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: At full health, the Steelers’ offense can actually be formidable.
Explanation: While the Steelers have occasionally been able to make things happen here and there offensively—even if not often enough—they have been able to make the plays that are needed to be made in complement to a stout defense over the past three weeks. As young players emerge, they will still at some point this season see the return of two Pro Bowlers in JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner.
The quarterback play is typically the heart and soul of any offensive operation, but even a pedestrian showing can be carried if they receive enough contributions from elsewhere. While the offense isn’t churning out the points as much as one might like—only scoring 36 points over the past two games—they’re generally making the important plays, or at least enough of them to win.
And even though he might not be going to the Pro Bowl this year, JuJu Smith-Schuster is still their best wide receiver. He didn’t record over 200 receptions for nearly 3000 yards before his 23rd birthday by accident. With James Washington and now Diontae Johnson stepping up to the play during his three-game absence, this top trio will be strengthened and tough to match up against once he’s back.
And with Benny Snell and Jaylen Samuels, mixed in with Kerrith Whyte, have elevated the running game in recent weeks, Conner is still their best all-around back in every phase. They can work him into the mix if necessary.
First of all, while it’s not necessarily germane to the hypothetical question, it’s not even guaranteed that they will get either back. But let’s say they do. That’s not going to suddenly going to start putting up 25-30 points per game. Neither of those players on their own were doing a ton of scoring, and really, each of them only had perhaps one, or two at most, above average performances on the season.
When and if they do come back, they’ll just add to the pool of options, guys who can make a key play here and there. The level of play at the quarterback position places a hard cap on the ceiling of this unit’s potential, and as much love as there is for Devlin Hodges, he hasn’t thrown more than one touchdown in a game yet. The offense as a whole has been coasting on defensive takeaways regardless of who’s been under center.