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 Cowboys defense is not as bad as it’s made out to be.
Explanation: After playing a team that entered the week leading the league in points allowed per game, the Steelers are now facing the team that has given up more points than anybody else in the NFL. Yet scores have been lower in recent weeks.
Whether or not a unit is ‘as bad’ as it seems is really somewhat immaterial when you’re playing them, because you either have success or you don’t. You still have to beat an NFL defense. And this is a defense that might be working its way into some type of competence.
They have recently gotten Leighton Vander Esch back, for one thing, and Sean Lee is set to make his 2020 debut. Having a stabilizing presence in the middle of the field is important. They have recently also cut some dead weight and underperforming pieces in letting Dontari Poe go and trading Everson Griffen.
Now, the secondary is going to leave something to be desired, let’s just be frank about that. They have what they have and can’t do much about that, but they do have some guys like Demarcus Lawrence who are capable of getting after the passer on any given Sunday, and Aldon Smith has been somewhat of a surprise on his way back into the NFL. in other words, there is talent here, and especially with the middle of the defense starting to stabilize, that could bring more cohesion.
Every single team that the Cowboys have faced has put up at least 20 points against them this season. They allowed at least 34 points in five consecutive games, and in four out of those five games, they allowed at least 38 points. The lower scores the past two weeks? They’ve come against their awful divisional opponents, the Eagles and Washington.
This is a convoluted and disorganized unit. They are awful against the run and have allowed over 200 yards in this phase three times already. Put simply, there’s a reason that isn’t just about the quarterback position that they are 2-6 on the year.