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: Ike Hilliard will have a long stay in Pittsburgh as the team’s wide receivers coach (or with a promotion down the line).
Explanation: It doesn’t seem it’s too often that the Steelers hire in new coaches from the outside, and when they do, often enough, it is somebody who is already older, like Darryl Drake, Karl Dunbar, Tom Bradley, and Teryl Austin. He has brought in some younger hires lately, however, such as Eddie Faulkner and, more recently, Matt Canada, with Hilliard being the latest.
After three seasons with three different wide receivers coaches (though under very disturbing circumstances), the Steelers will have been looking for stability at this position, and it took them a nice, long while to settle down on Ike Hilliard, who comes to Pittsburgh with a good resume for his time working in Washington, including with a young group of wide receivers.
He will be a great candidate to help this group of young wide receivers blossom, starting with JuJu Smith-Schuster at the top, who amazingly is younger than the other young guys. Joining him are James Washington and Diontae Johnson, as well as Deon Cain, (for now) Ryan Switzer, and almost assuredly, a rookie draft pick as well.
Hilliard was praised by Washington’s interim head coach for the role he played in keeping the team above water after a midseason firing, and he got a bunch of young guys to put up numbers. That’s just what the Steelers need.
The thing is, if Hilliard is really so good, then he is going to be due for promotions down the line. If anything, he will be part of Mike Tomlin’s virtually non-existent coaching tree should he actually perform well at this post.
The wide receiver position has seen more turnover than any other under Tomlin, I believe, with offensive line a possible exception. Even Scottie Montgomery, who had the ‘Young Money Crew’, only lasted so long, though admittedly he took a job with his alma mater.
And many people have the sense that if any of these young coaches is going to be an internal promotion candidate, it will be Matt Canada, who has extensive experience as an offensive coordinator at the college level.