The Pittsburgh Steelers will be coming into the 2016 season with high expectations (especially on offense). In 2015 Steelers finished the regular season with a 10-6 record, 2nd place in the AFC North, 6th place in the AFC Conference, and lost to the Denver Broncos in the AFC divisional round. They had 3 players voted into the Pro Bowl, wide receiver Antonio Brown, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and offensive guard David DeCastro. They also finished 11th in points allowed (19.9) and finished 5th in points scored (26.4). And also look to bounce back from dealing with injuries from some of their best players like running back Le’veon Bell, wide receiver Antonio Brown, and center Maurkice Pouncey.
During the offseason, the Steelers resigned some key players and loss some key players, tight end Heath Miller retired, kicker Shaun Suisham was released, cornerback Cortez Allen was released, cornerback William Gay was resigned, offensive guard Ramon Foster was resigned, wide receiver Martavis Bryant is suspended for this upcoming 2016 season due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and Le’veon Bell will miss up to 4 games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy unless he wins the appeal, similar to what Martavis is going through right now, except if Bell loses the case, he will only be suspended for 4 games and not the entire season.
The Steelers had a very dangerous offensive lineup last season with Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, wide receiver Markus Wheaton, running back Le’Veon Bell, Heath Miller, running back DeAngelo Williams, and David DeCastro, making it hard for the opposing defense to stop them, because of their versatility on offense, with the ability to hurt the defense with their running and passing game. Ben Roethlisberger had his best completion percentage of his career in 2015 finishing the season with a 68.0 completion, 3,938 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, and Antonio Brown became the first receiver in NFL history to have 16 receptions or more in 2 games or more in a single season in 2015 also with a stat line of 136 receptions, 1,834 yards, and 10 touchdowns. As a team, Pittsburgh finished 3rd in passing yards, 16th in rushing yards, 5th in points scored, and 3rd in total offense. With the exceptions of Heath (retired) and Martavis (suspended), the Steelers will be bringing back most of their key offensive players into this season.
On defense, Pittsburgh finished 30th in passing defense, 5th in rushing defense, 11th in points allowed, and 21st in total defense. the offense was clearly more productive than the defense last season, but the team had key players on the defense side such as defensive end Cameron Heyward, defensive end Stephon Tuitt, linebacker James Harrison, linebacker Ryan Shazier, linebacker Lawrence Timmons, and cornerback William Gay. Ryan Shazier had 87 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, 4 pass deflections, 1 interception, and 2 forced fumbles, Stephon Tuitt had 54 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, 1 pass deflection, and 1 interception, and William Gay had 58 total tackles, 1 sack, 7 pass deflections, and 2 interceptions. The team had holes in their secondary when it came to stopping the opposing team’s passing game, but was very stifling when it came down to putting a stop to the opposing team’s running game. The team was pretty much solid when it came to forcing turnovers whether it was by interceptions or fumbles, so in 2016, they will try to continue doing that.
In the playoffs, the Steelers eliminated the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC wildcard 18-16 in a VERY PHYSICAL game, but then got eliminated themselves by the Denver Broncos 23- 16 in the AFC divisional round. In this years’s draft the Steelers definitely addressed their secondary issues by drafting cornerback Artie Burns (1st round), safety Sean Davis (2nd round), defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (3rd round), and beefed up the offense a bit with offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins (4th round). With head coach Mike Tomlin, defensive coordinator Keith Butler, and offensive coordinator Todd Haley, the Pittsburgh Steelers look very poised to not only make the playoffs again, but to go deeper in the playoffs and possibly win a championship.