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 Steelers will have a top-10 red-zone offense in 2018.
Buy (Agree with the Statement):
The argument is always worth making based on the sheer talent that the Steelers have on their roster alone, including seven Pro Bowlers. You have a Pro Bowler at quarterback, wide receiver, running back, even fullback, and three along the offensive line. All they were missing was another wide receiver, a tight end, and two more linemen.
The Steelers have arguably the single-most talented offensive roster in the entire league. They have gone on impressive streaks in the red zone in the past, including during the second half of last season.
In fact, that might be the best argument to make here. If you only look at the team’s offense in the second half of the season, they did have a top-10 red-zone scoring offense, north of 60 percent. It’s just that they struggled so much in the first half of the season that, on the balance. They came up short.
Sell (Disagree with the Statement):
The question is whether this offense is more like how they started off the season or how they ended it. And also whether or not they will continue to get off to these slow starts that will drag everything down. Le’Veon Bell’s continued absence, continued inexperience at the wide receiver position behind Antonio Brown, and a new playcaller are all further variables that can get them off to a slow start.
For all the years that the Steelers have had this talent, it’s never come together quite well enough to one of the elite offenses in the red zone for that one particular season. The odds have generally worked out against them, with something (often a Ben Roethlisberger injury) going wrong.
What is most important though is how they are playing at the end of the season. I won’t care if they’re only scoring touchdowns 30 percent of the time in the first five weeks if they’re scoring at 70 percent the last five weeks going into the playoffs. They were three for three in the playoff loss, by the way.