clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Steelers vs. Bills isn't as fun as Steelers plus Bills

New, comments

The two franchises share many things in common. We explore what it would look like if they just combined rosters. We created a team big on pass rush and strong enough in the run game they would be a very difficult team to beat.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

With a dozen or so ex-Steelers players on the Buffalo Bills, and a former Steelers front office man running the Bills from the general manager's chair, it's understandable why that came to be.

The teams will even practice against each other leading into their preseason game.

All those things in common, plus a lack of anything particularly tangible to write about led us to wonder what kind of team the Steelers and Bills could make if they were combined.

It shouldn't come as a surprise, the Steelers have more offensive players on this combined team and the Bills take the majority of the defensive spots. All in all, it'd be a pretty strong team on both sides of the ball.

OFFENSE

LT Cordy Glenn, Bills
RT Marcus Gilbert, Steelers
C Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers
RG David DeCastro, Steelers
LG Kraig Urbik, Bills

The offensive lines are a great example of units that can be vastly improved when combined. The hole is at right tackle, where neither Gilbert nor Bills RT Erik Pears are particularly outstanding. That's a nice interior line, though, and a great left tackle. Why can't the Steelers draft players like Kraig Urbik? Ahem.

QB Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
HB Fred Jackson, Bills
HB Le'Veon Bell, Steelers
HB C.J. Spiller, Bills
FB Will Johnson

It's an interesting mix of running backs. This configuration gets two multi-faceted backs - Jackson and Bell - complimented by a big-play back like Spiller. Between the three of them, it's hard to discern if any one of them is noticeably better than the other, but Jackson is getting the starting nod in our hypothetical Week 1 scenario.

TE Heath Miller, Steelers
TE Lee Smith, Bills
TE Matt Spaeth, Steelers

We're somewhat hamstrung in terms of overall athleticism. We'd really like this decision to be between a higher end receiver and either Smith or Spaeth as a primary blocker but there isn't one of those on either team. So we're going to load up on blockers, and plan to employ a lot of 11 personnel package, because we're considerably deeper at wide receiver.

WR Antonio Brown, Steelers
WR Sammy Watkins, Bills
WR Robert Woods, Bills
WR Lance Moore, Steelers
WR Martavis Bryant, Steelers

High production will be generated from Brown and Watkins, an excellent inside and out combination, and with Woods (a talented second-year player the Steelers had their eyes on in the 2013 draft) and Moore being able to compete for different spots in different packages, it's an exciting group of four receivers. We're adding Bryant in there for a boost of size and athleticism, perhaps to help create mismatches all along the offense in the red zone.

DEFENSE

DL Mario Williams, Bills
DL Cameron Heyward, Steelers
DL Kyle Williams, Bills
DL Marcell Dareus, Bills
DL Alan Branch, Bills (injured)

Alignment isn't a concern with this defense. I don't see a problem finding different ways to get these four players on the field. I may even go old school and bring back the 4-4 stack. More than likely, we'd want to find another defensive end and put three of these guys down and stand Mario Williams up on the edge. I see no reason why we can't do both. We can play Heyward inside or out, put on the edge or stand up Mario Williams, rotate Branch in on running downs if Dareus needs a break and Kyle Williams can play either side of the interior. This is the strength of this team.

LB Kiko Alonso, Bills (injured)
LB Lawrence Timmons, Steelers
LB Ryan Shazier, Steelers
LB Nigel Bradham, Bills
LB Arthur Moats, Steelers
LB Jerry Hughes, Bills
LB Jason Worilds, Steelers
LB Sean Spence, Steelers

Keep in mind, Mario WIlliams will be used both at end and outside linebacker, and Moats, the former Bill now Steeler, can play inside or out. The wild card here is Spence, and we're gambling on the infusion of speed he may bring. He edged out Terrence Garvin for the final spot on a very athletic and highly productive group of linebackers (if you can assume Alonso is still healthy, like many Bills fans want to do right now).

CB Aaron Williams, Bills
CB Leodis McKelvin, Bills
CB Cortez Allen, Steelers
CB William Gay, Steelers
CB Nickell Roby, Bills

A deep and versatile group, there are a few good players left off this list. With the kind of heat the defensive line can generate on the passer, coverage skills within the secondary are critical. Buffalo provides that trait very well and the Steelers can compliment them.

S Aaron Williams, Bills
S Troy Polamalu, Steelers
S Mike Mitchell, Steelers
S Da'Norris Searcy, Bills

We're leaving a lot of young talent from both teams off this list, but experience, for the most part, will be the key components. We don't need a high level of playmaking ability in the back four spots, our pass rush is going to land early and often against everyone we play. We need smart players who can get to the ball but more importantly is their ability to take a proper path to the receiver. If they can buy an extra second as the quarterback goes through his progression, we'll be a 50-sack team.