2017 South Side Questions: Which Is Bigger Loss, Tuitt Or Gilbert?

The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: Which loss will be bigger against the Bengals: Stephon Tuitt or Marcus Gilbert?

The Steelers have already ruled out Stephon Tuitt, and have listed Marcus Gilbert as doubtful, which means…well, that he is doubtful to play. Both of them are absences that they have previously dealt with. But that doesn’t mean that either of them are minor.

But which absence will be more consequential, situationally and matchup-wise, doing up specifically against the Bengals? Defensively, Gilbert would have been responsible for battling against the stalwart Carlos Dunlap, who despite having just one sack is always a pass-rush threat, and is a strong run defender.

While the Steelers are able to run their offense with Chris Hubbard in the game, and have done so in six different starts the past two years—in addition to large parts of three others—the reserve has understandably had some problems going up against some of the better right-side defenders.

On the opposite side of the ball, Tuitt would be going up against a piecemeal offensive line that is already rotating players at the right tackle position in an unsettled role. Having their thoroughbred disruptor in there would have been a major luxury, especially against a run defense that has struggled to get going.

Tyson Alualu has been adequate against the run, but offered very little as a pass rusher. If Tuitt’s absence leads to a greater role for Javon Hargrave, then perhaps I would lean toward Gilbert being the bigger absence; otherwise, I might be more inclined to side with Tuitt’s absence as the harder pill to swallow.

The Steelers, either way, are fortunate to have adequate depth at both positions, offering at least replacement-level play, which frankly a lot of teams cannot say. It just sucks when you don’t have some of your best players out there playing at their best.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • capehouse

    Tuitt is the bigger loss, because the Steelers will put Alualu in his spot and won’t give the better player, Hargrave, the opportunity.

  • Steve Johnson

    Tuitt loss hurts the team more, but not having both is a blow to the team.

  • Lil Smitty

    Both are extremely talented players, Gilbert is a bigger loss because of the Bengals talent at Defensive line. Tuitt would be able to cause havoc in against the Bengal line, but Gilbert would better protect Ben and Bell. I feel this game will come down to whose offense plays better. The defenses are pretty much even.

  • Bruce

    I think Gilbert is the bigger loss, only because it affects the way DeCastro plays, having to help Hubbard.

  • Lambert58

    Both are a huge loss. Tuitt may have played his best game as a Steeler last week. But given the depth at both positions, maybe Gilbert. Really depends if Good Hubbard or Bad Hubbard shows up.

  • Big Joe

    Gilbert. Still can’t find it in me to trust Hubbard to protect Ben from quality edge rushers. I know he did ok against Houston last week but just don’t trust him without help over to his side

  • Talyn Scarbrough

    I think Gilbert is the bigger loss. Both are great players there’s just more of a drop off from Gilbert to Finney and Hubbard, than there is from Tuitt to Alualu. We need them both for the playoffs though. I just hope we don’t get hit by the injury bug between now and then.

  • Ichabod

    Bungles O line is weak, thus Tuit’s loss may be easier compensated

  • LucasY59

    For the Cinci game I would say the loss of Gilbert is worse, Dunlap could cause trouble and Gilbert usually does well blocking him

    the depth of the Steelers DL along with the poor OL play by the bungles will make the loss of Tuitt less noticable (but if Stephon coulve played he wouldve had a big game)

  • Darth Blount 47

    I have to go with Gilbert as the bigger loss. Although Hubbard is probably getting awful comfortable over there on that right side, one could surmise at this point, I still think the Bengals D poses a much greater challenge than does their O. Mixon has yet to truly settle in to the lead-back responsibilities. And as was hypothesized, anything that leads to more snaps for Hargrave is nice to see, even given the unfortunate circumstances. I think Alualu will handle his own. And we all know that protecting Big Ben and opening holes for Bell, is paramount for us. Gilbert has rounded into a very good Lineman. And thought Tuitt is a borderline beast, I think we can handle the Bengal O-Line, without requiring the services of the Domer. With that said, hurry back Stephon!

  • Brenton deed

    Alualu is better than Hubbard although both are very good backups.