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 are done intentionally limiting Chase Claypool’s snaps.
Explanation: Head coach Mike Tomlin said several weeks ago that they were beginning to manage rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool’s workload because they didn’t want him to be overwhelmed by the time that they would need him in the postseason. He has been under 70 percent of the snaps, sometimes under 50 percent, for the past six games after averaging about 70-75 percent from week three to week nine.
Buy: Well, the Steelers are pretty much in crunch time now. It’s quite possible that they only have three games left to play, although they could also have six. Although they have already had their ticket punched for entry into the postseason, they want to win this game to lock up the division—and if they don’t, they will have to win the next one against the Cleveland Browns unless the latter somehow loses to the New York Jets.
In other words, it’s no time to be limiting anybody who is going to help you win games. Now, Chase Claypool has still been on the field, averaging around 40 snaps per game or so, but he could be playing 55 or 60. He reminded us on Monday that he is capable of making big plays out of small plays, something this team needs right now.
The Steelers still have JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson as their top two wide receivers, and we must also remember that some of Claypool’s playing time was given back to James Washington, who earned the right to see more snaps.
The reality is that Claypool is still playing. It’s not like he’s being limited to just two or three drives per game. He has only dipped under 60 percent one time since week three when his playing time first picked up, so we were never talking about a major reduction in playing time in the first place. Would playing 60 snaps instead of 45 really make a difference?