One of the cornerstones of building the foundation of an offense that can realize prolonged success is to find the right trio of quarterback, wide receiver, and running back that can not only mesh with one another, but grow together.
The Dallas Cowboys of the early-mid 90s are often cited as the golden example of this with Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith being selected in consecutive drafts, which helped drive the team to three Super Bowl victories in four seasons.
If you look at most championship teams, of course, you’re likely to find a similar group. The Pittsburgh Steelers of the 70s had Terry Bradshaw at quarterback, Franco Harris at running back, and John Stallworth and Lynn Swann at wide receiver, all of whom just so happen to have found their way into the Hall of Fame.
With the rapid emergence of running back Le’Veon Bell in his second season, and fifth-year wide receiver Antonio Brown coming off his second Pro Bowl and first bid to the All-Pro team, some are beginning to wonder if the Steelers have the best offensive trio in the league right now.
This was the topic of conversation recently on the Dave Dameshek Football Program, on which both Dave Dameshek and Elliot Harrison did in fact choose the Pittsburgh trio—although Dameshek is an unapologetic homer, and the latter was swayed by the former.
Thinking about it, however, I have a difficult time arguing against the notion.
While I can come up with other names to put alongside the Steelers, with each having their strengths and weaknesses, I can’t help but feel that, with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, Pittsburgh may have the most even and balanced trifecta.
With Bell only 22 and Brown still just 26 despite being in his fifth year, it’s also true that this trio will have the time to grow into one another. Roethlisberger may be 32, but that is still prime territory for many quarterbacks in this league, and he figures to have a good half-dozen or so seasons left in him, give or take.
Strong cases could be made for teams like the Green Bay Packers, the Dallas Cowboys, the Philadelphia Eagles, and so on and so forth.
But I struggle to come up with another triplet that is as evenly balanced and the complements each other as well as the Steelers do. Others include players that seem more dependent on a certain system in which they excel.
Perhaps I’m a homer as well, but especially as I factor in future growth, as Bell continues to expand his game into the passing attack, I don’t see why the Steelers shouldn’t be a prime factor in this conversation.
Bell already leads the entire league in yards from scrimmage, while his ball security is an underrated trait. Brown, meanwhile, already has 22 receptions for 296 yards and three touchdowns, all numbers that, if projected over a full season, would be not only career-bests, but also franchise bests. Roethlisberger has already arguably cemented a Hall of Fame career, and in many ways is continuing to improve.