has received plenty of praise but might be the wildcard here given how new he is to the NFL. And frankly, if we’re talking about scapegoats, he has the worst position group of the three. Heyward and Tuitt will make Dunbar look good. AB and JuJu the same for Drake. The secondary? They could still struggle this year, even if Bradley is a good coach. And that makes him an easy target.

Spencer Krick: 

Hey Alex!

Hypothetical time! Let’s say it’s a hard fought battle in camp between Dobbs and Landry. One of them just edged the other out and it’s the night before cutdowns. You get a call from <insert team=”” here=””> and they’re interested in the winner, and would give you a 6th or 7th round pick for him. Do you pull the trigger?

Alex: Yes, I would. Sorta like I answered above, I think they would be willing to deal someone like Landry Jones if he’s odd man out. And I personally wouldn’t have an issue with trading either of them. Better to get something out of them and Jones could have some minor value to a team looking for a backup if a starter/backup goes down in camp (and someone will).

We’ve seen this team be really trade happy during camp before. If they can deal Sammie Coates, they can deal Landry Jones.

Andrew Black: 

Hey Alex,

If Keion Adams wows in camp and stays healthy for the season, could he have any chance of beating out Bud for a starting job this season?

Alex: I think that’s an awfully tall task. There’s still faith in Bud and they need to see as much as they possibly can see from him, it’s a critical season for all parties involved. At best, you’re getting Adams in preseason action versus backups so a good camp doesn’t mean it’ll translate.

Maybe Adams can carve out a rotational role but I think they’re going to stick with Watt and Dupree as the main cogs, for better or worse. That’s why the team spent 1st rounders on them.

Guillermo Garcia-Gomez: Should the fans be okay with the lack of moves to improve the defense this offseason? This is likely Bell’s last season as a steeler, therefore the championship window should be even less open in 2019. Not to mention Ben will be another year older, etc. I don’t think the defense is nearly good enough to contend and we are at best the 2nd best team in the AFC as per usual? I see very few scenarios that lead us to the super bowl unless the offense is firing on all cylinders all year long which they probably won’t be.

Alex: I think there’s only so much you can do. Sure, I had gripes with not using a 3rd rounder on someone who can help you win now but that guy probably wasn’t going to put this team over the edge. It’s impossible to replace Shazier and Bostic was about as reasonable an option you could ask for considering the price tag. The Steelers didn’t have much cap to work with. Burnett made sense and Edmunds can help them right away.

It’s much more a matter of players already on the team developing the way they could/should/need to. Dupree, Davis, Burns, are all great examples. Less so about needing to bring in outside talent to replace them (that could start next year, however, if those three don’t live up to expectations). It’s about getting back to a more technically sound defense. Better tackling, better communication, finishing plays. That didn’t require bringing in an All-Star.


Thanks for stopping by. We’ll return Thursday.

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