Now that the 2020 regular season has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: DE Stephon Tuitt
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: While the defense as a whole may not have performed as it would have liked, Stephon Tuitt was arguably the best player on the field for the unit.
Last season, in the Steelers’ first five games, Stephon Tuitt was well on his way to having a career year, seemingly finally beyond perennial injury concerns and in both his physical and mental prime as an athlete and football player. He had three and a half sacks by that point.
A pectoral injury early in the sixth game shut him down for the rest of the year. But he returned in 2020 picking up where he left off, and after another sack and a half yesterday against the Philadelphia Eagles, he has now matched last year’s output in sacks in just four games, now with three and a half, surpassing Bud Dupree, who had half a sack for the second-most on the team behind T.J. Watt, who now has four and a half.
Tuitt wasn’t just getting sacks, but regular pressure on the quarterback, and he added three quarterback hits during yesterday’s game. He also finished with five tackles, including one for a loss, as he proved to be effective against the run. In addition to his two sacks, he had three run-stop tackles. He also registered a quarterback hit on the final Carson Wentz pass on fourth and 20 that was intercepted.
Now, the only question is whether or not he can stay healthy, because Tuitt is playing fantastically, the way that he was always expected to all along, since he was drafted. Of course, injuries happened to be one of his red flags, and the only reason he wasn’t a first-round pick back in 2014.
If he can actually put together a 16-game season this year, there is every reason to believe that he can be awarded at the end of the season with some type of honor, whether it’s with Pro Bowl recognition or a spot on the All-Pro list. We’ve all known his talent. We’re seeing it again.