Some key players had strong words to say about the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense in 2017.
“If we’re not No. 1, we’re not good enough,” Mitchell told Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette. And it’s true. With everything Pittsburgh has done this offseason, they’re on the verge of being the best team in the NFL. But without a defense that can handle their own, their season will end short yet again.
Mitchell wasn’t the only one to say something. Other defensive stars like Bud Dupree and Cam Heyward made their opinions clear about the defensive unit heading into the 2017 season. Although no player said the same thing, they all had the same understanding when speaking to the media.
“We’re going to be a good defense this year,” linebacker Bud Dupree said. “We plan on being great.”
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A plan all 32 teams have prior to the season, Dupree didn’t say anything to gutsy. Unlike Dupree, though, Heyward was a little more vocal when talking about his teammates and the Steelers’ defense this season.
“We have a defense that can accomplish a lot, but if we don’t put it on the field, it doesn’t count for anything,” Cam Heyward said.
“I think it’s all about just taking steps forward,” Heyward said. “I think a lot of guys progressed and I think we just have to continue to do that.”
It’s true. Pittsburgh was not an impressive defensive team last season, and to go from middle of the pack to first is a big jump. Maybe they shouldn’t be expecting the best, but somewhere near it. With the offense they’ve put together, all they need is a unit who can show up and stop the other team from scoring 20 points. That should be enough to win almost every game.
Defensive coordinator, Keith Butler, also threw his thoughts out there. As this defensive squad gears up for a better year, he looks for the young players to be the difference makers.
“Our young guys are going to have to help us in that regard in terms of our draft choices and the guys who played well for us last year,” Butler said. “The rookies last year got to continue to develop. And if they do, hopefully we’ll improve enough to take that next step.”
That’s what Pittsburgh’s goal should be. Not being the best, but being good enough to make a difference. With the improvements they’ve made this offseason, nothing should be holding them back from being a force in 2017.