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 offense won’t be able to overcome the lack of a running game two weeks in a row.
Explanation: Outside of a 45-yard run by Trey Edmunds on his first of 12 carries last week, the Steelers were able to get very little done on the ground with both James Conner and Benny Snell out. Jaylen Samuels only had eight carries and did very little with them, aside from his carry inside the 10, on which he nearly scored. Playing one-dimensionally against the Los Angeles Rams’ front four will be a burden to say the least.
With the Rams getting Clay Matthews back, and having Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, and Dante Fowler along the line, Los Angeles presents a much bigger challenge in pass protection than did the Indianapolis Colts, even with Justin Houston.
If the Steelers are going to run the ball this week the way they did a week ago, they’re going to be forced to throw the ball more than they would want to, and that’s going to be a problem, exacerbated by the decision to move Matt Feiler to left guard and start Chukwuma Okorafor to right tackle. They’re going to have to give Okorafor a lot of help, which is going to lead to more pressure and more checkdowns, which the Rams’ dime defense can chase down.
Just because the Steelers don’t have Conner and Snell doesn’t mean that they can’t have a run game. We have seen Samuels have some success on the ground in the past, last week notwithstanding. The Rams only have a middling run defense at best, so there is some ground to be gained there, as well.
I think both he and Edmunds will have gained some valuable insight from last week, and will be better prepared to perform this week. Edmunds hadn’t had this much work offensively yet in his entire career, so to get that experience and have the opportunity to learn from it shouldn’t be dismissed. He did run well in the preseason, too.