It’s been interesting times for the Pittsburgh Steelers in recent years, who went from an offense-dominated team with the Killer Bs to a unit with a killer D instead. Unfortunately, the year of the defensive breakout coincided with the offense completely bottoming out, headlined by Ben Roethlisberger’s season-ending injury, but also highlighted by Antonio Brown’s departure.
The return of Roethlisberger is expected to cure much that ails the Steelers, which has led more than a few to be optimistic about their potential during the 2020 season. They already had one of the best defenses in the league. On paper, they could have one of the best offenses if Roethlisberger can produce.
Former head coach Bill Cowher was asked to talk about the Steelers’ chances this season and of Roethlisberger’s return. “I think he’ll be 100 percent”, he said of the quarterback he drafted in 2004. “He’s throwing the ball now, I think he’ll take it very slowly, take the year off, and to some degree, it’ll add a year to his career. We all know when Tom Brady got that knee injury a few years ago, he got a whole year to sit off, and there’s a lot to be said for that sometimes. The ironman effect does take a toll over a period of time. But when you do have an injury and you’re forced to miss a whole year, your body has a chance to rest up”.
That echoes what we’ve been hearing from the team about their expectations in Roethlisberger’s recovery, as well as from the quarterback himself, all expressing optimism that he will be at 100 percent and ready to go by the start of the season. And with that means renewed hope.
“I think the Steelers will come back” as contenders, Cowher said. “The receivers are going to be a little bit older, more mature. It’s the same system, a lot to be said for continuity right now, particularly going into this season given the circumstances we’re dealing with, the coronavirus and the limitations you may have in practice sessions and OTAs”.
“I think the defense will be just as strong as it’s ever been”, he added, “maybe stronger because of another year together, and I think, offensively, maybe they get a runner in this draft and another receiver. They went out and got Eric Ebron, hopefully he can get back to his productive ways of two years ago”.
Unfortunately for the Steelers, their biggest obstacle may be in the division, with the Baltimore Ravens coming off a 14-2 season. Though they lost in their first game of the playoffs, there’s no reason to doubt that they can continue to find success, and potentially even keep Pittsburgh out of the postseason—though that will be more difficult now with three wildcard teams per conference.