The regular season is here, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the real work is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they wade through a regular season in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Question: Game Edition – Can the Steelers generate interior pressure to rattle Tom Brady?
I’m sure the majority of you will hastily reply that, no, obviously, they cannot, and that will not be an entirely unreasonable response to the question, but really, it may be the most important factor in whether or not the Steelers can scrape together a win against the Patriots without Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback.
Without Cameron Heyward in the lineup, the feat of getting penetration up the middle is not going to get any easier, but history has strong indicated that it’s the most effective way to get Brady off his game by disrupting his timing, because he is not a particularly mobile quarterback nor much of an ad libber.
Over the course of his first two games, Brady has been sacked four times, and for about half of a game, the Bengals were able to put the pressure on him, but when they were not able to get that pressure, they were picked apart.
The Steelers will need to do that just often enough to keep him honest, and perhaps a little rattled, in order to level the playing field for an offense with what is effectively a game-manager under center, who must make sure that he relies upon his very talented supporting cast, with players like Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, to make things happen for him.
I do think that this is an offense that can scrape together enough points to win games, but those games have to be ones in which the defense handles its business, and needless to say, the Patriots are about as hard an offense to stop as there is in the National Football League, and the Steelers have been no better than average in attempting to stop them.
It will be left primarily up to the likes of Stephon Tuitt, rookie Javon Hargave, and Ricardo Mathews to try to gain penetration and collapse the pocket to make things uncomfortable for Brady. If they manage to do that, they can be in this game. If they can’t, then…well, it might be another long evening.