What the Pittsburgh Steelers offense showed us during the second half of last season has Steelers Nation around the football world salivating. We saw the offensive line actually keep Big Ben’s jersey from being ripped to shreds and gave Le’Veon Bell his first 100 yard game and a couple 80+ yard games. Ben threw for over 300 yards 7 out of the final 9 games. We were looking at a pretty good offense, but it can get better. Here’s how each offensive positional unit can turn this offense into a nightmare for opposing defenses.
The only thing that the quarterback position can do in order to make the offense better really doesn’t have much to do with the quarterback at all – it lies with Todd Haley allowing Ben to use more no huddle. That’s when we started seeing the offense click and play really well. As the depth chart goes, the Steelers have a perfect situation. They have a franchise quarterback who has won them 2 rings, an experienced backup who doesn’t have medicare (I’m kidding with a reference to Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich), and a young, developmental player who is waiting in the wings.
If this was written one year ago, this segment would be 3 paragraphs long. Fortunately for the Steelers, there will be no running back competition for the starting gig in this year’s camp. Le’Veon Bell showed glimpses of being outstanding last year, and when he didn’t run for more than 10 yards, he was earning every yard he got. However, in order to be set for the running back position, they need a short yardage back and a speedster. The Steelers would be smart to bring back Jonathan Dwyer as their short yardage back. He will be cheap and knows the system.
To the draft is where the Steelers can find a steal by drafting Oregon’s DeAnthony Thomas later in the draft. Not only can he provide a faster guy at the running back position, he can play special teams too, because we are all tired of seeing Felix Jones return kicks. To the fullback position, all I got to say is someone needs to tell Todd Haley that Will Johnson can catch. He could be another part of this offense that makes it dangerous, and I personally hope that he does.
Antonio Brown quieted all the doubters out there about being a number one receiver. He is a dangerous receiver who is developing some serious chemistry with Ben. Markus Wheaton needs to show why the Steelers drafted him in the third round. He doesn’t have the speed that Mike Wallace has, but that doesn’t mean he can’t take the top off of the defense. Charlie Batch even thinks he will break out this season. He needs to become a reliable second or third receiver this season in order for the offense to take off. Next on the priority list is for the Steelers to sign back Jerricho Cotchery. I am willing to bet he will take a discount to stay with the Steelers, even if he is scooted back on the depth chart. He could be the best fourth receiver in the game.
That leaves one receiver left for the number two spot to battle with Wheaton. It’s time that the Steelers take a big, tall receiver, and Kelvin Benjamin gives them just that in the second round. Could you imagine a receiving corps of Antonio Brown, a breakout Wheaton, a tall receiver with good hands in Benjamin, and then your fourth receiver would be Cotchery, a guy who had 10 touchdowns last year.
Heath Miller is staying in Pittsburgh this year, he will not be cut even if he is a cap casualty. Matt Spaeth will more than likely be back because there is no one else who can replace the blocking skills he has, and that’s what he will do all season long next year. But the Steelers need a developmental tight end who can replace Heath Miller one day, yes, I am dreading the day too.
I personally think the top tight ends will drop this year due to the many other needs by teams, and the Steelers could grab their next superstar in the middle rounds. If the Steelers grabbed Austin Seferian-Jenkins in third round, they would have their guy. He is HUGE! He even draws Gronkowski like comparisons. Could you imagine pairing him Heath Miller. Big Ben would have a hay day seeing Kelvin Benjamin and Jenkins drafted up in consecutive rounds. They would be set with Heath, a stud blocker in Spaeth, and Jenkins with tremendous upside.
The Steelers made this a unit to watch for when they hired Mike Munchak. He has done wonders with previous offensive lines, and look what he has to work with! Pouncey is one of the best centers in the game. DeCastro could be an all-pro by next season. Two second round picks in Gilbert and Adams who picked up their play the second half of the season. Mr. Reliable, Ramon Foster, who just won’t say no to a backup position. Then there’s Kelvin Beachum, who came out of no where, manned the left tackle spot, and did an admirable job at that. Hiring Mike Munckak could be the coaching move of the year and am personally excited to see the places he can take this offensive line too.
That’s it. All the Steelers have to do is bring in a speedster at running back, draft a tall receiver, pick up a monster at tight end, get their fullback going, and hand over every single job there could possible be regarding the offensive line to Mike Munchak and never look back. This offense can be scary next year.