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 post-Mike Munchak offensive line will not miss a beat.
Explanation: The turnaround of the Steelers’ offensive line had a lot to do with acquiring new talent, but it largely coincided with Mike Munchak arriving in town. His coaching has played an instrumental role in transforming the group into among the best in the league, but now his protégé, Shaun Sarrett, is taking over.
The biggest selling point for the continuation of the offensive line’s success under Sarrett is the simple fact that the group never had to ‘buy into’ Sarrett’s message. He has been working with them since before Munchak was even here, and his role under Munchak expanded every year.
The group already knows what to do. The coach already knows what to do. There are no new moving parts that need to buy in. The youngest of the group is Chukwuma Okorafor, and he is not even guaranteed to start. If he does, it will be because he is good enough to start over Matt Feiler.
The talent, when you have it, is paramount. This is a very veteran group that can virtually coach itself. Ramon Foster has been here for a decade. Maurkice Pouncey nine years. David DeCastro seven years. Alejandro Villanueva five years. Even Matt Feiler has been with the Steelers for four years, two on the practice squad.
As much as the above is true, the reality is that this is an offensive line facing two significant changes in losing their coach and their right tackle, with Marcus Gilbert being trade. Obviously these are changes that the team had been prepared for, and even actively pursued in the latter case, but we have to see it actually work on the field first.
Combining the two changes together at the same time could compound them as well. While Feiler started most of last season, we can’t necessarily guarantee that he is going to be as successful as he was a year ago. And he was still a downgrade from Gilbert.