When it comes to the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers, we already know the biggest determinants of success will be:
- Ben Roethlisberger’s health
- The offense returning to form
- The effects of Covid-19 on the season
- Team health
But what lesser-discussed things could drastically effect the Steelers 2020 season? Today we are taking a deep dive into some other aspects of this team that some of which aren't getting the coverage that the topics above are receiving.
The development of Devin Bush
Something I think all of Steelers Nation took for granted last season was how seamless of a transition it was for Devin Bush to break into the NFL. For whatever reason, this offseason he’s not getting a ton of coverage and almost getting brushed off as a quality starter. But he’s really more than that, Bush is 22 years old and is far from his peak. If the 2019 tenth overall pick takes another step forward, this Steelers defense could be nearly unstoppable.
How the rookies can perform with a Covid-restricted summer
I’m heading into next season with absolutely no expectations for this rookie class. I wouldn't be mad at a combined zero touchdowns, sacks, yards, or even touches from all of them combined. Getting into the NFL is hard enough, but multiply that by 100 when you don’t even get an offseason to prepare for it.
But with that said, what if one or two of them just hit the ground running? What if Chase Claypool really is the Canadian Calvin Johnson, or what if Alex Highsmith replicates his 15 college sacks in his rookie season? It’s all extremely unlikely, but if the Steelers get an immediate impact from one of these guys, look out.
The favorable strength of schedule
The Steelers have the second-easiest strength of schedule in 2019, only behind the Baltimore Ravens. Sure, sometimes it feels like this team has a curse of losing to lesser organizations, but I know I would rather run through the bottom of the league during a shortened offseason than a murder’s row of competition. Bad teams might be more likely to quit during this very strange season, and that might equate to more wins for the Steelers.
Replacing Javon Hargrave
The Steelers defensive line took a bit of a hit this offseason with the departure of Javon Hargrave. The Steelers did address the loss by trading for Chris Wormley and drafting Carlos Davis, but the key piece to effectively replacing Hargrave’s production is Stephon Tuitt. Tuitt tore his pectoral muscle early last season, playing at a level greater than anyone on the defensive line to that point. The combination of those three players should make for an easy transition away from the ‘Grave Digger”.
The last X-factor I want to offer up is that of the consistency of the kicking game. Both Chris Boswell and Jordan Berry had an abysmal 2018 season, however Boswell was able to bounce back last ear. Berry, on the other hand, trailed off as the season progressed. If the Steelers want to win close games next year, the kicking game will directly affect their win total. Shanking punts, or pushing kicks just gives opponents great field position, and kills the momentum of an offense. The Steelers are going to need Jordan Berry to turn it around more than ever.
But what do you think? What are the biggest X-factors that will directly affect the Steelers win total? Let us know down in the comments below.