Steelers Serious About Youth Movement on Defense
Now that the season is over I obviously won’t be writing pertaining about the winners and losers of the weekends game. So let’s get right to it and take a look at the what the Steelers are doing next season when it comes to the defense.
If you didn’t know already, Dick Lebeau has given up his duties as of defensive coordinator, obviously a very sad day for Steeler Nation. Longtime linebackers coach Keith Butler will more than likely succeed him, and he rightfully should.
Now that Lebeau is gone it’s time for the next great Steeler defense to rain terror in the eyes of opposing offenses under Butler. He certainly has the talent to do so, it’s just getting his young players to reach their full potential. Rumors have it that Lebeau left because his longtime players such as Brett Keisel, James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, and Ike Taylor won’t be returning. There is certainly a youth movement on defense in the Steel City.
Let’s start with the defensive line he has to work with, and what a better way to start than with the wrecking ball himself Cameron Heyward, . Maybe a Pro Bowl snub this season, Heyward is an absolute stud of a defensive end. At the age of 25, he certainly is the future of the defensive line position. Opposite him is rookie Stephon Tuitt, only 21 years old. Rookie defensive linemen hardly ever see the field under line coach John Mitchell, but Tuitt exceeded that expectation by starting half the season. He showed great potential as a pass rusher, but needs work in his run defense. To the nose tackle position, Steve McLendon will hold down that position as he is only 29. His successor may already be on the team in the form of Daniel McCullers, age 22, who saw some playing time as a rookie as well.
To the linebackers, the Steelers have some absolutle dogs on the team…they just haven’t reached their full potential yet. Obviously PRO BOWLER Lawrence Timmons is as consistent as they come, and at the age of 28, the Steelers have several more years reaping his play making ability and leadership. To the other inside linebacker position there are several candiates, but Ryan Shazier, 22, is by far the most talented. After stuggling his rookie season with injuries, the Steelers look for some improvement his second season. There is also quality backup at the position with Sean Spence, 24, and Vince Williams, 25. Th outside is somewhat of a question mark. My vote is to bring Jason Worlds back at the right price. He is only 26 and the Steelers don’t have the luxury and time to invest in another linebacker early line in the draft. Jarvis Jones is also a bag of potential, we just have to get it out of him. He’s young, 25, but needs to start developing his pass rushing ability.
The secondary is just a huge question mark. As much as some of you hate it, Mike Mitchell, 27, is pretty much the only player we can for sure say will start at safety next year. Troy Polamalu may be gone, and the player drafted to replace him didn’t see the field this year. Shamarko Thomas, 23, resembles Polamalu in some aspects of his game, but he is still a young player developing. We can only hope Cortez Allen comes along at the age of 26. We don’t know will line up across from him, but cornerback should be pretty high up on the priority list this offseason, and that’s not a 30 year old veteran in free agency. Don’t think Ike Taylor will do the job either.
So if you don’t get what I’m saying, the Steelers have an incredible young but talented defense for Keith Butler to work with. If the young players could reach their full potential, you would be looking at the next great Steeler defense, and practically every projected starter going into next season is 29 or younger, with the majority of them being 26 or younger. The Steelers are serious about the youth movement of defense, if they could only get the potential out of them.