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 Steelers’ standard of conditioning under Mike Tomlin will be met and leave the team in better standing than most to get off to a strong start.
Explanation: There aren’t many coaches who so thoroughly and repeatedly preach the value of conditioning (ever heard ‘highly-conditioned athlete’) than does Mike Tomlin. The Steelers also have a group of motivated leaders on the roster who want to set the example, including a guy like Steven Nelson. Will the Steelers by a better-conditioned outfit than most teams, and will this help them at the start of the season?
This is an easy yes. There are rarely conditioning issues with Steelers players, and when there are, they’re usually tied to injuries that prevent players from working out the way they should. Watching the players post on social media, including calling out other players (not by name) for taking it easy during quarantine, you know they’re going to come in ready to work.
T.J. Watt recently talked about how he feels the NFL needs an acclimation period to help players get in shape, but only because he knows a lot of others were not working the way he was. Zach Banner called out those who haven’t been putting in the work.
Training camp and preseason won’t get players into game shape this year. they’ll have to be in shape on their own. If you’re playing against opponents with a lower conditioning level, you have an obvious and objective advantage.
It may be true that the Steelers will, on average, be slightly better-conditioned than the average team. But the difference is almost always negligible, and it will continue to be so under these circumstances like any other. These are all professional athletes. The majority of them will treat their jobs professionally.
Conditioning may play the most obvious role for wide receivers and cornerbacks. James Washington and Diontae Johnson have acknowledged having conditioning issues in the past. I don’t think we should be automatically assuming that everybody on the roster has become a body-building sprinter over the past few months.