Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: DE Stephon Tuitt
Stock Value: Up
It was difficult while watching the season opener against the New England Patriots to determine if anybody on the defensive side of the ball had played well. It was really quite that bad. Not so on Sunday, even with the Steelers falling to the Seattle Seahawks. There were strong performances. One of them belonged to sixth-year veteran Stephon Tuitt.
Tuitt was a menace for Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, particularly in the first half. He brought the Pro Bowler down three times for sacks, and was a regular presence in the backfield. He only registered one official tackle, but it was a run stop for no gain against Chris Carson.
The tape tells the full story. Winning his one-on-one matchup was routine for him. That actually hasn’t been an infrequent occurrence. Based on pure talent, he is the most gifted lineman the Steelers have, and perhaps among the most gifted across the entire NFL. It just doesn’t show up on the stat sheet frequently enough.
Will we finally see that parallel in 2019 between talent and statistics? He leads the Steelers with two and a half sacks, though perhaps he should be credited with a full three. He split one sack, officially, with Mark Barron, but he was he who created the sack and got to Wilson first.
The defensive line has so far been the only unit that has been a consistent positive for the defense, with both Tuitt and Cameron Heyward playing well, Javon Hargrave holding his own in addition to the two highly-compensated ends.
They’ll need even more from this unit, particularly from Tuitt, going forward if the rest of the group doesn’t hold up.