After starting the season 0-4, the Steelers rebounded to finish 8-8 for the second straight year which just doesn’t cut it for Steeler Fans who expect to be in the Playoffs every year. The coaching staff remains pretty much with head coach Mike Tomlin returning along with all time great defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau who seems to be in like his 100th year with the team. Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley also returns after a rocky first year where him and QB Ben Roethlisberger didn’t always see eye to eye. It seems as if the Steelers offseason plan was to get younger and faster. As usual Pittsburgh looks to have had an above average draft where they hit their major needs.
Big Ben stayed healthy last season and had a good season passing for 4200 yds and 28 Tds despite a lack of weapons outside of WR Antonio Brown who broke out with 110 receptions for 1499 yds and 8 Tds. There remains questions on who will line up opposite Brown at WR. Former Saint slot receiver Lance Moore and 2nd year wideout Markus Wheaton who the team has high hopes for will compete for that spot, along with draft picks Martavis Bryant who is a potential steal and RB/WR Dri Archer who is a playmaker that ran the fastest 40 yd dash at the combine. The reliable Heath Miller returns at TE. The Steelers have a solid O-Line led by center Maurkice Pouncey, but they must improve in the run game, where 2nd year RB LeVeon Bell looks to improve on his 860 yds and 8 Tds from last season. The Steelers added power back LeGarrette to complement Bell.
Defensively the Steelers seemed old and slow. So they drafted ILB Ryan Shazier who reportedly ran a 4.38 40 yd dash to go next to Lawrence Timmons who has proven to be one of the better all around LBs in the game. Steeler defenses are known for their pass rushing OLBs, they are hoping for a breakout season by last years top choice Jarvis Jones who will compete with starters Jason Worilds and Chris Carter for snaps. Wild man Troy Polamalu returns with his high risk/reward style of play alongside newly signed Mike Mitchell from Carolina. The Steelers 3 man line is led by DE Cameron Heyward, who started to play up to his potential last season. The additions of DE Cam Thomas from San Diego and 2nd round pick Stephon Tuitt will battle to start opposite Heyward. So the D line should be solid. CBS Ike Taylor and William Gay are solid but are getting older.
As long as Big Ben is around and LeBeau is coaching the D there is a possibility that they can do good things. It’s imperative that someone steps up as a compliment to Antonio Brown. Establishing the run game will also be a key to easing some of the pressure on Ben as well as the Defense. The hope is that Archer can provide big plays, lining up in all different spots including the return game. The Steelers are an overall solid team in a division where not much separates the top 3 teams and man is the schedule easy!!
Prediction- Pittsburgh Steelers 10-6
Do you agree with the predictions? If not let Justin Walters of Sports Ruckus know how you feel. He is on twitter @SportsRuckus
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