I have over the course of the past several seasons turned to a series of articles around this time of year in which I looked to explore the issues and questions facing the Pittsburgh Steelers during the upcoming season and trying to identify the range of possibilities in which any given scenario can end.
I started out with a dual series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take and switched last season to the Devil’s Advocate series. In an attempt to find a more streamlined solution with a title more suited to the actual endeavor, we are introducing a simple Buy Or Sell segment exploring whether the position statement is likely to be worth investing in as an idea.
The range of topics will be wide, from the specific to the general, exploring broad long-term possibilities to the immediate future of particular players. I will make an argument for why a concept should be bought into as well as one that can be sold, and you can share your thoughts on which is the more compelling case while offering your own.
Topic Statement: Stephon Tuitt’s 2017 performance was affected significantly by his arm injury in the first game of the season.
A quick look at his stat line alone could tell you that. He had just 25 tackles on the season on what was effectively 11 games and only recorded three sacks. During his first season as a full-time starter in 2015, he recorded six and a half sacks and looked to be on the cusp of becoming a star.
Tuitt dealt with some injuries the prior season as well, resulting in him missing a couple of games, but still came close to 40 tackles. He only recorded four sacks, but was the most effective pass-rusher on the team in terms of generating pressure, and he didn’t have much help with Cameron Heyward injured most of that year.
Tuitt looked like he was primed for a dominant 2017 season, even making plays on the first two snaps of the season, but it was on that second snap that he suffered the injury. He missed games, came back and then then suffered a back injury that kept him out more games.
His biggest problem is finishing plays, and it’s hard to finish plays with a bum arm or a bad back. He wasn’t quite right for pretty much the entire season because of that.
Yet he seemed to be by the time the Steelers came out from their bye week. Tuitt was rested by that point and he came out of the break like a demon, picking up a couple of sacks quickly, and even had a sack negated by an unrelated penalty. He looked no worse for wear then.
That pace didn’t continue, but we can’t definitively conclude the reason why. It’s not as though he should be getting tired. He’s not even 25 years old yet, believe it or not, even though he is heading into his fifth season.
Tuitt was healthy enough to be on the field. They didn’t have to force him out there with Tyson Alualu on the roster. So if he was out there, it was because he was able to play. He consistently played 50-60 snaps a game right through the end of the season, just as Heyward did.