2018 was a tough year for the Steelers and one filled with more off the field drama than on it. The club didn’t have much time for best mobile casino between twitter wars, yelling on the sideline, and blowing games in the fourth quarter after having leads.
The team missed the postseason going 9-6-1 basically due to a tie opening day after having a 21-7 lead in Cleveland, and then they lost two awful games in the final five weeks, one in Oakland to the terrible Raiders and a home game against the Chargers after having a large halftime lead.
They lost the casino games they were playing with their Pro Bowl running back in Le’Veon Bell, who sat out the whole season, and in stunning fashion wound up trading all world wide out Antonio Brown to the Raiders after a final regular season week battle between he and coach Mike Tomlin that was well documented.
That’s all in the past, and today we start to look ahead to training camp, which opens very soon in Latrobe, PA.
Today we take a look at three questions about this team as camp closes in.
1. Can Conner and JuJu Pick Up the Slack?
We already know just how good running back James Conner and now number one wide out JuJu Smith-Schuster can be, but now there’s no more Bell and Brown to take away carries or catches from these two stud players.
Both will be counted on in a big way, and both did step up last season and held their own in Randy Fichtner’s offense.
They will have to do it again in 2019, and maybe the most important thing is for these two to stay healthy, as the team will need them in a big way.
2. Will Less Drama Mean a Better Team? Can It?
It’s incredible to think that this team without Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown could actually be better in 2019, but you have to think that without the crazy drama off the field that surrounded them week after week in 2018 could not have helped.
The team has Conner and Smith-Schuster as the now #1 RB and WR, but there is going to be plenty of other chances for players to step up and make plays.
The pickup of Donte Moncrief in free agency is interesting, and Jaylen Samuels stepped up when Conner went down in the loss to the Chargers.
In some ways it could be fun to have a camp where there are chances for players to actually earn playing time, unlike years past where things were basically decided upon by the time the preseason began.
3. Tomlin on the Hot Seat
It happens every time the Steelers lose to a sub-par team, or when the team blows a late lead – fire Mike Tomlin.
Now entering his 13th season as the club’s head coach, there’s going to be more heat on Tomlin than ever before after what happened in 2018.
It’s time for Tomlin to make his voice heard louder than ever before, as he pretty much got his wish with Bell and now Brown no longer on the roster as guys who were cancers to this team.
The road will not be easy, but with all the focus in the division on Cleveland, this could be a year when the Steelers fly under the radar, something that could help them an awful lot as they look to try and put their stamp on the division.
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