The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
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: When healthy, who will see more snaps on offense between Vance McDonald and Eric Ebron?
While neither of them are exactly making top dollar at the position, the Steelers between McDonald and Ebron have committed more money to their tight ends for one season than perhaps they ever have in the history of the franchise.
Pittsburgh still likes what McDonald can bring to the table when he is playing at his best, but the team is also clearly excited about the dimension that Ebron can add to the passing game, even if he will be more limited as a blocker.
Even though he has been the Steelers’ ‘starting’ tight end for the past three seasons, though, they have never used him as a workhorse, Heath Miller-type snap hog. They would even have specific packages—running packages—designed without him in it. So he’s not going to play 900 snaps even under the best of circumstances. His career-high by more than 100 snaps came last season with 684.
Even if you add in the two games he missed, you’re not getting some huge number, and that’s also taking into consideration the fact that they had to acquire their number two tight end mid-season via trade. McDonald and Ebron will both have the full offseason to work into the offense and to be part of the plan. So, on an even playing field, with health not a factor, who is going to see the most snaps?