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: Defensive back Tre Norwood would be best-served to be left in a limited role as a rookie.
Explanation: After opening the season as the Steelers’ nickel defender, rookie seventh-round pick Tre Norwood has had his role honed down to a dime role, averaging about 15 snaps per game, allowing him to concentrate more on specific passing situations.
If you go by the results-based process, then you merely have to look at the Steelers’ last game. He played 15 snaps, and record three third-down stops in the process, making two tackles short of the sticks and breaking up a pass. He tackled D.K. Metcalf on 3rd and 4 for a two-yard gain. That’s not easy to do.
That is the simplest case to make that Norwood is best-served for a more limited role, but it really just makes sense. As smart as he might be, he is still a rookie, and asking him to move all around the field is going to lead to errors, which we did see in his first couple of games when he was playing a larger role.
The notion that Norwood wouldn’t have made the same plays on third down in the last game if he didn’t also play another 45 snaps throughout the game is a bit specious. There’s nothing inherent about playing more that would suggest that he wouldn’t be prepared to make those plays in those moments. And the odds of him repeating that sort of single-game success are low, anyway, so it can’t be held up as a barometer of what we’ll do as the dime versus as the nickel.
It’s also important to note that what would best serve Norwood the player and what would best serve the defense are two different discussions. Norwood would benefit from the additional playing time, even if it may not be in the best interests of the defense as a whole. Or maybe it would be. It’s not like the Steelers are averse to starting rookies, right?