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: The offensive line has already peaked and will now begin to regress.
Buy (Agree with the Statement):
There is no denying the talent that the Steelers have along the offensive line, and they are legitimately among the best groups of linemen in the league, but they have already played their best games. This is especially true of Maurkice Pouncey, though that’s no knock, as he was arguably the best center in the league for a time.
I think that David DeCastro may have years of elite play left in him, but let’s face it, Marcus Gilbert has never proven in the past that he can consistently stay healthy, so there’s no sense expecting it now. And Alejandro Villanueva did not even play as well last year as he did the year before, while Ramon Foster is probably close to the end of his starting days, just going by the general retirement age of linemen. He is 32.
B.J. Finney seems like he could be a nice replacement, but who knows how he’ll hold up over 16 games? Remember the infatuation over Cody Wallace? And Chukwuma Okorafor has a long way to go before proving to be even as good as an early-career Villanueva.
Sell (Disagree with the Statement):
Perhaps with the exception of Pouncey, there is no reason to expect that any of the other four starting linemen can’t have the best season of their careers in 2018, even Foster. So in saying that, it’s awfully difficult to say that they are beginning to regress already.
Let’s not forget, the line was struggling in the early parts of the 2016 season, but they developed a lot over the course of the year and became the best line in the league by the end of the season. The simple fact that they have been together for all this time is reason to believe that they can continue to at least maintain this level for a few more years, if not collectively improve further.