The Steelers start the season off with what may be one of their bigger challenges of the year. They go into Foxborough missing key players such as Martavis Bryant, Maurkice Pouncey, and Le'Veon Bell, which could severely impact the offense's ability to just simply outscore a team like the Patriots.
The Steelers will be relying on their new defensive coordinator to provide a different look to counter Tom Brady's and Bill Belichick's historical success against much more decorated Steeler defenses. Press coverage could be exactly what the Steelers need to slow down the Patriots offense enough to give Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown a chance to take control of the game.
The loss of Patriot's WR Brandon LaFell and a RB situation in flux makes this twist an attractive one for the Steelers. Rob Gronkowski figures to be a major part of the Patriots' game plan. Mike Mitchell praised Gronkowski as the best tight end in the game before stating, "He has success when people don't put their hands on him."
Early indications suggest that Butler intends to try to throw off Tom Brady's precision passing game by pressing up with their cornerbacks and using linebackers Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons to jam Rob Gronkowski within the first 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Shazier was quoted, "If you mess up their timing, they are really time-oriented. You have to mess up their timing and get in his face with pressure, then I feel we can slow him down a little bit." This is particularly interesting because it shows a lot of faith in either the largely unproven OLB position or in Butler's defensive game plan to provide pressure from other sources.
If Butler is unable to generate pressure quickly, then the Steelers will have left their less than stellar secondary on an island which could force the Steelers to search for a different answer. The Steelers are already geared up for the first game of the season and don't need any more motivation than the knowledge that they get first crack at the reigning champs. As William Gay says, "You just know it's part of their 2014 season they have to celebrate. But 2015, we don't know who the champion is right now."