As an avid fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team I fell in love with around 4 years ago and have been obsessed with ever since, I believe that the 2018 season truly will be our “stairway to seven”.
The reason I am so confident in this talented organisation is because of the star studded roster it possesses. First of all, star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returns to the lineup. The two-time Super Bowl winner has and always will be integral to the team’s success. Posing as a dual threat, he has both a rocket for an arm and the ability to evade incoming tackles from the opposition’s defense meaning that the team is in capable hands once more.
Moreover, the Steelers are also equipped with some of the most sought after offensive players in the league. For example, Antonio Brown. Brown was selected 195th overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. Despite the low selection he has risen to be arguably the best offensive player in the league and was pivotal in the success of the Steelers last season. The six-time Pro Bowl amassed 1,533 receiving yards and a total of 9 touchdowns. All while being covered by at least two defensive backs for the most part; an impressive feat indeed.
In addition, the incredible breakout rookie year that young JuJu Smith-Schuster produced last season proved that he can play a key role in the teams offense. Perhaps the most important piece to the team is the ever reliable offensive line and the infamous Le’Veon Bell. Placed on the franchise tag for the second time in two seasons, the three-time Pro Bowler will be absolutely vital to the Steelers’ chances. If he can remain healthy, considering his career has been hampered by injury for two straight seasons, he could prove to be the difference in winning or losing.
The Thorn In The Steelers’ Side
Unfortunately, the days of the infamous ‘Steel Curtain’ of the 70’s has long gone. The Steelers today still have key pieces on the defensive side of the ball. Players like Cameron Heyward and Artie Burns still contribute greatly, alongside the hungry T.J. Watt, who has developed inexplicably well since his drafting last year.
The defense is also bolstered by Mike Hilton. After being cut from the Jags and Patriots’ practice squads in 2016, he had an excellent year in 2018. His most noteworthy performance coming against the Texans, recording six tackles and three sacks on the Houston quarterbacks, T.J. Yates and Taylor Heinicke. However, the most integral player on the defense, Ryan Shazier, suffered a catastrophic spinal injury. This injury may even cut the career of the talented linebacker short. A great shame.
Despite this, even with Shazier in the lineup last season, the co-ordination amongst the defense appeared to be non-existent. This aspect of the team was probably the biggest downfall of last years campaign. Nonetheless, if the Steelers’ defensive coordinator, Keith Butler, and his team can nurture the talent they currently have access to, then this young team could be the underdog story of the century.
Where do the Steelers stand?
The 2018 season won’t come easy for this team. A team full of young studs, like the aforementioned players, along with the additions of Terrell Edmunds and Marcus Allen on the defensive side, could have a defining year. However, there are still matters up for discussion. These can only be resolved as the team gels in practice and the preseason games commence. Until then, we must contain our excitement and chant: “here we go Steelers, here we go.”