The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Could the Steelers decide to employ a platoon at the cornerback position this season, particularly in the slot?
This would seem to be a prudent question to ask in light of some of the comments that have been made by players and coaches about possible changes in the secondary coming this season. Especially as it concerns the slot role, could the Steelers possibly consider using a platoon of cornerbacks to field those duties over the course of the year?
This is not altogether unfamiliar territory. The Steelers just as recently as two years ago rotated cornerbacks between Ross Cockrell and Antwon Blake, and Brandon Boykin was included in the rotation later on in the year as well.
Of course, they have been open to doing this at other positions as well that are not traditionally rotated. They briefly rotated safeties last year, and outside linebacker has been a regular source of rotation the past few years. Inside linebacker has seen a bit as well. They even rotated tackles early in 2013.
So the point is that the Steelers have proven that they would be open to considering using a rotation in a somewhat unorthodox manner. But will they? The most likely scenario that would enable this, I think, is if William Gay continues to line up in the slot, and they want to incorporate rookie Cameron Sutton into the mix.
With Sutton’s ability to play in man coverage, they could consider using this platoon as a match-up strategy. Depending on the team, the specific wide receiver, or the scenario, the defense may be more comfortable using somebody other than Gay to match up in man-to-man coverage.
It’s also not impossible that they could consider a bit of a rotation on the outside as well, although that would seem less likely. And I wouldn’t think that they would consider doing this too much simply for the fact that they would like to get somebody playing time.