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 over their ‘drops’ problem that plagued them a few weeks ago.
Explanation: While the Steelers’ skill position players haven’t necessarily played error-free football for the past couple of games, they have been more reliable in catching the football than they were during a particularly bad stretch.
Barring extreme outliers in critical moments, like a dropped Stevie Johnson touchdown pass for the Bills many years ago, it takes a lot for drops solely to have a serious impact on a game the way the Steelers were affected several weeks ago, when they had virtually everybody dropping passes, more than a dozen over a two-week span.
Two weeks ago, they went an entire game without dropping a single pass. There were a couple of balls on Sunday that you would have liked to have seen them hold on to—the biggest issue was a Chase Claypool drop in the end zone—but we’re not seeing the chronic, progressive issue that excited weeks ago.
This isn’t a team that is going to be perfect, just like any other. There are still going to be dropped passes, and some of the mare going to come in tough spots, but that happens to everybody, and isn’t out of the ordinary.
At least according to Pro Football Focus, the Steelers had three drops on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, with two of them by Diontae Johnson, who already led the league in drops. These drops might have been a bit softer than some of his other ones, but it still points to an ongoing concern.
Considering everything that he has been though, that Johnson is still having issues with the reliability of his hands has to be worrying. He knows that it’s something he has to pay extra attention to, but he’s still putting balls on the ground. Claypool and Eric Ebron have had those issues as well, and the rest are not immune.
The long and short of it is this: it wouldn’t be even remotely surprising if the Steelers drop five or six passes in the opening round of the postseason. That means the drop problem isn’t behind them.