It is the dead season when it pertains to NFL news, and unless you have a player on your favorite team getting a new contract, someone awaiting suspension or an unfortunate injury, no news is good news. The problem with that is while no news is good news for fans, websites like this one, and many others, have to figure out a way to keep the content coming.
This is what I like to call ranking season. We do it here, and plenty others do it too, and sometimes there are some interesting aspects to these rankings which can be viewed as noteworthy.
A recent Pro Football Focus (PFF) ranking given to ESPN ranked all 32 NFL teams as it pertains to roster talent certainly caught my attention. PFF took a look at strengths, weaknesses and the X-Factor for the upcoming season and put them in order from best to first.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they were ranked 8th in the NFL. Check out the Top 7, as well as what they had to say about the Steelers’ 2019 roster.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers
Biggest strength: The 2018 season was far from Ben Roethlisberger’s finest -- only Eli Manning threw more turnover-worthy passes in the regular season -- but the Steelers have a shot as long as Roethlisberger is under center. Yet despite his proclivity for putting the ball in harm’s way, the Steelers quarterback logged 42 big-time throws, second to only Patrick Mahomes, and his big-time throw percentage of 6.49% was good for fourth among the 30 QBs who threw 300 or more passes.
Biggest weakness: Once a jewel in the defense-heavy AFC North, the Steelers’ secondary failed to live up to expectations in 2018. Pittsburgh’s cornerbacks and safeties combined to allow a passer rating of 99.5 on throws into their coverage. That rank wasn’t just tied for 20th in the league, it was also the team’s second-worst single-season mark of the PFF era (since 2006). Of the eight players who played at least 100 snaps last season, only Joe Haden (70.9) graded above 70.0, so the Steelers will be looking for improvement in 2019.
X factor for 2019: JuJu Smith-Schuster. Now that Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell have taken their talents elsewhere, this passing attack’s hopes rest on the shoulders of the third-year receiver. The USC product had a breakout season last year, as his 384 receiving yards from deep passes (passes of 20 or more yards downfield) were ninth most in the league, while his 660 yards after the catch was the best single-season mark by a receiver since Julio Jones in 2015. It appears that the sky is the limit for Smith-Schuster, and he’ll have to show he can do it as a true No. 1 in 2019.
Looking at the information PFF gave for the article, it begs the following questions for followers of the Pittsburgh Steelers:
- Do you agree with Ben Roethlisberger being the biggest strength of the team next season?
- Do you see the Steelers’ secondary a the weakness of the team?
- Can you think of someone other than JuJu Smith-Schuster who would be considered the ‘X-Factor’ for 2019?
PFF has the stats to back up their argument, but it doesn’t mean everyone has to necessarily agree with their thoughts. Let us know what you think of the overall ranking, the questions listed above and what your overall thoughts are of the team heading into the 2019 season in the comment section below!