Most of the football minds paid to make their opinions known agree that the Steelers are more than likely in for a rebound season this year. For this to come to fruition, however, they will need to have several key performers/units at their best for most of the season. Here are 3 of the most important x-factors for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ season.
The Offensive Line
The offensive line will undoubtedly have the biggest part in determining how the season goes for the Steelers’ offense in 2014. Unless the line can do a much better job than they have done in the past few years then the offense will sputter for most of the season. Since it seems as though the front office and coaching staff is committed to playing Steelers style-pound the rock football, the offensive line will have to consistently create holes for the backs to run through. They will also have to be consistently good in pass protection so Big Ben Roethlisberger is able to stay healthy for the entire season. If the offensive line isn’t on point then you can rule out a productive offense, and in turn rule out a very successful 2014 season. A healthy Roethlisberger and a productive running game makes for a successful offense.
The Outside Linebackers
It’s unquestionable that the outside linebackers are the biggest x-factor for the Steelers in 2014. The entire Steelers’ defense essentially relies on whether or not Jason Worilds can continue his success and if Jarvis Jones can break out, especially since their is little depth behind them. A pass rush is obviously the most important part of a defense, and in Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 scheme the outside linebackers are tasked with creating that pressure. With how weak the secondary is going to be this year, the men who are paid to get after the quarterback are going to need to have a successful year. Jason Worilds is coming off of a breakout year and that earned him a contract in the upper 9 million range. Jarvis Jones on the other hand is coming off a disappointing rookie year mostly due to his lack of functional strength and lack of exposure to DLB’s system. If
Worilds can continue his success and Jones can have a breakout season of his own, then the defense could be headed back to the way it was 5 years ago.
It may be weird to have one of the stars of the Steel City listed here, but let me explain. People tend to forget that just a year ago people were questioning whether or not Antonio Brown to be a legitimate #1 wide receiver. And while he certainly answered any and all critics this past year, he needs to have another very good season to cement himself among the top 3 receivers in the league. Add to that the fact that the rest of the starting receivers consist of an unproven second year man and an aging veteran who hasn’t had a starter worthy year in a few seasons, and you have yourself an x-factor. The Steelers are going to call upon AB to once again rack up a 100+ catch season and be the main red zone target, all while he will be recognized as a huge receiving threat for the first time of his career. Defensive coordinators will game planning around him in the passing game. If he can succeed despite the added pressure then the passing game should be pretty successful.
So Steelers Nation, what do you think? Who else could be x-factors this season? Leave you comments below!