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: Tyler Matakevich is still in the mix to serve as a backup buck linebacker if Vince Williams gets injured.
Explanation: Much to the chagrin of many, former seventh-round inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich not only remains on the team, but continues to make plays defensively during practice. He has struggled to translate that to regular season games, however. With Williams sitting out yesterday, he got some time with the starters playing buck.
For one thing, we knew all along that both Devin Bush and Mark Barron are better suited to play the mack linebacker role in the Steelers’ defense. While there will be opportunities for both of them to be on the field together—perhaps it will even be their primary defensive look—there will still be times when a bigger body is called for.
That would be Williams, of course. And if Williams is not available, Matakevich would be the next in line. He does have three years in the Steelers’ system already. While it might be misguided to predict further mental development, he has always shown instincts on the practice field that he hasn’t with consistency inside of stadiums, so perhaps that can be smoothed over.
Even though Bush and Barron profile to the mack role, they are still two of the top three inside linebackers, and it’s pretty common in the past for the Steelers to have had one top reserve at the spot for both the mack and buck. Williams was that guy before. So was Larry Foote. I believe Lawrence Timmons was in his first two seasons as well.
Bush is already going to be the guy calling the defense, and he’s far from small, so I’m guessing he would be the one to line up at the buck position if Williams were to miss time. The talent level from a Bush or Barron to Matakevich doesn’t justify what size he might bring to the table, even in a third-and-one or goal-line scenario.