S/R Staff


Offseason Standings: Pittsburgh Steelers

Offseason Standings: Pittsburgh Steelers
S/R Staff
class="post-date-wrap left relative post-date-mob">

On the brink of yet another obscure season, the Steelers’ offense exploded with their “big three”, and soared into the postseason, capturing the AFC North crown at the final hour over the rival Bengals. But on the other side of 2015, after their crushing loss at home to the Ravens in the Wildcard round, Pittsburgh is now limping with more problems than once thought a few weeks ago.

Management: B 

Kevin Colbert’s prioritising of his stars has been truly brilliant; his investment of time and money into personnel is paying off on the field. Lawrence Timmons is the new star of the defense, and constant focus on Big Ben, Bell and Antonio Brown has generated arguably the best offensive trio in the game. A solid draft class complimented the young talent from previous drafts who prospered into starters, such as Jason Worilds and Cameron Heyward. The big draft steal was Martavis Bryant in the fourth round; the highlight of Colbert’s personnel moves for the Steelers’ 2014 campaign. It took a little longer for top picks LB Ryan Shazier and DL Stephon Tuitt to make an impact on the line-up, but they appear set as legitimate starters into 2015.

This year did, however, reveal Colbert’s tendency to rely on veterans for too long. Way past their prime, Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor’s regression and injury woes bought down the production of the entire secondary. It was a big reason for their exit in the postseason, and is in a big need of a revamp through the draft. The other big reason was the lack of depth behind their biggest offensive stars, notably in the backfield beyond Le’Veon Bell.

Coaching: B 

Todd Haley’s value as an OC soared when he upgraded Le’Veon Bell as the all-round HB, and utilised Antonio Brown in open space. Both ball-carriers went on record, historic seasons, and Ben Rothlisberger maximised both their abilities towards making history of his own. Despite his up-and-down year, Heath Miller finished strong, and Pittsburgh now has two young playmakers to throw into the mix with Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant.

Mike Tomlin sure knew how to right the Steelers’ ship when they were stuck at 3-3. They’re magical night against the Texans; full of trickery and big plays set the stage for a more aggressive offense heading into the second half of the season, but the ultimate winner was the offensive line. Game after game of not allowing a sack in the second half steadied the offense and allowed the big-point blow-outs to happen. There’s quality and depth in the trenches, which puts a big smile on Big Ben’s face.

Team Needs: RB, TE, OLB, CB, S

The major needs for the Steelers’ is to upgrade on defense, particularly in the secondary, as well as supply depth and support for their big stars on offense. But before they do that, they need to consider trimming the veteran baggage. Polamalu and James Harrison are the big cuts that need to happen. Look for the injury-prone Cortez Allen and struggling DL Cam Thomas to be sent packing also. These cuts are necessary, considering Pittsburgh is only $4 million under the salary cap. The more trimmings they can make at the expense of under-performing veterans, the better they can approach the draft.

I would be very surprised if the Steelers’ make a big-name signing considering their “in-house” mentality and the amount of youth within their depth. A short-term contract for a peaked CB would be the most likely signing; a 2nd-tier veteran like Antonio Cromartie or Tramon Williams to lead the prosperous youth beneath.

“X-factor” acquisition: S Landon Collins (22nd Overall Pick in NFL Draft)

This is a must for the Steelers’ secondary. An intimidating presence, receivers will regret catching the football up the middle. Unless a team like the Bears or the Giants make a very questionable decision and pick this prospect too soon, there’s no doubt he will land right on Pittsburgh’s lap. He’s physical and very aggressive inside the box, and will be the x-factor in propelling Pittsburgh’s run defense to a strong level. The big question would be whether they utilise his athleticism and put him at free safety, or go for his strength at strong safety, at the expense of starter Mike Mitchell?

“XX-factor” acquisition TE Maxx Williams (56th Overall Pick in NFL Draft)

Despite Heath Miller’s strong finish to the regular season, his age and salary could see him both on the roster bubble and a target for the front office to upgrade in the future. Beyond his hurdling in the Citrus Bowl, Williams stands out as one of the most athletic tight ends entering this year’s draft. He has a decorated tenure with the Gophers, and would be an immediate receiving option for Big Ben. He has a great frame: 6ft 4, 250 lbs, and would be an ideal red zone target, considering the undersized receivers on the current roster. He will mostly likely fall this far due to his redshirt sophmore status.


More in AFCE

AFCE Draft Grades

cgc5783April 29, 2024

Iycedstrodomous’s Revenge

IycedoutApril 8, 2024

Offseason Championship =Season Sadness

IycedoutMarch 20, 2024

Offseason Doldrums

Brian GrothMarch 5, 2024

2024 Divisional Round Overreactions

cgc5783January 24, 2024

2024 Super Duper Wildcard Weekend Overreactions

cgc5783January 18, 2024