Pittsburgh Steelers Team Needs

February 15, 2022
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I know what you’re going to say…Quarterback right? And you would be right but unfortunately, it is one of many Steelers team needs. Never mind the numerous positions available in the coaching ranks. The Steelers are in need of offensive line help, secondary help, and wide receiver help. Yinz had to watch on as the chance at the playoffs came down to two opposing teams not tieing. Not what Pittsburgh fans are used to.

It was a tough year for the Steelers as the Cincinnati Bengals won the division and went all the way to the Super Bowl. If the Steelers are to make it to their first Super Bowl since the 2010 season they need to start making changes and these are the areas that matter the most.

Main Steelers Team Need – Quarterback

Even a non-Steelers fan will tell you that the biggest area of need is the Quarterback. Pittsburgh enjoyed a successful 18 years of Ben Roethlisberger dominating the AFC North. 2021 was Roethlisberger’s Last Dance and the options that he leaves behind don’t scream “Pittsburgh’s Going To The Super Bowl”. 

Mason Rudolph has stepped in when needed and played a lot during the 2019 year when Roethlisberger injured his elbow. During that time he was benched for Devlin Hodges. Rudolph has a record of 5-4-1 as a starter in the NFL. He couldn’t even beat the worst team in football in the 2021 season. The other quarterback on the roster is Dwayne Haskins. Haskins came into the league as a first-round pick by the now Washington Commanders in 2019. 

Haskins hasn’t played much but he does have one quality that the front office seems to consider vital…his mobility. It has been a long time since the Steelers were able to rely on the mobility of their Quarterback. When Roethlisberger entered the league he was as mobile as the best of them but in recent years it was painful to watch him try and pick up yards with his legs (never mind how painful it must have been for number seven himself). Haskins would provide that ability and could help get the best of the Matt Canada offense.

Exterior Option

Courtesy of USA Today.

As mentioned in our previous article (Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Saga), the other options are a veteran or a draft prospect. Rumors would suggest that the Steelers are making a hard push at Jimmy Garoppolo from the San Francisco 49ers. Garoppolo does have a great record as a starter with the 49ers. In his 45 games started he has a record of 31-14. That record is not to be sniffed at. If he ever started the same number of games as Tom Brady (316) he is on course for a record of 217 wins and 98 losses.

The biggest issue with Garoppolo is the cost of his contract ($24,200,000 in 2022) coupled with the fact that he can’t be trusted to make the big throws when it matters. Look at how many times Roethlisberger had to provide a fourth-quarter game-winning drive (53 – Tied for second in NFL history), do you really think Jimmy G is capable of that? Currently, he has 10. 

Other options include Aaron Rodgers, Tyrod Taylor, Marcus Mariota, Cam Newton, or Jameis Winston. Other than taking the costly cap hit, the only real option to make your team better is Aaron Rodgers.

2004 was the last time the Steelers had to decide whether or not to select a Quarterback as their first-round draft pick. Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, and Matt Canada were all spotted at the Senior Bowl scouting the new Quarterback class.

It’s always risky drafting a Quarterback and hoping he can step right into the starting line-up, Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Josh Rosen for example. But sometimes you might just find a Ben Roethlisberger and this is the year that the Steelers might just find out.

Offensive Line

Next on the list of Steelers team needs is arguably more important than the first. In 2021 the offensive line was less than great. That mixed in with the fact Roethlisberger wasn’t mobile meant that the offense couldn’t run the Matt Canada offense to the full effect. The fact that Najee Harris managed to rush for over a thousand yards is solely on how good he was and not the O-Line. The issue with this offseason is that it isn’t just one part of the O-Line that requires help, it is all of it.  

Kendrick Green is not a starting center in the NFL and that was evident almost instantly. Pittsburgh had no penetration from the offensive line up the middle and at times Green would just straight-up miss his assignment. J.C. Hassenauer stepped in down the stretch and was an improvement in a couple of games but on the whole, even he couldn’t help this offensive line.

Depending on what they do with their first-round draft pick, Tylor Linderbaum from the Iowa Hawkeyes would be the perfect pick for the Steelers. If they go down the free agency/trade route for the Quarterback then this leaves the pick free for this man mover from Iowa. Linderbaum has been the best center in college ball for the last two years and would instantly improve this offensive line.

Revamped Offensive Line

With the addition of Linderbaum in this scenario, Green would revert back to Guard and to be honest, can probably do a job there as he doesn’t need to worry about calling out the protection and can just focus on moving people out the way. Kevin Dotson is solid and looks like he will be part of the line for the future but Trai Turner is another who is hitting free agency. Pittsburgh has to find more strong and athletic players at the position if they want to get back to the running game of old.

In all likelihood Chuks Okorafor is going to free agency and Zach Banner is to be released which would leave the Steelers with Dan Moore Jnr and Joe Haeg heading into 2022 at the tackle position. This is an area that is in desperate need of improvement. Dan Moore is probably the starter for 2022 but the Steelers need to bring in depth.

Defense

Dec 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Brandon Tate (19) runs the ball past Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Vince Williams (98) in the first half at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

After the offense is sorted the attention needs to turn to the defense. Firstly, Pittsburgh has to decide on the future of Vince Williams. If he is fit both physically and mentally then the defensive line is solid and the run defense will see a vast improvement from 2021. Cam Heyward and Chris Wormley were great in 2021 but they weren’t able to prevent the run game. Williams is excellent in run defense and the Steelers would improve instantly if he comes back in 2022.

Continuing to move back in the defense next up is linebacker. After a down year in 2021, the Steelers have a decision to make on Devin Bush. After moving up in the 2019 draft to select Bush, he excelled in his first year as a Steeler. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL early in 2020 and has never looked the same since. Bush was meant to be the long-term replacement for Ryan Shazier but that is looking ever more doubtful. If he can bounce back in 2022 the Steelers will have one less decision to make. 

Secondary

Now we get to the next Steelers team needs, the secondary. Heading into the 2022 season the Steelers could be without Joe Haden and Ahkello Witherspoon. Both are unrestricted free agents once the 2021 season is finished. Then in 2022, the Steelers will need to come to terms with a new deal for free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. That is the potential for a lot of upheaval in a vital part of the defense. The NFL is a passing league and that is not going to change anytime soon.

In their last playoff appearance, they had no answers for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs as they crumbled to a resounding defeat. Pittsburgh has to bring back both Haden and Witherspoon whilst adding to the position with some younger players in the draft.

Needless to say, it will be a busy offseason with all these Steelers team needs. If they get it right then there is no reason why Pittsburgh won’t be challenging in the playoffs in 2023.

Steelers team needs
Courtesy of USA Today.

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