Now there’s a sentiment that Pittsburgh Steelers’ fans can smile at. Even if they already knew it.
Matt Williamson, an ex-scout for the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Panthers, gave that “everything” answer to the question of what the team’s biggest offensive strength is.
An excerpt of what he wrote for Todayspigskin.com.
“That is a strong cast of characters, but the ringleader is Ben Roethlisberger, who not only will be enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day, but also happens to be playing the best football of his life. This offense could put up gigantic numbers in 2016 against a not-so-difficult schedule if the majority of the offense as a whole can stay healthy. Injuries are the only thing that can derail this offense.”
That “cast of characters” referred to mentions the newly signed Ladarius Green and the hopefully emerging Sammie Coates. Williamson spoke highly of both, falling in line with what most have said during the summer, especially regarding Coates.
Williamson seems like one of many in the football community who believe the Steelers can average 30 points per game, the goal set by Todd Haley and the team. That would require the team to score a season total of 480 points; in 2015, they scored 423. They’ve never put up more 436 in a season – that was back in 2014 – and have never averaged 30 points in a season. A tall task but the unit has the talent to create and demand such expectations.
Defensively, Williamson noted the unit’s ability to create big plays as its biggest strength. Again, an excerpt.
“It might shock many that only Denver and New England finished the regular season with more sacks than the Steelers even though Pittsburgh doesn’t have one specific elite pass-rusher. As a result, the Steelers defense also created 30 turnovers last year, third in the NFL.”
That breakdown splits into 17 interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries, the former tied for 6th in the league. It’s one of the figures we’ve recently used to counter the idea the Steelers were 30th in pass defense, not to say that the team’s pass defense was great, but to dispel the idea they were an utterly incompetent group.
I’ll try to avoid the tangent but improve the missed tackle rate – removing Antwon Blake and Will Allen will likely do that – and even if the defense plays at the otherwise same level, they’ll be an overall success. But I digress.
Williamson also noted the defense’s ability to generate pressure without a key sack-getter, a Von Miller, JJ Watt, or Khalil Mack type. Cameron Heyward led the Steelers with seven sacks last season. But the Steelers’ defense is at their best when they have that type of player and why the onus is on Bud Dupree to, at the least, sniff the double-digit barometer. He had four sacks in his rookie year.