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If Ben Roethlisberger’s health is the biggest factor in 2020, what's second?

The consensus says that if Big Ben is good to go then the Steelers are a playoff team, but what else needs to go right?

NFL: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Virtually any time you click on a Steelers related link, you're bound to see some sort of commentary on Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow. It’s a trend spanning from the local to national media. Everyone seems to be in agreement that if Ben’s playing at 100% then the Steelers are a threat.

But what, if anything, are we overlooking?

Let’s take a look at other factors which could singularly derail the Steelers season.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Offensive Line

Let’s face the facts, Alejandro Villanueva struggled at times against a murders row of pass rushers in 2019, Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro are another year older, Stefen Wisniewski and Kevin Dotson are new and won't have a full offseason, and Matt Feiler won't know whether he’s playing tackle or guard until closer to Week 1.

The Steelers offensive line has been one of the best units in football the past decade. Unfortunately, good things don't tend to last in this business. The unit did struggle a year ago, however, opposing teams would often stack the box, and send tons of pressure. A large factor was because they didn't respect Mason Rudolph or Devlin Hodges ability to burn them over the top. If Roethlisberger is good, the unit will see easier matchups, and will have a higher chance of success in 2020.

The biggest factor with the line is how well they can keep their quarterback upright. The less hits on Ben will equal the greater the odds he makes it through 2020.

The (lack of a) running game

NFL: Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers
The Steelers running game took without its FB a year ago, which led to the signing of Derek Watt
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers continually add running backs in the draft, they also haven't re-signed any of them in more than a decade.

In order to take some of the pressure off of Roethlisberger throwing 650 passes in 2020, the Steelers running back squad will have to prove they can carry some of the load. This also means they need to be healthy. If James Conner can play in close to all 16 games, the Steelers will be in a very good place.

The problem is whether the group can stay healthy, and if they can be effective again. Roosevelt Nix missing time a year ago definitely hurt, and considering how much the fullback affected the running game you can imagine there's a ton of pressure on Derek Watt in his first season in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers need to keep Roethlisberger’s attempts down and the only way it's possible is if the running game can take over when needed.

Stubborn play calling

NFL: Preseason-Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Run-run-pass, the wildcat, and throwing a screen pass on third and long— it’s got to go. The Steelers can't rely on such predictable play calling and simple schemes in 2020. Perhaps it's why the organization brought in Matt Canada, perhaps Roethlisberger will just call the plays he wants to run, but the Steelers can't hamstring its offense by coaching scared.

The receiving core will demand the ball be thrown deep early and often. Fichtner and company need to let his horses run.

Picking apart defensive holes

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers defense is loaded on paper, and is primed to be one of the NFL’s best in 2020. However, the unit still has potential holes. To combat this the club either needs to bring in some more talent, or they need to platoon what they do have accordingly.

For staters, if Vince Williams is stuck on the field in man coverage teams will try to throw the ball in that direction. Getting Ulysees Gilbert III, or a defensive back on the field in this situation is key.

Terrell Edmunds has also been picked on in the passing game. The Steelers will need to avoid leaving Edmunds on an island. Either adding more defensive backs on the field in passing situations or moving the safety out of man matchups will be extremely important.

What do you think? Whats the Steelers biggest question mark outside of Ben Roethlisberger’s health? Please vote in the poll an let us know in the comments below!


Other than Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow, what is the Steelers biggest concern going into 2020?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    The offensive line
    (401 votes)
  • 35%
    The running game
    (554 votes)
  • 32%
    The offensive play calling
    (501 votes)
  • 3%
    Holes on the defense
    (61 votes)
  • 2%
    (43 votes)
1560 votes total Vote Now