The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped to 7-7-1 with a brutal loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Most people would agree that a Steelers loss was likely, but the nature in which they lost was deflating, especially this close to the end of the season. Football in December and beyond is supposed to be the culmination of everything the team has built towards throughout the season, so a loss of this magnitude raises a lot of questions.
Here are the players with their stock on the move after Week 16:
C J.C. HASSENAUER – STOCK UP
Finding players whose stock is pointing up after such a thorough and complete disaster of a game is difficult, but J.C. Hassenauer could be in line for a greater role after Kendrick Green exited Week 16 with an injury. Even if he is healthy in time for next Monday’s game, Green could be benched in favor of Hassenauer moving forward due to poor play. How much worse could it really get?
In past games when Hassenauer has come off the bench, the play has been noticeably better than when Green is in. In a limited sample, Pro Football Focus gave J.C. a 92.2 run blocking grade, by far the best on the team. With very little going right, it may be time to give him a look as the starting center.
C KENDRICK GREEN – STOCK DOWN
I touched on this above, but Kendrick Green’s stock is (and has been) pointing straight down. Rookie struggles were expected and a lot of responsibility and pressure was placed on Green in his first year, but the experiment has been a failure. Coming in as a raw guard-to-center convert, you would hope for at least some flashes of competent play after nearly a full season of work. If anything, Green’s worst play has been his most recent. That is an issue. PFF gave him an overall grade 41.4, the lowest on the offense in Week 16.
P CORLISS WAITMAN – STOCK UP
Corliss Waitman filled in for rookie Pressley Harvin III after his father passed on Christmas morning and he sat out the game for personal reasons. Waitman had spent some time with the team’s practice squad in the past, but was cut until re-signing the day before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Waitman fared well in his debut with a 60.5-yard average. One of his two punts resulted in a touchback, so the net average was a little less flashy, but he showed some promise.
Harvin III has a lot on his plate right now with the ceremony for his late father and the grief associated with it all. Since Waitman was poached off of the New England Patriots’ practice squad, he may have to remain on the 53-man roster for two more weeks, or at least have his game checks paid for the remaining two weeks. That would last through the end of the regular season, and with the season winding to a close, perhaps Waitman gets the nod for the final two weeks and the two punters battle in training camp next offseason.
S MINKAH FITZPATRICK – STOCK UP
Minkah Fitzpatrick has not had the splash plays this season that he did the past two seasons for the Steelers, but he has proven himself every bit as valuable in other areas. His main role lately has been as the primary safety blanket for the whole defense. He has routinely been at or near the top of the tackle leaderboard each week for the Steelers. Without Minkah’s sideline-to-sideline tackling capabilities, the run defense could look a whole lot worse. He is up to 114 tackles on the season, which is the second-most amongst safeties in the NFL. With all of the turnover on defense, Minkah has been one of the few stabilizing forces. The Steelers will need to make a long term deal with him a priority in the offseason.