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: David DeCastro will bounce back to (something close to) his usual form this season.
Explanation: DeCastro suffered an abdominal injury during training camp that likely affected him to some degree throughout the season. He missed the season opener, and then was quickly injured again, missing another game. While he remained strong in pass protection, his typical work in the run game suffered.
Being healthier will always yield better results. You can’t play hurt all year and expect to get the same level of performance out of yourself. That’s what David DeCastro did in 2020. Assuming that he stays healthy this time around, we should expect to see him anchor this evolving offensive line.
It’s not just about health, either. I think Matt Canada’s offense is going to help him, as well. I suspect we will see more of a mix of blocking schemes, but the power run with the pulling guard isn’t going away, and I believe will see that used more effectively this year.
DeCastro is 31 years old now. He’s going into his 10th season. He has more than 8000 snaps’ worth of wear and tear on his body. You’ve seen how Maurkice Pouncey’s performance dwindled in his final seasons. Marcus Gilbert’s body broke down. Playing offensive line is a grueling task, and not many can play at a high level into their 30s.
Couple that with the fact that he is going to have inexperienced players to his left and right, not to mention a new head offensive line coach, and I’m not sure that is the recipe for a rebound. There are a lot of things changing around him, and this may be more likely to be the beginning of the end rather than a new beginning.