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: Will, and should, Xavier Grimble have a bigger role in the tight end room in his second season on the roster?
While he ended up spending the entire year on the 53-man roster, it is quite possible that he never would have made it in the first place had things been different initially. The suspensions of Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant, the injury of Bud Dupree, and, most importantly, the fact that Ladarius Green began the season on the Physically Unable to Perform List, all contributed to his ability to make the team a year ago.
But Bell returned after three games, Dupree late in the year, and Green toward the middle, yet through all of those returns Grimble remained on the roster, and remained as a contributor until he suffered a rib injury catching a touchdown pass on the opening drive against the Ravens on Christmas Day.
There is reason to believe that he will play a bigger role this season. In the two games leading up to Green’s return, Grimble actually logged quite a bit of time, even more than Jesse James. His role was reduced dramatically when Green was activated, but he was featured on the Steelers’ opening drive of the game after Green’s concussion, culminating in the touchdown. One might extrapolate that he would have continued to contribute more had it not been for the injury.
While it now seems much more likely than not that he will make the roster, however, it also seems more likely than not that James will continue to improve, and it’s very possible that the Steelers pick up where they started a year ago, essentially using him as an every-down tight end, a role he might be more ready for now than at the time.
After his injury, David Johnson also began carving out a niche for himself in the offense, even being featured in a package as the lone tight end. James and Johnson both do different things, so Grimble will have to compete for snaps and roles from two directions.
Which side do you lean closer toward?