The Pittsburgh Steelers began their mandatory minicamp today along with many other teams in the NFL. With the beginning of their minicamp, the Steelers have many
questions to answer. Will the offense get better or worse in the second year under Todd Haley? Will the old defense finally break under Dick Lebeau? And the most important question: will the Steelers be able to bounce back from their disappointing 8-8 performance last season?
The Steelers go into minicamp with a new look on offense after getting rid of running back Rashard Mendenhall and wide receiver Mike Wallace. The team is also going into its second season with Todd Haley as offensive coordinator. Last season the Steelers ranked 15th in passing yards and 28th in rushing yards, and nothing has indicated that those numbers will be getting better this season.
Going into the minicamp, the Steelers will be without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, which means less time for the Haley and Ben combination to work out the obvious kinks that held the team back last season. An offensive goal for the Steelers this season is to improve on their rushing yards and get back to more “Steeler football” by running the ball more often. The Steelers will be looking to running backs Jonathan Dywer, Issac Redman and rookie Le’Veon Bell to kickstart the Steelers running game. The Steelers offense will go through some growing pains this year with their absences, but one thing is for sure: if the offensive line can stay healthy, they will be a source of strength for a Steelers team that has had many problems protecting their franchise quarterback.
Since hiring Dick Lebeau, the Steelers’ defense has been a model of excellence. Even with the oldest defense in the league, the Steelers were still the top ranked defense in terms of yards allowed, but their inability to create turnovers has started to become their Achilles heel. The Steelers will be without former pro bowlers Casey Hampton and James Harrison, but as is usual with the Steelers, they have been able to find solid replacements. Steve McClendon will be the new guy in the middle for the Steelers, and with their top pick the Steelers brought in pass rusher Jarvis Jones from the University of Georgia to eventually replace Harrison or ROLB Jason Worilds. The Steelers defense has not changed much and if they can stay healthy they will once again be one of the premiere defenses in the NFL.
The Steelers road to success this season will not be as easy as it has been in past years. They are a team in transition right now and will experience a lot of growing pains this year; but in the NFL anything is possible. Today in minicamp, all the healthy players were there for the Steelers, and two of the main things that we will be keeping an eye on during this session of offseason training will be the performance of the younger players and the health of the older players.
The tough road is just beginning for the Steelers.