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: Marcus Allen will log over 250 defensive snaps in 2019.
Explanation: Allen, a second-year player, only participated in two games last year, but many view him as the favorite to succeed Morgan Burnett for the dimebacker role. There the possibility that he also functions as the number three safety, the first off the bench.
This topic hinges on a few different variables, including how much the Steelers are going to use their dime defense. Based on last season, it will be a significant amount, enough to get Allen his 250 snaps. The dime package even became the personnel grouping they ran most often, and there is talk that they want to use the dollar defense with seven defensive backs more than last season.
Then there’s the role. Allen has both the talent and the appreciation of the team to get it. They coveted him in the fifth round last year because they didn’t even think he would be there. They probably would have drafted him in the third if they didn’t take a safety in the first round. Mike Tomlin mentioned him by name when discussing the dimebacker role.
But assuming he even gets the role, there is no guarantee it gets used as much. In fact, there is reason to think that it won’t. Probably the biggest reason it was run so extensively is because the team was dissatisfied with the coverage ability of its linebackers.
That won’t be the case this season with Devin Bush and Mark Barron. One of them, at least, will starter, and if the other isn’t in the starting lineup as well, then he will be the nickel linebacker, replacing Vince Williams for coverage, and this package will become their most prevalent over the dime.
The talk of Allen also ignores Jordan Dangerfield, who, as the joke goes, gets no respect. Guy’s been around the block, and will probably be the first safety off the bench instead, even if Allen get the dimebacker role in a diminished capacity.