Field Yates of ESPN recently talked about the title windows of three veteran teams in the AFC. Those teams were the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. His main contention was the teams chances of winning a Super Bowl depends on their franchise quarterback and also their front office/head coach. Not exactly a ground breaking philosophy but it’s an interesting topic to talk about. I’ll start with what he said about the Patriots and Broncos before I move onto the Steelers.
The Patriots chances of winning their fourth Super Bowl are tied to Bill Belichick and Lord Thomas Brady. Clearly that’s the case. Those two are the reason the Patriots have been to five Super Bowls since 2001. Yates mentioned that the Patriots roster is ranked sixth best according to the future power rankings but with an aging 37-year-old Tom Brady their window could be closing slightly. However he did mention the 2008 season when Matt Cassel filled in for the injured Brady and won 11 games. Yates ties the Patriots chances to Belichick hanging around after Tom retires. If so, the Pats will remain in the title hunt simply because of him. I can somewhat agree to that but what has Belichick won without Brady? Not much. I know he’s a great coach but his legacy is tied to Brady. I’m just not sure the Patriots will be close to the Super Bowl every single year with Ryan Mallet or Jimmy Garoppolo flinging the rock.
As for the Broncos, Yates mentioned he liked their offensive weapons more than the Patriots or the Steelers. According to him, the Broncos have the third best roster in the NFL. With all the money they spent in the offseason they have a win-now mentality so their title window is still open for this year and the next two as long as Peyton Manning is under center. However once Peyton retires, who plays quarterback for them? Brock Osweiler? Do they bring back Tim Tebow? Just kidding about Tebow. Yates said that their window depends on what John Elway can do with their roster. He has an eye for talent but once Manning goes, so could their championship hopes.
And finally onto the most important team Yates wrote about, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mr. Yates didn’t seem to have the same enthusiasm writing about the Steelers, who have missed the playoffs two years in a row. He ranked their roster 15th best in the league and pretty much said the only two good players on the Steelers are Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. He mentioned that the defense lacked playmakers last season and the offensive line is a work in progress. Yates also talked about how the AFC North is much tougher division compared to the AFC East or AFC West, so winning division titles will be much harder for the Steelers. So far none of this is sounding optimistic.
Yates did however like the Steelers chances of having a larger title window than the Pats and Broncos because Big Ben is only 32 years old and seemingly will be in a black and gold jersey for many years to come. Yates also complimented the Steelers historical success since the 1970′s. They have only have three coaches and five losing seasons since 1972. Their last losing season came in 2003. Roethlisberger is only under contract through 2015 and the Rooney’s want him to finish his career in Pittsburgh. If that happens the Steelers will have a chance to add to their trophy case but if Ben decides to leave the Steel City, the window will be slammed shut.
I can’t argue with what Yates said. Clearly Big Ben will play a huge role in the Steelers future. The team right now just needs to surround him with more talent. If they can do that and also keep him healthy the Steelers really will have a chance to contend for Super Bowls in the near future. Once the Steelers face life after Ben, who knows what will happen.
What do you think Steelers Nation? How long will the Steelers title window be open?