Who could make the difference next season for the Steelers?

The 2015 NFL Season is only three months away and the Pittsburgh Steelers will mark their 83rd season as a franchise as they attempt to win their first Super Bowl since 2009.

 The Steelers will open their campaign away to the New England Patriots at the Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts on Thursday 10th September, 2015 and will be hoping to start with a big win that could set the tone for their season. The 2014 Season ended in disappointment for the Steelers as they suffered a 30-17 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card Playoffs after topping the AFC North table.

Mike Tomlin will enter into his ninth season as the head coach of the Steelers with Kevin Colbert acting as the general manager for the sixteenth consecutive season. Both men will be desperate to improve on last season and recapture the magic that came when they beat Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in Super Bowl XLIII.

 A lot of responsibility for galvanizing the roster into competing for the Super Bowl will rest on the shoulders of star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “Big Ben” had already enjoyed two Super Bowl wins with the Steelers and has also won three Pro Bowl titles during his tenure with the franchise. He was also chosen as the Steelers MVP during their 2009 Super Bowl victory to show that if the Steelers are to reach their full potential then Roethlisberger will need to be at his best.

 Roethlisberger is not the only offensive threat from the Steelers. Pundits and commentators have been tipping the Steelers to possess the most lethal set of triplets in the NFL for this coming season. The trio of Roethlisberger and both running back Le Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown give the Steelers a potency in the offense that has rarely been seen by an NFL franchise in recent years. In fact, Steelers fans are even suggesting it is the best triplets line up the franchise has had since Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, and Lynn Swann. Only the Green Bay Packers triplets of Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, and Jordy Nelson and the Seattle Seahawks triplets of Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and Jimmy Graham are generating anywhere near the same buzz as the Steelers triplets.

However, it is often stated that Super Bowl titles are won by the defense. The 2014 Steelers defense failed to match expectations set before the season started. It conceded 5,654 yards, only averaged 353.5 yards per game, and gave up an average of 23 points per game. If the Steelers are to make progress on last season then those stats will have to show to be improved upon. Worryingly, last season was co-ordinated by the experienced Dick LeBeau with defensive end Brett Keisel, franchise icon and safety Troy Polamalu, and outside linebacker Jason Worilds all forming the defensive set up. All four of those big names have been dropped from the 2015 roster. Keith Butler has been assigned the job of defensive co-ordinator. Polamalu officially retired on 9th April, 2015 meaning he will play no part in a Steelers season for the first time since 2002. He will be replaced by Shamarko Thomas and even though Thomas has big boots to fill, Steelers fans will be hoping he can create his own legendary status within the franchise. Arthur Moats is being lined up to fill in for the retired Worilds and Stephen Tuitt will be given the duty of replacing Keisel. There is concern that losing so many big names from the Steelers defense will be too big a blow but, on the contrary, it is being seen as a chance for the Steelers to get rid of the aging deadwood and give youthful blood a chance to create their own chapter in history.

The Steelers are currently listed at odds of 28/1 with most bookmakers to win Super Bowl 50. Since 2009, the Super Bowl betting has grown and grown (see here for Nevada figures alone) and many fans are now enjoying the online options in the US.Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and Baltimore Ravens are all favoured more but for a franchise that is completely restructuring its defensive line, it offers hope for Steelers fans that they are being considered as dark horses to win the Super Bowl. The fact they are ranked as the 9/4 second favourites behind Baltimore Ravens at 7/4 to win AFC North shows that expectations are not as high as last season but that could work in favour of the Steelers.

Ultimately, if the Steelers are to push on and win this season's Super Bowl then they will need the starring triplets of Roethlisberger, Bell, and Brown to deliver the goods on the offense but they will also need their newly formed defensive line to greatly improve on last season's poor stats. It could turn out that with all eyes on Roethlisberger to guide the Steelers to the Super Bowl, a less likely hero could rise from defense and a new era of Steelers success may well be on the horizon. The Steelers have their doubters but it would not be the first time they've proved everyone wrong.

Silver lining for Steelers following Polamalu retirement

While the Pittsburgh Steelers are still in a state of mourning following Troy Polamalu's retirement, there is a silver-lining to the departure of the 12-year veteran. The Steelers may have lost one of the best safety's in Steelers history, but the franchise have saved a significant amount of money that will now be used to strengthen their roster before the start of the new season.

Polamalu's decision to hang up his boots has saved Pittsburgh millions in both cap space and base salary, although it remains to be seen just when the franchise will see the benefits. If the Steelers and Polamalu submit his retirement papers before June 1, the franchise would save a useful $3.75 million in cap space this year. Doing it after June 1 would save more room in their salary cap this season but see Pittsburgh sustain a hefty $2.5 million charge for dead cap space over the next two years.

Troy Polamalu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by  AndyMcLemore 

If the Steelers go with the first option, they will drop to just under $10.5 million, while the second option would put the franchise just over $12.5 million under the cap. The safety was expected to be the joint third biggest earner at Pittsburgh this season alongside Antonio Brown, with Polamalu also in line to earn the third-highest signing bonus with the eight-time Pro Bowler set to pick up $2.25 million before taking the decision to end his 12-year NFL career.

Polamalu's announcement has shocked the Steelers, not least due to the fact the two-time Super Bowl winner signed a new three-year contract last year. The strong safety has been a key part of Pittsburgh's success over the past decade, racking up 770 tackles, 32 interceptions and three touchdowns during his 12-year stay with the Steelers, and Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin will have their work cut out to find a replacement. The loss of Polamalu has certainly had an impact on the betting - and it won't be a huge surprise if the Steelers don't start the season as one of the bookies's favourites to clinch the Super Bowl - unless they have a sensational offseason in terms of player recruitment.

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2014 Steelers Schedule

Sep 7, vs. Cleveland Browns (Heinz Field - Pittsburgh, PA)

Sep 11, vs. Baltimore Ravens (MT Bank Stadium - Baltimore, MD)

Sep 21, vs. Carolina Panthers (Bank of America Stadium - Charlotte, NC)

Sep 28, vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Heinz Field - Pittsburgh, PA)

Oct 5, vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (EverBank Field - Jacksonville, FL)

Oct 12, vs. Cleveland Browns (FirstEnergy Stadium -  Cleveland, OH)

Oct 20, vs. Houston Texans (Heinz Field - Pittsburgh, PA)

Oct 26, vs. Indianapolis Colts (Heinz Field - Pittsburgh, PA)

Nov 2, vs. Baltimore Ravens (Heinz Field - Pittsburgh, PA)

Nov 9, vs. New York Jets (Metlife Stadium - East Rutherford, NJ)

Nov 17, vs. Tennessee Titans (LP Field - Nashville, TN)

Nov 30, vs. New Orleans Saints (Heinz Field - Pittsburgh, PA)

Dec 7, vs. Cincinnati Bengals (Paul Brown Stadium - Cincinnati, OH)

Dec 14, vs. Atlanta Falcons (Georgia Dome - Atlanta, GA)

Dec 21, vs. Kansas City Chiefs (Heinz Field - Pittsburgh, PA)

Dec 28, vs. Cincinnati Bengals (Heinz Field - Pittsburgh, PA)

Steelers Sign Jawan Jamison

The Steelers have signed free agent running back Jawan Jamison.

Jamison played college football at Rutgers and was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the seventh round (228th overall) in the 2013 NFL Draft.  Jamison spent last season on the Redskins practice squad.

To make room on the roster, the Steelers waived running back Alvester Alexander.  He has been on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list due to a groin injury.

Jawan Jamison Highlights

Do these stats prove Dennard is the best CB in the draft?

Need proof that Michigan State University (MSU) Darqueze Dennard is the best cornerback in 2014 NFL Draft?

  • 13 games during his senior campaign, Darqueze Dennard has had 111 passes targeted into his area, allowing just seventeen of those tosses to be completed (15.32%) for 91 yards.
  • In the 111 passes targeted at Dennard, he recorded fourteen passes defended (four interceptions, ten deflections) and rerouted/jammed his man coverage assignments away from 62 of those tosses (55.86%)
  • Wide receivers averaged just 5.35 yards per reception vs. Dennard, the lowest figure by any starting defensive back since the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) era began in 1998.
  • Dennard held the opposition to an average of 0.8198 yards per pass attempt.

That pass attempt figure is the lowest ever recorded by any college player since The NFL Draft Report, a scouting information service, began compiling in-depth statistical reports for the league in 1968. To see what some are saying about the Steelers in 2014 if they would have picked Dennard, their odds in the NFL futures might have gone well and given them a higher chance of winning the AFC Division championship.  Even more impressive is the fact that only two other players went through an entire season allowing less than one yard per pass attempt.

Darqueze Dennard's Workout Numbers:

Combine Numbers:

40 yard dash: 4.51
20 yard: 2.50
10 yard: 1.57
225 pound bench press: 15 reps

Pro Day Numbers:

Broad Jump: 11'02
Shuttle: 4.41
3-Cone Drill: 7.07

Positives:

  • Good build with decent size
  • Solid in press coverage.  Above average ball skills
  • Physical corner and can match up with larger NFL prototypical receivers in press coverage
  • Good tackler and strong in run support
  • Aggressive corner
  • Is a fundamentally sound corner.  Possibly a day 1 starter.
  • Turns his head and locates the ball well in the air.  He is probably the best man-to-man cover corner in this draft.

Negatives:

  • Serious questions are being raised on how well he can play in a zone scheme
  • Is a "grabby" corner that could easily draw holding or pass interference penalties in the NFL
  • Dennard is a good but not great athlete.  He does not have elite speed.

Stats:

  Tackles Def Int Fumbles
Year School Conf Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
*2010 Michigan State Big Ten 8 3 11 2.0 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
*2011 Michigan State Big Ten 30 12 42 1.0 0.0 3 38 12.7 1 6 0 0 0 0
*2012 Michigan State Big Ten 34 18 52 3.5 0.0 3 49 16.3 0 10 0 0 0 0
*2013 Michigan State Big Ten 33 29 62 3.5 0.0 4 38 9.5 0 10 2
Career     105 62 167 10.0 1.0 10 125 12.5 1 26 0 0 0 3

Justin Gilbert is a Pile Inspector

According to GMs and reported by NFL.com, Justin Gilbert is a "pile inspector" meaning that he doesn't like to tackle.  That's a problem for most teams and especially the Steelers because they expect their cornerbacks to tackle.  That is part of the job description and being a "pile inspector" doesn't fit the bill.

Currently ranked at #13 overall (per NFL.com), Oklahoma State's, playmaking cornerback is arguably the drafts #1 rated cornerback.  He is a playmaker with exceptional speed and athleticism but it's debatable on whether he is the draft's #1 corner.

Who is the best CB in the 2014 NFL Draft?

Who is the best CB in the draft?

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Walter Football Mock Draft

Walter Football posted their latest 2014 Mock Draft dated 4/29/2014.    If the draft were to unfold like this, the Steelers should feel lucky.

1.15 Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

2.14 Stephon Tuitt, DE/DT, Notre Dame

3.97 Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss                              

4.118 Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida

5.157 Max Bullough, ILB, Michigan State

5.173 James Gayle, DE/OLB, Virginia Tech

6.192 John Urschel, G, Penn State

6.215 Kirby Van Der Kamp, P, Iowa State

Steelers hosting Detroit Free Safety Louis Delmas

According to multiple reports, the Pittsburgh Steelers are hosting the Detriot Lions former FS, Louis Delmas today.

Below is a classy tweet from Steelers Ryan Clark considering Louis Delmas' is expected to replace the aging Clark who is set to become a UFA:

Ryan Clark ‏@Realrclark25 4m Just text w Louis Delmas. Live his game, he'd be a great fit for Coach Lebeau & the Steelers! Hope all goes well. God bless bro

Watch Louis Delmas highlights:

State of the Steelers Franchise

The Steelers went 8-8 in the 2013 season and failed to make the playoffs for the second straight season. The last winning campaign came two years ago (12-4) and, head coach, Mike Tomlin heads towards his eighth season knowing that he needs to get something done.

The Steelers front office, with General Manager, Kevin Colbert, will have to make some shrewd moves in free agency, particularly when dealing with his own players.

One of the first things they must prepare for is to start the 2014 season on the right foot; their first quarter play this year brought them a 0-4 record in a tough division that always left them playing catch-up with the rest of the field.

There had been much talk about the Steelers’ coaching staff but that appears to have got a real injection of experience and intellect. Pittsburgh have hired James Saxon as running backs coach and Mike Munchak, the former Titans head coach, to train the offensive line. However, question marks remain over offensive coordinator, Todd Haley.

Defensively, things remain the same, with Dick LeBeau still in charge of the back line; although, it is now looking like the defense needs new blood and fresh faces. Fans betting NFL know cap space has always appeared to be a problem in Pittsburgh and again work is required.

One of the developing storylines could involve three Steelers regulars – Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, and Heath Miller; they combine for $32 million in cap room. All three will be candidates for contract extensions or pay reductions, and if an agreement cannot be reached, they could be released.

Free agency is always a worry for any franchise and the Steelers have 21 unrestricted free agents on their roster but only six are current starters. They now need to consider what their needs are in the draft; largely, defensive positions, but some NFL betting pundits believe they could find themselves wanting at cornerback and safety in the new season.

The Steelers enter the 2014 offseason with plenty to address but with a relatively sound foundation to build on.

Le’Veon Bell Doing Everything he can to Help the Pittsburgh Steelers Odds of Winning

Le’Veon Bell

Steelers fans were nervously anticipating rookie Le’Veon Bell’s NFL regular season debut as they watched their team struggle out of the gate in the 2013-2014 NFL Season. After starting a dismal 0-3, Bell joined the team and immediately took on the brunt of the workload for Mike Tomlin’s running game.

Bell sustained a foot injury in a preseason game against the Washington Redskins and not only did it drastically limit the potential of their running game — it hurt the Pittsburgh Steelers’ official NFL odds of winning.

Those who had stashed Bell on their Fantasy Football bench at the beginning of the season rejoiced as he rushed for 57 yards, caught four passes for another 27, and ran it in for two touchdowns against the Minnesota Vikings in his first regular season game, the NFL International Series game in London.

The Reynoldsberg, Ohio native entered the NFL with considerable pedigree as a second round draft pick and the top rusher in the Big Ten during the 2012 season.

His Week 6 performance against the New York Jets was less inspiring as he carried the ball 16 times for 34 yards and caught 3 passes for another 22. That didn’t worry fans much as the Black and Yellow put their first win in the books, winning 19-6.

Mike Tomlin has been supportive of Bell’s abilities and potential, and with a less-than-impressive depth chart at the running back position, expect him to continue to get the majority of the touches in the Steelers’ back field.

Pittsburgh will no doubt look to get everything they can from the young running back as they currently sit at last in the AFC North and are a long ways away from relevance for the 2013-2014 season. Barring a drastic turnaround, the Steelers playoff hopes look to have been stalled in the midst of their early season struggles.

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