The Pittsburgh Steelers
are one of the favorite teams to win the Super Bowl this upcoming season, so it isn’t surprising that Steelers odds to win Week 1 game against the Cleveland Browns
are very favorable. However, before the season starts, the team still has some issues they need to resolve.
One of the biggest holes the Steelers have to address before the start of the season is the lack of depth at the offensive tackle and inside linebacker positions. With the team having very little cap space, they will have a hard time signing players to fill the positions, so they might either make a trade or sign some undrafted free agents to help fill the holes.
Another issue the Steelers will deal with this season is their contract situation with running back Le’Veon Bell. During the offseason, both sides were unable to reach an agreement on a long-term contract, which forced the Steelers to use the franchise tag on Bell for the second consecutive season. According to Bell’s agent, the running back wasn’t happy about being tagged for the second consecutive year and is likely playing his final season in Pittsburgh.
Since he didn’t get a long-term contract, Bell is expected to miss the entire preseason and sign the franchise tender before the start of the season, like he did last year. However, Bell wasn’t in football shape when he joined the team last season and struggled to regain his form for the first three weeks.
The Steelers will have to decide if they are willing to let Bell work himself back into shape or if they should go into the season with James Conner as their starter and gradually work Bell back into the starting lineup.
Another issue the Steelers face this season is their red zone offense, which wasn’t very good last season. With a new offensive coordinator in charge, the Steelers are hoping they will have more success in the red zone this season.
Pittsburgh’s run defense was another flaw the team had last season, and the reason they had an early exit in the playoffs. Opponents know that the team struggled against the run last year and will try to exploit the defensive weakness until the Steelers show they can stop the run on a consistent basis.
The biggest question about the Steelers this season is the team’s focus. Last season, there were a lot of distractions surrounding the team, one of which was Bell’s contract situation. Another distraction was the fact that head coach Mike Tomlin and his players openly discussed looking forward to playing the New England Patriots
instead of focusing on the team in front of them.
The distractions hit the Steelers at the worst time, as the team lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars
in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, going on to play the Patriots in the AFC Championship game, which was what the Steelers had been hoping to do.
This season, the Steelers will need to figure out how to maintain their focus and ignore the distractions because they have one of the most talented teams in the league and another disappointing finish might cost Tomlin his job.