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Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag – Steelers Depot

Welcome back to your weekly mailbag, special pre-game edition ahead of tonight’s contest between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. As always, we’re here for the next hour to answer whatever is on your mind.

To your questions!

SteelCity:

Alex,

Reason(s) for optimism for offense? Feel the defense is showing better coaching and game planning so far?

Alex: I’m just taking it game-by-game. We knew this offense wasn’t exactly going to go out and hang 30 points a game. But there’s growing pains and they won’t always be this limited. Claypool’s not going to average 5.5 yards all season, Johnson won’t be at 8.6, Harris at 2.9 per carry. But I’m not really trying to look for or expect optimism. I’m just taking it all in.

The defense has done well. They’re a good unit. Elite? No, especially not without Watt. But they’re holding up their end of the bargain.

hdogg48:

Alex…

After 2 games what do you think will be the Steelers mos important
Defensive adjustment going into tonight?

Offensive adjustment?

Alex: Finding ways to manufacture pressure. The straight/standard four man rush with occasional pressure isn’t going to cut it without Watt. Doesn’t mean you always have to send the house but they’re going to have to have a better scheme to get guys home. That’ll be key. Of course, how they play the run will be key but there’s less to adjust there. That’s more about executing.

Offensively, I’m not sure. I think “throw deep” is a little too basic and low-hanging fruit. Scheming up ways to get George Pickens the ball would be nice, even if it’s just say, two prime targets. Some jump ball chances to him. I just want Harris to hit the hole, Trubisky to make the basic reads, and the offense to take care of the football. That’s basically the game plan every single week.

Kevin Reich: Has either of Mitch’s first two games looked better than Rudolph last season?

Alex: I’d have to go back and watch. It’s hard for me to try to compare and Rudolph didn’t know he was the starter until 24 hours before the game. He didn’t have those reps, even if he had more time in the system. They’re probably similar. Some bad decisions, Rudolph probably pushed the ball a bit more, and the OT fumbles weren’t on him, obviously. I’m betting they’d have a similar grade, even if the style was perhaps a bit different. Trubisky was certainly better in Week One than Week Two.

Jake Sas: Do you see reason for concern with Najee missing reads in the run game? Seems like the oline is providing some push, but he has little to no faith and is trying to push outside.

Alex: I do not. I’m super confident in Harris. He did miss probably two reads in that game but the errors there are overstated, his vision is largely good, and some people think he missed holes he didn’t. They didn’t understand the scheme. Harris is a talented player. The foot injuries have been the most worrying thing but he looked healthier than I thought against the Pats. He’ll be good.

srdan: I like what I’ve seen from Leal. He feels like he has potential to take pressure off the team from having to draft a lineman really high. Where are you on him?

Alex: He’s done a nice job. Good athlete, carrying that extra weight well, moves really well for his size. High effort dude. Still needs to be more technical, not get over his toes, and needs to anchor against the run but he’s versatile and done a nice job. But he’s two weeks into his career so there’s still a ways to go.

Matt Manzo: Happy Gameday Thursday Alex!!!!
Do you think the Browns will be able to eliminate Cam Heyward the way the Pats did? Is getting more creative with blitzes the answer to that?

Alex: Same to you, Matt! I think they certainly could. They have a solid LG in Joel Bitonio and re-watching the game, there was a lot of help being slide Heyward’s way on third down. The Pats were obviously comfortable letting the RT go 1v1 against Malik Reed as opposed to TJ Watt. So yeah, being able to cover up and threaten that center more would help Heyward win more often 1v1. Like I said above, the ability to manufacture pressure will be key.

Henning:

Hey Alex, how do you feel about our CBs as of right now?

And do you think it’s tough to give Mitch a break for the offensive woes, considering our receiving talent? I mean Canada is not doing much to help but I also look at this offense as a whole with a surprisingly good pass block thus far and can’t believe it when I see the numbers..

Alex: They’ve done ok. Depends on who you’re talking about. Sutton’s played well. Wallace has been alright but looked uncomfortable over slot, as Tyler Wise pointed out. Witherspoon has shown more physicality but has to finish reps at the catch point better. Maulet is a physical slot corner but poor in coverage. Norwood hasn’t played as much as I thought he would.

I’m not really looking to give him a break. I didn’t have high expectations for him, people didn’t like my stat prediction for him (20 TDs, 12 INTs, which looks about on target right now) but I didn’t see him as the next Ryan Tannehill. Sitting and learning in Buffalo is nice but it doesn’t transform you as a QB. There’s faults in Canada’s offense and the Steelers’ system is inherently conservative, they’re trying not to lose the game, but Trubisky is making errors, too. There is talent and he’s gotta be able to maximize that.

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