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What Do James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley Have In Store For An Encore In 2009?

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I'll be honest. I haven't been as emotionally invested in this 2009 offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers as I have been in recent years. Why? There's several reasons actually. Firstly and quite honestly, it's really hard and tiresome to write 365 days a year for an intelligent and passionate community while I'm thousands of miles away from the action. it can be done with the help of you all, but it's just hard. Anyway, we had the pedal to the medal on BTSC throughout the season and particularly the playoffs this past year. It was a pretty freakin' amazing year, was it not? Mike Tomlin coming into his own. The Steelers defense reigning terror on the league for the better part of the entire season. Ben Roethlisberger continuing to add to his late-game and big-moment legacy. In a Vitale-ian reference on college basketball's final evening, there were countless Maalox Mashers. Hell, for y'all veterans of the game day threads, go back and read them some rainy day. You'll get a kick out of the full gauntlet our emotions ran.

Part of it is just a feeling that no matter who makes up the final 5 or so roster slots on our 53 man team in the next several years, Coach Tomlin is going to coach them up. Perhaps naively, I feel Coach Tomlin is going to steer our roster clear of the ups and downs that plague so many talented teams. Don't get me wrong, scouting talent and committing to a long term plan is a big, big part of winning games in the NFL. It's like the league's equivalent of the 90% of life is showing up phenomenon. Still, a part of me is disinterested for the time being as I struggle to imagine this current coach doing anything but keeping his players 100% engaged and believing in something bigger than themselves.

The long of the short of it is, I've needed a break, and thanks to the great work of drinkyourmilkshake plus the draft analysis shared by so many of y'all the site's been lively enough in my emotional hiatus. Thank you for that.

For whatever reason though, yesterday evening I began to think about what the 2009 version of the Steelers defense would look like. I was immediately drawn toward fantasies of how James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley would follow up their record setting 2008 season.

For now, I'll mostly just leave it at that and let you fill in the lines in your mind of the kind of havoc they can collectively create. Below is the list of our 2009 opponents, with their 2008 sacks allowed totals and league ranks included. Yes, we play some teams that were good in pass protection last year, and of course, teams can improve from year to year. Nonetheless, there's some opponents and offensive lines that aren't quite going to have turned the corner, and in some instances won't even be close. That should mean one helluva feast for our two most impressive pass rushing outside linebackers.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 Opponents
Team 2008 Sacks Allowed League Rank
Cleveland Browns (2) 24 8th
Cincinnati Bengals (2) 51 30th
Baltimore Ravens (2) 33 18th
Detroit Lions 52 31st
Green Bay Packers 34 19th
Chicago Bears 29 13th
Minnesota Vikings 43 26th
Miami Dolphins 26 10th
Kansas City Chiefs 37 21st
San Diego Chargers 25 9th
Tennessee Titans 12 t-1st
Oakland Raiders 39 24th
Denver Broncos 12 t-1st