Outside of some stupid dance that nobody cared about before some Buffalo Bills players claimed to have gained superpowers from being made aware of it, the narrative coming from the Pittsburgh Steelers this week is on one thing in particular, and one thing that should be popular among the fan base: physicality.
From head coach Mike Tomlin to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and on and on down the line, everybody getting out in front of the webcam for Zoom meetings this week is talking about how this Steelers team needs to be more physical after dropping the last two games and ceding control of the number one seed in the AFC playoffs.
That even goes down to the wide receivers. Now, the Steelers have drafted some guys over the past four years who came into the league with a reputation for physicality, namely JuJu Smith-Schuster (2017), James Washington (2018), and Chase Claypool (2020), so this shouldn’t be a huge surprise, but it’s not the first position you think of in terms of this quality.
Washington, the self-confessed farmhand, was asked about what physicality means to him as a wide receiver. “Not letting the guy across from you out-dominate you”, he said. “We’ve just got to start fast and stay physical the entire game, that way we could set that tone”.
Tomlin hinted on Tuesday that they would be putting on pads this week to get some old-fashioned hitting in before Monday’s game in the hopes of that helping, but Washington reminded us that they were wearing pads last week as well.
“I think we could get nothing but positive out of it, to be honest with you”, he did say about the padded sessions. “We need to start faster on offense, and like Ben and everyone else is saying, which is right, we’ve just got to be more physical up front, and everybody’s got to be physical across the board”.
How much can a team really transform itself in terms of its level of physicality over the course of a couple of weeks of padded practices during the regular season? If it’s something that you don’t have, can you really obtain it in this fashion?
Of course, the Steelers are plenty capable of being physical, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, and up the middle. Getting Vince Williams back will certainly help their physicality. There are, however, serious questions about the offensive line’s physicality, and I don’t know that that can be addressed without personnel changes. They have a week to prove me wrong.