Heading into the 2016 regular season, I was able to ask some burning questions surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers to Football Outsiders writer Scott Kacsmar. He was kind enough to answer those questions, and the plan is to debut the answers in a multi-part series here at BTSC.
The first topic of discussion is are there any weaknesses in the Steelers 2016 offense? Take a look at Scott's answer below:
The Pittsburgh Steelers offense looks to be as legitimate as any in the NFL, but if there were a weakness to this unit, what would it be?
I think the offensive line, particularly the tackles, still becomes a concern against the better competition. Negative effects can range from a key drive stalling out to Ben Roethlisberger suffering an injury. Both happened last year, including a fourth down in Denver where Von Miller undressed Marcus Gilbert with the season on the line. Gilbert has his ups and downs, and Alejandro Villanueva is obviously still growing into the position. It's not a strength on an otherwise pretty loaded offense.
There is likely a strong majority of fans reading this answer with a strong sense of disgust. However, I doubt, as a serious journalist, Scott could simply answer the question with a, "Yeah, there really are no weaknesses in this offense" response. On top of that, if there is a weak link to the Steelers' offensive chain it would be at tackle.
When looking at the skill positions, they have the quarterback, receivers, running backs and interior lineman to win a Super Bowl. The only other position which could have been listed would be tight end. With Heath Miller retiring, and Ladarius Green failing to see the field in any way in 2016, the Steelers are extremely thin at the tight end position. However, the unknown at left tackle has to be a bit unsettling when thinking about either Alejandro Villanueva or Ryan Harris protecting Ben Roethlisberger's blind side.
If I am going to disagree with any part of Scott's answer, it would be the criticism of Marcus Gilbert. Earlier in his career Gilbert had issues with consistency, but, in my opinion, Gilbert had a Pro Bowl season last year, and could have been the most consistent lineman on the team in 2016.
So, what say you? If there is a weakness on the offense, would it be at tackle, or another position?
If you would like to check out Scott's work at Football Outsiders, feel free to check it out HERE, and you can purchase their awesomely thorough almanac HERE.