Welcome to your weekly mailbag, the special pre-game edition ahead of tonight’s competition between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. As always, we’re here for the next hour or so to answer whatever’s on your mind.
For your questions!
Reason for optimism for guilt? Feel like the defense is showing better coaching and game planning so far?
Alex: I am taking it play by game. We knew the offense was not going to end at all and that 30 points were hung in a game. But the pain is increasing and they will not always be so limited. Claypool isn’t going to average 5.5 yards the entire season, Johnson won’t be at 8.6, Harris at 2.9 per carry. But I’m not really trying to seek or expect optimism. I’m just taking it all in.
Defense has done well. They are a good unit. the elite? No, especially not without Watts. But they are his end of the bargain.
What do you think will be important in Steelers MO after 2 games?
Defensive adjustments happening tonight?
Alex: Finding ways to create pressure. The straight/standard four man with occasional pressure isn’t going to cut it without a watt. That doesn’t mean you always have to send home, but they should have a better plan for bringing people home. That would be the key. Of course, how they play the run will be important but there is less to adjust. It’s more about executing.
Offensively, I’m not sure. I think “deep throw” is a bit too basic and low-hanging fruit. It would be good to plan for George Pickens to get the ball, even if it’s just two major goals. Some jumping off opportunities for him. I want Harris to hit the hole, Trubisky to read basic, and offense to take care of football. It’s basically an every single week gameplan.
Kevin Reich: Is any of Mitch’s first two games looking better than Rudolph last season?
Alex: I’ll have to go back and see. It’s hard for me to compare and Rudolph didn’t know he was a starter until 24 hours before the game. He didn’t have those reps, even though he had more time in the system. They are probably similar. Some bad decisions, Rudolph probably pushed the ball a little more, and ot fumbles wasn’t on him, obviously. I’m betting they would have a similar grade, even though the style might be slightly different. Trubisky was definitely better in week one than in week two.
Jake Mother-in-law: Do you see cause for concern about Naji missing in the run game? It looks like Oline is pushing something, but he has no faith and is trying to push out.
Alex: I don’t. I have full faith in Harris. He probably missed a read twice in that game, but the errors there are over-reported, his eyesight is largely good, and some people think he missed the holes he didn’t. They did not understand the plan. Harris is a talented player. Leg injuries have been the most worrying thing, but he looked much healthier than I thought Pat was. that would be good.
Sardar: I love what I’ve seen from Lil. He feels he has the ability to take the pressure off the team to draft a lineman really high. where are you on that?
Alex: He has done a good job. The good athlete, carrying that extra weight well, moves really well for his size. High effort man. Still needs to be more technical, not on his toes, and anchored against the run, but he is versatile and has done a good job. But he’s two weeks into his career so there’s still a way to go.
Matt Manzo: Happy Gameday Thursday Alex!!!!
Do you think the Browns will be able to eliminate Cam Hayward the way the Pats did? Is being more creative with Blitz the answer?
Alex: For you too, Matt! I think they certainly could. They have a solid LG in Joel Bittonio and revamping the game, helped a lot to slide Hayward’s path into third place. The Pats were clearly comfortable letting RT go 1v1 against Malik Reed, unlike TJ Watts. So yes, being able to hide and threaten that center more will help Hayward win 1v1 more often. As I said above, the ability to create pressure will be important.
Hey Alex, how do you feel about our CB right now?
And do you think it’s hard to give Mitch a break for the offensive crisis given our received talent? I mean Canada isn’t doing much to help but I totally see this offense with amazingly good pass blocks and can’t believe it when I see the numbers..
Alex: He’s done it right. Depends who you are talking about. Sutton played well. As reported by Tyler Wise, Wallace has recovered, but looks uncomfortable at the slot. Witherspoon has shown more physicality but has to complete the reps better at the catch point. The mullet has a physical slot corner but is poor in coverage. Norwood didn’t play as much as I thought.
I’m not really looking to give him a break. I didn’t have high hopes for him, people didn’t like my stat prediction for him (20 TD, 12 INT, looks on target right now) but I didn’t see him as the next Ryan Tanhill. It’s nice to sit and learn in Buffalo but it doesn’t change you as a QB. Canada’s offense has flaws and the Steelers system is inherently conservative, trying not to lose the game, but Trubisky is also making errors. There is talent and he should be able to maximize it.