The Pittsburgh Steelers have, by and large, been on an upward swing over the course of the past two and a half seasons after they missed the playoffs for two straight seasons, and failed to win a postseason game in four straight years.
Last season saw them gain that elusive playoff victory, though they came up short with about three minutes left in the Divisional round a week later. Their offense took off, and their defense improved, showing playmaking ability and opportunism.
But there are still a lot of unanswered questions facing the team as we crack into free agency territory. As an exercise, we like to take a stab at some of those questions, presenting arguments for the pros and cons of each side of the coin. This is the optimist’s take on the following question.
Question: Will the Steelers hit their 30 points per game goal that they have set once again for this season?
You might recall that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was rather excited about the potential of the offensive unit that he was commanding last season, enough that he boldly claimed that they had the ability to average 30 points per game for the duration of the season. That would have shattered club records.
Not that 30 points per game is unheard of in this age, of course. Two teams averaged at least 30 points per game last season—the two teams that competed to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl last year, and two did it in 2014 as well, neither repeat representatives. The Broncos—a repeat representative from 2014—averaged an astonishing 37.9 points per game in 2013, and were one of two teams to average 30 points per game in 2012 as well.
In fact, at least one team has done it in every year dating back to the 2009 season, and more often than not there were multiple teams to do it, once even three teams. The Steelers are about as talented on the offensive side of the ball as any, however.
Even with extreme limitations last year, the team still averaged 26.4 points per game last year, and that included Roethlisberger missing four games, Le’Veon Bell missing 10, and Maurkice Pouncey missing 16, not to mention Kelvin Beachum missing 10. Martavis Bryant missed the first five games as well.
Playing most of the season with three-fifths of their projected offensive line, only two full games with a fully healthy quarterback, most of the season without their All-Pro running back, and about a third of the season without one of their budding star wide receivers and less than fully adequate means to replace him, what they did accomplish is still impressive.
In fact, when they did have things going on all cylinders after weathering any number of storms, they scored at least 30 points in a team-record six straight games, averaging 35 points per game in that span, and about 32 points per game over the full course of the second half of the season.
Given that data at hand, it would be foolish to say that they don’t have the capacity to achieve a goal that about two teams per season does every year in this era of the game. They even showed that they can still excel while taking significant blows, after a turn. As long as they have even run-of-the-mill fortune, they are in a good position to hit their target and rewrite the team’s record books.