The Pittsburgh Steelers well underway with the offseason workouts at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the heart of the offseason, where hope springs eternal following a few months of pretty significant changes, in terms of both departures and arrivals.
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: Now heading into training camp, what is your prediction for how the Steelers will perform this season?
Since the Steelers are reporting to Saint Vincent college today, I thought it would be a good time to take the opportunity to carry out one final pulse check before we really start to get underway.
The team has undergone some significant changes since this time last year, both positive and negative, and are also coming off a frustrating season that saw them miss the playoffs after dropping four of their last six.
Gone are Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell (though, yes, Bell never bothered to show up last year, but we didn’t know that at this time). in come Devin Bush and Steven Nelson, among a number of others. There are several young players expected to make big jumps this year, including their top two picks from 2018, Terrell Edmunds and James Washington.
I think this question ultimately really boils down to just how valuable Antonio Brown was, because he’s the only major absence. He was, or is, one of the very best offensive players in all of football, which included him leading the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2018.
But the Steelers brought in Donte Moncrief and drafted Diontae Johnson to help compensate, with JuJu Smith-Schuster settling into the top spot. At running back, they now have a three-headed group that they seem to be fond of, including rookie Benny Snell, Jr.
There are certainly a number of questions the team will have to answer heading into training camp. Who will start at right tackle? Who will be the number two receiver, and how will playing time in that group be divided? How much should they try to run the ball? Can they force more turnovers without giving up more big plays? Can the defense do a better job of holding leads? Can the offense put more games away? Can Chris Boswell regain his former excellence? Those questions are about to go into the lab for testing.