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: Javon Hargrave will have four or more sacks during the 2018 season.
I wanted to go with five, but I felt that might be pushing the scales too much, and figured that sticking with four sacks might provide a more even distribution of votes. Javon Hargrave is entering his third season in the NFL, and has five sacks combined during that time, if you include the postseason.
Last year, he recorded two sacks in total, but they both came in the first few weeks, and he looked as though he was on the verge of breaking out. He had some back issues that slowed him down for much of the second half of the season, as well.
There is every reason to believe that Hargrave can put up bigger sack numbers, provided that he gets the playing time, and it sounds like he will. The third-year player himself said that was the plan this year under Karl Dunbar, to get more of a rotation.
He has some very good, dare I say elite traits in terms of being an interior rusher. He has quickness and explosiveness and is capable of excellent hand-usage. He created a lot of pressures that he didn’t have a chance to finish last year. He should finish more this season.
There are some extenuating circumstances, but even Stephon Tuitt hasn’t hit four sacks in three of his first four seasons, so to expect a defensive tackle out of a 3-4 base defense to do it, at the very least, is not the norm. Granted, we are not playing in ‘the norm’ any longer.
Hargrave is nice, but he isn’t Aaron Donald. And the Steelers struggle too much with lane discipline, so even when he does get pressure up the middle, the quarterback is able to see it easily and move out of the way, or even scramble for yardage. He can get four sacks, but is it more likely than not? It’s easy to be pessimistic there.