2018 South Side Questions: Can Offense Avoid Slow Start?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are in a critical portion of the offseason in which the preseason takes center stage, where some of the biggest and most important questions get answered, especially in terms of personnel.

How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: How will the offense look on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns?

The Steelers got off to a sluggish start on the offensive side of the ball last season, opening the year on the road in Cleveland. Well, they are opening on the road in Cleveland again this year. Should we expect the same type of offensive performance?

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger himself admits that he was not satisfied with the way that he performed during the preseason. Wide receiver Antonio Brown missed most of training camp and did not even participate in the preseason. Le’Veon Bell is not even here, nor is Martavis Bryant, and Vance McDonald, who was admittedly a newcomer last year, is out with an injury already.

So why should we expect things to be different? Well, for one thing, maybe they learned something from last year. James Conner is going to be in the backfield, and he, you know, was actually there all summer carrying the ball. I’m going to guess he does better than 32 yards on 10 carries.

As far as Brown goes, I think he proved in the postseason against arguably the top secondary in the league that he can come back from an injury and immediately play at a high level, even while not being 100 percent. I’m not concerned about that.

And I’m not concerned about Jesse James, either. The young man is going into his fourth season now and will have hopefully continued to improve even further. We already know that the offense can get by using him because they’ve been doing it for most of the past two years.

Still, there are a lot of variables, including a new offensive coordinator. And they will be facing a defense led by a man who requires that his players place their testicles in the C Gap. With Myles Garrett actually on the field this time around.

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