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: With the injury to Stephon Tuitt, ending his season, rookie defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs will get his chance to contribute and carve out a role for himself.
Explanation: The Steelers have to get through the next 10 games without one of their best players on defense in Stephon Tuitt. Buggs has been inactive all year, but he figures to dress from here on out. The question is whether or not he sees much playing time.
When Cameron Heyward went down a few years ago, the Steelers weren’t shy about using whoever they had at their disposal. They even called up a rookie undrafted free agent and he got playing time.
While obviously Tyson Alualu will get the bulk of the playing time that Tuitt will no longer see, there will still be snaps to pass around. The Steelers have been concentrating on having a rotation this year, and they’ll want that to continue.
Buggs looked good in the preseason, and showed during his college career that he was able to rush the passer. Alualu is not strong in that phase, leaving a niche open for the rookie.
Alualu and Javon Hargrave will be the ones to receive the extraneous playing time, primarily, but by extension, Daniel McCullers will also receive a bigger role.
The last time around, during Heyward’s injury, they didn’t have the level of confidence in him, and in others like Hargrave, that they do now.
They feel good about the top four defensive linemen that they have now, and they can always use an excuse to get Hargrave on the field more anyway. Anything Buggs can offer, the fourth-year veteran would be able to do better.