How Bad Will the Pittsburgh Steelers Defense Be?


A few days ago Ed Bouchette of the PPG pondered about the Pittsburgh Steelers potential on defense for the 2015 season.  Last year the Steelers defense was not spectacular finishing 18th in total yards allowed and 18th in points allowed per game.  They also finished 26th in total sacks and 25th in interceptions.   Bouchette started his article of with this,

"“Mike Tomlin said at the NFL meetings last week that the Steelers have the potential to be the best offense in the league.They better be, because they have the potential to be among the worst on defense.” – Bouchette"

Bouchette pointed out the positive aspects about the Steelers defense, such as Cameron Heyward, Lawrence TimmonsSteve McLendon, and James Harrison.  He then moved onto the possible issues the defense will have to deal with, most of which concerns injuries and players actually reaching their potential.

The defensive line is an area where the Steelers are hoping that their young players can produce.  Stephon Tuitt played well to finish his rookie season.  Daniel McCullers certainly has the size to make an impact but he played sparingly during his first season.

The linebacker position could be awful or it could be alright.  Timmons has been solid for a long time but with James Harrison turning 37 in May and Ryan Shazier and Jarvis Jones potentially being the other three starters the Steelers could be playing with fire .

Shazier and Jones could not stay healthy last season and Shazier didn’t do much when he was actually on the field.  The strength of the Steelers defense during the prime Dick LeBeau era was always the linebacker corps.

Having Arthur Moats and Vince Williams as backups is nice but the Steelers really do need Jones and Shazier to prove they were worth a first round draft pick.  Finishing 26th in sacks will not be good enough, especially considering the debacle that is the Steelers secondary.

The fact that Cortez Allen is likely going to be a starter entering training camp is terrifying.  Maybe last season he just lost his confidence and he could be better this season but that is a gigantic question mark.

William Gay was very good last year but he really isn’t a number one cornerback at this stage in his career.  The loss of Brice McCain means Antwon Blake will have to step up even more.  Mike Mitchell at safety was a failure during his first season with the Steelers and Shamarko Thomas will finally get a chance to start assuming Troy Polamalu is actually done in the Steel City.

"“The Steelers are counting on a lot of “ifs” to come through for them all over their defensive depth chart.  Usually, that means trouble.” – Bouchette"

With the draft right around the corner, the Steelers are expected to draft a few cornerbacks and possibly and outside pass rusher. However, unless the Steelers re-created the 1974 draft the defense is likely to struggle for another season.

By relying on young players with a ton of potential but players who also haven’t shown the ability to reach their potential or stay healthy could be a big problem.

What do you think Steelers Nation?

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