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 not make any changes to their offensive line this year.
Explanation: Outside of one game missed by Chukwuma Okorafor, this iteration of the Steelers’ line has now had five games working together, and we have seen the progress going made over the past two games. While Zach Banner is back healthy, head coach Mike Tomlin has made it clear that there is nothing guaranteed for him.
Zach Banner was projected to be a starter before he had an injury setback, but so was Okorafor, even if it was supposed to be on the left side. Okorafor is not going to be mistaken for Marcus Gilbert at his best, but he has made some strides, and the reality is that Banner has only one game of experience—and virtually none working with Trai Turner at right guard.
It is possible that Banner might add some oomph to the run-blocking department, but the offensive line is a five-man operation, with each man needing to be on the same page as the other four. He hasn’t been involved in that, and there’s nothing indicating that his lone insertion has the capacity to make a substantive positive difference.
First of all, we understand at this point that this conversation is basically just, either Banner will start or he won’t. there aren’t any other changes likely to be considered, regardless of what idle rumors might have been floated about a couple of weeks ago. This is entirely about Banner.
And, yes, he’s going to play. There’s a reason they paid him this offseason coming off of a knee injury. Because they like him a lot. We may have only seen one game out of him, but the coaching staff has seen every snap he’s taken, in any capacity, since training camp of 2018. And even he has acknowledged that he likes where he’s at right now from a performance standpoint.
He might not get plugged in there right away, he may even rotate for a few games, but eventually, he’s going to be the starting right tackle for this team down the stretch. Whether that means Okorafor is on the bench or moves to left tackle, I don’t know, but Banner is going to play. He’s the big nasty that will help fulfill new offensive line coach Adrian Klemm’s desire for physicality. If nothing else, he is that.