At the height of the ‘Killer Bs’ era, the Pittsburgh Steelers were often chided, especially by their own fans, for their shortcomings in the postseason despite having talent on their roster. Many fans continue to believe that the latter half of Mike Tomlin’s head coaching career is one of the great examples of underachieving in NFL history.
The Killer Bs are gone, though, and what has replaced them? We’re not entirely sure, but the 2020 season should answer a lot of questions. They have a defense, for example, that is coming off a great year, but without proof yet that it’s sustainable. They have a lot of young talent at the skill positions, but most of whom haven’t done a lot, yet, and with a quarterback on his last legs, and an aging and diminishing offensive line.
So who are the Pittsburgh Steelers as they enter the 2020 season? Their offense was anemic last year, but it was also crippled by injuries. The year before, they had a 5000-yard passer, a Pro Bowl running back, and the most efficient red zone offense in the league. And who has the most talented roster in the division?
This was the debate on Good Morning Football recently, and even in a division with the 14-2 Baltimore Ravens, who tied an NFL record for the most Pro Bowlers in a single season last year, Mike Garafolo still chose the Steelers. He could have easily deferred to their defense, but instead he chose to highlight the young talent at wide receiver that’s ready to break out:
I would take the Steelers’ roster. I could go to the defensive side of the football—the sixth-ranked defense in the league last year; I could tell you about T.J .Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick; I could spend all that time. But I’m coming right at you [with the offense]. Steelers wide receivers aged 24 or younger, ranked in 2019. Targets, first in the NFL. Receptions, first in the NFL. Receiving TDs, 11, that was tied for fourth in the NFL. By the way, didn’t have Ben Roethlisberger on the field for them last year, he will be for them this year, so I’ll go strength for strength, even if I’m going to take the Steelers here.
Over the past four drafts, the Steelers have used second- or early third-round picks on wide receivers, in JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, and now Chase Claypool. Smith-Schuster has already been to a Pro Bowl. Johnson looked very promising last year as a rookie.
This is an intriguing group, and it is exciting to see what they can do together with quality quarterback play. Then you throw in Eric Ebron, a hopefully healthy and rejuvenated backfield, now with some speed thanks to Anthony McFarland (and possibly Kerrith Whyte), and there is reason to be optimistic about where this talent can take this roster.
Time for some #DivisionCollision.
— GMFB (@gmfb) June 11, 2020