Steelers Insider Warns of a ‘Massive Rebuild Looming’ in Pittsburgh

Getty

Stick a fork in the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unless they miraculously win out the toughest schedule in the NFL, they’re done. Given that the Steelers have only won one game in the last five, making the playoffs seems like a stretch (more on that below). It’s time to focus on improvements to be made in the offseason. Not only do they need to make changes, but they won’t have much of a choice.

Pittsburgh started quietly rebuilding in 2021 (with their offensive line overhaul). It’s harder to tell, though, because the beam holding the structure up is still in place — future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. With rumors that Roethlisberger is in his final months with the Pittsburgh Steelers, “a massive rebuild job is ahead, and it cannot be done overnight,” wrote Ed Bouchette of The Athletic.

Bouchette has covered the Steelers extensively since 1985 and knows a thing or two about the team.

“It’s not a matter of merely drafting their next quarterback,” Bouchette wrote. “They have plenty more work to do than that. They must continue to rebuild their offensive line, and if rookies Dan Moore Jr. and Kendrick Green do not pan out, they will have even more work ahead of them.”

ALL the latest Steelers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Steelers newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Steelers!

Bouchette noted that Cam Heyward — their best defensive lineman in years — is no spring chicken. Though he’s playing the best football of his 11-year career, he turns 33 in five months.

No one knows what’s going on with defensive end Stephon Tuitt or if he’ll even be in a Steelers uniform in 2022.

From linebackers to the secondary and the muddled mess that is Pittsburgh’s offense, Bouchette goes into great detail about what a rebuild could entail.

The Steelers have 22 pending free agents in 2022 (per Spotrac) — two on the brink of retirement if you include general manager Kevin Colbert — so there’s no doubt it’s going to be a lengthy restoration with far more questions than answers.


Assessing Steelers Remaining Schedule

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a tough row to hoe to slide into the playoffs. Their remaining strength of schedule, compiled here by EDSfootball.com, is the toughest of all 32 teams. Their opponents have a combined record of 33-19 and a winning percentage of 0.635.

The Steelers are lucky to be facing a Derrick Henry-less Tennessee Titans team on December 19, especially given the state of their run defense, which, according to NFL.com, is currently ranked 30th in the league. In October, the All-Pro running back suffered a foot injury and was placed on injured reserve on November 2. Though he hasn’t played since October 31, Henry’s rushing yard production ranks him fourth in the league.

While the Titans ground game has taken a significant hit since Henry left, their two running backs, D’Onta Foreman and Dontrell Hilliard, average 4.29 and 6 yards per carry, respectively, per Pro Football Reference. Their average yards are slightly inflated thanks to a huge game versus the New England Patriots on November 28, where they both ran for 100+ yards.

On December 26, the Steelers travel to Kansas City to take on the red-hot Chiefs, winners of six in a row. The last time these two teams met in 2018 at Heinz Field, it was a high-scoring 42-37 affair. The Chiefs came out on top with quarterback Patrick Mahomes throwing for 326 yards and a whopping six tuddies. Ben Roethlisberger tossed three with 452 yards passing. He also scored a rushing touchdown.

The Pittsburgh Steelers close out the 2021 regular season with familiar division foes, the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.


Playoff Chances

At 6-6-1, the Steelers are 1.5 games behind the 7-6 Browns and Cincinnati Bengals and 2.5 behind the 8-6 Ravens, who’ve dropped two of their last three. Translation: The division is totally up for grabs.

The Steelers are hanging onto a shot at the playoffs by the tips of their fingers, with the ESPN Football Power Index giving them a 10.6 percent chance at the postseason. As Kevin Seifert wrote, “The only thing left now, it appears, is their inevitable elimination from playoff contention.”

As they say: Anything can happen on any given Sunday (or Monday, or Thursday, or Saturday). But if the Steelers continue underperforming — as they have all season — they can kiss a playoff spot goodbye.

Read More
,
Comment Here
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x