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: What is the biggest thing that the defense can improve upon from last season?
While the Steelers were able to produce a top-five defense last season, there is always room for improvements. Now, they kept the points down. They took the ball away. The pressured the quarterback and brought him to the ground. They allowed the fewest rushing touchdowns and just 3.8 yards per attempt on the ground against them, good enough for third-best in the league.
Clearly, they did a lot of great things. But they still missed their fair share of tackles, and perhaps then some. They still had issues adjusting to pre-snap audibles, and couldn’t always get themselves out of an identifiable mismatch.
And they actually relied too much on the takeaway, arguably. They only ranked in the middle of the pack in terms of average drive time allowed, even if they ranked in the top 10 in plays per drive, yards per drive, and points per drive.
I would imagine that many will argue that the strong safety position needs to be better. It wouldn’t be unfair to make the argument that Terrell Edmunds is currently the weakest link on defense. Depth is another area of concern. If an inside linebacker or safety go down, the Steelers are in really questionable territory.