By Tiera Dobbins @LetsTalkFTball
The Pittsburgh Steelers are predicted to be great this year. While sitting on a 0-2 record thus far in preseason and some humdrum backup quarterback issues…there’s a sigh of relief for Steeler Nation…It’s just Pre-Season.
The Killer B’s; Ben (Roethlisberger), (Antonio) Brown, and (Le’Veon) Bell have yet to take the field. While the Steelers suffer a major sting with the year long suspension of WR Martavis Bryant; there are some explosive players on the roster who are equipped to make major plays.
Second year WR Sammie Coates is expected to step up in the absence of Bryant. At 6’2 he has the vertical ability to reach for the ball. Coates is a quick versatile player who should be very comfortable with the wide receiver playbook.
Pittsburgh has made some notable additions this offseason. With the retirement of TE Heath Miller, Pittsburgh signed San Diego Chargers TE Ladarius Green. His height and athleticism hopefully will give Roethlisberger another target in the middle of the field and in the red zone.
On the other side of the ball, Pittsburgh has increased the speed and athleticism on the defensive side. Steelers defense finished the 2015 season 3rd in sacks, 5th in rush defense, 6th in interceptions and 11th in scoring defense. Another year under defensive coordinator Keith Butler, the defense has the potential to start and finish among one of the best in the league. Additions to the secondary (Artie Burns and Sean Davis), and with the success of last year, Pittsburgh has the tools to rush the quarterback and stop the run.
Pittsburgh premieres their regular season in the NFL’s first Monday Night Football game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field, September 12. Steelers have won their last 5 matchups against the Redskins. Steelers then face cross river AFC North nemesis in the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Pittsburgh offense will be without Le’veon Bell for the first 3 games of the season due to missed drug tests. In all honestly, most Steelers fans are content with Bell out facing the Bengals defense. We all remember the hit on Bell by Bengals LB Vontaze Burficit in Week 8 that ended Bell’s season. Burficit will be suspended for the Bengals first 3 games as well for the vicious helmet to helmet hit on WR Antonio Brown in the final minutes of the AFC Wild Card Game in January.
Luckily for offensive coordinator Todd Haley and the Steelers backfield there is a stellar running back in De’Angelo Williams; who in 2015 had the best season of his career since 2009 when he was with the Carolina Panthers.
Pittsburgh faces Week 3, Philadelphia Eagles who have historically been a thorn in their fellow Pennsylvanian citizens side (47-28-3), Week 4 – Kansas City Chiefs, Week 5 – NY Jets, Week 6 – @Miami Dolphins, Week 7 – New England Patriots, Week 8 BYE, Week 9 – @Baltimore Ravens, Week 10 – Dallas Cowboys, Week 11 – @Cleveland Browns, Week 12 – @Indianapolis Colts, Week 13 – NY Giants, Week 14 – @Buffalo Bills and last 3 weeks will be an AFC North Showdown with Week 15 – @Cincinnati Bengals, Week 16 – Baltimore Ravens and Week 17 – Cleveland Browns.
The Pittsburgh Steelers main goal in 2016 is to remain healthy. Steelers offensive line welcomes back Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey. Pouncey missed the entire 2015 season with a fractured fibula. The Steelers have all the weapons to reach their 30+ point goal each game. Offensive side of the ball is packed with major talent; Antonio Brown one of the best receivers in the league, Markus Wheaton, whose role will increase in light of Bryant’s suspension, and other secret weapons such as TE Jesse James.
Steeler Nation has every right to be excited this season with their eye on Houston, Texas in February. Will this explosive offense and potential dominant defense be able to bring home a 7th Lombardi Trophy to the Steel City?
May The Terrible Towels swing in your favor, Pittsburgh.
Featured image of Roethlisberger and Brown courtesy: Justin Aller/Getty Images
Follow and chat with me here: @LetsTalkFTball