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: Who will be a better roster option between Fitzgerald Toussaint and Knile Davis?
It would seem to me that this is a question that has become increasingly relevant over the course of the offseason, and, to be blunt, this has largely coincided with our growing understanding of the type of player that Knile Davis has been in the past and has developed into over the course of his career.
When the Steelers initially signed him, there wasn’t exactly a parade thrown in his honor, but many at least felt that it was at least an upgrade over Fitzgerald Toussaint, their previous number three running back. But is he? Let’s try to weigh the pros and cons.
In favor of Knile Davis
For one thing, Davis is clearly the more experienced of the two reserve running backs, and for a season in which the Steelers are expected to shift from a very experienced backup in DeAngelo Williams to a complete novice who has missed most of the offseason in James Conner, that tangible in-game experience could have a lot of value.
Now, I have shown in the past that Davis’ rushing figures in the past have been on the ugly side, looking at his low percentage of successful runs. But I do think he can have more success as an efficient runner in Pittsburgh if James Saxon can work on focusing him. He also figures to be at worst a lateral move in the return game.
In favor of Fitzgerald Toussaint
While Davis may have the edge of in-game experience, Toussaint is far more versed in the Steelers’ backfield and more experienced playing behind and working with their offensive line. That familiarity may be as important as the live reps.
He is pretty limited as a runner, but he does have a complete skill set with a good understanding of pass protection, and has even shown some receiving skills. While below average in a foot race, he does have slight shiftiness to him and can find the holes when given the opportunity.
Which side do you lean closer toward?