The heat is on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense. Sign Cam Heyward all the way up. The team’s defensive leader, Heyward knows Pittsburgh’s defense must shoulder the load while their young and changing offense finds its footing. Speaking on his podcast Not Just Football with Cam Heyward, Heyward said he embraces the weight of the defense’s role.
“I love it,” he said. “I love when the pressure’s on the defense. I don’t wanna say this the wrong way. We’ve had the great opportunity to have Ben Roethlisberger bail us out of a lot of situations. Now we don’t have that. And as a defense, there’s no crutch.”
Roethlisberger was one of the most clutch quarterbacks of his generation, heck one of the most clutch ones of all-time, and won so many games in its final moments, including a Super Bowl. For his career, Roethlisberger was credited with 53 game-winning drives and 41 fourth-quarter comebacks. Last year, he led the league in both categories, though that was partially due to the offense’s ineptness that forced them to play catchup.
Still, Heyward knows the Steelers’ offense can’t be asked to win games be it late in the fourth quarter of high-scoring shootouts.
“We’re not putting our offense in that situation anymore to go out there and win it. If the money’s spent on you, you gotta play like it.”
Over the past two drafts, Pittsburgh’s invested draft capital in its offense but has most of its money tied up in the defense. That included several notable free agent acquisitions this offseason, names Heyward pointed to as helping the cause.
“We’ve added some different pieces. Levi, Wallace, bringing in Larry Ogunjobi, bringing in Myles Jack. All these different pieces.”
Tyson Alualu is also returning after missing most of last season due to a fractured ankle. Hiring Brian Flores was a quality add, one of the best defensive-minded coaches in football. Pittsburgh knows their defense must be miles better than 2021, at least top ten, for the Steelers to be competitive this season. Heyward, of course, must play at his usual elite self, flirting with double-digit sacks and being the league’s most dominant power rusher.