Believe it or not, the Pittsburgh Steelers report to training camp on July 25th, and we are digging up the '32 Scenarios in 32 Days' segment to help us all pass the time. Once a day we will be drafting a potential 2015 season scenario, telling you why it will happen, why it won't and giving you important keys for the scenario to take place.
Scenario: Steelers defense becomes a Top 10 unit in 2015.
Why it will happen: Some might view this scenario as a long-shot, and after 2014 they certainly have a case to be made otherwise; however, if the Steelers have one thing on the defensive side of the football in 2015, it is potential. In my opinion, potential is a dangerous word as you know how good you could be, but at the same time, it doesn't always work out the way you had hoped.
32 scenarios in 32 days: Big Ben throws 40 TDs
The Pittsburgh Steelers' offense will be daunting for opposing defenses in 2015. Will QB Ben Roethlisberger set a new personal record for touchdowns thrown with 40 next season?
If the Steelers defense has done anything heading into next season, it has become younger and more athletic. The team has been desperately looking for speed to be infused into the lineup, and it has done just that with Shamarko Thomas, Ryan Shazier, Stephon Tuitt and Bud Dupree being prepped for significant roles in 2015.
There will be some growing pains, but if the Steelers are able to utilize their speed and athleticism in terms of getting after the quarterback and creating turnovers, being a top 10 defense isn't an unrealistic scenario. Under the guidance of new defensive coordinator Keith Butler, the defense will have a new look to it next season. The Steelers were 18th in total defense, in terms of yardage, in 2014. A jump into the top 10 isn't a ridiculous thought when you look at the potential which exists on the team's roster.
Why it won't happen: The Steelers defense did get younger, and although the athleticism on the roster increased, it doesn't equate to a better defense. When the team got younger on defense, it lost a great deal of experience. Say what you want about Troy Polamalu's play last year, along with Ike Taylor and Brett Keisel, and you have to wonder whether the replacements in the lineup this year will be upgrades.
The defense was gashed through the air in 2014, and because of it no lead was secure throughout the season. What did the team do to upgrade at those positions? Ike Taylor leaves and Antwon Blake and a combination of rookie corner backs are supposed to fix the secondary issues on the team? Shamarko Thomas is an unknown commodity, and Stephon Tuitt has yet to prove he is an every down player in only his second season.
The fact is the defense might improve, but it won't be enough to be a top 10 unit next year. Keith Butler will have to get used to his new personnel, and the time it takes for this team to find their game might be too little too late in terms of their overall rankings across the NFL.
Keys: The key to this scenario coming to fruition is the new additions to the lineup performing up to their potential and showing they are capable of making the defense a better unit than 2014. Those additions include new coordinator Keith Butler's ability to diagnose opposing offenses, coach the players to be better and put those players in the best position to succeed. If the team can get returns from players like Jarvis Jones, Shazier, Tuitt and Thomas, they very well could catapult themselves into the Top 10. If players like Cortez Allen don't bounce back from a disastrous 2014, the defense could find themselves as a sub-par unit for the second straight season.