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: Will the Steelers lead the league in sacks for a fourth year in a row?
It’s actually pretty remarkable how much success the Steelers have had sacking the quarterback over the course of the past three seasons, but more impressive is how their pass rush has evolved during that time, going from more of a boom-or-bust pass rush to a more stable unit, and varying the frequency with which they blitz.
They seemed to have hit on their best combination last season. In 2018, they limited their blitzing and had a lot of success with their four-man front. The year before they, their production came primarily through their zone-blitz scheme. Last year, they mixed in heavy blitzing with the stability of a front-four pass rush.
In other words, they have shown that they not only can but know how to get after the quarterback in a number of different ways, and I think that is the best evidence to suggest that they can continue to finish at the top of the charts.
There’s always the possibility of some team having an aberrational season in which they get like 65 sacks or something like that, but based upon the roster makeup, there’s no reason this unit isn’t capable of hitting 50 sacks again if they stay healthy, especially with Stephon Tuitt back and the coverage buying more time for the pass rush to get home.