For those who don’t check this established website over the weekends, you might not be familiar with my ‘Letter From the Editor” article. It usually runs on Sundays, but when life gets in the way it gets pushed back to the middle of the week.
With that said, this week I couldn’t help but think about the offense. So many people put the pressure on the defense, suggesting it will be up to them to win or lose games. This line of thinking is hardly false, but the pressure being placed on the defense might be just a tad misplaced.
Sure, the Steelers’ defense needs to improve in 2019, but the real pressure belongs to Randy Fichtner and the offense.
Just think about it...
In years prior, the talk was whether the Steelers would be able to average 30 points per game throughout a full 16-game season. But with Antonio Brown gone, and Le’Veon Bell officially shown the door, you have to wonder what the expectations are heading into next season.
For me? I don’t know what to expect.
In my mind I have a vision of an offense which is more even. Not just in the run/pass ratio but also even with targets in the passing game, and hopefully a more even workload in the backfield to help preserve the stable of running backs. I envision Ben Roethlisberger having the time, thanks to an offensive line which remained in tact, to survey the field and pick his proverbial poison. No longer handcuffed to getting No. 84 the targets he feels he deserves to avoid a meltdown.
While the loss of Brown certainly leaves a void, it isn’t as if the Steelers’ offense is devoid of talent. JuJu Smith-Schuster is a matchup nightmare in the slot, Donte Moncrief will have the opportunity to play with a capable quarterback for the first time since his first two years in the league, James Washington will likely be improved from his rookie year and we all know now what James Conner and Jaylen Samuels can do in the backfield. Did I mention one of the league’s best offensive lines remained in tact from 2018, considering Matt Feiler started more games than Marcus Gilbert.
But what if these visions are nothing more than a dream, and what is actually put on the field this fall is a nightmare?
This is where the pressure comes in, and mainly on Fichtner and Roethlisberger. The two are joined together since Todd Haley was told his contract wouldn’t be renewed, and Roethlisberger wanted more control over the offense. There is no way Roethlisberger could ever have more control than he does now, especially since Brown and Bell are out of the equation.
Will Roethlisberger be able to step up, prove the quarterback who led the NFL in interceptions is just a figment of our imaginations and lead this team deep into the playoffs? That is a question no one knows the answer to at this juncture. A great deal of the team’s success this upcoming season will fall on the shoulders of Keith Butler and the defense, but in my humble opinion the pressure will be on Roethlisberger and the offense.
Time to deliver...