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
I understand that nobody wants to be positive right now. The Steelers lost another game, their third in a row, and the second in which the game was close. This one perhaps stung most of all, for multiple reasons, not the least of which being the fact that they were able to get five turnovers. Ordinarily, a team that gets that many extra possessions wins.
Yet they only ran 51 offensive plays all game. The defense was on the field for 73. San Francisco controlled the ball for 36:17. The defense was gassed, not just because they struggled at times to get off the field, especially in the second half, but because the offense struggled to stay on it.
Yet there were some highlights scattered throughout. A better, more consistent day from Devin Bush was one of them. Minkah Fitzpatrick flashed the first-round talent that brought him here via trade last week. But arguably the best player on defense for the second week in a row was Stephon Tuitt.
And it’s about time. Finishing the game with seven tackles and a sack—the team’s lone sack of the game—his stat line matched his performance, and that’s often not the case with him. He’s been winning his individual matchups at a very high rate this year, and more importantly, he’s making and finishing plays afterward.
Already on the season, he has three and a half sacks through just three games, in addition to 13 tackles. He’s been great in pursuit. He had five tackles in the run game, and all of them went for defensive stops. On second and goal from the three, he also made the tackle on a shovel play that got the 49ers to the one-yard line.
It was a great game for the sixth-year end on an otherwise pretty forgettable evening for the defense as a whole. But if he can stack together a few more games like this—admittedly, it isn’t the first time he’s gotten on a hot streak—we could be looking at him finally blooming into his full potential. He’s already a very good and underrated player, but right now he’s playing like a Pro Bowler.