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 Steelers will finally beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Foxboro.
Explanation: There aren’t many things that the Steelers as an organization have failed to achieve, but one of them is notching even a single victory against Tom Brady when he is playing at home. They are 0-5 in their five previous such meetings, but if ever they had a better chance than normal, it may be tonight.
The Steelers finally have the versatility and experience mixed with talent to match up with the Patriots when they are at their best, on their home turf. This is most critical on the defensive side of the ball, where the team has too often fallen victim to audibles that have stressed the defense and put defenders in less than ideal situations. Now they have defenders versatile enough to play in those less common assignments and be expected to hold their own.
The offense is also more capable of being multiple than they have been in some time, with personnel able to more freely be worked in and out of the offense, rather than relying on superstar talents who, if taken away, almost completely disrupt any semblance of a gameplan.
The most important aspect of this game is the fact that the talent in coverage in the secondary and at linebacker has been upgraded and trained to be more aggressive. Combine that with a strong pass rush in the front seven and they will be able to handle Brady.
What the Steelers have accomplished this offseason sounds great on paper, but has yet to be put to the test. Do we really know that Donte Moncrief and James Washington can be the complementary pieces sufficient enough to allow JuJu Smith-Schuster to be the player the Steelers need him to be?
More crucially, the defense might be more talented, but it hasn’t worked together a lot, and communication and being on the same page is even more important than the other named factors going against the Patriots. ‘Do Your Job’ is the key, and we can’t trust that everybody will be able to handle their job on every play, including knowing what their job is. Add on top of that the absence of their most experienced player in the secondary system, Sean Davis, on top of the rest, and we should expect the same old, same old up in Foxboro.