2013 PITTSBURGH STEELERS PREVIEW
June 26, 2013INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
2013 PITTSBURGH STEELERS FOOTBALL PREVIEW
LAST YEAR: 8-8, 3RD IN AFC NORTH
HEAD COACH: MIKE TOMLIN, 7TH YEAR
The Steelers missed the playoffs in 2012 and the reason why was simple….No running game and the injuries to QB Ben Roethlisberger. When Big Ben got hurt, the Steelers were 6-3 and were well on their way to making another playoff birth. Roethlisberger hurt his throwing shoulder and his rib and the Steelers went 2-5 the rest of the way. Ben wasn’t the only key player injured as TE Heath Miller suffered a torn ACL in week 15. Both are back and will be ready to go in 2013.
The Steelers weren’t able to run the ball the way Pittsburgh fans are used to. They ranked 26th in the NFL in rushing in 2012. They believe they finally found an answer to the running game by drafting Le’Veon Bell in the 2nd round from Michigan State. Bell is a physical back with good size (6-1, 230) and has quick feet and excellent agility. The Steelers feel Bell could be a “30” carry-a-game-back. The Steelers OL is intact for 2013 led by C Maurkice Pouncey and OT Mike Adams. Roethisberger loses WR Mike Wallace who signed with Miami. WR’s Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown will be counted on to spread opposing defenses. Pittsburgh must find more options on offense to take the pressure off Roethlisberger.
On defense, the Steelers were as good as it gets in 2012. They ranked 1st overall, 2nd in run defense and 1st in pass defense. What is incredible about the ranking on defense is they did this with many injuries. One player who will be missing is LB James Harrison. Jason Worilds may be counted on to step in for Harrison. The defense also lost DB Keenan Lewis, who signed with New Orleans. Troy Polamalu missed 9 games with a calf injury and the Steelers need him to return to form. Pittsburgh returns every other key player on defense and they went with defense in the draft. In the first round, the Steelers selected Georgia LB Jarvis Jones (6-2, 245), the most dominant player in college football. S Shamarko Thomas (Syracuse) was taken in the 4th round, CB Terry Hawthorne (Illinois) was taken in the 5th round, LB Vince Williams (Florida State) was selected in the 6th round and DT Nick Williams (Samford) was chosen in the 7th round.
DC Dick LeBeau is one of the top coordinators in the NFL and for him to keep the Steelers defense at the top with all the injuries, is a testimony to what he can do. LeBeau always finds a way to maximize his personnel. GM Kevin Colbert and Head Coach Mike Tomlin always find ways to draft and develop talent players who can stop in and make a contribution. If this team stays healthy, they will return to the playoffs in 2013.
2012 IN REVIEW:
TOTAL OFFENSE: 332.8 (21ST)
RUSHING OFFENSE: 96.1 (26TH)
PASSING OFFENSE: 236.7 (14TH)
TOTAL DEFENSE: 275.8 (1ST)
RUN DEFENSE: (90.6) 2ND
PASS DEFENSE: 185.2 (1ST)
2013 STEELERS DRAFT:
1 (17) - Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia;
2 (48) - Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State;
3 (79) - Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State;
4 (111) - Shamarko Thomas, S, (Syracuse);
4 (115) - Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma;
5 (150) - Terry Hawthrone, CB, Illinois;
6 (186) - Justin Brown, WR, Oklahoma;
6 (206) - Vince Williams, LB, Florida State;
7 (223) - Nick Williams, DT, Samford
Top Picks Analysis: Jones said he would never get past the Steelers and sure enough he didn't. It's like the whole league conspires to give Pittsburgh impact 3-4 players. Poor 40 times sent Jones crashing out of the top 10, but the Steelers got a Terrell Suggs-like steal in the first round. Second-rounder Bell is a big back who doesn't run like one most of the time, while Wheaton will have some value as a potential vertical threat, something needed after Mike Wallace fled to South Beach in free agency.
Best Value Pick: The Steelers may have found their successor to the declining Troy Polamalu in fourth-round choice Thomas, an undersized, high-energy thumper on the back end.
Questionable Calls: Taking Bell over Alabama's Eddie Lacy and Wisconsin's Montee Ball is going to make that a microscope pick. The thought process is that Pittsburgh wants big, physical backs to take advantage of the late-season weather in Western Pennsylvania but Bell just hasn't shown the nastiness as runner the Steelers expect from their backs.
Summary: Age has slowly crept up on the Steelers and this was the most important draft for Pittsburgh in years. The Steelers have moved on from former Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison and really can't count on the oft-injured Polamalu any longer. Jones is a perfect fit as an edge player and Thomas has a chance at safety. Getting Landry Jones, a Ben Roethlisberger- like clone, albeit without the escapability, was also a nice depth move.
FINAL GRADE: B
Undrafted rookie free agent signings: Northwestern DE Brian Arnfelt; Northern Illinois LB Alan Baxter; Utah WR Reggie Dunn; San Diego State OT Nik Embernate; Penn State OT Mike Farrell; Notre Dame OL Mike Golic Jr.; Louisiana-Lafayette DE Cordian Hagans; UAB G Chris Hubbard; Florida DT Omar Hunter; Hawaii LS Luke Ingram; West Virginia C Joe Madsen; USC RB Curtis McNeal; Baylor C Ivory Wade; Michigan State DT Anthony Rashad White; West Virginia WR J.D. Woods
Sept. 8 TENNESSEE TITANS, 1 p.m.
Sept. 16 at Cincinnati Bengals, 8:40 p.m.
Sept. 22 CHICAGO BEARS, 8:30 p.m.
Sept. 29 at Minnesota Vikings (Wembley Stadium, London), 1 p.m.
Oct. 6 BYE
Oct. 13 at New York Jets, 1 p.m.
Oct. 20 BALTIMORE RAVENS, 4:25 p.m.
Oct. 27 at Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m.
Nov. 3 at New England Patriots, 4:25 p.m.
Nov. 10 BUFFALO BILLS, 1 p.m.
Nov. 17 DETROIT LIONS, 1 p.m.
Nov. 24 at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m.
Nov. 28 at Baltimore Ravens, 8:30 p.m.
Dec. 8 MIAMI DOLPHINS, 1 p.m.
Dec. 15 CINCINNATI BENGALS, 8:30 p.m.
Dec. 22 at Green Bay Packers, 4:25 p.m.
Dec. 29 CLEVELAND BROWNS, 1 p.m.
2013 STEELERS ROSTER