Scenario: The Pittsburgh Steelers record 45 sacks as a team in 2014.
Why it will happen: Much talk will be given towards the linebackers and a result of the speed at that position as a reason why this team will increase it's sack totals from 2013, but the real answer lies within the defensive line. Look back at some of the great Steelers defenses that racked up sacks like it was just another walk in the park and you had a dominant line to lead the way.
The Steelers hope to get contributions all around along that defensive line. Rookie Stephon Tuitt will be asked to do more than just suit up, and him along side Cam Heyward could be a great combination if Tuitt can settle into the pro game.
If that defensive line holds up, then it will be the linebackers that will reap the benefits. With Jarvis Jones having a full season of game experience under his belt, he can be expected to be more of a playmaker than he was in 2013, although that would't take much after a dismal rookie season. Jason Worilds being on his more natural pass rush side should flourish there as he finished 2013.
Getting pressure is a three pronged approach. Collapse the pocket up the middle, win the blitzing one on one battle and the secondary needs to blanket their receivers so the quarterback has no where to go with the ball. The Steelers looked poised to do just that with this re-vamped defense with the speed and agility to make plays all over the field.
Why it won't happen: Jason Worilds is a player that always seems to have a lingering health issue. Last season it was his wrist, then his abdomen and even now he is hampered by a nagging injury that has kept him out of spring practices. Worilds will be expected to carry the load as Jarvis Jones doesn't look capable of carrying much of anything. The outside linebackers are crucial to beating their man and forcing the quarterback to step up into pressure from the defensive line. I'm not so certain Worilds and Jones have the capabilities to make that happen consistently.
On top of the outside linebackers, can a defensive line that resembled swiss cheese more so than a stellar unit in 2013, start to put pressure on the quarterback and not just remain stagnant at the line of scrimmage? Those are cases that could lead the Steelers to falling back to a 34 sack number like they did in 2013 which put them in a three way tie for 25th in the NFL. No really Pittsburgh Steelers stat lines, but if the defense doesn't come together it may just become the norm.
Keys: The Pittsburgh Steelers will have to be perfect in their pursuit of the passer, which was very off and uncharacteristic in 2013. The outside linebackers will have to prove their worth, and the pressure falls solely on Worilds and Jones as there isn't much quality depth on the roster at that position. The defensive line will have to get contributions from players like Tuitt and Steve McLendon for the team to get the type of pressure on the quarterback that fans have grown accustomed to seeing. Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier in the middle pose a serious threat to opposing quarterbacks with their speed and ability to get north quickly when rushing the passer.
The pieces of the puzzle are in place for the Steelers defense to rise back to normalcy, and bring back the famed "Blitzburgh" defense by collecting 45 sacks in 2014.