The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Assuming J.J. Wilcox does not play on Sunday, will Robert Golden see snaps on defense?
When the Steelers took the field on Sunday, they did so with a couple of different factors to consider at the safety position. Not only had they been dealing with a starter who missed all of the preseason, they also acquired a new safety who has previous starting experience.
So it’s really hard to read into exactly what the drive was behind the fact that J.J. Wilcox saw 20 snaps on defense on Sunday, none of which came with Mike Mitchell on the field. Given the latter fact, it would lend credence to the idea that the coaches were being conservative with him.
The two safeties rotated drives, though not evenly with Wilcox seeing three drives. If the Steelers are still being cautious with getting Mitchell get back up to full speed, then logically we should see them use Robert Golden as the rotational safety to fill in for him.
If, on the other hand, they are comfortable with where he is, then that would favor the idea that Golden won’t see playing time, for reasons that are too obvious to state. And given that Wilcox was never used as a third safety but rather as a rotational one, this would have to be the prevailing theory.
But that they didn’t use a third safety does not mean that they don’t have intentions of using a third safety, and Golden has already done that before. They tried to use Daimion Stafford in that role during minicamp. So we could see that revived on Sunday.
But the problem with that theory is that when the Steelers did actually use their dime defense on Sunday, they elected to use four cornerbacks, rather than three cornerbacks and three safeties, as they are evidently more comfortable with their cornerback group than they have been in recent years to allow them to do that.