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2014 NFL Season Preview- Pittsburgh Steelers
2013 was another disappointing year for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team finished with a 8-8 record in back to back seasons and missed the playoffs two years in a row for the first time in 13 years.
The team started the year 0-4 for the first time since the merger. The team recovered and were able to win eight of their final 12 games. The team only missed the playoffs due to wrong calls made by officials that helped San Diego beat Kansas City in the regular season finale.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger performed well with a protective offensive. He was sacked only seven times in the final seven games and played every offensive snap of the season. Wide receiver Antonio Brown set a franchise record for receiving yards in a season and was named to his first All-Pro team. The defense however relapsed and went from first to 13th in total defense and finished 21st in run defense.
The rookie class for the most part was disappointing. Linebacker Jarvis Jones showed skill but didn't produce the stats he was expected to. Running back Le'Veon Bell was injured early in the year and averaged less than four yards per carry on the season.
Steelers 2013 Rankings
Opponent Passing yds
Opponent Rushing yds
NFL Rank- 12th
NFL Rank- 8th
NFL Rank- 9th
NFL Rank- 21st
NFL Rank- 20th
NFL Rank- 13th
2014 marked head coach Mike Tomlin's eighth season with the Steelers. Along with general manager Kevin Colbert the team looked to get the team back to their Super Bowl glory.
The main focus on the team was to reload a Dick LeBeau defense with younger talent. Also to give Roethlisberger more weapons to replace those lost in free agency.
Notable additions- RB LaGarrette Blount, WR Darrius Hayward-Bay, WR Lance Moore
Notable departures- WR Emmanuel Sanders, LB Larry Foote, DE Brett Kiesel, LB LaMarr Woodley, FS Ryan Clark
Steelers 2013 Highlights
2014 NFL Draft
The Steelers went into the draft having the 15th overall selection in the draft. The had needs at the defensive line, linebacker, and cornerback.
The run defense was so bad, it was their first time giving up as many yards as the did since 1970. Defensive end Cameron Hayward proved to be a stand out on the line recording five sacks and 31 quarterback pressures. And Brett Kiesel and Ziggy Hood are no longer with the team. The team needs a nose tackle that can occupy two offensive linemen to stuff the run.
The linebacker corps needs to be rebuilt after many years of dominance. Jason Worlids proved to be a surprise and even beat out LaMarr Woodley at outside linebacker. Jarvis Jones under performed all year and Larry Foote is gone, so the team need at linebacker will have to be able to play the run and rush the passer. The depth in the secondary is getting old and needs to replace the loss of safety Ryan Clark to free agency.
When draft day came along, the Steelers selected Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier with the 15th pick. Shazier was seen as the best run stopping linebacker in the draft. The biggest concern with him was his lean build will force him to have to get stronger.
Other notable draft picks include Kent State wide receiver/running back Dri Archer in the third round, Clemson wide receiver Martavis Bryant in the fourth, and UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt in the sixth. Archer rose up draft boards after coming two one hundredths of a second away from breaking Chris Johnson's record in the 40-yard dash. The main concern with him was his size makes him open for hits and injury. Bryant stretched the field as a deep threat at Clemson and opened up opportunities to first round pick Sammy Watkins. Bryant was criticized for not being physical for his size and wasn't a strong route runner in college. Zumwalt was a standout at UCLA and showed great quickness for his size. He needs to improve on his tackling and control his aggression as the game goes on.
Ryan Shazier Highlights
What to Expect
With the additions of LaGarrette Blount, Dri Archer, and Martavis Bryant, the offense will be much more explosive. The combination of Blount and Bell will bring life back into the power running game the Steelers are known for. Bryant can be come a great deep threat like Mike Wallace was, Andre Brown will be the feature receiver. and Archer has the ability to make plays with his speed and quickness rushing, receiving, and returning kicks.
The addition of Shazier and Zumwalt to the defense will provide a spark to stop the running game. Pittsburgh's secondary and defensive line are still a question and will need time to see how this group plays together.
If you're a Steelers fan, expect the team to resume its reign at the top of the AFC north. With the changes to the other teams in the division, Pittsburgh has the best chance to make some noise in 2014 from 8-8 to playoff contender.
Best record they can hope for- 10-6