The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense had a rocky start last season but seemed to turn it around during the latter half. It’s never too early, however, to set some expectations for Ben Roethlisberger and company.
All the pieces have yet to come together for the Steelers’ offense. The biggest question, or should I say questions, are the wide receivers. There’s sure-thing Antonio Brown, who should have no problem carrying on as the number one receiver but after him, the questions start flowing.
The departure of Emmanuel Sanders has left a hole for the second wide receiver, a position most believe will go to second year receiver Markus Wheaton.
Wheaton has been taking on this role during the team’s OTAs these last couple weeks and seems to be doing well. He suffered a finger injury last season but it doesn’t seem to be an issue during OTAs. Wheaton doesn’t have a lot of starting experience but as of now he’s the teams best option to replace Sanders.
Along with Sanders, veteran Jerricho Cotchery left the Steel City. Cotchery played a major role last season as he was a top target for Roethlisberger. He exceeded expectations and the Steelers will need someone to provide production just as he did this season.
The favorite has to be newcomer Lance Moore, a former New Orleans Saint. Moore’s another veteran of the game and someone who could work nicely in the slot. He’s not as big as Cotchery but can still purpose a threat in the slot position. He could be a great safety valve for Big Ben, providing safe hands over the middle or underneath.
The chemistry between the two is said to be good and with more time it can only improve. Wheaton and Moore should be able to play their roles accordingly but there are other names on the roster who might shake things up.
Veteran receiver Darrius Hayward-Bey, rookie Martavis Bryant and a player whose name has been hyped just a bit this offseason, Justin Brown, could all make cases for a role in the offense.
One area of the offense that the Steelers have to be excited about is the backfield. This hasn’t been the case in seasons past but this year they boast a good looking duo in Le’Veon Bell and LaGarrette Blount.
Bell is coming off a solid rookie season while Blount’s run with the Patriots last season was very encouraging. Bell gave the Steelers’ backfield immediate production last season after missing the first three weeks with an injury. If there was any doubt that he was the answer, it was vanquished upon his return. He didn’t blow anyone away but he contributed to the team in a way that was absolutely necessary.
Bell provides versatility and he’s been seen coming out of the backfield and playing a role in the receiving game. This is beneficial on the account of the receiving questions asked earlier. Blount, on the other hand, is a bruiser, a big back who can releveive pressure off Bell.
Blount can take the damage and pickup the short yards when asked. The Steelers didn’t have the luxury of a big back last season; Jonathan Dwyer was the closest they had. Blount can give this team the extra boost they need during short goal line situations. This duo can be something special if utilized correctly. It’s the start of a backfield the Steelers needed to get back to.
While the receivers and running backs are taking form, there’s always the offensive line, which usually seems to take a downward spiral season after season.
This year could be different. Yeah, it seems like we say this a lot but we have to feel good about it this season. Last season, the offensive line was as make shift as make shift could be. Players like Kelvin Beechum were lining up all over the place and the team was asking Cody Wallace to snap the ball at one point.
A mess to say the least. This year, however, the line has a new coach in Mike Munchek who is sure to provide excellent guidance. His resume can speak for itself, but Munchek is one of the brightest spots for the Steelers’ offseason.
With a healthy Maurkice Pouncey this line should return to good form. As long injuries don’t factor in, the line should stay consistent and have a lot less improvising to do. Expect a solid, well-coached offensive line this season.
Last but certainly not least, there’s the glue of the offense, Roethlisberger. Big Ben gives this team a chance to compete each and every season. Last season a lot of the games where kept in reach due to Roethliserger. He’s entering the prime of his career and he’s already got two rings to show for. There’s no reason to believe they’ll be any sort of struggles for the quarterback this season. You have to hope a contract is coming his way very soon.
Overall, the expectation should be set rather high. An always competitive quarterback, a solid backfield, a healthy offensive line and capable receivers seems legit on paper. Again, it’s early but the offensive players should be in position to make something of themselves this season.