Devil’s Advocate: Trust Is Golden

You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.

In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.

When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.

Topic: Can or should the Steelers still trust Robert Golden to serve as a contributor in the dime defense?

The Steelers face an interesting question on defense when it comes to preparing for the 2017 NFL season, the first in a decade in which they will not have the services of Lawrence Timmons.

In his place will be Vince Williams, who is largely regarded as a downhill run-stuffer who could be a liability in coverage. Other teams will be aware of this and will attempt to take advantage of that liability. Which could prompt the Steelers to take him off the field and replace him with another defensive back.

The dime package, or whatever variation a given team chooses to give to it, is not exactly uncommon. With the proliferation of spread offenses, it’s actually a staple for many teams. And the Steelers could become one of them starting this season, provided that they have a dime defender.

They have in the past used Robert Golden in that role, but they haven’t always gotten the results they were looking for. He was notably burned multiple times by Rob Gronkowski last season during the Steelers’ regular-season meeting with the Patriots.

But Pittsburgh has also employed him successfully in that role in the past, most notably late in the year during the 2015 season. After getting to start three games due to injury, he looked to be a player who could be a regular contributor, so they used him in the dime in certain games on most third-down situations, with success.

But we have also seen the communication issues, and if that doesn’t get cleaned up, then it’s hard to be confident in that working. We even saw that back in 2015 when they opened against the Patriots and tried to break out the dime after not using it in the preseason.

They may want to use another player as the dime. William Gay would be the most likely candidate if he isn’t starting in the slot. Cameron Sutton, or even Jordan Dangerfield, could be options. Outside of Gay, Golden is the most experienced, but they don’t have to be committed to him.

Which side do you lean closer toward?

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