I know how beloved Mike Florio and Pro Football Talk is around these parts, so I like to bring up as often as possible whenever he decides to talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers. The site has been going through a list of its own power rankings over the course of the past several days, and your favorite team checked in at number four on the list.
Florio starts off by talking about how the Steelers “may be the primary impediment to New England” tying Pittsburgh’s record of six Super Bowls this season, but isn’t convinced that they have done enough to improve upon what got them blown out against the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.
“In an offseason that saw the Patriots mash the gas pedal in an effort to get even better”, he asks, “what have the Steelers really done to close the gap?” It’s a fair question to ask, and frankly, a ton of Steelers fans have been asking it.
The team’s biggest positive change this offseason, according to Florio, is—not surprise—the return of wide receiver Martavis Bryant from suspension. While he doesn’t spend much time discussing what his return would mean to the team, he does use about the entire paragraph laying out the fact that he hasn’t been fully reinstated yet, and that that means he could not be.
One thing he clearly gets right is identifying the passing of Dan Rooney as the biggest negative change, and I really think there’s no debate here. Ben Roethlisberger could have retired and this should still have been true. Dan Rooney was the lone consistent presence throughout the entirety of their successful years as a franchise, period, and that success was largely his doing.
Regarding Mike Tomlin’s job security, Florio doesn’t have much to say other than noting that Art Rooney II is sailing the ship on his own now, and he ponders whether or not that could make the Steelers more susceptible to making hasty decisions. I would tend not to think so. Art has been at the helm for over a decade.
He notes that a lot of things can go wrong with the Steelers this season—as it could for any team—that would prove his rankings wrong, and the biggest caveat goes to a tumultuous affair with Le’Veon Bell. We’ll know in a couple days if he intends to hold out of training camp, at least.
Florio also notes that another stumbling block could come on the defensive side of the ball if they struggle to transition to a defense that plays more man coverage than they typically do. As I talked about yesterday, they used zone coverage over 75 percent of the time last season, the second-most in the league.
What do you think of Florio’s ranking of the Steelers, and perhaps more importantly, the logic behind it? I think 3-4 is a good spot to put Pittsburgh, personally, and I also think he’s right about the best and worst changes from last season. He also wants to have a beer with Todd Haley, which is who I would also probably choose.