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 Baltimore Ravens will dominate the AFC North for the foreseeable future.
Explanation: After years of struggling, missing the postseason in four out of five years, and then starting off 4-5, the Ravens have undergone a massive change since Lamar Jackson was installed at quarterback. Baltimore has gone 20-3 since then in the regular season, including 14-2 this year, and has often looked unstoppable, with great performances on both offense and defense.
Dealing with Jackson and the Ravens’ dynamic run game was one thing, but the acquisition of Marcus Peters and the solidification of the secondary at the trade deadline really changed the long-term complexion of this team, I think. The defense was looking to be a weak link through much of the early portions of the season, but they have shut the door on teams since Peters came in.
Peters is still young, and so is Marlon Humphrey, who has a Pro Bowl in his future, I’m sure. Add in Earl Thomas at safety, and you still have Tony Jefferson returning next year, plus Tavon Young in the slot. They will only add reinforcements at linebacker, probably drafting one early, but they’ve had success finding guys on the cheap, like L.J. Fort *ahem*.
Oh, and Jackson is still like 16 years old. He’s not even a complete passer yet and he’s already deadly. He threw a touchdown on nine percent of his passes with over 400 attempts. That has only happened a couple of times in NFL history.
One thing about success in a team sport is that everyone will want a part of it. So much of their success can be credited to their architecture, and if it doesn’t happen this year, it will happen soon enough that they will lose their valued coordinators, particularly Greg Roman. Both he and Don Martindale are interviewing for multiple head coaching vacancies this offseason.
And as good as the offense has looked this year, even unstoppable, let’s remember how things work. A team pulls something on the league one year. The league has a year to study what they did and how they did it. They adapt and adjust, figuring out how to stop it. The Ravens’ offense isn’t going to be like this every year. They’ll figure out how to defend Jackson better. This isn’t going to be the next New England Patriots.