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: Robert Spillane will go right back to his full slate of playing time once he is back healthy, with Avery Williamson reduced to a backup role.
Explanation: Since suffering a knee injury late in the game against the Baltimore Ravens, Robert Spillane has been sidelined. He will be eligible to return for the regular season finale, but in the interim, Avery Williamson, acquired via trade shortly ahead of the deadline, has had to be become virtually an every-down player. Before going down with the injury, Spillane had established himself as a competent fill-in at worst.
The Steelers brought in Avery Williamson to provide depth, not to start, and Robert Spillane hasn’t done anything to merit a demotion. To be blunt, Williamson hasn’t done anything to merit a promotion, either. There really isn’t any one thing that he clearly does better than Spillane does.
The latter had already shown that he does have the ability to wear the green dot and set the defense and still carry out his assignments. He might not be some elite athlete, but he had been doing a nice job of getting things done, even offering some effectiveness as a blitzer—in fact, his injury came on a blitz on which he batted down the ball.
Aside from the fact that he is coming back from an injury, and thus it might make sense to ease him on his way back into the fold, the reality is that there is no reason for him to be an every-down player, something he wasn’t before Devin Bush’s injury.
Williamson might not be as well-versed in the defense as Spillane, but he has many years of valuable starting experience that can certainly come in handy during the postseason in particular, and with the more he plays, and the more he calls the defense, the more comfortable he will get. There is higher upside with Williamson than with Spillane, so you want to give him some playing time even when Spillane gets back.