I can’t really say I was expecting to do this but until this wonderful blog recruits a Steelers writer, I suppose I can make that magic happen. The problem with writing about the Steelers is that I think they might be a frustrating team to watch this year. I don’t think they’re better than the team that went 8-8 last year. Which is why it was somewhat surprising to see Vegas put them with the fourth best odds to win the AFC. That might have a lot to do with the AFC not being very good. Two of the four divisions have three bad teams. It’s ugly. That being said, my hopes still aren’t very high for this team. I think the best moment of Steelers season has already come and gone. I mean, how can you compete with this?
Steelers Offense vs. Titans Defense
The offensive strategy coming into the season has taken a bit of a turn due to some injuries. The plan was to get the run game going with rookie running back Le’Veon Bell and the new zone blocking scheme. That’s not going to happen now with Bell’s foot injury. Isaac Redman will be starting at running back and he is coming off an injury of his own. That will probably mean that Ben Roethlisberger will be firing away.
The concern with Roethlisberger throwing a lot of passes is as always the offensive line. Four of the five starters on the offensive line are first or second round picks. It’s still a concern. Obviously with Roethlisberger over 30 now, an emphasis has been placed on enhancing the play along the line. The issue is that it hasn’t worked to this point. The good news is that the guy who has been the weak link, Mike Adams, will be matched up with Kamerion Wimbley who isn’t exactly a sack master.
It’s also going to be interesting to see who steps up as a pass catcher. Mike Wallace has taken is young money and homophobia to Miami and Heath Miller will miss the first few weeks of the season after the knee injury that he sustained last year. Everyone will be in new roles. Antonio Brown has never been a number one receiver. Emmanuel Sanders and David Paulson have never been starters. Markus Wheaton is a rookie. A lot of questions marks are all over the offense. The good thing is that the Titans defense wasn’t very good last year. The only concern with them is if they put a bounty on Roethlisberger (Gregg Williams is their defensive coordinator).
Steelers Defense vs. Titans Offense
The problem for the Titans on offense is the exact opposite of the Steelers. They have a strong receiver corps with the return of Kenny Britt and the drafting of Justin Turner. They have made upgrades to their offensive line. The issue is their quarterback. Jake Locker is not very good. He was injured for part of last season and when he came back he struggled to complete 50% of his passes. In his defense, he didn’t have the same weapons that he will have on Sunday.
The Steelers are also in a transition period defensively. Casey Hampton, James Harrison, and Keenan Lewis have all moved on. It’s up to Steve McLendon, Cortez Allen, and a combination of Jason Worilds and rookie Jarvis Jones to fill those shoes. They have gotten younger at those positions which was a necessity but with that many first year starters, there are bound to be bumps in the road. One way to show that they are up for the challenge is to continue to shut down Chris Johnson. He has never ran for over 100 yards against the Steelers.
I have more questions than answers about the Steelers this season. That being said, starting the season against the Titans should be a good way to build my confidence in the team. The Titans aren’t very dynamic on either side of the ball. As long as the Steelers don’t play down to their competition, which is no guarantee, they should start the year off with a win. Steelers 24, Titans 13.