The regular season marks the culmination of an extensive investigation into who your team will be that year. By this point, you’ve gone through free agency, the draft, training camp, and the preseason. You feel good in your decisions insofar as you can create clarity without having played meaningful games. But there are still plenty of uncertainties that remain, whether at the start of the regular season or the end, and new ones continually develop over time.
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: Tyson Alualu’s injury will be a bigger issue than it’s being made out to be.
Explanation: The Steelers lost their starting nose tackle, perhaps for the season, after Alualu suffered a fractured ankle early in this week’s game. He will be replaced by Isaiah Buggs and Carlos Davis, both of whom have seen some time in the defense before, but now will be asked to fill much larger roles.
For starters, it’s not just Alualu but Stephon Tuitt as well, and so far, there are no indications that Tuitt is going to be ready to come off of the Reserve/Injured List as soon as he’s ready. Alualu also took a lot of snaps in the nickel front.
Now we’re down to Chris Wormley as the number two lineman next to Cameron Heyward. They’re one snap away from having a very unremarkable front at this point if something were to happen to the perennial Pro Bowler. Imagine a starting lineup of Wormley, Davis, and Buggs. That’s a far cry from Heyward, Alualu, and Tuitt.
Alualu has been the Steelers’ best run defender for the past five years, quite frankly, and as we get into more games in which the running game is going to be a factor, his absence is going to expose the unit in a major way.
Alualu’s injury is a pretty big loss. But it’s not the end of the world to lose a nose tackle in 2021, especially when you spent 70 percent of your time with two linemen on the field. He can still provide whatever intangibles he brings to the table even if he’s injured.
Plus, there is reason to be optimistic about the immediate future of young guys like Buggs and Davis, both of whom put in good Summers and played well in the preseason. They were going to command the position this year anyway when Alualu actually first agreed to sign with the Jaguars in free agency. Every injury is an opportunity for somebody else.