If you are someone who has been paying attention to the national media since the 2020 NFL season came to its conclusion, you have heard what has been said about the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers.
They are done.
When you had the retirements of players like Maurkice Pouncey, free agents like Bud Dupree, Mike Hilton and Matt Feiler leave, and the release of Steven Nelson and David DeCastro...it’s only gotten worse.
But not all national media are believing the Steelers are done. Some, like ESPN NFL analyst Greg Cosell, think there is a shift happening in Pittsburgh. And that isn’t always a bad thing. Recently, Cosell joined Ross Tucker to talk about the AFC North, and of course he was asked about the Steelers’ offensive line.
“That’s going to be interesting. The OLine, right now, everybody is going to say it is no good, but we don’t know if it is no good. It is a work in progress, and we don’t know where it will end up. That’s the point.”
Everyone wants to project the offensive line as a glaring weakness on the Steelers’ roster, but the fact is the offense under Matt Canada could be changing drastically. Cosell points to the 2021 NFL Draft class as a sign this could be happening right before our very eyes.
“I would think that with the addition of Najee Harris, as the first round pick, the addition of Pat Freiermuth as the second round pick, when you already have Eric Ebron, that you could see a change in their overall offensive approach.
“You just can’t ask Ben Roethlisberger at this point of his career, behind a totally unproven offensive line, to drop back 40-45 times by choice.”
The crux of his narrative is based around Harris. Harris isn’t a change of pace back who can thrive off a handful of carries a game. He is a grinder who needs to get into the rhythm of a game.
“You don’t draft Najee Harris to give him the ball 9 times a game. He is not that kind of back. He is a foundation/feature back. He is a grinder and wears people out.
“You draft him to give him the football, and I would think the foundation of the offense will change.” Cosell said.
As for the Steelers’ strength, it is found with the team’s defense, and Cosell sees another great year for the Pittsburgh defense, even without names like Dupree, Hilton and Nelson on the roster.
“I think they are still really good. Obviously they lost Bud Dupree, but I think they feel really good about Alex Highsmith, who played meaningful snaps a year ago. He will help replace Dupree barring anything unforeseen. They are really good in the secondary. The corner position opposite [Joe] Haden is probably a camp battle.
“They’ll be good on defense, they have a lot of good players on defense. They’ve got [Minkah] Fitzpatrick, they’ve got [T.J.] Watt, [Cam] Heyward, [Stephon] Tuitt and [Devin] Bush will be back. They have a lot of quality players on the defensive side of the ball.”
When you listen to someone who doesn’t just cover the Steelers, but the NFL as a whole talk about the Steelers and how they could look different, but be really good, it is refreshing. Are the Steelers a perfect/finished product? Even the most die hard, black and gold blooded fan would know that isn’t the case.
But not all hope is lost, and Cosell points at some of the major points as to why doomsday isn’t on the horizon for the Steelers in 2021. Check out the podcast below and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.
(Editor’s Note: The Steelers portion of the podcast starts at the 19:00 mark.)