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: Joey Porter is on thin ice if his position group does not produce better results in 2018.
The Steelers already showed that they’re willing to make changes to the staff if they think it makes them better. The biggest example of that this offseason was a subtraction, choosing not to retain Todd Haley as offensive coordinator. They also brought in a new defensive line coach, though I have no idea if that was a mutual decision with John Mitchell ready to move on to a new role.
There’s that. And then there’s the fact that there are already two first-round picks from whom he has failed to get quality results. While T.J. Watt had a good rookie season, we are still waiting on Bud Dupree. Do they think Porter is holding him back?
The fact that he has gotten into some trouble, legal and otherwise, also can’t be dismissed. If he is not performing above the line this far into his career, with pedigree at the position, then his background of off-field issues could prove to be a problem.
The shakeup to the coaching staff this season should not be read as indicative of a desire for sweeping changes. One coach retired. Another resigned for non-football reasons. A third moved to a different role that perhaps he was ready for. Only Haley was a clear voluntary change.
And while you can say whatever you will about Dupree’s results, the fact that Porter has repeatedly been given no credit for the fact that Watt played very well and very quickly despite lacking experience as an outside linebacker is something of an outrage.
He also helped to develop Anthony Chickillo into a trusted number three at the position. He’ll have his hands in molding another key pupil this summer in Keion Adams as well. As long as Watt doesn’t take a step back, one would think that Porter will remain safe in his position for now.