The Pittsburgh Steelers offense took a step back in 2019. Not only were 2/3rds of the killer bees completely off the roster, but the depth chart was absolutely decimated by injury. The most prominent, of course, was Big Ben going down which absolutely hamstrung the unit and contributed in some key players being left off the stat sheet.
Let’s take a look at some of the players that need to rebound from injury, poor play, or lack of opportunity from a season ago.
Coming back from: Injury
If this man can stay healthy there is no doubt In my mind that the Steelers will be a playoff team in 2020. The video of him shaving is a good sign that he thinks he can throw an NFL-caliber pass again, but can that elbow withstand the course of an entire season? If yes, the NFL better watch out.
Coming back from: Injury, lack of use, & poor play
You’ve got to feel for JuJu. After exploding out of the cannon his first two years in the NFL, the 23 year old smacked right into the wall in 2019. Of course, not having your future hall of fame QB under center couldn't possibly help a receivers stats, but Smith-Schuster was in a season where he was drawing top matchups for the first time in his career. Juju also had to battle concussion and knee injuries throughout the year.
If I was a betting man, I’d tell you JuJu is going to slip back into the slot with the addition of Chase Claypool and emergence of Diontae Johnson. With a little health luck, Smith-Schuster should bounce right back into being a 1,000 yard receiver.
Coming back from: Injury (again)
In three seasons in Pittsburgh, James Conner has missed a total of 11 games (6 in 2019). This trend will have to end (or nearly end) in order for Steelers’ fans to stop calling for a change in the backfield. Yet when he's on the field, Conner is grinding out more than 4 yards per carry. However, the best ability is availability and you get 0 yards per carry on the bench. Conner will simply have to play more in 2020.
Coming back from: Injury
Ebron is the only newcomer on the team to be featured on the list. But if he plays like 2018 Eric Ebron, oh boy did the Steelers nab themselves an absolute steal. The former Colt is coming back from season-ending ankle surgery and, like Big Ben, has recently been cleared for full activity. If the Steelers can get 14 touchdowns out of Ebron, then this team should quite easily cruise into the playoffs.
Coming back from: Struggling in pass protection
The Steelers 2-time Pro Bowl left tackle hit a bump in the road in 2019. Although Big Al was often seen on the ground a season ago, it’s still not impossible that he can bounce back in 2020. With Ben back under center, defenses won't be able to stack the box and blitz as often against the Steelers. Also, Ben’s pocket presence is unlike any other and Al thrived with Ben in the pocket. Not only that, he drew some premier pass rushers to line up against (Garrett x2, the Bosas, Jadeveon Clowney, & Chandler Jones among others) and has a much more favourable schedule in 2020.
Other things in need of a bounce back:
- Maurkice Pouncey’s shotgun snap placement
- Vance McDonald’s health/use
- Jaylen Samuels’ overall game
How many of the players listed above can return to old form? What if they all do, will the unit be top ten in the NFL? Let us know your thoughts down In the comments!