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: Games will be very sloppy beyond what we’re used to this season because of the lack of an offseason.
Explanation: I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. Players haven’t even worked out with each other and with coaches yet. Meetings have been entirely virtual. There may not be a preseason at all. Training camp and future practices will have limitations about what they’re able to do.
Practice may not make perfect, but it would make a heck of a lot better than what we’re going to see in September, and even into December. Any team that plans on relying on a rookie to be a core starter is going to be very disappointed because they’re going to be beyond lost.
There will be very little fundamental work being done, especially with pads on. That’s going to mean lots of missed tackles, lots of blown coverages. And injuries due to lack of conditioning will be rampant, which will result in even less experienced players stepping into prominent roles.
It might not look as bad as replacement players or an upstart league—after all, there are still future Hall of Famers on the field—but taken as a whole, this whole season is going to be a bit of a mess, because even in-season, practices are going to be minimized, and there won’t be much in-season progression and growth.
If there is a full season, the one thing that we know is not going to change dramatically is the game itself. The same rules will be in place with the same core principle of the game. And playing the game, getting reps, knocks off rust, builds experience, and leads to better results over the course of time.
By now we are used to the game as a whole getting off to a ‘slow start’, regarding sloppy play at the beginning of the season. But these are all professionals who have professional training. They will adapt as the season moves on, and outside of the empty stadium, it shouldn’t look any different than it always has.