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: Ray-Ray McCloud will be a regular contributor to the offense going forward on a consistent basis.
Explanation: Originally signed in the middle of training camp, just weeks before the regular season was to begin, Ray-Ray McCloud has seen his role on offense expand over the course of the season, though his first substantial playing time that wasn’t due to injury came on Sunday, and in potentially unique, or at least rare, circumstances.
It is reasonable to assume that Ray-Ray McCloud’s initial offensive role would expand over the course of the season, given that he was only brought in weeks before the games began. Each week he learns more and more of the offense and gains greater comfort and familiarity with the system and his teammates. As a result of that, more can and will be asked of him.
While he is not necessarily a great conventional wide receiver, he fits some of the things the Steelers are looking to do this year with pre-snap motion, wide receiver pitches, and things of that nature. As a return man, he has the natural ability to create in open space, and he has already shown that he can hit a big play.
It should also be noted that he has drawn multiple pass interference penalties of 15-plus yards.
The reason that McCloud played as much as he did last week is because they were playing a Baltimore Ravens team that was down to practice squad elevation Terrell Bond playing in the slot by the second half, and the Steelers preferred his shiftiness in terms of matchups over James Washington.
While Washington’s snap count has declined over the past two seasons, it would be inaccurate, or at least premature, to look at the last game and say that he is now fifth on the depth chart. As we have discussed, his reduction in playing time was not due to performance, as he was coming off his best game of the season. It’s as likely as not that we see him play a significant role in the game tomorrow.