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: Chukwuma Okorafor has started his last game in Pittsburgh (at least for the season).
Explanation: With Chukwuma Okorafor ruled out today with a concussion, there is some uncertainty as to who will be starting at right tackle when he returns. Zach Banner, who was supposed to start there, is working his way back to playing. Even if Joe Haeg were to play, and to play well, he could potentially retain the job.
While he hasn’t been the weakest link along the offensive line, Chukwuma Okorafor certainly has not played at an irreplaceable level, and arguably the only reason that he is playing is because his replacement hasn’t been ready to play.
Zach Banner already beat out Okorafor for the starting right tackle job a year ago. Even when Okorafor took over last year, he really didn’t look any better than he had been in his first two starts, in apiece in 2018 and 2019.
As for him flipping over to the left side, rookie Dan Moore Jr. is already on his way to establishing himself as the starter there. They’re not going to dump him while he continues to make progress. If they didn’t think he was ready they could have started Joe Haeg.
First of all, this is a long season with a lot of games left, and injuries happen, so even if we assume that he does lose his starting job, which is far from assured, the odds of both tackles making it out of this season without missing a game is low, and Okorafor would still be the next man up.
But nobody should be assuming that Banner takes over the right tackle position. He hasn’t done anything in basically a year, certainly hasn’t earned the right to start right now, just because he won a training camp battle with no preseason 14 months ago. The most solid information we have on Banner is that he’s very large. He was far from exceptional in his one start before he injured his knee, and he hasn’t played a meaningful snap since then.