With every NFL team facing concerns over preparation for the 2020 season due to lack of offseason gatherings, teams who have the least amount of turnover from the 2019 season will begin the year with somewhat of an advantage. Due to this fact, ESPN has compiled the continuity rating for all 32 NFL teams.
The way ESPN determined their continuity the rating was by the percentages of snaps in 2019 taken by players who are still on the team’s roster going in to 2020. Furthermore, a breakdown for both offense and defense was done while also looking at the number of starters to return as well as coaches.
For the Steelers, they ranked 5th overall with 82.4% of snaps taken in 2019 being by players still with the team. For offense, the Steelers ranked 12th with 80.1% while on defense they ranked 4th with 84.4%.
Here is a complete breakdown of the data by ESPN with an analysis of the Steelers written by reporter Brooke Pryor.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers: 82.4% snaps returning
Offensive snaps returning: 80.1% (12th)
Defensive snaps returning: 84.4% (4th)
Starters returning: 23 (10 offense, 10 defense, 3 special teams)
Non-coordinator assistants returning: 11 of 13
Coordinators returning: 3 of 3 (Randy Fichtner, OC; Keith Butler, DC; Danny Smith, ST)
Starting QB: Ben Roethlisberger, 17th year
Head coach: Mike Tomlin, 14th year (133-74-1)
What it means: Not much is changing for the Steelers entering 2020 — and that’s mostly a good thing. Returning the bulk of the defense is key for the Steelers to end their brief playoff drought, and Roethlisberger’s return should bolster an offense that was stagnant at times in his absence. The Steelers have new faces on the coaching staff in quarterbacks coach Matt Canada and wide receiver coach Ike Hilliard, but they’ll be working with mostly veteran position groups. — Brooke Pryor
The teams are ranked ahead of the Steelers overall were the Buffalo Bills (88.0%), the Kansas City Chiefs (84.7%), the Indianapolis Colts (82.7%), and the San Francisco 49ers (82.6%). These teams along with the Steelers were the only ones who retained more than 80% of the snaps from the previous year.
When it comes to the defense, the three teams ahead of the Steelers were the San Francisco 49ers (88.3%), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (86.9%), and the Kansas City Chiefs (84.9%).
Of the teams ranked ahead of the Steelers overall, only two of them are on the schedule this season. The Steelers will face the Bills in Buffalo in Week 14 while they will host the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16. With both games falling in December, continuity heading into the season will not be as much of a factor.
As for the teams the Steelers face early in the season, the Steelers Week 1 opponent in the New York Giants placed 31st at 66.1%. Additionally, they will have a first your head coach. The Steelers Week 2 opponent— the Denver Broncos— placed 13th with 75.7%. The Steelers Week 3 match up with the Houston Texans will bring the team who finished just behind the Steelers in 6th place with 79.5%. Rounding out the first quarter of the season is the Steelers Week 4 matchup in Tennessee against the Titans with a team which retained 74.9% of their snaps from 2019 which ranked 15th in the NFL.
Although continuity does not reflect the quality of play, it is beneficial for teams to have a familiarity with each other, especially in this tumultuous 2020 offseason. As intriguing as these numbers are, what will be more important will be the Steelers achieving victories on the field of play.
The entire breakdown for all 32 teams can be viewed HERE.