By Jessica Costello
There have been so many doubts about how this season’s Pittsburgh Steelers will perform, but if the preseason is any indicator, I wouldn’t worry too much. Think about it, the Steelers lost two of their biggest offensive weapons, to which I know we are SO done talking about, but it’s true.
You’re nuts to say that Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell‘s PERFORMANCE won’t be missed on the scoring side of the ball. But they didn’t leave them high and dry and they sure didn’t leave them talentless. Pittsburgh’s offense, from what the starters showed on Sunday night for the first time, will be a blend of talent. In a really, really good way.
Under second-year offensive coordinator, Randy Fichtner, the ‘new’ offense can very well be described as, well, exactly how Chris Carter of DKPittsburghSports.com described it. It’s quite simply a “horizontal offense that picks at weak spots with safer passes and allows for a more efficient offense.” Carter was actually referring to the Steeler’s first scoring drive, a nine-play, 58-yard drive on the Steelers’ third offensive possession. But it’s a good general description of what we should be expecting this season.
After a slower start and two punts later, the starting offense put the pieces together on the final drive. James Conner got the drive going with three touches for 21 yards on the drive’s first four plays.
Once things started rolling, Ben Roethlisberger started playing with his offensive weapons. He then connected with JuJu Smith-Schuster, who caught two passes for 14 yards and hit him in the back of the end zone for the duo’s first score of the season.
“I missed a couple of throws the first couple of series,” Roethlisberger, who completed 8-of-13 passes for 63 yards passing, said. “That’s on me, gotta make [those] throws. But we got it going on the third series. They went to a zero on the [touchdown pass to Smith-Schuster] and just happened to call a good play and JuJu got his eyes around. I threw it early and trusted he was gonna be in the right spot. The line picked it up because they brought one more than we could block, but they kept him away.”
Big Ben’s missed throws aren’t something on my radar I would say to worry about. And while the passing game will have a different look this season, Conner and Pittsburgh’s rushing attack will as well. Already one of the NFL’s best running backs between the tackles, Conner showed more of an outside burst Sunday night.
Don’t get me wrong, with the mentioning of Brown and Bell, in the beginning, I didn’t forget about the other very prominent weapons on the team. Roethlisberger has so many to turn to such as Conner and Smith-Schuster, as well as veterans Donte Moncrief, Ryan Switzer, and Eli Rogers. And of course Diontae Johnson is looking to make an impact as a rookie, James Washington is coming out of his hole as well.
“The good thing is we can throw different looks [at a defense],” Roethlisberger said. “We can do two tight ends, we can do five wide. We didn’t get too exotic, we just kinda kept it pretty basic. Wanted to get into a flow, wanted to communicate on the road. I thought we did a pretty good job.”
What do you think Steeler Nation, are you excited for this offense? Who do you think is going to have a standout year? Use the comment section below to let us know!