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: It’s good that the Steelers got their loss out of the way, against a divisional opponent, forcing them to buckle down and focus down the stretch ahead of the postseason.
Explanation: Even though they haven’t officially clinched a playoff berth, their participation in the postseason is effectively an inevitability. Losing has a way of applying some urgency into addressing lingering issues, and when you can get that loss outside of the conference, it’s even better.
First and foremost, the Steelers were never going to go undefeated in the first place. This isn’t a stacked roster the way the 2007 New England Patriots were. That’s not the kind of offense that they have, which, frankly, is kind of inefficient. They go three and out a lot.
So to get that loss behind them, and to have it come with the least damage to their standings, can be used as a positive, a galvanizing force. Right now, everybody is celebrating the Steelers’ loss. They all wanted them to lose. Everybody is against them.
Are they a flawed team? Of course they are. Are they better than they played last night? Of course they are. And when you lose because of your flaws, they stand out more, making it easier to identify and address them. That comes just in time for some tough games against the Bills and Colts.
There is never a good time for a loss, whether it’s a loss that is less damaging than others or not. While it’s technically true that a loss next week to the Bills would be worse than last night’s loss, losing to Washington isn’t going to win them the game against the Bills, and if they won yesterday’s game, it wouldn’t make them lose in Buffalo.
This is a week-a-time league. Every team every week endeavors to go 1-0. Sure, you can make the case that responding to a loss has some sort of galvanizing effect, and maybe the team plays a little better as a result. But it’s still always better to win than to lose.