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: Even if Mark Barron returns from injury next week, Vince Williams should still remain a starter.
Explanation: Veteran inside linebacker Vince Williams missed a lot of the season, but he was able to return in recent weeks, and he did make an impact. While he might not be as athletic as Barron, his vocal communication and run-stuffing abilities, not to mention his skill on the blitz, have proven to be more than valuable.
I think the communication aspect of the equation alone answers the question. Especially with Devin Bush still not yet fully up to the task of being the primary line of communication between the field and the sideline, it’s up to Williams to be able to be on the field and be that commanding presence and active communicator.
Communication has continued to be an issue that has plagued the defense, and sometimes at the most inopportune times, so it’s an important conversation to have, make no mistake. Barron doesn’t really have that communication role, nor the personality for it.
There’s also the fact that Williams is simply a good player who knows the system probably better than anybody. His impact on the run game should not be overlooked in forcing teams to be one-dimensional, as just one example of what he offers.
But I’m not overly concerned about the run. There aren’t too many teams in the league right now who are going to win many games driven by the efforts on the ground of their running backs. And Bush and Barron can make a solid run-stopping tandem anyway, especially as Bush continues to mature day by day.
The Steelers signed Barron because they knew they had to improve their athleticism and range at the position. He still offers that over Williams. And therefore, he should still be on the field. While there is a role for all three of them, most situations will likely call for Bush and Barron.