Welcome to the Steelers mailbag, where every week we answer your questions. Thank you to everyone in the BTSC community who continue to support us. Now let’s open some envelopes.
Q: Does Rudolph end the game in victory formation or will we be up so big that Tomlin rests him in the fourth quarter?- Blkgldtom
A: I admire the confidence, but it will be Josh Allen taking the knee out of victory formation if I had to bet my life on it.
Q: Ok, here is an easy one. So, do the Steelers finally win a playoff game this year?!- Polamolicules Dude
A: I don’t believe so. Though I do think the weather will play in their favor and keep the game within reach. Buffalo is as hot as any team in the NFL and have a top three quarterback in the world in Josh Allen. Plus, their defense has been fantastic during this win streak.
Q: Will the interior of the Steelers defense match up with Bills O-Line to be able to dominate down and distance as well as field position?- ALDOG
A: I think the Steelers will be able to find success running the ball
Q: Given that Myles Garrett leads the world in Pass Rush Win Rate, but TJ beats him out in every actual stat imaginable.....do you think Garrett just beats his man one-on-one and then stops and says, “My work here is done”?- kevinapps
A: Myles Garrett rules but I understand the irritation with the constant discussion of pass rush win rate. Especially when it’s just a way to passive-aggressively bash T.J. Watt. My issue with it is that yes, it is a useful stat, but some use it as the end all-be all for their argument as to who the best pass rusher in the league is, which is asinine. Advanced stats are a great thing, but using one advanced metric as your Bible is the incorrect way to go about determining how good or bad a player is. If PFF wants to name Garrett as their Defensive Player of the Year that’s fine- he’s great. I filled out my PFWA ballot and my vote went to Watt.
Q: A couple different questions for you: How will the defensive scheme change without watt - and how do you think they will plan differently in his absence? And Do you think Porter jr, Benton, or jones has had the biggest rookie impact this year. And who do you think will take the biggest step in year 2?- Slc3333
A: I would say Porter has been the best out of all of them, but Jones has had the biggest impact. The run game wouldn’t be what it is without him, which has made the offense actually watchable, especially as of late. Benton deserves a lot of love, as well.
Q: I am a big fan of the new ILBs - Holcomb, Roberts, Alexander, and I’m gonna include Myles Jack here too. I’d love to keep all of them next year, but that may be tough. In what order would you prioritize re-signing those who are headed toward FA in the offseason?- ThePen_isMightier
A: Roberts and Holcomb are both under contract in 2024. Personally, I’d keep both Alexander and Jack and waive Mark Robinson (sorry Mark Robinson). They wouldn’t even necessarily have to waive Robinson if they wanted to keep him for special teams. Carrying five off-ball linebackers would be one more than most teams carry, but it’s not completely unheard of.
Q: In the secondary, Eric Rowe and Trenton Thompson have looked solid in their limited sample size. Pat Pete has probably been a lot better than some critical fans would care to admit. He has also played admirably filling in at safety. Do you think that move could prove to be a longer term option next season, or do some of these guys give the Steelers the option to keep him as a full time CB next year? Who do you see on the roster next season, and what is your ideal role for them in defense?- ThePen_isMightier
A: I could see Peterson making the full time switch to safety next season and start alongside Minkah Fitzpatrick. Personally, I think he’s better at that spot than Damontae Kazee. What I think is the more likely option is Peterson plays nickel cornerback and they bring in someone else to play opposite of Porter. That way they can have a lot of versatility with Peterson in terms of moving him around, but also be able to bring back a guy like Eric Rowe who has earned a spot on the roster.
Q: With Minkah back, where do you see Rowe fitting in this week? He has to play significant snaps, right?- Pittsburgh_Slim
A: I mean I’d play him for sure. He’s more than earned that. Whenever they go with three-safety sets, I’d throw him out there. If they want to be careful with Fitzpatrick and give him a few snaps off, throw Rowe out there briefly. I don’t know how significant his snaps will be just because Fitzpatrick is back and obviously you want him on the field, but I’d do my best to find a spot for Rowe.
Q: The new staff just completed its first regular season here at BTSC. What went well? What didn’t? Any big changes on the horizon?- maffiemd
A: Well first off, thank you for acknowledging that. I don’t know how much inside baseball stuff I can share but I will say that it’s been an incredibly successful season that I think surpassed our highest expectations. Which is a testament to the staff, to myself and Kate, but also to you guys who support us and read. I know we don’t always see eye to eye, especially on a certain quarterback who I was more than willing to be critical of. And I understand that people thought I went too hard sometimes- which may or may not be a fair criticism, that’s more or less for you guys to decide. But taking over right before camp started and racing to figure out our plan for the season, it was stressful at times, but we’ve both done this for respective outlets and built a mutual trust pretty quickly. And it’s paid off. So I guess this is a good place to say thank you all for reading this season. The off-season content will be plentiful, as well, so don’t go anywhere.