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: Steelers OLB James Harrison leads team in sacks in 2015.
Why it will happen: The Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled to get to the opposing quarterback in recent years, and the team seems to be poised to wreak havoc in 2015. With the likes of Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt to anchor the new philosophy of having the defensive line pressure the quarterback deployed by new defensive coordinator Keith Butler, it should open up options for Jarvis Jones, Arthur Moats and the rest of the linebacker corps to get after the quarterback.
However, what are the odds 37-year-old James Harrison leads the team in sacks in 2015? Very likely. The team has openly stated they want to use Harrison in a part-time role in 2015, and it could equate to success this season. Harrison had 5.5 sacks in 2014, and that was after being signed late - and being out of football shape - as well as having to miss games due to a knee injury.
Harrison might not be an every down player anymore, but if he can till do one thing it is get after the quarterback. Cam Heyward and Jason Worilds tied for the team lead in sackas last season with 7.5 sacks, and there is no doubt Harrison could use his part-time role into leading the team in sacks. In this regard, the success of Jarvis Jones could play a role in how much time Harrison sees. If they can give Harrison the rest he needs to stay fresh, the team could see a pass rushing specialist dominate opposing offensive lineman already worn down throughout the game.
Why it won't happen: The Steelers have struggled to get to the quarterback, this has been widely known, but the reason for their struggles are due to the lack of play makers throughout the defense. The success, or failure, of Jarvis Jones will have a large part to whether this scenario of James Harrison leading the team in sacks will come to fruition.
Jones hasn't had a chance to truly prove himself as a pass rusher yet, but if he is successful in performing the every down tasks at right outside linebacker, the need for Harrison to do anything other than spell Jones will be the extent of his time on the field. In doing so, squashing his chances of leading the team lead in sacks.
Also, despite Harrison's freakish workout regimen, his age is certainly working against him. At 37, one has to wonder whether his body will be able to hold up for a full 16-game season if his number is called to fill a large role within the team's defensive system.
Harrison is a freak of nature, but the system, the roster and his age make this scenario difficult to fathom coming true.
Keys: The ultimate keys to James Harrison leading the team in sacks, is him being able to not only prove age is nothing but a number, but also his superior ability at age 37 over much younger Jarvis Jones. If Harrison gives the team no doubt as to who should be the primary pass rusher within Butler's 3-4 defense, he will have the opportunities to lead the team in sacks. However, if injuries derail his season, as they did in 2014, this scenario will be difficult to become reality.