If the Steelers are going to win a record seventh Super Bowl this season, they HAVE to improve on defense. It’s as simple as that. As the old adage goes, defense wins championships and Pittsburgh’s just isn’t good enough right now. While they had a stout run defense last season in terms of statistics, it was only because opposing quarterbacks were more focused on dissecting Mike Tomlin’s leaky secondary…
In 2015, Pittsburgh finished 30th out of 32 teams in defensive rankings against the pass. That’s right – only two teams (the New Orleans Saints and the New York Giants) fared worse in the air than the Steelers; and that has to change if Pittsburgh intend on challenging for the Super Bowl title this season. As of July 23rd, Tomlin’s men are 10/1 in Betway’s NFL odds and their chances hang in the balance ahead of what could be a memorable campaign.
The Steelers’ secondary has changed significantly over the last few years – and it would be fair to claim that perhaps Pittsburgh failed to prepare for Troy Polamalu’s departure. In turn, Ryan Clark and Ibe Taylor also left Heinz Field at the end of the 2014 campaign; two key components of Pittsburgh’s secondary. And now, the Steelers are struggling to adapt to life without these influential stars. In time, Pittsburgh will be fine – it’s a waiting game…
Because they have a number of young starlets that could mature into consistently good NFL regulars. It wasn’t a huge surprise to see Pittsburgh go for a cornerback in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft back in April and Artie Burns is widely touted to be the face of the Steelers secondary for many years to come. Burns will learn his trade alongside/under William Gay and the Steelers will benefit greatly from his added skillset on defense. Gay recorded a number of interceptions over the last few years but Burns could contribute towards Pittsburgh’s defensive success in the coming years.
Traditionally, Pittsburgh have tried desperately to avoid putting rookies immediately into the starting line-up but Tomlin might not have a choice this year. While Mike Mitchell will be the first safety on the Steelers depth chart, Sean Davis – taken in the second round of this year’s draft – could somehow force his way into the side. The Steelers know that experience is vital, especially on defense, but both Davis and Burns are gifted players and they have the temperament to succeed at the top level.
And what is the best way to keep your defense off the field? Keep your offense ON the field – and that means a strong running game. When it comes down to it, the Steelers have one of the best running back corps in the National Football League and Pittsburgh’s secondary could benefit if their offense manages to slow their tempo down slightly. Tomlin’s side had the third best offense in the division last season but they sometimes scored a bit too quickly; meaning that the Steelers defense spent more time on the field.
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