There may be fewer advantages this season greater than stability, given the very limited nature of the offseason due to the coronavirus. Fortunately for the Pittsburgh Steelers, there are few teams in the NFL who have more stability from last season to this season.
According to ESPN, they have the fifth-most continuity in playing time from the 2019 season to this year, referring to the number of snaps played by players last season that they still possess. They return 84.4 percent of their defensive snaps from last season, with ranks fourth, and 80.1 percent of their offensive snaps, with ranks 12th.
The Steelers only lost one starter on offense in Ramon Foster, who retired. Other than Nick Vannett, who was an in-season acquisition, they return all of their skill position players short of Johnny Holton, whom they released in March. All of the quarterbacks who took a snap last year are still on the roster.
“Not much is changing for the Steelers entering 2020 — and that’s mostly a good thing”, writes Brooke Pryor. “Returning the bulk of the defense is key for the Steelers to end their brief playoff drought, and Roethlisberger’s return should bolster an offense that was stagnant at times in his absence. The Steelers have new faces on the coaching staff in quarterbacks coach Matt Canada and wide receiver coach Ike Hilliard, but they’ll be working with mostly veteran position groups”.
With the NFL having no in-person workouts during the Spring—the first time this has happened since the lockout of 2011—one can expect that there will be some difficulties for young players and new faces to adjust to their new teams without that physical component to fall back on.
That’s why a team like the Steelers, who have as most consistency in personnel and approach as they do, should be less impacted than others. The only teams who return more snaps from last season than Pittsburgh are the Buffalo Bills, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Indianapolis Colts, and the San Francisco 49ers.
In terms of the rest of the AFC North, the Baltimore Ravens are second on the list, ranking 14th overall by returning 75.6 percent of the snaps from last season. The Cincinnati Bengals rank 25th, returning just over 69 percent of snaps, and the Cleveland Browns rank 28th at 67.9 percent of snaps.
The Carolina Panthers by far return the fewest snaps from last season, the only team under 66 percent, and that 46.9 percent. I can’t help but wonder how often a team loses more than half of its snaps played from the previous season.