It’s hard to believe but most people outside of Pittsburgh have low expectations for the Pittsburgh Steelers. New head coach, questions about the O-line and which Ben Roethlisberger might play a factor but what gives.When asked about who are the top 6-8 teams in the AFC, the Steelers are rarely mentioned by the national media. New England, San Diego, Indy, Baltimore are the upper tier of teams in the AFC but are the Steelers really that far behind teams like Denver, Jacksonville and Cincinnati? The Steelers do have some question marks but they are still a very talented team.
Reasons to be optimistic:
1.Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger has been nearly perfect during the first 9 days of camp. Roethlisberger has been very accurate and did not throw his first interception until Wednesday morning. Under new offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, the Steelers will increase their use of the no-huddle offense and will use more three and four wide receiver sets in situations beyond third down. Under the Arians‘ offense, the Steelers are not going to resemble the Colts but they will no longer be as predictable as they were under the Bill Cowher regime. Roethlisberger has a lot to prove this season including a mega contract extension and he will rebound this season.
2. Mike Tomlin: The Tomlin era has arrived. Sometimes a new face is the best thing for a team talented as the Steelers that is coming off of a 8-8 season. Visit training camp for one day and fans will see the Steelers no longer resemble a country club. Steelers insiders have told me they have not seen a training camp with this much intensity in over 15 years.
3. Defense: Defensively the Steelers were solid last year but expect big things from them this year. The majority of the time, the Steelers are going to play a 3-4 base defense but at times they are going to implement a 4-3 base and cover 2 schemes. Players such as Ike Taylor underachieved last season and look for him to have a breakout season. Lamar Woodley has been phenomenal thus far and along with Brett Keisel will be used as a pass rushing specialist on third downs. Woodley could be the difference maker for the Steelers defense this season.
The Steelers are flying under the radar and a third place schedule makes them serious contenders for the division title.
*My prayers go out to the people in Minneapolis*……….