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 recent experiences of free agent acquisitions Steven Nelson and Mark Barron playing against Tom Brady in the postseason will be an asset against the New England Patriots in the season opener.
Explanation: It’s not often that the Steelers sign players from outside the organization who have had a lot of meaningful experiences with playing time before they got here. That’s not the case this year with Nelson and Barron. Nelson’s Chiefs played the Patriots to a regulation tie in the conference finals, then Barron’s Rams lost to them in the Super Bowl.
It is an asset, and here’s why. With Nelson and Barron, combined with the Steelers, of course, you have starters from three different defenses who played the Patriots late in the season a year ago. That’s three different perspectives, three different gameplans, against which to compare notes and to dissect what worked and what didn’t.
It’s hard enough to try to figure out anything that will work against Brady more than a couple of times, because not only is he simply a very skilled player, he is also a quick learner who rarely repeats a mistake he has already made.
The premise of the question lies, however, at least partly on the assumption that players like Nelson and Barron are going to have some type of relevant influence in putting together the Steelers’ gameplan, as well as on the idea that they carry that perspective with them. It’s not like they were the ones calling the plays. They were just running them.
Ultimately, it’s going to be Mike Tomlin, Keith Butler, and the rest of the coaching staff working to put together a plan that will give Brady a hard time. The Steelers have played the Patriots in recent years about as much as any other non-divisional opponent. Lack of familiarity has never been the issue with them losing.