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: Bud Dupree should have been credited with another sack on Sunday.
Explanation: Fifth-year outside linebacker Bud Dupree has recorded a sack in three straight games now, three and a half in total during that span. Toward the end of Sunday’s game, the Steelers earned a ‘team’ sack when Kyler Murray fumbled the ball scrambling away from pressure. He recovered the ball and Dupree tagged him down.
The notion of a ‘team’ sack is absurd. The ground can’t sack a quarterback. If he is sacked, it’s because somebody caused it. If there was no cause, then he simply fumbled and it’s not a sack. So the fact that the official scorer charged it as a sack means that somebody sacked Murray.
Dupree was the player who forced Murray to scramble and cut to his right, grabbing a bit of his jersey before he was able to escape, stumbling, and ultimately losing the ball as he was trying to pull his throwing arm back from across his body.
It wouldn’t be the prettiest or most impressive sack in the world, but everyone knows statistics matter, especially for milestones. This would give Dupree 10.5 sacks on the year, a big landmark on the eve of potentially hitting free agency.
First thing’s first, which is that there is an argument to be made for a ‘team’ sack. If there isn’t any one clear player who deserves credit for a sack, and yet it is apparent that the quarterback was sacked—generally, because he fumbles while fleeing pressure after being touched—then a ‘team’ sack is the most logical attribution. This happened within the past few years against the Cleveland Browns as well.
Then there’s the matter of the nuances of the play. If you actually watch carefully, it’s Javon Hargrave who last touches Murray before he fumbles. The quarterback has to run through his arm, in fact. That Dupree tagged him down after he fumbled is irrelevant, because that is a separate play and statistic. If anybody should be credited for the sack, it’s Hargrave for being the last defender to influence the sack.
Alternatively, you could argue that it shouldn’t be a sack in the first place. Murray escaped pressure. It’s only a sack because he fumbled. Had he ultimately fallen to the ground and didn’t lose the ball, he would have been able to get back up and throw a pass. It was a mistake to even call this a sack in the first place.