I think there is reason for the Steelers and Steeler Nation to be concerned about the state of the wide receivers for the team. While there is still plenty of time to put together a good offense, it looks like it will be an uphill battle to get there. It’s not just because Mike Wallace left. Here are a few other reasons to be concerned:
- A New Wide Receivers Coach. Richard Mann is a respected wide receivers coach with a lot of experience. He’s not the oldest coach on the team – Dick LeBeau continues with that title, but Mann has been in the league a while. Right now Todd Haley still carries a reputation for being difficult to get along with and while there weren’t a lot of blow-ups during last season, the rumors haven’t been completely put to bed. Add to that that Mann hasn’t coached since 2009. One has to assume that coaching is similar to riding a bike. Mann is also known for stressing fundamentals. That could be a good thing, but there could be an adjustment period. Let’s hope it doesn’t go past training camps.
- Can Antonio Brown be the workhorse? Logic says yes, he can BUT he will draw a lot of coverage. Brown has four years in the league and right now his experienced help is Plaxico Burress with 12 years in and Jerrico Cotchery with 10 years in the league. Chances are that neither will be able to run routes for every down. They will be used on and off most likely. So, who’s left to help?
- The Steelers have 4 very young and inexperienced players on the roster right now. These four players started as undrafted free agents and bounced around on various practice squads. I think they have potential, but will they be able to make an impact in 2013?
- David Gilreath has been in the league for 2 years and was on the Steelers’ active roster at the end of last season. He played in 3 games, but wasn’t targeted much. He isn’t credited with any receptions and has seven rushing yards. He played for Wisconsin and had 67 receptions for 1077 yards in college.
- Kashif Moore was a wide receiver at UConn. According to SBNation, Moore’s college career is impressive for a school that doesn’t have a strong passing game. During his senior year he has 41 receptions, 604 yards and 5 touchdowns. Apparently UConn only had 12 passing TDs, so Moore got a major share of them.
- Bert Reed played at Florida State University with 170 career receptions. He is the 4th all-time leading receiver for FSU.
- Derek Moye played at Penn State and like the other young WRs has impressive college numbers. He had 144 college career receptions and is the 3rd all-time leading receiver for PSU.
So, will potential be enough? Who knows? Could one of these players have a break-out season like Victor Cruz did for the New York Giants? Sure, anything is possible, particularly with a quarterback as talented as Ben Roethlisberger. However, there are a lot of variables.
Why is there reason to be concerned? Because the Steelers must pull together a lot of pieces to have a good, not just average, wide receiver corps. Oh wait, the Steelers want to run the ball more. Ok, that didn’t work in 2012. Suddenly, the Steelers would try for a desperate, spectacular long reception on 3rd down. That didn’t go so well either. It didn’t help that Roethlisberger wasn’t 100% at the end of the season and some wide receivers seemed to have cases of the dropsies. During the first half of the season, the short passing game was very successful, but the teams eventually adjusted for that and Roethlisberger went back to trying to throw the long bombs. There is no doubt that Antonio Brown is an awesome receiver and he and Roethlisberger already have good chemistry. However, Brown can’t do it all. Burress and Cotchery can contribute, but to what level? Yes, Steeler Nation, there is reason for concern about the Steeler’s WRs now that free agency is winding down and we only saw WRs leave the franchise. Let’s hope at least one of the four young players has a breakout season.