The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.
Question: Is Tom Bradley the answer to fixing the communication issues in the secondary?
One thing is clear, and that is that the Steelers have had some communication breakdowns on defense, especially in the secondary, and they need to be fixed one way or another. Whatever is causing them to happen, they need to happen with much less frequency.
Many seem to be convinced that it was Carnell Lake primarily to blame. We may learn something about that this season if we see significant improvement under first-year Steelers defensive backs coach Tom Bradley.
But we may still not get a clear answer, because there will be key differences. For one thing, Morgan Burnett is replacing Mike Mitchell. Joe Haden is actually getting an offseason with the team rather than learning the system on the fly. Artie Burns and Sean Davis are heading into their third seasons, while Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton are heading into their second.
There should be improvement in communication efficiency from last year to this year regardless of who is coaching them just by virtue of the fact that the unit itself is growing. Still, if we see a significantly sharper unit—if we actually hear from players talking about Bradley’s influence on communication—then it’s certainly fair to give him some credit.
One thing that the secondary has lack for a while has been consistency. The personnel has changed too much in order to allow a peer-to-peer rapport to form that improves communication. Burnett is a new face, but at least the others are returning.
Bradley will be a part of that, the beginning, hopefully, of a new core of defensive backs that will actually provided stability. The other levels of the defense also play a critical role in that, such as the mack linebacker, for example, but I think we all know it will be the defensive backs receiving the most attention.