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’ defensive penalty issues were more about the officials and will be resolved.
Explanation: The Steelers committed six penalties on defense on Sunday against the Denver Broncos that awarded the opposing offense a first down, often on possession downs to keep drives alive. It was enough of a concern that Mike Tomlin said he would be bringing in officials to practice this week.
A lot of the penalties that the Steelers ended up getting flagged for were ones that you regularly see not called. Generally, the officiating so far this year has been conservative, and this game seems to have been one of the stark exceptions for whatever reason.
Even if it might technically be a penalty on the most literal possible interpretation of the rules, some of the plays on Sunday were routine in games that you expect will frequently not be called, and are the sorts of things that they ‘got away with’ the week before, when they were only penalized three times in total as a team.
They didn’t suddenly become highly undisciplined from one week to the next. Tomlin brought in officials to gain clarity on what they are looking for and looking at in terms of calling penalties so that they can avoid this in the future.
Considering how widespread the penalties were in the secondary, with seemingly everybody in the back end being flagged, you have to wonder what is happening and if it isn’t the product of a lack of communication leading players to commit penalties because they are not on the same page and thus can’t trust what they’re supposed to be doing.
And these penalties happened all throughout the game, even down to the Broncos’ final drive, so it’s not like they made an adjustment to clean things up. They may get some talk from the officials, but they won’t tell the Steelers anything they didn’t already know, and if a player feels the need to commit a penalty in order to not give up a play, that is what is going to continue to happen.