The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The Cleveland Browns are the Steelers’ biggest concern in returning to AFC North champions.
Explanation: The Steelers have won the division title in three of the last five seasons and have won it overall more than any other, but they missed the postseason entirely last year. Meanwhile, the Browns nearly posted a winning record and look poised to be even more threatening in 2019.
Buy because it’s hard to buy anybody else. The Cincinnati Bengals may have changed their coaching staff, but they haven’t really upgraded their roster. They are, for now, still sticking with Andy Dalton, and have committed to Bobby Hart at right tackle.
The Baltimore Ravens won the division last year but just lost some key starters and, like…don’t have any wide receivers. That’s going to make it pretty hard for Lamar Jackson to develop. They may have gotten Earl Thomas at safety, but they have a huge hole at linebacker.
The Browns, meanwhile, may perhaps have the best top-down roster without any significant holes. Years and years of investment and cycles of replenishment look to be finally paying off under John Dorsey at General Manager.
But until they actually do anything, it’s ‘whoopty-hell’, as Browns Head Coach Freddie Kitchens said. This is one of the least accomplished teams in NFL history. In the expansion era, they have reached the postseason once, and have not had a non-losing record in over a decade.
They only have two winning records in total in that time and have never won more than 10 games. They have never won the AFC North, and have only finished better than third in the division twice. So there is a lot of history working against them.
Meanwhile, Kitchens is entirely unproven as a head coach and is expected to be the signal-caller as well. That worked out great for Hue Jackson. They have talent, but they have to be a team first. And that is going to require a lot of evidence.