The Pittsburgh Steelers are a hungry team, a close team. That’s what we keep on hearing all throughout the offseason, and there doesn’t appear to be anything suggesting that the story is going to change any time soon. Now that the 53-man roster is set (for the time being) and the team is preparing for the New England Patriots, the only thing left is to put all the work onto the field and see the results.
For some key players, it may be the last group in Pittsburgh they’re a part of, and that will likely unfortunately include fourth-year defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, who seems resigned to the idea that there will be no extension this year, and who knows that he has a huge opportunity to make bank on the open market in 2020.
But he’s not thinking about that now. Instead, he’s thinking about the season ahead. And he’s thinking about the plays of the past, which serve as motivation. Not the plays that he made. The other ones, a mindset that shapes the entire defense.
“We think about the plays we didn’t make”, Hargrave told reporters in the locker room yesterday during the first regular season practice day, via the team’s website. “We think about the games we lost. We think about all of that and take it in and try not to make the same mistakes”.
Depending upon the game in question, there were plenty of mistakes for Steelers defenders to learn from, though in truth, they still were statistically no worse than middling in just about every area beyond the turnover margin. That is the one thing that everyone has been consistently talking about with respect to getting better at defensively this year. That, and speed.
“We are looking good on defense. Guys are older, fast, we are getting good at our craft and it’s starting to show”, Hargrave said of his defensive teammates. “We have a lot of reps under our belt, we are fast, we can move, it’s an advantage for us. You can’t not like speed. It’s all about speed in this game. It’s exciting to see. We can’t wait to see it in action”.
While there are a few younger starters on the team, namely Devin Bush, Terrell Edmunds, and T.J. Watt, who has always seemed to be a veteran beyond his years, the rest of the defense is made up of players going into at least their fourth season, those being Hargrave and Sean Davis.
Some players are starting to age, but have retained a high level of play, so in terms of the composition of the roster, the 2019 season figures to be as good an opportunity for this group to excel as any within most of the past decade. It’s now up to them to take the field and show that.