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 passing game will be able to put up good numbers against the New York Jets’ cornerbacks.
Explanation: While the Jets have a talented pair of safeties, their cornerbacks are far from elite, and one of their starters, Brian Poole, has missed the past two games with a concussion. He remains in the protocol. Devlin Hodges will not come up against a more favorable matchup.
The fact that Hodges tends to prefer hitting the throws outside the numbers means that they should see more one-on-one opportunities for their wide receivers, and that is where guys like James Washington and JuJu Smith-Schuster have excelled in the past.
Smith-Schuster looking as though he is trending to get back on the field on Sunday will also be a major boon, giving Hodges somebody who can not only consistently win his matchups, but to be in the right spot, and to make the play when it comes to him.
There is no Tre’Davious White this week. This is a cornerback tandem that can be beaten with the level of talent the Steelers have at wide receiver, including Diontae Johnson, who was able to win some reps against White as well.
Hodges is coming off of his worst game of the season. We still don’t even know how he is going to respond to his poor performance, throwing four interceptions against the Bills. We don’t know how that game will affect the plan for this week and if it will call for a more conservative approach from a schematic perspective.
Maybe they run the ball a lot more, for example. They have a full stable of running backs now, and while the Jets do have a good run defense, the Steelers believe they can have success against anybody. After this past week, they may be motivated to prove it.
Besides, the Jets haven’t allowed 250 or more passing yards in five consecutive games. They have been getting better as the season goes on.