Brady-less Patriots Could Still Cause Problems For Steelers


Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers received an enormous boost this week when the NFL suspended Tom Brady. The New England Patriots’ quarterback has been an absolute destructive force when he has played the Steelers throughout his professional career, and his absence on opening night of the NFL regular season is tremendous news for Pittsburgh.

With Brady sidelined, the Steelers will likely face Jimmy Garoppolo instead of the future Hall of Fame signal-caller. While many people within Pittsburgh’s fanbase are already penciling in a “1-0” start for their favorite team, I am skeptical that the still-rebuilding defense will be able to fully capitalize on Brady’s suspension.

Don’t believe me, readers?

Here is a list of some quarterbacks who have managed to engineer victories over Pittsburgh in recent seasons:

2012: Carson Palmer, Matt Hasselbeck, Brandon Weeden

2013: Jake Locker, Matt Cassel, Terrelle Pryor, Ryan Tannehill

2014: Mike Glennon, Brian Hoyer, Michael Vick

While none of these quarterbacks played at an All-Pro level during their respective victories versus Pittsburgh, they did manage to play rather effective and mistake-free football (162 completions, 278 attempts, 1,969 passing yards, 15 TDs, 7 INTs).

They took advantage of the passive nature of the Steelers’ defensive scheme, and each made enough plays (Pryor had 106 yards rushing in his win) with the talent they had at their disposal to win those games.

Did I mention that the combination of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell and Rob Gronkowski and a solid offensive line will likely available for Garoppolo on opening night? Moreover, isn’t the Steelers’ defense still an enormous work in progress with question marks at all positional units outside of defensive line and inside linebacker?

For as much confidence as this fanbase puts in guys like Jarvis Jones, Ryan Shazier, Shamarko Thomas and Cortez Allen to be ready and much improved by Week One, I hope they understand that Garoppolo has the same period to develop rapport with his first team offense.

Moreover, the former second round pick will be running an offensive system which has shredded some of the best Steelers’ defenses over the last decade and a half.

I will be the first to admit that I am excited that Keith Butler is taking over as defensive coordinator. My hope is that he will employ a far more aggressive style than his predecessor; especially with his players in the secondary.

But, if the Steelers offense cannot play keep-away with Ben Roethlisberger like they did in 2011, it will be up to Pittsburgh’s defense to stifle a dink-and-dunk attack which has helped New England torch this franchise numerous times in the past.

I have complete and total faith that the Steelers’ offensive personnel, even without Le’Veon Bell, can coast against a suspect secondary like the Patriots’. As long as offensive coordinator Todd Haley runs “11” personnel and Four-WR schemes, Big Ben and his friends will have an enormous night.

Yet if you the fans are getting over-confident that New England is set to trot Garoppolo out as their starting quarterback versus the Steelers instead of Brady, please check your collective confidence and just take a look at the list I previously shared.

Statistics: Pro-Football-Reference

Next: Will Suisham's Job Look Different In 2015?

More from Still Curtain