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 Steelers will have two or fewer dropped passes today.
Explanation: Considering the fact that they have been averaging about half a dozen drops or more over the course of the past couple of weeks, dropping as few as two balls today would count as a huge step in the right direction, assuming that it comes on a decent number of passing targets.
While it is the case, and indisputably, that some of the Steelers most prominent and high-volume targets in the passing game have both a history and a reputation for drops, it’s also the case that these issues don’t show up every game.
Diontae Johnson is a very talented wide receiver, but he is also a hard worker who has the drive to be great. He knows the adversity that he is facing right now, including the potential loss of playing time if he continues to put the ball on the ground, and I trust that he will respond well.
The other big culprit is tight end Eric Ebron, but his targets waver from game to game, so we don’t even know how many times he’ll see the ball. Guys like JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington are typically more sure-handed, and they should be the focal point of the gameplan today.
Given how pass-oriented the Steelers’ offense is and has become, we are most likely going to see Ben Roethlisberger attempt at least 40 passes today, if not 50. With that volume, it’s very uncertain that we can expect to see as few as two drops, considering the ongoing issues.
The fact that they are working on a short week for the second game in a row also means that they haven’t gotten a lot of opportunities to work on issues during the week, because they are installing the gameplan when they are on the practice field.
Roethlisberger did at least practice two times this week, but how much time have they really gotten to work together? It’s hard to be confident in anything right now. Especially when you’re the one dropping the ball. That can get in your head.