It seems like each year for the last few off-seasons, the Pittsburgh Steelers are written off early by pundits as too old, not having enough talent, and being poorly built – essentially relying too much on veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger, so it seems.
This off-season seems to be no different, as many project the Steelers — who lost the likes of Bud Dupree, Mike Hilton, Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler and Maurkice Pouncey this off-season to free agency or retirement — to be a .500 team, third in the AFC North, and an unlikely playoff team in a deep AFC.
Bleacher Report analyst Maurice Moton seems to disagree though, calling the Steelers his top “sleeper” team that could exceed its win-loss expectations in the 2021 season.
Using DraftKings’ 2021 win totals, Moton has the Steelers as his top “sleeper” team that could exceed its win total expectation.
“Pittsburgh has more than enough talent to top eight wins if its key players stay healthy. Head coach Mike Tomlin won’t finish with his first losing season,” Moton writes.
It’s hard to disagree with Moton here. While the Steelers did see a mass exodus of veteran free agents in the off-season, the Steelers reloaded in a big way through the NFL Draft, grabbing standout running back Najee Harris, adding tight end Pat Freiermuth and selecting versatile center Kendrick Green, restocking the offensive cupboard. Defensively, the Steelers appear to be able to absorb the loss of Dupree with the emergence of Alex Highsmith, though the loss of Hilton to the Cincinnati Bengals will be hard to replace.
That said, it’s not like this roster is bereft. Adding Harris, Freiermuth and Green offensively should allow first-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada to provide some serious balance to an offense that became grossly one-dimensional in 2020. Being able to run the football and control the clock should help mask any defensive issues in the secondary, making games shorter for the Steelers.
With a reduced workload on Roethlisberger’s right arm, we might not see him fade down the stretch in 2021 like he did last season as the Steelers ultimately flamed out of the postseason at home.
Every year the Steelers are seemingly written off, and every year they find themselves in the mix when it matters most. Why should 2021 be any different?