The Steelers win over the Cincinnati Bengals has opened up even more questions regarding the 2019 future of this team. Can Pittsburgh rebound to make the playoffs? Will Mason Rudolph be relegated to being only a game manager and a dink-and-dunk passer? Is the defense becoming a “best in show” unit? How must-win is the Baltimore game? Because of all of this, BTSC anticipates the storylines and issues bold statements regarding each one of them. Let’s take a look and deem them as fact or fiction.
The reins will be taken off of Mason Rudolph this week.
I really hope so, but I doubt it will happen fully in 2019...but it should start occurring a litttle more each week. Rudolph’s 24/28 performance was very encouraging last week, but it was courtesy of the short passing game. The Steelers could have success by airing it out more and they have a passer who was the fourth-ranked deep-passer in the NCAA in 2017. For the offense to be successful, receivers need to get open more and the team needs to trust their QB to go deep. But they need to do whatever it takes to win games one week at a time after falling into that early hole. It’s going to happen eventually for Rudolph, but it looks like the organization wants it to happen gradually. Just don’t expect it to be bombs away against Baltimore.
Minkah Fitzpatrick has brought balance to the Steelers defense.
The fact that you barely heard the names of Fitzpatrick or Terrell Edmunds called out by the ESPN broadcast team on MNF was a great thing. It wasn’t that they weren’t doing anything, it was more of the fact that they weren’t allowing any action deep in the secondary as the most encouraging thing. The defense was fantastic as a whole against Cincy. While they are struggling in 2019, the Steelers still cut the numbers of their quarterback (Andy Dalton) nearly in half, while talented Tyler Boyd and John Ross III were neutralized. That turnaround has a lot to do with Minkah who has started to solidify the secondary of the Steelers by making the outfield a no fly zone of sorts by his play and presence.
The Wildcat offense will be featured even more against Baltimore
Nobody ever expected the Steelers to add such an innovative wrinkle to the game against Cincinnati last Monday night. Apparently the RB position coach, James Saxon, made the suggestion and it came into fruition. A lot has been said about the formation in the last five days and the concern that it can’t be sustained as a successful option. What a lot of people don’t realize, is that it was used only seven times in the Cincinnati game. Now the defenses have time to prepare for it, the Steelers don’t want to get into a position where they overuse it. However, if they’re smart about it,,,It will prove to be valuable. I don’t reckon that it will go away completely, but I do feel that “the cat” will remain out of the bag to keep defenses honest and on their toes.
Jaylen Samuels will be the feature runner by season’s end.
First off, this is all barring injury. If James Conner can’t stay healthy, and nothing so far suggests that he can, Samuels would indeed take his place. Some suggest that No. 38 could and should be crowned RB1 regardless. But I’m thinking that it’s less and less Conner and more of the O-line lending to the struggles of the running attack in Pittsburgh. Both players are averaging 3.2 yards-per-carry and both have similar value as receiving options out of the backfield (Conner 8.1 ypr, Samuels 7.2 ypr). If the line rebounds and opens more holes, both runners will continue to prove valuable. We may also continue to see the value of having both Connor and Samuels in the same back field at the same time, but a healthy Conner remains the top guy.
Chris Boswell is out of the Steeler organizational doghouse.
Even though there is and still will be concern that the Steelers kicker could slip back into the odd abyss that haunted everybody in the organization, media and fan base in 2019, it seems like the confidence level in the Steel City has returned to 2015-2017 levels when it comes to Boswell. Boz is 7/7 on both field goal and extra point attempts in 2019. He is also 3/3 between yards of 40-49. Of course, I’m reluctant to even write this with concerns of jinxing No. 9, but he seems at ease...that is unless JuJu is asking him idiotic questions with a hot microphone on national television.
Are these statements valid? We will soon see. What matters most is your opinions on the matter. Please state them in the comments below.