On the most recent episode of The Scho Bro Show podcast, the discussion was around the top five questions going into Steelers training camp. With Big Bro Scho and I each coming up with our own list of five, we had three items which overlapped and two which were original. For this reason, I have compiled seven different big questions going into training camp.
So here they are, in no particular order…
What does Matt Canada’s offense look like now?
Matt Canada is now entering his third season as a coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers and his second as the offensive coordinator. While many Steelers fans believed Canada did not fully implement his system last year based on the abilities of veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, there’s nothing holding him back this season. Will Canada’s offense work in the NFL? How different will it be than what we saw in 2021? These are all questions which will work themselves out more during the regular season but fans will still be looking to answer during training camp.
Will the rookie wide receivers be ready?
The Pittsburgh Steelers lost three of their top five wide receivers from a yardage standpoint following the 2021 season. Even though running back Najee Harris and tight end Pat Freiermuth were higher in receiving yards than any player the Steelers lost, there still needs to be plenty of options at wide receiver. For this reason, the Steelers double-dipped at wide receiver in the 2022 NFL draft taking George Pickens in the second round and Calvin Austin III in the third round. But what is sometimes the case with the Steelers, wide receivers take a little bit of time to get going in their rookie seasons. With counting on the new draftees to hopefully contribute significantly in 2022, how ready will each player be for the start of the regular season? The answer to this question will ultimately help shape the roster and Steelers options early in September.
What will the effect of Brian Flores be on the defense?
The 2022 offseason saw some changes in the Steelers coaching staff, most particularly with the retirement of defensive coordinator Keith Butler. With secondary coach/defensive assistant Terryl Austin stepping into the coordinator role, former head coach Brian Flores was brought in as a linebacker/defensive assistant coach. With Flores bringing a wealth of knowledge to the defense, exactly how much of his philosophies will be implemented? Do the Steelers have the players at the positions they need to fully utilize Flores and his schemes? Is Flores more of a position coach and less of an overall scheme person when it comes to the coaching hierarchy? While I don’t believe the last question to be an issue, exactly how the Steelers defense will be different with Brian Flores as one of the coaches is a big question going into training camp.
How will Myles Jack and Devin Bush work together?
Piggybacking off the last question, one of the implementations for the Steelers defense this year appears to be the pairing of Devin Bush and Myles Jack at inside linebacker. In the past, Steelers’ fans would’ve expected to players of this type to be playing the same position with a different, more traditional ‘buck’ linebacker next to them. But going into 2022, it appears there may be a shift in philosophy of the requirements of these linebackers that are ultimately named based on their alignment and not their responsibilities. Will the combination of Myles Jack and Devin Bush on the field together bring success or struggles? It’s definitely a question Steelers’ fans are looking to see how it works out for this coming season.
How will the cornerback situation play out?
For the final three questions, they are simply the same one while swapping out the name of a position. Starting with cornerback, the Steelers have three main candidates in Cam Sutton, Ahkello Witherspoon, and Levi Wallace. Do the Steelers have a player ready to step up into the number one cornerback role? How will it shake down with these three players and who gets the majority of the snaps? If all three of them are on the field at the same time with Cam Sutton sliding to the inside, does that mean he will not be on the field on the outside otherwise? Can Ahkello Witherspoon bring any help to the run defense in order to justify being on the field for every snap? Will free agent Levi Wallace be a good fit with the Steelers? There are a plethora of questions when it comes to this position group and how the Steelers will work it out before games start to count in September.
How will the interior offensive line situation play out?
Not even getting into the offensive tackles, there appears to be four players fighting for three starting positions on the interior of the Steelers offensive line. While James Daniel seems to be a guy that will be locked in, his exact position is believed to be right guard but that doesn’t mean it has to play out in this manner. Remember, last year Chuks Okorafor was supposed to be the left tackle and that all got changed by Week 1. Between Kevin Dotson, Kendrick Green, and Mason Cole, they make up the four players filling out the competition at this time. While I believe this is a great situation as players will need to earn their spots, exactly how it plays out will be interesting to see. This would have been most useful last season when Kendrick Green ended up as the starting center by default rather than having to earn the position. If he hopes to be in the starting lineup at any position this season, he’s going to have to outplay the other candidates. While I’m hoping for the best out of the situation with the competition makes for an overall better quality of play, the curiosity as to how it pans out remains.
How will the quarterback situation play out?
This is the big one. It was obviously the number one question for both of us as it is the big question for NFL fans that don’t follow the Pittsburgh Steelers. Because quarterback is such a high-profile position, this is the one which will garner the most attention. Look for the breakdown of snaps and if they are with the first team, second team, or whoever is left to be reported on a daily basis throughout training camp. While who wins the starting position is ultimately the most important question, the order of the depth chart and which players remain with the team will all likely be the driving force behind the majority of Steelers news over the coming weeks.
To hear the entire breakdown, The Scho Bro Show podcast can be heard in its entirety below: