How much noise can the Pittsburgh Steelers make in the stretch run?

(Miami Herald)

When all else fails, the hopes of the Steel City rest on the legs of Le’Veon Bell. 

When the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Cincinnati last Sunday, it took their faithful fans on another incline in what has been a roller coaster season. The win gives the Black and Gold a true shot at winning the AFC North if they can handle things in the upcoming weeks.

The newest (and youngest) member of The Starting Five Julian Truitt debuts with his opinion on what the Steelers must do.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, as it stands are an 8-5 team. Their stock appears to be rising heading into the final stretch after a convincing win over the division leading Cincinnati Bengals 42-21 last Sunday. This is one hard team to figure out because when they are good they are as good as any team in the NFL offensively. However, when they’re bad, they can make teams like the New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and New Orleans Saints (teams that are at least 3 games under. 500) look like they’re hosting a playoff game. It’s tough to point out what has made the Steelers such an up and down team. The one constant seems to be their ability to trade impressive wins versus the Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, and Cincinnati Bengals for absurd losses to lackluster opponents like the ones previously mentioned. Not just Steeler fans, but fans of the NFL know this team’s biggest weapons lie on offense with Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and an enticing offensive line featuring Maurkice Pouncey — which excels in run blocking leading the way.

So the question has to be asked, “What is keeping this team from potentially making a Super Bowl run this year?” That’s easy, it’s a putrid secondary which seems to be consistently out of position more than any other team except this week’s opponent, the Atlanta Falcons. In the last four games alone, the Steelers have been burned for gains of 67, 80, 69 and 81 through the air. Not to single anyone out, but the play of veteran corner back Ike Taylor has been atrocious since returning from a broken forearm in Week 3. In last two games against the Saints and Bengals, Taylor has been beaten for a 69 yard touchdown by Saints wideout Kenny Stills and an 81 yard score by “The Freak” AJ Green of the Bengals, which is more tolerable.

The Steelers could also use better play from free safety Mike Mitchell — who has not done a single thing to help justify his 5-year $25 million contract this off-season. The entire league knows the struggles of cornerback Cortez Allen who was just placed on IR to free up a spot on special teams for someone clearly more useful at this point in the season. It’s clearly not too late for players like Taylor, Mitchell, future Hall of Fame safety Troy Polamalu, and the rest of the Steelers secondary to put it together to make this Steelers team a legitimate threat to the Broncos and Patriots of the world. Despite the lack of production from the secondary, the front seven the Steelers boast led by middle linebackers Lawrence Timmons has been relatively formidable — even without Steve McLendon, Ryan Shazier, and Jarvis Jones for much of the season– ranking 9th in rushing yards allowed at 104.1 yds/game.

Looking at the talent on offense, the Steelers have the potential to not only give teams in the AFC Playoffs fits, but can surprise anyone assuming they get there. Two of the Steelers last three games against the Falcons, Chiefs, and Bengals will be at home. If the Steelers win out, they can potentially receive as high as a third seed if the Indianapolis Colts were to slip up and drop one of their three remaining games. However the Steelers have their own business to take care of. Winning out and grabbing a No. 4 seed is a real possibility.  If the Steelers bring the same team who just handled the Bengals into every game from here on out, they’ll be a tough out for any opponent including the AFC favorite New England Patriots.

Just to add in: Le’Veon Bell should have cemented himself into the MVP discussion with three games in a row of more than 200 yards from scrimmage.

One Response to “How much noise can the Pittsburgh Steelers make in the stretch run?”

  1. Clemens Truitt says:

    Good job J-nice. I see ya baby boy.