Believe it or not, the Pittsburgh Steelers report to training camp on July 25th, and we are digging up the '32 Scenarios in 32 Days' segment to help us all pass the time. Once a day we will be drafting a potential 2015 season scenario, telling you why it will happen, why it won't and giving you important keys for the scenario to take place.
Scenario: Pittsburgh Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams totals 1,000 total yards in 2015
Why it will happen: DeAngelo Williams is a veteran in the NFL, but the former Carolina Panthers RB still has plenty of tread left on his tires. Williams has been a product of a two-back system since entering the league out of Memphis. The common narrative on Williams is he is injury-prone, but history shows although he has dealt with injuries in his career (and which NFL player hasn't), they haven't been major to the point of him not being on the field. Williams still has the burst and elusiveness to be an impact player within Todd Haley's offensive system.
On top of his longevity, Williams will have plenty of opportunity in the first three weeks in Le'Veon Bell's absence to put up significant numbers in his stead. If Williams would be able to gain 100 yards on the ground and 50 yards through the air in the first three weeks, he would nearly be half way to the 1,000 yard mark after the first three weeks of the season.
When Bell returns, the Steelers will be wise to continue to mix Williams into the game to keep Bell fresh and to ensure they have two capable backs, as many believe it is what did them in against the Baltimore Ravens in the 2014 AFC Wild Card game.
Why it won't happen: As stated before, Williams has dealt with his share of injuries, and although they haven't been season-ending injuries, they have been known to keep him out of the lineup at times. Other than injuries, Williams' skill set doesn't match Bell's, and that isn't a cut on Williams as many backs don't match Bell's versatility. The team will be forced to be creative without Bell in the lineup as Williams is not a running back who will line up as a wide receiver and run routes. Williams doesn't have the receiving skills of Bell, which will cause the team to look at players like Dri Archer in situations where they want to flex the running back as a receiver.
Although the Steelers would be wise to keep Williams in the mix when Bell returns to the team, we know Bell is the workhorse who never wants to come off the field. And the Steelers don't like him to come off the field. As I'm sure everyone remembers, former backup LeGarrette Blount was so disgusted with his lack of touches during his time with the Steelers in 2014, he essentially quit on the team. The question has to be brought up whether or not the team will be willing to take Bell off the field, and insert Williams, which is something they don't like to do.
Keys: There are two ultimate keys in this scenario. The first being whether the Steelers will continue to give Williams his touches when Bell returns to the lineup, and the second is the team's offensive line. If you look at Le'Veon Bell's game-by-game stats he proved how versatile he truly is. There were teams who shut him down as a running back, but he torched them as a receiver. Others were more obsessed with stopping him as a receiver, and got torched on the ground. DeAngelo Williams is not as versatile, and as a pure runner it will be up to the team's offensive line opening up holes to allow him to gain more yardage on the ground, compared to through the air. 1,000 total yards is not a ridiculous amount, but for a running back who will be playing behind the most dynamic back in the NFL, it might be a stretch.