The Steelers are looking to compete for a playoff berth in a loaded AFC, but there are a few weak links who could prove to hold them back.
The Steelers are one of the harder teams for fans and analysts to project for the upcoming season, and for good reason. They have a few elite players on defense like T.J Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Cameron Heyward. Offensively, they are largely unproven but very young and talented. The stark difference in money spent on the defense compared to the offense makes it clear how the Steelers plan to win this season. In the modern NFL with wide-open passing games and ultra-talented receivers, banking on your defense to do the heavy lifting for you is harder than ever.
The offense has the potential to be much better than the atrocity it was a season ago, but expecting them to be more than average is asking a lot. The offense as a whole is full of potential weak links, but even the defense has a position group that is far from a strength. Here are three potential weak links on the Steelers roster, starting with the big boys up front.
Steelers offensive line could remain an issue
Despite how important they are to the offense, offensive linemen continue to be some of the least celebrated players in the NFL. They tend to only be talked about if they are some of the best or some of the worst units in the league. The Steelers, unfortunately, found themselves on the bad end of that spectrum last season. It was hard to watch considering their long history of excellence in the trenches.
The front office recognized that and took steps to improve, bringing in guard James Daniels, center Mason Cole, and retaining starting tackle Chukwuma Okorafor in free agency. They also hope for a healthy return from guard Kevin Dotson and big improvements from rookie starters Dan Moore Jr and Kendrick Green.
While I believe they will be better than last season, that isn’t a high bar to clear. The run blocking especially was hard to watch most of the season, and even the pass blocking was worse than the stats may suggest. Ben Roethlisberger was getting the ball out at a record pace last season, limiting the opposing pass rush. Only time will tell if the new pieces are enough to make them at least an average line.