Steelers at Giants: 3 Things to Keep an Eye On

steelers.com

By: CJ Lester, @CJLester58
SteelerNation.com

 

We are just two sleeps away from the Pittsburgh Steelers officially kicking off their 2020 NFL season against the New York Giants. After watching this awesome hype video provided by the official Steelers’ Twitter account, I don’t know about yinz, but I am ready to run through a wall!

 

Let’s take a look at 3 things to keep an eye out for during the Steelers season opener!

 

1. Will Big Ben Bounce Back Early?

 

There are many things to be excited about for the Steelers 2020 campaign. We haven’t been able to watch the Steelers play since the disappointing loss to the Baltimore Ravens on December 29 of last year. The team fell just short of the playoffs the last few weeks of the season, but fought tooth and nail through so much adversity during the year. The fight they displayed last season creates more of a hunger in the organization and the fans for this upcoming season. That is part of the anxiousness that we are all feeling right now. The other part of that is 7 is back. For the first time since September 15th, 2019, Ben Roethlisberger takes the field as our leader, captain, and future Hall of Fame QB. Will he struggle attempting to knock off rust, or will he come back with a “Rookie of the Year” type of throwing arm? I feel the latter is more likely! At this point, we all know how confident Roethlisberger is in his recovery from surgery and how great he feels when throwing a football. Like I have stated in previous articles, if 7 is confident, I am confident! I think he comes out and torches the Giants defense, who have some new faces all over the place. James Bradberry, Leonard Williams, Blake Martinez, Kyle Fackrell, and Austin Johnson all have been added to the Giants defense. The biggest name on that list is definitely Bradberry and that doesn’t mean much. In 2018, Roethlisberger went 22 of 25 for 328 yards and 5 TD’s against the Carolina Panthers. You’re probably asking why does that game matter? Well, the number one CB on that Panthers team was Bradberry and that is the most recent time Roethlisberger and company has faced the cornerback. Only time will tell, but I think Roethlisberger and company come out firing on all cylinders.

 

2. Our Pass Rush against their Pass Rush, who gets to the QB early and often?

 

The Steelers led the league in sacks the past 3 seasons. A lot of the same core guys that have been able to get to the opponent’s QB have been consistently doing so the past couple of years. The one thing that is practically a guarantee to happen on Monday night is the Steelers’ pass rush will get to Daniel Jones. I am not going to play the guessing game of how many times, just know the Giants 2nd year QB will feel pressure throughout the night. The question is, will the Giants pass rush be able to get to Roethlisberger. There are technically three new faces you will see starting on the Steelers’ offensive line on Monday night. Matt Feiler, who really isn’t new to starting for the Steelers, will be starting at left guard. Feiler started all 16 games for the Steelers last season at right tackle. Feiler held his own last season playing 995 snaps and giving up only four sacks. Zach Banner, another guy that is not really a new face to this Steelers’ offensive line, but will be new to a starting role, will be starting at right tackle on Monday night. Banner was the Steelers swing tackle and extra tackle in the heavy-set last season and won the battle for spot during training camp. Banner gave up one sack on 206 offensive snaps in 2019. He’ll have to give up on the dreams of catching a touchdown pass right now and shift his focus on being the great offensive tackle he has worked so hard to become. Newcomer Stefen Wisniewski will be filling in at right guard for injured All-Pro David DeCastro. Wisniewski is a proven veteran with a couple of Super Bowl rings on his fingers. Wisniewski played 211 snaps last season without giving up a sack with the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. Even in 2018, with the Philadelphia Eagles, he only gave up one sack in 643 snaps. Of course, All-Pro Maurkice Pouncey, who didn’t give up a sack last season on 777 snaps will be starting at center and Alejandro Villanueva, who gave up two sacks on 995 snaps last season will be at left tackle rounding out the starting offensive line. Roethlisberger should be in good hands on Monday night. Even though there are some new names in starting spots, the offensive line has a great balance of talent, experience, and fight.

 

3. Youth at Receiver: Will it play out in our favor?

 

The Steelers have one of the youngest WR rooms in the entire NFL. The number one receiver and the most experienced receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster isn’t even 24 years old yet. Diontae Johnson, 24, showed flashes of greatness last season while playing with three different quarterbacks throughout the year. James Washington, 24, improved tremendously last season and actually led the team with 735 yards receiving. Rookie Chase Claypool, 22, has been consistently talked up throughout training camp by the Steelers coaching staff and teammates. He probably has received the most preseason hype for any Steelers’ rookie receiver in recent memory. In the words of Smith-Schuster, “He just has to go out there and dominate.” The team’s 5th wide out on the roster this season is Ray-Ray McCloud, who is another youngster at 23. McCloud offers depth at the position. However, if reports out of camp are correct, he offers major playmaking ability in the return game. The team has him listed as the 2nd punt returner behind Johnson and the 1st kick returner along with rookie RB Anthony McFarland Jr. This receiving corps may be young, but it has the potential to be one of the top WR groups in the entire league. The first matchup for the Steelers’ receivers includes the likes of Bradberry and Corey Ballentine at the corner positions. Logan Ryan and Jabrill Peppers will be the starting safeties for the Giants’ defense. This New York secondary has improved in some capacity from the 30th ranked group a season ago and will test the young group of receivers the Steelers have. However, I just see the Steelers having too much fire power for this secondary! The Steelers will try to get the run game going early to open up the field for this group and TE’s Eric Ebron and Vance McDonald. It all starts on Monday night! Are you ready for some football?!

 

What are your thoughts on these three things to watch as the Steelers’ season gets underway on Monday Night Football? Sound off in the comment section below, on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

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