This has been a very busy offseason in the Burgh. For the first time in my lifetime people are actually picking the Cleveland Browns to win more games than the Steelers, and for good reason. The Browns have amassed a ton of young talent and the Steelers, well, let’s get to that.
PRO: Chemistry, there has been less offseason turbulence since camp has started. No helicopters bringing players to camp, no hold outs, and most importantly no chirping from the locker room. Everyone is talking business, and that is a refreshing change from recent seasons. Add in the “nobody believes in us” motivation and the Steelers seem poised to be a tightly focused unit.
CON: While nobody can deny that Brown and Bell caused some drama, it wasn’t just them. Tomlin has allowed the culture shift from the days of Porter, Polamalu, and Bettis. So the question remains can he establish a culture in the locker room that fosters a winning team. Focus, almost every year under Tomlin the team seems to fail to show up in very winnable games against the bad teams of the league. Resulting in 4-6 seeds instead of 1-2 seeds and a bye.
Roethlisberger as team leader has been, and remains a question mark. No matter if it was Bell or Brown, Ben was involved. Calling out teammates in press conferences and his radio show. He has also been at the center of many offfield incidents.
PRO: This team still has a ton of offensive talent. The offensive line returns 4of 5 regular starters, and the 5th played 11 games last year, add in solid back ups and one of the leagues best O’lines is ready to roll. JuJu and the receivers are as solid a group as any in the league. The combo of Conner and Samuels was excellent last year, add in Snell and Nix and the RB’s are a huge strength with versatility and depth. Big Ben still is an elite level QB who lead the league in passing yards just a year ago.
CON: They lost arguably the best WR in the NFL in Brown . In a down year 15 TD’s and over 100 receptions will to be easily replaced. They lost one of the best O-Line coaches in Grimm. I am hesitant to include Bell’s loss a con. While not doubt a talented player the Steelers often have been with our his services ( Injuries, suspensions, and hold outs) and have found ways to make up his production.
PRO: Devin Bush. When Shazier went down the Steelers defense fell apart. Bush has a similar skill set, and looks to make the unit whole again. Players like Watt, Hargrave, Edmunds should continue to get better. Hayward as the leaders up front makes this group a top ten level defense.
CON: The Patriots. The Super Bowl will still go through New England, and the Steelers have not had much success against them. I wish it wasn’t the case, but history has not been on the Steelers side.