You know it’s early-mid summer or mid-late winter when a relatively large portion of the ‘news’—that is, anything new that we can discuss—is made up of a series of lists and rankings. That’s just the nature of the beast as we collectively try to turn an approximately four-month sport into a 365-day pastime.
So if you’re not interested in diving into and discussing yet another ranking as we creep closer and closer to the start of training camp, then this is your warning to avert your eyes, because that is what I will be doing for the next 400 words.
ESPN recently ranked every team in the NFL from the worst to the best in terms of the weapons that they have available to them in their ‘offensive arsenal’. The website appears to have settled on placing the Pittsburgh Steelers in the number four spot in the league, with only three teams ahead of them.
One of those teams, by the way, is pretty remarkably untested by comparison, that being the New York Giants. While it’s great for them to get Odell Beckham, Jr. back, and admittedly Evan Engram had a very promising rookie season, they are really selling Saquon Barkley before he’s done anything as a professional.
The Giants ranked number two, but the number one team was the Kansas City Chiefs, who have three legitimate Pro Bowlers at the skill positions in Travis Kelce at tight end, Tyreek Hill at wide receiver, and Kareem Hunt at running back, who led the league in rushing as a rookie in 2017.
Still, I wouldn’t put either of them ahead of the Steelers. And I wouldn’t put the other team, the Atlanta Falcons, ahead of them either.
The arguments that they make in favor of some of the teams ahead of Pittsburgh are also the same that they appear to use against the Steelers. For example, they give brownie points to the Giants for Barkley and the Falcons for Calvin Ridley, but James Washington is an afterthought.
Moreover, they blow past the Falcons’ unspectacular tight end position while writing off Jesse James and Vance McDonald, as a pair, as “inefficient”. McDonald is anything but inefficient, for one thing, when he actually plays. It’s just a matter of him being on the field.
Another knock offered against the Steelers was Le’Veon Bell and his dreaded lack of ‘explosive plays’ last season. The article at least did recognize his low number of 20-yard plays last season as an anomaly and projected that he would have more in 2018.
One thing I will say is that I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the three teams with the best wide receivers in the NFL all made the top four in this list. And in case you’re wondering about DeAndre Hopkins, the Houston Texans checked in at number 12 on the list.