Much has been talked about how the Pittsburgh Steelers have gotten younger on the defensive side of the ball, and indeed, it is noteworthy. The current projected starting lineup figures to have only one player at age 30, and the average age of the defense is just 26 years and around 100 days.
Consider this, however. For as much as the offense is regarded to be young, the average age of the projected starting defense is actually younger than the average age of the projected starting offense.
Of course, this is not an apples to apples comparison, especially with the quarterback position as the major outlier. Ben Roethlisberger is 33 years old, but that is not nearly the same as, say, a 33-year old safety.
The Steelers just so happened to have had their 33-year old safety retire, while they just inked their 33-year old quarterback to a new five-year contract that they fully anticipate seeing him play through, just to give some perspective on how the perception of age varies by position.
There’s also tight end Heath Miller, who will be 32 when the season begins (but will turn 33 soon after), who also skews the numbers a bit. It’s clear that he is winding down, and perhaps has a couple of seasons left.
But outside of those two, there is no starter on the offensive side of the ball over the age of 27 when the season begins. The oldest players from that group will be Marcus Gilbert, who turned 27 earlier this year, and Antonio Brown, who will reach that plateau in July.
For the purposes of this project, I am assuming a base package out of the 11 personnel, meaning three starting receivers, which certainly brings the age down if you have Markus Wheaton at age 24 and Martavis Bryant at age 23 starting instead of Matt Spaeth, who is currently 31.
It is also, of course, projecting Le’Veon Bell, at age 24, as the starting running back in spite of his suspension, though that should go without saying. The point is, at running back and wide receiver, this offense is very young.
Even along the offensive line, the average age of the starting offensive linemen is a bit over 26 and a half years old, a number that is skewed by Ramon Foster. Three of the five starters will be either 25 or 26 when the season begins.
Put all the numbers together, and we get an average starting age of the projected starting lineup on the offensive side of the ball at just under 27 years old. Both sides of the ball average under 27 now in the starting lineup, and there are only three players at the 30-year-old plateau between them.
Particulary when it comes to the offense, where we have already seen more of the potential from some of the young contributors, such as Bell, Wheaton, and Bryant, it seems safe to say that this is a unit that should be able to achieve sustained success throughout the life of Roethlisberger’s contract, with only a couple of parts needing to be replaced here and there, barring injury and free agency, of course.