Can Pittsburgh Survive the Cold Off-Season?
The Steelers have lost a huge part of their roster. Will the team be able to produce in 2019?
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been known to be the most dominant team to play on Sunday’s in the AFC North Division. Their symbolic steel curtain defense has won the hearts and souls of many football advocates across the American continent. To aid in their possessive type of scheme, the Steelers were one of the teams who has found a way to have a balanced offense as well. With the help of Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers have experienced more success than most NFL teams. After the long holdout of Le’Veon Bell, during the 2018 off-season, the Steelers have been facing a continuation of distractions, which ultimately showed in their on the field performances throughout the 2018 season.
When the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to place the franchise tag on Le’Veon Bell, the drama started to unfold. After feeling under-appreciated and used, Le’Veon decided to waive his rights to play during the 2018 season. Although Bell abandoned his teammates, he ultimately made a decision for his career, and some analyst could understand why Bell followed through with his Twitter threats of sitting out. As time continued to pass, so did the chemistry in the Pittsburgh locker room. Offensive Linemen began making comments, that showed the true emotions that were felt by the absence of the stars Pro-Bowl running back. The team decided to rally around the former University of Pittsburgh running back, James Connor. As the season progressed, the Steelers did their best to work with what they had. It was apparent that the team was not the same team that has been taking over the AFC in the most recent years, a change was sure to come.
After missing the NFL post-season in 2018, several NFL analyst began taking a deeper look at what was really happening in the Pittsburgh locker room. The team simply did not perform the way they should have. Their star receiver Antonio Brown had a total yardage deduction of 226 yards, from his previous year with the organization. Although some fans might believe his lack of yardage is Nolan void, due to the fact that he led the league in touchdown receptions. His developing teammate, JuJu Smith-Schuster, was able to record more yards and receptions than Brown, which raised a couple of eyebrows across the league. A slight change in stats could be just coincidence, but when the beginning of the off-season began the stats became more than numbers.
At the beginning of the off-season, Antonio Brown was already bidding Pittsburgh goodbye. The star receiver used the social media platform Twitter to advocate his feelings about the Pittsburgh organization. Understanding that Brown was still under contract, and he did not have the ability to move as a free agent, the Pittsburgh organization decided to reach out to Brown to try to settle disagreements. Brown made it perfectly clear that he was not interested in working things out, with the men running the black and gold organization. As the off-season continued it was now clear that the Pittsburgh Steelers roster was going under reconstruction for the remainder of the scheduled off-season.
After several weeks of on-going trade talks, both Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown landed different homes for the 2019 football season. Le’Veon bell signed with New York Jets on a four year, 52.5 million dollar deal while Antonio Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders. With both offensive weapons gone without a trace, I believe it is time that the Pittsburgh Steelers start to identify their identity on defense. The Steelers have recently signed former Chief cornerback Steven Nelson to a three-year deal worth $25.5 million. The organization has also made moves to sign linebacker Anthony Chickilo.
I believe the Pittsburgh Steelers are entering a short rebuilding session, but are still a threat to win games in the 2019 season. The Steelers are still a team that poses weapons on offense and if their defense improves, the team can be a silent but deadly team in 2019.