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: Nobody on the team will finish the season with more than five touchdown receptions.
Explanation: Heading into the final four games of the season, nobody on the team has gotten into the end zone via the pass more than three times, although there are several players with that amount. Without Ben Roethlisberger, the offense has been grounded for most of the year.
The Steelers only have 21 offensive touchdowns all season, including 15 passing touchdowns. Devlin Hodges has thrown three of them. They are barely averaging one and a quarter passing touchdowns during the year.
If they continue to go at this pace, then Hodges will throw only five touchdown passes over the course of the next four games. While he has developed a bit of a rapport with James Washington in the past week and a half, neither of their touchdown connections were plays that would be easily replicable, and required either a fallen defender or a ridiculous level of concentration and a smidge of luck.
Washington, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and Vance McDonald all have three receiving touchdowns, and between the four of them, they account for 80 percent of the touchdown passes thrown by Steelers quarterback this year. The odds are that each of them will get one more, plus another one going to a running back, whoever it might be for the week.
It really depends upon Hodges. Who is he capable of being as a passer? It’s easy to get the feeling that he will be a fast and rising developer, learning from every experiencing and putting that learning into practice to grow the following week.
He has found a connection in a short amount of time with Washington, and he has more than twice the amount of time with him that he’s already had to get just three more touchdown receptions. Consider Smith-Schuster is out, Johnson hasn’t been doing much, and McDonald has been having a very quiet year…who else is he going to throw touchdowns to? If Washington doesn’t get a few, then this team isn’t going to win anything.