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’ competitiveness in most of their losses shows that the season can still be turned around before it’s over.
Explanation: Even though the Steelers are currently 1-4, they are only two games behind the Baltimore Ravens for first place in the AFC North at 3-2, and they will play again in Week 17. If Pittsburgh can finish with one more win in the next 10 games and then beat Baltimore, they will finish ahead of them (barring three-way tiebreaker exceptions) provided that they maintain a better division record, since the Ravens have already lost to the Cleveland Browns.
For a team that has only won one game in five opportunities, things kind of feel less dire than they ought to. Especially considering that they are down to the quarterback whom they considered fourth-best initially in Devlin Hodges, after he failed to make the 53-man roster.
They like Hodges, and he showed that he can play and even make some plays. The defense played a strong game, two weeks in a row now, and with them rounding into form, all the team has to do is stop making these big mistakes that cost them games. That shouldn’t be too big of an ask going forward.
Equally important, the division doesn’t feel as strong as it initially did. Their wins have largely come against bottom-feeders to date. 8-8 could realistically win the division.
But the Steelers would have to go 7-4 the rest of the way just to get to 8-8, and they still have to play the Browns twice, the Ravens again, plus the Los Angeles Chargers, the Los Angeles Rams, and the Indianapolis Colts.
The team should get better and gel over the course of the season, but they’re still too far away to make a serious push. The wide receiver room has yet to gel together and schematic issues, beyond the talent on the field, on both sides of the ball continue to hold them back. Down to their last option at quarterback, this is a team that would be lucky to finish .500.