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: Devlin Hodges will throw two or more touchdown passes.
Explanation: Devlin Hodges has accomplished quite a bit already as a rookie, especially considering he was an unsigned player after the draft. One thing he has yet to accomplish, however, after six games and four starts, is throwing multiple touchdown passes in a single game. He has five touchdown throws on the year, and each came in a different game.
He has the ambition and motivation to reverse the current narrative after he threw four interceptions last week. Hodges finally went up against a good defense and he looked like the undrafted rookie out of Samford that he is.
Today, he can look like a polished veteran. And the Jets’ cornerbacks, plus the return of JuJu Smith-Schuster, will help him do that. In Smith-Schuster’s absence, both James Washington and Diontae Johnson have shown significant growth.
Add in James Conner back into the fold and now Vance McDonald returning from a concussion, and Hodges will have his full arsenal available to him against a team that should be susceptible to being beat on the outside. The Jets have given up 24 touchdown passes this year, which ranks 20th in the league, and Brian Poole is questionable to play (as of the time of this writing).
Hodges hasn’t managed to accomplish this feat yet, so there is no reason to think he will suddenly do it now off the heels of the worst game of his career. He has only led multiple touchdown drives in a game once, and one of those was greatly aided by multiple pass interference penalties, including one on third down that set up first and goal from the one.
We have also never seen Hodges respond to adversity before. This is a major test for him, something he’s well aware of and spoke about last week. We thought Mason Rudolph was mentally tough as well, but he responded poorly under similar circumstances.