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: Alex Highsmith is about to take off in the second ‘half’ of the season.
Explanation: Coming off of perhaps the best game of his career, Highsmith finally looked last Sunday the way he did most of the offseason, perhaps an indication that he is finally fully healthy after dealing with a groin injury to start the season.
While he wasn’t playing poorly by any means through the first four games or so—there were a couple of outings during which he seemed to have a low impact—last Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks was certainly his most dynamic game of the season, particularly in terms of rushing the passer.
Not only did he finish the game with a sack and a half, he also got four hits on the quarterback, and he had two tackles for loss among seven during the game. This is the way that he was playing throughout the offseason. It was only until the groin injury hit in the week or so leading up to the opener that he sort of scaled back. So now that he is at a place of health to play to that level, there’s no reason we shouldn’t expect to see it.
It is reasonable to believe that a young player who is healthier will perform better overall than he had been while injured; with that said, that doesn’t mean he’s suddenly going to be playing like T.J. Watt across the way on a regular basis.
I do expect that he will play better on the whole. But I don’t think he’s going to be playing like a Pro Bowler. I think he can hit perhaps circa 2018 Bud Dupree levels, which still left something on the bone. But one thing he will be is a complete player who knows what he’s doing against the run and is even capable of dropping into coverage. He’ll have his games like this, and will have a solid baseline performance, but won’t play at a level I would call ‘taking off’.