The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.
How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? Who is sitting out due to injury?
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: Will the Steelers feature more deep passes when they resume play following the bye week?
Almost any good offense in today’s NFL is one that is capable of creating explosive plays, and the easiest way to do that is to have a quarterback who can throw the ball down the field with accuracy to pass catchers who have the tools to get open from distance, or make combative catches if they can’t.
The Steelers haven’t had much success on the deep passing game so far this year, as we just recently took a look at, and it’s something they need to work on improving during this time period. Hopefully Mason Rudolph returning and getting back on track can be of benefit in that area.
The Steelers don’t really have natural home run hitters. We’ve heard that James Washington is capable of executing that role from a skillset standpoint, but we’re still waiting to see it. He has hit on a couple of deep targets, but not enough to make defenses wary.
The best deep ball catcher on the roster is JuJu Smith-Schuster, and defenses are going to pen him in if he’s the only one they have to worry about. Johnny Holton is supposed to be able to do this in theory, but until they can actually complete a pass in his direction, or even get one close to his hands, it’s not going to matter.
But in general, the Steelers have shied away from the deep ball since Ben Roethlisberger went down. Part gameplan, part gunshy behavior from young quarterbacks not wanting to make mistakes, we’ve seen largely dink-and-dunk fare for a month now. Will they expand the menu when they resume play?