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: Isaiah Buggs’ demotion will prove to be short-lived.
Explanation: On Sunday, the Steelers chose to dress first-year defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux over Isaiah Buggs, who had been dressing all season. Mondeaux was just called up from the practice squad as a seventh defensive lineman, and played seven defensive snaps—and one on offense.
Isaiah Buggs is the reason that the Steelers finally cut Daniel McCullers. He is the reason that they didn’t even choose to protect McCullers as a member of the practice squad, because they were that comfortable in his ability to man the second-string nose tackle position, and also to fill in elsewhere along the defensive line as needed.
Buggs had already played 51 snaps over the course of the first five games of the season, averaging just over 10 snaps per game, registering two tackles, but showing well outside of the numbers. He offers athleticism from the interior defensive position in the base that they don’t have otherwise outside of their starters.
There is nothing based on his performance that would indicate he has been demoted. Meanwhile, Mondeaux jumped offside on third and one, a fatal mistake for a young player trying to earn trust. Buggs has been able to avoid such mistakes in his young career.
The catch here is that the Steelers view Henry Mondeaux as a special teams player, which is critical because one of their best, Robert Spillane, is now in the starting lineup, and he only played 25 percent of the team’s special teams snaps on Sunday, showing that they clearly want to limit his exposure there.
Mondeaux played 17 special teams snaps. He was running with the kick coverage unit. This seals his status as an active player from this point forward. They had been protecting him all season on the practice squad. Now that they’ve called him up, he will stay up for good and serve on special teams, as the second-string nose tackle, rotational end, and perhaps other niches here and there.