The Pittsburgh Steelers headed into the offseason knowing that they would likely be without the services of starting running back Le’Veon Bell for the start of the 2015 season due to him potentially being suspended for his off-the-field transgressions that transpired just over one full year ago from today. While Bell’s subsequent three-game suspension was ultimately cut by one game, his absence in the Steelers offense during the first two weeks of the season will still be a tough blow.
Over the course of the last week, the Steelers offense has taken two more serious blows as center Maurkice Pouncey will be out at least 8 weeks due to a broken fibula that he suffered this past Sunday and as of today, wide receiver Martavis Bryant is now scheduled to miss the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. While it seems insignificant based on what’s transpired since Sunday, the Steelers also lost kicker Shaun Suisham for the season to a knee injury in the preseason opener.
While Pouncey’s absence is merely a result of an injury, Bryant’s suspension is likely a result of mere stupidity. Regardless of how the loss of both those players occurred, the Steelers offense, that many believed would be one of the league’s best in 2015, will now be crippled in some form or fashion for at least the first quarter of the season.
Last season, Bell and Bryant produced a combined 2,776 yards of offense in addition to 19 total touchdowns. In other words, 41.1 percent of all offensive yards gained in 2014 and 44.2 percent of the total offensive touchdowns were produced by those two players.
Until Pouncey, Bell and Bryant all return, Cody Wallace, DeAngelo Williams and Darrius Heyward-Bey will all likely be expected to fill a portion of their shoes, respectively. However, to expect those three players to play remotely close to the way that each of the players they will be replacing would be ludicrous.
Like it or not, the Steelers are now in serious jeopardy of going 1-3 or 0-4 in their first four games of the 2015 season. They will get Bell back in Week 3, however, so at least they have that going for them.
The Steelers 2015 schedule has long been deemed the toughest in the league based on last year’s record. Over the course of the last week, it got even tougher. If they can make through the first four games with a 2-2 or better record, they will have done well.