The NFL Network tends to get a lot of criticism for some of the half-baked analysis that the outlet provides at times, but this typically comes from some of the more well-known former players that they have in front of the camera. When it comes to their written content, they have some of the best in the business.
Gil Brandt is among those respected writers that they employ, and I assume that most who are regular readers here have some idea as you his background in the game of football. Yesterday, he published an article in which he broke down the most talented teams in the NFL, and he ranked the Pittsburgh Steelers second, behind only the Patriots.
Which seems fair to me. The Patriots are, after all, the only team that was able to stop the Steelers in the second half of last season, after they won nine consecutive games leading up to the AFC Championship game. That was their longest winning streak since Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie season.
“A strong argument can be made”, Brandt writes, “that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le’Veon Bell and receiver Antonio Brown are the NFL’s best set of triplets”, which is certainly not an unheard-of argument in recent years.
He continued by talking about the offensive line, describing them as “top-notch” and mentioning Alejandro Villanueva and David DeCastro, the latter of whom has been an All-Pro the past two years. He didn’t even have to mention Maurkice Pouncey, who has been to the Pro Bowl every year he has been healthy.
Brandt then went on to discuss some of their offensive rookies, saying that “JuJu Smith-Schuster will make a good addition” at a “very deep” wide receiver position, “and fellow rookie James Conner is an ideal fit at running back in terms of his ability to catch and run”. Conner hasn’t been known for his receiving ability, but it is further along than has been described.
He also came away impressed with the Steelers’ “three good, young players in Javon Hargrave, Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt” along the defensive line, though Heyward is not so young anymore. “Ryan Shazier is the real deal”, he said of the linebackers, but added that “the biggest weakness is at outside linebacker, where first-round pick T.J. Watt needs to contribute immediately”.
He’s not wrong, necessarily, though he would have been more on the mark if he specified a rotational role for Watt, as they do have their two starters in place for this season. still, as Bud Dupree did two years ago, he will be expected, as he said, to “contribute immediately”.
Finally, he wrapped up with the back end, noting that “the secondary will continue to improve as cornerback Artie Burns and safety Sean Davis develop. The bottom line: This team can beat you in a lot of different ways”.
Still, there are definitely some who are not nearly as sold on the Steelers’ roster as others, and the majority of them seem to be disgruntled Steelers fans. The team is stocked with young talent right now, but it’s up to the players and their coaches to unlock their full potential.