Stats Of The Weird: 2020 Steelers Preview Edition

We’ll be back with Stats Of The Weird early next week after the Steelers take on the Giants. But before we dive into the season, here are some interesting stats to watch out for during 2020. It’s my sole source of hope so far this year.

– Ben Roethlisberger entered last year ahead of Eli Manning in yards. With his season-ending injury, he’s now behind. Roethlisberger will need 479 yards to surpass Manning for 7th most passing yards in NFL history. He’s nearly 3000 yards behind Philip Rivers, now in Indy, for 6th place.

It’s a similar story for TDs. Roethlisberger was passed by Manning and Aaron Rodgers in the year he missed. Here’s 7-8-9 on the all-time list.

7. Eli Manning: 366
8. Aaron Rodgers: 364
9. Ben Roethlisberger: 363

Roethlisberger will pass Manning this year. But he’ll be in a fight with Rodgers, who threw 26 touchdowns in 2019.

– Though last year was a terrible season for JuJu Smith-Schuster, he’s still on track to set records in team history. Currently at 211, he needs 51 receptions to pass Antonio Brown for most catches by a Steeler in his first four seasons.

*If* JuJu can catch 100 passes this season, he’ll tie Andre Johnson and Marvin Harrison for 10th most in NFL history. Don’t ask about him catching the leader though. That spot is occupied by Saints’ WR Michael Thomas with a whopping 470 receptions over that span.

– Diontae Johnson will be the Steelers’ punt returner again in 2020. If he can take another to the house like he did last year against Arizona, he’ll become one of just four Steelers to have two PR touchdowns in his first two years. He’d join: Ray Mathews, Louis Lipps, and Antwaan Randle El. Mathews and Lipps had three, Randle El with two.

– As we noted earlier in the offseason, Cam Heyward is ready to move into the top five of Steelers’ sack history (since the stat became official in 1982). With 54 in his career, he’s three behind LaMarr Woodley for a tie of 5th place. If he nets 6.5, he’ll pass Joey Porter for third in team history, trailing only Jason Gildon (77.5) and James Harrison (80).

– TJ Watt’s quickly moving up the leaderboard too. In just three seasons, he’s already 11th in sacks. Just one behind Lawrence Timmons for 10th. Even assuming a relatively disappointing 10 sack season, he’ll move into 8th place ahead of Aaron Smith.

– Minkah Fitzpatrick and Joe Haden gunning to break another streak after ending the team’s drought of players without 5+ INTs last season.

If one (or both, preferably) can pick off five passes again, they’ll be the first Steeler to do it since – wait for it – Chad Scott in 2000 and 2001. Yes, not even the great Troy Polamalu had back-to-back seasons with five picks (although he probably would’ve done it in ’09 had it not been for injury).

Scott had five in 2000 and 2001.

The player who did it before Scott was Dwayne Woodruff from 1984-1987. Not a lot of recent history here.

– I’m generally loathe to the “Tomlin hasn’t had a losing season” stat that gets tossed around so much because the Steelers’ goals are always higher than “win eight games,” but here’s a stat from that realm.

Another eight win season or better from the Steelers will mark the second longest such streak in history, breaking a tie with three other teams: Dallas (66-81), San Francisco (83-98), and Oakland (65-80). Pittsburgh has won at least eight games for 16 straight seasons.

– Ok, some team stats. If this defense can record 35+ takeaways again, they had 38 in 2019, they’ll be the first Steelers’ defense to so in back-to-back seasons since the ’92-’93 teams.

The last defense in the NFL to do it were the ’05-’06 Vikings. So it’s a tall task for this unit.

– The Steelers’ offense scored just 289 points a year ago, down from 428 in 2018. If Pittsburgh can score 407 points this season – a very attainable goal – it’ll be the biggest points jump from one year to the next, not counting strike-shortened seasons, in team history.

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