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: The Steelers will develop a three-edge package to get their outside linebackers on the field together.
Explanation: After seeing how effective T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, and Melvin Ingram all were for the Steelers’ defense yesterday afternoon against a good offensive line, on the road no less, the coaching staff may well be thinking up ways to get them on the field at the same time.
There are so many incentives to do it that it would really be a shame if they didn’t. There is no doubt that Watt, Highsmith, and Ingram are all among your 11 best defensive players, so it’s not like it would be lessening the talent on the field.
All three of them are intelligent football players capable of executing stunts and switches, so they can get creative. Seeing Watt playing off the ball over the middle may be a prelude to this happening. They already used a three-edge package last year, with Highsmith as a rookie, when Mike Hilton was hurt.
It would also make a lot of sense in obvious pass-rushing situations while Stephon Tuitt is not out there. None of their reserve linemen come close to matching Tuitt’s pass-rush ability, so if you want to rush with four, put your four best rushers on the field.
One of the reasons the trio is capable of being so effective is because they feed off of an serve each other. When two of them are in the game, the other one gets to rest a bit, and it keeps them all fresh. Putting them on the field at the same time devalues the purposes of their depth.
The Steelers also have no need to do it, because their front seven already works fine. They don’t need Watt standing up when they have Devin Bush and Joe Schobert in the middle. They don’t need Ingram inside when they have Tyson Alualu or Chris Wormley. And they definitely don’t need to subject him to interior line play given his injury issues.
If the Steelers need to generate some pressure, all they need to do is blitz. Say anything you want about Keith Butler, but the man can scheme up a sack. They don’t need to disadvantage themselves by taking a big off the field or displacing a middle linebacker or defensive back.