NFL Season Preview: The Pittsburgh Steelers are the Epitome of Consistency
The Steelers are renown for only having three coaches total in the past 45 years. There is something to be said about continuity and not throwing big dollars at multiple free agents as an overreaction to missing the playoffs. So while the Steelers missed the playoffs in 2012, their reaction was the same as it almost always has been in the past: continue to look to the draft to built the talent base (LB Vince Williams – Florida State, RB Le’Veon Bell – Michigan State, and LB Jarvis Jones – Georgia), and have addition by subtraction (cutting RB Rashard Mendenhall).
The Steelers will still be led by QB Ben Roethlisberger, but much about their offense will look drastically different from just two seasons ago, and even last season. WR Mike Wallace bolted for Miami via free agency, the aforementioned Mendenhall signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Bell, Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer figure to lead a triumvirate at RB for the Steelers, which they have done for majority of head coach Mike Tomlin’s tenure. The WR corps is a major question mark after the departure of Wallace, however. The Steelers have known commodities such as WR Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, but the remainder of the corps consists of several rookies and long-in-the-tooth types such as Plaxico Burress and Jerricho Cotchery. The ever-reliable TE Heath Miller will continue to be a focal point of the offense as well. Brown and Sanders must step up without the deep threat that Wallace provides.
The Steelers were very prudent with their spending defensively. There is mounds of youth there (as well as the fact that the team will likely move on from longtime FS Ryan Clark after this season) with the aforementioned draft picks, Jones and Williams. The team cut longtime OLB James Harrison, and there is no more Casey Hampton. It will be interesting to see how legendary defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau integrates the young players, because if they can adjust quickly to the system (which Vince Williams showed inclinations of doing early in OTAs), the defense, which has perennially been in the top three in rating, will not only remain in that ranking, but be faster than it has been in years.
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