There is no getting around the fact that the 2014 season was quite an exciting one for the Pittsburgh Steelers offense, with multiple players setting or tying franchise records, or even league records, and setting new precedents.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger shattered his own franchise record for passing yards with 4952 en route to becoming the first player in Steelers history to lead the league in that category. He tied his own franchise record for passing touchdowns in a season while setting a new mark for completion percentage.
He also became the first player ever to throw for 500 yards twice in a career, and the first player to throw six touchdown passes in consecutive games. His 522-yard performance set some of its own marks as well as statistically one of the greatest games of all time.
Wide receiver Antonio Brown led the league in receptions and receiving yards, setting new franchise records with 129, receptions, 1698 yards, and 13 touchdowns. He continued his streak with 32 consecutive games of at least five receptions and 50 receiving yards, and he also possesses an active streak of 11 games with at least seven receptions.
Meanwhile, running back Le’Veon Bell became only the second player in NFL history to gain over 200 yards in three consecutive games, while also setting new franchise running back marks for receptions and receiving yards, and a new franchise mark for total yards from scrimmage in a season.
With all these impressive individual accomplishments, however, I believe my favorite statistic from last season is that the Steelers offense was the only one in the league to produce five different players who recorded at least 500 receiving yards, with three wide receivers, a running back, and a tight end hitting those marks.
And I have a hard time imagining that that feat will not be repeated again in 2015. We know that Brown will easily surpass that, if not triple it. Whether or not there is enough left to go around for both Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant to hit that plateau again may be in question, but I believe it will happen.
Another bump in the road toward that end will of course be Bell’s three-game suspension, but considering he averaged 54 receiving yards per game, ending the year on an upward trajectory, it would seem that this is more than obtainable.
Tight end Heath Miller is in the twilight of his career, but he recorded 761 receiving yards last season, the third-most in a season that he has had in 10 years. And for the first time in his career, Roethlisberger’s running back and tight end are both an integral part of his passing offense under Todd Haley, so they will get their touches by design.
Part of the danger of this offense lies simply in the number and variety of options at the disposal of a quarterback that has the ability to deliver to each target the ball under pressure. With so many of these weapons still young and developing, this pattern is still trending upward, so perhaps it would be more surprising than not if the Steelers fail to repeat this feat in 2015.