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: Ahkello Witherspoon is the top backup outside cornerback for the rest of the season.
Explanation: After dressing for Week 2 and giving up a long touchdown, Witherspoon did not dress again until three weeks ago after Joe Haden was injured. With James Pierre struggling to replace Haden, the veteran started in the last game, and overall played well, with a highlight deep third-down pass breakup. He had not previously been dressing because he was neither a top backup nor a special teams contributor.
Even before starting this past week, when Witherspoon did dress, he was still playing ahead of some other players on the depth chart. The only reason he was inactive so much, aside from the fact that he was learning the defense still, was because they didn’t have a spot for him on special teams.
Now with Pierre finally being demoted, special teams is not a concern. Witherspoon is the clear veteran of the group with a few dozen starts under his belt, and is the obvious player they should turn to when Haden or Cameron Sutton is unavailable.
Pierre may or may not have a good future ahead of him as a defensive player, but right now he’s just way too inconsistent to be trusted, and gives up too many big plays. And if he’s not going to be tackling consistently, he can regain his form on Danny Smith’s time.
Pierre is no fool. He’s gotten the message. He knows where he was, he knows where he is now, and he knows what he has to do to get back to Point A. Yes, he struggled. Maybe his confidence was shaken a bit. But he will regroup.
Witherspoon is a guy who was demoted last year, as a veteran, and then was traded by the team who signed him in free agency, spending most of the season inactive behind Justin Layne. His defensive coordinator just said that he had lacked urgency when he got here. He had one nice pass breakup, and one play doesn’t make a game. Pierre had a big play, too, to clinch a game.