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 2019 offense with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell would have made all the difference.
Explanation: The Steelers still managed to go 8-8 in 2019 even without Ben Roethlisberger. But the meager resources on offense, particularly at the quarterback position, ultimately bogged the team down. They scored just 30 total points in their final three games, all losses that cost them a postseason berth. The argument is that the inclusion of Brown and Bell into the offense would have mitigated Roethlisberger’s loss and made them a Super Bowl contender.
Antonio Brown is one of the greatest football players of this generation. JuJu Smith-Schuster disappointed in year three without him and the rest of the receiving corps rarely rose above the level of serviceable, certainly nobody who was prepared to carry the team.
As for Bell, while his numbers in New York this year might not be a rousing endorsement, we’ve seen his work behind this line before. The Jets had one of the worst lines in the NFL. His presence would have completely changed the running game, which they probably would have relied on, as they did late in 2016, in Roethlisberger’s absence.
What both of them have done over the course of their careers, when on the field, is score, and that’s what this offense needed. Beyond that, they would have insulated these key positions from injury, which proved to be critical.
We’ve seen Brown play with backups before, and his numbers aren’t great. And chances are, he would have imploded once again when he wasn’t getting the ball enough. In fact, it would have been a guarantee. It may have even resulted in a mid-season blow-up that would have forced the team to trade him, as they ended up doing.
And Bell didn’t help his new team all that much—arguably his best game was against the Steelers and something of an aberration—so it’s hard to make the sales pitch that he would have changed this team. He looked like a guy who hadn’t played football in over a year.