Steelers Revamped Defensive Line, Excitement Awaits


For the Pittsburgh Steelers, “defense” and “excitement” haven’t really gone hand in hand this season.  Unless, of course, you’re a fan of the opposing team and know that you are going up against a Steelers defense that too often looks confused, is slow out of the gate, and rarely ever has the fortitude to hold a lead.

But, there’s something I’m very excited about this coming Sunday that I hope many in Steeler Nation can share the same sentiments.

Stephon Tuitt‘s first official start at defensive end.

It’s been 13 games coming, and I am ready for this guy to make the impact many have seen glimmers of throughout the 2014 season.  Tuitt has a golden opportunity over these last four games of the regular season – help usher in a new era of Steelers football.  It’s unrealistic to think that Tuitt will perform anything beyond a rookie who’s only seen a few snaps.  But, there’s promise and he needs to show it.

I’m ready for Tuitt to break the Notre Dame draft curse.  I’m ready for him to help escort Cam Thomas to the nearest bus station out of town.  I’m ready for Tuitt to help me forget about Brett Keisel.  This fan base needs hope for the future during a season that is on the verge to feeling worse than a kick in the junk.

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If Tuitt can play well these last four games, and if he can have a strong showing in camp, the spot is his for the taking.  Much like one of his old predecessors, Aaron Smith, Tuitt can turn a uneventful rookie season into one where people can look back and say, “The Keisel injury.  That’s where it all started for Tuitt.”  If Tuitt can lock down the defensive end spot once held by the legendary Beard, he will be the second pillar to cement their place on the line.  Cameron Heyward cemented his spot last season, and the young man is quickly becoming the face of this defense.  On a defensive squad that is immature, inconsistent, and at times bush league (thanks to Mike Mitchell), Cameron Heyward is a rock.  He is a Steeler.

Daniel McCullers is next in line after Tuitt.  The departure of Casey Hampton has always left a hole in at nose tackle.  Big Dan can most certainly fill those shoes, but is still a season or two away before he gains the technique (and the confidence of his coaches) and not rely so heavily on his size every snap.  Once he can do that, the Steelers defensive front will be a formidable one – something that has been in great decline for years due to its seemingly piecemeal assembly.

The Cincy Bengals have a big run game.  They rank in top 10 in the league and will go after a defense that struggled to stop Mark Ingram of the Saints while he easily collected 122 yards on the ground.  Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard are a formidable 1-2 punch combining for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Now would be a really good time for Tuitt to make a loud and grand entrance into this league as a starter.  He’s young, he’s hungry.  Now get at it.

Here We Go.