When the Pittsburgh Steelers are in the offseason, I start this Letter From the Editor series. Every Sunday, well this always is written on Saturday, I sit down and write about...well...whatever I want to write about.
Last week this ran on my 39th birthday, but this week it was a Twitter photo which caught my attention and was the genesis of this article. The Twitter photo came from former Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Yes, Todd Haley.
Just take a look at this picture of Haley with Alejandro Villanueva and David DeCastro:
My first reaction when seeing the photo?
“Wow, Big Al and DeCastro look really good!”
As I looked at the photo it looked more and more like two offensive linemen who had moved onto their life’s work. I’m not sure if Villanueva has called it a career with the Baltimore Ravens or not, but he certainly looks to have followed the Alan Faneca post-career slim down.
The way my black-and-gold brain works, I started to think about those dominant offenses with Villanueva anchoring the left side of the line, and DeCastro pulling and punishing defenders when doing so. That ‘Killer B’ era was so good, and so dominant, I found myself looking at this stupid photo still dumbfounded the unit didn’t win a Super Bowl.
You can talk about the injury to Ryan Shazier and the team’s inability to replace him in 2017, but it was the offense which was good enough to carry that team to victory. Just think about some of the incredible numbers which were put up in that era.
Offense: 27.3 points per game
Defense: 23.0 points per game surrendered
Playoffs: Lost to the Ravens in the Wild Card Round
Offense: 26.4 points per game
Defense: 19.9 points per game surrendered
Playoffs: Lost to the Denver Broncos in the Divisional Round
Offense: 25.4 points per game
Defense: 19.3 points per game surrendered
Playoffs: Lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Divisional Round
It was 2018 when Le’Veon Bell sat out the entire season and Antonio Brown walked out on the team. It was the end of the ‘Killer B’s’ era.
Every season is it’s own story, and this isn’t lost on me.
2014 was when Bell was injured prior to the playoffs.
2015 was the Fitzgerald Toussaint fumble in Denver after the crazy Wild Card win over the Cincinnati Bengals which left Antonio Brown concussed.
2016 was the famous Brown Facebook Live video after Chris Boswell’s leg catapulted the team to the AFC Championship game, only to be embarrassed 36-17.
2017 was when the Jaguars, led by Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette, came into Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers on their turf for the second time that season.
While it looks like every one of these teams imploded on their own, the offenses during that era might have been the best I’ve seen in my life. When Bell, Brown and Ben were on, they were almost unstoppable.
Here we are, in 2022, and I still can’t believe that team never won it all.
As the Steelers prepare for the upcoming season, the ‘Killer B’s’ are a distant memory for most Steelers fans. Le’Veon Bell bounced around the league last season, and is currently unemployed. Antonio Brown self-destructed for the third time in his career, and is currently unemployed. Ben Roethlisberger officially announced his retirement this offseason, and is on to his life’s work.
Say what you will about this era of Steelers football, but it certainly was entertaining both on and off the field. I’m not sure I’ll ever see an offense that prolific again, but the fact they never won a Lombardi trophy still bothers me to this day...and I’m sure I’m not alone.
(Note: The Letter From the Editor series will run every Sunday during the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason.)