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: Cameron Heyward will have 10 or more sacks again this season.
Buy (Agree with the Statement):
Heyward broke out in a big way in 2017 with a career year, posting 12 sacks and becoming just the second lineman in team history to reach double digits. Not only was he just the second player with the team to do so, it was just the third season in total by a lineman. and he is geared up for a repeat performance.
It’s not like he was never close before, but Heyward took his game to another level last year and has become among the most difficult interior linemen to block in the entire NFL. It’s at least as likely as not that he will hit double digits based on the way he is playing when you factor in the variables that go into getting sacks.
The Steelers have been increasingly tweaking their scheme to make it more playmaker-friendly to their very talented defensive ends over the past few years under Keith Butler, which is a part of that equation.
Sell (Disagree with the Statement):
If we have learned anything from watching the Steelers’ defense over the course of most of the last decade, it’s that one should never take a 10-sack season for granted. They had a long dry spell before Heyward cracked that barrier last year.
On paper, he should be as likely a candidate as any on the team to be the 10-sack guy this year, but those things are never guaranteed. And he should also receive more competition for those meetings at the quarterback with Stephon Tuitt back to full strength.
There’s also the fact that Heyward had a higher-than-average success rate in terms of converting pressures to sacks than he has in the past. The odds of him being able to translate the same number of pressures into double-figure sacks, based on his prior history, are not great.